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Weird things happening at Weird Tales.
August 25, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

The influential American fiction magazine, Weird Tales has a new editor, and a new direction. It's hard to overstate the importance the magazine has played as a platform for genre fiction. Founded in 1923, it has featured authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, C. M. Eddy, Jr., Clark Ashton Smith, and Seabury Quinn.

Author and editor, Marvin Kaye, purchased the magazine in order to take over as editor, and has terminated the existing staff. Departing is former editor, Ann Vandermeer, who describes her own accomplishments with the magazine as such:
"In addition to bringing home the first Hugo Award win in the history of Weird Tales, I was also only the second female editor of the magazine, and presided over the only all-female staff ever for the magazine."

From his blog, fiction/comic author Warren Ellis had this to say about it:
"WEIRD TALES had been absolutely resurgent over the last few years. There had been stops and hurdles, but it was a progressive magazine with fine work, some beautiful design and an impressive list of contributors. Kaye is a prolific anthologist, clearly very retro in his tastes, and, I believe, still the editor of Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine."

"I am sad to see the current iteration go. I suspect that the new iteration, if it sees print, will not be to my tastes. Starting off with a Cthulhu-themed issue is not exactly future-facing. Still, I wish him luck, just as I wish all the luck in the world to Ann and her staff in their next adventures."

Official link and statement from departing editor Ann Vandermeer.
Previously.
posted by Stagger Lee (40 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Maybe it could use a new name: Spicy Vanity Publishing Tales?
posted by detachd at 8:10 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh Jesus I almost had an anyeurism thinking that Warren Ellis was going to be the new editor.
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh Jesus I almost had an anyeurism thinking that Warren Ellis was going to be the new editor.

Seriously, I was about to start fashioning a Pringles can into a warhorn in order to summon warriors brave and true to the nerdlements.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:23 AM on August 25, 2011 [21 favorites]


Wait, are we for, or against, Ellis being editor?
posted by cthuljew at 8:24 AM on August 25, 2011


Name of the Little Blue Pig, Seabury Quinn!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:25 AM on August 25, 2011


Wait, are we for, or against, Ellis being editor?

That depends, do you like reading something more than waiting for it to come out?
posted by griphus at 8:25 AM on August 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Weird Tales is also a hell of an album.
posted by COBRA! at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is this normal in periodicals? To come in & let everyone go?
posted by pointystick at 8:35 AM on August 25, 2011


FINALLY a place for Cthulhu-related stuff!
posted by Legomancer at 8:39 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this normal in periodicals? To come in & let everyone go?
Nope. Usually new editors work with the existing staff. There's usually some sort of shake-up, but firing the whole staff (especially if the magazine's been doing well) in unusual, and kind of a dick move.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:42 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I haven't read Weird Tales in ages but I can understand the concern that the new version will be hopelessly retro in content and feel which will negatively impact new more forward looking authors looking for a venue to publish stories.

Buying something in order to remake it to your own tastes seems like a bit of vanity on the part of Kaye but I'm not really that familiar with him as either an author or editor.

It would be a shame if it just becomes relentless pastiches of early Sword and Sorcery and Eldritch Horror stories.
posted by vuron at 8:45 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jeff Vandermeer (Ann's husband and an excellent writer himself) shared some more backstory in a comment on his own blog yesterday:

In response to some emails–everything in Ann’s post on the Weird Tales blog is information she was given by the other parties in this transaction. It is all accurate and recorded, including the retro Cthulhu issue. If they misrepresented themselves, that is their own fault.

John H did not communicate with Ann at all until today, Marvin kept putting it off and then, extremely unprofessionally, posted to Peter Beagle’s wall and others yesterday soliciting submissions, before any formal announcement. At that point, Ann had no choice but to issue a statement. At this point it is on John and Marvin to apologize to Ann and rectify the situation.

