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Bewildering Stories

What Are the Mariner Awards?

An author represented in the 2020 Mariner Awards asks an important question.

Are all the 26 authors winners of the 2020 Mariner awards?

Yes, that’s right: all of them. Why so many? The answer is complex: 26 are fewer than usual this year. But the reason for even that number is Bewildering Stories’ frequency of publication.

Some other publications may choose one title as their “best of the year.” That may make some kind of sense if they publish a few titles semi-annually or quarterly. Not in a weekly publication; such a choice would be not only unfair to authors and readers alike, it would be absurd. Proof: Which genre is “best of the year”? Which apples are rounder than which oranges?

Many authors tell us they’ve been “nominated for the [Wheelbarrow] Award.” I invent the name to refer to more than one such prize. And such awards may require editors to send massive hardcopy through the U.S. Postal Service in time to meet deadlines. No, we wouldn’t do that even before 2020.

Bewildering Stories is a large organization and is, I’m willing to bet, the largest literary webzine on the Internet. The Quarterly and Annual Reviews show that we take it very seriously; it’s no “catch-all” publication by any means.

Qualifying for publication is no mean feat. For example, without the four authors in Flash Fiction, we would not have had many in the past year. But rejection is not our purpose. Rather, we encourage authors to write stories, poems and essays that will — as we like to say — “keep the readers on the page with them.” And reading anything “on line” is an experience quite unlike reading print on paper.

As a result, many of the titles in the Quarterly and Annual Reviews are revisions initiated by suggestions from our review readers or by the authors themselves. At Bewildering Stories, we value that as progress and success.

I’ve seen other publications that resemble old-style print magazines or even what I call “bargain basement clearance tables.” Bewildering Stories is more like a library or a bookstore. The Quarterly and Annual Reviews are the work of a helpful staff ready to say, “Here’s something important” or “Here’s something we’re sure you’ll like.”

Copyright © 2020 by Don Webb
for Bewildering Stories

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