49 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Magazines Ranked from Best to Worst

In my last post, I explained why I’ve cut off my first round of magazine reviews at 49, and described my ranking method.  So, on to the results, giving my first issue of each magazine an Olympic-style score from 10 to 1:

[WARNING:  Do not go to the website of Red Sun Magazine, as its domain registration expired and was taken over by scammers.  The link below is to my review of the magazine, not to the scammer website.  It is still safe to go to their facebook or twitter accounts, or to buy their magazine at Amazon.]


Red Sun Magazine



Space and Time

Beneath Ceaseless Skies



Heroic Fantasy Quarterly


Sci Phi Journal


Perihelion SF

Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine

Fantasy Scroll

Astounding Frontiers

Albedo One

Mothership Zeta

Just a Minor Malfunction



Compelling SF

Nebula Rift

Plasma Frequency

Deep Magic

Broadswords and Blasters



On Spec


Magazines above here have a chance to move up in the rankings during rounds two and three.  All magazines below here are probably out of the running for a medal.


Stupefying Stories


Intergalactic Medicine Show

Fantasy & Science Fiction

Shoreline of Infinity


The Overcast


Alien Dimensions



Leading Edge






Galaxy’s Edge

Diabolical Plots

Phase 2

Daily SF



Outposts of Beyond




Strange Horizons

I  haven’t written a silly story for a while, so I’m handing this post over to professional sportscasters:

“Thank you, Planetary Defense Commander.  I’m the ghost of Howard Cosell, and this is my co-host, Sportsbot 9000.”

“It’s great to be here, Howard.”

“Tonight’s fight is bigger than the Rumble in the Jungle — bigger than the Thrilla in Manila.  Forty-nine teams — three hundred and sixty five authors — all in the ring at the same time, swinging away.”

“That’s right, Howard.  This ring was designed specifically to contain that number of combatants while still giving them room to maneuver and fight.”

“An excellent observation.  Let’s talk about round one.”

“We’ll start at the top, Howard.  I didn’t see any pre-fight predictions that two rookie teams, with no previous fight experience, would place first and second after round one.”

“Red Sun didn’t pull any punches, and wasn’t afraid to hit below the belt.  Misha Burnett, team captain for Cirsova, landed some devastating heavy blows against his opponents.”

“Third place was nearly as big a surprise, Howard.”

“Space and Time has been slugging it out in minor venues for as long as I can remember.  That experience paid off, and they’ve got a shot at the title tonight.”

“Howard, I’m afraid that many of tonight’s viewers may not understand why the fourth-place team, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, was considered an underdog going into this fight.”

“BCS grew up on the wrong side of the tracks — the literary side of the tracks.  There is nothing that will get you knocked out faster than showing any sign of being literary.  I don’t know how BCS is still standing after round one.”

“What about the teams that weren’t underdogs, Howard?  Analog managed a respectable fifth place.”

“Analog may still be standing, but all of the other big-name favorites were beaten so badly they can’t even come out of their corners for round two.  Their managers have thrown in the towels.”

“Howard, my pattern-matching software has spotted a cluster of pulp-style teams scoring sixes.  Do you think any of them have a shot at the title?”

“If they come out swinging in rounds two and three, and if the frontrunners let down their guards, we just might have another upset on our hands.”

“Howard, you’re well-connected in the sports community.  Which team is getting the most buzz from sports journalists?”

“That would be Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine.  The sports pages are full of articles about Talking Chicken.  ASIM threw one-two combinations of solid performances and earth-shattering belly flops.”

“Speaking of belly flops, Howard, let’s roll the ‘Agony of Defeat’ footage.”

“There’s Lontar, the William Hung of science fiction.  Ouch, look at Uncanny go down again.  They spend more time on the canvas than Sonny Liston.  Ooo, Strange Horizons tried a rope-a-dope, but was knocked clean out of the ring.  I’ve got to look away.”

“I can’t look away, Howard.  This footage is burned permanently into my memory.”

“And there’s the bell signaling the start of round two.”


  1. So are you going to review another edition for the magazines with scores of 6 or higher?

    1. I’ve read, or plan to read, a second and third issue of most of them. I think I’ll cover both issues in a double-feature post. So, I’ll have a review of Red Sun 2 and 3, then a review of Cirsova 2 and 3, etc., with a silly intro story at the beginning of each post, of course.