To be fair, he said later in another comment:

Just FYI, this is Ann’s latest status on facebook: “Thanks to all for your good wishes and kindness. I have been in further talks with the new Weird Tales management and I feel confident that good things will be coming soon. Stay posted!"
posted by overglow at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2011


It's also a dick move when these old school periodicals are dying, and Weird Tales seemed to be holding its own.
posted by PinkMoose at 8:47 AM on August 25, 2011


Thanks for adding that information overglow.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:49 AM on August 25, 2011


Marvin Kaye must be in his 70's now surely, yes?

I remember him as being a good sf writer in the late 70's/early 80's.
posted by kyrademon at 9:01 AM on August 25, 2011


Ah, a classic example of the Murdoch style of media barony.
posted by infini at 9:01 AM on August 25, 2011


This thing ... it is not broken. LET ME FIX THAT.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:15 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If he had to make a prestige pulp title buy, why not Argosy? I don't think anyone's using the name at the moment. Or how about The Popular ("the magazine for men and women who like to read about men")?
posted by Iridic at 9:16 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is bad and shitty, especially since Ann had invited me to submit work in the future in a rejection letter and I was waiting to write something really Weird Talesy for her.

(The same thing happened to me with Cat Rambo and fantasy. Her tastes and mine were much more in line than mine and JJ Adams, so it makes me grumpy.)

But of course, it's also shitty from a professional standpoint. A facebook post is no way to find out you've been fired.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:26 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hell, back when I was submitting to it, Betancourt, George Scithers, and Darrel Schweitzer were still running it and everyone was all anxious when Warren Lapine bought it back when DNA was running around buying up everything. Then Wildside got bigger and Betancourt bought it and the band played on.

For as long as I've been aware of it, the history of Weird Tales has been one of stumbling from one owner with a concept for the future of publishing that's been successful in the short term (tm) and a yen to run Weird Tales himself to the next. I'm sorry to see Ann Vandermeer go as I've got tremendous respect for her abilities. But if you follow Weird Tales, you really have to be used to this sort of thing by now.
posted by Naberius at 9:47 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh booo, I just renewed my sub! Really not interested in a bunch of pastiche mythos bullshit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:51 AM on August 25, 2011


Is this why I haven't gotten an issue in recent memory?
posted by Bookhouse at 9:59 AM on August 25, 2011


I know of a certain writer in Providence now who should have a fairly interesting blog entry on this by the end of the week, if not the end of the day.
posted by Ardiril at 10:24 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm torn. This sounds like it went down ugly, but I really very much enjoy Marvin Kaye as an anthologist. That said, I didn't know a. he was still alive or b. Weird Tales was still alive.
posted by Lou Stuells at 10:48 AM on August 25, 2011


Weird Tales also was the first publisher of Tennessee Williams, a short story called The Vengeance of Nitocris that the author wrote when he was 16, before it was all baby dolls and beatniks and gay men getting murdered and eaten by children.

I know you probably all know this, but I just found out and am tickled by it.

And now that I think about it, "Suddenly Last Summer" has a sort of Weird Tales quality to it, with Sebastian standing in for Dionysus.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:57 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I know of a certain writer in Providence now who should have a fairly interesting blog entry on this by the end of the week, if not the end of the day.

HP Lovecraft has a blog?
posted by ignignokt at 10:57 AM on August 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why not? He has a Twitter account.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2011


Thanks, Nibbly Fang (great username!)
That does seem a bit ove rthe top to clean house.

I also now wonder if I am not the only person who does not get appeal of Cthulhu.
posted by pointystick at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"a certain writer in Providence *now*"
posted by Ardiril at 11:06 AM on August 25, 2011


I also now wonder if I am not the only person who does not get appeal of Cthulhu.

(very tiny voice:) You're not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:41 AM on August 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


It won't matter whether you get his appeal or not when he rises from his slumber.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:42 AM on August 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


"a certain writer in Providence *now*"

Everybody knows that Zombie Lovecraft summers in Portsmouth, NH.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:43 AM on August 25, 2011


I also now wonder if I am not the only person who does not get appeal of Cthulhu.

