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Editorial

Sci Phi Journal 2021/3 – Autumn Issue for Download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2021 Autumn issue of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

We are also looking into more eReader-friendly formats for future releases.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2021/3

Lectori salutem.

As summer turns to autumn in the Northern hemisphere, and the global doom and gloom of ever new pandemic variants roll on, it is easy to forget that once upon a time speculative fiction had a utopian calling. The “scientific romance”, as it was often called in the 19th century, sought to entertain, of course, but also to illuminate the reader and whisk them away to a better future. A future that is separated from the present not only by time, but by Progress writ large.

While contemporary SF tends to succumb to the temptation of merely projecting present challenges onto a date set later than our own, classic speculation took the liberty to invent futures both whimsically and radically different from the author’s world. What more, these imaginary realms were oftentimes presented as aspirational – more appealing than the reader’s own reality. Alas, with the exception of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek (and possibly Iain M. Banks’ Culture), one has to think hard to name any widely-known current SF universe one would actually like to inhabit.

While grittiness seems the dominant narrative mode of present-day sci-fi, there are utopian currents within the genre that offer relief from these dark overtones. One such stream is the emerging sub-genre perhaps best labelled as “solarpunk”.

You may have noticed our slightly different cover this quarter. It is the work of Belgian artist Dustin Jacobus, and seeks to convey at a glance some of the solution-oriented optimism that typifies solarpunk. But don’t take our word for it. In his essay, Eric Hunting offers a more substantial introduction to the resolutely positive outlook of this sub-genre.

David Kyle Johnson and Mina also return with fascinating essays on SF philosophy and speculative linguistics, respectively. And our autumn issue is, of course, filled with a band of stories ranging wide from humans wishing to make good impressions on invading aliens, to extra-terrestrial visitors who don’t at all seem interested in Earthlings.

Speculatively yours,

the SPJ co-editors & crew

~

2021 Thematic Issue of Sci Phi Journal for Download as PDF

Our annual thematic issue, this year dedicated to xeno-anthropology and the ends of the universe from entropy to eschatology, is now available for reading on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the entire summer 2021 edition of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

We are also looking into more eReader-friendly formats for future releases.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2021/2

Lectori salutem.

It’s been said that God is not a pacifist.

That certainly rings true when contemplating matter and anti-matter annihilating each other after the Big Bang or the not-quite-peaceful manner in which cosmic matter collides and the dust of long-dead celestial bodies serves as the building material for new ones. Explosive reactions drive astrophysical processes, and the competition between species, tribes, cultures, corporations, sports clubs and SF franchises serves as the basic catalyst for evolution.

If we really think about it, doesn’t it rightly inspire awe that our ancestors have come up against the universe and survived long enough to give rise to us? And if we came to be here, might there not be others out there, too? But for how long?

These are the questions we explore in this year’s special thematic issue. What follows is an anthology of 14 hand-picked original stories scouting the frontiers of xeno-anthropology (the speculative study of extra-terrestrial ways of life) and the potential ends of the world (even the universe) as we know it.

We had enormous fun curating this selection for your reading (and day-dreaming) pleasure, and sincerely hope you enjoy the journey.

Speculatively yours,

the SPJ co-editors & crew

Sci Phi Journal 2021/1 – Spring Issue for Download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2021 Spring issue of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

We are also looking into more eReader-friendly formats for future releases.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2021/1

Lectori salutem.

Science-fiction, like any drama with existential implications, is better read from the safety of a couch than ‘lived’. This is felt all the more keenly by some on the editorial team and SPJ crew who once again experienced the life-affirming miracle of becoming parents in the weeks leading up to the present issue going to press.

Alas, as we continue to drift through the interminable litany of Belgium’s precipitous spring days, we may grow accustomed to look at the world outside our immediate bubble, mediated through artifices like the news, connected devices and (anti-)social media, as real but distant. Something in which we no longer partake, but digest with the same receptors we use for reading fiction. Lest we become saturated with the vicarious tedium that is Terra in 2021, let us therefore cast our mental eyes, if not away from the screen or paper, at least to subjects far from present concerns.

