November 10th, 2010


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.
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