Monday Original Content: Dagon Magazine and an Interview with Roberto Mendes

Dagon is a new Portuguese magazine, edited by Roberto Mendes and dedicated to showcasing both Portuguese and international speculative fiction. The first issue contains stories from Luís Filipe Silva, João Barreiros and Carla Ribeiro, and articles by Pedro Ventura and Nuno Fonseca. It also publishes Nir Yaniv‘s story, “Cinderers” from The Apex Book of World SF, features an interview with anthology editor Lavie Tidhar and an article by Larry Nolen.

The magazine was launched on the 23rd of January – click here for photos from the event.

This week on the WSNB, Charles Tan interviews Roberto Mendes:

Hi Roberto! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you become acquainted with speculative fiction?

It is an honour Charles. It was a book that first drove me into speculative fiction. I was eleven years old when the magic first appeared in my life, in the form of a book; It was The LOTR by Tolkien. I remembered feeling really small, standing at the gates of the gigantic Middle Earth. From that moment on I read almost every thing that came out by Tolkien. I also began to discover other writers, such as Jules Verne, Edgar A. Poe, Lovecraft, and many more. It was love at first sight.

What’s the appeal of the genre for you?

I will have to say that pretty much everything excites me about speculative fiction. But not only in the form of literature: I love every type of art inspired by the marvellous world of fantasy, science fiction, horror, you name it! I love the drawings of many authors, like L. Royo, Karem Beyit, etc. I also love the music inspired in fantasy such as the classical Wagner (inspired by Norse mythology) and the recent metal by Manowar or the melodic metal by Ayreon, in which we can embark on a voyage into space, filled with science fiction references!

Why do you prefer the term “speculative fiction” as opposed to, say, science fiction or fantasy?

Well, I think the term “Speculative Fiction” stands for various genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy and all sub-genres. I believe that all these genres came from the same place: the mythology and the need to think about the past and the future, so I really prefer this term!

Could you tell us more about Dagon Magazine?

It is the only magazine of speculative fiction published in paper, since the magazine “Bang”, edited by Rogério Ribeiro, left the market (now it is published for free in the web). Its objectives are clear: to promote speculative fiction in Portugal, reveling in new worlds of opportunities for writers and readers. It is not only a magazine of literature, we are also going to have an illustrator working on every issue, who will draw a cover inspired by one of the tales and we intend to publish really good illustrations inside every issue. In the first issue, we have cinema reviews, articles (including one from Larry Nolen), tales from Portuguese writers such as João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva and Carla Ribeiro, a tale by Nir Yaniv (“Cinderers”), in cooperation with Lavie Tidhar, to whom I thank, and finally we have some poetry and an interview with Lavie. The name of first issue cover illustrator is Miguel Ministro.

I’ve edited the August 2009 issue as an experimental issue in e-book. It is free on the web, that was the first step for the magazine.

Here goes the link for the download. It has really great illustrations and those who cannot read in portuguese can watch them:)

Why the name Dagon?

Dagon is sort of a fetish character for me. It was  a major northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain and agriculture, but it is more known as one of the characters that came out from the imagination of Lovecarft, one of my favorite writers. It is, mostly, a name that almost every reader of speculative fiction knows, so I thought it would be a great choice!

What made you decide to start the magazine?

The state of the speculative fiction in Portugal, but it was an old dream of mine to publish a magazine like Dagon. The idea just popped into my head one day and I thought “well, the hell with it, I’m not going to just sit back and wait for the winds to change, I’m going to be an active part of a new age of speculative fiction in Portugal”. With the help of my girlfriend I started to make contacts with the writers, and I had already drawn some objectives: to be a magazine not only for regular writers, those that had their names already on the market. I wanted to publish new voices you know?

I’ve already assembled some tales to another project, an anthology of Portuguese SF, called “Vollüspa”, that will come out in March, and so I was already impressed by the quality of the works that got into my hands. Some people called me crazy, and told me that this project was too weak, that it was never going to last. But more and more people became really supportive, and now I’ve got really a lot of people to thank to.

