Until Next Time, Space Unicorns! By Chimedum Ohaegbu

Hello—and goodbye—wonderful Space Unicorns! I’m writing to you because today, the second half of my last issue with Uncanny is out in the world at large. After over four years—or, accounting for the strange molasses-mire the pandemic made of time, I should say after a stack of strange epochs—I’m concluding my time as managing and poetry editor with Uncanny. Speaking as the poetry editor, this, Issue 49, is an incredible issue to end with, with a whole five poems in this issue. You’ll gain something permanent and surpassingly good in reading all these works: the artful ruminations of “A Dead, Divine Thing” by Eshqin Ahmad; the tenderness and formal experimentation of “Crossing” by Ewen Ma; the woven, playful righteousness of “Sang Kancil at the Protest” by May Chong; the quiet portraiture of “I Am a Little Hotel” by Ai Jiang; the narrativity and intergenerational considerations “A Testament of Bloom” by Taiwo Hassan. I’ve been lucky, I know, and I’m excited for everyone to get to read these poems—if you haven’t already!

As well, I’m so, so excited for new Managing Editor Monte Lin to take up the mantle. Monte actually co-managed this issue, and judging by how elegantly he maneuvered it—as well as his invaluable contributions over the length of his term as assistant editor—I know that his time as managing editor will be another shining chapter in Uncanny’s future. Please join me in congratulating him, as well as new assistant editor Tania Chen, whose enthusiasm and expertise will likewise push Uncanny to new, sterling heights.

It’s odd to be writing this post—I knew it was coming, knew when why and how, but it’s one thing to know something informationally and another to know it elsewise, in the chest and marrow. I’ve spent most of my adulthood so far with Uncanny: I was the magazine’s first intern, hired when I was 19, and progressed over the years to the assistant, then managing, then managing/poetry editor. I’ve arrived at the person I am now in large part because Lynne and Michael took that chance in bringing me onto Uncanny. I’ve been changed by all I’ve read and learned and given and gotten here—in ways I’m aware of and ways that I know I’m yet to discover.

But, concretely: Uncanny has led me to conventions and groupchats, to becoming more well-read and kinder of heart; it’s been the driving force of my career in the arts. I’ve been mentored to the moon and back—by, honestly, the whole team, but especially Lynne and Michael and previous managing editor, Michi Trota—and gotten to do some of the same. I learned how to use InDesign!—or rather, I wrestled it to an uneasy truce, which I’ll count as victory.

And I became the first known Black woman to win a best semiprozine Hugo, something I don’t take lightly: note how late it happened, 2020! To be the first, which is not a position I mean to valorize, is an indictment of our genre. If I were to go into my thoughts on that I’d run out of pixels, but I’ll say this: it should have been sooner. So looking forward, it mustn’t be rare (and it’s already getting less and less rare, thankfully).

It’s strange to be leaving; I’ve said this already. It’s as true as it was, though—truer, as the Thomases are enduring a heartbreaking time after and during what’s been a prolonged struggle. It’s a testament to their dedication and love of the genre, of this community, that the magazine continues in its beauty, full steam ahead, supporting authors and artists at all stages of their careers. We’ve all been aware of my departure for a while, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m leaving at a vulnerable time. The Thomases, the magazine, deserve your support. I know I’ll continue sending mine, even if in a different capacity.

And a word on capacities. It is true that I have, multiple times, imagined what my term as managing and poetry editor would have been like if it hadn’t coincided almost exactly with the pandemic. If I wasn’t, throughout, burnt out—at best—running on fumes—at best—simply put, not at my best. It’s not the most important thing the pandemic took, but it’s still something that prods my what if neurons almost daily, that parallel universe where things were just…easier. Still, the hardest years of my life comprised the back half of 2018 to, well, now—the pandemic of course worsened my state as it did for us all, but it was far from the originator of my recent years’ intense strife—and having meaningful work with people who cared so deeply was, is, something I needed more than I knew. I’m so glad to have been here. I’ve gotten such grace and patience, and that has been a gift beyond measure during this stormiest of seasons.

And I’m so thrilled about this issue! I’ve mentioned already the poetry, but please: seek out this issue’s fiction by Samantha Mills, Vivian Shaw, Matthew Olivas, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Iori Kusano, Anya Ow, and Emily Y. Teng, and reprint by Catherynne M. Valente; linger in the nonfiction by Izzy Wasserstein, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Alex Jennings, and Karen Heuler; delve into the thoughtful editorials by Lynne and Michael, and nonfiction editorial by Meg Elison; gaze upon the spectacular cover art by Maxine Vee; wonder at the interviews by Caroline M. Yoachim; drink in the podcast by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky—and, when you’re done, add your name to our Patreon post by joining the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps 😊

This has already grown overlong, so I’ll be brief with regards to my future plans. (Also being brief because these plans are admittedly a little hazy.) At the moment, my post-Uncanny goals are to continue to revel in Uncanny’s future issues, albeit as a reader rather than editor; to get so! much! writing done—I’m working on a novel!; and, most crucially, to rest. I’m happy, no, excited, no, thrilled, to delete InDesign from my computer—I’ll use the driver space it frees up for a new videogame. I’m curious about the future, and thankful for the past, and in the present—well, I suppose thankful works here, too.

It’s been beautiful, Space Unicorns. Thank you, thank you, thank you: and see you soon!

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