Stories of Imaginary Places

Issue 1: Lairë (Summer) 2003


 In this issue:

August 1-3, Durham, North Carolina

Welcome! The first issue of my webzine is finally posted. It has been an interesting learning experience. I want to apologize to everyone right now for missed deadlines, slow responses, and anything else that might have happened. But the site is now up, and I missed my June target by less than half a month, so I think things are off to a pretty good start. Now I can start working toward a second issue.

In this issue I present 5 short stories, as well as a featured artist, and a column of book reviews.

The title, Parageography, is intended as a homage to Dr. Douglass Parker - a Classics professor at the University of Texas. Dr. Parker taught a class entitled Parageography, in which we studied the geography of fictional worlds. The reading list covered everything from the Odyssey, through Dante's Inferno and Moore's Utopia, to Oz, Narnia, and Middle Earth. Dr. Parker's thesis was that fictional worlds were created by the authors for a purpose, that purpose shows up in the landscape as themes and concepts are embodied in the geography, and by attending to the landscape we can better appreciate the meaning of the story. I hope to elaborate on this thesis in future essays.

When I started thinking about publishing a webzine I figured I needed a concept. There are a lot of small webzines out there, so I wanted to find a niche, something that would be distinctive about my site. I decided on the concept of world-building. I would focus on stories with good fictional settings. It's a broad theme, but it selects a certain type of story to focus on.

The stories I most like tend to have well-constructed fictional worlds. The settings have a depth and a level of detail that they seem to come alive and they support the action of the story. Tolkien's Middle Earth, Lewis' Narnia, Brin's Uplift Universe, McCaffrey's Pern, LeGuin's Earthsea - these are the stories I loved and read over and over. Part of the reason for that is the the world-building - I want to return to those worlds. The world-building is not the only thing that makes these stories work, they have good characters, plots, and themes as well. But the settings have a sense - maybe not the sense of our own world, but a sense of their own which we can grasp - which give purpose and necessity to the action of the story. And the detail in the worlds makes it easy to get lost into the story.

So that's the lofty goal for this publication - to publish quality stories with good world-building. I'm looking for stories that have what English majors would call a "good sense of place" - just, in this case, that place is somewhere imaginary. And I want to highlight artists who help us visualize these places. And I want to publish essays that help elucidate the ideas behind good world-building.

I can't do that alone, I need your help. I am looking for stories, and art, and essays, like I just described. If you create such things, check the submission guidelines and send me your work. If you do not create such things, then enjoy the fruit of those who do, I am proud to bring it to you. And tell your friends so they can enjoy as well.

David Stokes,
Editor, Parageography.