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New Lit on the Block :: Radon Journal

Radon Journal issue one online sci fi literary magazine cover image

Radon [rey-don] noun Chemistry + Journal [jur-nl] noun Literature

[entry] what happens when a group of highly educated people with more than fifty years writing experience and twenty-five years in publishing get tired of not seeing their interests represented so create a journal combining libertarian socialism with science fiction.

Initially launched without a masthead, “afraid of potential blowback against a sci-fi anarchist journal of expression,” Radon Editors now reflect, “nothing except love has come our way, and we are proud to provide a professional venue for authors of all forward-thinking stripes.”

Publishing mid-January, May, and September, Radon Journal focuses on science fiction, anarchism, transhumanism, and dystopian literary arts, though they do also look for professional digital artwork for each issue. Stories are available for free reading and download, and they will also provide any requested digital format to their patrons.

The name Radon comes from the publication’s motto: “Radical Perception.” By taking the first three letters and the last two, the editors “forged a snappier name to rally behind. That the word Radon is also a known radioactive gas is simply a delightful coincidence.”

Radon currently has eight editors working behind the scenes, each with an equal voice in their collective. “All of us hold degrees in publishing and writing, often multiple master’s and a PhD. To give all of our experience and credentials with writing and publishing would form a lengthy essay. Some of us are science fiction authors and poets since the 2000s, and others took to the publishing life in university from collegiate literary magazines. Now the majority of us work in the university/scientific publishing industries. Our true passion is science fiction, but we’ve stayed away from the trade industry due to the terrible labor conditions.”

For writers interested in the submission process, the editors explain, “Once an author’s submission is sent through our website’s file system, we have it read by at least three sets of eyes. Any story receiving a positive rating moves on to our weekly discussion meeting. Before each meeting, all members are expected to have read the marked stories, including those who specialize in the opposite literary form (such as our poets reading flash fiction). At this Radon session, we bring up works individually and discuss them as a group. Those who wish to publish the piece make the case for the story, and the same is true for those with concerns. We only publish work that reaches consensus at the end of this dialogue. After this, we move into the production stage. All-in-all, it takes two to four weeks to get back to an author.”

In part, this depth and breadth of writing and publishing experience help drive the mission for the editors, “We know life is tough out there for writers because we experienced it, and they deserve a paying publisher who will stand behind them. They deserve a literary journal that will champion their progressive genre works, assist them in their career, and not disappear after one year.”

In fact, Radon Editors are already planning a subtheme to augment their standard issue in 2023. “Since we are a transhuman journal in constant dialogue with technology, we are looking for authors to incorporate AI/machine learning writing software into their creation. With the advent of advanced AI writing tools such as SudoWrite, new avenues are open for artists. We are many years away from AI systems replacing the human writer, but they have already become indispensable writing tools. We would like to test the software and challenge authors to create stories by mastering this new tool at their disposal.”

Radon readers can likewise expect to benefit from this expertise in finding the most well-curated stories that will “challenge how they see the world, whether that be socially or economically. That is the point of fiction in the first place,” Radon Editors comment, “to put new eyes over your own. Science fiction does this better than any other genre, forcing us to confront our humanity as it is now in order to explore a (hopefully) better world tomorrow. We are not afraid to shy away from political messaging such as unions, labor conditions, transhuman realities, or anti-capitalist futures.”

Radon Journal Issue 2 online sci fi literary magazine cover image

Though our editors are based out of the US, contributors from around the globe gravitate towards Radon. “Wonderful authors to check out from our first issue include Ai Jiang, C.J. Carter-Stephenson, Bruce Boston, Stephen S. Powers, and Vanessa Jae. And from the second issue, Brian U. Garrison, who is the SFPA’s (Science Fiction Poetry Association) Secretary and soon-to-be President, and Jonathan Olfert, a Canadian science fiction writer.”

Any new start-up can present challenges, even for the most seasoned writers and publishers. “Our greatest hurdle,” Radon Editors share, “has been the degree to which we hit the ground running. With hundreds of submissions coming within single weekends and two thousand submissions total for our early issues, we have had to expand quickly and learn to work at scale. Our team remains an all-volunteer crew, working after-hours from our full-time jobs and graduate night school, putting all donations we receive directly back to paying our authors.” But the payoff, in addition to the satisfaction of producing a gorgeously high-quality publication, Radon Editors say, “Our greatest joy has been the immensely warm welcome we’ve received from every corner.”

Looking forward, Radon Editors aim to grow our journal’s community, find full funding, and increase their author payment rates from semi-professional to professional. “Further down the road, we plan to be as long-lasting and respected as the 20th-century science fiction magazines that are still around today. Additionally, should we reach our Patreon fundraising goal, we will be able to switch from our existing submission system to Submittable, and then be able to offer contests. For now, during our first year, we are focused on the fundamentals. We aim to become a mainstay and exist for decades and are driven to ensuring we start well.”

As a final comment, Radon Editors add, “This literary magazine exists as a political statement for the positive aspects of anarchy, as a vehicle to assist authors, and as a showcase that science fiction deserves better reverence as an art form. We hope others are inspired by our journal to start their own anarchist or science fiction publisher. There’s plenty of space.”

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