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The January Fantasy Magazine Rack

Thursday, January 14th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

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In his December Short Story Roundup, Fletcher Vredenburgh gives as eloquent a summary as I’ve seen for the vital importance of short fiction to fantasy, and in particular to sword & sorcery:

Before I get into the reviews, I thought I’d say a little about why I’ve made it a major part of my writing to review and publicize S&S short stories. While there have been good S&S novels… the beating heart of the genre has always been short stories. From that opening blast of thunder in REH’s “The Shadow Kingdom” — and through the decades in the works of authors as diverse as C.L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and Charles Saunders — it’s been in short stories that the genre’s been best displayed.

The hallmarks of swords & sorcery are adventure, dark fantasy, horror, and a narrow focus on only a few characters, bound together in a narrative that reads like a shot of mainlined adrenaline. In the very best stories — KEW’s “Reflections for the Winter of My Soul,” for example — they’re all present. Not that there can’t be structural complexity, finely detailed characters, or exquisitely tooled prose, but it must be exciting. Detours into side-plots, passages meticulously describing feasts, too many secondary and tertiary characters all put brakes on the action. Limited to fifteen or thirty pages, the focus is on the protagonist and his or her immediate situation…

The very best stories I have read in my years of reviewing S&S are the ones that come closest to meeting the demands I’ve put out above. There are dozens of authors working like mad to create stories that will thrill and chill you, and grab you out of the safety of your comfy chair for a little while. It’s those tellers of tales I’m on constant watch for and hoping to hip readers to. I want S&S to continue as a living, breathing genre, not one content to exist as a museum for forty- or seventy-year-old stories.

This month, there’s plenty of great fiction on display. In the last two weeks we also gave you a peek at the Table of Contents for Neil Clarke’s upcoming Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume One, and for vintage fiction fans, Rich Horton reviewed the October 1967 issue of Galaxy, with stories by Roger Zelazny, H. L. Gold, and George O. Smith.

Check out all the details on the magazines above by clicking on the each of the images. Our Late December Fantasy Magazine Rack is here.

As we’ve mentioned before, all of these magazines are completely dependent on fans and readers to keep them alive. Many are marginal operations for whom a handful of subscriptions may mean the difference between life and death. Why not check one or two out, and try a sample issue? There are magazines here for every budget, from completely free to $12.95/issue. If you find something intriguing, I hope you’ll consider taking a chance on a subscription. I think you’ll find it’s money very well spent.

The Dark August 2014-smallBlack Gate reports exclusively on fantasy magazines, although we also cover the occasional science fiction or mainstream magazine with some fantasy content. We currently cover 38 magazines (links will take you to our latest coverage):

Adventure Tales edited by John Betancourt
Albedo One edited by Robert (Bob) Neilson
Apex, edited by Jason Sizemore
Ares Magazine, edited by Michael Anderson
Asimov’s Science Fiction, edited by Sheila Williams
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, edited by Scott H. Andrews
Black Static, edited by Andy Cox
Cemetery Dance, edited by Richard Chizmar
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
The Dark, edited by Jack Fisher and Sean Wallace
The Digest Enthusiast, edited by Arkay Olgar
Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, edited by Warren Lapine
Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by C.C. Finlay
Fantasy Scroll, edited by Iulian Ionescu, Frederick Doot, and Alexandra Zamorski
GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
Grimdark Magazine, edited by Adrian Collins
Gygax, edited by Jayson Elliot
Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, edited by Adrian Simmons, David Farney, William Ledbetter and James Frederick William Rowe
Holdfast, edited by Laurel Sills and Lucy Smee
Inhuman Magazine, edited by Allen Koszowski
Interfictions Online, edited by Delia Sherman
Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
Knights of the Dinner Table, edited by Jolly Blackburn
Lackington’s, edited by Ranylt Richildis
Lightspeed, edited by John Joseph Adams
Locus, edited by Liza Groen Trombi
Mythic Delirium, edited by Mike Allen
Nightmare, edited by John Joseph Adams
Outposts of Beyond, edited by Tyree Campbell
Science Fiction Classics
Scrolls of Legendry, edited by D.M. Ritzlin
Shimmer, edited by E. Catherine Tobler
Swords and Sorcery Magazine, edited by Curtis Ellett
Tor.com, edited by various
Uncanny, edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota
Weirdbook, edited by Douglas Draa‎
Weird Fiction Review, edited by S.T. Joshi
Weird Tales, edited by Marvin Kaye

Amazing Stories May 1954-smallThe following magazines we used to cover are now defunct:

Amazing Stories
Arcane
Bull Spec
Cosmic Crimes Stories
Crossed Genres
Dark Realms
Electric Velocipede
Fantasy Magazine
Fantasy/Fantasy Newsletter
The Fantasy Fan
Fantasy Review
Innsmouth Magazine
Jabberwocky
Kobold Quarterly
The Last Province
Level UP
Port Iris
Reader’s Digest
Realms of Fantasy
Shadis
Spellbound
Subterranean
Wizard
Zahir

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 34-smallAnd we’ve covered the following magazines intermittently:

Against the Odds
Alter Ego
Analog
Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine
Betwixt
Dark Worlds
Entertainment Weekly
The Excellent Travelling Volume
Faerie Magazine
Goblin Fruit
Granta
Heliotrope
Lovecraft eZine
New Realm
The New Yorker
The New York Review of Science Fiction
Primeval: A Journal of the Uncanny
Rue Morgue
The SFWA Bulletin
Strange Horizons
Stupefying Stories
Tin House
Vanity Fair
Whistling Shade

Check out all of our recent magazine coverage here.

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you, for the very kind assessment of my words. Seeing them all listed out like that, it looks like we’re living in a golden age of short fiction.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - January 14, 2016 9:23 pm

  2. It sure does. It’s tough to keep tabs on all these magazines every month — as you’re well aware! But your column makes it easier for me.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 15, 2016 12:34 pm


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