Monday, 2 February 2015

Theaker's Turns Fifty

I have been writing, now, for oodles of years, he says, being purposefully vague because he can't be bothered to stop and figure out how long he's been writing for and also possibly because if he did then it would make him sound kind of old.  The point is, I've been at this writing thing for a while now, I've been selling short fiction for almost as long as I've been writing, and in that time I've seen a lot of markets come and go.  I mean, a lot.

Goddammit, now I am sounding old.  Maybe not that many.  But more than just a few, okay?  Enough, at any rate, that I've gained some insight into just how hard it is to keep a magazine going, month after month, year after year.

For this reason, I have much admiration for Stephen Theaker for getting Theaker's Quarterly Fiction to its fiftieth issue.  That's no mean feat.  Then again, nor can it be easy making a magazine as reliably good as Theaker's tends to be; and I'd imagine it's hardly a piece of cake to imbue that magazine with its own distinct character, something Theaker's has almost an overabundance of.  But I think that what's impressed me most over the years is how every time I return to it, Theaker's has grown that bit more polished, to the point where this "most amateur of magazines" (Stephen's words, not mine!) has been looking awfully professional for a long while now.  It's a hell of an achievement to produce fifty issues; it's an even bigger one for every one of those issues to be a little better than the last. 

As such, I got quite excitable when I ran into Stephen at last year's FantasyCon and he mentioned that issue #50 was on its way; so much so that I started immediately trying to force a story on him. Eventually we settled on a piece called The House That Cordone Built.  It's old work, but it's a personal favourite that I was always sad not to have found a home for, and I gave it a hefty overhaul before I felt happy letting it out.  It owes a lot to my possible all-time favourite short science fiction story, Heinlein's "And He Built a Crooked House", a lot to M C Escher, and there's a bit of stuff in there about interregnum religious cults too, because I don't know why but there is.

Anyway, here's Mr Theaker himself with some talk about what's going on in the rest of his momentous, half-century issue:

"This three hundred and twenty-four page issue – our longest ever! – features fiction from many of our previous contributors, who have returned to help us celebrate fifty issues and ten years of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction: Antonella Coriander, David Tallerman, Douglas J. Ogurek, Howard Phillips, Howard Watts, John Greenwood, Matthew Amundsen, Michael Wyndham Thomas, Mitchell Edgeworth, Rafe McGregor and Walt Brunston!

Plus reviews from Douglas J. Ogurek, Howard Watts, Jacob Edwards and Stephen Theaker. Stephen and members of the reviews team answer your questions in “Ask Theaker’s”! Cover artist Howard Watts takes us through his process in “Artful Theakering”! And there’s a round-up of everything Stephen Theaker read last year but didn’t have time to review! Happy fiftieth to us!"

Yes indeed.  If that's piqued your interest then you can go here to find a free copy in your format of choice.

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