AS: There’s no doubt that 2020 was… challenging. The closer we came to the end of the year, the more eager we were for it to finally be over, to get into something new. And then January hit… and… well.
CY: This month’s essay by Andrea Stewart is on escapism. As we write this at the end of the first week of January, escapism seems vitally necessary. Around the world the pandemic rages on, though finally we have hope in the form of initial vaccine roll-outs, and here in the U.S. where our foundation has been rattled in a way that’s hard to even grasp. People are heartsick and exhausted, and the mental escape of a book, story, or poem seems more important than ever.
AS: I absolutely agree. There’s a tough balance to strike: to engage with the issues and events in a meaningful way, but not to be overwhelmed by them. Literature can be a means to engage with ideas, and it can also provide relief from the barrage of negativity which seems more and more constant. In fact, some stories can do both at the same time.
CY: Also there’s something about winter that makes me want to turn inward. I’ve been reading for pleasure a lot more lately, rereading old favorites and prioritizing the books in my to-be-read pile. I’m trying to branch out this year, too, and read more poetry and some classics that I’ve meant to get to but never have.
AS: Winter has me sipping hot soup or tea as I read, wrapped up in blankets or thick sweats. I recently wrote a Year-in-Review piece for Locus Magazine which forced me to look back at the fiction I’d read throughout an extremely tumultuous year. There were so many wonderful stories! In the day to day, in the face of our worries, it’s easy to forget how much great fiction is at hand. In remembering, I smiled, and I got excited for the stories to come.
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In the February issue of Fantasy Magazine . . . Original fiction by Innocent Chizaram Ilo (“Flight”) and David James Brock (“Kisser”); flash fiction by Sharang Biswas (“Of Course You Screamed”) and Shingai Njeri Kagunda (“Blackman’s Flight in Four Parts”); poetry by Danielle Jean Atkinson (“Like a Box of Chocolates”) and Lynette Mejía (“What My Mother Taught Me”); and a new essay, “The Validity of Escapism,” by Andrea Stewart. Thanks for reading!
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