From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Editorial: August 2021

AS: As we draw closer to our one year mark, I think a lot about the work we are putting out, the crop of new magazines that have popped up, and the magazines that have closed over the past few years. I feel like no two issues we put out are quite the same, but there is something which is “ours” which makes sense to me, and which I find really hard to describe. In other words, I feel like there is a certain flavor to what we are doing, one which is distinctive, but which is difficult to put into words; and which I hesitate to limit by defining.

CY: We were asked recently whether we’d figured out what a “Fantasy Magazine story” is yet, and I’m not sure I can define it either. “Stuff that Arley and Christie like” isn’t very helpful, is it? Because we like a lot of wildly varying stuff.

AS: There is an element of overlapping audiences when it comes to genre magazines, but I also believe that there are readers out there who would love to read our magazines and they just don’t know we are here. I remember when I first started writing, I used an old Writer’s Market book my mom had. You know, those super thick, super expensive books that listed everything. I loved those things! When I opened one up, there were all these magazines I had never heard of. I think when we get involved in the industry or when we get into a groove with the submissions process, we hit a point of familiarity, where we grow accustomed to being in-the-know about markets, and we forget that there are millions of people out there who haven’t heard of any of us. We forget that there was a time when we didn’t know about any of these places, or even how to find them.

CY: Oh, man, Writer’s Market! A friend gave me a copy when I first started writing seriously and it felt like such a treasure. But as a reader it was always the Year’s Best volumes that pointed me toward what was being published. The editors of those—and there are several—have an encyclopedic knowledge of the field, and generally pack as much information as they can into their introductions, noting which markets have closed and which emerging markets impressed them. Later I also discovered Locus, which gave me an even more immediate view of the field.

AS: Oh yeah, great point: those Year’s Bests can be wonderful gateways! I love seeing new mags because I love seeing more possibilities for the exchange of ideas and perspectives and expression(s). Of course, I like the idea of there being more places for writers to sell their work; but I also just like the idea of a world filled with more art. When I go to a big city, for example, I love that there are different kinds of museums, and I usually want to go to a few of them. There are so many factors which can impact the longevity of a magazine. Ultimately, there are no guarantees that the magazines you love will be around tomorrow. But I think that when an individual finds something they love in a magazine—if they connect with it or enjoy it or whatever—almost all magazines benefit from whatever support that individual can give, whether it’s subscribing or just telling their friends about a cool story or poem they read. 

CY: Absolutely. There is a strong sense of “coopetition” in the short fiction field; an acknowledgement that a rising tide lifts all boats. So we always want to encourage our own readers to check out the work being done in other venues. This year we’ve seen the birth of Constelación, for instance, a Spanish/English bilingual magazine of speculative fiction. There’s also The Deadlands, now on its second issue, putting out some great stuff. And just last month Black Cat Magazine launched with an issue around the theme of “revolution,” with a heavy emphasis on art and poetry, in addition to short fiction. We want our readers’ lives to be enriched by art that moves them, wherever they find it.

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In this issue’s short fiction, Eugen Bacon & Seb Doubinsky take us through a frank and brutal emigration in “The Failing Name,” and Inez Schaechterle visits the Old West in the here and now in “Ghost Riders at Hutchinson’s Two Pump”; in flash fiction, Vanessa McKinney brings coming out to the celestial level in “Shapeshifter,” and in Sarina Dorie’s “My List of Bedtime Bogeymen” we may—or may not—want that bogeyman to stay away; for poetry, we have “The Reality of Ghosts” by Yilin Wang and “i find my body and my body” by Shaoni C. White. Plus an essay, “We Are The Mountain: A Look At The Inactive Protagonist” by author Vida Cruz. Enjoy!

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Christie Yant

Christie Yant writes and edits science fiction and fantasy in the American mid-west. She worked as an assistant editor for Lightspeed Magazine from its launch in 2010 through 2015, and, in 2014 she edited the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed, which won the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. She is the co-editor of four anthologies, and a consulting editor for Tor.com’s line of novellas. Her own fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines including Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011 (Horton),  Armored, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9, and Wired.com.

Arley Sorg

Arley Sorg is a senior editor at Locus Magazine, where he’s been on staff since 2014. He joined the Lightspeed family in 2014 to work on the Queers Destroy Science Fiction! special issue, starting as a slush reader. He eventually worked his way up to associate editor at both Lightspeed and Nightmare. He also reviews books for LocusLightspeed, and Cascadia Subduction Zone and is an interviewer for Clarkesworld Magazine. Arley grew up in England, Hawaii, and Colorado, and studied Asian Religions at Pitzer College. He lives in Oakland, and, in non-pandemic times, usually writes in local coffee shops. He is a 2014 Odyssey Writing Workshop graduate.