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I started editing for Strange Horizons in 2012, but I was a fan of the magazine for many years before that. As one of the very first free online speculative fiction magazines, it brought me many delightful stories (in English!) when I lived in France from 2001-2003. If I were there today, I would have an e-reader and ready access to all the stories I could possibly ever read in my native tongue, but at the dawn of the millennium, we hadn't quite gotten there yet. Books were made of paper, and quite expensive. I'd trade with Canadian and British colleagues, all of us willing to read anything at all, no matter how terrible. Very occasionally I would scrape together enough money to buy a book I might actually want to read in English from the local bookstore with one shelf of English titles, but most of them were classics and not speculative.

So it was that I turned to the internet for my English language fiction fix. I would sit in my office after hours, the city growing dark outside, and my French colleagues giving me confused and pitying looks. They didn't understand that I was no longer at work by then. I was in a different world completely. It fed a terribly hungry part of me at a time when I needed it most. When I returned home to the United States, I kept coming back for more. For giving me that sustenance, I will always be grateful to the magazine, and to all the people who have put time and effort into it. I am particularly grateful to Mary Anne Mohanraj for founding it, and to Jed Hartman, Karen Meisner, and Susan Marie Groppi for editing it for so many wonderful years before I had my turn.

When I got the opportunity to apply as an editor, I initially told Jed no. It was a big time commitment, I wasn't sure I could take on so much unpaid work, and I definitely didn't think I could commit to eight years (which was, I believe, the shortest amount of time one of the three previous editors had been with the magazine). I had several very long conversations with Jed, weighing pros and cons, and asking ridiculous amounts of questions. He was extremely thoughtful and patient. Each time I would end the conversation by thanking him and saying that I was pretty sure I still wouldn't apply to become an editor. But I kept coming back to thinking about how much I loved the magazine. One day I said that I would maybe, possibly, just perhaps consider applying if it would be okay to commit to only eighteen months, plus up to six more of new editor transition. To my surprise Jed thought that sounded more than reasonable, and again encouraged me to apply, so I did.

About four months after that, I joined the team—in case you are wondering how rigorously this magazine tests its applicants, the answer is very.

In the three years and change that I have spent with the magazine, it has been a pleasure and an honor to work with Jed, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Catherine Krahe, Lila Garrott, our Editor-in-Chief Niall Harrison, Podcast Editor Anaea Lay, Art Directors Tory Hoke and Heather McDougal, and too many brilliant first readers, proofreaders, and contributing authors to name. It's been wonderful finding stories I loved, discussing them with the other editors, honing and polishing them with the authors, and watching them fly out into the world, sometimes to critical acclaim, sometimes to win awards, and sometimes just to find the one reader who really wanted that particular story.

One of the things I've always loved about Strange Horizons is its commitment to publishing new voices, international voices, and underrepresented voices. It's something that makes the content exciting to me, and I'm glad to see this tendency has never wavered. One of the last things I did was help to choose stories and brainstorm supplemental content for this year's fund drive bonus issue. The fiction department is going in a slightly different direction than usual with that issue this year, and I can't wait for everyone to see it. Although I'm stepping away now, I hope the magazine will continue to shine for many years to come thanks to the support and generosity of its readers.

Speculative fiction fandom is an incredible community. We have our ups and downs, but one thing spending the past few years here has taught me is that this community contains many compassionate, intelligent, interesting, and kind people. I have experienced this with readers, writers, and editors (including many from other magazines). If you are reading this, I count you among them. Thank you. If you happen to see me in person at a convention or other event, please don't hesitate to say hello.

I've stayed longer than I said I would, and I don't regret it, but now it's time for me to move on. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Lila and Catherine and An do with the fiction department. I know what we have planned for the next few months (a couple of the upcoming stories are even ones I personally edited), but come November, I look forward to revisiting the feeling of anticipation when a new issue drops, when clicking the link to the story of the week will feel once again like opening a present.




Julia Rios is a fiction editor for Strange Horizons. Her fiction, articles, interviews, and poetry have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Stone Telling, Jabberwocky, and several other places. She's half-Mexican, but her (fairly dreadful) French is better than her Spanish.
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9 Sep 2019

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