We promise you that our first issue this year will be entirely free of pandemics and untainted by the arcane politics of former British colonies across the Atlantic[1]. We like dystopian plague tales and discussing elections as much as anyone, but in order to renovate our mental furniture dulled by yesteryear’s gloom, we have hand-picked every tale in this issue with a view to amuse, to divert, perchance to fuel daydreams (or nightmares).

Our stories and essays (and the grey zones between them) range from the sacred to the profane, in styles from the epistolary to the challenging. Like every first issue of the year, the line-up closes with a story penned by our co-editor Ádám reflecting, as usual, on some specific niche concept we rarely see addressed in submissions.

Encouraged by the positive reception of our 2020 thematic anthology issue on immortality, we are happy to announce that we’ll be publishing another one in June 2021, this time dedicated to ‘xeno-anthropology and the end(s) of the universe’. Thereafter, Sci Phi Journal will be open for submissions again in July, so if you’d like to read more from specific authors, encourage them to keep sending us their work!

Stay safe, speculatively yours,

the co-editors


[1] Absolutely no offence intended! We just really cannot bear to read yet another story riffing on the finer points of North American governance. Let’s broaden horizons! If you want fictional elections, why not set them on the Faroese Islands for a change, or in an alt-history Babylonian Republic, or on Alpha Centauri?

Sci Phi Journal 2020/4 – Winter Issue for Download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2020 Winter issue of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

We are looking into an eReader-friendly format for future releases.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2020/4

Lectori salutem.

Imagine, if you wish, 2020 as lived through the eyes of a science-fiction editor.

Over the past twelve months, across a landscape composed of pages, paragraphs and phrases, we could almost ‘watch’ the mental foci of the SF writing community shift as a seismographic imprint of real-world preoccupations. This was quite a sight to behold and we were privileged to keep a finger, as gently as we could, on the pulse of the collective intelligence of those who enjoy thinking about the future. This current issue of Sci Phi Journal offers what we hope is an interesting selection of though-provoking and challenging pieces that stray from the most prevalent concerns of the age and explore less frequently covered mysteries – in tones ranging from grim to perky.

Global issues like the COVID crisis affect regions of the world, and various strata of society therein, differently – this is also true for the invisible fellowship of writers. We are a European publication, but given that we select pieces to publish purely based on their literary and conceptual merit (i.e. no quotas or ‘brownie points’ of any kind), the majority of our authors hail from the Anglosphere. That is fine – even natural, perhaps. However, a side-effect is that we see a preponderance of ideological concerns permeating many of the stories submitted to us that are specific to the former or present constituent parts of the British Empire, and thus fairly alien to the psyche of continental Old Worlders like ourselves.

In order to widen the diversity of fixations, prejudices, biases and other perfectly normal human proclivities represented, and to provide some guidance on future submissions, we are adding a page to our guidelines (an “index of heresies”) specifying what we’d prefer to encounter less often in works sent to us for review. For inspiring this section, we owe a debt of gratitude to ‘role models’ provided by excellent sites such as Metaphorosis and Strange Horizons, even if the content and stylistic preferences espoused therein differ markedly from ours.

We also continue to update the ever-expanding Fictional Non-Fiction bibliography and encourage you to send us further recommendations for works in English as well as other languages (and please don’t take it personally if we happen to disagree with some of them on grounds of genre definition).

Stay safe, speculatively yours,

the co-editors

#

ps: While most of the SPJ crew lead rather old-school, analogue lives, we are following the advice of a couple of kind readers to re-animate the Journal’s Twitter account from its long cryogenic slumber. If you wish to support our authors by sharing (re-tweeting?) their work, you may do so by following @sciphijournal (which we are told is not a hashtag, but an account handle, apparently).

