At some point, eventually and inevitably, there had to be a “Diseases”-themed issue of Lackington’s. There’s just too much meaty potential in something that affects every one of us and takes us to the core of our humanity. And there’s just too thick a thematic legacy in our art, literature, and film—some of it problematic or even harmful to those who live with certain conditions. The subject, whether literal or metaphoric, has been mishandled, even overused. I put out the call for this theme hoping to see more positive expressions. And as a lifelong horror consumer (you would shudder to know what my parents let me read and watch before the age of 10), I was also curious to see if anyone would submit something that pushes back on the troublesome disease/monster trope in relevant ways.
Of course Lackington’s submitters delivered. The hoped-for fresh take on the disease/monster combination was submitted by Malaysia-based writer and scholar, Nin Harris, who sent in a story that first appeared in Trash: A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology in 2016, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Marc de Faoite. Nin’s fiction has appeared in Lackington’s before, and I’m pleased to be working with her again and delighted to help bring “Auto-Rejection: An Outro” to a new audience. Nin’s story emphatically severs disease from monstrousness—something not often done in fiction.
This issue also wrestles with the complex subject of euthanasia—one close to my personal experience. Both Kathryn Weaver and Adrian Simmons have crafted stories that unpack the harrowing complexity of the “good death,” and the ethics of going forward with such a decision without the patient’s consent. Multiple voices are heard and answers are fraught; both tales are very good at reflecting the discussion in our own world today, with all of its hopes and pitfalls and contradictions. Both authors are also extraordinarily deft with the heroic tradition—a defamiliarizing framework for euthanasia today, perhaps, but one the dramatists of antiquity used themselves. It’s effectively jarring and does exactly what fiction ought to do: get our minds whirring.