Sep 12 2008 6:17pm

Waiting for the Mail: Realms of Fantasy, Shimmer, and Weird Tales

I’m a little…nutty…about the mail. One of the first questions I ask when I get through the front door is, “Anything interesting in the mail today?” If I’m home, I want to be the person who checks the mail box. I thrill at opening my P.O. Box, even though it’s mostly empty.* And like most people, I like getting packages in the mail.

Often I know that there’s something coming. But just as often, there are surprises. Sometimes the surprises are things I’ve bought or asked for and then just forgotten about in the meantime. But other times they are actually surprises and unexpected (in a good way mostly) things show up in my mail box.

Even when magazines I subscribe to arrive in my mailbox it’s a nice little surprise for me. I know, I’m a little nutty. The smallest things can make my day.**

This week has been a crazy bonaza of stuff in the mail, so I’m going to put stuff up here in batches.*** We’re going to start with a few magazines that I’ve received recently: the July/August Weird Tales, the October Realms of Fantasy, and the Spring 2008 Shimmer. I’ve actually had the Weird Tales for a little while now, but I wanted to post these up together.

Realms of Fantasy

In my opinion, the most under-rated professional magazine in the genre. They hardly ever come up in conversations about places that pay professional rates, they aren’t reviewed lots of places, and editor Shawna McCarthy is continually over-looked on awards ballots.**** She has been its editor since Realms of Fantasy debuted in 1994, and previously worked at Bantam Books and as the editor for Asimov’s (prior to Gardner Dozois becoming editor). But what about this issue? Here’s the table of contents:

Movie reviews by Resa Nelson (in this issue, a discussion of 3-D movies)
Book Reviews by Paul Witcover, Jeff VanderMeer, and Michael Jones
“Folkroots” by Terri Windling (nonfiction essay about folklore)
Artist Gallery of James A. Owen’s work
Game reviews by Eric T. Baker

“The Purple Basil” by M.K. Hobson
“The Luckiest Street in Georgie” by Vlyar Kaftan
“Under the Sky” by Greg O. Westerford
“The Horned Toad in the Hubcap” by Joe Murphy
“All Beautiful Things” by Sharon Mack
“The Claw Unseen” by Euan Harvey

If you haven’t seen it before, this magazine is a slick, glossy, full-color deal. Every story gets an amazing illustration. There’s also great design on the stories themselves. It’s refreshing to read a magazine where each story gets a design tailored to itself rather than every story being laid out exactly the same. The Windling piece in each issue is always a highlight for me. I don’t know any of the individual authors’ voices very well, but I trust McCarthy’s editorial choices enough that I know I’ll like them.

Weird Tales

If you aren’t turned off by the giant ad on the first page featuring my smiling mug (and to be honest, I was quite startled myself) then there’s much inside to discover and enjoy. If you didn’t know, Weird Tales was founded in 1923 and has published almost continually since then (this is issue #350). It was the place that published writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Ray Bradbury, among others. Current editor Ann VanderMeer (who edited the stunning Silver Web magazine) continues the tradition of the dark and the fantastic with the following:

Summer Reading Weirducopia! Featuring an excerpt from Stephen Hunt’s new steampunk novel The Court of the Air.

“All In” by Peter Atwood
“How I Got Here” by Ramsey Shehadeh
“Belair Plaza” by Adam Corbin Fusco
“An Invitation Via Email” by Mike Allen
“Mainevermontnewhampshiremass” by Nick Mamatas
“The Stone-Hearted Queen” by Kelly Barnhill
“Ganaranok” by Rory Steves
“Evolution” by Karen Heuler
“Right You Are If You Say You Are” by Norman Spinrad

“Fame” by F.J. Bergmann

Interview: Elizabeth Genco talks with Mike Mignola about Hellboy, Dracula, and the weird-pulp influence
Weirdism: Geoffrey H. Goodwin on the affinity between horror and music; Eric San Juan on surviving night terrors
Lost in Lovecraft: Kenneth Hite follows H.P.L. into Dreamland
The Cryptic: Darrell Schweitzer on legendary Scottish cannibalism
Harvey Pelican & Co.: special offers from the esoterica king
The Bazaar: mythic maskmaking
The Library: book reviews

It’s a nice mix of established authors and newish authors, plus an interview with Mike Mignola! Very cool. The magazine has been completely redesigned recently, and I think it looks fantastic. I look forward to each issue arriving in my mail.


