Letter from the Editor
by Lynne Sargent
Our theme this month was “science fantasy.” I was a huge fan of this for a few reasons. First because I think that regardless of what specific genre something is, writing wants to do two things: tell a good story, and say something true about the world. There is no reason that we can’t do that in fantasy as easily as science fiction. Second, being a venue focused on utopic science fiction, there are a lot of ways our work already might resemble fantasy, as some people find the concept of a utopia itself to be fantastic and deeply unrealistic.
So, for this issue we wanted to lean into that genre blurring line and let people bring us their fantastic visions of utopia that still have the science fiction trappings we know and love. Just like in Gustavo Bondoni’s “To Swim Between Worlds,” you might find that fantasy and science fiction together feel like one complete world, where mermaids can have both lived in the depths for hundreds of years, and be genetically engineered. Or in Jason Kahler’s “A Principle, A Law, A Theory” you might find that love and gravity are complimentary, rather than contrasting fundamentals that power our universe.
Like the marriage of science and humanities, science fantasy can help us find new depths and become greater than the sum of its parts. David John Barber finds this profoundness in “The Ethics of Black Holes,” writing that “evil is neither created nor destroyed,/we merely call it by another name.” In my mind, to try too hard to define genre is to participate in some sort of ill-defined test, like the one faced by the protagonist in “Nonstandardized Testing,” by Gideon Marcus. In this test, it is not simply that there are no wrong answers, or no right ones. Rather, the value of the test is in perseverance, in reasoning through problems, in trying to create or discover new knowledge. One can combine English and Thai, physics with alien numeration schemes, and even if the marriage isn’t perfect, this combination of different methods with a new perspective (perhaps your own!) is its own magic, its own fantastical creation. We hope that in reading this issue you are invited to create your own unlikely mash-ups, to resist easy labels, and to find freedom and truth in permeable boundaries.
Lynne Sargent is a writer, aerialist, and philosophy Ph.D candidate at the University of Waterloo. Their work has been nominated for Rhysling and Aurora Awards, and has appeared in venues such as Augur Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Daily SF. Visit them at scribbledshadows.wordpress.com.