by Ádám Gerencsér
Online publishing is a fractured landscape. There is a large volume of content vying for the attention of a relatively narrow readership. So why another journal?
In his post ‘So Long, and Thanks for the Philosophy’, the previous editor, Ray Blank, who had steered the Sci Phi Journal through the turbulent year of 2017, announced that it would be discontinued.
It so happened that I stumbled upon SPJ the very day Ray published that post. Looking for a venue that carried ‘my kind’ of SF, I realised that, while there are many sites, they all feature similar content. If you compare the submission guidelines of most SF mags, you’ll see a tendency to gravitate towards popular criteria that resemble contemporary literature at large. I was particularly aggrieved by the ubiquitous demand for the C-word: stories must be ‘character-driven’.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that tales concerned primarily with the goings-on of imaginary people have their place and are likely what the majority of readers have come to expect, particularly now that narrative tastes are shaped by television and online media. But writing, especially short fiction, can do so much more.
Thus sprung the wish to resurrect SPJ in order to provide a home for philosophical, conceptual and idea-driven speculation. I’m most fortunate that on this quest I can count on formidable allies such as Mariano Rodriguez Martín, editor of the speculative fiction journal Hélice and prolific scholar of the genre’s history, along a small but plucky band of enthusiastic (foolhardy?) volunteers.
Over the coming months, we intend to add additional sections to the journal, reminiscent of ‘pinned posts’ or wiki articles, on topics that broadly correlate with serious philosophical speculation. For instance, we plan to build a comprehensive bibliography of ‘artefacts’ (the above-mentioned fictional non-fiction) and will invite readers to flag up any titles we might have missed.
We have few illusions, for we are pragmatic idealists. This site exists as a labour of love and generates no form of income. But if we can gradually gather a core of readers and writers who are ‘into’ this niche and wish to engage in an exchange of ideas and inspiration through stories, articles and frank discussion in the comment sections, it will have already been worth it. For in the cacophony of the world, we will have found each other.
P.S.: Our heartfelt thanks go out to the crew who made this first edition possible (you may read more about them in the About section of the website) and the authors of fiction and articles who had so generously contributed original work to support the journal’s revival. You are awesome!
Congratulations on the relaunch of Sci Phi Journal. I know how hard you must have worked to ready this vessel, which looks superb and has assembled a sturdy crew. Allow yourself some moments of pleasure when you discover fellow travellers who share your adopted mission. We are all richer if fiction is used to convey challenging ideas, and to transport us beyond current preoccupations, taking us to realms that afford us a different perspective. Bon voyage aux étoiles and godspeed in your journey to new speculative domains!
Thanks, Ray, it would not have been possible without you, and the work you had put in at the helm throughout 2017! Long may we… float 🙂