Weird Tales published my first story. Their old offices were pretty close to my parents’ home in Pennsylvania, and I used to help with the slush pile whenever I happened to be in town. We go back a bit, WT and I. The magazine itself goes way back.
Ann VanderMeer used to be the editor-in-chief of Weird Tales. Under her leadership the magazine simultaneously embraced and transcended its history and legacy. It was art. It was gorgeous. It earned its first Hugo award.
Then VanderMeer was dismissed, in clumsy and callous fashion, because
some guy named Marvin Kaye bought WT so he could return it to the glory days of Lovecraftian fanfic.
[Edited to add: I should have recognized that name: Marvin Kaye is the editor and anthologist who first published Orson Scott Card’s controversial novella Hamlet’s Father, which I reviewed unfavorably last year. Since then Kaye has claimed that a) Tor forced him to publish it (even if true, this is still an unimpressive attempt to pass the buck), and that b) he didn’t notice anything particularly offensive about Card’s novella. I find that claim astonishing. Either he didn’t read it at all, or his critical reading skills are significantly lower than the average brick. Read on for more evidence of the brick theory.]
More recently, Kaye decided to publish and defend a work of astonishingly ignorant and vicious racism. N. K. Jemisin and Jeff VanderMeer sum things up nicely.
The apologies, retractions, and damage control efforts from WT HQ are now underway. None of it matters, though.
Editors are guides. They lead you to certain spots in the tangled landscape of literature and say “Look. Look at this. It will be worth your time.” Ann and Jeff are the very best guides. I trust them to show me things worth seeing. I trust them to be good company around the campfire in those few moments we have left, before some unspeakable thing emerges from the forest to devour us. I’d follow them anywhere–even and especially to places where no sensible reader would ever dare go. Check out their new and massive anthology. Browse through Weird Fiction Review. I promise you it will be worth your time.
But I wouldn’t trust Marvin Kaye to lead an expedition across an empty room.
Jemisin says this, and I say ditto:
All my pleasure and pride at having been published in WT is gone. Goes without saying that I won’t be submitting there again, ever, but at this point I’m ashamed to have my name associated with the magazine at all. And that pisses me off especially, because something I really cared about has been destroyed. I was willing to give WT’s new owners the benefit of the doubt after the regime change; sometimes change can be a good thing, after all. But this editorial, and this decision to publish such poor-quality fiction on misplaced principle, makes it clear that WT’s reputation is now meaningless. By this gesture Marvin Kaye hasn’t just slapped me in the face, he’s slapped every author the magazine ever published, every hopeful author who’s submitted during and since VanderMeer’s tenure, every artist whose illustrations ever graced its pages, and every fan who voted for WT to win that Hugo.
She posted her WT story online, for free. I won’t be doing that with mine, mostly because I’m a little embarrassed to look back at my first story–not just the first one I published, but the very first story I wrote. I was proud of it at the time, though, and proud to have published it in Weird Tales. Not anymore.