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Carol Serling's Passing and the Enduring Legacy of Twilight Zone Magazine

While she always put her husband's name ahead of her own, her nurturing of speculative fiction throughout the 1980s cannot be overstated.

Perhaps we only find out who our heroes are once they pass away. I was struck by this today upon learning of the death of Carol Serling, wife of "Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling, at 91. For many this will always be her only designation, which is a shame. That's because in the 1980s she gave the world of genre fiction a much-needed shot in the arm as associate publisher & consulting editor of "The Twilight Zone Magazine." And that magazine made me want to become a writer.


Further reading:


A thoroughly detailed breakdown of several issues

From 1981-1989 the magazine published the short fiction and poetry of a number of big names in the horror, sci-fi and weird fiction worlds, including Stephen King, Frederik Pohl, Roger Zelazny and Ramsey Campbell. Its annual short story contests also launched the careers of a number of writers, most notably Dan Simmons (Hyperion). His contest-winning entry in 1982, "The River Styx Runs Upstream," remains as creepy today as it was when it first appeared.


While I never got a chance to thank Carol Serling in person for her tireless efforts in putting out the magazine year after year, I did enjoy a brief email exchange with her back in June 2011 for a piece I wrote for Rue Morgue magazine (see below). Here are her replies to my questions about her role at the magazine, printed here in their entirety for the first time:


1) Starting up

The publishers came to me with the request to do a TZ Magazine. I went to NY and discussed the concepts with one of their staff who was very high on the idea. Seemed like a good idea...why not? (These people were already publishing a number of other magazines & had the know how/money for a start up etc.)


2) Involvement

I was an Associate Publisher & Consulting Editor.....Bottom line...not my money, but I was very involved and spent a fair amount of time in NY at the magazine offices reading stories and making decisions about the fiction we would publish.  Had a general involvement in most aspects of the magazine down to the kind of paper we would print on.  (Much to my dismay that got downgraded as the years went by...a money saving step)


3) Financial 

The magazine did not have as much exposure or publicity as I would have liked, but we had a circulation of around 250,000.  Not too bad, but the owner/publishers had dreamed of 1,000,000 so that the mag never met their expectations.  The last few years of publication we went to six instead of 12 issues a year & there were other cost saving things put into place (eg-paper).


4) Accomplishments

I think that the fiction we published was 1st rate..and the contests we ran each year for new authors was fun...tho a lot of work..  The other features in the magazine were interesting and of course the TZ Memorabilia was a favorite with many and helped keep the TZ alive and well. Also, I thot some of our cover art was really fine.


5) Influence

The TZ just doesn't seem to go away...there is always some sort of reference or request regarding it...even after 50 years.  As far as influence...I'm not sure.  I'll let you answer that!


I'm on the verge of leaving for a trip so had to rush this.  Hope it helps.  Please send me an copy of your article when it is published.

Best,

Carol Serling



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