I wanted to start with the idea of the origin story. Every writer has one, and it’s always interesting to hear how writers of color navigated the choppy waters of reading fantasy early on and then deciding to write it. I remember searching for myself, in that languageless sort of way we do when we’re young and don’t know the larger meaning of our search.
My interest in fantasy came far before my interest in art. I was that kid who’d spend her weekends in the library and check out the max amount allowed each time, reading everything from the Boxcar Children to Anne Rice. I originally wanted to be a writer before I ended up turning toward art. (It’s still a goal of mine, but it’s hard enough mastering one discipline, so I’m focusing on the art first!)
Hal Duncan is the author of many novels, stories, poems, blog posts, and other works, including the Book of All Hours diptych, Vellum and Ink, as well as the novella Escape from Hell! (Monkeybrain Books), the chapbook An A to Z of the Fantastic City (Small Beer Press), the libretto Sodom! the Musical, the essay Rhapsody: Notes on Strange Fiction (Lethe Press), and the story collection Scruffians! (Lethe Press). Vellum was nominated for the Crawford, Locus, BFS, and World Fantasy awards, and won the Spectrum, Kurd Lasswitz and Tähtivaeltaja awards; both Rhapsody and Scruffians! are, as I write this, nominated for the BFS award.
We know that queers need fantasies. We believe that queers specifically need fantasies of the future to sustain us moving forward. We need utopian dreams of worlds that could be, because, as Jose Muñoz argued, without fantasies we cede the not-yet-here to the imperatives of reproductive futurism. We argue that we need fantasies not just of the future, but of the past.
Here’s what we’ve got lined up for you in this special issue: Original fantasy—edited by Christopher Barzak—by Catherynne M. Valente, Kai Ashante Wilson, Carlea Holl-Jensen, and Richard Bowes; Reprints—selected by Liz Gorinsky—by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Austin Bunn, Shweta Narayan, and Nicola Griffith; Nonfiction articles—edited by Matthew Cheney—by merritt kopas, Matthew Cheney, Keguro Macharia, Ekaterina Sedia, Mary Anne Mohanrag, and Ellen Kushner; plus an original cover illustration by Priscilla Kim and original interior illustrations by Goñi Montes, Odera Igbokwe, Sam Schechter, Elizabeth Leggett, and Vlada Monakhova.
It’s so ironic that you’ll hear people talk in one breath about how women are better at writing fantasy and men are better at science fiction, and in the next breath talk about how of course men write better epic fantasy, and women really only write that “girly” fantasy. There are some folks who’d squeeze us out entirely if they could.
Our view of the world, and reality, is a constructed one. Our brains—in their unending quest to be more efficient—often pull on early images and memories to construct our view of the real world. After all, what other information do we have to achieve this but those early stories about how the world is, how it works?
Once upon a time, there was a woman who told stories. Stories of witches and of princesses and of choosing true love. Stories that began once upon a time, and ended in happily ever after. You think you know what these stories are, and oh, perhaps you do. But until this woman, until Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, the stories were not yet called what they are now. But she wrote these stories, and she gave them their name—contes des fées. Fairy tales.
Welcome to issue fifty-eight of FANTASY MAGAZINE! Over at LIGHTSPEED we were excited to publish our special issue, Women Destroy Science Fiction!, in June, but when our Kickstarter’s tremendous success unlocked all of our stretch goals—thus offering us the chance to expand the destruction into fantasy and horror—we knew that the Women Destroy Fantasy! special issue had to be a FANTASY MAGAZINE special issue.
Here’s the thing. All humans live inside a vast structure made of the flow of power and resources. All around us are the things that have grown to shape and express those flows: conventions and laws and manners and pop culture and highbrow art, architecture, religion, literature . . . even genre fiction.