Rhiannon Wood - Editor in Chief
Last issue, I wrote about the weird, the strange, the different, the otherwise other of the submissions we get. We’re pleased to say that, this issue, we got weirder, stranger, more different and more other. We grinned slightly maniacal grins. We decided that leaning into the weird (a phrase coined by our lovely publisher) would be a good direction for us. Why? Because we need more weird in the universe. Voices from people who don’t always get heard, voices from those who have been dismissed, from those who aren’t telling the story in the ‘right’ way. This is what makes all our authors so important and so wonderful. Weird is the gateway to understanding.
When I was a kid, I loved the weird. One of my favourite books was about a group of children who go up into space, crash their rocket and die. Which is where the story starts to get really interesting. Our heroine travels through eternity, following a saxophone-playing astronaut as he weaves his way through space, time, and life. This book stayed with me; I still have a treasured, dog-eared copy.
Even when I was young, perhaps especially then, I knew that stories of the weird and the other spoke to me and what they had to say was important. They helped me understand that my way of looking at the world, what my dad called ‘quirky’ (still trying to figure out if he meant that as an insult or not…), wasn’t bad; it wasn’t something I had to change or work through. The lens of the strange lets us explore all those nooks and crannies of our brains that are otherwise in the dark. The parts that can see magic.
Being in this vast, strange forest has reminded me that staying connected to the strange is important. In this modern world, we have lost something. We can explain so much that the fantastical seems even further away than before. We see with prescription lenses, scientific knowledge and understanding. We no longer look with blurry-eyed wonder at the world around us. That’s why ghost stories, horror and tales of the unexpected are so thrilling. They take us down some dark, winding paths, and as much as some may leave us in the forest to fend for ourselves, more often than not, they lead us out to the rising sun and warmth on our faces.
So, maybe you want to trim away your memories as a hairdresser cuts off your split ends. Or flirt with danger by revealing yourself to the unknown, hoping for desire to burn brightly in the dark, abandoned places of your mind. Maybe under a full moon, you’ll see everything you knew about yourself and realise, much like Socrates, that you know far less than you thought. Perhaps for you, it’s the microcosm rather than the macrocosm where your terror lies, and the offer of a hand is your nightmare made flesh-crawlingly real. Or your appetites are not easily shared except in the shining, blood-drenched night. Maybe you are a phoenix who wasn’t made to burn brightly but instead find salvation in the dust whence we came. Or perhaps birds surround your wide-eyed stare, knowledge burning in your eyes, lips parted in a spell. Whatever variety of strange you may be, there will always be a place in our forest for you. If you’re unsure, if you feel a little slither of trepidation down your spine, fear not. Take our winged hand and trust that the darkness always has a path to the light…