This looked early in the year to be another depressing post. Realms of Fantasy was discontinued by its original publisher, Sovereign Media, after the April issue. Happily, however, it was bought by the revenant Warren Lapine, formerly of DNA Publications (best known for Absolute Magnitude), now back with a new company, Tir Na Nog Press. Lapine kept things mostly the same: the editorial team is unchanged (headed by Shawna McCarthy), the look and feel is very similar, the paper remains slick (perhaps even slightly better quality), though the word count of fiction per issue did go down a bit. Only one issue was skipped in the changeover. Overall they published some 153,000 words of fiction this year. (Though I still caution that word counting is difficult with Realms of Fantasy, given their proclivity to change font sizes, use lots of different borders and interior story quotes, and irregular illustrations.) There were 23 stories in all, 7 novelettes, 16 short stories (one a short-short). Realms of Fantasy remains a very consistent magazine, publishing a very steady brand of fiction.
Three novelettes stood out for me. Adam Corbin Fusco's "Sails Above Greensea" (April) is another of quite a few recent pieces about flying sailing ships (or balloons, as the case may be): here the conflict is between the two remaining city-sized Greatships on a nearly submerged world, the two ships captained by a father and his estranged son. "Digging for Paradise", by Ian Creasey (August), tells of a sorcerer who schemes to take a company into the very far future. The narrator must choose between revenge or more constructive options. Cat Rambo's "Diary of a Beast's Life" (December) is told by a centaur who is captured and sold into slavery along with various other fantastical beasts -- because beasts, for all their evident intelligence, are inevitably considered subhuman by humans. An old, sad, story, but powerfully told again.
The best short stories included two from February, one a nice humorous story by David D. Levine, "Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven", in which Umiel, an angel and a desk jockey (against her will) deals with such frustrations as a clueless boss, the implementation of ISO 999, and the fact that her ideas for counteracting the Competition seem to be ignored; and the other a fine entry in Richard Parks's Lord Yamada series, "The River of Three Crossings", in which Yamada must deal with the ghost of a bandit, and, more critically, with the bandit’s determined daughter, who loved her father for all that he was truly a bad person. From April, Garth Upshaw's wild "Name Day" tells of people on what seems another planet, who change weirdly upon drinking of the alien sea on the title day. Other good stories came from Tanith Lee, Ben Francisco, Jay Lake, William R. Eakin, Dirk Strasser, and Parks again.
And as to statistics: Realms of Fantasy featured 8 out of 23 stories by women, about 35%, a bit less than the last couple of years (40% and 38%). All the stories qualify as Fantasy (Garth Upshaw's "Name Day" being one I could have squinted at and called SF if one insisted).