After the first experimental issue, published for free on the web, a few editors approached me, with interest in the magazine. I’ve decided to accept the offer of the “edita-me” company, and they have been great all this time!

Who is your target audience for the publication? What made you decide to publish the magazine in Portuguese?

Well, mainly the Portuguese and Brazilian readers. Not only the genre lovers, I have the objective to reach out to a new market, the mainstream readers, showing them the quality of speculative fiction.

I think that Portuguese speculative fiction first needs to be strong within our walls, and only then we can reach to other markets, such as the international one. Maybe after the first four issues we will be ready to publish the magazine in English, and then everyone will have access to the Portuguese SF. But first, we need to be careful and to get better and better.

What are the challenges in running the magazine so far? Any problems with translation?

I thought that that would be more of challenge, but everything’s great so far, every contributor has been supportive, the translations work out really good (Jorge Candeias and Luís Filipe Silva were the translators), and the acceptance of the magazine turned out to be wonderful.

We have a great presentation session prepared, with a little convention in witch the writers will be able to reach for the audience, talking about important themes like the international science fiction or the future of the Portuguese speculative fiction! We will have a pianist playing and an art exposition regarding fantasy and science fiction inspired works!

It will surely be a great afternoon!

Why did you choose the Web as your platform?

Mainly because when I edited the experimental issue, I did not have the necessary funds to publish it on paper. But it turned out to be a great choice. Ive learned a lot doing issue zero. The difference in quality between that issue and the first issue now is enormous!

For readers not familiar with Portugal, could you share with us what the speculative fiction scene there is like?

We are like a frozen river: the silence is becoming overwhelming! With Dagon I intend to crack the ice a little bit, making some noise! In Portugal the editorial markey is failing and the readers are despairing every day but we have great writers like João Barreiros, Luís Filipe Silva or David Soares and emerging writers with enormous quality like Carla Ribeiro or Pedro Ventura. But the market is saturated with books of little quality, mostly vampire books taking advantage of the “Twilight” success or fantasy books, almost copies of Tolkien’s work.

There are only a few publishers that go out on a limb to publish Speculative Fiction: mostly Saída de Emergência, Editorial Presença and Gailivro! We had some good fanzines like Nova or Phantastes but now they are over, leaving Bang the only online magazine. The “edita-me” publisher is taking a risk in publishing a collection of Portuguese speculative fiction called Yggdrasil and I hope that will bring the writers and readers together. There are great gaps that we need to fill such as readers’ low knowledge of the genre and the inability of publishers to “teach” published fundamental works of SF.

But we have a rising community of readers and great writers: all we need is to keep going with hope in our hearts!

Who are some of the writers that have influenced you?

Portuguese writers? Well, I’ll have to say João Barreiros and Luís Filipe Silva regarding science fiction. As to fantasy, Pedro Ventura. On horror I have no preferred Portuguese writers (well, there isn’t much of that specie either) but David Soares is a really good writer.

What is it about Portuguese speculative fiction that that makes it unique?

I think that our past could make us unique SF writers. But I do not think SFin Portugal has reached a stage in which we are unique. The only way to make our SF unique is to provide exotic references, exclusively Portuguese, as well as to reinvent our past of adventures through the world, a time of colonizers…writing about it, say, in a steampunk way, would be something unique! But a Portuguese SF writer cannot expect to write a novel set in New York, and then be perfect doing it or just writing a romance of vampires and expect it to be a masterpiece! But we have great voices, if only all of you could hear them… I mostly think we forget a lot about our great past, not realizing that the future of our SF is there, in our history, in our blood, in our hearts!


35 thoughts on “Monday Original Content: Dagon Magazine and an Interview with Roberto Mendes

  1. Does Dagon have a website that could be linked to? Or am I just missing the link because it’s nearly 3 AM where I am and I’m a bit bleary-eyed?

