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Worlds Without End Blog

Who Can Replace SF Signal? Posted at 8:00 AM by James Wallace Harris



The popular science fiction site, SF Signal closed it’s doors May 5th. There are many great sites on the internet devoted to science fiction, but I usually didn’t visit them unless SF Signal directed me with a link. I was lazy, depending on SF Signal to curate content for me. I’ll need to go elsewhere now for the two main functions I found so useful: news about science fiction books, and links to classic science fiction ebooks on sale. Their site provided immensely more content, but those two functions are what I’ll miss.

Other fans of this very useful site are going to miss SF Signal for other reasons. I’ve been wondering how many sites we’ll have to visit each day to make up for our loss. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bum out John DeNardo and crew because they left us. I understand, after almost thirteen years of relentless work they deserve a break. I just wonder who might provide some of the tasks they did so well. This would be a great time for a young person to jump in and start a site.

I’m going to mention just some of the locations I’ll have to visit to keep up with just the content I got from SF Signal. If you use programs like Feedly for RSS feeds, you could cobble together something like the daily “SF/F/H Link Post” – but it will require a whole lot more scanning time. I often saw many of its daily stories come through on News360 and FlipBoard, but never anything like all of them.

First, and foremost, I believe writers and publishers are going to miss SF Signal the most. SF Signal was great at promoting new novels, collections, anthologies and magazines. It’s daily “SF/F/H Link Post” was one-stop shopping for all the news about science fiction, fantasy and horror books, as well as media related news. They began the list with links to interviews, which I’m sure help new writers get noticed. They also published long lists of forth coming books and books received, published book reviews, and linked to books reviewed. Their regular feature “Mind Meld” let readers and writers reference older books that need remembering. All of this was a goldmine for book promotion. Here are some good sites to follow to keep up with the science fiction book world.

Of course SF Signal also covered movies, television, games, and other related media, as well as the fantasy and horror genres. My focus is SF books, so lists of alternate sites will have to be much longer if you want cover all the territory.

After the news, the thing I’m going to miss most are the list of bargain ebooks. I’ve built quite a library of classic science fiction books on my Kindle with SF Signal posts like “200+ SF/F/H eBooks for $5 Each or Less.” Not only did I love snagging old favorite books I read as a kid for $1.99, but I really enjoyed seeing all the book covers. It was rows of three with the sale ebooks, but larger rows of two, in the Books Received section. Take a look at the January-June 2016 list, and tell me you don’t like seeing the covers? Isn’t that a wonderful way to shop for books? I don’t know any site that takes the time to link to so many covers. I could go to my favorite bookstore and pull books off the shelf one at a time to look at covers, but this feature makes the job much easier.

I asked John how he tracked down all those book deals and he sent me these links:

Even subscribing to all of these daily newsletters of book bargains, they don’t provide the convenience of that SF Signal did with their sale posts. And that must have been a tremendous amount of work creating all those links

I hope some enterprising young person sets up a web site that offers just these two features. Links to all the great stories about SF/F/H on the web that comes out each day, and links to all the sale ebooks for SF/F/H. Actually, I’d be happy with a site that just focused on science fiction. But even narrowing the work down to one genre, it would probably take several hours a day to keep up with the task. Can you imagine doing that for thirteen years?

Web sites come and go. Especially ones that are essentially labors of love. Sure you can make money off the web, but it’s hard. Corporations with large bankrolls struggle every day. I hope SF Signal finds someone to host their archive, because I’d hate to see all that effort disappear. But I do think we’re seeing an interesting dynamic on the internet. The net has been around long enough for sites we once assumed would be there forever to disappear. I’ve known a number of folks who have burned out. I’m not sure users of the net understand the kind of work that’s involved with maintaining useful web sites. We have to salute the crew at SF Signal for working so hard for so long. (Long enough to attend kindergarten through high school graduation.)


S. C. Flynn   |   13 May 2016 @ 08:55

Good post, JW. Here is my answer to the question posed in your title:

jwharris28   |   13 May 2016 @ 09:30

SC, I hope everyone who comes here follows your link to your blog. You’ve done a major amount of work gathering up a great list of blogs that cover science fiction. I’m going to go through them and add some of them to my Feedly science fiction folder. By the way I follow your blog on WordPress, but don’t always get over there. I’ll try harder. Nice bookcases!

