Hi, remember us? It’s been a long time: nine months, in fact. In case you don’t remember, we’re DargonZine, that fantasy fiction zine that you subscribed to.
Let me begin by apologizing for our long hiatus. In our last issue, I wrote, “It will be a few months before you hear from us again”, and that wound up being a pretty egregious understatement.
The nine-month gap between last April’s DargonZine 17-3 and today’s first issue of 2005 is the longest hiatus we have ever had, and you can rest assured that it’s not usual. In fact, over our 20-year history, we have on average put out a new issue every six weeks.
DargonZine has never adhered to a regular publication schedule; issues are distributed whenever there are enough submissions from our staff of amateur writers to fill one. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many submissions lately, because nearly all of our writers have been preoccupied with a huge story arc that we planned back in May of 2003. As a result of everyone’s singleminded focus on the arc, there has been nothing else to print.
That took far longer than we anticipated, and we couldn’t begin printing the arc until a substantial chunk of it was complete. So let me once more offer our apologies for the recent lack of issues; it’s very atypical.
In more promising news, I can officially guarantee that we won’t have another lapse like that in the foreseeable future, precisely because most of the aforementioned story arc is now complete.
I cannot begin to tell you what that means to our writers and myself. Imagine trying to coordinate a 30-chapter story written by twelve different authors, over a period of 18 months (and still counting), during which four of the writers left the project. It is certainly the biggest collaborative work the Dargon Project has ever attempted, and with the most participating writers. At the same time, it is also the the most tightly interwoven collaboration in our history, where all the writers had to work together very closely to make the overall storyline come together. It has truly been an immense undertaking, and we hope you enjoy the result.
That result — those thirty stories — will appear in issues throughout this year, certainly into 2006, and perhaps even longer, since the arc is currently projected to fill fourteen issues. We chose not to begin printing the arc until (1) every story in the first section was done, (2) every story throughout the entire arc had been posted in first draft form, and (3) we had performed an end-to-end read-through of the entire arc, to make sure that everything worked together.
At the present time, the next four issues, which comprise the first section of the arc, are ready to roll, and another four more — the second section — are awaiting a few final edits. Finally, all the stories in the third and final section are also well on the way. There will be no more long waits between issues.
I will let the arc unfold itself over time, rather than attempt to summarize it here. However, I will say that every one of our writers poured a ton of effort into bringing it about. We are all very proud of this accomplishment, and after all that work we’re absolutely giddy about seeing it in its final form. At long last we’re able to share with you the story of the Black Idol, which begins in this issue, with part one of Rich Durbin’s ironically titled “End of the Line”.
However, the story arc isn’t the only thing that has happened in the past nine months. The rest of this Editorial contains a run-down of some of the things that we’ve been up to since you last heard from us.
Last summer, founding author Jim Owens hosted our annual Dargon Writers’ Summit. It took place in a cabin on the slopes of Oregon’s Mt. Hood, and featured a blacksmithing demo, writing exercises, a major initiative to relate our stories more closely, a waterfall tour, disc golf, a meditation session, and much more. Photos and a write-up of the 2004 Writers’ Summit can be found at <http://www.dargonzine.org/summit04.shtml>.
Another piece of business at the Summit was that Liam Donahue was nominated to be our new Assistant Editor, replacing longtime project leader Jon Evans. Jon has scaled back his administrative duties as a result of his career and recent marriage. Everyone wishes Jon and Liam success and happiness in their respective new jobs.
Also at the Summit, we recognized another longtime project leader by giving Dafydd a plaque with our first Lifetime Achievement Award. Dafydd has published no less than 58 stories in his 18 years with the project, and also was the editor of DargonZine for six years during the early ’90s. Most recently, Dafydd has taken a leadership role in figuring out how we can apply the tightly related and integrated kind of writing we did for the story arc to all our stories. Neither DargonZine nor our writers’ group would be what it is today without Dafydd, and we’re pleased to publicly recognize that fact with this award.
In other news, DargonZine now publishes an RSS syndication feed. What that means is that you can now have announcements of new issues appear on your My Yahoo! page, in your weblog, or in any RSS-capable news reader. Details are at <http://www.dargonzine.org/rssfeed.shtml>.
We conducted a design contest at a Texas graphic arts school, which produced several potential designs for posters and flyers. Shortly thereafter, we printed our first flyers, which were handed out at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston.
On a disappointing note, the illustration that you see for the Black Idol story arc will be the last one from our talented artist David Nelson. During his brief time with us, his works really enhanced our issues, and we wish him luck in his future endeavors.
There’s also a new Web site enhancement to announce. If you use our Online Glossary very much, you’ll notice that we have begun adding cross-reference links in the textual definitions of each Glossary item. This will enable you to jump from definition to definition, making the Glossary a more useful tool in understanding the milieu and the thousands of people, places, and things that inhabit it.
Finally, there’s one more event to tell you about, and it tops all the others. Shortly before New Years, DargonZine became the first and only electronic magazine on the Internet to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding.
Twenty years ago, the idea of using the nascent international computer network as a medium for a writers’ group and electronic magazine was revolutionary. Thanks to the dedication of our writers, DargonZine thrived and has led the way all that time. Our heartfelt appreciation is offered to all our past and present contributors whose labor and faith in this writing group got us to this prestigious milestone.
I’d also like to once again thank our readers for being here with us, whether you’ve stuck with us for all those years or whether this is your very first issue.
Despite our lengthy absence, we enter our 21st year in very good shape. Thanks to our forthcoming story arc, there’s plenty of excellent fiction coming your way, and we plan to continue to produce stories that are more closely related than anything you’ve seen in our pages in the past. I hope you’ll stay with us, because as good as DargonZine has been so far, from here forward it gets much, much better.
Now let me finally introduce you to the work we’ve all waited so long to see: the Black Idol.