Men might regard economic equality with favor or disfavor, according to their economic positions, but every woman, simply because she was a woman, was bound to be for it as soon as she got it through her head what it meant for her half of the race.

—Edward Bellamy, from Equality (1897)

 [ Issue 2009.16; Cover art © 2009 Rachel H. White ]

Issue 2009.16

Short stories


Download e-book version: PDF

Call for Feminist Science Fiction themed issue

I was once asked, What science fiction do you like to read and watch?

Good science fiction should not just be driven by simple, black and white, Good vs. Evil forces. It's a simplistic worldview which I find unhelpful in real life, and unattractive in fiction. (For pure escapism, it is of course nice to know who you're supposed to be rooting for by their white hats, but there's no "pure escapism" any more than there is politics-free entertainment.)

Instead of the "Dark Side" and the "Light Side" of whatever force or faith or power drives the Universe, let's judge people by their actions; let's have complex characterisations of both heroes and villains; or better, let's have two sides who both think they're the good guys. And to some extent are right. Let's have good and bad causes (because the writers, producers, and artists have causes they believe in), and good and bad people on both sides of the conflict. And good people who become frustrated and commit atrocities. And bad people who develop as human beings and become sick of the pain they cause.

And let's not have dark powers that corrupt you if you use them, even out of good motives. Or that are inherited down a long line of sorcerors. Or that you can smell. And for goodness's sakes let's not have any races that are intrinsically evil like Tolkien's orcs, or any other racist stereotypes.

By all means let’s have space opera where the events are Earth-shattering, all-important, cataclysmic—to our heroes. But our heroes are just individuals in a bigger Universe: not long-lost princes, would-be messiahs, or unwilling saviours of the galaxy. The Universe is a big place: one person’s actions are unlikely to make that big a difference. Okay, a lot of people may depend on them, even a planet or solar system may be effected by the events of our space opera, but there's plenty of Universe out there, and it will carry on regardless.

And there’s the best stuff of all, that breaks the rules. Including all these rules. And just tells an important, beautiful, useful story. And that's exactly what the six stories in this issue of TFF do: they're beautiful; they're important; they break the rules. But trust them: they know what they're doing.

Finally, let me leave you with this wonderful message: XKCD's Dreams.

June 2009

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