The first time I met Lynne and Michael Thomas was at the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago, IL. Along with my senior editor, Janet Harriett, the four of us had gathered at a nearby café to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some coffee. Our agenda, other than shaking hands for the first time, was to celebrate our Hugo Award nomination and to map the brain trust’s 2013 goals for Apex Magazine.
The luncheon lasted maybe 90 minutes. During that time, Lynne, Michael, Janet, and I covered a dizzying number of subjects, and not all of them Apex Magazine related (what is a con luncheon without a bit of industry gossip?). Afterward, my brain was buzzing with ideas and plans that I wanted to RIGHT NOW. Janet and I did our best to coalesce the previous 90 minutes into an ordered action item list so that we wouldn’t lose anything important. At the time, I really wish I had taken an audio recorder and covertly recorded the whole meal.
During the walk back to the hotel with Janet, as our brains were surfacing back normalcy, I paused and looked over to her. We hadn’t said a lot, both of us lost deep in our thoughts.
I said, “Lynne… she’s an impressive person.”
Janet nodded. “That she is.”
As many of you are aware (as I tell this part of the story often), Catherynne M. Valente had hand–picked Lynne to succeed her as editor–in–chief of Apex Magazine. I must confess, I was lukewarm about her choice. Though Lynne was a known entity to me via her Doctor Who books, Lynne wasn’t someone I considered a standout candidate to take charge of a zine on the rise from the outstanding work Cat had accomplished. Cat told me Lynne was ready to run Apex, that it was Lynne’s time to rise in the ranks of science fiction.
Naturally, I had faith in Cat’s judgment. But I still felt blind regarding the selection. I did my due diligence, and sought out the opinions of a handful of smart and close friends.
Monica Valentinelli, a sage and wise individual regarding matters such as these, said she knew Lynne personally, and that I wanted her as my editor–in–chief. Monica brushed aside my concerns of Lynne’s relative inexperience. Lynne is the one, she said.
Maurice Broaddus, who seems to know everybody, did a double take when I asked him about Lynne. “Seriously? You think you can get Lynne Thomas?” he asked. He had recently met Lynne at WisCon, and that based on his limited experience with her, Lynne was exactly the right choice to replace Cat Valente.
Several other well–informed friends confirmed what Cat, Monica, and Maurice had told me.
Lynne is an impressive person. Apex needed her.
And here we are 26 issues later… two years and two months, and Lynne has reached the end of her reign as the editor–in–chief of Apex Magazine. If I had my way, I would have her for another 26, then another 26, and so on. But life and other interests have made their inevitable calling. Fortunately for our readers, you’ll notice that she is going out with a bang. Lynne has built an incredible issue with an impressive ensemble of authors that exemplifies the style and content she’s become known for publishing.
During Lynne’s two years and two months, Apex Magazine received two Hugo Award nominations. She has turned the publication into a bucket list market for many writers based on the quality of fiction we print, and an aura of prestige has popped up around the zine (or so I’m told, I’m near–sighted when it comes to matters such as that). Our subscriber base has quadrupled since she took over in November, 2011. Our site traffic is six times what it was just two years ago.
But Apex isn’t the only one losing such a talented, wonderful individual. Genre readers are losing one of the most important voices in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genre fiction scene. It is my hope that Lynne takes a short leave of absence from the stresses of editing and comes back refreshed, taking the helm another magazine or editing a run of fantastic fiction anthologies for major publishing houses. If she does, I have no doubt that in just a matter of 3 to 5 years we’ll be name dropping her along with other contemporary short fiction editors of legend: Ellen Datlow, Sheila Williams, Richard Chizmar, Gardner Dozois, among others.
Finally, I want to conclude by thanking Lynne and Michael for their hard work, their enthusiasm, their patience with an occasionally demanding publisher, and a friendship that grew stronger month to month.
That friendship… that bond created by working together with good people and good friends… without a doubt, that is what I’ll miss the most.