Forces of Nature
I suppose it may verge on cliché at this point, seven weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, to talk about the hurricane in this space. Readers in the U.S. in particular may have had their fill of post-hurricane philosophy. But I live in Baton Rouge, and to me and my friends and family members, the hurricanes’ effects aren’t over. No one can predict with any accuracy how long it will take to physically rebuild the greater New Orleans area or the part of Southwest Louisiana we call “Cajun Country” — much less how long the people who live(d) there will suffer.
I have to mention the hurricanes in part by way of apology, just because they’ve made this issue of Abyss & Apex come out a bit late. But there’s more. It’s obvious from our masthead that this ‘zine is about exploring the heights and depths of emotion. In fiction and in poetry we can delve into feelings we might otherwise be afraid to feel, or peer more closely at motives and meanings that in our “everyday” life are difficult to understand. I’m very proud of this issue of A&A — we have a collection of stories and poetry here that truly offers something for everyone, but more than that, we’ve presented some material on these pages that is going to challenge some readers. You may find your definition of “science fiction” is challenged, or your definition of “poetry.”
Speaking of challenging poetry, let me digress for a moment to give one more plug to Separate Destinations, the chapbook of science fiction poetry by Kendall Evans and David C. Kopaska-Merkel that is the first print publication to come out under the A&A imprint. I’d like to thank David for approaching me with the project, Mike Allen for writing the incredible introduction and Angela Mark for providing spectacularly beautiful and mind-bending illustrations to go along with the authors’ mythopoetic wordplay. I urge the poets and poetry fans reading this editorial to support our ability to continue publishing this kind of work by purchasing a copy of Separate Destinations.
Back to this issue. A general theme exploring forces of nature runs through a number of these stories and poems, but it wasn’t done intentionally, nor was it forced. But the opening piece, a relatively short story by Constance Cooper, most definitely touches on these themes, including the idea of an alien race much more at peace with its planet’s natural rhythms than our own. Daniel Braum’s “Sumo21” is a remarkable mixture of fantasy and science fiction with a touch of elegiac quality based in the mournful history of feudal Japan.
Associate Editor Wendy S. Delmater does a better job than I ever could of introducing two stories oddly united by their exploration of paradox. The longer fiction in this issue wraps up with a poignant tale in which fantasy intrudes darkly on our modern “reality.”
Bruce Holland Rogers contributes this issue’s flash fiction. I hate to talk too much about flash for fear of spoiling even a few words of this sparely written work. Just read it. You won’t be sorry.
And then there’s the poetry. Another reason why I keep returning to the hurricanes in this editorial message is that they did have a profound personal effect on me. No one in my family was killed or even hurt, but my best friend’s house was badly damaged, and so was my uncle’s. Both of them, like so many others in this region, are now in limbo, unsure of whether their businesses will reopen in New Orleans or relocate elsewhere. But they have places to stay and friends and family to support them. The worst that I personally experienced was three days without electricity after both Katrina and Rita, and the sudden overnight explosion of my small city into a struggling would-be metropolis. How bad is snarled traffic and extra-long waits at restaurants when compared to the suffering of people in the Superdome, only seven weeks past?
Even so, I did a lot of thinking about priorities after the storms hit, and I have decided that I want and need to focus on things in my life other than A&A for a while, including my own writing. So I’m stepping down from my post as associate editor, which for the last year or so has really meant being chief cook and bottle washer, too. I will remain as poetry editor, because poetry is the area I like best, and because I want to remain involved in this publication in some way. I’m fortunate that Wendy S. Delmater, who is stepping up to take on more responsibility, is allowing me to do so! Thanks, Wendy!
Wendy has some changes in mind, but I’ll let her tell you all about them in future editorials. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy the selection of poetry that I put together for this issue. I was fortunate to receive a flood of outstanding submissions this time around; I had to turn away a lot of really excellent material. I am pleased and proud to have names in this quarter’s table of contents like Bruce Holland Rogers, Daniel Braum, Mikal Trimm, Mike Allen and David C. Kopaska-Merkel. But I’m also thrilled that the poet whose heartwarming fantasy ends this issue is a 20-year-old student seeing her first published work in our pixels.
I believe this issue truly represents some of the best of the best, ranging from hard science to pure fantasy, from angry to whimsical, and in the end, quite literally, from dark to light.
—Aleta Daknis, Associate Editor
October 23, 2005
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish