“The right kind of resistance is peaceful, because that’s where we win. We’re not going to beat them at violence. They’re very, very good at violence. We’re not. We win through nonviolence. That’s really the only way we can win.”

—Tortuguita (aka Manuel Paez Terán)

 [ Issue 2023.65; Cover art © 2023 Sarah Salcedo ]

Issue 2023.65

Flash fiction

Short stories



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How do we go about making a better world? We call it a struggle or a fight, but isn’t a better world one that isn’t made by fighting? Don’t we wish for a life that isn’t just endless struggle? How do we reconcile the ends we’re hoping for with the means to achieve it?

Exploring what we wish for is sometimes also a thought-experiment in how it might be achieved. Even the very short, flash stories in this issue manage to show complex, thoughtful, positive examples of futures we might achieve: finding a new life free of the arbitrary rules of the old one; making a better world through community, sustainability and hope; realizing that acceptance is possible in the most alien of environments. We can also explore pathways to a better future by seeing how we went wrong—either in our own history or in an imagined or exaggerated dystopian setting. Pretty much any speculative work—from ghost stories to alien first contact—can be used to think about how we might look for a better world through our actions and dreams; or how if we’re not careful or allow the status quo to prevail, we’ll turn out to have asked for a worse one.

And so we can use stories that explore mythical themes: do we pity the monster and how they became demonized, or do we want to become the monster? More broadly, how do we deal with body image issues, like society’s problem with our weight, biological functions and chosen identity; who has to live with, and live in, our bodies? Is outer space somewhere we want to go; would space aliens even want to come here and meet us? When we write the future, do we make it better or worse than the present (and in what respects)—whose future are we showing; does science fiction choose to reflect our own world, or can it show some hope that we’ll be able to surpass ourselves eventually? And how do we stop destroying our natural environment: can we change how we live; is technology only a problem, or can it be part of the solution; can nature itself have any kind of personhood?

Many of these themes appear, with no consistency of mood, message or agenda, in the fabulous written or artistic works of A., Carina, Carmen, Cécile, Fluffgar, Goran, Josep, Joyce, Katharine, M.L., Monica, Samuel, Sarah, Dr. T. and Toby in this issue. Enjoy, and we’ll see you again in a few months.

Djibril al-Ayad, April 2023

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

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