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Realms of Fantasy: June 1997 (Issue 17)

  • Jan. 10th, 2008 at 4:55 PM

Part seventeen in my ongoing series as I read the fiction to the back issues of Realms of Fantasy and offer my thoughts, right up to the present issue.  This time around I'll be discussing the June 1997 issue.

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 ...   

Comments

the_flea_king wrote:
Jan. 10th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
First story to feature an African American character ever?
douglascohen wrote:
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:30 am (UTC)
As far as a protagonist goes, to the best of my knowledge, yes. I try to pay attention to all sorts of interesting firsts for the magazine as I go along, so that I can mention them in these retrospectives. I keep a fairly detailed log that breaks down the stories for each issue, because it's amazing how fast you can forget the details for some stories. All this said, it's possible I missed something. Not every author draws attention to the race of their protagonists. Some opt for subtlety/casualness regarding this matter, so an oversight on my part (especially when I'm reading a ton of these stories in a row with varying levels of interest) is not out of the realm of possibility.

But assuming I'm right about this, I must admit to some modest surprise regarding this statistic. You would have expected something to have been published sooner. But I trust Shawna's judgment as an editor. Even when she accepts stuff I don't care for, there are always enough readers that like the story that the purchase is more than justified.

I guess I'm just saying that this detail is what is. Nothing more and nothing less.

That said, I can think of at least one instance when Shawna has lamented the lack of good fantasy shorts with black protagonists that are sent our way. As the guy who reads the slush these days, I can attest to the fact that overall there aren't many stories in the piles along these lines, be they good or bad.

It's unfortunate.

This reminds that not too long ago I passed along a slush survivor featuring an African-American family to Shawna, and she requested a rewrite on the ending (a suggestion I tend to agree with, btw). It would be nice if something comes of this. We'll see. It's not the first story I've passed along with black protagonists, but I haven't passed along many, because, again, I just don't see that many tales in this area overall.
melissajm wrote:
Jan. 10th, 2008 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not remembering that one, and I should go find it, because it sounds like it has a lot of my kind of stories.
douglascohen wrote:
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Glad to hear it!
melissajm wrote:
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
I really need to go back and find my older issues, because I started subscribing with Issue 2, but no vivid memories have come rushing back yet. And I know it's not the stories' fault, because I'm still subscribing. :sigh: My memory needs a tune-up.
douglascohen wrote:
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
It happens to everyone ...especially editors. ;)
melissajm wrote:
Jan. 11th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Not that I'm an editor. I'm just plain absentminded. ;)

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