  2. Hi Matt,

    For now the unoficcial site is .

    We are currently working on a official site for Dagon:)

    All the Best,
    Roberto Mendes

  3. “The “edita-me” publisher is taking a risk in publishing”

    Bullshit. Edita-me is a vanity publisher. If you think they’re taking any risks, you have another thing coming.

      1. Caro ASHF

        A tiragem de 100 exemplares é apenas para o primeiro número.

        Espero que a sua revista chegue rápido, mas nesse aspecto já não posso ajudar muito visto que não sou eu a distribuir.

        Quanto ao que disse de não precisar da revista para ganhar dinheiro: mantenho e ainda acrescento que não dá para ganhar dinheiro num projecto destes, e quem já teve experiências neste tipo de mercado sabe bem isto. Quando muito perde-se algum dinheiro…mas como é por gosto:)


  4. Edita-Me recently launched an anthology with 80 stories (of 120 they received), with no editing or revisions, and writers had to buy copies at 20 euros each if they wanted to own them. That’s a typical vanity press scheme. You should be ashamed for making a deal with them knowing this.

    They are selling this magazine for the absurd price of 8 euros, much more than it costs to make. I don’t know who is getting paid, but I hope people aside from the publishers are making some money this time.

  5. Luís,

    We will see what the future holds, for now i don´t think we should point fingers…


    If you look clousely in the magazine, you will see that we only publhished 100 magazines. By doing this, the coust of each magazine was really high.

    I think that what we should talk about is the magazine, but every one is free to leave their opinion.

    All the best, Roberto

    1. Uma revista com uma tiragem de 100 exemplares está votada ao fracasso. Uma tiragem tão baixa é um disparate.
      Nem os fanzines tem tiragens tão baixas.

  6. Roberto,

    I believe that is exactly Luis’s point! He won’t buy and read the magazine because he won’t give money to people he considers work as a vanity publisher…

    I understand the validity of his point, although I decided to address the issue in a different manner.

    About the price, it is indeed high. Even if it is a huge leap in quality from the #0.
    And about lowering it on the foreseable future, I don’t see how you can do that with such limited distribution and scarce publicity (there is indeed a website for it… which is not updated since the #0 was launched!).
    More, if the publisher bets on fandom presentations to boost sales, but then pays for a professional pianist, cocktails, etc, which must come from the supposed narrow profit margin, I can’t see how it can work passed your initial trial year… although I hope it eventually will, in some form or another.


  7. Rogério,

    I don´t know why, but i can´t access to the editor of the site, that´s why we are working on a new one!

    About the distribution: after the presentation in Lisbon, if we havn’t sold all magazines, we will sent them to Fnac.

    About the price,

    It is indeed high. But it has an explanation. I never told the price was great, and i will do wathever i can to lower it.

    About the pianist: he played for free!

    About the Cocktails: Weel, i thought it would be a nice touch to the event, and the money edita-me spented with the cocktail is not included in the price of the magazine!

    I´m expecting a review:)

    All the best


    1. Jesus Christ on a bicycle — you’re so full of shit, Roberto Mendes. Edita-me announces BS competitions and publishes author mill anthologies and you don’t think we should point fingers? And I am talking about the magazine — the magazine you so readily handed over to a vanity press to make money off.

      Speaking of distribution, I haven’t seen their books anywhere in Lisbon except for a couple of poetry-oriented bookshops that stock vanity press/self-published books because of that. That’s it. Wait, what have you said? You’ll send copies to Fnac if you don’t sell all the magazines yourselves? You’re off your rocker, dude. What makes you so sure they’ll take your leftovers? Do you even know how those stores work?

  8. Roberto,

    Are you sure about Fnac?! 0_o

    They are the biggest bookstore chain here, with 16 stores, infamous among Portuguese publishers for petty schemes about distribution and to demand a huge chunk of the cover price of the books they do agree do sell.

