Scheherazade

Tagged: Publication

UK small-press Semiprozine, 1991-2008, produced from Brighton by Elizabeth Counihan, editor, and Deirdre Counihan, art editor (later co-editor); 30 undated issues of changing size and frequency. Initially quarterly but twice yearly from 1993 and later irregular; #1-#14 were A5 size with 32pp or more in plain one-colour covers bearing only the Scheherazade logo and issue number; #15-#23 expanded to 36pp or more with two-colour pictorial covers; finally #24-#30 were A4, usually 45pp, with covers in full colour. Single-issue years were 1998-1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007-2008, with no issue appearing in 2006.

Subtitled "The Magazine of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Gothic Romance", Scheherazade (or informally "Shez") was devoted primarily to story-telling and to appropriate artwork. From a wide variety of authors the most regular were Cherith Baldry, Alexander Glass, Lyn McConchie, Chris Paul, Brian Stableford and Sue Thomason, providing smooth and consistently readable fiction. Less frequent visitors included Neal Asher, Elizabeth Bear, Storm Constantine, Phillip Mann and Cherry Wilder. The low word rates could not attract really outstanding material, but the stories were consistently readable, perhaps the most notable being Liz Williams's "Zavtra" in #26 (2003). Illustrations were often striking and atmospheric, in particular those from Noel Bateman, Shani Bean, Brian Combe, Gerald Gaubert, Julia Sexton and art editor Deirdre Counihan herself, who also provided a graphic adaptation of Jane Gaskell's King's Daughter (1958) in issues #3-19 (1992-2000). The usual magazine features tended to be brief, light and intermittent except for interviews with notable writers and others of genre interest, among them Lois McMaster Bujold, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Christopher Priest and David Pringle.

Scheherazade's circulation included some bookstand sales but was never mass-market. Intentions for "at least two" paid stories in each issue rose to a more general "pay our writers a small fee." The stated aim was to offer an alternative to existing publications "all, in effect, aimed at a young male readership." Authorship of the 170 stories published was 36% female and 64% male, and the readers' letters were similarly split 38/62, while subscribers seemed about 50/50 female-male. Elizabeth Counihan warned in #2 (1991), "I don't think we are likely to appeal to hard SF fans or radical feminists", and maintained this middle-ground policy throughout.

The magazine generated a loosely-connected Original Anthology, Fabulous Brighton (anth 2000) edited by Elizabeth Counihan, Deirdre Counihan and Liz Williams; a sequel was Fabulous Whitby (anth 2008) edited by Sue Thomason and Liz Williams. [DR]

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