~

Sci Phi Journal 2020/3 – Autumn Issue for Download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2020 autumn issue of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2020/3

Lectori salutem.

Sometimes it really feels like we had fallen asleep in a normal, mundane universe, and somehow woken up on the wrong side of the alternate continuum. While the real Earth no doubt continues its spinning trajectory unaware of our predicament, the SPJ crew seems to have been trapped on a mirror planet slowly slipping into dystopia. Our day-jobs in international organisations forced us to witness the partial unravelling of the utopian multilateral order, while the world’s great cities continue to be wrecked by lockdowns and riots.

While we are trying to figure out which grimdark SF series’ prequel we find ourselves in, we wish to distract ourselves (and hopefully our readers) by bringing you our autumn issue, packed with thought-provoking and sometimes challenging content.

Our offering of speculative vistas ranges from the satirical to the outright macabre, from theology and world-building to chilling works of fictional non-fiction. These are accented by wholesome geekiness in the form of an essay by Mina on science-fiction in audio drama and an op-ed by co-editor Mariano on horizontal totalitarianism in real and imagined forms.

We firmly believe that controversy is the catalyst for progress, and that there can be no future worth living in without freedom of thought and expression. So while in numerous parts of the world, from Belarus to China, from North Korea to the United States, fundamental liberties like the freedom of speech are curtailed in overt or implicit ways, and the range and diversity of politically acceptable views narrows by the month, we shall continue as a peaceful waystation along the galactic highway, nestled in the heart of Europe, to provide a home for discourse and experimentation that push the limits of SFF. “May a hundred flowers bloom!”

Speculatively yours,

the co-editors

#

ps: While most of the SPJ crew leads rather old-school, analogue lives, we are following the advice of a couple of kind readers to re-animate the Journal’s Twitter account from its long cryogenic slumber. If you wish to support our authors by sharing (re-tweeting?) their work, you may do so by following @sciphijournal (which we are told is not a hashtag, but an account handle, apparently).

~

Sci Phi Journal 2020/2 – Summer Issue for download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2020 summer issue of Sci Phi Journal in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

~

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2020/2

Lectori salutem.

As our European home base is emerging from the clutches of the pandemic (or at least its first wave), we hope that our readers, authors and their loved ones have weathered the storm in good health and high spirits.

We resume our standard format this quarter, but given the doom and gloom of recent months, we try to add a cheerful touch this time, with quite a few stories that strike a light-hearted cord. These are punctuated by three essays, each courting controversy in their own particular way; be it the relationship between faith and science fiction, the dearth of SFF translations from languages other than English, or a timely reflection on pandemics as depicted in the sci-phi canon.

During the spring, we had received a record number of submissions – a welcome development, which we, however, ascribe to the unfortunate circumstances of the global lockdown. Solitude is good for literature, it seems.

The rules of social distancing also meant that the crew availed themselves of the opportunity to spend more time with their families, while doing their day jobs (and reviewing submitted stories) confined to their library armchairs. Co-editor Ádám marvelled time and again at the manner in which the world that to him seemed to be closing in, was at the same time opening up for his little daughter, barely three years old, who is at the age when the mere shadow of a cloud on the balcony is ripe with speculative possibilities.

In a way, science fiction (and sci-phi in particular) is a genre that at its core sets out to inspire in readers that same inclination towards subliminal wonder, as if seeing a new phenomenon through the eyes of a child. May we never lose our ability to revel in this playfulness of the human mind!

Speculatively yours,

the co-editors

#

ps: While most of the SPJ crew leads rather old-school, analogue lives, we are following the advice of a couple of kind readers to re-animate the Journal’s Twitter account from its long cryogenic slumber. If you wish to support our authors by sharing (re-tweeting?) their work, you may do so by following @sciphijournal (which we are told is not a hashtag, but an account handle, apparently).

