I had to have been about eight years old the first time I saw a dead body.
My mom was travelling, and so I was left in the care of family friends. These friends worked for a funeral home and it was their responsibility to transport bodies. I remember them having a very serious conversation with my mom ahead of one stay, where they told my mom if we had to go on a run (they couldn’t leave me at the house alone!), I wouldn’t see anything.
That said, I do have a very vivid memory of being in the transport van, and seeing a body bag strapped to a gurney. I also remember trying to keep my attention on the Speak & Spell I rarely went anywhere without. I couldn’t quite grasp what had happened, or what the bag was, or what it contained. The family friends made it all seem perfectly normal though—they had done this countless times before, and would do it countless times again. After we did the run, we had dinner.
When Sean approached me with the idea of this magazine, it felt right. It was the right time in my own life to explore this theme, but it was also the right time to return to editing. I was also honored that he picked me to execute his vision. When he made a list of influences, I knew it was a thing I could do, because I loved the books and poems and music he drew from. I had already embraced a lot of death fiction in my work at Shimmer—stories that still haunt me, stories that I wanted to see more of.
Now we can. In the coming months, we have some truly breathtaking stories and poems to share with you. Our journey will take us across the world, but also into the stars. We will walk the road of good intentions toward hell, but I suspect we’ll also be up in those heavenly clouds. We want to explore all of the afterlives, all of the beginnings we may find when this existence of ours on earth is done. We’re glad to have you with us.
E. Catherine Tobler, May 2021
E. Catherine Tobler (she/her) is a writer and editor. You might know her editing work from Shimmer Magazine. You might know her writing from Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Apex Magazine. A trebuchet and Oxford comma enthusiast, she enjoys gelato and beer in her free time. Leo sun, Taurus moon. You can find her on Twitter @ECthetwit.