Review: Fantasy, Issue 61 (November 2020)


Fantasy Magazine, Issue 61 (November 2020) edited by Arley Sorg & Christine Yant

My The StoryGraph rating: 4 of 5 stars (View all my reviews on The StoryGraph)
My Goodreads rating: 4 of 5 stars (View all my reviews on Goodreads)


Fantasy Issue 61 November 2020 Cover art by Alexandra Petruk/Adobe Stock Image with tree-like deity holding a human in their branch hands and staring at them intensely. White text for magazine title and issue information, with editor names and names of included poets and writers.

[Cover art by Alexandra Petruk/Adobe Stock Image with tree-like deity holding a human in their branch hands and staring at them intensely. White text: Fantasy Magazine; Issue #61; November 2020; list of included writers and poets Shingai Njeri Kagunda, May Chong, Osahon Ize-Iyamu, Reina Hardy, Sarah Grey, Tamoha Sengupta; Edited by Arley Sorg & Christie Yant.]

Fantasy Magazine has been on hiatus for several years, but new editors Arley Sorg and Christie Yant have relaunched the magazine starting with Issue 61 and four short or flash prose pieces and two poems, along with interviews. In their opening editorial, Sorg and Yant discuss why they’re bringing the magazine back now; it’s a timely relaunch, to be sure.

I haven’t read previous issues of Fantasy, so I’m not able to point out what might have changed, or not changed, between the first sixty issues and this new one, but overall I’m impressed with the quality of the stories and poems by a diverse group of writers and poets. Interviews with some of them reveal accomplishments and youth that make me feel a little jealous, but also joyful and really, really impressed. Speculative literature is in good hands, both editorial and authorial.

In “And This is How to Stay Alive” by Shingai Njeri Kagunda, grief follows the unexpected death of a family member, but time, and Time, might offer a way back to pivotal moments that could still make a difference. It’s a heartbreaking and hopeful story that offers a compelling alternative to Western conceptions of time. I appreciate the exploration of love and empathy between siblings here, and how they could stand as a bulwark to the misguided and uninformed bigotries of parents.

A collective provides instruction in “An Introduction” by Reina Hardy, with a voice full of authority and attitude that is both decidedly concrete and delightfully ambiguous at the same time. This might need to be read a couple times, but it’s really short flash fiction that naturally drew me back to the beginning.

There seemed to be ambiguity in “To Look Forward” by Osahon Ize-Iyamu, until I realized I needed to read the short story literally. Friends certain and uncertain about their academic paths forward into Senior school as they approach their Junior school graduation in Nigeria gather at a swing set and reveal their choices through their very natures and abilities. This story drew me in immediately because I remember so vividly how I used to swing, point my feet to the sky, and feel delicious terror at the very thought of falling up and up if I were to let go.

I also love “Love Laws and a Locked Heart” by Tamoha Sengupta, a short fairy tale about a princess, a creep wizard, love, and identity. Sengupta crafts such an amazing protagonist in so few words.

The description and specific sensory details of a beloved are equally as strong in the poem “things i love about my werewolf girlfriend” by May Chong. I’m so happy to read poetry in this issue and fingers crossed poetry will be featured regularly in future issues. The other poem, “The Secret Ingredient is Always the Same” by Sarah Grey, makes use of form and imperatives to explore a particular cure for heartbreak, but the cure might be even more vicious than the broken heart. Then again, why shouldn’t it be?

A note about the poetry, though: at least in my ePub copy of the magazine, the poems are images rather than text that can be highlighted, presumably to retain their forms. The image quality isn’t as high as native text, so these pages looked a little funny to me, but were readable.

The interview with SL Huang by Sorg, as well as interviews with the short story writers by Sorg and Yant, provide further insights into the authors’ works and their writing processes, which I’m always excited to read about.

I’m really here for this relaunch, and happy to say that my decision to purchase a lifetime subscription was indeed the right call. The font of the magazine’s name on the cover is amazing, in my opinion, as is the artwork by Alexandra Petruk. Fantasy is going to be another favorite magazine along with Lightspeed and Nightmare!