That having been said, I would say good things about Millhaven Press even if he hadn’t sent me free stuff.
By now, readers of this blog should know my feelings about short fiction and the need for short fiction markets to keep any genre of fiction alive and growing.
That’s where innovation comes from. You can experiment and play around with the form, the themes, the genre conventions. Every significant literary movement has begun with short fiction, and has been made possible by publishers who do the hard work of getting the stories to market.
I’m not alone in feeling that the traditional short fiction market has grown moribund in the past few decades. What I find very exciting is that there is a growing number of people who are willing to step up and do something about it.
Jeffrey Blehar’s vision for Millhaven Tales is to focus each issue on a different genre, which is a really exciting idea. As you can see in the picture, his first two are Tales Of Wonder and Tales Of Suspense. Next up for Millhaven Magazine is Tales Of Terror, (which I believe is currently accepting submissions.)
In addition he is working on full sized anthologies, the first one Sword & Sorcery (submissions closed–that’s the project I mentioned above that I will be part of) and is currently accepting submissions for a Lost World anthology.
That’s a lot of irons in the fire, it’s a heavy schedule for an emerging publisher. I have the first two issues of Millhaven on my desk right now and it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into them. This is a man who is committed to reclaiming genre fiction.
Tales Of Wonder opens with a story right out of The Twilight Zone sets the tone for the issue. These are not “Science Fiction Stories” or “Fantasy Stories”–these are Freakin’ Tales Of Wonder, just like it says on the box. It’s a very pre-Campbellian collection, you won’t find extensive backstories or drawn out pseudo-scientific rationales for the events in these stories. You just get dropped into the weird and come face to face with giant scorpions and bureaucratic angels and divine tattoo artists and (my personal favorite) an extremely disturbing walk through an old automobile graveyard.
This isn’t “retro-pulp” where the authors are camping it up and leering at the audience to make sure that everybody knows they are just making fun of that kitschy old-timey junk–these are stories in the spirit of Bradbury and Lovecraft and Frederick Brown.
Tales Of Suspense follows the same pattern, only harkening back to Black Mask rather than Weird Tales. To my delight I found that I recognized two of the stories–they had been originally written for my 21st Century Thrilling Tales collection which became orphaned when the publisher backed out. (Full disclosure #3) I am very happy to see that they found a home, and the fact that Millhaven picked them up goes to show how close his vision is to what I have been trying to do.
Again, these are not pastiches or parodies that randomly drop hardboiled gangster slang into a stew of moral ambiguity. There is irony here, and some black humor that reminds me of Roald Dahl’s stories for grownups, but it’s not poking fun at the form. These are stories that would be at home in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
The overall quality of both magazines is good, beautiful covers and clean, readable interior design. Okay, so the cover art on Tales Of Wonder is a bit on the sloppy side (sorry) but it is colorful and fun. Overall, both are professional products, well-formatted and printed by Createspace.
All in all, well worth checking out.