Reviews: Indie FSF Magazines

Those of you who know me know that the science-fiction or fantasy novella is perhaps my favorite form of fiction, with well-written stories close behind. I do adore good long doorstoppers from time to time (I did just finish Kushiel’s Dart, and I plan on reading the rest of the trilogy after I read A Memory of Light and the first book of the Stormlight archives) but the well-crafted story is, to me, the perfect dose of fantasy, and I know I’m not alone in this. Perhaps it dates back to our early days as a species, when we told stories around the fire in those few hours between filling our belly with yak’s foot stew and trying to make a comfortable bed on a pile of dirt. No one had time for long multi-character stories, or if they did, they took their stories in convenient chunks. Personally, I had read a lot of F/SF novels in my early days of being a reader, including classics like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Prydain, and The Chronicles of Narnia, but it was a vacation to Wisconsin when I was 11 and a roadtrip-survival bag from my Dad with a copy of Twilight Zone Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine that made me want to become a writer, and I subscribed to at least one F/SF magazine all through High School.

Fast forward to the present, where I find myself in the habit of writing stories again, in addition to the fantasy novel I’m editing. Last week, I was idling on the Internet and I decided to look online for any quality online journals that publish fantasy, especially pulp-flavored fantasy…

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As I hope I’ve made clear, there is a lot of good fantasy out there, outside of the magazines you’ll find at Barnes & Noble and other book chains. Today, I’m going to look at two of them. Both are completely new to me, but I have already committed myself to reading them every time they so much as think of publishing.

First up is Broadswords and Blasters. Not only was I thoroughly entertained by the  stories in Issue #6, I love their blog as well. The editors do a great job of highlighting and reviewing classic pulp fiction while publishing a magazine that puts a modern spin on classic adventure tales. Most of the stories left an impression on me, but like all entertaining stories, the most important part of reading them was finding out what happens to characters you’ve been made to care about. The e-book price at Amazon.com is definitely worth it. My only real criticism is that I would have loved to see a few more stories in the issue. In particular, the stories of the crew of the Dalton Delivery 5, the Dreamweaver, and DeShawn and his son navigating a city under attack by Kaiju, all left me with a taste for more of their adventures as well, and I hope their authors have more to come.

The other journal I’m reviewing today is Storyhack, Issue 2. I am glad that I’m not forced to choose between the two journals and only review one. The current issue is a little thicker than B&B, and the editors have even published illustrations in front of the stories, something that this kid who grew up copying the drawings of the great fantasy illustrators can definitely get behind. The stories in this issue are fast-paced and full of sweat and adrenaline, and while they’re also written for modern audiences, they are all great yarns. Most of them could stand up next to anthologies of King Kull and Doc Savage, or even modern pulp adventure writers like Dan Brown and Clive Cussler. You can’t go wrong with this magazine, either.

I’ll be publishing more reviews of journals and anthologies as I continue on my journey to imprint my own tales on the world. Send me any recommendations you have… we here at Way Too Fantasy World Headquarters can always use fresh input for those days when the typewriter isn’t clacking and the pen isn’t scribbling and we just want to curl up with tea and a fast, thrilling trip through worlds that could or might be.

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