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Dear Doomsayers.... - Michael M Jones

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November 10th, 2010

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09:26 pm - Dear Doomsayers....
I've been of oddly mixed emotions ever since it was revealed that Realms of Fantasy had been sold to Damnation Books. On the one hand, it's awesome that a magazine I've spent the past four years writing for isn't quite dead yet, even after two such attempts to shut it down for good. On the other hand, Damnation Books is a relatively new press, with a shaky track record, a lack of demonstrable magazine publishing experience, and some poor publicity.

Given what any one of us can discover just by doing five minutes of Googling and thread-reading, it's understandable that we're all ... leery, I guess. Wary. Cautious. Is it better for a venerable magazine like Realms to go down quietly, with dignity, or for it to kick and scream its way into oblivion through multiple incarnations? Honestly, y'got me there. I can see virtue in both roads. After all, as we all know, I have a horse in this race, and the longer the magazine survives, the longer my horse gets to eat clover. Or something.

But from what I've seen today, I'm worried for a different reason. I've seen Tobias Buckell, and Jim Hines, and John Klima, and Warren Ellis, and God knows who else, all broadcasting their portents of doom. These are all smart men, widely-read men with audiences, and men worth listening to. These are men of vision and experience. Thanks to them, we know just how dubious a publisher Damnation Books appears to be, how uncertain Realms' future is, and so on. And in responding to these posts, Realms' new owners have perhaps said more about themselves than we expected - or perhaps they've just allowed us to take their measure.

And then I stop to wonder what's going on here? Are people trying to prevent Realms from dying a horrible death, or just anticipating another tragedy and being the first to say "I told you so?" Is this constructive/preventive awareness, or just a way of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy? If, for whatever reason, Realms doesn't last more than a year or two, what will people say?

(I'm absolutely certain that unless there's some sort of gods-inspired intervention, Realms will get out at least two issues, that being how much material was on hand at the time of Warren's shutting it down. What happens after that will be the true test of the new owners.)

Much of this is just me thinking out loud. I am, however, worried that it's not the new publishers who'll kill Realms of Fantasy this time, it'll be everyone else buying into this steadily-growing attitude of futility and failure. I'm hoping that Damnation Press surprises us all. It would be nice.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative

(8 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
I'm really hoping it'll work out.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 03:43 am (UTC)
I responded to your comment on my LJ, but I'm continuing to think about this. I maintain that the responsibility for Realms' success or failure rests on Damnation's shoulders. (Interesting sentence, that.) Suggesting that if it dies, it will be due to folks like myself and Toby ... sorry, I don't buy that for an instant.

That said, there probably is an element of wanting to be the first to call it. And I'm well aware that my own post on the subject wasn't exactly kind.

But in most cases (Cooks Source being a notable exception), the blogosphere isn't as powerful or influential as we think it is. Even if I accepted that our blogs posts could kill Realms -- well, if a few midlevel bloggers pointing out D.P.'s questioable history is all it takes to destroy this resurrection, then the magazine was never strong enough to come back anyway.

There are steps D.P. can take to try to make this work. I hope they take them. But I'm not feeling hopeful.

I will keep thinking about your post, though.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)
Yeah, I never claimed to be one of the great philosophizers. :) Most of this is a combination of deep thinkery and devil's advocate. I doubt it'll actually come to anything, but it seemed worth exploring, however briefly.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
I might not agree with everything in your post, but I do agree it was worth posting :-)
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
How DARE you disagree with me!
By God, sir, this calls for fisticuffs at dawn.
Since I don't do mornings, this will be indefinitely postponed.

I jest.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 01:11 pm (UTC)
Hm ... how about Nerf guns at the crack of midafternoon?
Date:November 11th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Dunno. I do know that there are (not the folks you mentioned) people who are gleeful haters of RoF -- at least one of those whom I know submitted, was published, and was happy when their books were positively reviewed in the magazine. Which seemed counter productive to me, but what do I know, I was just writing articles.

I'm leery of continuing on with it in this third incarnation, for all of the reasons mentioned. Don't know these new people. Do know that I'm exhausted with the controversies regarding the magazine and don't know if I can handle one more.

I tend to think that the doomsayers are probably right, unfortunately.
[User Picture]
Date:November 11th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
I'll go with "innocent until proven guilty" this time, as someone said somewhere. But I will definitely be watching to see the path they take. People tend to learn from past mistakes, so maybe they'll have experience to lean on.

I also that the atmosphere of failure and futility are probably not going to help, and the genre dogpiles are never productive. Hopefully readers are unaware of what happens in the blogosphere, and buy the thing in droves.

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