THE EDITOR’S WORD by Lezli Robyn
If an author had come to me with a novel plot where the protagonist loses their mentor in the opening chapters, survives both a pandemic that’s infected ten million people and killed five hundred thousand and the U.S. economy fallout where twenty million jobs are lost, during which killer hornets invade the States and worldwide demonstrations and local protests flare up in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the fight to end generations of systemic racism…all while the Trump administration tries to walk back LGBTQ+ rights during Pride month and a conservative Republican-dominated Supreme court then votes to uphold the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to protect illegal immigrants known as the “Dreamers,” any editor worth their salt would tell the writer it is not plausible to cram so many forms of unrest, loss and surprises into one novel and it be believable, let alone set it to happen within a six month period. (They would also complain about how ridiculously long the previous sentence is, but I wrote it that way for the overwhelming point it makes.)
Yet, this is our reality and these events are still unfolding. I have had Covid-19—that novel protagonist is me. This year is starting to feel like a dystopian novel in the making.
I have no doubt the readers of Galaxy’s Edge are feeling just as much emotional whiplash as me. Losing Mike Resnick was the first blow, straight to the heart, but this year just keeps throwing the punches.
I find that it is times like this where we turn to fiction for comfort, entertainment, and a genuine need to escape the realities of life. Genre fiction, in particular, is especially helpful in offering us worlds that could only be conjured up in our imaginations, allowing us to forget about our daily troubles, if only for a little while.
Except, so many of our stories are drawn from events or situations that impact us the most. I find that those stories can often generate an almost profound emotional response, even if the readers don’t know why the stories are affecting them so much. In Rachelle Harp’s poignant offering, a woman suffers horrific injuries in a crash and worries her daughter will now be too scared of her because to survive she had to become more machine than human. Or did she? What is it that really makes us human? In Alex Shvartsman’s novelette, political prisoners do not suffer the consequences of their actions personally, but have to make a choice on a game show between denying one of two loved ones a life-altering necessity that will negatively impact their family member’s entire future, in a world reshaped by new alien overlords.
Gregory Benford’s column this issue is a fascinating blend of the philosophical and scientific and will make you think long after you finish reading it it, and L. Penelope’s column about the importance of being human in our works to add authenticity and truth means both our non-fiction pieces will get the cogs turning. The SETI-loving geeks in community will not want to miss newcomer Chris Barnham’s “Bad Moon Falling” where finally, a signal is confirmed to have originated from aliens. But is this a good thing for humanity?
Nick DiChario and Jack McDevitt’s fictional contributions this issue will make us want to think about the consequences of our actions, and another new-to-us author, ZZ Claybourne, gifted us with the most unexpected short story about microscopic aliens who come to Earth in search of precious art to worship, believing they find it in Cynthia Yau. Their unknown interaction with her has profoundly entertaining consequences (and shall we say some hilarious communication mishaps that include some rather strong language) that belies one of the most moving endings I have read in awhile.
Kay Kenyon (one of Mike Resnick’s favorite people) returns to our pages with a story set in a repressive future society (a unified Korea, I believe, but she never quite says), where a developer of advanced avatar technology finds a unique way to fight back. In Robert Silverberg’s offering this issue, a lost time traveler is taken in by a band of Cro Magnons, and must prove his merit by hunting what may be the last Neanderthal. And Mike Resnick’s story explores how the beloved partner of a person with Alzheimer’s learns to cope with the deterioration of his wife’s memory and cognitive abilities in such a way that the heartbreakingly-beautiful ending always makes me cry.
Lastly, but not at all in the least, we have a new story by the incredible Katharine Kerr and a bonus short-but-sweet interview with this talented author! I first saw her Deverry novels in the house of my Dad’s work colleague as a very curious twelve year old, and soon devoured all of her work, eagerly awaiting her new releases as soon as they hit the stores. Never did the child in me imagine I would grow up and get to know this remarkable woman, or that I would be able to buy such a charming science fiction story off her in my capacity as editor of this magazine. This story is guaranteed to leave you smiling. When a caring Grandmother, who is feeling so very left behind by her more modern family, gets the chance to help someone else—a very unique someone—their thank you gift leads to the most important reward of all.
I hope this issue greets you a lot more kindly than 2020 has treated us all, and gives you just the right kind of escapism we need in such turbulent times. Stay safe, read well, and take the time to enjoy the moments that make our life so worth living. Hug that loved one close, enjoy sipping that favorite tropical drink on the porch swing during a spectacular summer storm. Just, above all, live life to the full. Live large, like the characters in our favorite science fiction and fantasy stories, for what have you got to lose?