You are. Cthulhu was totally my favorite character on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. While I get that you might not be a Sid and Marty Krofft fan like the rest of us, that doesn't make you right.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:29 PM on August 25, 2011


The way George Scithers would test you to be a reader for Weird Tales was that he would give you a couple of real submissions to read and comment on on the spot. One of them was always some horrible Conan-like story (or an actual Howard story, for all I know), and if you weren't chucking at how awful it was within 10 seconds, you didn't get the job.

At least, that's my recollection of how the job interview went ... I read for WT, and was briefly an assistant editor, for a year or two in high school. I don't think a single submission I saw, out of hundreds, was ever accepted. It was a great job.
posted by chortly at 1:43 PM on August 25, 2011


Disclosure: Ann & Jeff VanderMeer have bought fiction from me.
Opinion: What Marvin Kaye did was very daft.
Fact: Ann did a great job at Weird Tales, and she'll carry the goodwill she earned there onwards & upwards to new projects.
posted by Prince Lazy I at 3:12 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


But if you follow Weird Tales, you really have to be used to this sort of thing by now.

True. I've sold fiction to Marvin Kaye before when he was editing H.P. Lovecraft's Magaine of Horror, and I do think that having him as editor or doing a Cthulhu-based issue wouldn't neccessarily be "retro" or a "throwback". There is plenty of room for contemporary eldritch, as well as futuristic gibbousness.

There are a number of current magazines (both print and online) who accept New Weird stuff, the likes of which flourished in Weird Tales under the editorship of Ann Vandermeer. Personally, I think that the New Weird is a different genre from the Old Weird, and that in a sense, Weird Tales under its new ownership is simply returning to its roots. Nothing wrong with that. Ann Vandermeer is extremely capable and also quite prolific; I am sure that the future holds many new and exciting things for her, publishing-wise.
posted by New England Cultist at 3:33 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also now wonder if I am not the only person who does not get appeal of Cthulhu.

Not just you. I've tried, but I've never been able to fully get the whole Lovecraft obsession.

I'm not being sarcastic.

This sounds like a mess. I'd love for Jeff Vandermeer to start his own strange fiction magazine.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:16 PM on August 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: I've tried, but I've never been able to fully get the whole Lovecraft obsession.


Well Christ, what hope is there for the rest of us, then?
posted by Naberius at 5:28 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


You buried your lead, Stagger Lee.

This is one of those boneheaded moves it's really hard to recover from; the damage Marvin Kaye has just done to himself (in my mind, anyway) is tough to repair. I'm glad to hear that Ann has apparently now managed to point out to him how dumb he's been, and that "good things" may be coming soon.
posted by mediareport at 5:47 AM on August 26, 2011


There is plenty of room for contemporary eldritch, as well as futuristic gibbousness.

There's a surprising number of recent and forthcoming fiction original Cthulhu Mythos anthologies (if I were to think harder and include more small presses and Cthulhu-inspired novels and comics adaptations I could go on to the limits of endurance.)

...New Weird stuff, the likes of which flourished in Weird Tales under the editorship of Ann Vandermeer. Personally, I think that the New Weird is a different genre from the Old Weird

Vandermeer didn't consider her editorship of Weird Tales to have been New Weird-focused, per se.

Lovecraft In Brooklyn: I've tried, but I've never been able to fully get the whole Lovecraft obsession.

Well, that's gotta be anti-epony-something-or-other.

So does anyone know where to find submission guidelines for this Cthulhu-mythos-themed issue of Weird Tales? 'cause I've got, um, this frend with a couple of Cthulhu-mythos stories he kept meaning to revise and send to Weird Tales. I'm not seeing anything on Peter Beagle's wall...
posted by Zed at 10:49 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


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