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Realms of Fantasy: October 1998 (Issue 25)

  • Feb. 7th, 2008 at 5:24 PM

Part twenty-five in my ongoing retrospective as I read the fiction in the back issues of Realms of Fantasy and offer my thoughts, right up to the present.  This time around I'l be discussing the October 1998 issue.

The cover to this one is by Luis Royo, which marks his fourth illustration in the magazine.  It features a beautiful maiden mounted on a unicorn, casting a spell against a dragon while a man roots through a treasure chest.

There are a couple of noteworthy happenings in the masthead.  Christina Krug's title has changed from Graphic Designer back to Assistant Art Director.  Also, under Copy Editors, Laura Cleveland is listed for the first time.  I want to mention this because these days Laura has a bigger role at Realms, that of Managing Editor.  There was a stretch of time where Laura wasn't with the magazine at all, and when she returned, I remember Shawna mentioning how glad she was to have Laura back as Managing Editor.  I'm not arguing either.  She seems really organized, and ever since Laura returned to take over as Managing Editor, the amount of free copies of Realms I receive with each issue has increased, and always find their way to me earlier than ever before.  Cheers, Laura.

A rundown of this issue's nonfiction is as follows:

In the adult books column, Gahan Wilson reviews The Complete Pegana--All the Tales Pertaining to the Fabulous Realm of Pegana, edited by S.T. Joshi, The Encyclopedia Cthuluiana--Expanded and Revised Second Edition by Daniel Harms, The R'lyeh Text, "researched, transcribed and annotated" by Robert Tuner (meant to be a follow-up to The Necronomicon), and Jeanne Cavelos reviews Flanders by Patricia Anthony; in the movie/TV column, Dan Perez covers John Carpenter's Vampires; in the folkroots column, Terri Windling writes about the magical lore of birds; in the artist gallery, Karen Haber covers the art of James Warhola; and in the games column, Eric T. Baker reviews the PC game, Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, the rpg City of Lies: A Campaign Setting for Legend of the Five Rings, the rpgs Hercules: The Legendary Journeys & Xena: Warrior Princess, Return to the Tomb of Horrors: An Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Adventure, and the rpg Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade from White Wolf Publishing.   

On to the fiction ...

The lead story in this issue is "Armageddon's Rose" by Christopher Mowbray.  Just about everyone knows that one of the most cliched story ideas one can visit in fantasy is that of Adam & Eve/the Garden of Eden.  But as everyone also knows, even what is seemingly the most cliched idea is worth reading about if the author can bring a worthwhile spin to the story.  Mowbray does just that in this Garden of Eden tale.  It's rather on the short side, so elaborating more than this would give everything away.  Art to this one was provided by Patrick Arrasmith.

Then we have "I Met a Traveler From an Antique Land" by David Sandner, which marks his second appearance in the magazine, and his first solo work.  This one is a piece of dark fantasy that has a bit of a psychadelic quality to it that I rather enjoyed.  It's a twisted and sad love story, and while the author refers to the creature in the story as a vampire (a fair labeling), the front cover uses a teaser of "Zombie Love" in reference to this tale.  It really does contain a lot of zombie qualities too, so this strikes me as a rather fair label as well.  And if you consider it a zombie tale, it would mark the first zombie tale to appear in RoF.  Art to this one was provided by Eric Dinyer, which marks his second illustration in the magazine.

Next up is "The Secret in the Chest" by Fiona Kelleghan, which marks her first fiction tale.  This one is a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, and features some clever plotting as the author decides to take on many of the traditional conventions found in these sorts of stories.  Art to this one was provided by Steven Adler, which marks his fourth illustration in the magazine.

Then we have "Alice" by Peni R. Griffin, which marks her fourth story to appear in the magazine.  This modern-day piece deals with the everyday mysteries that surround us, the ones we take for granted or fail to notice at all, and the prices we must pay to unravel them.  Art to this one was provided by Mary O'Keefe Young, which marks her eleventh illustration in the magazine.  It also puts her in a tie with Janet Aulisio for most illustrations in the magazine.

Following this is "The Inner Inner City" by Robert Charles Wilson, which marks his third appearance in the magazine.  This story is a reprint, and was originally published in Northern Fright 4 from Mosaic Press in September 1997.  As was the case with his other two stories in RoF, this one is loaded with thoughtful material, mixed with healthy doses of paranoia.  Wilson's stories are refreshing in a way I don't encounter too often in fantasy.  I read lots of stuff that is fun (and even more stuff that isn't).  I read some stuff that challenges your Emotional Quotient, or EQ.  But it's rare that I encounter fantasy stories that challenge your IQ.  Science fiction does this plenty, but not so much with fantasy (braces for a series of posts seeking to prove me wrong).  This time Wilson takes on religion, presenting a scenario where a group of academics make a cash bet where each one must come up with his/her own religion.  Where it goes from here is pretty wild.  This story was nominated for the 1998 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction.  Art to this one was provided by Jeff Potter.

Finally we have a young adult story by Jim Van Pelt called "Home."  The illustration features an adolescent boy running for dear life from a giant robot.  Readers of speculative literature often equate robots to science fiction.  Usually this is accurate, but there are exceptions.  This is one of them.  We don't know the story behind the robot or the things it can do, so the explanations could easily be fantastical instead of scientific.  And without explanations, the arguments for fantasy become that much stronger.  Art to this one was provided by Walter Velez.

So that wraps up this issue.  And my favorite story?  "I Met a Traveler From an Antique Land" by David Sandner.  And my favorite artwork?  Luis Royo's cover illustration.  Next time I'll put a cap on 1998 by discussing the December issue.  Until then ...