5. Editor’s Introduction
Optimistic Science Fiction
Welcome to the debut issue of Dreadnought SF!
We live in curious times. Equal parts heady potential and gloomy portents of doom. This magazine will be featuring science fiction that provides a more positive vision of the future of human civilization.
Art by Paulo Sayeg | Yemanja
Yet I sometimes find myself craving dystopian fare, seeking that riveting fix of negativity, but at other times it gets to be a bit much and is simply depressing. I think it’s important to see the possibilities, to celebrate optimism, not just fixate on gloom and doom.
Art by Paulo Sayeg | Dança
There will always be plenty of obstacles to overcome, but we must remain optimistic that we will surmount them for the betterment of humanity and of our world. Science fiction can help us get to where we need to be. Optimistic science fiction, such as solarpunk, can help us to imagine, envision, plan for, and achieve a green, technology-driven, aspirational future that embraces the well-being of both humanity and the environment.
Thanks to technology, we have been able to see our planet from outer space. If that doesn’t electrify one’s sensibilities to the precious wonder that life on Earth is, I don’t know what would. Technology can elevate consciousness. It can also stupefy it. Both aspects can be used as tools in achieving a desired effect in the individual and in a population. I remain optimistic that we will use technology to transcend our limitations, progressing the human experience by developing and furthering our vast and untapped potential as a species. Importantly, we can’t ignore the basics, like environmental sustainability. And perhaps that will be the most difficult task of all. After all, it’s not as exciting as getting to Mars — and ultimately, it’s a much more complex challenge. Technology can help us with this, certainly, but it’s only part of the equation.
Solarpunk is a meaningful and fairly new subgenre of speculative fiction. I think it has a lot to offer. It is alive with ideas, possibilities, and a vibrant vision of the future. It is optimistic science fiction, with an inspiring and hopeful message of how the future can be if we were to only make it so.
SciFaiku Spotlight: “egg rolls and hot tea” by Howard Lee Kilby
Haven’t done one of these since the first issue of The Starlight SciFaiku Review, showcasing a Tom Brinck piece.
This haiku comes to us from Howard Lee Kilby, the editor of Ouachita Life magazine in Benton, Arkansas. Having found its way here with the help of Jerome Berglund, I now have the pleasure of presenting it to you.
egg rolls and hot tea
an Auschwitz survivor
talks of UFOs
This haiku for me is sort of a future, past, present experience. Picturing them sitting there comfortably, safely, dining on egg rolls and hot tea, conversing about UFOs (it seems a topic indicating distances between realities) — it’s an optimistic future, now being experienced, partaking in the simple pleasures of life that a person in Auschwitz could have only dreamed of and hoped for. It’s a wonderful poem.
Big thanks to Paulo Sayeg for another artistic tour de force in this debut issue! I am a great admirer of his artwork. I imagine luminescent energies radiating in every direction when he is creating. Paulo’s done plenty of international exhibitions and has won major awards in Brazil, but I don’t think that enough people are familiar with his work here in the States.
Paulo’s cover art for this issue is titled Esmeralda.
I hope that by appearing in these magazines, his work will reach an even broader audience and that people will run or vigorously navigate about online to buy some of his art!
Art by Paulo Sayeg | Run Run
In the third issue of The Starlight SciFaiku Review, I mentioned that as I was making selections of Paulo’s art for the issue, I was having great difficulty in adhering to the b&w art theme for the magazine — well, this time there were no such limitations, I could go full-blast color and boy did I! Paulo is a big fan of science fiction — and the fantastical — and many of his works of art reflect that, but what I found interesting was that even pieces that were clearly not intended as SF art worked really well with the SF written content.
Matt Schumacher’s poem, “Manifesto,” made me run around Starship HQ doing jumping jacks and reading it to multiple folks (not at the same time)!
I had been going through a bit of the inspirational doldrums, but this magazine was the cure! I’m feeling inspired again. We all experience creative ups and downs. We know that plugging away at things is necessary, but we want to feel that rush of inspiration that makes work feel like play. We also know that inspiration can be elusive at times, like a will-o’-the-wisp of the mind. However, I’ve noticed that it will always come to you, if you just make the effort.
I also very much enjoyed putting together a slender issue with a quick turnaround time. It was refreshing and showed me that these magazines could be on a more frequent publishing schedule at some point.
The idea for the flash fiction piece that I wrote for this issue, “The Photosynthetics,” arose from a conversation with my daughters about life on this planet. We wondered why every lifeform on this planet is not photosynthetic. Why should there be a food chain when everything could be photosynthetic? Shouldn’t that have been the default pathway? Better and less brutal certainly. Why did life evolve as it did? What does that say about the nature of life on this planet? Could technological intervention by a highly advanced civilization, an enlightened and cosmic intelligence, correct our errant evolution and fix a significant aspect of our destructive relationship with the natural world? The story is written in the form of a report, from an interdimensional monk operating on Earth, to its leadership council on the home world. It’s more of a conceptual piece, you won’t find any dialogue or beautiful imagery fluttering about butterflyish in it. That description notwithstanding, I hope that you will read it.
This issue is jampacked with great work from great people! Did I mention that they’re super talented, too?
Thank you to all of the contributors to this debut issue! Keep doing what you’re doing, it helps make the world go round.
Dear reader, I hope that you enjoy the magazine!
Justin T. O’Conor Sloane, editor
July 13, 2023
Austin-Round Rock Metro, Texas