Myths & Delusions • Editorial • October 2016

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For me, this new issue of Mythic Delirium constitutes a “retro” issue, though I can understand why a reader might find that characterization puzzling, as there’s little that’s obviously retro about the contents.

Okay, TJ Radcliffe’s story-in-verse, written in deliberate evocation of the style of Robert W. Service (1874-1958) might well trigger a “retro” reaction, but that’s not truly how I mean it.

I’ve been an editor and publisher of some form for 21 years, and I’ve been assembling some form of Mythic Delirium for 18 years. Mostly by coincidence, this particular issue, October–December 2016, bears a strong resemblance in style and content to the first anthology I ever produced, New Dominions: Fantasy Stories by Virginia Writers.

The odds that anyone reading this now will have read that colorful little chapbook are pretty slim. I only printed 200 copies, which sold out. The book’s purpose was to assemble stories and poems by writers in Virginia, most living in or near Roanoke, in a one-stop-shop sort of volume.

The cover artist and illustrator was a New Jersey transplant, Ted Guerin, who had a studio in downtown Roanoke and a plaque from the Illustrators of the Future contest on his wall. The writers included Nelson S. Bond, a prolific fantasist whose had his heyday during the glory days of the pulps; Bud Webster, who had then just won an award for best short story from the readers of Analog Science Fiction and Fact; Paul Dellinger, a veteran reporter for The Roanoke Times, where I now work; award-winning poet R.H.W. Dillard; Elfquest author Vickie Holt; and stories from newcomers like Danny Adams.

I contributed a story too—such practices had yet to go out of fashion, heh. While the story was nothing to boast about, it did no harm: New Dominions ended up being my first project to register on the national genre scene’s radar.

The assembly of that book was entangled in dramas that have long since faded, and reflecting back on the project is both glorious and bittersweet. It was Nelson who contributed an epic-length poem in the tradition of Service, “The Ballad of Blaster Bill.” He died in 2006 at age 97, after making a comeback in his life’s final decade. I’m honored to have known him.

Bud won another AnLab Award in 1997, but his fiction writing output proved sparse. He died in February this year; his last published story, “Farewell Blues,” is now a contender for the World Fantasy Award. I hope his family finds solace in this posthumous honor.

Ted Guerin, who was a great friend and inspiration, withdrew from public life after a cancer diagnosis and moved to the west coast to be near his son. He died in 2011, and I miss him.

Not all is so melancholy. Paul, after decades of publishing a short story here and there, has this summer made a stunning leap to the national stage as co-writer of the middle-grade sci-fi novel Fuzzy with New York Times-bestselling author Tom Angleberger. Recently Danny has for the second time completed an unfinished novel started by his late great-uncle, the legendary Philip José Farmer.

It’s not my intention to freight this new issue with expectations on that scale—just to share what thoughts this batch of work engenders. It’s possibly the most Virginia-centric of all the digital issues to date. Cover artist Bill Rutherfoord lives in Roanoke, as does contributor Chris Reinhardt, who’s making his fiction debut. Andrew Gilstrap, also making his fiction debut, hails from South Carolina, about as far away from Roanoke as Washington, D.C, which is more local than usual.

Nonetheless, we’ve not gone completely provincial. Radcliffe, like Service, is Canadian, and poetry contributors Jeannine Hall Gailey, Gwynne Garfinkle, Lore Graham, Sandi Leibowitz, and Mari Ness come from all over the United States. Yet New Dominions held plenty of poetry, so the abundance of poets doesn’t break that spell.

Please, enjoy the home cooking.

Our next issue will shift back into more explicitly mythical realms with fiction by Darcie Little Badger, Patricia Russo, and Morris Tanafon, and poetry by Beth Cato, Lynn Hardaker, Olchar E. Lindsann, Sonya Taaffe, and Jane Yolen. Don’t miss it—subscribe or renew here at the Mythic Delirium Books website, or here at Weightless Books.

 

—Mike Allen, Roanoke, Va., September 2016

 

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