Farewell, Realms of Fantasy
I haven’t commented on the news that Realms of Fantasy is closing yet, and I feel as though I should for several reasons. So, I will.
Way back when I was a wee!Tempest I was very much unaware of fandom and the wider SF world. I liked Star Trek. I liked Narnia and other SF/F YA and children’s books I’d read, I liked The Martian Chronicles. I didn’t know that this could all coalesce into an identity.
I don’t know how exactly this happened, but at some point I came across the magazine Science Fiction Age and just fell in love. I still feel like SF Age was one of the best genre magazines ever. I was attracted to it due to the big, glossy covers with awesome images but what held me was the stories inside – I read the thing from cover to cover.
During this time – late high school – it was pretty hard to find SF Age. This was before the explosion of B&Ns everywhere and such. I had to beg and cajole and blackmail my poor mother to drive me to the only newsstand in town where I knew I could reliably find it. And one day I happened to notice another mag sitting on the same shelf. Instead of a cool spaceship on the cover, there was probably some woman in chainmail or whatever, but I remember immediately recognizing that this magazine was related to SF Age. It had a similar cover sensibility – a design that said “This is the fantasy version of that magazine you already like.” So I picked that up, too.
I was not disappointed.
Through reading SF Age and Realms of Fantasy I decided to join the SF Book Club which led to me reading every Dozios year’s best (along with some other stuff, but mostly just that) which led me to read beyond the Star Trek novels I’d been devouring for years which, by many turns, led me to writing science fiction and fantasy.
The first time I ever saw Scott Edelman at a con I stood paralyzed 10 feet away from him for 20 minutes until I worked up the nerve to go and say, “HiMrEdelmanmynameisKimandIamabigfanofyours SFAgewassoawesomeanditchangedmylife andIhavealwayswantedtomeetyouandsaythatbecausereallyitchangedeverything Iwouldn’tbeawriterifnotforyouIthink.” Or something like that. I’m sure Scott was completely scared of me, but he did smile when I mentioned SF Age (which Sovereign totally killed before its time and I will never forgive them for that, omg).
Since SF Age died before I got my writing chops, I always had a notion in the back of my mind that I might be published in Realms someday. For a long time it was my whole short fiction world, except for year’s bests. And I loved every story I read.
Yes, this changed over the years. I stopped sending to Realms long, long ago because, really, I’m not all that in to sending stories off to a black hole from which they’d never return (the price I paid for being passed up to Shawna so many times). I stopped reading it after the story that ended with two people having sex on top of a dead unicorn (and no, I am never going to get over that. I like Carrie Vaughn a lot as a person, but ye gods, dead unicorn sex? Booo!). But I will always, always be grateful that it existed, and that it introduced me to so much wonderful fiction and so many amazing authors.
I read Theodora Goss and Hilary Moon Murphy for the first time in Realms and now I’m happy to call them friends. I saw many friends I knew to be amazing authors get published there for the first time – Tim Pratt, Sarah Prineas, Samantha Henderson, Eugie Foster (these are the names coming to me right this second, there were many more).
I still treasure my old copies from high school and the stories I loved therein. I still treasure my memories. And I hope that there will still be great magazines that high school girls who love Star Trek and Martian Chronicles and Narnia can stumble upon that will change everything for them and open up a new world of awesomeness.