Black Holes and the Speculative Fiction (Magazine) Universe

While I was mining the internet for data regarding speculative fiction demographics, I ran across an interesting link that led me to this image: purported statistics on the comparative popularity of speculative fiction magazines, done up in a visual style that would not be amiss in a conceptual-shot of a galaxy core– or a game of Katamari Damacy:

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The site is called Many Eyes, a “collection of data visualizations” meant to “allow the entire internet to upload data, visualize it, and talk about their discoveries with other people.” (Out of curiosity I did a search for “consoles” but the graphs were tame; then again, my specific search for “console wars” generated no hits. I can think of several quite graphic visualizations for those, but I digress…)

Many Eyes is quite clear that it in no way guarantees that the data on the site is accurate, but the site states that the users who upload the data generally cite the source of said data. A bit of poking around with the interface, and I was led to the data source for the above mentioned chart, which turned out to be another interesting link I’d yet to encounter: Submitting to the Black Hole, a subpage of the Critters website. The page has a laudable goal–to document the average time it takes an SF mag to respond to a submission, or in the site’s own words: “an attempt to locate verifiable response time data as well as “horror stories” for markets that have kept (or are keeping) manuscripts far longer than one might consider reasonable.” It was just updated 9 June 2009 so it’s being kept up to date, and it is a very useful database for writers in the trenches wondering if somehow the internets ate their story.

I’m assuming that the Many Eyes visualization uses the “data points” column, which I take to mean the number of authors who reported the response times for each magazine; even if we suppose the subsection of authors who have been submtting data to the Black Hole site are not an accurate representation of the majority, the chart is interesting enough in itself, and finding the Black Hole page makes it all worthwhile.

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