Hack n’ Slash #999 by Carla Dash
Sun and Moon by Deborah Davitt
Three Short Stories by Foz Meadows
AND… as a special surprise, Technologies of the Self by Haris Durrani, guest editor for Issue 4, the Special Space Opera Theme Issue.
Plus an Editor’s Note by Chief Editor Will Waller
For a magazine of fantasy novellas, much of what The Fantasist has published so far might not conventionally be considered either novellas or fantasy. For example, the minimum length for a Novella is usually 17,500 words, and yet every piece in Issue 2 was shorter than that. The alternative, though, is to use the term Novelette and personally I don’t care for it. There’s already not much space made for fiction shorter than a novel and yet longer than a short story. My feeling is this: The Fantasist is a home for Fantasy and long fiction and novellas, in that order. Separating long fiction by word count categories strikes me as a little arbitrary, and I feel that Novella is the better word.
I feel very differently about categories of genre. I think there’s a tendency to see genre labels as more restrictive than they need to be and, as a result, they become more restrictive and more reductive than they ought to be. This story is fantasy, but not science fiction. Fantasy, but not horror. No that’s Dark Fantasy. Isn’t it surreal, though? Why do we have to call it anything besides Words? Fantasy, for me, is not an arbitrary category. It’s not simply the presence of magic or dragons or faeries or swords. It’s not just a marketing distinction or a useful way to make shelving decisions in a bookstore. Fantasy is a kind of writing. A style, a method, a genre, a perspective. It’s a way of looking at stories, and that way of looking impacts how I write and how we choose work for this magazine. I know that while categories like Fantasy and Science Fiction and Horror make some people uncomfortable, they also make others feel more comfortable, because they do so for me. To me, it’s not a restriction, it’s exciting. It’s as important to not to deny labels to anyone as it is not to force them on anyone.
We are a Magazine of Fantasy Novellas. We publish Fantasy, and while much of what we publish would also be comfortably describable as Science Fiction or Horror, and in fact some stories we publish arguably have no magic or unreal elements at all, we ask all submitters that, regardless of what else they may wish to say about their work, they also be willing to call it Fantasy. Genre, like everything else, is intersectional. To us editors, all these stories felt like fantasy, but they may feel differently to their authors and they may feel differently to you. Our hope has always been to expand the definition of Fantasy, and to have it included in conversations that we think it belongs in, but where nonetheless it often isn’t. We want there to be more different kinds of Fantasy stories written, and to help make more room for them.
With all that said, this, our third issue, is in many ways our most conventionally Fantasy issue. And yet, there’s nothing conventional about any of these stories. Every one of them does a better job than I have here of challenging expected distinctions and of complicating the real-world overlap between different categories and different kinds of categories.
We’re honored, also, to be able to share with you a reprint of Issue 4 Guest Editor Haris Durrani’s debut novella Technologies of the Self available in print through Brain Mill Press. Haris is a good friend, a great writer of Science Fiction. And yet, I hope he won’t mind me saying that his story feels a little like Fantasy to me too.
We’re very proud to share this work with you. Thank you, and enjoy!