January 8th, 2010

Summary: Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, 2009

Summary: Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, 2009

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is a new online magazine to 2009. (And it's nice to talk about a new 'zine, not one that is closing!) The editors are Adrian Simmons, David Farney, and William Ledbetter. It seems to plan to appear, natch!, quarterly. Three stories per issue. Three issues appeared this year. A total of 9 stories, 3 novelettes, 6 shorts, some 63,000 words total.

I have to say I was rather pleased with what I saw in the debut issues. There's no doubt the focus is squarely on heroic fantasy, with a bit of a pulpy edge. (The subtitle is "Prose. Poetry. Pulp.") But it avoids sheer thud and blunder, instead giving us solid storytelling. It's not up to the level of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, to which one might be tempted to compare it, but I enjoyed myself reading it.

My favorite story from 2009 was Euan Harvey's "The Hand of Afaz" (#2), set in the same milieu as his Realms of Fantasy story "The Claw Unseen", though both stories stand completely alone. Here a "hand of Afaz" -- an impartial bringer of justice -- arrests a man accused of murdering his own father. But he comes to realize that the supposed parricide is probably innocent -- only to learn that even his order is subject to political pressure, making him choose between duty and right. I also quite liked Bill Ward's "The Last of His Kind" (#3), about a dragon hunter after the very last dragon. Other good work came from R. Michael Burns, William Gerke, and Richard Marsden.

1 of 8 stories was by a woman. None (not surprisingly) was SF.