As plant-lovers, a botanical-themed issue has long been on our wish-list here at Lackington’s, so First Reader Matt and I are chuffed that it’s finally happening. Plants, of course, are some of the most common figures in speculative fiction—from “Rappaccini’s Daughter” to Invasion of the Body Snatchers to untold iterations of body horror that recreate the literal, hybrid grotesque from the old Roman grotto, where botanical and human mass fuse in unsettling ways.
Here in these pages, then, you’ll find the fruit of contributors willing to answer our call: sentient plants, plant/human hybrids, ancient and far-reaching mycelia, gorgeous greenery, and invasive species. We’re grateful to these writers for providing exactly what we were hoping to receive, and for making this long-awaited collection a reality. Hector the rubber-tree plant—who fills more than a corner at Lackington’s HQ, and is spoiled absolutely rotten—also sends his thanks.
Remarkably, given the times, we didn’t received as many climate-crisis stories as we expected on announcing a theme inextricably linked to flora. But Kelly E. Dwyer supplied a vivid vignette that speaks to the predation of big industry/capitalism and its impact not just on the environment but on the humans who have no choice but to call this biosphere home. Dwyer’s near-future climate fiction feels pretty damn present, and it’s inspired us to dedicate this collection to every activist fighting for clean energy, food and housing security, sustainable ecosystems, and economic equity the world over.