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Sci Phi Journal

Sci Phi Journal 2023/4 – Winter Issue For Download

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of speculative philosophy printed on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but no less trusty screen of your e-reader, go ahead and download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope our mélange of concept-driven literary curiosities and thought-provoking essays will serve as a cosy read for the winter months!

Enjoy the trip,

the Sci Phi crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2023/4

Lectori salutem.

Welcome to our 2023 Winter edition.

How time flies! T’is the fifth instance already that we write these words of introduction against the background of the Advent season, with Sinterklaas celebrations in Belgium and preparations afoot for Christmas and its sibling yuletide holidays.

“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.”

The above lines are quoted verbatim from the first winter editorial we had penned as co-editors back in 2019 – in a world before COVID-19, war on Europe’s Eastern frontier and the advent of generative AI. It almost feels like an alternate reality to our own.

Yet, undeterred, Sci Phi Journal’s present issue intends to do just that – transport you to alternate realities which, even if they do not always take themselves entirely seriously, provide ample food for thought and, may we say, speculation. The original fiction created by our merry band of authors range from mathematical and theological conundrums to legal fantasy and epic world-building, complimented by another hitherto unpublished imaginary city by Săsărman. The selection is rounded off by two essays on the relationship between science-fiction and music, and the narrative potential of strategic (war)games, respectively.

So it appears befitting to recourse back to our erstwhile editorial in order to quote its parting words (with merely the markers of time removed):

“The entire team thanks you for your companionship along the journey and looks forward to sailing forth to bring you more cutting-edge philosophical speculation.

We wish all our readers, authors and contributors a merry Christmas and an auspicious start into the New Year!”

So say we all.

Speculatively yours,

the Sci Phi co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2023/3 – Autumn Issue For Download

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of speculative philosophy printed on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but no less trusty screen of your e-reader, go ahead and download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope our mélange of concept-driven literary curiosities and thought-provoking essays will serve as a cosy read for the autumn months!

Enjoy the trip,

the Sci Phi crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2023/3

Lectori salutem.

Welcome to our 2023 Autumn edition.

As summer gives way to fall in the northern hemisphere, several members of the crew watch their children start primary school and set out to accompany them on the journey of “learning the world” (to borrow an SF title). The awe experienced by youth in encountering the countless novelties still in store for them can often inspire a yearning for a renewed taste of the same in those more advanced in years. In the ‘golden age’, that quest was once seen as the prime mover of speculative fiction. And it is that same ‘Sense of Wonder’ which, in their various tiny ways, our stories and articles seek to explore this time around.

Both essays featured in this issue navigate the publishing landscape and editorial currents prevalent in the SF of the past and present, respectively, and the striving for novel angles on well-worn themes which sought to offer readers something new to think about with each turn of the page. We hope that in the ten works of fiction that form the body of this quarterly edition, every curious mind will find the odd bit to ponder. As often in this publication, they span the breadth of time from the Earth of antiquity to the Dyson-clad suns of the far future.

Excursions off the beaten track are, of course, not always welcome in this day and age. The story “A Rejection” resonated in particular with co-editor Mariano owing to his experience of having his research paper on non-heterosexual utopias rejected out of hand (i.e. without peer review) by a leading journal in the field of gay studies, for he had unearthed works of fiction which do not cleave to currently accepted orthodoxy. For more on this, see also his previous article on peer-enforced intellectual conformity, c.f. horizontal totalitarianism.

In a rebellious vein, we also resume the publication of the “missing” chapters from Georghe Săsărman’s imaginary cities – those that had not been available in English thus far. This time we include the most controversial, which Ursula Le Guin had declined to include when she translated the Romanian SF master’s urban fantasy flash cycle. The story is brought to life here through Monica Cure’s skilful English translation.

Enjoy the ride!

Speculatively yours,

the Sci Phi co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2023/2 – Summer Issue For Download

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of speculative philosophy printed on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but similarly trusty screen of your e-reader, go ahead and download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope our mélange of concept-driven literary curiosities and thought-provoking essays will serve as a cosy read for the summer holidays!

