Tag Archives: Weird Tales

Damo’s Sci-Fi prophecies for 2013

2012 has been a year of transition for science fiction and fantasy literature. SF’s reputation as home of the Bearded White Male hides a more interesting story. SF is the literature of geeks, and today, geeks run the world. Geek culture isn’t infiltrating the mainstream: it is the mainstream. And geeks come in all ages, genders and backgrounds. This year, the Hugo and Nebula award shortlists demonstrated SF’s growing diversity, even as the decision of the editorial team at Weird Tales magazine to publish racist screed Save the Pearls demonstrated many of its ongoing challenges.

Even in the age of the ebook, word-of-mouth is still what makes a breakout hit, and many of the books to watch in 2013 have been building excitement through 2012. Madeline Ashby’s vN: The First Machine Dynasty is the outstanding hard-SF novel of the year and deserves to feature in many award ballots in 2013. Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce has brought the veteran English novelist and World Fantasy award winner to the attention of a growing audience, as have film adaptations in the pipeline for this and his previous novel, The Silent Land. And G Willow Wilson’s Alif the Unseen stands out as among the most original and challenging books of 2012, and my personal pick for at least one major award in 2013.

Read more @ Guardian Books

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Weird Tales editor has insulted us all

The genres of SF, Fantasy, Horror and other styles of the fantastic have changed a lot in recent years. Those changes, to my mind, have been hugely positive. And if I can identify one cause at the heart of those changes it is this: diversity.

To use the Hugo and Nebula awards as a benchmarks, we have seen a marked increase in both women and black authors being nominated for the sector’s top awards. The discussion of genre writing online has become a great deal more politically aware, and while they were caused by failures in the sector, debates like #racefail highlight a growing awareness in our ad-hoc community. My own experience of attending conventions in the UK and America has been a happy one of encountering more and more writers from many more diverse backgrounds. A diverse SF world is a strong SF world, and should be both celebrated and protected.

But, as in the broader political landscape, not everyone in the SF community is happy about this. And I’m going to hazard a guess that one of the people it displeases is Marvin Kaye, the incumbent editor of Weird Tales, the oldest publisher of weird short fiction in the world. I’m basing this on Kaye’s choice to publish the opening chapter of the insane racist screed Save the Pearls in the next issue of Weird Tales. below is a promo video for Save the Pearls. And yes, that is a blacked up white person.

As if to highlight its growing political awareness the SF community crushed Kaye’s decision under the hammer blow of social media within 24 hours, prompting this complete retraction from Weird Tales publisher John Harlacher. Marvin Kaye himself is at the time of this writing still to comment. Let’s hope he is spending this silent time at some kind of spiritual retreat, learning some humbleness and preparing for the huge and complete apology which is his only remaining option. And even then, the background to Kaye’s decision makes me feel that nothing less than his resignation is likely to resolve the situation.

Weird Tales is one of the oldest publishers of weird fiction. A lot of what we now call horror and science fiction started in those pages. It began the careers of some cult figures in modern SF, not least H P Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu mythos and, unfortunately, petty minded bigot and racist. The genres of the fantastic are powerful ways to expose the deep dark human subconscious to the light of day and sometimes what they illuminate is nasty…and not in a good way. Were Lovecraft and other writers of his generation crusading members of the KKK? Probably not. Were many of them unreformed bigots and racists who encoded their fears in fiction? Yes, very sadly. And of course, there are still a lot of unreformed bigots and petty racists out there doing exactly that…do I need to point out that video of the blacked up white girl again?

Under the editorial direction of Ann VanderMeer, Weird Tales consciously steered away from the worse parts of its otherwise distinguished history. Ann found the best weird fiction by the most diverse writers. Weird Tales’ subscriber base tripled. It won a Hugo award. But perhaps more importantly, especially for us writers and core fans, Weird Tales came to symbolise what was good about the changes in the SF community. To put it simply, Ann VanderMeer at Weird Tales was doing good and important things, and those good and important things had only just started…

…when Ann was summarily removed as fiction editor and replaced by the new owner / editor Marvin Kaye. Kaye made it clear in his early statements that he wanted to take Weird Tales back in the Lovecraftian direction from which it had, in his view, strayed. And those of us who knew what that meant feared, it seems rightly, that what Kaye really wanted to do was exert a conservative influence and, in effect, go back to the petty bigotry that had sometimes characterised the magazine in the past.

What is most insulting about Kaye’s decision to publish Save the Pearls is that it was deliberately aimed at all those writers and readers who had loved Ann VanderMeer’s earlier editorial direction. It was an act of vandalism, taking something beautiful and pissing on it simply because you are too ignorant to understand what makes the beauty. It’s become clear the decision was both deliberate and premeditated. Kaye was explicitly warned what the outcome would be, and proceeded anyway because he wanted to deliver his insult to the magazine’s existing readership. There was no reason to publish Save the Pearls except as an an insult, and in the face of such a deliberate insult the outrage expressed towards Kaye is entirely valid and will continue.

