Meet the Editor

Posted by Niall Harrison

To mark the publication of her anthology Beyond Binary, Brit Mandelo has got a couple of interviews out: one at Autostraddle, and a long three-part conversation with Nicola Griffith: one, two, three. From the Autostraddle interview:

What draws you to speculative fiction in general, and queer speculative fiction specifically?

I think the thing I love most about speculative fiction, the thing that's drawn me to it since I was young, is the sheer range of possibilities that it represents: anything you can imagine, you can also make real. The constraints of daily life are erased, or reinterpreted. The potential for social criticism, for pushing boundaries and exploring new ways of being, is built into the very machinery of speculative fiction.

That's also part and parcel, I think, with why there's so much queer SF and feminist SF. Joanna Russ, a lesbian-feminist SF critic, once argued in an essay called "What Can a Heroine Do?" that "science fiction […] provides myths for dealing with the kind of experiences we are actually having now, instead of the literary myths we have inherited, which only tell us about the kinds of experiences we think we ought to be having." In her view, traditional fictional structures are so imbued with heterosexist, patriarchal assumptions that it is difficult, if not impossible, for women and queer folks to appropriate them for use. Instead, being able to write stories where we use our own voices to represent our own worlds and lives — that was the ticket. And speculative fiction is a major way to do that, because you can totally rewrite the rules of the world that we live in right now. I definitely think that's true of the stories that I chose for Beyond Binary; they're all deeply involved with issues of self-definition and — often explicitly though also implicitly — social criticism.

(And yes, she talks a bit about SH as well!)