When Sam Asher asked me to guest edit an issue, I said yes. No deliberation or weighing of responsibilities. I said yes.
Sam is a friend of mine and a chosen family member, yes, but he's also the most widely published person in our Clarion cohort and one of the most voracious readers I've ever met. When I think about the kinds of market editors I want to work with, it's the ones who read and write, submit and subscribe, study and subvert - but still want to start a market.
Read the Cosmic Background.
Your work is in good hands.
Your attention will be well-respected.
The editorial team of the Cosmic Background did a wild job at curating a group of stories. I continue to be amazed by the capacity for flash to accomplish so much with so few words and the crop of narratives they sent to me did just that. There were quiet horrors and first-person-plural-future perspectives and recursive celebrations and sentimental necromancy and affirmations and epistolary and critter surrealism and coming-out-to-yout-late-parents stories: all of which light up my storytelling brain.
As I winnowed the list, I had to interrogate why I love these pieces, and what loving them might mean to readers who aren't me.
I thought I was deciding on stories, not asking myself why I like what I like. Honestly, it was an honor to be challenged by these fictions and I wish I could share with you more than one.
The piece I chose is Marguerite Sheffer's HOW WE BECAME FOREST CREATURES. It's a story about caretaking, nomadic migration, enduring the threat of violence, bucking tradition, and stepping into the whole of one's self.
In a time where the rights of the marginalized are under assault, when being who you are paints you as prey, when doing the right thing does not ensure my safety, we need to read stories where selflessness and bravery go hand-in-hand. Stories where the oppressed survive and disrupt the status quo.
I'm impressed by Sheffer's tight plot and tighter worldbuilding, prose which evokes the senses while causing me to ask questions that pull me deeper into the world. And like the pissyellow ribbon, I held tight to a thoroughly satisfying climax.
Keep an eye out for Marguerite Sheffer. I think they have a very bright future.
Thank you for submitting to TCB.
Thank you for reading TCB.
Thank you for having me TCB.
It was an honor and I look forward to the next time and the next issue.