~

The Immortality issue – Sci Phi Journal 2020/1 for download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the special 2020 spring issue of Sci Phi Journal dedicated to the theme of immortality in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2020/1

Lectori salutem.

As we enter the second year since the relaunch of SPJ and encourage our readership to retreat into cosy bubbles of isolation to avoid the looming spread of a ‘novel’ contagion*, it is sobering to contemplate that we are protagonists (or, at the very least, extras) in a major SF scenario.

At the time of writing, your co-editors are hunkering down to witness epic, planetary-scale medical speculative fiction unfolding in front of our eyes. Fortunately, for the time being, the events are mostly mediated by our screens, ensuring a distance akin to that of a reader to words on a page. Or to the dispassion wherewith an immortal being would regard the morbid curiosity of death (c.f. Brian Stableford’s now-classic “Mortimer Gray’s History of Death”).

Which brings us to our first departure from the usual mixture of speculative essays and challenging fiction. The Q1 issue of 2020 is made up entirely of short stories, all clustered around the theme of immortality, and various antitheses thereof, from legislating a timely death to erasing one’s memory from the bookshelves of history. These were selected from a rich spectrum of submissions, and we note with relief that more and more authors ‘get’ the conceptual narrative and world-building approaches to speculative fiction, and particularly the fictional non-fiction (FNF) subgenre we strive to cultivate.

The time of the fabled spring clean will be upon us soon, and fittingly our plans for 2020 include completing the process of making archived digital content from SPJ’s previous incarnations available, which had previously languished behind a subscription or paywall, and strive to clean up the tags and category markers across the site.

Coinciding with the 2020Q1 issue is an update of our FNF bibliography, which we intend to continue expanding, grateful as always for further recommendations. We might explore the possibility of another thematic issue later during the year (depending on our means), but also hope to continue our series of articles on speculative fiction in less well-known regional literary markets. If you speak a language that is, perhaps due to lack of exposure or translations into English, less accessible to the international public, and feel inclined to write about the state of SF in that milieu, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Stay safe, memento mori.

Speculatively yours,

the co-editors

~

* In reference to the virus carrying the ‘novel’ epithet, we wish to reiterate our long-held opposition to fat literature.

Sci Phi Journal 2019/4 for download as PDF

Some of us like to read our seasonal dose of speculative fiction and articles on trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the 2019 winter issue of Sci Phi Journal in its entirety, in a printer-friendly PDF layout.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2019/4

Alas, one cannot shake the feeling that it is not entirely appropriate for a publication dedicated to SF, a genre most commonly associated with the future, to avert its gaze towards the sentimentality of the path already travelled. Yet with the approach of the festive season, we permit ourselves this small indulgence.

Thus as we mark the relaunched Sci Phi Journal completing its first year, we wish to use this opportunity to thank you for your continued readership and the kind expressions of support we have received throughout 2019.

In this winter issue, we are delighted to once again offer you an unconventional selection of original fiction, essays as well as a translation of an obscure gem of contemporary European spec fic. What more, this edition accompanies an important step forward for the Journal, one that has been in preparation for quite some while.

The SPJ site is unveiling a major new feature as a culmination of several years of research work by co-editor Mariano: an extensive, living bibliography of our favourite stylistic sub-genre, Fictional Non-Fiction. In its present state, the index runs to a printed length of about 80 pages, and Mariano does not conceal his ambition to make it as complete as possible. For that, we invite your help to expand it by writing to us or posting suggestions in the comment section. We hope that with time the FNF List will grow to serve as a valuable resource for all scholars and readers interested in this rigorous, concept-driven mode of writing.

The entire SPJ team thank you for your companionship along the journey in 2019 and look forward to sailing forth into 2020 to bring you more cutting-edge philosophical speculation.

We wish all our readers, authors and contributors a merry Christmas and an auspicious start into 2020!

Speculatively yours,

the co-editors

~