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Imagining Futures: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

I have been working in genre magazines since roughly 2014. It’s been one hell of a run, and I’m done now.

This is my last issue at Uncanny Magazine, and it feels a bit like the end of an era. I’m not going to be editing short fiction, or short non-fic- tion, anymore. I’ll be writing it, solely. Instead of hunting authors, and giving notes, I’ll be on the receiving end.

Careers in genre are funny things—for years people have made comments about how I have many feathers in my hat, how I do so many things. I was trying to sort out what it was I wanted to do. I edited, I managed a magazine, I wrote books and essays and worked in audio drama and games and here I am, finally figuring out what it is I want to do with myself in this new future.

I fell into writing—to an extent, I fell into genre, too—a place where I could do a job that I loved, a place where I was welcome. I’ve built a career on having opinions, on helping people to shape their own. With this issue I’m making the choice that I’m ready to step fully into the role of Author.

I don’t know what things look like from here. What book I write next is on the table, what stories I want to tell. But the rhythm of magazine life won’t be a part of my schedule anymore. It feels strange, but in a positive way. I think maybe I’ll have more space to breathe and create when I am not beholden to the short-term deadlines that have been with me for over half a decade.

I’m not saying I won’t come back to the magazine life at some point—I don’t know for sure what will happen next. But I do know that for now, the right call is to move forward to focus on the novels and memoirs and non-fiction projects that I feel are what calls to me most.

I have loved working on every essay that I’ve touched at Uncanny (and the ones I edited at Fireside, too). I’ve learned so much from my authors, my co-workers, and my co-conspirators. I’ve helped construct new forms of essays, helped to refine critical work that helped people to think about the genre carefully.

2021 has been a tough year, so it feels like the right time to step away from the chaos and to focus on what is right in front of me for a little bit. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that magazine life has afforded me, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I realized I didn’t know what to write for my final editorial, because my brain is focusing on the longer form already. Things are shifting for me—positively, certainly, but in a way that means the future is bright but entirely different than it was before.

I look forward to what new stories I tell, what new forms I can practice in, and what possibilities await me beyond this door I’m opening.

I hope you’ll join me in seeing what I do next, because part of the adventure is in having my readers along for the ride.

Thanks for reading, Space Unicorns. I’ll miss you

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Elsa Sjunneson

Two-time Hugo award winner Elsa Sjunneson is a Deafblind hurricane in a vintage dress. Her work has been published internationally, from CNN to metro.co.uk and beyond. Her memoir, Being Seen, has been praised as a “riotous blend of memoir and cultural criticism”. In addition to writing, Sjunneson is a disability rights activist with a sharp eye for inclusion. She lives in Seattle, with a cat who hunts ghosts for fun.

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