Editorial: And in the Middle of Our Lives, We Came Upon a Dark and Queer Forest

- by Michael Matheson -


As we head into the second issue of 2018, we’re taking stock. It’s been a good run thus far, and the response to our first four issues has been extremely generous. We’ve heard from you through subscriptions, reviews, recommendations, and even reprints:

Three of our 2017 stories appeared on the Nebula Awards Suggested Reading List: Wen Ma’s “Everything You Left Behind,” Mimi Mondal’s “Learning to Swim,” and Nibedita Sen’s “Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree.” We had three stories reprinted between Cast of Wonders and PodCastle: S. Qiouyi Lu’s “A Complex Filament of Light,” Nibedita Sen’s “Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree,” and Cynthia So’s “The Poet and the Spider.” And we’ve even had a story included in a year’s best anthology: S. Qiouyi Lu’s “A Complex Filament of Light” in Bogi Takács’ Transcendent 3: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction!

Honestly, we’re still kind of shocked at the amazing reactions to the issues so far. And as we look forward at what this and future issues will hold, well . . . we did it again. We pulled together another themed issue. Honestly, we try and avoid doing themes directly, but we just keep getting them anyway. And in this case, we might have pulled together a rather good one: the core of queer identity—stories of trying to understand your place in the world, and who you’re going to be in it.

So, totally light reading. No big…

Truth be told, despite the potential enormity of a theme that broad, Issue 5 is an issue of personal stories set against intimate backdrops, in an array of tones. Be it the atmospheric, hushed beauty of Suzan Palumbo’s “The Pull of the Herd”; Ama Josephine Budge’s heady, hopeful sensorium, “A Shoal of Lovers Leads me Home”; Kerry Truong’s thickly threaded weave of obligations and desires in “Paper Magic”; Davian Aw’s tech-fuelled tale of (dis/)connection and the borders of the self in “Control”; or A.J. Hammer’s dual-narrated reflections on the meaning of duty, worship, and purpose in “Versions of the Sun.”

Our non-fiction, too, Sarah K.A. Fuller’s “The Outsider’s Guide to Beauty,” looks at how we make and remake ourselves for a society that doesn’t want to embrace us.

How fitting then that our deliciously creepy cover, Maria Nguyen’s “The Recluse,” exudes equal measures of protection, invitation, and that awful moment of sudden discovery. It’s appropriate, too, for our late summer issue. There’s still warm light and humid days to be had, but autumn’s coming soon enough, bearing the advent of blustering wind and the closeness of forest copses where hidden things wait.

We’re here for that journey, ready to tell it through six exceptional pieces. As we wander through this dark and queer wood, let us guide you on your way.


© 2018 by Michael Matheson