“That is not dead which can eternal lie, yet with stranger aeons, even Death may die.” –H.P. Lovecraft
The literary world was shocked last year when legendary fiction mag WEIRD TALES was bought by Marvin Kaye and John Harlacher of Nth Dimension Media. Kaye announced that the magazine would return to its original “classic logo,” and that he would be editing the magazine himself.
The supposition was that the mag would also be returning to a more classic style of weird fiction—a shift away from the surreal and “new weird” direction the mag had been exploring in the past few years. Since then only one issue has been released, that being an already “canned” issue put together by the outgoing editorial team. Speculation has continued about the mag’s future: Would Kaye’s editorial reign be well received? Would the often sporadically-published magazine get back to a regular schedule? Kaye has endured much criticism and complaint about some of his controversial decisions, and the future of the Unique Magazine has hung in the balance.
Now comes word that the first Kaye-edited issue has finally gone to press. It features the bold cover headline “CTHULHU RETURNS” along with the classic WT logo at full size and a Lovecraft-inspired artwork. A blend of classic and modern sensibilities, the new cover evokes a wholehearted celebration of the magazine’s history, as exemplified by this Cthulhu-themed issue. Perhaps no other creation reflects the “classic” WEIRD TALES sensibility more than Lovecraft’s tentacled squid-god, an obvious symbol of Kaye’s vision for the magazine: A return to the “weird” tradition.
Sure to be the subject of much argument, debate, and strong feelings on both the pro and con sides, the Kaye/Harlacher version of WEIRD TALES is about to arrive.
My experience with Kaye’s work dates back to his 1988 anthology WEIRD TALES: THE MAGAZINE THAT NEVER DIES. I was in college when this terrific collection of classic WT tales was released. It was responsible for leading me directly to the Terminus Publishing version of the magazine that existed at that time—a magazine that became one of the biggest influences on my own writing career.
Some of the stories in this anthology still rate among my all-time favorites, including Tanith Lee’s “The Sombrus Tower,” Clark Ashton Smith’s “The Weird of Avoosl Wuthoqquan” H.P. Lovecraft’s “He,” and Darrell Schweitzer’s “The Mysteries of the Faceless King.”
If not for Kaye’s ’88 anthology, I might never have discovered WEIRD TALES and its fantastic history of weird fiction. It will be interesting to see where he takes the magazine now that he’s in charge.
Above all else, WEIRD TALES needs to return to a stable bi-monthly or quarterly schedule in order to maintain its reputation as one of genre fiction’s most enduring institutions.