The easiest part of being Reprints Editor is knowing that other editors have loved all the submissions, and each one has passed that first (or second or third) set of eyes before it came to me.
It’s also the hardest part. So many wonderful stories. So much lovely writing, strong characterization, ingenious worldbuilding. And I can’t take them all. I could have accepted a dozen, but I only had room for two (with sincerest thanks to those Kickstarter backers who pushed the campaign so far above its original goal that there could be two instead of one).
In the end, I chose two stories that spoke clearly to me about disability, but in very different ways. Both are written from the heart, from lived experience. Both are powerful and evocative and beautifully written.
SL Huang’s near-future science fiction story, “By Degrees and Dilatory Time,” is deceptively quiet, dispassionate, as it details the process of adapting to an adult-onset disability and the assistive devices that will, as best they can, replace what the protagonist has lost. It’s a tour de force of subtle emotional impact, and it struck me as deeply true in its arc and outcome. Yes, I thought as I read and reread it. Yes, this is how it feels.
“Listen,” by Karin Tidbeck, forays into the far future, into a universe full of the descendants of human diaspora. In structure and theme it’s classic science fiction: strange new worlds, characters both familiar and alien, diplomats and translators and the founding of colonies. Tidbeck takes all of these elements and transforms them into something rich and strange—but still profoundly and poignantly human.
In both of these works, disability is integral to the story. There is no story without it. It’s not played as tragedy or as inspiration porn. It just is, and the story is about how one lives with it, adapts to it and makes the world work in and through it.
Huang’s and Tidbeck’s stories stayed with me long after I read them, and made me want very much to share them with a new set of readers. I’m pleased and honored to present them here. I hope they speak as clearly and powerfully to you as they did to me.
© 2018 by Judith Tarr