Editorial: C.C. Finlay for the July/August Issue
This editorial was supposed to appear near the end of the July/August issue, nested between “Testimony of Samuel Frobisher Regarding Events Upon His Majesty’s Ship Confidence, 14-22 June, 1818, With Diagrams” by Ian Tregillis and “Belly” by Haddayr Copley-Woods.
At nearly the last minute, after it was already typeset, F&SF‘s publisher Gordon Van Gelder realized that we could cut the editorial, rearrange some things, and include one more story. I said: “LET’S DO IT.”
But here, in all their glory, are my thoughts on guest editing this issue.
Once, when my kids were small, around the time that I sold my first short story to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I went to the home improvement store and bought a bunch of lumber to build a rocket ship for them. It was going to match the castle play set I’d already put up in the backyard.
I loaded all the wood into the back of our Ford Explorer. It was a snug fit, with some two-by-fours stretching across the seats and resting on the dashboard. The rear door wouldn’t quite latch, so finally I slammed it shut. And launched the two-by-fours through the front windshield and out onto the hood.
When I was guest editing this issue and trying to cram in all the great stories, I was afraid I would end up doing something similar.
You may have noticed that editorials usually go at the beginning of magazines.
Occasionally, they show up at the end as a kind of afterword.
But this one is buried in the middle because, when Gordon Van Gelder asked me if I wanted to guest edit, I understood that what makes Fantasy & Science Fiction such a special magazine starts and ends with the stories. And I wanted to find some way to show that.
It’s the stories that matter.
My first short story publication was about a neuropharmaceutical disaster. I wrote it when I was in graduate school studying history, and the story was in the format of footnotes to a history article, and it was titled, imaginatively enough, “Footnotes.”
After years of writing and submitting stories, I would have been excited enough just to get published. But “Footnotes” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, the magazine that published the writers I had grown up with–Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stephen King. The magazine that was publishing all the writers I admired and wanted to be like.
Nothing since, no story sale, none of the award nominations, not even my books, has ever been as exciting as that first sale to F&SF.
Nothing until now.
Maybe it’s my experience as a resident editor for Online Writing Workshops. Or being a teacher at Clarion and Alpha Writers. Or attending peer workshops like Rio Hondo and Sycamore Hill and Blue Heaven. But I love being one of the first people to read a great new story. I love being able to find ways to make a story better if it needs work. And I love sharing new stories and new writers with people who haven’t read them yet.
So getting the chance to edit F&SF, and be part of that tradition of great editors from Gordon to Kris Rusch on back to Ed Ferman and the rest, that’s a dream come true for me.
I didn’t just say “Yes” when I was asked to edit this issue. I said, “Hell yes.”
The one thing I wanted to do differently as guest editor was accept electronic submissions for the first time in the magazine’s history.
I thought it would bring me more submissions to choose from and holy crap I wasn’t wrong. Submissions were only open for two weeks, and I received 751 stories. Choosing the best stories–and the best mix of stories–was a challenge, but a fun challenge.
Electronic submissions also meant, I hoped, that there would be some new voices, writers who hadn’t submitted to F&SF before, and that also proved to be the case. All twelve of the stories in this issue are the first appearances of these writers in these pages. A couple are by old friends (an inevitability when you’ve been in this industry as long as I have been), some are by writers I’ve admired but never met, and some are by writers that I’d never read before. But they all have one thing in common–their stories blew me away.
It’s been an honor to be part of the F&SF tradition and put this issue together for you. Years from now, after you’ve long forgotten this editorial or even that I edited the issue, I’d bet a new windshield that you’ll remember some of these stories.
And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
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