« Il y a un côté effrayant quand on regarde un ciel totalement ­dégagé la nuit. Alors que là, l’image qu’on regarde nous ramène vers nous, c’est une image très rassurante, un peu comme si on regardait le ventre de notre mère. En fait, Blueturn, c’est un selfie de la Terre. »

—Jean-Pierre Goux

 [ Issue 2019.48; Cover art © 2019 Pear Nuallak ]

Issue 2019.48

Flash fiction

Short stories



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Horror and beauty are sometimes not very far apart at all.

Children all over the world have been making a stand that their elders have failed to for too long: we cannot wait for politicians to decide it is expedient to start acting against climate change if we are to save our habitat from becoming intolerable and ultimately unsurvivable. As horrifying as so much of what is going on around the world at the moment is, we try to take some solace from, and to see some hope in, the beautiful activism and determination of these representatives of the next generation.

This month, thousands of people have been mourning the “death” of Opportunity, a programmed robotic rover on another planet, which scientists and reporters alike have been anthropomorphizing for the last fourteen years. But it was not only Oppy’s plucky and unexpected tenacity, rocky desert selfies and taste in music that melted our hearts—we were also captivated by the fact that she represents our scientific spirit, our willingness to spend massive efforts to learn about the universe, and maybe even visit it some day. This of course should never be a substitute for looking after our own world; no more should any fantastical or science fictional scenario. But our ability to learn and innovate and study and empathize should be very much a source of hope and optimism, inspiration to do better.

The stories and poems in this issue reflect this same loss and hope that fills our lives and how we relate to this terrifying world. We have more or less explicitly environmental parables, stories of bereavement and alienation, queer and gender-bending characters, superheroes and monsters, first contact stories and human colonization of distant worlds. Stories and poems that thrill us, choke us with grief, fill us with hope or the desire to do better, tantalize us with hints of secondary worlds or walk us down new streets—or just with new eyes—in our own grimy cities.

I’m delighted with this issue filled with new friends and old, short and long works, and some beautifully creative illustrations throughout. Thanks so much to Christina, Joyce, Juliet, Kimberly, Paige, Perrin and Vanessa for your words; to Cécile, Jason, Martin, Pear, Rachel, Toeken (and NASA!) for your visual art; and to Brian Olszewski and Hûw Steer for copyediting. Let’s take a moment to read, to enjoy, perhaps to cry, and then fill ourselves with possibilities, with ambition for change, and get out there and make the world a better place.

Djibril al-Ayad, February 2019

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

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