Welcome to Strange Horizons's summer special, highlighting international, queer, and fantastic writing for a whole month. It's me, Brit Mandelo—an old friend come 'round to visit awhile for this spectacular opportunity.
There's a certain comfort in returning to the Strange Horizons slush. Though I stepped down as senior editor approximately a year and a half ago, the time I spent with this magazine was formative—and it felt like falling straight into old patterns to read submissions, discuss the stories with fellow editorial staff, and work with writers on their pieces. When Niall and Catherine approached me to stealth in as guest editor for the Our Queer Planet special issue, I had to agree. There was no alternate universe where I wasn't eager to do it.
It was a pleasure to see the work people sent in to us for this issue. While the planet I inhabit happens to be queer at all times—sort of the nature of being one's own protagonist?—it's also a raw delight to exist in a space where it feels like the other folks around me are living in that same world too. It's the experience of kinship, of the release that comes with belonging. I'd like to think that, between Catherine and I, the stories we selected for this special issue represent a handful of different modes of being, approaches to self, and types of narratives.
These stories, four in total, come from across the globe (Sri Lanka to Finland to America)—and also span genres from science fiction to portal fantasy. There are queer people of various genders; there are androids and birds and mothers; there is religion, politics, resistance. Relationships and families are varied as well. While it would have been excellent to have five times the budget and fives times the stories, I'm pleased with the four that we've selected for your perusal and proud of the work they do, separately and in concert, and alongside the poets, critics, essayists, and artists also included in this special.
Also, writing this editorial after the events in Orlando and the bone-shaking reaction that followed, I'm not only proud. I'm angry. Make no mistake in these words and their relative gentleness. This special issue, Our Queer Planet, which highlights concrete togetherness and solidarity, comes at a time when it is significant to bring our voices to bear on a fixed point and reinforce the boundaries and bonds of community. When I read these stories, I did not expect to have this sort of a reason to introduce them; when I read these stories, and when we chose them, we were thinking in terms of pleasure, of art, of good juxtapositions.
Writing this introduction, though, I think of survival, and visibility, and the refusal to be shut up or shut down. It is both of these things—it is all of these things, and more. We inhabit a queer planet, and we will continue to make it so.