I’m going to change the focus of the Weird Tales deep read slightly, to hopefully give a somewhat more coherent view of the magazine by focusing on a particular year, while still maintaining the month-at-a time format. First up is January 1936, followed by the ten subsequent issues published that year. (One issue was bi-monthly, and I’ve already covered the July issue, so you can just check that particular installment in the link provided below if you’re so inclined).
The January ‘36 WT is full of familiar names. Seabury Quinn, August Derleth, Paul Ernst, C. L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, and H. P. Lovecraft (with a reprint) all appear in the line up. The issue grades out to a respectable 2.44, largely avoiding poor stories but also scoring only a few outstanding ones. The two vying for best of issue were Moore’s Jirel and Howard’s Conan, the second installment of the longest Conan tale he was to write. Howard gets the nod on a toss-up.
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #49 was released to the world in August.
“A Song of Pictish Kings,” by Adrian Cole, artwork by Andrea Alemanno and Gary McClusky. Elak of Atlantis returns to our electronic pages! Generations of Pictish raiding along the Atlantean coast comes to a sudden halt and a bold Chieftain of the Picts requests the aid of the Atlanteans against a mutual supernatural enemy. Or is it a trap? Or is it both? Thrill to the adventure of young King Elak as he unthreads the mystery!
“Old Ghosts,” by Greg Mele, artwork by Justin Pfiel. Mele returns with another tale set in his alternate history Meso-American Azatlán world. Few living men would dare to cross seasoned warrior Nopaltzin Seven-Reed, but the dead play by different rules and have different goals. Even the greatest warrior cannot live without sleep and Nopaltzin must take the fight into the world of the dead. A phenomenal tale!
“The Pass,” by Nick Mazolillo, artwork by Andrea Alemanno. Young Strand has nearly finished his training guarding the world from Otherworld. But the Otherworld has its own rules and logic and young Strand’s difficult apprenticeship is coming to a difficult end. A great, dreamy work that drifts into nightmare.
Interzone 290-291. Wraparound cover by Vincent Sammy
There was some uncertainty about the fate of British SF magazine Interzone at the beginning of the year. Well, I was uncertain, anyway. Long-time publisher and editor Andy Cox announced the magazine was being sold, then quietly announced it wasn’t. The January-February 2021 issue never appeared. But then, out of the blue, this beautiful and massive double issue appeared in June to lay all doubts to rest. Here’s the description from the website.
192 gorgeous full color pages packed full of modern science fiction and fantasy: New long and short stories by Alexander Glass, Tim Major, Lyle Hopwood, Daniel Bennett, Cécile Cristofari, Matt Thompson, John Possidente, Lavie Tidhar, and Shauna O’Meara; Climbing Stories by Aliya Whiteley (x2); Ansible Link by David Langford; lots of book reviews; six and a half thousand words of Nick Lowe’s Mutant Popcorn; wraparound cover art by Vincent Sammy and story illustrations by Jim Burns, Vince Haig, Richard Wagner, Dave Senecal, Ev Shipard and others.
Interzone is one of the most beautiful SF magazines on the market. Here’s a sample of some of the gorgeous interior art.
Johnny Mayhem, man of a thousand faces, leaping from body to body, putting right things that had once went…no wait! That’s the television show, Quantum Leap, which ran from 1989 to 1993. Never mind. Decades before Sam Beckett went leaping through time, there was another bodiless adventurer doing much the same thing. His name was Johnny Mayhem.
July/August 2021 issues of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Cover art by Shutterstock.com, Tomislav Tikulin, and Alan M. Clark
Short story reviews have been part of the genre since the first SF pulps started publishing letters from young fans in the back pages in the 1920s. What’s different these days is that you can read reviews online, get excited about the current issues, and leisurely make your way to your local bookstore in plenty of time to grab the magazines you want.
That’s a consequence of multiple factors — including the move to bi-monthly publication for most major print zines, and the endurance of review sites like Tangent Online, Locus Online, and Quick Sip Reviews, among others — but it’s largely due to a small group of short fiction reviewers, almost all volunteers, who move quickly to read the latest zines and get thoughtful and well-written coverage posted with all dispatch. Here’s what a few of those folks thought of the July/August genre print magazines.
I made an enjoyable foray into the November 1982 “’Science Fiction Summer’ Wrap-Up Issue” of Starlog Magazine over the 4th of July weekend, to see how well the reviews of various films have held up. When were the reviewers prescient, and when were they embarrassingly myopic? Did any of them have a sense that they were reviewing films during a year that is now regarded as one of the greatest ever for genre cinema?
