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From the 3SF site:
"We take stories up to 10,000 words long - but at that length, a story will have to be brilliant. Especially if you're a new writer, you have a much better chance with something shorter. And yes, we will buy short-shorts (under 1000 words).

We pay 30 per thousand words, pro rata (i.e. 3p - or around 4.5 US cents per word depending on the exchange rate - per word), on publication. We buy first English Language print serial rights, i.e. we buy the right to use your story once, in English, in the printed version of the magazine, and we need to be the first people to do so. We intend to do an electronic version of the magazine at some point in the future, and our guidelines and contracts will be amended to take account of that."

3SF Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Martin Lewis

3SF is a new UK magazine published by Ben Jeapes's Big Engine and edited by Liz Holliday. Aiming to publish six issues a year, it is very much a commercial enterprise unlike Paul Fraser's valiantly one-handed and now sadly irregular Spectrum SF. Taking its cue from Interzone in terms of format, the debut issue contains eight stories, split evenly between fantasy and science fiction.

Richard Parks's VR story, "Punishment," is scuppered by its nonsensical central premise that large amounts of time and money would be spent rehabilitating murderers before they can be executed. Jay Lake's "The Angle Of My Dreams" covers the well-worn topic of wishing to fly and, though not groundbreaking, is very well executed. Lawrence Watt-Evans's "Volunteers" poses the question of whether you would accept a deeply ambiguous offer from an alien civilisation. The story has potential but it is a character-based piece and, at times, the characterisation simply isn't sharp enough. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's "Sweet Waters" is a planetary romance set in a primitive society which recalls Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series. Unfortunately its prose is inelegant ("Man was prey to some few creatures on this world, several of which preferred to hunt the night.") and its plot decidedly old fashioned. Marion Pitman's "Sunlight In Spelling" is an interesting and skillfully written story set in a version of our world without sunlight. There is clearly a religious commentary lurking somewhere inside but the story is too obtuse for this reader to be able to decipher it and much else is similarly murky.

Unusually, 3SF is open to all lengths of fiction, including the very short: so called flash fiction. That this is a worthwhile approach is immediately clear as Mary Soon Lee's "Making Fields" is possibly the stand-out story of the issue. Told with extreme economy, this dystopian sketch is made all the more powerful by the protagonist's inability to recognise it as such.

The two remaining stories, Darrel Schweitzer's "The Third Way" and Cherith Baldry's "The Ring Of Ankhar," are both fantasies using familiar ingredients but with very different results. Schweitzer's is a bold deconstruction of the archetypal quest story containing a spark of innovation lacking elsewhere in the issue. Baldry's, on the other hand, is a trite, generic example of why commercial fantasy has such a bad name.

Though a magazine such as this sinks or swims by its fiction, often the first bits people will turn to are the non-fiction. Here Alex Stewart provides a well-written column on the paucity of UK media SF and Gwyneth Jones and Richard Horton cover UK and US book releases respectively. Jones covers too many items too quickly for my tastes but she mentions she hopes to include more in-depth items in future.

The aim is clearly to make 3SF accessible to as wide an audience as possible, particularly some of the audience of the media-orientated magazine SFX which carries no fiction. As such, spin-offery and role-playing are provided with as much coverage as the other reviews and there is a jokey end-piece (all of which are written by Stewart) as well as a reader's guide (in this issue Steven Silver rather briefly covers Alternative History). In keeping with the tag line "Science Fiction, Speculative Fantasy, Strange Facts" there is also a long article on 11th Century English soldiers who went to fight in Constantinople for the dying Roman Empire and there are interviews with Ian McDonald and George R.R. Martin.

Though it is hardly a blistering debut fiction-wise, 3SF has got all the fundamentals right and has a strong foundation to build on. This new addition to the UK market can only be welcomed.

Copyright © 2002 Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis lives in South London; he is originally from Bradford, UK. He writes book reviews for The Telegraph And Argus.

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