Ian Redman is one of the most experienced and long lived editors in the UK Small Press, having published Jupiter for four years now (and before that Zest ), and kept it on a quarterly schedule, gaining the magazine an enviable reputation for quality and reliability.
For this interview we wanted to do something a little different, and so threw it open to the floor, inviting the members of Whispers Forums to submit questions for Ian.
What follows is the result:
Q: How do the PDFs compare in popularity with the print copies of Jupiter ? And do the PDFs have colour covers?
A: The PDFs sometimes have colour covers; obviously it depends on the original artwork. In terms of popularity, PDFs have been a complete failure, well, not a complete failure, but they dont exactly fly of the metaphorical shelves. In some ways Im glad. I feel magazines and fiction in general is always read best when its on paper held in front of you; its easier to get comfortable that way, and I enjoy reading much more when Im comfortable. Its reassuring that my readership seems to agree, theyd rather hold something physical than just look at words on a screen.
Q: I'm reminded, at times, of a 21st Century version of John Carnell's New Worlds when reading Jupiter (this is a compliment in my world), but what magazines does Ian have a fondness for (past or present)?
A: Top Gear but seriously Kimota and Odyssey used to be favourites; it seems a shame that in the gap between publishing Zest and Jupiter so much of the old small press seems to have vanished.
Q: What's your favourite science fiction story or novel that features the planet Jupiter?
A: 2010: Odyssey Two . I remember watching this for the first time at my friends house. Id already read the book and found this a fantastically realistic film of space exploration, and unlike 2001 , I found it made sense too.
Q: Does the name reflect a fondness for hard SF or is it deliberately ambiguous given the mythical nature of the Olympian Jupiter?
A: I have a huge fondness for hard SF. Im an engineer by trade, so I love reading about the technology of the future.
Q: If he does lean towards hard SF, does Ian feel that he gets enough stories of the type that he is looking for?
A: There will never ever be enough good hard SF. That said, I only publish stories I like, and I manage to fill my 4 issues a year, so I guess that means I get enough.
Q: Did he learn much from Zest when setting up Jupiter ?
A: Mainly I took on board the knowledge that I could do it, but like everything, the more you do something the better you get at it. I keep looking at the very first copy of Zest , as a reminder of how much better Jupiter is!
Q: Are there any plans to do any more one-off publications such as A Ship To Nowhere ?
A: No. It didnt sell very well, the market for it just doesnt seem to be out there.
Q: Does he write fiction or poetry himself?
A: Yes, but none of it is any good. A story got accepted once, but fortunately the magazine folded shortly before publication.
Q: Does he see Jupiter expanding to include interviews or features in the future?
A: I dont see it happening, but it could do. Zest used to have the odd interview and feature and they worked well. Personally I feel more at home with fiction, and I always feel its best to play to your strengths. While Im not against interviews or features, Im happy to leave them to others who can do a much better job than I.
Q: Any plans for expanding into the North American market, or does the PDF format negate the necessity of American distribution?
A: Ironically none of our American subscribers take the PDF format. I did at one stage seriously consider trying to tie up with an American distributor, but decided I couldnt afford to invest the time into doing it right. Distribution is a tricky issue. It has to be done well, as getting it wrong has the potential of doing a lot of damage to a magazines image, and in the end I felt the risk of doing it badly was worse than the risk of selling fewer copies. That was when I decided to do a PDF version, to try and negate the extra postage costs being an issue to overseas subscribers; as I said before, it didnt exactly work out that way!
Q: Who are his favourite authors?
A: Doesnt anybody read the writers guidelines. For those of you who arent writers, Peter F. Hamilton, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Silverberg and Stephen Lawhead rate at the top of my list.
Q: Who are his favourites amongst the authors (and stories) that he has published?
A: I dont have favourite authors amongst those I publish. I have favourite stories, but not authors. I feel all my authors are capable of producing great work.
Q: Does he attend conventions?
Q: Has he been in touch with Gardner Dozois to correct the Jupiter mention in last year's Year's Best SF ? (Dozois said that, as he hadn't seen a copy all year, he had to assume that the magazine was defunct.)
A: Yes, its a shame a simple web search couldnt have been run first, but hopefully hell run a correction next year and well get a bit more publicity.
Q: Does a good review make a noticeable difference to orders?
A: Its difficult to tell as most of our readers are subscribers; however I have noticed that bad reviews seem to help. People have a strange desire to find out if it really was all that bad.
Q: How does he manage to get four issues out in a year?