    Can’t see how they will agree to carry Dagon leftovers (and 16% of the entire print run would still mean 1 copy delivered per store, something that I bet they won’t do even to Leya or any other of the big publishing houses!), even more when you compare it to the few high-end all-colour glossy literary magazines they do have, all from either big publishers or well-known cultural foundations…

    Again, I would love to be wrong…


  9. We are talking with them (fnac).

    I don’t have confirmation yet!


    If we sell all magazines i will gain 80 euros, that i intend to use on the next number of the magazine, translating some poetry.

    I’m working on a law firm, do you think i need the magazine to make money?

    And please be more respectful the next time “so full of shit” is just wrong to me!

    All the best,


    1. Oh, but you are.

      “We are talking with them (fnac). I don’t have confirmation yet!”

      I’m talking to you about facts and all you give me is hypotheticals. How about telling me that stuff when it actually happens?

      1. When I mentioned making money off the magazine, I meant the publishers. I’m sure Roberto is quite happy just for the opportunity to promote himself, if by-lining the magazine and publishing his own material in it is any indication. Ridiculous and unseemly as that may be, though, it’s not something I’d bother to condemn. It’s the partnership with a vanity press that I don’t find so amusing.

  10. I frankly fail to see the benefit of bringing forth to the international stage a discussion (or should I more aptly call it a bickering) that began on our own backyard. Or at least without providing people with the full context of the issue and then allowing them to comment about the compromises of editors and the shortcomings of small, petty publishers. I’m sure the SF community would then understand what this is all about and be able to sympathize and provide useful feedback.

    Since we live in the age of the disclaimer, let me hasten to say that the invitation Roberto made me to appear in his new project of a printed mag happened before I was made aware of who the publisher was going to be (I was under the impression that no publisher had then been yet selected). When I was told of that information I sent Roberto a long email explaining my terms and conditions and stating that I have never and would not, in any way, support a vanity publisher/author mill scheme if “Edita-me” ended up following that path. My support was directed only and exclusively to Roberto and his Dagon, since I saw the magazine as a project that was independent of any publisher or distribution channel. And so far, no dark deed has been forced on me, no promise unmet, no demon has risen from the hearth.

    That is not to say that I believe that wolves can meekly turn into sheeps – and the price issue may indeed suggest a very high markup, considerig they sell mostly through mail order; if nothing, it’s a bad marketing strategy and likely to kill the project in the very short run.

    But then again, in this matter of eager wannabe authors and small publisher with an eye on the quick buck, let’s face it, it takes two to tango, don’t you think?

    And that is to say that I’ve waited my time and perfected my efforts until I was accepted by a proper publisher, even if I could had just cave in to the dozens of offers from the vanity publishers back then.

    Given that every fanzine – even those free, online ones – has been turning into dust within our tiny Portuguese market, I couldn’t applaud more the iniciative of someone wanting to do something, even if he knows he will probably stumble and fall along the way. Well, that’s how we all learn to walk, I guess.

    My only, humble suggestion to this endeavour would be of some moderation before presenting the product so readily to so many readers. Learning to walk first before trying to run is usually a good strategy. Let the magazine solidify. Let me issues run, one after the other, gather a bucketfull of stories and authors and let it develop a personality. Take that Silva guy out and put in a lot of new writers.

    If nothing else, it could become a training ground for new fiction. A printed training ground, more relevant that any online forum, since we still regard print as the real thing. I had the fortune to have one in my teens – that’s more than young people have nowadays. And they badly need it.

    1. LFS:

      “I frankly fail to see the benefit of bringing forth to the international stage a discussion (or should I more aptly call it a bickering) that began on our own backyard.”

      It makes international contributors aware of the fact they could be helping a vanity operation in my country, which, I might add, we have enough of. If that’s not a benefit, then I don’t know what is.

