Ellen Datlow has been the greatest editorial advocate of publishing fiction online that the science fiction, fantasy and horror fields have yet seen. Starting in 1995 with the launch of Omni Online through to its demise in 1998, continuing with Event Horizon from September 1998 to December 1999, and then with SciFi.com’s SciFiction from May 2000 through to December 2005.
During that time she published fiction of an extraordinarily high standard, including Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy and Locus Award winners by some of the biggest, and most exciting names of the modern science fiction era. And, while none of those online publications offered their fiction for sale to the public, two of them (Omni and SciFiction) were either the highest paying or amongst the highest paying markets in the field at the time.
One of the things that I think may be being overlooked, in the sad decision to disontinue SciFiction is the extraordinary nature of this achievement, something that continually put art ahead of commerce, and confounded the experts again and again. While I can only mourn the fiction that probably won’t now be written or published, I want to celebrate Ellen’s achievements and, in many ways, the faith of her employers in continuing with the site as long as they did. I hope, at some point, to assemble a personal ‘best of Ellen’s online fiction’ list, but in the meantime I’d like to exhort some small press to collect all of the SciFiction short fiction between hardcovers. It’s been such a marvelous asset to the field, it would be a pity to see it devoured by archive.org and become less freely available.