In many ways, DargonZine is just like any other amateur writing group that you’d find meeting in libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops everywhere. In some ways, those traditional groups have certain advantages over us: it’s much easier to critique a work face-to-face than via email, and the author has much more control over how widely his or her works are distributed. Why, then, would writers accept these shortcomings and submit their stories to DargonZine?
The answer is you: our readers. Getting feedback and criticism from interested readers is one of the most powerful, exciting, and rewarding parts of writing, and it’s something DargonZine is uniquely able to encourage. Amateur writers come to us because we distribute their stories to a large number of representative fiction readers all over the world, and give those writers the opportunity to receive honest and constructive comments from their readers. In brief, DargonZine uses the Internet to bring readers and writers closer together.
To foster this interaction, we’ve always asked readers to send us their feedback, whether by filling out our online reader profile and questionnaire, sending mail to the Editor, or emailing individual writers with story comments. However, reader feedback of any kind has never been very frequent. So recently we gave some thought to how we could make it easier and more fun for readers to tell us what they think of our works so that we, in turn, can write better stories.
So after lots of thought and discussion, I’m pleased to announce that in this issue we’re going to pilot a new idea: giving you, our readers, the ability to “rate” each story.
If you are reading this issue as an HTML page on our Web site, at the end of both stories in this issue you’ll find a sidebar that contains several voting buttons that allow you to quickly tell us what you think about the story you’ve just finished reading. You can also display a page with a summary graph of all the reader votes and each of the comments that the story has received. By giving you access to other readers’ ratings and comments, we’re fostering a little more communication between our readers, as well!
But the real goal is to give you, our readers, more of a participatory role in what we do, without asking you for a lot of time or energy. We intentionally kept the interface and options simple in order to ensure that casting your vote would be quick, easy, and fun. Of course, we still eagerly welcome additional feedback, as well. But please take the time to try rating the stories in this issue! If it works out and is well-received, we hope to very quickly add the ratings sidebar to all our stories, both past and future, and we look forward to hearing more about your thoughts on each of the stories we print.
This issue contains stories from two of Dargon’s elders, both of whom printed their first stories way back in 1986, when DargonZine was still called FSFnet. The issue begins with Dafydd’s “Talisman Four”. This, the eighteenth chapter in his Talisman saga, begins to tie together the various threads that Dafydd has woven together over the past 18 months. The rest of the issue is devoted to a lengthy new story from another Dargon “lifer”, Carlo Samson.
Looking forward, we hope to distribute our next issue around July 1. We are, of course, approaching the traditional time of year for our annual DargonZine Writers’ Summit, so it may take a week or two longer than usual for us to get the next issue to you. But that issue will contain a write-up and a pointer to photos from the Summit as well as more new fiction, so watch for it!