“One human life is deeper than the ocean. Strange fishes and sea-monsters and mighty plants live in the rock-bed of our spirits.”

—Ben Okri

 [ Issue 2017.40; Cover art © 2017 Carmen Moran ]

Issue 2017.40

Flash fiction

Short stories


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If there’s any recurring theme to the stories in this issue (other than that they all threatened to make me cry) it seems to be bodies of water. We have fugitives or loners swept away by rivers or cast away in stormy seas, we have lakes that conceal portals to the stars. Water is nourishing and life-sustaining, it is home to endless beings, but it is also fierce and unstoppable, the one element on earth that humans have no control over—even if we manage to poison it with shit, oil and heavy metal, we can’t stop it from sweeping away everything we build before it, crushing or drowning us. Maybe even less the more we fuck with it. Water is central to civilization—the first international travellers, whether traders, diplomats or conquerors, relied on the seas for their transport. No surprise bodies of water are so central to tales of wonder, of adventure, of terror.

To be fair it’s only two-thirds of the stories that feature water so prominently. But all of the pieces in this issue, by Davian, Louise, Omi, Peri, Rachel and Stephen, are powerful, emotional, tempestuous, full of love and support and nourishment, as well as overwhelming and irresistible and devastating. They are oceans, and we’re powerless before them. The stories (and poem) have all been beautifully illustrated by Carmen, Cécile, Katharine, Miranda, Pear and Rachel, the unsung heroes of TFF. Fair to say it’s a gorgeous issue!

 [ Ruby, public domain image from Wikimedia Commons ] I might have expected issue #40 to feel like something of a milestone—nice round number and all—but it’s less meaningful that it perhaps ought to be. For a quarterly magazine, 40 issues should coincide with ten years, but because of irregular schedule in the late aughties, and a brief hiatus, it is instead twelve years and three months since #1. If this anniversary is a ruby therefore, it’s a rough and unpolished one, with blemishes and tool-marks, useful rather than beautiful. Still nice to have, but let’s save the big party for #50 in a couple of years, yeah.

Enjoy the stories. Be excellent to one another.

Djibril al-Ayad, April 2017

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

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