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


Elsa Sjunneson

Elsa Sjunneson is a Deafblind author and editor living in Seattle, Washington. Her fiction and nonfiction writing has been praised as “eloquence and activism in lockstep” and has been published in dozens of venues around the world. She has been a Hugo Award finalist seven times, and has won Hugo, Aurora, and BFA awards for her editorial work. When she isn’t writing, Sjunneson works to dismantle structural ableism and rebuild community support for disabled people everywhere. Her work includes her debut memoir Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism, her Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla novel Sword of the White Horse, and her episode for Radiolab “The Helen Keller Exorcism.”

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