I have recently completed my first year as a subscriber to NEW SCIENTIST.  I read every single one of the 51 issues cover-to-cover.  Sometimes I got behind a few issues, but I would always manage to catch up, and I always enjoyed every single issue.  At the same time, I have been a subscriber of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for something like 15 years now.  I also read those issues cover-to-cover.  They are longer, but less frequent, coming monthly rather than weekly.  Between the two magazines, I feel like I have a good understanding of current scientific issues.

Having had a year to read through NEW SCIENTIST (NS), I here are a few thoughts on the differences between it and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (SA), beginning with a few obvious ones and moving to more subjective ones:

  • NS is a British publication while SA is American
  • NS is weekly, SA is monthly
  • NS typically runs about 50 pages, SA typically runs 80+
  • NS has shorter articles, but it more timely; NS articles are typically written by scientific journalists.  SA has longer, more in depth articles often written by the principal investigators themselves; they articles are less timely.
  • NS is stylistically lighter than SA.  Comments and commentary are often humorous.  SA is more serious (with the exception of the "Anti-Gravity" column.
  • NS has a stronger focus on climate change and global warming than SA.
  • SA has better regular columns (in my opinion) than NS.
  • NS has a better overall format than SA.  SA has recently changed editors and once again changed some of its internal format; I liked it better before the change.

Overall, I’d say I enjoy reading NS more than SA, although I look forward to reading both.  I think that by reading both, I get a balanced view of the world of science and the critical scientific issues of the day.

But I don’t just read them for fun or for improving my knowledge of science.  These magazines provide a wealth of ideas for stories and as a science fiction writer, that may be the most valuable service that they provide to me.