Scott Laz   |   13 May 2016 @ 11:03

Lots of other blogs with interesting content are out there, but time is limited, which is why those daily link posts were so valuable. I usually only read a couple of those links a day, but wouldn’t have found them otherwise. I always wondered how much work went into compiling those…

G   |   13 May 2016 @ 13:11

Probably the closest thing we’ll get to “replacing” SF Signal is to cobble together the stuff they did across several group blogs.

Case in point, the blog I co-edit isn’t going to replace SF Signal (no one can), but our blog has 13 writers, posts content every M-F and does review a lot of books. That’s complementary to what, say, file770 does.

Val   |   13 May 2016 @ 13:14

I suspect it is quite a lot of work although once those posts started becoming popular people would probably submit links and ask to be included. Especially for smaller sites link at SF-signal could be quite a traffic boost. I experienced it once at my blog when I was part of one of their mind melds.

Dave Post   |   13 May 2016 @ 14:59

@Val: Yeah, I’ve been wanting to get a WWEnd mention on SF Signal for years. We finally got one a couple days before they closed up shop thanks to JWH. Tons of click-throughs resulted in a bunch of new signups so I guess better late than never.

jwharris28   |   13 May 2016 @ 15:51

@Dave: I would have thought WWEnd would have gotten mention long before my post. I’ve mention WWEnd many times at Auxiliary Memory and SF Signal has linked to it pretty often, so maybe you got some indirect traffic from them. WWEnd deserves all the attention it can get, because it’s very cool. But then I love book lists and databases.

jwharris28   |   13 May 2016 @ 17:22

I’ve been wondering if the “SF/F/H Link Post” could be recreated with an input form to a database. That way a web page could just automatically generate the news stories for each day, and the submitter would do all the typing. Few people would want to do the daily work that would go into recreating the “SF/F/H Link Post.”

If the input form had:

Genre: (pull-down Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror)
Sub-genre: might be pull-down, or free form text
Medium: (pull-down Books, Movies, Television, Games, Comics, etc.)
Format: (pull-down Review, Interview, Essay, etc.)
Description: say less than 100 characters.

Each entry could get time and date stamp. To keep people from promoting themselves over and over again, the system could check the URL and reject any duplicates.

People would have two pages to visit. Post a news story, or read news stories. They could back through the previous days entries. Or a custom search page could be developed where people could ask for a combination of requirements. If they wanted to get fancy the designer could use cookies to remember people’s favorite settings, so users could customize the news they were interested in, and only those links would show up.

Adam Kranz   |   14 May 2016 @ 16:17

As a just starting out aspiring fantasy fiction/non-fiction writer, I’m thankful for the work you’ve done in gathering these links in one place. I am a bit surprised that everything seems so narrowly focused on news, hype, lists, and reviews, with only occasional posts that feel more discussion-oriented. I’ve had no trouble finding places to pitch and publish thesis-driven history and context pieces on video games, but I’m not seeing much of that sort of content on these blogs. Are there sites with that kind of orientation for fantasy literature? Or does that sort of content usually just squeeze into the fiction mag non-fiction sections and personal blogs in the fantasy community?

jwharris28   |   14 May 2016 @ 16:30

Adam, I was lamenting what I would miss from SF Signal, but that site, which is still up for now, should have what you want too. Look for posts marked “SF/F/H Link Posts” and then go through all the articles they link to and look for the kind of stuff you write, and then follow the link to that publication. Watch out, but the last one they did featured links to Capt. America stuff. But if you look at enough of the old SF/F/H Link Posts you should find paths to the journals and sites you want.

Also, here at Worlds Without End we have a page about magazines. Take a look at Strange Horizons, it publishes a lot of essays about SF/F/H. Go to their Article Archive section.

paul james   |   15 May 2016 @ 04:28

The site I use most is
It does focus on the perceived top books(I know this is subjective as eveyone’s opinion and tastes are different). However this is invaluable to me as I want to read from so many genres it helps me chose books.

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