The cover to this one is by Sanjulian, which marks the artist's second illustration in the magazine. It features a warrior atop a flying dragon.
A look in the masthead reveals that Stephen Vann is no longer the Art Director. His successor is Pamela Norman.
A rundown of this issue's nonfiction is as follows:
In the books column, Gahan Wilson reviews The Family Tree by Sheri S. Tepper, The Woman Who Lives in the Earth by Swain Wolfe, The Xothic Legend: The Selected Fiction of Lin Carter, edited by Robert Price, and Jeanne Cavelos reviews Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire; in the movie/TV column, Dan Perez reviews the movie, Warriors of Virtue; in the folkroots column, Terri Windling writes about trickster tales; in the artist gallery, Richard S. Meyers writes about the art of James C. Christensen; in the games column, Mark Sumner reviews the computer rpg, Diablo and Tomb Raider for the Playstation.
On to the fiction ...
The first story was "Bad Medicine" by Martha Wells, which marks her second appearance in the magazine. This one was an urban fantasy tale dealing with some folks who use a certain brand of folklore magic to protect mankind against gate wizards and witches and such. Very descriptive and fast-paced. It's also worth noting that this is the first story in Realms of Fantasy that featured an African-American protagonist. The illustration to this one was provided by Alan Pollack.
Next up was a high fantasy tale by Kristen M. Corby called "The Horse From the Sea." I enjoyed this story, but it becomes all the more impressive if you take the time to read her bio (I always read the author bios as I go through the issues), which notes that this is the first story she ever wrote (though not her first sale). The story itself explores some fairly familiar ground, as a people who worship a god of the sea are conquered by a people who worship a god of the desert. She puts her own brand on the story though, as we see how these two religious peoples manage to reconcile their differences. Artwork to this one was provided by Carol Heyer, which marks her sixth illustration in the magazine.
The third story was "Riders of the Rainbow Ridge" by Diana L. Paxon, with art provided by Ken Tunell. This story features a rather unusual mix of elements, taking place in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado during the time of the Wild West, and blending in a number of tidbits from Norse mythology. And making an artist the protagonist in a tale about Ragnorak was also a surprising choice.
Next up was a middle-grade fantasy by Jane Yolen called "Fallen Angel." It marks her second story in the magazine, and the best word to describe this tale is charming. An angel is cast out of Heaven, and basically loses its wings in the process. Three very bright children stumble upon the angel and take it home. Mom & Dad can't see the angel. The children help the angel get some new wings in a way that leaves you smiling come the end. Artwork to this one was provided by Steven Adler.
Last up was "A Dark Fire, Burning From Within" by Leslie What, which marks her third story in Realms of Fantasy. The fantasy element was slight in this one, and it had sort of a science-fantasy vibe to it. The tale focused on finding the courage to struggle on when all hope seems lost, a familiar theme to epic fantasy fans. Art to this one was provided by David Beck, which marks his sixth illustration in the magazine.
So that wraps up this issue. And my favorite story? "Fallen Angel" by Jane Yolen. And my favorite artwork? Alan Pollack's illustration to "Bad Medicine" by Martha Wells. Next time I'll be discussing The August 1997 issue, which for reasons I'll explain then I have a special attachment to. Until then ...