      If Mendes et alia are that desperate to make it to print, then self-publish the damned thing and you have my full support, but I won’t shut up until you people clean up your act and stop taking the easy way out.

    2. LFS:

      “If nothing else, it could become a training ground for new fiction. A printed training ground, more relevant that any online forum, since we still regard print as the real thing.”

      I’m so sick and tired of this old – oh, so old – whining excuse for doing lame jobs. Training grounds? You won’t have training grounds without a professional editor supervising what is published.

      And the only thing you get for making it in print – on paper – is just shit that lasts longer and smells stronger.

      1. João,

        Well, i’m no professional editor but i have proud on the magazine i’ve edited. João i just want to understand one thing: did you read the magazine and this is a critic to it, because you think it is lame or you are not refering to Dagon?


        I agree with your words, except the part of “taking that Silva guy out”…:)

        In July, when the discussion about the future of Speculative Fiction in Portugal began on the grounds of correio do fantástico, i stated my positions and i wrote a list of things that i was going to do, to better things up! I´m just following that list, i’m doing something even knowing that it is a hard road to walk on. I’m not stoping just because of the bad critics, hell, i’m not stoping for anything… i love what i do, and i’ve been always honest with everybody, as weel as respectful because i have great respect for every writer, reader, translater, etc. I never maked a promisse that i did not come true with… So my consciense is clear.

        To those who want to criticise the magazine, i have much to learn with your critics and i thank them.

        To those who just want to see me disapear and want to turn my work into dust: you’re out of luck, sorry!

        Roberto Mendes
        Roberto Mendes

      2. “I´m just following that list, i’m doing something even knowing that it is a hard road to walk on. I’m not stoping just because of the bad critics, hell, i’m not stoping for anything…”

        That’s a pity, because you really ought to stop and think for a moment.

        There’s a vanity press preying on your efforts, and the efforts of the people you’ve invited into the magazine. I’m not sure why you teamed up with them knowing what they do, and I don’t really care about the reasons. Maybe you have an agenda, maybe you really are as clueless as you appear. Either way, it doesn’t reflect positively on you.

      3. Roberto,

        Reverting into portuguese:

        Não, não estou a comentar o conteúdo da revista, que ainda não li e desconheço por completo (até porque aqui subscrevo por inteiro a posição do Luís Rodrigues, de me recusar a subsidiar, ou por qualquer forma credibilizar, vanity presses), embora não alterasse uma vírgula no que escrevi se me estivesse a referir ao #0.

        De qualquer forma, como deves ter depreendido pela citação, estava a referir-me à afirmação do LFS em abstracto. Podia ter-me alargado um pouco mais, mas ainda tenho as mãos cheias de trabalho. De qualquer modo, o que queria dizer é que esses “training grounds”, que de facto são necessários, devem ser orientados por quem tem experiência e sabe o que faz. Caso contrário, por muito lustrosos e envaidecedores que sejam, não passarão de fanzines – fanzines caros, mas fanzines just the same. Que os há bom, já o sabemos (quer o Rogério, quer o Loureiro já mostraram que é possível fazer bons fanzines com excelente conteúdo), mas até os melhores ficam a perder quando saem sob chancela de uma vanity press.


      4. Roberto,

        A posição do João Seixas é clara e até prova em contrário tenho de concordar com ela. Quando receber a Dagon, espero que chegue, posso até achar que não é o caso, mas a verdade é que sem uma atitude profissional o mais certo é mesmo durar apenas mais.

        A tua atitude de extrema humildade com alguns, apenas demonstra uma forma de alinhamento.