Personally I will not be satisfied by an apology from Kaye unless it clearly communicates that he understands why what he did was so deeply insulting. Even then, I can’t conceive of any way I can continue to support Weird Tales in any form with Kaye at the helm, and hope he will find the decency to step aside and hand the magazine back to the community who it truly belongs to.

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We need a ‘Support our ‘Zines Day’

***UPDATE: SUPPORT OUR ‘ZINES DAY now 1ST OCTOBER***

Last week I put a call out for suggestions of magazines that as an SF fan I should be reading. My subscriptions have lapsed recently (its been a busy year) so this week I wanted to renew some subscriptions and start a few new ones. I wanted to do this because I get a huge amount of joy from reading and listening to good stories, and want to contribute to keeping the publications I like going. I think a lot of people feel the same. So why don’t more of us subscribe and donate to our favourite publications?

Continue reading We need a ‘Support our ‘Zines Day’

Hugo Nomination for Weird Tales!

The Hugo nominations are out and my two of my favourite magazines, Interzone and Weird Tales, have been nominated! Both receive a nod in the semi-pro zine category. Good luck to Andy Cox and Ann Vandermeer both.

Electric Velocipede also scoops a nomination for best fanzine, so good luck to John Klima.

The John W Campbell award for best new writer is interesting as well. No idea who will win, but that is a list of writers I must look into.

Damo’s best of 2008

With the new year upon us, I thought I would give all you lucky people a glimpse inside my head, or at least the parts of it that like things, and post a run down of all that was good about 2008 from my perspective. I don’t claim to be at the cutting edge of the cultural wave, but who knows, you might find one or two new and enjoyable wastes of time below.

Continue reading Damo’s best of 2008

Back in the Saddle

The first weeks after the Xmas break have been so intensely busy for me that my feet have barely touched the ground. Constructively busy however, which is good.

I wrote my first professional blog post last week for Guardian Unlimited. Following the tremendous response to Sam Jordison’s look at the Hugo Award’s, I pitched a few ideas for science fiction and fantasy blog posts to the Guardian eds and they said yes. It was very exciting to go ‘above the line’ on a blog I’ve read for some time, not least because it actually pays! I’m looking forward to pitching a few more ideas over the next couple of months but have to be careful not to let the cheap thrill of reaching hundreds if not thousands of readers distract me from my career as an unknown fiction writer. You can see the problem.

Also in the world of non-fiction I’m continuing my reviewing for The Fix. I’ve recently posted a review of Farrago’s Wainscot and will be reviewing one of the ‘Big 3′ genre magainzines for the next few months – Fantasy  & Science Fiction. F&SF is my favourite of the big three (the other two being Asimov’s and Analogue) but its been interesting comparing it to the small press and online publications that I have reveiwed or read recently,  I think this might be an interesting angle to take in the review.

I have been a little undisciplined with the writing in the last two months. Foreign and domestic holidays followed by  a slew of freelance work meant I’ve had to put the novel on hold until February, although I start back in earnest in February once the Writing Industries Conference is out of the way. I have been working on a number of short stories instead so the time hasn’t been wasted. The first to be finished will be ‘The Great Western Pile’ which is a steam-punk, hard SF spy story. i’ve had great fun writing it and with luck will finish it over the weekend.

Following my ‘Week of Rejection’ between X-Mas and New Year I got right back in the saddle and got everything back out on the market. ‘Rings’ AKA ‘My Zombie Lovesick Boy Band’ is at Weird Tales, ‘Meat’ is with Strange Horizons, ‘Circes’ and ‘Momentum’ are both with audio podcasts (The Drabblecast and Escape Pod respectively) and ‘Horizon’ came back from Ideomancer with another rejection. ‘Horizon’ is my problem child at the moment, but I have faith it will find a good home eventually.

Back to ‘Great Western Pile’ anyway. If I get the first draft done over the weekend I’ll post an extract to the blog.

Double Whammy

Two rejections today. One from Fantasy magazine saying no to ‘Rings’, after a re-write and retitle to ‘My Lovesick Zombie Boyband’. I like the re-write however so it was worth doing. Horizon was also rejected for Nemonymous 8, which makes rejection number ten for that story. I maintain faith in it though even after some harsh criticism and will find a home for it yet.

Following Heinlein’s law number four, both stories have gone straight back on the market. ‘MLZB’, formerley ‘Rings’ is now with Anne Vandermeer at Weird Tales (my second attempt to break into that market) and Horizon goes to the team at Ideomancer. All available appendages crossed.