I usually end each year with a retrospective of the past twelve months, celebrating our accomplishments and putting the year into perspective in our history. However, as I wrote this, I realized that if I were to do that for 2003, I would be duplicating much of what I shared with you in the Editorial for DargonZine 16-2 this past September. The extended dry spell that resulted in our only producing one issue in the first eight months of the year was by far the most prominent event of 2003. So instead of looking back at the well-documented difficulties we struggled with this year, I’ll give you our current outlook, on the threshold of our 20th year providing you with free fantasy fiction on the Internet.
After spending most of ’03 looking for new stories to print, the first item I’d like to highlight is how many new works we have in the pipeline. This is now our fourth issue in as many months, and with the contents of our next three issues almost done, we should have no problem continuing to send issues out monthly. The year will get off to a very memorable start with the final three chapters of Dafydd’s four-year Talisman saga.
It’s a little more difficult to see the future beyond April, but our top priority is to start printing the two dozen stories that have come out of the common story arc that we began writing at the 2003 Dargon Summit last April. Our contributing authors are well on the way to getting everything written, and we’re rapidly approaching 100,000 words. With an exciting series of stories, and enough material to fill an entire year of issues, the story arc is clearly our biggest, most visible, and most important goal for 2004. Everyone is excited at the prospect of seeing it in print, so much so that in November, for the first time in Dargon Project history, seven of our writers locked themselves in a chat room for an entire weekend to make a concerted push to move their stories forward.
Beyond the story arc, we have a whole stable of new writers who are anxious to make their first appearances in DargonZine next year, and we expect to be welcoming back some of our alumni who have been on hiatus. And, of course, as 2004 draws to a close we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of FSFnet/DargonZine’s founding, an achievement that no other Internet-based magazine can claim, and a testament to how much our many readers and writers have valued DargonZine and what it does.
I hope you’ll stick around for it, because between the conclusion of the Talisman epic, the publication of our huge story arc, the appearance of more new writers as well as returning veterans, and of course our upcoming 20th anniversary, I think 2004 is going to be the best year we’ve ever had.
But right now we need to cap off 2003 with this final issue of the year. We begin with the first chapter in Dave Fallon’s “Knight of Castigale” series, which, as its name states, follows the story of a knight in the service of the Barony of Castigale, which is embroiled in political intrigue and an ongoing feud with a neighboring barony. Part two will continue this tale in our next issue, DargonZine 17-1.
The rest of this issue is devoted to Dafydd’s second standalone short story in as many issues. As mentioned in the Editorial to DargonZine 16-4, Dafydd’s natural inclination is more toward novella- and novel-length works, rather than short stories, so this is a particular treat. However, his newfound conciseness is absent from the story’s lengthy title. In “The Ballad of the Potter and the Horse Thief”, which was also formerly known as “A Riff on Childe #81″, Dafydd serves up a goulash of several folk tales, served with his own particular garnish.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these and the other great tales we’ve been able to give you this year, and I look forward to sharing 2004′s very promising crop of stories with you, beginning just about a month from now.