      1. I hope we can stick the landing! :O

        1. Everyone who makes it into round two will have an outside chance at a medal, since the above rankings are only based on 1/3 of the ultimate readings.

          I haven’t run any numbers yet, but I’m guessing that Cirsova will finish strong, as Hernstrom’s story in issue 2 gives you a real edge.

  2. Reblogged this on Every Day Should Be Tuesday and commented:

    If you are considering diving into SF short fiction, you owe it to yourself to check out Planetary Defense Command. He reviewed 49(!) magazines, and now he has ranked all 49. Magazines in the top half will move on to his next round.

    The recent spate of pulp-inspired mags are well represented. Every Day Should Be Tuesday favorite Cirsova is one of two magazines to score a 10. Astounding Frontiers, Broadswords & Blasters, and Storyhack all squeak into the top half, beating out the only magazine I actually subscribe to, the pro-rate paying Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

    I am way behind on my magazine reading!

  3. A lot of work went into this, and it helps to see them all rated on one page. I love the story, and Cosell’s voice came right back to my memory. Love the Hung and Liston references too.

    1. Cosell’s voice really sticks with you. I guess that’s why he was employed as a sportscaster. I put his name into Youtube, and there’s an hour-long biography of him which I may watch someday.

      I figured people would remember Hung, but didn’t know if anyone would remember Liston.

  4. Reblogged this on Cirsova.

  5. Glad to see Astounding Frontiers, Lyonesse, and Storyhack made round two! I’m looking forward to those next reviews!

    1. Those are magazines where I haven’t read the second and third issues yet, so I’m really curious what I’ll find.

  6. Man, this is great. I think some lions are needed though 😉

    1. Zombies are scheduled for round 3.

      1. buys popcorn *

  7. I’m flattered, but I really think if any author is Cirsova’s team captain it would be Sky Hernstrom.

    1. He’ll be team captain for round 2.

  8. […] via 49 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Magazines Ranked from Best to Worst — Planetary Defense Command […]

  9. I vaguely remeber a while back when you first started this magazine quest, I was going to recommend Uncanny Magazine, because it is my favorite… but I remember I didn’t becaus I was fairly certain they wouldn’t have the types of stories you’d be interested in. And after looking at the ranking, I’m glad I kept my mouth shut XD

    But I do love how your doing this. I’m a med student, so my pleasure reading has switch from novels to random short-stories (not novelettes or novellas) from magazine and anthologies.

    1. Did you read the issue of Uncanny that I read? There were two stories which I just couldn’t believe got into any magazine, so I’d love to hear if you enjoyed something about them that I missed.

      What are some of the other places where you’re finding stories that you like?

  10. […] the next couple of weeks, I’ll be writing at least four posts discussing the results from the first round of my magazine quest.  They will reference the ratings from one to five that I gave individual stories.  So that […]

  11. […] time to look at the stories in my forty-nine ranked magazines by genre.  First, let’s see if editors prefer one genre over another.  I removed magazines […]

  12. […] let’s break down the stories in the 49 magazines by the author’s nationality.  I couldn’t always find this information, and I’ve […]

  13. […] break down the stories in my 49 ranked magazines by the author’s […]

  14. […] end up with higher-quality material to publish. I decided to plot my ratings of short stories in 49 ranked magazines against the cents per word paid for them.  I was only able to use 299 out of 365 stories, as some […]

  15. […] realized that in my hurry to look at the stories in my 49 ranked magazines broken down by genre, by nation, by gender, and by pay, I didn’t present the entire […]

  16. […] combustion, stuff like that.  Reyes’ work has appeared in Red Sun and Cirsova, currently my two top-ranked magazines, but I just don’t get his […]

  17. […] tagged with one is an accomplishment, especially in a double-length issue.  Thirty-two of the forty-nine magazines in round one of my quest had at least one single-star […]

  18. I love that you gave Sci Phi Journal an 8, though I must confess selfish reasons. I had a story, The Road Not Taken, published in the 16 December 2016 issue. https://www.sciphijournal.org/index.php/2016/12/16/the-road-not-taken-by-august-von-orth/

  19. Reblogged this on far kingdoms and commented:

    Not only is this a great list to find new science fiction and fantasy reads, but if you’re a scifi/fantasy writer looking to submit your work, you can start here! Check it out!

  20. […] been enjoying StoryHack magazine, and it’s a top contender to win my magazine quest once I’ve written all the second and third issue reviews and tallied the final scores.  […]

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