It’s time for the first entry in my Semiprozine Spotlight project. For more about the Semiprozine Spotlight project, go here.
I’ll start off the Semiprozine Spotlight project by interviewing a good friend of mine, Jean-Paul Garnier of the Space Cowboy Books Presents Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast. Come on, of course, I contacted people I already know first before cold-e-mailing editors I don’t know. And in the interest of full disclosure, yes, Simultaneous Times have produced three stories of mine to date.
So I’m happy to welcome Jean-Paul Garnier of Space Cowboy Books, a great SFF specialty bookstore in Joshua Tree, California, as well as producer and narrator of the Simultaneous Times science fiction podcast.
Tell us about your magazine.
Space Cowboy Books Presents: Simultaneous Times is a monthly science fiction podcast, released on the 15th of each month. We create audio adaptations of stories by contemporary science fiction authors from all over the world, set to original soundtracks created by our team of composers. When possible we do cast readings of the stories, and we have featured works by authors such as: David Brin, Rudy Rucker, Michael Butterworth, and tons of other wonderful contemporary writers.
Who are the people behind your magazine?
We are blessed with an amazing team! Our main composers are RedBlueBlackSilver and Phog Masheeen, but we have also featured music from Dain Luscombe, Julie Carpenter, Oneirothopter, Patrick Urn, Scott Scott Smigiel, and loopool. My partner Zara Kand is also an integral part of the podcast and does proofreading and voice acting. We’ve also had a long list of voice actors participate and bring their unique skill to the production. And last but not least, we’ve had an incredible list of authors and poets who have graced us with their work.
Why did you decide to start your magazine?
All of our projects were born out of Space Cowboy Books, our science fiction specialty bookstore in Joshua Tree, CA. While we love selling books, the goal has always been to contribute to the amazing world of science fiction. We’ve been fortunate to meet so many great authors when hosting readings, both online and in person, and from there we branched out and do our best to help support the SF community at large.
What format do you use for your magazine (print zine, PDF zine, e-mail zine, online zine, podcast, etc…) and why did you choose this format?
Our main output is in podcast format, and I decided to go this route because of my experience as an audio engineer and background in radio. But we also produce a series of paperback anthologies featuring stories from the podcast and some appearing for the first time. In addition to this we also produce a monthly print newsletter which features interviews with SF authors and editors. The newsletter is available for free subscription and is also available on our website as a free PDF download. We also just released a PDF ebook featuring authors from Simultaneous Times podcast, as well as illustrations from amazing artists all over the world. The ebook, Simultaneous Times 2.5, is also available for free download at our website.
Science fiction, fantasy and horror were born in the pulps and short fiction has long been the beating heart of the genre. However, the focus of attention is increasingly moving towards novels and series. So why do you think SFF short fiction is important and worthy of attention?
So many of the great novelists got their start writing for magazines, and I think that today this still rings true. The short story is a very different art form than the novel, and not all authors excel at both. But generally those that perfect their craft in the short story markets can go on to have wonderful careers. Selling a novel can be difficult and can take a long time. The short fiction markets tend to move faster, and therefore gives authors opportunities for publication that would not be available in long form fiction. I know for working at the bookstore that many readers still prefer short fiction, or even flash. Not everyone has the luxury of time to read novels, and short stories fill the gaps for those folks who still want to read.
One big problem for SFF magazines is monetarization. Readers are happy to consume short fiction, but they’re often unwilling to pay for it. What are your strategies for financing your magazine and paying your writers and staff?
As for most small presses this is always a struggle, but fortunately we have the bookstore to help pay the bills. We pay all of our writers, and this money is often generated from articles I write about podcasting, which appear on DreamFoundry.org’s blog. In late 2020 we were also extremely fortunate to receive the SFWA’s Givers Grant, which has helped pay for the postage for our newsletter and for the hosting of the podcast. At some point we will set up a Patreon, but for the better part of the fours years the podcast has been running I have paid for it out of pocket, because I love what I do and always wanted to give back the SF community.
The format of fiction magazines has changed a lot in the past twenty years. Print magazines still exist, but are no longer as dominant. Online and PDF zines are now the dominant form of short fiction delivery and fiction podcasts are becoming ever more popular. So where do you think magazines will go next?
I suspect that many of the wonderful online and PDF magazines will move into print as their popularity grows, and I see more and more of them starting to podcast as well. As always, predicting the future can be tricky, but I’m sure that the literary arts will continue to morph with and exploit new technological changes. That being said I think that for many of us print is still the goal, there is just no replacement for holding a book in your hand. A few of the things I’d like to see are more non-linear storytelling and I’ve always loved the Shared Universe approach, collaboration between writers and artists – we are fortunate to live in a world where it is fairly easy to connect, so let’s connect!
Are there any other great magazines, podcasts, editors, stories, etc… you’d like to recommend?
There are so many wonderful magazines and podcasts today that it’s hard to choose, but a few of my favorites are Hexagon Magazine and Mermaids Monthly. Not a podcast, but my favorite SF radio program is Mind Webs, which ran from the mid-70s into the early 80s (the complete recordings can be found on archive.org).
Where can people find you?
Thank you, Jean-Paul, for stopping by and answering my questions.
Do check out Simultaneous Times, cause it’s a great podcast. And should you ever find yourself in Joshua Tree, California, visit Space Cowboy Books in person or check out their online store from anywhere in the world.
Do you run a semiprozine and want it featured? Contact me or leave a comment.