Suradanna and the Sea by Rebecca Fraimow
Woolfy and Scrapo by Rebecca Lloyd
Weeks Without Rain by Amalia Gladhart
Plus an Editor’s Note by Chief Editor Will Waller
The capacity for stories to do good is infinite, but nothing human hands make is without a capacity for evil. As a result, the responsibilities of publishing can be ethereal at the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Neither are they yet the worst. So our job, as I see it, is to steer the ship close enough to the abyss that our readers can look in without falling in, and learn. My hope is that, in our small way, The Fantasist is a force for good in a frightening and troubled time in the world. After all, it was Fantasy that first taught many of us that the time might come when we have to make a choice between ‘what is right, and what is easy.’ As models of resistance go, publishing is relatively easy. I think, though, that writing is not, and finding a good home for one’s writing is even less so.
Evan Adams and I first began planning what would become The Fantasist in the Fall of 2015 at Borderlands Café while we were still homeless in San Francisco. I was finishing my MFA and working as the Managing Editor of Eleven Eleven Journal. Evan had finished his time with both already, and was taking care of me. We both knew we wanted to continue working as publishers no matter what else we did, and that, of all the kinds of speculative fiction, Fantasy was what was closest to our hearts. I learned to read with old Robert Asprin novels, and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is half the reason I’m a writer at all. For Evan, I think it was the Bordertown books, but Evan reads everything. We’re both writers. What’s more, we’re both long-form writers, with a lot of long fiction between us, but not many appropriate venues. We couldn’t fathom a world where only we had this problem, so, when we made The Fantasist, we strove to make a market for the sort of stories we might tell. Then we cast our net, trusting that we’d quickly find kindred spirits.
The response to our first submission period was, frankly, overwhelming. When we opened submissions, we weren’t expecting or planning to choose work for Issue 2, but there were so many amazing stories coming in, we just had to. When November came around, we were feeling good. We had all the work for our first two issues picked – six amazing women writers we couldn’t be prouder to lead with. Then we watched the same election night as everybody else. On November 9th, I opened the previous incarnation of this editor’s note, a hopeful number that spent a fair amount of page space on the all-woman line-up. My note suddenly read like a piece speculative fiction, another world on a page asking: What if?
I held the backspace button down until I reached my name, and stared at that document for a long time, but I didn’t write anything that day. This document sat blank on my desktop for most of a month until I felt like I had something useful to say.
Both as a writer and as a publisher of Fantasy, I think it’s important to give real time to considering how we present the past. Is it with a rosy sheen? Is everyone there that should be? It’s easy to imagine a better future. It’s also easy to imagine a worse one. It’s far more difficult to call up an honest image of the past. It’s not all terrible – There wouldn’t be Fantasy otherwise – but an honest rendering of the past does have its darker moments, and it’s those darker moments and the other moments that work with time to make the present, and the present becomes the future. That’s not science fiction, but fact.
However, not all Fantasy happens in the distant past, nor necessarily as part of our history at all. In this issue, you’ll find things you recognize, and things you don’t. There’s magic and love and hope. There’s hardship, too, but every one of these stories comes with an emphatic sincerity from which I can’t help but take some peace. I hope, this December, they help you find some, then let’s all get ready do what’s right whenever and wherever we see a way.
Thank you, and enjoy!
Forthcoming in March of 2017:
The Rat People by Rochelle Spencer
The Checkpoint by Elana Gomel
The Trial of Black Panther by Harmony Neal