Whispers

Tagged: Publication

US Semiprozine published and edited by Stuart David Schiff, initially at Fayetteville, North Carolina but from issue #9 (December 1976) from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where David Drake held the fort, serving as assistant editor, and finally from issue #13/14 (Fall 1979) from Binghamton, New York. The magazine ran from July 1973 to Fall 1987, and although the final individual issue was #23/24, there had been eight double issues, so there were only 17 physical issues. In addition a 25th issue was published bound together with Weirdbook #30 in February 1997. Whispers was originally going to be called Whispers from Arkham and was envisaged as a continuation of The Arkham Collector (see The Arkham Sampler) following the death of August Derleth. However, to avoid any problems with Arkham House the title was foreshortened, though the intention remained. Whispers was thus more a magazine of weird and fantasy fiction than it was science fiction – though like its godfather, Weird Tales, it ran a little of everything and there was usually some science fiction in every issue. Several stories from the magazine won Awards, the British Fantasy Award going to "Sticks" (March 1974 #3) by Karl Edward Wagner and "The Button Molder" (October 1979 #13/14) by Fritz Leiber and the World Fantasy Award to "Beyond Any Measure" (March 1982 #15/16) by Wagner and "The Bones Wizard" (December 1984 #21/22) by Alan Ryan.

As Schiff's career as an army dentist (with regular postings to different locations) restricted his time, he began to produce the above-mentioned double issues, perfect-bound, which were always attractively illustrated and have become significant collector's items. The first of these focused on Manly Wade Wellman (October 1978 #11/12). It was followed by issues on Fritz Leiber (October 1979 #13/14), Ramsey Campbell (March 1982 #15/16), Stephen King (August 1982 #17/18) and Whitley Strieber (October 1983 #19/20). Schiff also began a series of companion anthologies starting with Whispers (anth 1977), initially reprinting from the magazine, but subsequently running mostly new material. Later anthologies were Whispers II (anth 1979), III (anth 1981), IV (anth 1983), V (anth 1985) and VI (anth 1987). The magazine won four World Fantasy Awards in the non-professional category. Its success heralded the dawn of the Semiprozine. [MA]

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