1982 is a pretty significant year for science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In retrospect it is kind of incredible how many films that are considered iconic played in movie theaters that summer. Just check out this list of films reviewed: Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Kahn. Conan. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.Blade Runner. Tron. Poltergiest. John Carpenter’s The Thing. And while Mad Max 2 debuted down under in 1981, it made its American debut (as The Road Warrior) in 1982.
Weird Tales, January 1945. Cover by Margaret Brundage
This time we’re jumping ahead in our deep read of the Unique Magazine, to the January 1945 issue. The old guard has largely changed. Howard has been dead for almost six years, Lovecraft out-lived him less than a year. C. L. Moore hadn’t published in WT since 1939, Clark Ashton Smith longer. (Reprints not considered,) That doesn’t mean there were no familiar names. Seabury Quinn, August Derleth, Edmond Hamilton, and others continued to contribute. New writers, like Ray Bradbury, were coming on. Though the Golden Age was definitely over, that doesn’t mean the magazine didn’t publish quality material.
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #48 was uploaded to the world on May 1, 2021! We’ve got a full compliment, three short stories, three poems, art and audio!
Intrigue in Aviene, by Steve Dilks, Hardened mercenary Bohun of Damzullah, finds himself between wars and trying to get by in the great city of Aviene. But even in peaceful times, there are plots and dangers aplenty.
King Yvorian’s Wager, a classic reprint by Darrell Schweizter, Young king Yvorian is swept up into the games of the gods, and of that most mysterious and dangerous god, Rada Vatu.
A Night in the Witherlands, by Daniel Stride, with artwork by Simon Walpole, Manfred is hired to guard a merchant and his wares through the mysterious wasteland known as the witherlands. The ghosts of the witherlands have different plans for them both.
The Midnight Mail Takes Off for Mars, by Elliott Dold.
From Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories, April-May 1931
I’ve written from time to time about original science fiction art delivered to us by our Friendly Neighborhood Mailman.
Among the various original black and white interior illustrations we own from the science fiction pulps, this is our earliest, appearing 90 years ago. By artist Elliott Dold, it ran as a frontispiece in the April-May 1931 issue of Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories. It was not for any particular story; instead it was a one page feature showing “An Incident of the Future: The Midnight Mail Takes Off for Mars.”
Dold was the art editor of this short-lived title; the April-May 1931 issue was the first of only two. He appears to have been the editor as well, though some sources state that Dold’s brother, Douglas, was the editor. Both Elliott and Douglas, as well as the publisher of Miracle, Harold Hersey, had worked together previously over at the Clayton pulp chain. Elliott and Douglas each had a story appear in Miracle; Douglas’ in the first issue, Elliott’s in the second, dated June-July 1931. In an interview in the October-November 1934 issue of Fantasy Magazine, Elliott discusses how Miracle was his brainchild – he’d talked Hersey into publishing it, and obtained all the stories, as well as doing all the art. He blamed its cessation on an illness which made it impossible for him to work on it. Perhaps coincidentally, during this same period his brother Douglas passed away, on May 6, 1931.
Asimov’s Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction & Fact for May/June 2021. Cover art by Shutterstock.com
Sam Tomaino at SFRevuraves over the latest issue of Asimov’s.
The May/June 2021 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction is here and it has two Hugo-worthy novelettes!
“Reclaiming the Stars” by James Gunn. This is the fourth and final story in a series that features the adventures of Harry and Lisa George, who as of the previous story, were physically long dead but survived as personalities in black boxes on an Earth… The story begins with Harry and Lisa working at recreating human life with Lisa more comfortable with that than Harry, who has nightmares about a future Adam being killed by a sea monster. He wonders if there is something wrong with him. But when Lisa has a nightmare of her own about their progeny dying. They speculate that these visions are coming from an outside source. Who or what? Could it be a “ghost” of the AI that they defeated in the first story in this series?
Harry and Lisa have one last adventure and the series concludes in a perfect way. This story will be on my shortlist for consideration for a Best Novelette Hugo Award next year.
The issue concludes with the novelette, “Flattering the Flame” by Robert Reed. The Great Ship has two possible routes, the Prudent or the Impetuous. The Impetuous takes them through a very ancient developed system inhabited by the people known as the Flame. The Flame knows of the coming of the Great Ship and plan to take it for their own, led by their captain, Fierce. But Washen, the Great Ship captain, has other ideas. Another wonderfully rich tale from one of the genre’s most unique writers.
The May/June Dell magazines also contain stories by Neal Asher, Lettie Prell, Dominica Phetteplace, Ray Nayler, David Moles, and many others. Here’s all the details.