Was started much later than the other magazines. Beth Wodzinski started the magazine in 2005, and it has been going strong ever since. The magazine has published work by writers like Jay Lake and Ken Scholes, among others. I first became aware of them due to John Joseph Adams editing a Pirate-themed issue last year. This issue features the following:

“Chimera and Qi” by Tinatsu Wallace
“The Hummingbird Heart” by Angela Slatter
“Maybe Blue” by Jenny Maloney
“Juniper Grave” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
“The Girl who Lost her Way” by D. Lynn Smith
“The Shape of her Sorrow” by Joy Marchand
Interview with Dave Farland, by Spencer Ellsworth
“The Hand of the Devil on a String” by M. K. Hobson
“20th Anniversary Caveman” by Grá Linnea
“Even the Slowest Fall” by D. T. Friedman
“Distractions” by Chad Brian Henry
“Lucy” by Chrissy Ellsworth
“The Glass Girl Looks Back” by Stephanie Campisi

Hey, it looks like this is almost a M. K. Hobson themed post! All we needed was Weird Tales to get on board…I really like Shimmer, it pushes me to do more with Electric Velocipede. I particularly like that Wodzinski was smart enough to bring on extra help from the beginning rather than try to do everything herself.

I hope to provide a more in-depth reviews of the individual issues, but I have some more items that showed up in my mailbox that I need to get organized, photographed, and then posted here.

* You can send me stuff at John Klima, P.O. Box 266, Bettendorf, IA 52722. Yes, I know I am opening my PO Box up to who knows what from you people. Be kind. I like books and candy. :)

** Even a flyer for an soon-to-be-released book gives me a little thrill. It’s kind of sad, actually.

*** Don’t worry, I won’t be posting my bills, or my cooking magazines; this will all be relevant material that I post here.

**** She did win the Best Professional Editor Hugo in 1984 but has been ignored for work on Realms of Fantasy until this year’s World Fantasy Award in the ridiculously strong Special Award-Professional section: Allison Baker and Chris Roberson for MonkeyBrain Books, Alan Beatts and Jude Feldman for Borderlands Books, Peter Crowther for PS Publishing, Gordon Van Gelder for F&SF, Jeremy Lassen and Jason Williams for Night Shade Books, Shawna McCarthy for Realms of Fantasy.

[Image taken by John Klima; permission to re-use given to myself.]

Irene Gallo
1. Irene
John - Great that you point to Realm's art and design. I’ve always appreciated their dedication to illustration. Not only the gallery section – which I flag with the artists’ name on the spine for quick reference – but each story is illustrated with a nice balance of emerging artists, known artists, and mainstream artists not typically working in fantasy.
Joe Sherry
2. jsherry
My primary issue with Realms (besides the fact that I haven't read an issue) is that their website hasn't been updated in, I think, years.

*just checked - there is a note apologizing for the website being out of date with a promise of an update).

That's a huge problem for me because then I don't know what's going on with the magazine, what authors are being published, no taste of a sample story. There's nothing there to tell me I want to subscribe.

I really like Weird Tales. Haven't read Shimmer, despite Mary Robinette Kowal's involvement as art director.
3. a_m_m_b
RoF. Used to love it. They fubar'd my subscription (had it from the very 1st issue) years ago. Still miss it. Can't never find it anywhere. Damned shame. Be nice if they'd get it together.
Blue Tyson
4. BlueTyson
It is quite bizarre how much of a dinosaur that Realms Of Fantasy is, as John points out. Some of the LSS people had immense problems even trying to get a copy, I think (kind of how ammb suggests) . So completely and utterly interested in US sales only you would have to think.
5. Douglas Cohen
Hi John,

I appreciate all the nice things you wrote about Realms of Fantasy (you too, Irene, even if I have very little to do with the artwork), but if it's not too much trouble, perhaps you could edit in the following corrections:

--"Under the Sky" by Greg O. Weatherford should read "Under the Skin."

--"All Beautiful Things" by Sharon Mack should be Sharon "Mock."

jsherry, I know it's not the same as visiting the website, but until we update that, if you'd like to keep up with what's happening concerning the fiction for ROF, feel free to swing by my blog from time to time: I can't offer free fiction there, but many of my posts do focus around ROF's fiction.
6. Douglas Cohen
Also, Greg O. Westerford is Greg O. Weatherford. Thanks.
7. David Lev 1
I really like ROF (especially their book reviews and Terri Windling's column), altho their website is badly behind and somewhat hard to use (I find it especially difficult to check on my subscription or renew it). It has very cool and entertaining stories. I especially enjoy the stories about the magical private detective with the reversible coat (forgotten the author, but he's good).
8. M.K. Hobson
Damn those Weird Tales people, ruining my shot at an M.K. Hobson themed post. I can't believe they didn't think my story about two humans (named ADAM AND EVE!) crash landing on an alien planet was weird enough for their magazine.

10. xanthalanari
I have to agree with previous comments made about RoF subscriptions - they've really fubared mine too. I subscribed in September and so far I've received nothing, no response to my emails, no response to my PM to the forum admin (which I incidentally can't post on because I haven't received and account activation email for two separate attempts to join), and no response to my friends who are on the forum.

They have, however, managed to charge my credit card twice for the privilege of not reading their lovely magazine.

It's a shame, because I liked the trial issue (although that generated its own problems). Needless to say, I'm trying to get my money back (ha ha!) and I won't be buying again - and I'd urge other potential overseas subscribers not to either.

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