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March/April 2021
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Letter from the Editor: A Strange Song
by Sheree Renée Thomas

Dear Readers,

As I write at the end of a most unusual year, 2020, the sun is just breaking through the Memphis sky and yet my window is cast in deep shadow. A stark tree stands alone in the middle of exposed brick and broken concrete, but there is still green. No blackened leaves or misshapen limbs, just the strange song of birds I do not recognize.

For many months their strange song comforted me, reminded me of the life that remains outside my home's arched window that serves as another door to the natural world. Outside, the world has become a place that has grown a bit strange. It alternates between the wondrous and the depressing, in unexpected starts and fits. Or rather, it is we who have grown strange, unrecognizable in the midst of a swiftly changing, unrelenting global pandemic. And yet the things that brought me comfort before all this began are the things that always have: the sound of laughter in a loved one's throat, the dance of shadow and light, strange songs I do not recognize but seem to know me—and all the art that engages, entertains, inspires, and reminds me that we are still here, still capable of unimaginable, impossible dreams.

If to speak a dream aloud is to manifest it, to call the unimaginable into existence from the power of your word and dreaming, then let us say that we meet here on these pages out of a long, impossible dream I dared not even speak for myself. This is a thrilling, unexpected gift that emerged from the shadow and light of a remarkable year. Wherever you may be in this blue-green marvel of a world, I hope you are safe and that you and your loved ones are well, emerging from your own shadow and light.

I greet you as a fellow traveler, a journeyer on the road of the word and the story. My only wish is to help continue the good work of the celebrated editors who have come before me, to honor F&SF's seventy-two-year legacy, and to share some of the works and writers and art that make the strangeness of our world a little more bearable, the challenges of our days less impossible to face. In these pages that have welcomed so many astonishing writers over the many years, I hope to bring you new stories that continue to journey across the borders of space and time, that reimagine old gods and conjure up deities anew. With an eye toward the future and an ear for the strange songs and stories of our past, I hope you will read these stories with the wonder and delight that I feel, and that we will continue on, facing the impossible together.


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We're pleased to introduce "By the Numbers," a new column by Arley Sorg that will take commonly held beliefs about our industry and investigate the real numbers behind them. In addition to his new data-driven column, Arley Sorg also serves as a co-Editor-in-Chief of Fantasy Magazine and associate editor at Locus Magazine, where he interviews some of the field's most exciting voices. Arley says this new column "is mostly inspired by conversations, whispers, and grumbles heard at conventions and seen online; I'm exploring the myths and superstitions of industry social circles." Check out his first column on page 161 and look for more in the time ahead.

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