Science Fiction grew up in the magazines, starting with the pulps in the 1920’s and 30’s and proliferating thereafter until a paper shortage forced many of them to close down. Through the 50’s and 60’s there were still a significant number of magazines producing quality output on a regular basis from a variety of authors who were the icons of the field, and books were just starting to tap into the sf market. At that time it was possible for a fan to read everything that was being published. Gradually the books took over, and the magazines folded one by one through the 70’s and 80’s, with the occasional startup that lasted a few years and then gave up. Online venues and original anthologies are now the principle venues for short fiction. Here are the best-known and highest quality magazines publishing today:
Print Magazines – these can be found in the magazine section of your Barnes & Noble, usually with other fiction magazines and magazines for writers (not with the general interest SF magazines like SFX). Their websites will provide a few links to stories but mostly guide you to the print edition (also available on eReaders).
Asimov’s SF Magazine – Once the premier SF magazine, in recent years it’s been largely overlooked for award nominees as voters gravitate to free content and anthologies. Still a draw for top authors, and a new writer can be said to have arrived after being published here.
Analog Science Fiction – Oldest magazine still around, sticks to hard SF (owned by the same company as Asimov’s, so they have to differentiate somehow). Many stories favor clanky ideas over prose style, but best single location for your hard SF fix.
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) – Venerable print magazine, least significant online presence, leans more towards fantasy than SF, but mostly quality stuff.
Interzone – The only British SF magazine, hard to find in the U.S.
Apex Magazine – short stories only
Beneath Ceaseless Skies – primarily fantasy stories
Clarkesworld – also produces a print version. Short stories only
Lightspeed – 2014 Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine
Strange Horizons – maybe the oldest of the online magazines
Tor.com – SF’s biggest US book publisher, lots of content besides stories, many top authors as well as new writers