“It was not in my nature to be an assertive person. I was used to looking to others for guidance, for influence, sometimes for the most basic cues of life. And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, ‘Listen to me.’”

—Jhumpa Lahiri

 [ Issue 2015.32; Cover art © 2015 Cécile Matthey ]

Issue 2015.32

Short stories

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Technically, it’s TFF’s birthday this issue—the first full issue came out ten whole years ago back in January 2005. Sadly “32” isn’t an especially round number or anything, but ten years is. It’s kind of fun to look back and see how much things have changed in that time (and how much they haven’t). While research for a lecture on the history of the magazine to a class of digital publishing university students last year, I came across an interesting evolution in our one-line mission statement: “New writing in Dark Speculative Fantasy!” we proclaimed in 2004. “Speculative Fiction, Cyberpunk and Dark Fantasy!” we boomed in 2007. “Social Political and Speculative Cyberfiction!” we have cried since 2009. Always the line, “An experiment in and celebration of new writing” has sat somewhere in the first paragraph.

We’ve had a turnaround of collaborators too: In 2004 we were Bruce, Joseph, Equus and myself; Joseph and Equus left within days; by 2009 we had been joined by Leoba, David, John and Lois; by 2011 it was just me again, which is part of the reason we took a year’s hiatus. Now, as of 2015, we are joined by Regina, Kathryn, Tracie, Valeria, Cécile, Serge, Paul; plus Lori and Fabio who have guest-edited anthologies and continue to be valued collaborators. We also have a fabulous team of artists, a larger and more professional cohort of reviewers than ever before, and a community of support that we plug into via Twitter, Facebook, email listservs, and similar fora. We’ve had a huge amount of support, both financial and in-kind, during the crowdfunding campaigns for the last couple of anthologies, and we engage very enjoyably with several other small presses, publications and writing communities. Very occasionally, we’ve even met up with people in person!

On a more quantitative level, the number of TFF-published stories that have been honored (reprints in year’s-bests, shortlists for awards, honorable mentions) has been very exciting the last couple years. Both the Outlaw Bodies and We See a Different Frontier anthologies have been taught in university-level literature courses. Exciting times. Lots to celebrate, not least our ten-year anniversary (isn’t that “daffodil”?), which we hope to commemorate with a special publication before the year is out.

And, most importantly, we have an issue out today, our 32nd, which is full of wonderful and provocative stories, glorious and creative illustrations, and four authors who are new friends not previously seen in these pages. We’re maybe edging a little darker than usual this issue, with environmental catastrophe, cyberpunk dystopia, technological disaster and tragic political parable, but there is beauty in the darkness. There is hope in the tragedy. There is passion and fire between the lines of the dystopia. This is wonderful stuff.

Enjoy. And stick around, there’s more where this came from.

Djibril al-Ayad, March 2015

Comment on the stories in this issue on the TFF Press blog.

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