I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolt.

-- Mark Twain

 [ Issue 2010.20; Cover art © 2010 Rebecca Whitaker ]

Issue 2010.20

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Queer Science Fiction themed issue

This is the second half of the Feminist Science Fiction themed issue, focussing on sexuality and gender identity. The three pieces in this issue are all excellent social/political speculative fiction in their own right, stories that are beautiful and useful. These are not necessarily stories about queer issues—and in any case what speculative fiction story is ever about only one, obvious thing?—but they are queer stories in as much as they challenge the reader's expectations or prejudices about sex and gender while they're about the business of challenging our lazy expectations on all sorts of other fronts too.

 [ The Outer Alliance ] To talk more about some of these issues, we have invited speculative author and unrepentant geek Natania Barron (founder of The Outer Alliance) to write a guest editorial for this issue. Enough from me. Enjoy the issue.

Djibril al-Ayad, April 2010

Guest editorial by Natania Barron

I've always believed that one of the most important functions of speculative fiction is to push the boundaries of our world into those of other worlds. Unlike any other genre, it gives writers the opportunity to change the rules, to twist the fabric of culture, to explore societies and mores apart from the lens of their own existences, their own realities. And it is for this very reason writers and readers alike are drawn to these worlds—distorted mirrors of our own—for entertainment, escape, and enlightenment.

I have great hope in speculative fiction. In my mind there is no better genre to explore the complexities of gender, sexuality, and sexual orientation. Our understanding comes from our cultures, our religions—it seems a perfect fit to translate to worlds of fantasy and science fiction.

But not everyone agrees with me. Last summer, after a hateful, bigoted speculative fiction author decided to attack the LGBTQ community and fiction containing such themes, I searched for a support group. I had to connect with like minded individuals who were as horrified at the language and the hatred as I was.

When I couldn't find a support group, I started one with the help of a few friends. Within a few days we had fifty people; in a month we had three hundred.

We are called the Outer Alliance. We're a network of writers, creators, and readers around the world dedicated to the idea that our voices matter. We believe that the speculative fiction community has a responsibility to support writers and publications that continue to make headway and push the envelope with LGBTQ themes. We are here to boost the signal and to show our pride.

The queer sf issue of The Future Fire resoundingly represents the goals of the Outer Alliance. The fiction you will find in these pages will press buttons, ask questions, and present alternate worlds where the rules are simply different. I hope that with each new exploration of other worlds published we progress farther toward understanding and acceptance in our own world.

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