Ann VanderMeer on No Longer Editing Weird Tales


(Ann VanderMeer and Stephen Segal accepting their Hugos for Weird Tales)

My wife Ann’s statement / press release is below. I have no comment except to say that Ann did great work at Weird Tales under sometimes trying and difficult conditions, and she was extremely patient, professional, and worked hard to un-ossify Weird Tales and make it true to its original mission statement: to provide a safe haven for unclassifiable and unique weird fiction. – JeffV

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FROM ANN VANDERMEER:
(Also posted at the Weird Tales blog where you can comment.)

I am very sad to have to tell you that my editorship at Weird Tales, which has included one Hugo Award win and three Hugo Award nominations, is about to come to an end. The publisher, John Betancourt of Wildside Press, is selling the magazine to Marvin Kaye. Kaye is buying the magazine because he wants to edit it himself. He will not be retaining the staff from my tenure. I wish him the best with the different direction he wants to pursue, including his first, Cthulhu-themed issue. The current issue of Weird Tales is #358, just published. My last issue will be #359, which Kaye plans to publish in February of next year. Other stories I bought will be published in various issues thereafter.

The past five years reading fiction for Weird Tales magazine has been an honor for me. I had a blast doing this but I have also contributed to the canon of “the weird tale”—a responsibility I take seriously, not only for the readers of today, but for the readers of tomorrow. This iconic magazine originally blazed a trail for new approaches to dark fantastical fiction, and I did my best to return to that legacy. In addition to bringing home the first Hugo Award win in the history of Weird Tales, I was also only the second female editor of the magazine, and presided over the only all-female staff ever for the magazine.

My current plans include final work on THE WEIRD: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories out from Atlantic in October. This huge reprint anthology, perhaps the largest ever published for this kind of fiction, includes 116 stories from the last one hundred years and totals 750,000 words. I will also be shepherding the anthology ODD? to completion through my and my husband’s e-book imprint Cheeky Frawg, along with completing several other anthology projects. In addition, I will continue to talk about and promote weird fiction through a new blog associated with THE WEIRD that will act as a repository of information and features, as well as providing a home for a new slate of “one-minute Weird Tales,” although they will of course be called something else. Beyond that I am considering this a chance to explore new and exciting opportunities.

If you have questions about this announcement, or interview requests, please direct them to my publicist, Matt Staggs, at [email protected] Thank you for your support.

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Because I will not have the opportunity to write a final editorial for the magazine, I would like to say a few additional things as part of this announcement.

First, I would like to thank all my readers for coming along on this adventure at Weird Tales with me, and trusting me to find the kind of stories that you love. Thanks also to the writers and artists for trusting me to take good care of your work and to present that work to the world. I had the opportunity to bring to your attention some great short fiction while also helping further the careers of a lot of up-and-coming writers.

I also want to thank the talented people I’ve worked with: Stephen Segal, Paula Guran, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Kum, Dominik Parisien and Alan Swirsky. You all are the best.

I am proud of what I have accomplished these past five years. I worked hard to publish a wide variety of weird fiction. In addition to work from Weird Tales’ stalwarts like Tanith Lee and Darrell Schweitzer, I published a new Elric novella by Michael Moorcock, and new fiction from brilliant writers like Kathe Koja, Jeffrey Ford, Michael Bishop, Norman Spinrad, J. Robert Lennon, Ian MacLeod, Felix Gilman, Sarah Monette, along with forthcoming work by Conrad Williams, Joel Lane, and Stephen Graham Jones.

With the aid of Weird Tales creative director Stephen Segal during my first couple of years, we ran many memorable theme issues, including the “85 Weirdest Storytellers” issue to celebrate 85 years of publication, an Uncanny Beauty issue, a steampunk issue and an International Fiction issue. In fact I published work by contributors from 21 countries during my five years with the magazine, more than any prior editor—including from New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Bulgaria, Philippines, Israel, Serbia, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, France, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden.

I also published many, many new or up-and-coming writers, including: Ramsey Shehadeh, Jeff Johnson, Matthew Pridham, Karin Tidbeck, Leena Likitalo, Tamsyn Muir, Tom Underberg, Peter Atwood, L.L. Hannett, Alistair Rennie, Kelly Barnhill, Micaela Morrissette, Jonathan Wood, Gio Clairval, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Amanda Downum, Catherine Cheek, and N.K. Jemisin.

During my tenure, Weird Tales also truly entered the twenty-first century, by establishing a submissions portal and regularly producing the One-Minute Weird Tales videos, in the context of a newly revamped website.

It was a great ride, but now it’s over. I am still dedicated to seeking out the best of weird fiction wherever it is and bringing it to you. I just won’t be doing that under the Weird Tales masthead anymore.

Comments

  1. says

    Well, that is sad news. I was just thinking I needed to renew my subscription, but now it looks like I might just have to pick up a few individual issues…

  2. says

    Ann, you did an outstanding job under what I hear were oft-difficult conditions, and I applaud your dedication to publishing the best in weird fiction. And I wish you the best in the future ventures you’re no doubt brewing in your head.

  3. Chris Furst says

    I’m sad to hear this, Ann. Thank you for the great, transformative work you did with WT, and thank you for publishing me. Good luck for the future, and I look forward to your new projects.

  4. Rachel Swirsky says

    I am not sure I have anything that I can contribute in polite company, besides, “Arrrrgh.”

