SFX founder returns to sci-fi

Twelve years after its launch, the creator of Future's monthly sci-fi magazine, SFX, is launching a rival sci-fi publication from his own company, Blackfish Publishing.

Matt Bielby, who was at the helm of SFX when it launched, is launching Death Ray next month, and said that the magazine reflects how he's matured since his first sci-fi launch.

He said: "This magazine is the difference between me 12 years ago and now.

It's slightly older, and goes into things in more depth with slightly longer features taking things a little bit more seriously, looking at the history and the background a bit more. If SFX is Empire or Q then this is more your Mojo or The Word."

Bielby, who was group senior editor at Future, has 10 successful launches under his belt, including Total Film, PC Gamer and Official PlayStation 2. Each magazine, with the exception of Total Film, hit the top spot in its respective market.

Bielby's aim is to make Death Ray the number one sci-fi magazine in the UK, but he realises that without the financial backing of a big publishing company, this will be difficult. "I can't say that's going to happen with this one because the others were all backed by large companies and this one's not. But we'll come up with a satisfying magazine well worth people buying, and they'll have fun.

Hopefully enough will enjoy it to keep us going and allow us to finance other things down the line."

As well as the financial difficulties faced by independent publishers, Death Ray is facing competition from Imagine Publishing's recently launched SciFi Now. Bielby is confident that he can win the "dogfight" between them, and is gunning for launch circulation figures close to 20,000.

Bielby said that his main reason for returning to sci-fi for his first solo launch is that for a sci-fi fan like himself it's a fun sector, and that the audience participation beats other sectors he's worked in.

"The fun is that it's full of inventive interesting people and there are lots of things to write about in lots of genres and they all cross over, and the audience is so keen and dedicated."

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