Letâ€™s face it: Science fiction gets a bad rap. Just utter the words and peopleâ€™s eyes glaze over as they imagine literature built on formulaic plot twists, over-explanatory dialogue, and two-dimensional character archetypes piloting space shuttles to distant galaxies. As â€œserious writers,â€ weâ€™re meant to avoid sci-fi like it was radioactive. We shouldnâ€™t read it, we shouldnâ€™t like it, and we sure as shit shouldnâ€™t write it. Science fiction is the enemy of what gets called literature.
Yet the pages of even the fanciest and most serious literary magazines are often filled with characters and situations outside the realm of the possible. Celebrated writers like Kurt Vonnegut, George Saunders, Martin Amis, Lydia Davis, and Aimee Bender have all dipped their toes into the rising waters of the science-fiction landscape or gone full-on skinny-dipping. We like to call their work by other names, to separate it from the dimly-lit corners of bookstores where we keep the â€œgenreâ€ books. We call them â€œfabulist,â€ â€œmagical realist,â€ â€œsurrealistâ€â€”anything, ANYTHING, but â€œscience fiction.â€
What youâ€™ll find in this special issue of PANK is the most compelling evidence we have ever seen for a revision of our thinking. We need to resurrect this genre, putting it in its rightful place as a kind of literature that expands our imaginations, gives us the sharpest social critiques, transports us to other times and worlds, opens our eyes, and breaks our hearts.
These stories and poems are the only proof we need that the genre is alive and well. Important stories donâ€™t just happen in kitchens, in offices, in Buicks, in small American towns, in New York City. They also happen in laboratories, in other worlds, in the future, in parallel societies, in realities we do not recognize as our own but that can also hit us where (and when) we live.
The pieces in this issue do not need to be renamed or hidden or shelved far away from the other books. They deserve to be read, enjoyed, shared and contemplated. Let them charm you with their strangeness. Let their language hypnotize you. Let them show you what the mysteries of science can tell you about your own reality. Love them.
-Aubrey Hirsch & Devan Goldstein
You can get started with this amazing issue, here.