Speculative Fiction Magazine Review: The Deadlands (Issues 1-3)

The Deadlands Issue 3
The Deadlands Issue 3 (Cover)

The Deadlands is a new monthly speculative fiction magazine that publishes short stories, personal essays, and poems about death and what it means to be at the end.

I’ve received a free review copy of The Deadlands Issue 3 in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Beliefs about death, rituals centering on grief and renewal, and how we approach the end of our lives all vary from one cultural context to the next. How we perceive, and whether there’s an afterlife, and definitions of an ending can evolve because of a certain event or circumstance. My mother’s family in Puerto Rico (Afro-Taínos) bury their loved ones’ bones in flower baskets or gourds to hang in their homes. After Hurricane Maria, flowers are still planted and hung in memory of the people (even the missing) who transitioned from the physical world to the spiritual one called coaybay. We don’t see death as “final,” but rather as a significant milestone. For most other people, death entails a new beginning.

The Deadlands Issue 1
The Deadlands Issue 1 (Cover)

The first two issues of The Deadlands offer a wide range of perspectives and insights regarding endings — the end of life, navigating through an unfamiliar space, and embarking on a new beginning. Editor-in-chief E. Catherine Tobler starts the first issue with an editorial about her first encounter with death at a funeral home. Tobler’s letter is followed by Amanda Downum’s (the magazine’s necromancer) personal essay about literally fixing a dead man’s skull and how being a mortician has shaped her perceptions of existence. The magazine’s second issue contains another treasure trove of gorgeous prose and poetry. Margaret Ronald’s beautifully chilling story Bonefields and luminous poetry by R.B. Lemberg and Marissa Lingen grace those pages.

Issue 3 continues to provide excellent insights on the themes involving death and endings. October’s Ghost by Caitlyn Paxson (personal essay) haunts me with its lyrical prose and impressive conciseness. Plus, be prepared to immerse yourself with the poetry of Zin E. Rocklyn and Gwynne Garfinkle.

The magazine also features the monthly “Ask a Necromancer” column, where readers can ask licensed mortician Amanda Downum questions about things associated with death. Amanda answers a question about green burials in issue 3. The Deadlands holds so much potential with its contributors’ dynamic views and beliefs about death and what defines an ending.

The Deadlands Issue 2
The Deadlands Issue 2 (Cover)

The masthead of The Deadlands: Sean Markey (publisher), E. Catherine Tobler (editor in chief), Sonya Taaffe (poetry editor), David Gilmore (nonfiction editor), Cory Skerry (art director), Laura Blackwell (copy editor), and R.J. Theodore (designer). Featured writers include Vajra Chandrasekera, R.B. Lemberg, Premee Mohamed, Arkady Martine, and more.

Issue 3 of The Deadlands is available to read online (subscription is required).

If you’re interested in submitting to The Deadlands (including reprints), please read through the magazine’s submissions guidelines first.

For more speculative fiction magazine recommendations, check out my Queer magazine recs and my Queer SFF stories recs.

Author: Bradda M.

Bradda M. currently lives in Virginia. He teaches ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) at a public school and spends his free time reading and watching movies each night with his partner. For The Geekiary, he writes about webcomics and SFF media.

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