I recently subscribed to Icarus, a magazine of gay speculative fiction. It’s published by Lethe Press and edited by Steve Berman, who owns Lethe. Subscriptions are $50US for a quarterly year, including shipping, or single issues can be ordered for $13US plus shipping. I got the magazine very promptly — within about a week — and it’s well put together, with heavy, slick covers and good quality paper.
I was expecting a fiction magazine and there were only three stories in it, so that was a bit surprising. The other features and articles were interesting, though, so I’m not disappointed.
“Watching Dark Shadows” is an excerpt from Jeff Mann’s autobiographical essay collection Edge, and was interesting even to me as someone who’d never watched the TV show. I’m planning to look for his book so I can read the rest; he’s an engaging writer and this sample bit makes me want to get the whole thing. (Which was, of course, the point I’m sure. )
There’s a collection of cartoons on one page by someone called Puss in Boots. The art’s decent, and one bit about gay robots made me crack up. I showed it to my husband and he laughed too, which is the whole point, right?
There’s an interview with Dan Stone which is chatty and interesting. He talks about his book The Rest of Our Lives and how it came from his “lifelong love affair with romance and magic,” which makes it interesting to me as a reader.
There’s another interview, this time with artist Peter Grahame, who talks about his book Contemplations of the Heart, A Book of Male Spirit. He says that he “got very interested in just photographing my naked friends — perfectly ordinary and wonderful guys as they are — just for it’s [sic] own sake. I was realizing that Gay men, myself certainly included, so often get hooked on the impossibly idealized youthful well-built well-endowed male nude. I wanted to start showing that really, no matter what age, shape, size or color, everybody is in fact beautiful… and sexy, too. I wanted to move away from reducing men to body parts and sexual objects only.” I have to say that as a woman, this makes me smirk and think, “Welcome to the club,” you know? But again, the guy sounds interesting and it’s great that he’s doing this. The two example photos aren’t terribly outside the norms, in that there’s no one shown who’s noticeably fat or old or whatever, but from what he says I’ll assume that there are at least a few such photos in the book itself. (It sounds like there should be, at any rate.)
There are three reviews, one of which is absolutely scathing — you can always trust Paul Bens to say exactly what he thinks — so there’s no fear that they’ll only be doing puff pieces like a few other magazines I can think of.
There’s also a “Forewords” section, with an alpha-by-name listing of what various people are doing in gay speculative fiction. Most of it is books coming out, or authors announcing that they’re working on a sequel to such-and-such, with a couple of other notes. It looks like it could be a useful resource for people looking for book releases and other events in this subgenre, although if everyone who writes relevant books started submitting their release etc. info, the page could easily turn into quite a few pages; I imagine they’ll have to implement some sort of filtering process if it becomes too popular?
A page entitled “Network’d” talks about The Gaylactic Network, its history and goals and current state. I don’t know whether this is a one-time ad or whether the Network will have a regular page in the mag; we’ll see with the next issue.
At this point, Icarus is a bit incestuous with Lethe Press, featuring enough Lethe books and associates that I noticed without having been looking for it. It’s understandable for the first issue, and the contents were of high enough quality that it doesn’t bother me. I’m looking forward to seeing them branch out, though, in the future. Posting some submission guidelines on their web page would also be nice; the focus on Lethe authors and books along with the lack of publicly posted guidelines makes it feel a bit clubbish. We’ll see how it goes over the next few months.
On the whole I’m pleased with the magazine and don’t regret my fifty dollars. It’ll be interesting to see how the magazine develops as it goes along.