Note: Carmelo Rafala grew up in Connecticut, USA, near Sandy Hook.
The Looking Glass
In any new circumstance there is a moment of reflection . . .
As the new Managing Editor of Abyss and Apex I was going to write about the process of change and the challenges that might bring. I was then going to make some clever link between change as a necessity and how speculative fiction engenders change, embodies it and actively promotes it. Now, while these things are true, I feel it more appropriate to focus on another aspect of speculative fiction–its unique ability to cast a cautious and sometimes fearful eye upon the present. In light of recent events, particularly in my home state of Connecticut, I find this fitting.
Some of the best books in all of literature have been the ones that explore the human heart. The human heart is, perhaps I dare say, not a “thing” that changes so much with the ages. Over the centuries, the brain may fill with more knowledge, but the heart, ah, well, the heart…
When we read older works of heartbreak and longing, of desire and need, we have found our true selves within the pages of that story. It matters not what age it was written; what we see is a reflection of our fear, longing and love. Realising that our ancestors wrestled with the same problems of the heart serves to comfort us, demonstrating that we are not–and have never been–alone. Speculative fiction is no different.
I make no apologies in saying that speculative stories which focus on the heart are–and have always been–the type of stories that have grabbed my attention and inspired me. From a boy’s desperate search for his beloved father in Joseph Greene’s science fantasy novel, The Forgotten Star, to the flawed man’s attempt to recover, not only his world’s past, but his own past in Alistair Reynolds’ hard science fiction novel, Chasm City–these are our stories. These characters, with all their desires and all their moral flaws, are us through a lens. They have our faces, along with our secret wants and needs.
At this moment we know our hearts are filled with both of these, more so now than ever. In the light of the recent tragedies in America, and other nations, we see ourselves, our society, and shiver in disbelief. And our secret wants (sometimes not so secret) is to find a way to heal, to find solace in the storms of madness. And we need to find a way, some way, to be assured that there is justice; to know that there is a rational and practical way to protect ourselves and our children, to remain civilised.
Speculative fiction offers us the comfort in knowing that we are not–and have never been–alone in our pain. As we view our hearts through a looking glass, through a partition that is safe, we are allowed the opportunity to wrestle with ourselves, to discuss openly with others, to debate and maybe, hopefully, find common ground.
What Wendy S. Delmater and the great team at Abyss & Apex have done consistently for years is deliver great stories which do for us all of the above. I am proud to be a part of it and honoured to have been chosen to serve you. It is my wish to continue in such a great tradition. We need good stories, stories that resonate, now more than ever.
So, in the light of tragedy, read on. Read all the time. We are all here in the pages of this magazine. We are here with you.
You are not alone.
Carmelo Rafala, January 2013
Managing Editor of Abyss & Apex