Pandora

Tagged: Publication

US Semiprozine which had three phases under three editors, the sequence held together by a thread of Feminism. Founded and initially edited by Lois Wickstrom at Sproing, Inc, Denver, Colorado from #1 (undated, October 1978) to #9 (undated, September 1982). Publication was taken over by Jean Lorrah (who had been associate editor on issues #8 and #9) with Empire Books, Murray, Kentucky, from #10 (undated, Summer 1983) to #17 (undated, Fall 1987), serving as co-editor with Wickstrom. Publication was then taken over by Meg MacDonald (who had been associate editor on issues #16 and #17) who became sole editor from #18 (Winter 1988) to the final issue #29 (undated, Spring 1992). The magazine was originally planned as a quarterly but for most of its life it appeared twice per year except in 1988-1989 when it did appear quarterly (these were the only dated issues). The first issue was letter size, but from #2-#9 was digest size, reverting to letter size from #10-#17 and then digest size from #18 to the end. Issues #2 and #3 and #25-#29 were perfect bound, but the rest were saddle-stapled. The early issues grew from 32 pages to 64 pages but remained mostly between 36 and 48 pages, with the final issue a bumper 112 pages.

Pandora labelled itself "A Femzine" for the first two issues, clearly nailing its colours to the mast, but in order to broaden its appeal from issue #3, and supported by a grant from the local Women's Institute, it was called "An Original Anthology of Role-Expanding Science Fiction and Fantasy". All straplines disappeared from issue #9 when the magazine was simply Pandora, but its purpose remained the same: to raise awareness in and the profile of women writers and their work. From the start it published many women writers including Margaret "Steve" Barnes, Jayge Carr, Janet Fox, Phyllis Ann Karr, Connie Kidwell and the very first story by Lisa Goldstein, "Nuns and Chimneysweeps" ([April] 1979 #3). There was also striking artwork by Victoria Poyser, Cynthia Weinberg and others. Lois Wickstrom wanted Pandora to publish fiction that no other magazine would touch and though she later felt that no real breakthrough story came along she did publish some very strong and emotional material, such as Connie Kidwell's "The Resurrection of Raoul T. Harper" ([March] 1981 #7) about a woman awaiting the reawakening of her husband from Cryonics storage. Jean noted that after the first few issues over half the story submissions were by men, while women were still submitting stories using just their initials rather than full names. If Pandora did anything, it determined to promote the female role.

It continued this way under Jean Lorrah, when Lois Wickstrom took a steadily decreasing involvement and Jacqueline Lichtenberg became more heavily involved in production. She also contributed an advance extract from her Sime/Gen novel as "RenSime" (1983 #10) and there was an interview with her in issue #10. Under Lorrah the feminist angle became less overt and the fiction in the magazine as a whole softened, no longer seeking that unique story. If anything the magazine shifted more to Fantasy, with a significant increase in poetry and short-short fiction. Contributors included Juleen Brantingham, Paul Dellinger, Terry England, Scott E Green, Brad Linaweaver and Resa Nelson. Towards the end of Jean's tenure, Meg MacDonald became involved as associate editor. After issue #17 the magazine was sold to Reluctant Publishing in Michigan, who also published the gaming magazine Stardate. However, no sooner had Reluctant taken it on than they experienced financial problems and Pandora was dropped. Meg MacDonald continued it on her own for the next twelve issues.

Under MacDonald the magazine took on a rather less focused outlook and introduced a religious element, which each issue receiving a biblical dedication. MacDonald wrote an editorial on "Loving God" (Fall/Winter 1988 #21) and Steve Stanton considered "Christian Science Fiction?" (1991 #27). The magazine was shaped by usually three or four longer stories and many poems and vignettes. The mood was of a more experimental magazine seeking to publish creative yet moral fiction. Another story debut was Peny R Griffin's "The Tower of Voices" (Summer 1988 #20). Some bigger name contributors appeared, notably Ray Bradbury with a poem, "Behold the Beast Shaw/Chesterton" (Winter 1988 #18) and Piers Anthony with "Kylo" (Spring 1988 #19) about a pet Dinosaur. Others included James S Dorr, Scott E Green, Ardath Mayhar, Ted Reynolds, Ralph E Vaughan and Thomas Wiloch. There was an ingenious pair of poems by Sandra J Lindow in issue #22 (Spring 1989) which demonstrated the continuing sub-theme of feminism which had otherwise faded into the background: "An Interview with the Heroic Housewife" and "The Heroic Housewife Reflects on the Time Dilation Effect of Racquetball and Dragon Fighting." In its final years issues Pandora became less frequent and MacDonald's other commitments led eventually to the magazine simply stopping. Pandora felt like an enterprise that had lost its way a little but perhaps had served its purpose. It might not have achieved all it set out to, and many battles still needed to be won, but over its fifteen years significant changes had taken place with Pandora a small, but definite influence. [MA]

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