Change and Preparing for Life After Uncanny Magazine

By now you may have seen the news and yes, it’s true: 2019 will be my last year with Uncanny Magazine. After five years as Uncanny‘s Managing Editor and Nonfiction Editor, I will close out the year with Issue 31 for November/December 2019 and hand over the reins to a brand new team. And what a team it will be!

Chimedum Ohaegbu has been nothing less than a fantastic to work with since she joined Uncanny as our intern, and soon after advanced to be our Assistant Editor–I have every confidence that she’ll be a phenomenal Managing Editor and I continue to be incredibly thankful we lucked out into having her on staff.

I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, first as my Managing Editor counterpart at Fireside, then as an essayist for Uncanny and as Co-Editor-in-Chief & Nonfiction Editor for Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. I’m pleased to call Elsa both a friend and colleague, and I can’t wait to see how nonfiction at Uncanny continues to evolve under her guidance.

Having been familiar with the stand-out quality of Angel Cruz’s work, I’d always wanted to work with her again after the brilliant essay she wrote for Uncanny. I’m beyond thrilled she agreed to join the Year 6 staff as Assistant Editor, and it makes my heart happy to know there will still be a Filipina in an editorial role with the magazine after I leave.

This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I’ve spent the last five years learning and growing thanks to the wealth of experiences and perspectives shared generously among everyone on Uncanny‘s staff. I’m deeply aware that many of the opportunities I’ve had the good fortune to benefit from stem directly from my involvement with Uncanny. I’ve gotten to know many incredible, talented, kind, and welcoming people in SF/F, publishing, and the greater geek community through my work with the magazine. I have three Hugo Awards and the distinction of being the first Filipina to win a Hugo Award because of my work at Uncanny. I’m grateful beyond words for how being part of Uncanny challenged me to be better and changed my life.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience, it’s how important it is to not only grab the opportunities that come your way, but to know when the best thing you can do for the things and people you love is to admit it’s time to move on, and make room for fresh energy and new ideas. I talk a lot about how much of a difference it made for me when the Thomases took a chance by inviting me to be part of Uncanny from Day One; I can’t think of a better way to honor that than by making space for others to have that same opportunity with a phenomenally talented and supportive team of SF/F professionals. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to use what I’ve gained from my time at Uncanny to pay that forward while I continue building my career.

While I’m sad to know the end of my time at Uncanny is coming, I’m very happy and thankful for how the entire Uncanny team has been understanding and supportive about my decision, and that I’ve been able to have a voice in helping shape where the magazine will go next. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to leave on my own terms and do so in a way that’s respectful of my friends and colleagues. We still have four issues/eight months left, which is plenty of time to ensure a smooth transition and onboard Chimie, Elsa, and Angel as comfortably and comprehensively as possible. I’m going to make sure they have the best possible start to what I hope will be a long and fruitful time for them at the magazine.

And let’s be honest, it’s going to take me at least that long to really, truly, come to grips with the fact my departure from Uncanny is real and happening, and to say thank you, good luck, and farewell to what’s been the BEST team of people to work with (have you ever tried saying goodbye at a Filipino party? You all stand around in the foyer talking and next thing you know it’s time for breakfast). And even with eight months of prep time I’m still probably going to bawl my eyes out when that final issue is locked and loaded for publication.

What do I want to do next? Well I do have a list…

[GIF: Spongebob reading a list that unscrolls and goes on seemingly forever]
[GIF: Spongebob reading a list that unscrolls and goes on seemingly forever]

Mostly I’d look forward to having more time to devote to writing. Creative nonfiction is still my first love and I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned as an editor to my own work.

But I’d also love to have the chance to do more editing, which I’ve come to love deeply as well, with both fiction and nonfiction. Getting to collaborate with other writers to help get their work to where it’s trying to go are some of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had. I have ideas that have been percolating about anthology proposals, podcasts, a nonfiction book, even some short fiction that I’ve been sketching out. And I’m sure there are things I haven’t even thought of yet (I never imagined I’d have the chance to write the text for an entire museum exhibit and yet that happened!). So the sky’s the limit, and there will be room on my dance card come January 2020, folks.

[GIF of Tahani from The Good Place saying "Let's chat, shall we?"]
[GIF of Tahani from The Good Place saying “Let’s chat, shall we?”]

(Ok fine, since I can practically feel my friends all staring at me and preparing to throw back the same lecture I give all of them about how they deserve a break and rest after working themselves so hard, I also should probably take an itsy bitsy bit of a break to recharge before diving into the next thing. Maybe. Probably.)

In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Chimie, Elsa, and Angel on joining Uncanny‘s Year 6 team! You’ve still got me for four more issues and folks, I’m SUPER EXCITED about the essays we’ll be publishing in the coming months. Thank you all for your continued support of Uncanny!

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