Friday, August 21, 2015

The Weird Tales Controversy-Part Two

In order to understand the recent Weird Tales controversy, we should know something about the events that preceded and followed it. So here is a chronology. If I have made any mistakes or left anything pertinent out, I hope someone will let me know.

Chronology of Recent Events in Weird Tales

2006--Five issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press or Wildside Press/Terminus with George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer, and John Gregory Betancourt as editors

2007--Five issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press or Wildside Press/Terminus with George H. Scithers, Darrell Schweitzer, and John Gregory Betancourt as editors for one issue (Feb./Mar. 2007); Stephen H. Segal as editor for three issues (Apr/May, June/July, and Sept./Oct. 2007); and Ann VanderMeer as editor for one issue (Nov./Dec. 2007)

2008--Five issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press with Ann VanderMeer as editor

2009--Weird Tales won a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine (for Ann VanderMeer's first full year as editor)

2009--Two issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press with Ann VanderMeer as editor

2010--Weird Tales nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine

2010--Two issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press with Stephen H. Segal as editor for one issue and Ann VanderMeer as editor for one issue

2011--Weird Tales voted thirteenth place as Best Magazine in the Locus Poll Awards; Ann VanderMeer voted eighth place as Best Editor; Weird Tales nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine

2011--Two issues of Weird Tales published by Wildside Press with Ann VanderMeer as editor (Spring 2011 and Summer 2011)

August 2011--Weird Tales was reported to have been sold to Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher (the seller was John Gregory Betancourt of Wildside Press)

Oct. 20, 2011--Nth Dimension Media, Inc., announced that it had purchased Weird Tales magazine

2012--Weird Tales voted sixteenth place as Best Magazine in the Locus Poll Awards; Ann VanderMeer voted fourth place as Best Editor

2012--Two issues of Weird Tales published by Nth Dimension Media, Inc., with Ann VanderMeer as editor for one issue (Winter 2012) and Marvin Kaye as editor for one issue (Fall 2012--The Cthulhu Returns Issue)

January 10, 2012--Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden by Victoria Hoyt published by Sand Dollar Press, Inc.

June 2012--Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher told Ann VanderMeer of their plans to publish an excerpt from Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden by Victoria Hoyt in the first issue to be published with Marvin Kaye as editor; Ms. VanderMeer objected (that issue became the Fall 2012 issue, the Cthulhu Returns Issue)

August 14, 2012--Marvin Kaye posted a review of Save the Pearls Part One: Revealing Eden on Amazon; the review included his announced intention to print an excerpt in the upcoming issue of Weird Tales

August 20, 2012, and following--Ann VanderMeer announced her resignation from Weird Tales; controversy over her resignation and the plans to publish an excerpt from Revealing Eden in Weird Tales erupted on the Internet and among writers, fans, and critics; John Harlacher issued an apology and/or retraction (some people seemed to have been mollified, while others were still incensed about the controversy)

2013--Weird Tales voted seventeenth place as Best Magazine in the Locus Poll Awards; Ann VanderMeer voted fifth place as Best Editor

2013--One issue of Weird Tales published by Nth Dimension Media, Inc., with Marvin Kaye as editor (Summer 2013--The Fairy Tale Issue)

2014--Weird Tales voted seventh place as Best Magazine in the Locus Poll Awards; Ann VanderMeer voted fourth place as Best Editor (presumably for Tor.com)

2014--One issue of Weird Tales published by Nth Dimension Media, Inc., with Marvin Kaye as editor (Spring 2014--The Undead Issue)

Apr. 5, 2014--I began writing as a guest blogger on the Weird Tales website (I have provided this date to show that the website was still up and running as of then)

Summer or Fall 2014--The Weird Tales website was taken down

2015--Ann VanderMeer voted third place as Best Editor in the Locus Poll Awards (presumably for Tor.com)

I have compiled this chronology mostly from the Internet Speculative Fiction DatabaseFrom it, a few patterns show themselves:

1. In 2006-2008, Weird Tales was on a regular schedule of five issues per year, roughly bimonthly.

2. The publication schedule since then has become irregular if not erratic, with only one or two issues per year and no issue this year (yet).

3. Under Ann VanderMeer's guidance, Weird Tales was nominated for several Hugo Awards and won one award--its first Hugo ever--in 2009.

4. However, the popularity of the magazine in the Locus Poll Awards dropped from thirteenth place in 2011, to sixteenth place in 2012, then to seventeenth place in 2013. Weird Tales increased in popularity under Marvin Kaye (seventh place in 2014) but has since disappeared from the list.

5. Since resigning from Weird Tales, Ann VanderMeer's popularity as editor has increased from fifth place in 2013 to third place in 2015.

A commenter on this blog wrote that he had heard that the subscriptions to Weird Tales increased under Ann VanderMeer from under 1,000 to about 2,000. I have no way of confirming that, but I'm willing to accept it. I assume that the combination of low circulation and irregular schedule is why Weird Tales was considered a semiprozine by the Hugo Awards.

In summary, Ann VanderMeer's tenure as editor of Weird Tales (Nov./Dec. 2007-Winter 2012, or four years plus a little) was marked by increasing subscriptions, increasing popularity, and the winning of several awards and honors, including a Hugo Award in 2009. The downside of all that was the irregular or erratic publishing schedule, but she may have had little or nothing to do with that. (Any troubles the publisher might have had could explain his eagerness to sell off Weird Tales in 2011.) Ms. VanderMeer has also increased in popularity since leaving Weird Tales. Popularity and even awards can be as political as the next thing, but Ann VanderMeer seems to be on the right track as an editor. Marvin Kaye might have reason to envy her success.

To be continued . . .

Copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley

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