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Tales of the Unanticipated

Entry updated 19 February 2024. Tagged: Publication.

US letter-size Semiprozine, known affectionately as ToTU, which was originally published by the Minnesota Science Fiction Society from Fall 1986, but became an independent magazine from issue #24 (July 2003). It has been edited throughout by Eric M Heideman. For the first eighteen issues it appeared at the rate of roughly three issues every two years; the schedule became annual from August 1998, switching to a slightly smaller, near-standard format (9.75 x 7.5 in; 245 x 190mm) from issue #20 (August 1999), except for issue #26 (October 2005), which was letter size. Publication slowed further after 2005, with only one issue in each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; subsequent issues appeared in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Tales of the Unanticipated is a respected and mature magazine that has published material of consistently high quality over the years, despite increasing gaps between issues in more recent years. Although it began as a magazine of the Minnesota SF Society, it was never a club magazine in the traditional sense, but was produced to promote the depth and diversity of talent in Minnesota and as a showcase for the annual Minicon Convention. With the first issue it published the first genre fiction by Carolyn Ives Gilman, "The Trial of Victor Genovese" (Fall 1986), about an impostor who takes over other people's minds, and which the editor proclaimed "simply, one of the best stories I have ever read." The issue also carried an Interview with Eleanor Arnason, who would become a regular contributor, an essay by Kate Wilhelm "On Responsibility", which had arisen from a question posed at the 1986 Minicon, an article about the work of Philip K Dick and other stories and poems of which "A Dream of Heredity" by John Calvin Rezmerski went on to be co-winner of the Rhysling Award for best short poem of that year.

This was an auspicious start for a small magazine and one that it has lived up to consistently for a quarter of a century. Other writers whom it has either discovered or encouraged early in their career include Kij Johnson, Peg Kerr and Jason Sanford. Other leading writers have included Stephen Dedman, Neil Gaiman, Maureen F McHugh, Patricia Russo and John Sladek. Most issues up to #20 (August 1999) featured interviews with a leading sf personality: these have included Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm (#2), Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (#3), Larry Niven (#4), John Sladek (#5), Kim Stanley Robinson (#8), Jonathan Carroll (#9), George Alec Effinger (#11-12), Gore Vidal (#14), Karen Joy Fowler (#15), Ursula K Le Guin (#18) and Neil Gaiman (#20). There have also been a number of special issues, which began with a memorial tribute to Clifford D Simak (#5) and have included specials on Fritz Leiber (#6), "families" (#12), myths, folktales and legends (#18), ghosts and machines (#21), birth, death and rebirth (#22), Monsters (#27) and Heroes (#28). [MA]


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