I can't really express how sad the end of SCI FICTION makes me. It's like losing a good friend. Checking out the new story was pretty much the first thing I'd do on Wednesday mornings when I got to work (no one tell my boss, ok?)
It doesn't seem clear what’s going to happen to the archives, so I encourage everyone to peruse the archives while they are still available. I gave myself an arbitrary limit of ten stories to recommend, and ended up with twelve through a great effort of will:
The Ugly Chickens by Howard Waldrop. The first of the classics on the site, and probably the first Waldrop story I ever read. You should read all the rest of his stories too. But this is Howard being Howard at his best. He's double plus good and if you don't read him you are a wronghead.
Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Scott Westerfield - OK, I pretend the last section doesn't exist, but it's a great first contact/baseball story. Stop before the end though.
King Soloman's Ring by Roger Zelazny - I do hope his Amber books made him piles of money, but to be honest, I've always been a bit indifferent to them. Sure I liked them well enough, but I'd never drop my own money on a copy. That said, Zelazny is a master of the words and where he really pops for me is in short fiction. He's got a couple up on the SCI FICTION site, but I think this is my favorite of the lot.
Five Guys Named Moe by Sean Klein and Neutrino Drag by Paul Di Fillipo - A lot of science fiction isn't very fun. It's dour and depressing and makes me want to take to drink, but I always loved that SCI FICTION published a lot of fun stories; stories that would just leave me with a big grin on my face when I was done. These were two of the best.
Un Bel Di by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - This story is repulsive in the very best way. Creepy, disgusting, believable. Very, very disturbing. In a similar mood, though completely different, The Man Who Counts by William Barton. Never thought I'd root for a serial killer. Never thought a serial killer would be the good guy.
Zora and the Zombie by Andy Duncan - How much do I love Andy Duncan? I think my writer crush on him on him is very nearly as big as my one on Howard Waldrop. He's a great writer of what I like to call secret histories - bits dropped between what know about historical figures, not contradicting the published fact, but somehow making me feel like Mr Duncan has a time machine and has been following his subjects around recording everything. (And I was really hoping the chicken story was going to show up here eventually - alas.)
Anyway by M. Rickert - Gordon Van Gelder's had a monopoly on Mary's fiction for far too long. This is a lovely story about war and the very personal pain people go through that never descends into peachiness. Simply lovely.
The Water Master by Carol Emshwiller - So many good stories to choose from here. I think she is the most published author on the site, and deservedly so. I think this is probably my favorite of the lot because it involves the most basic of needs - water - and what happens to people when there isn't enough of it. Really you should go read all of her stories.
The Last Big Sin by Kit Reed - Oh my, this is some wickedly funny satire. Weight loss as revivalist religion! (I do believe this has been expanded into a book and you all should go buy it now.)
The Children's Crusade by Robert Reed - I'm not quite sure why I like this story so much, but I do, and in some ways that's the prototypical SCI FICTION story - it's got something that makes me sit up and take notice even if I'm not sure why. That's why this market is going to be sorely missed.
Thanks, Ellen. Hope you're publishing more excellent fiction really soon. We're going to miss SCI FICTION bunches.