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Dutch SF&F scene sees the end of a unique quarterly magazine

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Pure Fantasy issue 28

True, the world did not end in 2012, but for the Dutch (language) SF&F scene it was nevertheless a bad year, a year with a sad ending. End of December the last issue of quarterly magazine Pure Fantasy appeared. Number 1 was published in April 2004. The first four issues were in magazine format, but as of issue 5 it was published as a real book, a paperback. Pure Fantasy published Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror stories. However it was never just a magazine, it served a special purpose: it was totally dedicated to beginning writers, to new talent.

Founder Alex de Jong was as a writer very disappointed with the lack of possibilities to publish his short stories. After winning the Elf Fantasy Award in 2003 with his first book, De Santoriaanse Kronieken (The Santorian Chronicles), he decided that it was time to create a publishing platform for new talent. After a year he realised that a mere magazine would not impress potential buyers, so he switched to a paperback format. Year by year the circulation grew. More and more people took a subscription. Alex was not exactly a business man however. When you prolonged your subscription, more often than not he rewarded you with a free book.

The growth of the magazine was accompanied by many other activities. In hindsight I wonder where Alex found all this energy. In 2004 he started a writing contest for beginning writers, the Unleash Award. In 2007 he established publishing house Books of Fantasy (BoF), which has now more than 30 titles in its catalogue. And in the same year he did set up a forum for everyone interested in reading and writing SF and Fantasy. He organized writing workshops led by professional authors. And he did not stop experimenting with special editions of the magazine. Apart from yearbooks, he published an erotic issue of PF, issue 18+. Ahead of E.L. James, but admittedly with less success.

In 2011 he even started a sister magazine, Pure Thrillers, for detective stories and thrillers. This magazine was however ill-fated and stopped after only 2 issues. Looking back one could say that Pure Thrillers could not have had a more unlucky start on the magazine stage. The economical crisis was intensifying, instead of slowing down as everyone expected. It was very hard to sell subscriptions for Pure Thrillers. Even subscribers to Pure Fantasy did not prolong their subscription. So at the beginning of 2012 Alex was facing a tough decision. Pure Fantasy, the magazine that absorbed all his energy and money, was no longer viable. There and then he decided that it would end in 2012 with issue 28. This issue and the previous one were no longer true magazines with periodical items, but were plain short story collections.

You may conclude that Alex de Jong lost a battle by finishing off his magazine – issue 28 of Pure Fantasy bears the title “Verloren strijd” (Lost battle) -, but he himself likes to see this step as the first on a road to new opportunities. The past year Alex did write several books, published under his writers’ name Brad Winning. Several more books are under way. So as far as the Dutch language scene is concerned, you might say that in one respect we lost something, but that we gained something as a pay-off in the form of a very productive author.

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