For the 10th anniversary of the Million Writers Award, Jason Sanford has put out a list of dead online literary journals. I note with not a little chagrin that my own publication history lines up pretty well with this list, and I’ve suggested a couple of additions to the list that appear to have died under Jason’s otherwise very sensitive radar.
Online literary journals are a great place for new writers to test their chops, and for adventurous readers to discover the future, or at least the present. They can take more risks than their print cousins, but are a little more casual, too: the great lit mag site of today is the dead URL (or, worse, domain-parking spam site) of tomorrow. There’s always the “wayback machine” at the Internet Archive (which captured this gem of a story from my past), but the Internet Archive has some pretty big gaps that a lit magazine can very easily slip through.
As places I’ve published disappear, I’ve been bringing stories over to Fictionaut, just to keep my various links alive. But there’s something about the ephemeral nature of online journals that is intriguing: while things can appear very quickly in the digital world, they can disappear just as quickly, maybe even more quickly, and leave absolutely no trace. The Internet’s oubliette can be darker and more final than any medieval tyrant could have dreamed, leaving not even a scratch on the wall and a handful of bones to mark its inmates’ passing.