On Coffee, Writing, and Editing

“On Coffee, Writing, and Editing”

Two of the selections in this edition of Abyss & Apex have to do with coffee: the extremely-long-titled “The Best Barista in a Time of Spiders Who are Addicted to the Rush of Caffeine” and Ken Liu’s “The Perfect Book.” And it got me to thinking about how many things you can do with coffee—the variety of recipes it could be used in, and how very different the results can be. Coffee can be used in everything from candies to liquors, from hot cocoa to Swedish meatballs. You can use it as an ingredient in tiramisu or combine it with chocolate for any number of mocha delights. Irish coffee. Cappuccino. Coffee ice cream. It has many different faces. All of them are still coffee, or at least have coffee as an ingredient.

It’s rather like how very different the aspects and sub-genres within science fiction and fantasy can be.

As long as it has a speculative element, and is not horror, A&A tries to publish everything  that fits under the umbrella of science fiction and fantasy. In a typical edition you might see anything from sword and sorcery, to literary science fiction, to military science fiction, to magical realism. This edition contains a wonderful piece of science fantasy—”The Silver Tree,” where aliens are conquered and re-homed to another planet but bring their magic with them. “The Winds of the Mind” discusses the possible creative pitfalls of neural implants, and the fantasy “Stone Time” discusses the temporal fallout from a curse that randomly petrifies a medieval woman. “Night Sky in His Eyes” is a dialogue between two immortals (with an interesting history between them) who meet each other randomly in the present day. “Sandcastles in a Clockwork Sea” explores the invisible line where bionics crosses the line between human and inhuman, and the fantasy “The Devil’s Labyrinth” discusses the practical limits of revenge.

But now we’re back to the coffee! “The Best Barista…” is the story of a disabled veteran who was the product of a failed medical experiment getting called back to duty because of what he does with it, a very human story that should make you smile. And of course, Ken Liu’s marvelous reprint of “A Perfect Book” also happens in a coffee shop, but the focus there is the different impacts of human-written versus AI-written fiction.

Coffee is writer fuel. It is also editor fuel. But stories are fuel for the soul; we hope these  fuel yours.

—Wendy S. Delmater

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2 Responses to On Coffee, Writing, and Editing

  1. John Baumgartner says:

    I like your editorial comments on the stories and the common theme but different aspects. I’ve just finished The Winds of the Mind and concluded that it is related to the subject of Neurodiversity (Autism and ADHD) as an evolutionary advantage for the homo sapien species rather than a mental disorder of a few afflicted members. I found this interesting because I just read a rather good slush pile story by a writer claiming to be neurodiverse, and I had to look up the term to see what it meant and implied.

  2. Gregg Chamberlain says:

    Very much enjoyed reading this editorial essay, given my own appreciation for good coffee (and me and my Anne’s fondness for the cappacino we enjoyed during our Italian wedding/honeymoon adventure… such a civilized way of spending the early morning). Looking forward to reading the offerings from this most recent kaffeeklastch session of A & A.

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