Enjoy the trip,

the Sci Phi crew

~

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2023/2

Lectori salutem.

Welcome to our 2023 Summer edition.

While the spring had started quietly, to our surprise this turned out to be another bumper issue, containing ten original short stories loosely arranged around two themes: the possibility of communication (and the lack thereof) between different forms of intelligence, and the lore, history and mythology humans tend to build around concepts both real (wine, for instance) and fantastical (such as magical artefacts).

We are also featuring three essays which, each in their own way, tie into the ideas mentioned above, by examining works of fiction that deal with these issues in both written and audio-visual media.

The Sci Phi editors and team have also had some serious conversations with fellow SF practitioners and friends of speculation on the potential near-future impact of machine-generated literary and artistic content. We have come to the conclusion that, for now, we simply don’t know how to predict the extent to which the blanket deployment of these novel technologies will displace or empower individual creativity – there will likely be instances of both in equal measure.

Sci Phi Journal is not against the use of “artificial intelligence” as an expressive tool, per se, and even if we were, the tide of progress would merely wash over our objections. However, for the time being, we would like to hang on to the aspect of speculative fiction that brought us to this genre in the first place: the companionship of wonder. Communing with the visionary mind of the human author behind a story or artwork, and then engaging in rapt discussions with fellow fans to tease out the underlying ideas: these are some of the supreme pleasures of SF.

Therefore, until further notice, we will continue to publish only writing and illustrations wrought by human hand, harking back to the aesthetics of the pre-AI era.

This may or may not be wise. Time will tell. Meanwhile, enjoy the ride!

Speculatively yours,

the Sci Phi co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2023/1 – Spring Issue For Download

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of Speculative Philosophy printed on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but similarly trusty screen of your e-reader, go ahead and download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope our mélange of concept-driven literary curiosities will serve as a cosy and thought-provoking read for the balmy days of spring!

Enjoy the trip,

the Sci Phi crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2023/1

Lectori salutem.

Members of the Sci Phi Journal crew started the year quick on their feet, roaming the world in search of inspiration and interesting conversation partners. Co-editor Mariano continued his quest for rarities deserving to be more widely known; some of his latest discoveries are reported in a comprehensive paper on early Latin European high fantasy published in our scholarly sister journal Hélice. Meanwhile, his colleague Ádám was particularly touched by the warm welcome extended to him by futurist Taiyo Fujii and Hirotaka Osawa, chairman of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of Japan. Over many a steaming bowl of tea under the arching bookshelves of Sarugakuchō’s still surviving Tsutaya bookstore, they lamented the fading art of traditional publishing – an industry that, like most creative sectors, finds itself caught between the dual pressures of automation fuelled by artificial intelligence, on the one hand, and various strands of ideologies intent on curbing the freedom of expression, on the other.

Some things, though, remain unchanged. This latest issue of Sci Phi Journal carries on its old-school mission of bringing you stories ranging the width of speculative philosophy, from contemplative theology to light-hearted flights of fancy – all written and illustrated by actual humans.

Apropos fancy. When faced with the rise of censorious tendencies in print and online, we couldn’t help but commit the following ditty to paper:

Once upon a time in Cacophonia,
All words were equal and free to fret,
Till the ruckus offended the arbiters
Who put a speedy end to that.

In their terabytes of wisdom, they
Separated Bad talk from the Good,
Banished the former to naughty corners
Lest further dissonance be afoot.

Four-letter words were first to go,
For they make innocent maidens blush.
Then came jabs, jokes, and teases,
And detractors were told to “hush”.

Soon it was frowned upon to question,
To query, per change to moot.
The mavens wanted harmony, thus
Unruly thoughts were given the boot.

The naughty corners grew and grew.
Few Good words were left to abide,
And they eavesdropped longingly on
Lively banter from the unapproved side…

Speculatively yours,

the Sci Phi co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2022/4 – Winter Issue For Download

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of Speculative Philosophy printed on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but similarly trusty screen of your e-reader, go ahead and download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope our mélange of concept-driven literary curiosities will serve as a cosy and thought-provoking read for the winter holidays!

Enjoy the trip,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2022/4

Lectori salutem.

As 2022 is drawing to a close, the wider world will no doubt pause and ponder the events of the past twelve months – some of which, like the return of full-scale military conflict to the European continent, would have been considered science fiction just a year ago. But those of us drawn to future-bound speculation will also remark on the heady mix of technological developments that burst into the collective consciousness and may have an epoch-defining impact on creative domains formerly considered the dominion of humans.

Our cover image reflects one such phenomenon: the rise of AI art. The picture gracing the Journal’s front page is still entirely hand-drawn, yet its creator, Dustin Jacobus, contemplates in an op-ed that which may be lost all too soon with the advent of machine art.

Mindful of the warm glow of Christmas and its associated winter holidays, though, the present issue is filled with the otherworldly and wry, even humorous side of spec fic, though not without darker, more menacing tones lurking between the lines. Staples of sci-fi and fantasy make an appearance, from AIs to elves, rubbing shoulders with alien artefacts and furry critters, intertwined with visions of alternate realities and the afterlife.

Such mixed omens seem to colour discussions also at European sci-fi gatherings. Most recently, our co-editor Mariano presented Sci Phi Journal and our sister publication, Revista Hélice, during last month’s SF convention in Barcelona at a round table on the relationship between fandom and academia. With the two journals seeking to serve as a bridge between both uplifting and light-hearted speculation as well as serious academic thought about SF and philosophy, it was remarked that the genre itself is straddling both modes of thought, frequently oscillating between pessimism and euphoria.

To continue the conversation, you may wish to catch fellow co-editor Ádám at the first instalment of #AskTheEditors, a new series of live web meetings with a rotating panel of sci-fi & fantasy magazine editors, where (as the title suggests) the audience is encouraged to pepper the virtual podium with questions. The inaugural episode is scheduled for Saturday, 7 January 2023 at 17h00 Central European Time (contemporary with 08h00 Pacific Standard Time).

But for the present, we extend Christmas greetings to all our fellow SF readers and practitioners, and hope that the New Year will bring us closer to, rather than further from, Utopia.

Speculatively yours,

the SPJ co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2022/3 – Autumn Issue For Download

Sci Phi Journal‘s 2022 Autumn Issue features another glorious cover art by Utopia Award finalist Dustin Jacobus and our customary melange of speculative philosophical fiction and essays off the beaten track.

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of SFF on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but similarly trusty screen of your e-reader, you can download your free PDF copy just below.

We hope you enjoy the trip,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2022/3

Lectori salutem.

More by happenstance than by assertion of intent, our Autumn 2022 issue features stories that circumnavigate themes of language and perception, both at individual and anthropological levels, as these tend to gravitate towards each other on our editing desks. Sometimes, ideas seem to exert a mutual pull of attraction on the platonic plain, and we are but swept along.

This time around, our imaginary voyages shall range from the ancient past (incl. Sasarman’s classic Isopolis, hitherto unpublished in English), via alternate interpretations of the present reality we live in, to reports of future leaps of human evolution and far-flung planets with societies very different from our own.

A common concern amidst these tales is that how we perceive our relationship to our environs, our predicament in life, or our station within the wider community, is a substantive determining factor in a person’s picture of reality – even independently of external, material circumstances. It is hard to conceive of concepts we do not have words for. Thus, it can be uncomfortable to be made to think outside the “box” – or the dictionary. But language (as well as technology) can also be used as conduits to reprogramme minds, if the stimuli involved are sufficiently pervasive and persistent.

In this vein, our co-editor Mariano had recently returned from an immersive linguistic expedition of his own in the Swiss canton of Graubünden (or Grischun in local Rhaeto-Romance parlance), home to the speakers of Romansh. Having sufficiently recovered from his language lessons, he is now ready to publish his findings on the fantastic and speculative fiction that thrives with surprising vigour within that arcane literary corpus. Mina is also back with an essay on “proper and improper monsters,” exploring the shades of differences along the spectrum that spans from Frankenstein to futuristic cyborgs.

And as always, we thank you for your continued support on this journey of epistemic exploration – all aboard!

