Our “Voyages” issue is the product not just of talented writers and artists, but of an editor who has herself been mostly voyaging since 2015 and feels this theme is overdue. It opens with a story by AJ Fitzwater, who crafted “With God as Our Witness” after a casual online convo. From AJ’s submission email: “My inspiration for this story was a Twitter thread about strange things in medieval tapestries. Knights riding snails to meet God with their dicks hanging out? Sounds like a story…” I immediately challenged AJ to write it, so imagine the delight at Lackington’s HQ when we found that tale, freshly born, in our inbox. I’ve learned there’s nothing like a public dare to get a writer’s motor going. (Don’t be surprised if this happens again.)
Issue 19 also includes a Nin Harris piece from her Sesen milieu of short stories and novels in progress. “A Cream-Broker’s Courtship” is Nin’s third Lackington’s tale, and as ever we’re pleased to be associated with the intricate mythology Nin has been weaving at her wise and writerly loom in Malaysia. If her story doesn’t inspire readers to travel to the lunar reaches, it will surely make them hungry with its smorgasbord of food descriptions.
A “Voyages” collection wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t feature vastly different kinds of travelling. On the one hand, Sara Beitia’s “Something to Light the Sunless Winter” takes us far from Earth as her narrator contemplates the boons and costs of interstellar travel, not to mention its fathomless mysteries. On the other, Barbara Turney Wieland’s “That Damned Cat”—like its title—smacks us back down into the terrestrial everyday with a tale set on a train, bright with a new-love gleam many of us will recognize.
We’re thrilled to include two speculative fiction debuts in this issue, both of which aroused much high-fiving between First Reader Matthew Bennardo and me (every editor wants to be the first to publish an exciting new voice—so, New Voices, keep submitting this way!). Alexandra Munck’s “Sestina for Medea” is just that—a story chasing that particular metric form as an unnamed woman chases adventure far from home. Alexandra’s approach is penetrating and polished and so linguistically pure it made us gasp. And Xue Xihe’s “Enchiridion of the Soltite,” equally inspired by an olden literary form, is an ideal finale for the “Voyages” collection. The traveller’s handbook Xihe found and restored for us is a blessing and a paean, and its imagined culture makes us want to wander. In Solt’s world, oppression (like tourism) tries to remove distinction, but difference thankfully will out. Far from a traditional story, Xihe’s piece requires your total surrender to image, prose, and purpose. Let it carry you along like a peacefully bobbing skiff—or a leaf boat, as the Soltites would have it.
In any event, enjoy journeying across several kinds of planes in this collection, and not just the physical; maternity, sickness, commitment, revolution, falling in love, losing love, and finding one’s true identity are voyages, too. Safest of travels.