It's probably not going to come as a surprise to many people reading this that I came home from Loncon 3 last month with a large pile of books. Two of them were new collections of essays and reviews: Sibilant Fricative by Adam Roberts, and Stay by John Clute.
I've been buying similar collections for well over a decade at this point. If I look over my shoulder from where I'm typing, I can see on my non-fiction shelves books by William Atheling Jr and Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones and Gary Wolfe, Paul Kincaid and M. John Harrison, and many more. All of them have taught me things about how to think and write about SF, and the collective portrait they paint of SF's ongoing conversations about itself is fascinating.
Stay and Sibilant Fricative have a special frisson, however, in that both include pieces that first appeared in Strange Horizons—Roberts' epic comparison of The Name of the Wind and The Children of Húrin, for instance, or Clute's discussion of Kate Atkinson's recent Life After Life. Seeing material from the magazine gain another life by making it into books is always pleasing, but in the normal course of publishing it tends to happen more often for fiction and poetry than non-fiction.
Yet for me, and I hope for many of you, the non-fiction is a crucial part of what we do here. In the M. John Harrison collection I mentioned above, Parietal Games—which includes essays about Harrison's career as well as his own criticism—there's a wonderful essay by Rob Latham, assessing the impact of the New Worlds reviews section, which Harrison edited for a period. It's a piece that forcefully conveys how vital popular criticism can be to SF. I make no claim that what we're doing here has the same centrality to the field, but certainly many of the values Latham identifies—honesty, rigour, a broad-minded approach to the possibilities of speculative literature—are ones that we share and, I hope, have done pretty well at enacting.
The credit for that, over the last four years, goes to Abigail Nussbaum. Since taking over as Reviews Editor, she's brought in new voices—where would we be these days without Nina Allan or Sofia Samatar?—and kept the established ones fresh. She's introduced new recurring features like the bi-monthly Short Fiction Snapshot—and has, of course, contributed many of her own excellent reviews to our pages.
Abigail has, however, decided to move on, and at the end of the year will be standing down as Reviews Editor. So this editorial is by way of a thank-you, and a recognition of the huge amount of work she has put into Strange Horizons: both as editor and reader, I feel the magazine has benefitted from it hugely. If you don't already, take a moment to subscribe to her blog, Asking the Wrong Questions; one upside of her leaving here is that hopefully she'll do more writing there.
This editorial is also an explanation for what happens next. Specifically: we're announcing this now because we want to encourage new voices to join the department.
Abigail will be handing over to a team of reviews editors. Some of that team is already in place. In particular, I'm delighted to introduce Maureen Kincaid Speller as our new Senior Reviews Editor, and Aishwarya Subramanian and Dan Hartland as Reviews Editors. All of them have a long association with the department as reviewers, all of them are excellent critics, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing where they take us.
But we also want to recruit a new Media Reviews Editor, to boost our coverage of film, TV and games, and to call for new reviewers, to increase the range of perspectives we can share.
Details of the Media Reviews Editor position are here, and information about how to get involved as a reviewer can be found here. As ever, we are particularly keen to hear from people from backgrounds under-represented within SF—if anything, the critical discussion around SF is even less diverse than what's published as SF, and it shouldn't be. There's more to say, and more people I want to hear saying it. And who knows, one day I might be putting your book onto my shelf of review collections. I'd like that.