A: Same way I manage to breath; it just happens. Perhaps Im a little too relaxed
about that, but I always seem to be sent just the right amount of fiction. Occasionally
Ill be sat waiting, a story short, desperately hoping to receive something. Strangely
thats often when the very best stories appear.
Q: Are you selling fewer or more issues now than at the beginning?
A: Fewer of issue 1, more of issue 16
Q: Have you got the same readership as then or has it evolved?
A: Readers have come, readers have gone. It is the way of the world.
Q: Do you think your religious views ever influence your acceptance or rejection of a story?
A: Yes they do. There are some stories I just wont publish. For example, Ive received a few stories in the past where the final outcome is that God doesnt exist. Its the sort of thing that I couldnt publish. At the end of the day I feel Im responsible to God for how I live my life, and if I dont feel I could look God in the face after publishing a story, I wont publish it. If I do reject a story on religious grounds then I always make it clear to the author. I also try especially hard to provide useful objective feedback. Ive probably only rejected 4 or 5 stories like this and some of them have been really good otherwise.
Q: As in the above question, do you allow your own views on life to influence you more than the actual internal quality of a story?
A: Obviously my views of life can shape whether I enjoy a story more or less. I tend not to enjoy stories with excessive swearing or sex in them. I would never objectively let my views override the quality however. I dont care whether a story includes God or not; Ive read awful stories which do, Ive read great stories which dont. What matters to me is whether Im going to remember the story in 5 minutes, or 5 days time. If its a good story, it leaves me with a good feeling and I remember it.
Q: Put another way, would you ever publish a story that didn't appeal to you at all - in subject matter, say - but that you recognised would/might appeal to your readers?
A: No, if it doesnt appeal to me I cant comprehend how it could appeal to anyone else. I think it would be wrong to publish any story I wasnt convinced by. To publish a magazine that way would probably lead to a horrible mishmash of stories, a magazine I wouldnt enjoy editing, and a magazine no one would enjoy reading. If I ever find myself editing something that doesnt appeal, thats when I stop editing.
Q: Do you receive enough submissions to choose, not just the best of the submissions, but a batch of stories that you would consider good even if ten times as many had been submitted?
A: Thats how I work, I dont set targets of accepting x number of stories. I read pieces as they come in, and if I like them, I publish them. Id rather publish fewer issues or smaller ones than publish a piece I wasnt convinced by. Its difficult sometimes when readers dont agree with my choices, but ultimately, if its published, its because I like it; either the way it was written or the story itself, but I liked something. Thats one of the reasons I dont go back and read old stories Ive published. Ive done it occasionally and have always ended up feeling a little unsure, the story wasnt as fantastic as I thought it was--but thats just changing tastes. I recently read a book I loved as a teenager, and it was OK; my imagination just worked better with the book a few years ago, my memories of reading it were fantastic, and I guess Id like to keep it that way with the stories I publish, each one of them as a treasured memory.
Q: Do you ever make a preliminary selection, and then give them to a third party to help you choose/verify your choice?
A: No, but very occasionally Ill re-read a piece a few days later to check my mindset wasnt off when I first read the piece. I tend to feel my readers will judge the magazine and its stories on their first read through, so I dont like doing anything different before accepting a piece. At the end of the day, I dont want to risk publishing a compromise.
Q: How did you come up with the title for Jupiter ? Why the planet Jupiter in particular?
A: I love space and I wanted to do something interesting with the title. Moons around planets are technically numbered; the names come later, so our moon is described as Earth I. I thought this would be an interesting way of numbering issues of a magazine so picked the Planet with the largest number of moons--Jupiter.
Q: And why with every issue that comes out quarterly named after one of its moons/bodies?
A: That would be why I chose it!
Q: Ian was wondering about putting out a smaller Jupiter five times a year in order to keep the same page count and defeat the foul evil that is Royal Mail. What was his conclusion?
A: When it came to it, it simply wasnt necessary, as my post office is happy that Jupiter fits though the slot just fine. I havent been alerted to an excess amount of issues not turning up so all seems to be well.
Q: Is Eric S. Brown who appeared in Jupiter a different writer to Eric Brown?
A: Assuming you mean the Eric Brown who resides at www.ericbrown.co.uk, then yes, they are different people. Eric S Brown can be found here and is an entirely different person. Or a very good double bluff.
Questions were submitted by Jim Steel, Lawrence Dagstine, Steve Redwood and X the Unknown. Our thanks to them and Ian for making this happen.
Finally, go here if you wish to discuss this interview or provide feedback.
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