    3. Manter esta discussão em inglês é a melhor maneira de a trazer para o quintal. Até ver apenas vi por aqui portugueses, pelo que não faz sentido continuar em inglês, a não ser que seja relevante mostrar que se domina uma língua estrangeira. Parece de um provincianismo atroz. A saída de algo como a Dagon é sempre de louvar, convém é não perder a noção do que se pretende com isto. Até acredito na imensa boa vontade do Roberto, mas uma tiragem de 100 exemplares, explica muita coisa. Nem ele deve acreditar que é possível manter uma revista com uma tiragem destas. A ideia de ser um local onde germinarão novos autores é interessante, mas com esta estrutura, tiragem, preço, distribuição, não me parece que passe do nº 2. Mais estranho é ainda o sonho da internacionalização, com a edição em inglês. Uma antologia bilingue parece-me uma boa ideia, passar a editar a revista em inglês ou com uma versão inglesa um disparate. De qualquer forma o futuro o dirá.

      1. Como já respondi acima, a tiragem de cem exemplares é só para o primeiro número. Nos próximos números a tiragem vai aumentar. Uma antologia bilingue é uma boa solução se for impossível ao fim de um ano passar a fazer a revista também em Inglês.

        Nunca pensei em manter cem exemplares, obviamente:)

        No número dois está previsto que pelo menos dois autores desconhecidos possam ser publicados…

        Penso que teremos sempre de melhorar e como vai ser um caminho longo certamente que quando chegar 2011, e for editar o nº5, será uma revista mais forte em todos os sentidos (distribuição, preço, tiragem) que agora.

        Obrigado a todos os que por aqui têm passado e opinado:)

      2. Se vais aumentar a tiragem também baixarás o preço e terás uma melhor distribuição. Óptimo, mas não estou a ver que as grandes empresas de comercialização de livros aceitem tiragens tão pequenas e convém não esquecer que as revistas se vendem é em quiosques.

        Serás o primeiro caso em que o preço baixa e a distribuição aumenta sem que mude o editor. Para bem dos géneros espero que assim seja. Para já basta dizer que mesmo depois de paga a revista não chega.

  11. This is business as usual around here, unfortunately, and is just as barren as every other session of bickering involving the very same old characters. It used to be just us knowing how it goes, now everyone else knows as well.

    Well done. Very well done indeed.

    Anyway, I, too, was unaware of this association with edita-me until I was faced with a fait accompli. I very much doubt the association is a good idea, but I will not condemn the magazine editor for it unless he himself somehow fails to deliver in what he agreed with me. So far, he hasn’t.

    I think this deserves underlining: Dealings with the editor have been correct and, yes, professional.

    Besides, if the association with edita-me turns out as nasty as former behavior by the publisher leads many people to suspect, the first victim is Roberto himself. He would be the one who’d be faced with a good solid firestorm. I fail to see what could possibly be gained by trying one’s best to add “preentively” coals to that firestorm, but hey, what to I know?

    Still, Roberto, I think you have already noticed that joining forces with edita-me was a major PR faux pas. These reactions right here, however exhagerated as they may be, pretty much prove it. There are more legitimate POD venues you could resort to, companies that did not smudge themselves by iffy commercial practices as edita-me did. And do it cheaper, really, both in Portugal and abroad.

    You probably also understood that some people are convinced that once a company goes into dishonest business, it’ll stay there for good. Or at least be tempted to. You have to agree that the possibility is real. Edita-me has a lot of legitimate publishing to do before it deserves people’s trust, after last year’s debacle. And I’m far from being sure that’s something they even want to do.

    So, what will you do if in the end you find out that this association has been a major mistake? If you set up a backup plan your potential public can believe in, it might help reassuring people that the magazine is worth supporting and may, perhaps, throw a little water to the flames.

    1. O Roberto ser a primeira vitima será mau, mas pior será mais uma publicação não vingar, devido a uma associação dúbia.

      Já agora, Roberto, será que podes levantar o véu sobre os outros convites para editar a revista?

      1. Se a Dagon não vingar na edita-me parece-me que nada impede que vingue através de outro tipo de edição. Foi precisamente por isso que lhe fiz a pergunta acerca do plano B.

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: