Planet Magazine -- the free, award-winning electronic Web-zine of short science fiction and fantasy by emerging writers and digital artists -- began in the summer of 1993 and published its first issue in the first quarter of 1994.
The editor and publisher is Andrew G. McCann, who has been a professional editor, comedian, and avid reader of SF and fantasy for many years
Like many fans of SF and fantasy, Andy (who is referring to himself here in the third person -- the editorial oui, as the French say) had always wanted to publish his own cigar-chompin', ham-fisted SF magazine, yet was stymied by the time and money constraints (i.e., his laziness and cheapskate-ness) of paper-based publishing, where he had first-hand experience. However, with the rising growth of online services and the Internet in the early 1990s -- which promised nearly free printing and distribution -- Andy saw the light and began working industriously on the first glorious issue of Planet Magazine.
The name Planet Magazine was chosen for a number of reasons: as an homage to "Planet Stories" (the pulp SF magazine published from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s), to connote the global reach of the Internet, to allude to the other worlds found so often in SF, and to acknowledge the internal "worlds" of writers and artists. From the start, Planet focused on fiction written by beginning or little-known authors, partly because the editor himself was fairly new to zine publishing and partly because he couldn't afford to pay anything other than the currency of good vibes.
Planet was never interested in charging readers, running ads, or reviewing commercial SF products like "Babylon 5," "Star Trek," or Enron's balance sheet - preferring instead to keep the zine simple and fun. Initially, material came from people the editor knew. Later, as the zine became more widely distributed on AOL, CompuServe, the now-defunct eWorld, various online bulletin boards, and via Internet e-mail, readers and artists began submitting directly to Planet. Eventually, in late 1995, Planet began creating it's own Web site (which is no big thing these days but was hard to arrange then).
As editor of Planet Magazine, Andy reviews submissions, along with the staff, make acceptances or rejections, edits and proofreads as needed, and uploads the final pages. Planet's staff includes Romeo Esparrago, who not only has designed many issues of Planet but also creates art for its pages. In real life he is an engineer. His home page can be found at romedome.com. Planet's associate editors are Ray Dangel, a former journalist and current writer, and Tom Wagner, an actual scientist and a graduate of a prestigious SF writing workshop; both Tom and Ray help edit and proofread stories and poems. When we reject pieces, we offer our reasons, and we sometimes will work with the authors to revise their work.
About e-zines and reading stories online:
Lots of people don't like to read text on a computer screen, and that's an issue we considered carefully way back in 1993 when we were planning the first issue of our Little Zine. Readability is why we've always published stories in single-column format, so readers don't have to scroll up and down (although we've been guilty in the past of using colored text fonts and too many frames). In fact, we tried to put Planet out as a paper publication, as well, for a little while, but the time and cost of that effort was at odds with our original intent of taking advantage of the Internet's relative low cost and ease of distribution. Still, it is hard to curl up with your monitor on the sofa (not to mention in the bath), and reading online can rack up connection charges for some people.
Thus, we have always suggested to readers that they print out Planet -- especially with the advent of cheap color printers -- if they are uncomfortable reading on-screen material. In fact, our earlier issues come in PDF, DOCMaker (Mac only), and text formats that can easily be printed out and look pretty good, too. The current and recent issues are in HTML, or Web, format only, which doesn't always print out as well as a PDF document, for example, but we think it's getting better as browser and browser-utility software improve.
We had to stop putting out issues in non-Web format because it just took too much time, and became a bit exhausting. We had wanted to move to HTML format in 1994 but felt that the page-creation tools were not user-friendly enough and that not enough people had Web access. However, in the past several years, the Worldwide Web obviously has taken off in a big way. We believe that the Web, as an international, cross-platform medium, is the easiest and best way to publish electronically. In future, as the Internet, the PC, and the TV somehow converge, we think reading publications online, and printing out online material, will become easier and cheaper.
The latest issue of Planet Magazine is available here or at our mirror site, http://www.etext.org/Zines/planet/.
Andrew G. McCann, editor
The Old Underwater Castle,
Cape Fear, N.Y.