  5. says

    I’m very sorry to hear that; I’ve been reading Weird Tales and enjoying your tenure. I look forward to your next projects.

    Nevertheless, I hope that WT will continue to be interesting, though it’ll be differently interesting.

  6. says

    Ann, I’m so sorry to hear this has happened! Weird Tales has rapidly become a magazine that I look forward to and get excited about, though I’ve never thought of myself as the target audience for dark fantasy. The work you and your team has done to make this creaky, long-lived dinosaur into a fresh and contemporary publication has been extraordinary and I am sad to see it come to an end.

  7. says

    A large, large, LARGE part of the joy of reinventing Weird Tales was the neverending delight of having Ann as a partner. I can’t wait until the day comes when we can team up on something awesome once more.

  8. Jeff VanderMeer says

    The thing that the new owners of Weird Tales seem to have misunderstood today is that this is not about them. IMHO is about Ann being able to have the space and opportunity to say goodbye the way she wanted to, and should have been able to naturally in the next issue (but will not be able to).

  9. Jeff VanderMeer says

    In response to some emails–everything in Ann’s post on the Weird Tales blog is information she was given by the other parties in this transaction. It is all accurate and recorded, including the retro Cthulhu issue. If they misrepresented themselves, that is their own fault.

    John H did not communicate with Ann at all until today, Marvin kept putting it off and then, extremely unprofessionally, posted to Peter Beagle’s wall and others yesterday soliciting submissions, before any formal announcement. At that point, Ann had no choice but to issue a statement. At this point it is on John and Marvin to apologize to Ann and rectify the situation.

  10. says

    I’m very sorry this happened, Ann. The whole thing is one giant dick move, and your fans will not forget it. There’ll be hell to pay, I’m sure.

    But you know what? Something tells me you’ll prove your excellence as an editor in the coming years and you’ll look back at all this and giggle. Because dropping Weird Tales sure as hell won’t be the last we hear of you, nor the last time we see work you’ve been involved in recognized by awards committees and the Hugos and what not.

    On to newer and brighter and bigger things!

  11. ben jones says

    I’m sorry that Ann won’t be editing WT anymore. The silver lining is that her skills and her passion will still be seen in many other places.

  12. says

    This announcement makes me very sad. Congratulations on the great work you did at WT, Ann, and I’ll be sure to follow you wherever you go, to all of the projects you listed above. I hope new management doesn’t screw up WT, but this first decision doesn’t give me a lot of faith, the way they handled it all. Not good.

  13. Hannu Blommila says

    Sad news indeed. Ann & her team did a truly wonderful job with WT. Good luck and all the best wished to all of you.

  14. says

    Just FYI, this is Ann’s latest status on facebook: “Thanks to all for your good wishes and kindness. I have been in further talks with the new Weird Tales management and I feel confident that good things will be coming soon. Stay posted!”

  15. Hal Duncan says

    Crap. Ripping out the mag’s innards seems a pretty spectacular disregard for the approach (never mind the team) that brought it roaring into the 21st Century, revivified. Buying it solely for the name and heritage… well, that speaks of a rather bold conviction on Kaye’s part as regards his own approach — and the proof will be in the pudding, I guess. Or not. I *would* give the benefit of the doubt, wait and see what his vision is that it requires him to raze the mag to the ground, rebuild it from scratch; but a Cthulhu-themed first issue just sounds like reactionary entrenchment, I have to say. If it’s not intended as a clear signal of reversion to yesteryear’s formulae… actually that might be an even worse sign just in terms of the obliviousness.

    Anyway, yeah, what everyone else has said: sorry to hear about this, not least for the handling of it; I’d say that whatever comes next will be awesome, I’m sure, but it seems kinda “well, duh” to be honest.

  16. Steve Tem says

    I’ll definitely be watching for those developments. I really liked the direction Ann was taking and am sorry too see her version of WT go away.

  17. Felix Gilman says

    That’s a real shame. Ann, I will really miss the interesting Weird Tales of the last few years, and I’m sorry we won’t get to see where you would have gone next.

    A stupid move on the new management’s part and it sounds like it was carried out in the stupidest possible way.

    Looking forward to the hundred-and-one other cool things you are apparently working on.

  18. ben jones says

    I look forward to hearing more on those “further developments”. From what I recall, Kaye has been a decent anthologist in the past. That’s different from wrangling all-new fiction year-round, though. Why not keep the woman who’s proven she can do the job?

  19. says

    Ann, Thank you for your hard work on Weird Tales. You have been instrumental in getting my sons to read short fiction. My copies of Weird Tales succeeded where other magazines did not. I’ll miss your editorial eye, and look forward to seeing what you do next.

  20. says

    I really feel for you, Ann. I was the editor of Paranormal magazine in the UK and despite constant assurances to the contrary, the magazine was suddenly sold to another publisher. It’s a horrible feeling when you have invested so much of yourself, as well as the time and energy and hard work, into a publication only to suddenly have it snatched away. I didn’t get to write a final editorial either. There’s only one answer, Ann – launch your own magazine! I wish you well in all you do in the future.

  21. says

    It won’t be the same magazine without you, despite it keeping the same title. You’ll be sorely missed.

    I look forward to hearing about the next project you get your hands on, as whatever it is, it’s sure to be fantastic.

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