So as mentioned in my bookcase post, I found my old MZB Fantasy Magazines. I loved this magazine - it's the first one I remember really enjoying. Hoping for a good read, and also curious if the issues would live up to my nostalgia, I started to read. I've finished three now (#40, #36 and #25, and yes, in that order) and I feel as if I have the shape of it again.
To some extent, the magazine didn't live up to my memory. I had the sense that the stories were familiar - but I'm honestly not sure whether this is a "flaw," or whether they're still imprinted on the recesses of my brain from years ago, and thus even if I don't remember the specific story, the feel of it is recognizable. But I found that I sometimes wanted more of the unexpected and exotic from the worlds and the plots.
That said - what a breath of fresh air! The stories are high-quality and many of them are humorous ... and they all present a reliably good read. There's no risk of being dangled off a literary precipe; each item in these magazines puts story first. They also tend to be pretty wholesome, which is nice in a genre that occasionally resorts to R-rated material for kicks. (I remember reading a story in - Fantasy Magazine, I think? - that would have been excellent except for taking a few passages too far ... and consequently, THAT'S what I remember about the story.) And there's real emotional resonance: I confess to tearing up a few times.
So I'm glad I found these, and I miss the magazine. Who knows where it would be today?