Realms of Fantasy
Entry updated 26 February 2021. Tagged: Publication.
US Slick fantasy magazine, letter-size and saddle-stapled, published bimonthly, first by Sovereign Media, Herndon, Virginia, from October 1994 to April 2009, then by Warren Lapine's Tir Na Nog, Blacksburg, Virginia, from August 2009 to December 2010 and finally by Damnation Books, Santa Rosa, California from February to October 2011, a total of 102 issues. It has been edited by Shawna McCarthy throughout, though Douglas Cohen assumed the full editorial role from November 2009 with McCarthy as fiction editor. The December 2010 issue was available in downloadable form only when the magazine changed hands, but (as part of the transaction) a printed issue followed from Tir Na Nog to maintain continuity. Subsequent issues are in both online and print form. Realms of Fantasy, initially the Fantasy companion to Science Fiction Age, was a quality magazine from the start, beautifully packaged with columns such as "Folkroots" by Terri Windling and "Gallery" featuring essays by Windling, Charles de Lint, Janny Wurts, Mike Resnick, Harlan Ellison, Jane Yolen, Tanith Lee and Kristine Kathryn Rusch which allowed the promotion of art and artists. Todd Lockwood has twice won the Chesley Award for his artwork in the magazine, in August 1996 and again in June 2003. This packaging was expensive, however, and although the magazine's sales at the outset were impressive, over 40,000 and outselling both F&SF and Asimov's, productions costs bit deeply into revenues. Sales subsequently fell significantly, dropping below 20,000 in 2006, which is what led to the magazine's sale: subsequent publishers had to struggle to sustain it in all its glory. Damnation Books announced its closure in November 2011. It had reached its one hundredth issue in June 2011.
Realms included some big names from the start, with a new Amber story by Roger Zelazny, and later stories by Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, F Paul Wilson and Jane Yolen, who won a Nebula for her dark revisitation of the Peter Pan story, "Lost Girls" (February 1998); but the real value of Realms has been the development of a new generation of writers. Constance Ash, Christopher Barzak, M Shayne Bell, David D Levine, Severna Park, Tim Pratt, Leslie What, many of whom had sold to other magazines but who, in Realms were presented in a package that looked impressive and looked quality, something that still only works in Print Magazines. Moreover, McCarthy encouraged diversity. Without disdaining Sword and Sorcery or High Fantasy [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], Realms of Fantasy focused chiefly on the essence of fantasy, which is tweaking the impossible to feel possible and showing how that impacts upon individuals. [MA]
- Douglas Cohen. Realms of Fantasy: A Retrospective (Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2015) [nonfiction: foreword by Shawna McCarthy: pb/]
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