Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weird Tales, Issue 361, Summer 2013

This is going to be hard; it won't be the usual review.
Last time I reviewed Weird Tales (Issue 360) I wrote a paragraph about the new anthological format of the magazine. The editors had the idea of having a single theme for each issue. For example, Issue 360 was about the Elder Gods, Issue 361 (current) is about Fairy Tales and issue 361 is going for the “Undead” theme.
My paragraph was in strong disagreement with this choice for several reasons, all of them can be read here, including the fear of lowering the quality of the stories. Some personal background is needed.
As with many of us, my introduction to weird fiction was through H.P. Lovecraft when I was a teenager. I remember I was around thirteen years old when I bought a collection of his stories. At the time I still lived in Italy (it was around 1993) so my first HPL readings were translated in Italian; the edition was cured by Sebastiano Fusco and Gianni Pilo. I believe it was published by Newton Compton. I even remember where I got it: one of those old bookstores with a lot of interesting books. You know, the one packed with books owned by chain smokers that spend all day reading books and actually knowing what readers need and the location of a book without the use of a computer. I knew the three owners (Renato, Valeriano and Lucio) very well. They used to give me books for free to encourage me in reading. They made me discover H.P. Lovecraft, his world of fiction and his circle. I clearly remember some of the books they gave me mentioned, in the preface, the importance of Weird Tales. After all, that was the magazine that published HPL. For a long time, Weird Tales was for me an almost surreal and non-existent literary entity that lived glorious days but died with HPL. I didn’t know that Weird Tales was still around. And even if I knew it was alive it would have probably been impossible for me to get a hold of an issue.
Therefore, the sole mentioning of “Weird Tales” brings many memories, many ideas; many many things. Weird Tales reminds me of Renato, Valieriano and Lucio; Weird Tales reminds me of long gone non empirical worlds or places that never were. It reminds me of the fact that for a while I was the only one in my entire school that knew who H.P. Lovecraft was. This was until luckily one day a friend of mine asked me to read a Cthulhu mythos collection I had with me; after reading it he got as addicted as I was (I never got the book back. I hope he still has it). In other words, Weird Tales has been an important part of me, even though I started reading it recently. Reading forums and talking to people it becomes clear that Weird Tales is an important part of everyone who is interested in the genre.
The obvious consequence is that most of us consider this magazine, a sort of Totem. It’s there, it might do something or it might just sit still, yet it is extremely important. No one wants to see it disfigured. This is why I opposed the editor’s decision to encage the themes in the magazine and why I complained about it. I was dead wrong.
Weird Tales 361 is a literary gem that might end up being of unique, high quality in its genre. Every single story published in this issue is simply well above average and deserves an award or medal. I am not fond of (nor expert on) fairy tales but, oh boy, this is almost perfection. Anyone who is interested in fiction – and I mean fiction in general, not only weird/sci-fi/fantasy – should get a copy of WT #361 and read it as soon as possible. I am sorry I didn’t start reading it as soon as it arrived at my house but a few things (work, a family trip, and an awfully long reading queue) prevented me from enjoying this magazine at an earlier point in time. If only I could put my hands on an advanced copy! Well, better late than never, right?
Now, it’s important to understand that I am not expecting every issue to keep the same quality. There are going to be inevitable ups and downs but I am going to be satisfied even if the quality is half of what I have seen in WT #361.
Good job to the authors and the publishers. Even if there is much to be said for every story, I will not review them as that it would spoil the fun. It's better to read the magazine without any prior knowledge of what you will find.
The only thing I can tell you is not to expect the usual fairy tale; expect something that Brom would write. Expect to go from New York, to the La Guardia airport, to lands that don't exist.

Final Comment: this issue is the perfect explanation of why Weird Tales is so magic.

If you want to read more about it I suggest the following:

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