Hello, we’re back.
It’s been a rough year for humanity and a rougher year for our planet and all of the species who live in it. We’ve seen more than one species go extinct and the decimation of natural habitats. In such a year, it’s unsurprising that authors and folklorists alike will mull over the collective fate of humanity, and so these resonances may be discerned this year’s issue of Truancy.
Truancy 5 features all-original short stories and poems which glisten with moonlight reflected on hard shiny surfaces, with dangerous exits and departures, with invocations of the divine feminine across cultures and geographies — and is possibly one of the most international editions of Truancy. It also marks the rejuvenation of Truancy which is now a semipro-rates paying venue.
First up is a fiery story from Jennifer R. Donohue, The Glint of Light on Broken Glass, the first of two stories which features the Moon in her various guises. This is a story that caused a frog to lodge in my throat when I read it because of the luminous prose and the strength of the narrative. Next is an elegant and incandescent revision of “The Little Match Girl”, Matchstick Reveries by Rajiv Moté. We move from one childhood favorite to another, Hamilton Kohl’s witty and delightful Departures in Treacle, featuring characters from the Alice in Wonderland books in a new caper.
The next two short stories exemplify the themes that underscore ecological concerns. Amal Singh’s Waiting for Karaga is a tale centered upon the Karaga festival in Bangalore, a striking fable that weaves folklore with ecological concerns that strike at the heart of our collective Anthropocenic anxieties. D.A. Xiaolin Spires’s Lips turned Moonlight, Hair Turned Soft Regolith is a punchy re-envisioning of the legend of Chang’E that has layers of resonances and contexts, and which a strong narrative voice. Again, Spires’s narrative captures our ecological anxieties in this age of the Anthropocene and it’s striking to me the ways in which our connection to folklore intersects with our collective anxieties in relation to the survival of our species and of our planet. I’m hoping to see more tales that display this ethos in future editions of Truancy.
The three poems selected contain resonances of the sacred and the esoteric within the re-envisioning of cosmology and folklore. We open with Hal Y. Zhang’s sky king toast, a contemporary retelling of a Chinese creation myth, followed by Deborah Davitt’s subversive adaptation of Jorinde and Joringel, Awakening. Lynne Sargent’s fierce invocation to Hecate, Prayer from a Girl Floating in an Hourglass caps this year’s selection of revised and adapted folklore and mythology for the twenty-first century.
Blue Azalea, the cover art for this year’s issue comes from one of my favourite Malaysian visual artists, Karen Nunis, who also provided the cover art for Truancy 3. The model is her daughter Billie Blue Blackstone, who has been making waves with her band Billie Blue & The Nowhere Men. Billie also interviewed the cover artist for Truancy 2. I particularly loved this painting because of the power and grace in the lines, and the challenge in the gaze which reflects to me what I discern in the works I’ve published in this issue. What do we do when the world is fire? I guess the response for all storytellers and all folklorists is to somehow blend our passion for these tales with that primal imperative of all folklore and fairytales everywhere: pass the message on — make sure it is heard. Hide it in mooncakes, or in treacle, but never surrender to despair.
It is a pleasure to present an all-original line-up of work for you to enjoy in this final week of 2018. Here’s to hopefully many more issues of Truancy. And here’s hoping 2019 will be gentler on all of us.
Nin Harris is an SFF author and poet. In her day job she is a literary academic with a focus on the Postcolonial Gothic. Nin writes Gothic fiction, cyberpunk, nerdcore post-apocalyptic fiction, planetary romances and various other hyphenated weird fiction. Nin’s publishing credits include: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, The Dark, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Uncanny and more.