One Editor Leaves, One Magazine Enters

Weird Tales has been sold, and the new owner, Marvin Kaye, appears to be ditching the entire staff. The entire Hugo-winning staff. Including Ann VanderMeer, who’s due the lion’s share of the credit for dragging the magazine kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. VanderMeer’s last editorial isn’t even a proper editorial, as she cuttingly notes; it’s a post on the Weird Tales blog. That’s a pretty ignominious end to an illustrious five years.

But take heart! Magazines have risen from the grave and will again. New Worlds, for example, which raised the New Wave movement from infancy, is coming back after 40 years in mothballs. SF Signal reports that it’s to be retitled Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, though Moorcock’s primary role is to contribute his name and occasional editorials. It’s not yet clear how the staff will be structured or what they’ll publish. No one’s really writing New Wave SF these days, and indeed, I’m not sure it’s possible to write post-AIDS New Wave fiction, though I’d love to see someone try. At any rate, the magazine is looking for “contributions of all kinds”.

I feel like no one talks about SF/F magazines very much, but they’re really important. A lot of good novelists start out writing stories; that’s where they learn how to send in submissions, how to handle rejection, how to work with an editor. A lot of good writers are simply good short story writers and they stay on that end of the field without ever coming to the attention of book-readers. A handful of talented editors, many of whom hold their posts for decades, plow through unimaginably huge slush piles to select the stories that shape the industry. I’m a passionate fan of short and medium-length SF/F–particularly the novella, a form that has given rise to some of the best fantastic fiction of all time–and I think it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the people who devote themselves to the often thankless task of publishing it in magazines.

Ms. VanderMeer, I salute you and hope you find a new gig very soon. New New Worlds editors, best of luck to you. I’m very glad to see you still care about trying to keep SF/F magazines alive until someone figures out how to make them profitable again.

2 thoughts on “One Editor Leaves, One Magazine Enters

  1. Paul Riddell

    I’m particularly sympathetic to Ann VanderMeer and her work, seeing as how she did absolute wonders with making “Weird Tales” worth reading again. I do not want to come off as downplaying exactly how badly she was treated, especially after finding out the magazine was sold only after she spent the last Worldcon promoting the hell out of it. I’m just reminded, though, of how often this happens with other periodicals: I’m reminded in particular of a Dallas weekly that had been fighting rumors of its impending sale and shutdown since I was working there in the mid-Nineties. Over and over, the publisher swore to his employees that he was in it for the long term, that he had no intention of selling, and the attempts by the New Times empire to buy him out had no effect. By 2000, he was publicly telling employees to go ahead and make longterm plans such as buying houses, while privately he was lining up new buyers. By that September, employees discovered from other sources that he’d sold out to New Times: he got about $2 million on the sale, while the employees were told there wasn’t any room at New Times for them. And so it goes.

    That said, while not being surprised at how Ann VanderMeer was treated, I’m rooting for her future plans. Those last five years proved that she’s an editor of note, and I honestly can’t wait to see what she manages to do in the next five years. If she wants to start a new, wholly-owned magazine so what happened to her with “Weird Tales” doesn’t happen again, I’d subscribe just on general principles.

  2. Linda Shea

    Not dismissing the work that Ann has done, I would like to note that I am in possession of several amazing and very high quality collections edited by Marvin Kaye. I am looking forward to his excellent taste having free reign in the new WT.

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