A guest editorial
tris-kai-dek-a-pho-bi-a (tris-“kI-“dek-&-‘fO-bE-&): n. Morbid fear of the number 13
Many people — even folks who dont think of themselves as superstitious — still harbor just a twinge of irrational fear of the number 13. More than 80 percent of high-rise buildings don’t have 13th floors, even in these cynical times, and hotels and hospitals usually don’t have rooms numbered 13. Airports routinely leave out Gate 13, and airplanes don’t have 13th seating rows. A lot of people feel a little uneasy when a Friday the 13th rolls around, even though they might not actually change their daily routines. Psychologists say that some people create their own bad luck on Friday the 13th because they focus too hard on the potential negatives associated with the day.
The origins of this fear of 13 are many and varied. According to Thomas Fernsler, a mathematics guru at the University of Delaware, 13 suffers mainly by its position after 12. Numerologists consider 12 a “complete” number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus.
In exceeding 12 by 1, says Fernsler, 13’s association with bad luck “has to do with just being a little beyond completeness. The number becomes restless or squirmy.” Something about this explanation pleases me to no end. One of the characteristics of good speculative fiction is that it can make us feel “squirmy.” It can open up new questions about our world, our future, our place within the vastness of the universe. It can make us want to find answers to some of the biggest questions humankind can imagine — questions about the nature of reality and the fabric of time.
Triskaidekaphobes will note that the moon mission labeled Apollo 13 nearly ended in disaster. Many Christians believe that Cain slew Abel on Friday the 13th. Another ancient source — Norse mythology — has it that 12 gods gathered in Valhalla for a feast, which was crashed, as it were, by the mischievous god Loki. Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.
Balder died, and from that moment on, the number 13 was considered ominous and foreboding.
This issue of Abyss & Apex is No. 13 — a number some might consider unlucky. But I choose to designate it as Lucky No. 13. Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, helps triskaidekaphobes to overcome their fear through techniques that help them focus on positive and pleasant associations rather than negative ones. Instead of being victims of superstition, the A&A staff are taking this opportunity to announce several changes that we think will be very positive for the publication and our authors and readers.
First let me say that I’m very proud of this issue. I think it’s one of the most eclectic we’ve offered, and although the works could not be more different from one another, each piece is outstanding. I hope you enjoy reading these stories and poems as much as the editorial staff did. Please feel free to send us your comments, and let us know if we can pass them along to the authors. You’ll also find e-mail links for many of the authors in the bios at the end of each story or poem.
If you do enjoy this issue — whether this is your first visit to A&A, or you’re a regular reader — please consider supporting us with a donation. Why not honor this lucky thirteenth issue with a contribution of $13? As the saying goes, no amount is too small! We will be more than grateful for your contribution, which will help us continue to buy such high-quality material.
Now for those changes. Starting with the next issue, Abyss & Apex is moving to a quarterly publication schedule. The April issue will be designated 2nd Quarter 2005. The 3rd Quarter issue will appear in July 2005, and 4th Quarter in October 2005. This change will bring our schedule into line with many of our sister publications, allow us a little breathing room in our budget, and give us more time to read and evaluate submissions.
Hand in hand with the new publication schedule goes a change in our submissions guidelines. We will continue to read poetry year-round. However, we will now read short and flash fiction during designated reading periods ONLY, four times a year. The first reading period in the new schedule will be April 1 through May 15, for the 3rd Quarter 2005 (July) issue.
Subsequent reading periods for 2005-2006 will be:
- July 1 through August 15: For the 4th Quarter 2005 (October) issue
- October 1 through November 15: For the 1st Quarter 2006 (January) issue
- January 1 through February 15, 2006: For the 2nd Quarter 2006 (April) issue
- April 1 through May 15, 2006: For the 3rd Quarter 2006 (July) issue
- July 1 through August 15, 2006: For the 4th Quarter 2006 (October) issue
You may notice a couple of changes to our “About Us” page. We are pleased to welcome back Amy Valleau as a submissions editor, and introduce two new submissions editors: Lynda Beauregard and Mary Jo Jeffers. All three are volunteering some of their precious spare time to help read and evaluate submissions on a part-time basis, and Carol and I deeply appreciate their assistance. We may have more editorial additions soon, so continue to watch our staff listing for updates.
As you can see, we also have added a handful of links to some resources of interest to genre writers. We hope you find these useful. Feel free to suggest your favorite resource via e-mail to our editorial address.
I think that’s all for now. As you can see, thirteen has proved to be a most excellent number for us here at Abyss & Apex. We’re excited about all of these changes, and we hope you are too. Here’s to bringing you, our loyal readers, another year’s worth of speculative fiction and poetry to stimulate your minds and set your hearts pounding. We can only try, and hope.
And we shall.
—Aleta Daknis, Associate Editor
January 23, 2005
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish