I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating: at the end of a summer at the Center for the Study of Science Fiction’s Short Fiction Workshop I sat in a Thai restaurant talking with four new friends. We had read and commented on each other’s work for weeks, had discussions over meals before, and all of us were curious what we should do next. We talked about the things we liked about the CSSF and how we could apply those ideals to future projects. In that discussion, we brought up the idea of forming a writer collectives, making a small vanity press, or starting our own magazine.
The CSSF and its educational outreach program, AboutSF, helps writers learn not only the rules of the genre but how to craft a great story. The workshops and the Intensive Institute that studies the literature of the field examine speculative fiction in depth. The CSSF provides scholars and teachers ways to science fiction and fantasy sources to their academic work and their lesson plans. What we didn’t have was a good place to display the results of these programs. That was the niche we wanted to fill, to become the place for the writers and scholars who worked with the CSSF to share their work with the world. In the process, we decided to open our submissions to everyone who cared to join in—after all, this is a genre best served by diverse viewpoints.
Why does the world need another sf/f magazine? Why is it important to have yet another place where a group of people talk about ideas, imagination, and things that probably aren’t possible but add wonder to our lives?
Because right now, we live in the future. In many parts of this world, the majority of the population carries supercomputers in their pockets, human beings can control prosthetic limbs with their thoughts, and we receive high-quality images from Mars, the moons of Saturn, and Pluto even as I write this. The world changes ever more rapidly, and we need as many places as possible to hold the conversations about what this means for us as a people. We need to encourage more research into how the speculative fiction genre has helped us prepare for this era, and what we’re hoping (or fearing) will happen in the future.
There are always challenges when starting a new project, and that original idea was modified over time. Our volunteer staff remained remarkably stable over the years, and while we weren’t able to publish as often as we wanted, we were proud of the previous issues of James Gunn’s Ad Astra. However, we’ve also known that we needed to change things, to make the magazine grow and expand its reach. We have many dreams that we want to fulfill, from paying full SFWA rates to publishing several times a year.
I’ve come to the conclusion that while these four issues have been a good start, we need to make many changes in order to achieve our goals. This includes a change at the top. I’m pleased to announce that the next Editor of James Gunn’s Ad Astra will be Jean Asselin, who has contributed scholarly essays in issues 1 and 3 of this magazine, and is a thoughtful and passionate fan of science fiction. To smooth the transition, I will help Jean as his Assistant Editor for the next issue. I’ll leave it to Jean to introduce the rest of his editorial staff and his vision, when he sees fit.
Thank you for joining us on this journey through the Science Fiction Now. Wait until you see what comes next.