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Event Horizon [magazine]

Entry updated 4 September 2023. Tagged: Publication.

1. US Online Magazine published by Walt Stoneburner and edited by Danny Adams of Roanoke, Virginia. It saw three issues Spring and Fall 1997 and Spring 1998 when the title was sold to Pamela Weintraub (see below). The magazine was something of an experiment for both Stoneburner and Adams, though they managed to put together three acceptable issues. Adams even secured a reprint from Nelson Bond, whom he knew locally. A few other local authors who had sold in the past to magazine or anthologies appeared with fiction or poetry, including Paul Dellinger, Gerard Daniel Houarner, Lyn McConchie, Lee Saye and W Gregory Stewart. Other Small Press publishers, Warren Lapine and Paul J Willis, also contributed. Dellinger's story "The Mask" (Spring 1997), despite superficial similarities to the film The Mask (1994) really related to the western series about the Masked Man, the Lone Ranger, and it prompted a sequel "Return of the Mask" (Spring 1998). For the final issue Adams obtained permission to reprint Bud Webster's story "Bubba Pritchert and the Space Aliens" (July 1994 Analog) which alerted Webster to the magazine and he in turn advised Ellen Datlow when her magazine appeared of the overlapping name (see 2 below). After the sale Stoneburner and Adams relaunched the magazine as Singularities, which saw just one issue in Spring 2000. Unfortunately the files were accidently destroyed and no copy survives on the internet, so all record of the magazine's contents is lost. [MA]


2. US cumulative Online Magazine published by Pamela Weintraub through Event Horizon Web Productions and edited by Ellen Datlow. Robert Killheffer served as nonfiction editor, but also provided all of the design, production and web programming for the site. It arose following the cancellation of Omni Online on which the same team had worked. The magazine emphasized from the start, in its Mission Statement, that it would publish science fiction, fantasy and horror and though overall there is a balance between these three, the horror element remains uppermost, even in the sf (see Horror in SF). It had several features, as expected for a magazine, but its online nature, together with being a cumulative webzine, meaning items were uploaded regularly rather than with set weekly or monthly issues, allowed Event Horizon greater flexibility in a number of areas, not least the "Camera Lucida" feature, which kept track of scientific and genre developments across the internet.

The official launch party was on 16 October 1998 but it had already been running for two months by then. It went live on 14 August 1998 and ran until 15 December 1999. Its first item was a reprint of Pat Cadigan's "The Final Re-Make of The Return of Little Latin Larry with a Completely Re-Mastered Soundtrack and the Original Audience" (in Future Histories, anth 1997, ed Stephen McClelland; 14 August 1998) and was followed two days later by its first original work, Barry N Malzberg's column "From the Heart's Basement" (16 August 1998), the first in a series he would contribute to the "Singularities" nonfiction feature. This ran a variety of interesting articles and opinions with work by Lucius Shepard, Howard Waldrop, Douglas E Winter and Jack Womack.

The first original story was appropriately entitled "Downloading" (14 September 1998) by Terry Dowling. Event Horizon ran 23 stories in total, usually two a month, though this slackened towards the end. Only twelve of these were new stories but each is of considerable merit. Two were by Kelly Link: "The Specialist's Hat" (15 November 1998), a ghost story that won the World Fantasy Award, and "The Girl Detective" (16 March 1999). Two more were by Severna Park: "Harbingers" (14 January 1999) about an encounter with aliens in a near-future war-torn Africa, and "The Breadfruit Empire" (18 May 1999). A further two were by Jeffrey Ford, both fantasies, "At Reparata" (15 February 1999) and "Pansolapia" (26 July 1999). Others included "US" (14 October 1998) by Howard Waldrop, which relates an alternate life of the murdered Lindbergh baby; "The Nixon Wrangler's Tale" (17 April 1999) by Thomas Marcinko, which envisages an army of Richard Nixon Clones; "Andy Warhol's Dracula" (15 June 1999) by Kim Newman, the longest new story Event Horizon published, and "Ready When You Are" (26 July 1999) by Barry N Malzberg.

One reprint story of interest was "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life" (2 February 1999) by Michaela Roessner, not just because it was a delightful imagination of an encounter between W C Fields and Winsor McCay, nor because at 30,000 words, it was the longest piece Event Horizon published, but because it was reprinted from Omni Online (February 1995), demonstrating a continuity that would become increasingly common on the internet of online fiction having a "virtual life" beyond any printed version.

Being a cumulative webzine gave Event Horizon a more responsive interface with readers. Datlow took advantage of this with two features. One was "Flashpoint", a weekly chat forum between readers and an online guest. This began on 17 September 1998 with Matt Ruff. There were 56 such sessions in total and included of sf interest, in alphabetical order, Gregory Benford (25 March 1999), Pat Cadigan (10 December 1998), Samuel R Delany (10 June 1999), Thomas M Disch (17 June 1999), Neil Gaiman (22 October 1998), Nicola Griffith (14 January 1999), Elizabeth Hand (11 March 1999), George R R Martin (18 March 1999), China Miéville (2 September 1999), Kit Reed (13 May 1999), Kim Stanley Robinson (1 October 1998), Lucius Shepard (3 June 1999), Robert Silverberg (12 November 1998), Dan Simmons (25 February 1999), Neal Stephenson (29 April 1999), Vernor Vinge (24 June 1999), Kate Wilhelm (18 February 1999) and Connie Willis (18 November 1999).

The other feature was "Superstrings", a succession of Round-Robin stories where a team of four writers (on one occasion only three) took it in turns to write part of the story and then passed it on, but would return to them in due course. Each author usually had three iterations, which meant each story had twelve "episodes" posted over the course of four or five weeks. The first of these, "... You Get What You Need" (1 November-5 December 1998) was a parody of the horror fiction concept of people stranded in a remote, forbidding town, and was by Jay Russell, Elizabeth Massie, Roberta Lannes and Brian Hodge. There were seven of these in total of which the most inventive was "Green Fire" (1 January-9 February 1999) by Eileen Gunn, Andy Duncan, Pat Murphy and Michael Swanwick in which Isaac Asimov and Robert A Heinlein are whisked away from their war-work at the Philadelphia naval dockyard into a multi-dimensional adventure. The story was reprinted in Asimov's April 2000.

Event Horizon steadily faded away with less new activity in its final three months as finances became tighter. Whilst it had made its mark, its passing showed how difficult it was at that time, even with such a strong production team, to sustain an online magazine. [MA]


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