A couple of weeks ago, Jeff took Asimovâ€™s Magazine to task over on the Sofanauts podcast. So in thinking of writing a blog post as a guest here this month, I thought Iâ€™d write something in defence of Asimovâ€™s, just to take a devilâ€™s advocate role. I was going to write about how Asimovâ€™s, being a Dell Magazines legacy, has its hands tied in terms of design or paper quality or pretty much everything else. How it has to keep providing the sort of stuff loyal readers expect â€“ the loyal readers being the core group of consumers for the magazine, and therefore canâ€™t take undue risks in terms of content. I was going to say how it still makes an attempt to publish new writers, like Sara Genge or Aliette de Bodard, despite not taking electronic submissions and making it difficult for overseas writers to send stories (both the writers mentioned live in Europe). I was going to say that while, on the one hand, its non-fiction content seems old, another way of looking at it is to see a continuity from the golden age of science fiction, and continuity is a good thing. I was going to say all this and more, only something happened, and Iâ€™m still feeling a little guilty about it.
I just got back from a few days in Bangkok. People go to Bangkok for a lot of reasons, mine are food and bookshops. So I was delighted to discover, in one branch of Kinokuniya (for Americans: this is sort of an Asian version of Borders), they had a sale on.
Sale! I love a book sale. I picked up about eight paperbacks (and a handful more in a nearby second hand shop), and then discovered they also had a sale table for magazines.
And it had an issue of Asimovâ€™s.
For 50 baht. (approx. $1.30 US).
And this is the thing, and I still feel a little embarrassed about it, several days later.
I couldnâ€™t bring myself to buy it.
I donâ€™t know what it was. Was it the cover? The grey pulp paper inside? Was it something else?
I wanted to buy it. I honestly did. I never get to see SF magazines any more, not where I live. I donâ€™t get to see books, most of the time.
I should have bought it.
And yet… I couldnâ€™t bring myself to it. It looked so… forlorn, sitting there, with a sort of pinkish cover over grey, like the sort of thing you buy from the butcherâ€™s and is a little past its sell by date. It looked kind of sad.
And I bought a copy of Wizard magazine instead, and it had full colour throughout and the first five pages of the new League of Extraordinary Gentlemen story and an interview with Art Spiegelman.
But I still feel sort of bad about it.
Lavie Tidhar is the author of linked-story collection HebrewPunk (2007), novellas An Occupation of Angels (2005), Cloud Permutations (2009) and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). Heâ€™s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in South East Asia. His first novel, The Bookman, will be published by HarperCollinsâ€™ new Angry Robot imprint in 2010, and will be followed by two more.