Speculatively yours,

the SPJ co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal 2022/2 – Summer Issue for Download as PDF

Sci Phi Journal‘s 2022 Summer Issue comes out hot on heels of this nerdy publication winning the European Award for Best SF Magazine – and it’s brimming with more off-beat essays and speculative philosophical fiction than ever.

If you like to peruse your seasonal dose of SFF on trusty old paper, or the slightly less old, but similarly trusty screen of your e-reader, you can download your free PDF copy just below.

Enjoy,

the SPJ crew

Editorial – Sci Phi Journal 2022/2

Lectori salutem.

We write these words humbled by the developments of recent months. When word was sent, back in April, that Sci Phi Journal would be an award finalist at EuroCon, the annual gathering of the European SF family, it was more than we had ever thought possible for our exceptionally nerdy sub-genre: speculative philosophy (or “sci phi”).

Indeed, we’d have been happy to make the journey to Luxembourg simply to commune with like-minded (and, even more so, with contrarian) readers and other members of fandom, and render our homage unto the eventual laureates.

You may then imagine our astonishment when, at a dramatic moment during the ceremony, the announcement came for the Best SF Magazine award and the Sci Phi logo appeared on the mighty overhead screen, emblazoned over the grand auditorium. The conférencier had to call us out twice before we were able to arise, such was our surprise.

Unbeknownst to us, over the course of the convention weekend, the assembly of the European Science Fiction Society (ESFS) had voted to elevate Sci Phi Journal into the “hall of fame” of European SF. In the tapestry of our continent’s speculative literature, where much of each country’s output and nominations are (understandably) specific to their linguistic island, it was a rare moment to have an award bestowed upon an English-language magazine, published in Belgium, cross-nominated by Hungary, and run by a ragtag crew ranging from Malaysia to Spain.

Thus, in line with the sentiment we sought to express in our improvised acceptance speech, we hope for this award to be the pylon of a bridge. One little piece in a chain of many links to bring Europe’s fragmented literary and publishing landscape closer together. And a source of encouragement for the endeavours of authors and thinkers, who seek to tell timeless (rather than timely) stories, for whom speculative fiction is more than just literary entertainment or public activism, but rather an epic tool for philosophical enquiry.

To avail ourselves of an oft abused word: we feel that this once-in-a-lifetime award “validates” the editorial approach that Sci Phi Journal stands for. A respect for classic rhetorical standards; carefully guarded intellectual independence; and a commitment to keep our little bit of literature unshackled from the fashionable agendas of the day.

Much to our delight, the journey doesn’t end here. At the start of summer, Dustin Jacobus was shortlisted for a 2022 Utopia Award in recognition of his work on our cover art, in addition to another nomination in the non-fiction category (citing Eric Hunting’s essay “On Solarpunk”).

Onward, then! Let us carry the torch further still into the twilit corridors of the Library of Babel

Speculatively yours,

the SPJ co-editors & crew

~

Sci Phi Journal wins 2022 European Award for Best SF Magazine!

We are stunned and speechless – though still just about able to type! 🙂

At the 2022 EuroCon in Dudelange, Luxembourg, the European Science Fiction Society (ESFS) voted to honour Sci Phi Journal with the Hall of Fame Award for Best SF Magazine.

This is a fantastic moment for our all-volunteer crew and for the Journal’s mission to bring high-quality, concept-driven, philosophical SF from Europe and beyond to a world-wide audience.

We thank our authors, illustrators and readers from the heart for having shared this journey with us since our re-launch in 2018. And we thank you for your continued support for our non-profit publication and its commitment to offer semi-pro financial recognition to both established and emerging SF authors for their work.

Check our the list of all Award recipients across 12 categories for a flavour of the richness and diversity of European SF in all its contemporary glory!

THANK YOU – WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU!

~

Sci Phi Journal 2022/1 – Alternate History Issue for Download as PDF

Our annual thematic issue, this year dedicated to uchronia (alternate pasts and their futures), is now available for reading on screen as well as trusty old paper.

For your convenience, here you can download the entire spring 2022 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

~

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