The Portal Archive: Editors’ Note, October/November 2010

Welcome, readers. Some of you may have heard about us online, and some of you probably met Val in Columbus. Hi!

The Portal is a free, volunteer-run, online review of short-form science fiction, fantasy, and horror from around the world. We review work in English and also provide English-language coverage of short fiction markets, anthologies, and genre literary activities in many language communities.

We concentrate on short-form fiction for several reasons.  First of all, short fiction is a prime place for new writers to develop their artistry and discipline. It’s also a source of development for editors and publishers, who can learn to work with authors, build their business skills, and make a reputation. Finally, the abbreviated length of short fiction makes it conducive to translation.

Our mission is to benefit authors, editors, bureau heads and reviewers, and fans around the world.

  • Authors will gain public feedback on their work, increased exposure, and usable pull-quotes.
  • Editors will get a quick way to survey their field and experience work in other languages.
  • Bureau heads and reviewers will have a venue in which to share insights, build their portfolios, explore new work, and keep their critical skills sharp.
  • Fans will have a place to read about work released in languages they may not know.

Val says: This magazine wouldn’t exist without our bureau heads and reviewers, as well as my co-editor Elizabeth Allen and advisor René Walling. But I also owe its inception to several people who have contributed to my development as a critic and editor:

  • Eugie Foster, who took me on as a writer for Andrew Cox’s short fiction review, The Fix, and helped me to see how that kind of publication can be run
  • René Walling, who asked me to assist him with both Anticipation, the 67th Worldcon, and with his publishing house, Nanopress, where I developed my existing skills and gained new capabilities
  • Cheryl Morgan, whose encouragement and network of contacts have also made a difference, especially when I was forming my initial group of bureau heads and coordinators
  • The WorldSF Blog has also has also been an inspiration, and I’ve found myself scanning their postings looking for potential bureau heads to recruit.

I got the idea to found The Portal after The Fix closed. A writer friend of mine commented that short fiction authors need a source of pull quotes, and I started thinking about why short-form work is important in genre marketplaces. I also began mulling over my experiences in the Francophone SF community in Canada, which I found incredibly welcoming. Wanting to bring both short fiction and the global SF community together, I began to think bigger, bounced my idea off René and Cheryl, and contacted Elizabeth, a longtime friend and fellow Fix reviewer, to join me.

Elizabeth says: When Val asked me to join The Portal as an editor, of course I said yes. Of all genres, I especially enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and horror. With the strictures of realism loosened, these genres address the world from a poetic, phantasmagorical vantage. The short form often compounds the power of a piece by focusing and condensing it, providing bite-sized chunks of wonder and transcendence. Simply put, the best short-form science fiction and fantasy gives me an intelligent joy.

The international aspect of The Portal also interests me. Though I can read French passably, I know little, for example, of the realms of French (or other non-Anglophone) sci fi and fantasy. The Portal is a means for me to expand my knowledge of the genres I love.


Our goal is to see The Portal continue to change and grow every year. We want to seek out publishers and publications that are new to us without giving short shrift to markets we already cover. We wish to foster connections between genre writers, critics, editors, and fans from language communities that have not yet had much interaction. Ultimately, all of us here at The Portal would like to see more short-fiction reviews come into being. Ambitious though we may be, we can’t cover the entire world on our own!

Want to join us? See this page with info for potential coordinators, bureau heads, and reviewers.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Val Grimm, Editor-in-Chief

Elizabeth A. Allen, Editor


One thought on “The Portal Archive: Editors’ Note, October/November 2010

  1. My name is Samantha Williams and I am contacting you on behalf of Apex Book Company. We recently released an ebook anthology of horror called Apexology: Horror, and since I noticed you review short fiction, I wanted to see if someone on staff would be interested in reading and reviewing it. It contains twenty-one stories and I have it in just about any format you need to read it in (seven formats to be exact). I realize that you must have a busy schedule and it would be much appreciated if you took some time to read the anthology. If you have any questions regarding the anthology or if you are interested in reviewing it, please email me back so I can send you it in the format you request.

    Thank you,
    Samantha E. Williams, Apex Book Company

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