No work exists in a vacuum and this anthology is no exception. It was without a doubt, years in the making. A Black SFF magazine getting to work with a publisher with as high a profile as Tor just isn’t something that would have happened five or six years ago, for a lot of the reasons that have made FIYAH’s current success such a relentless climb up. So when we say Breathe FIYAH was years in the making, understand it is not hyperbole.
But the success of this project isn’t about the names of the two entities involved in its creation, it’s about the writers who gave us so much brilliance to put on display. They created boldly and trusted us with these honest, utterly gut punching stories. There’s always a risk with genuine honesty when you’re a Black storyteller and we are humbled that these writers were willing to take that risk with us.
The singular idea behind this anthology was how to navigate the current Black experience and explore the ever-present rage that Baldwin spoke about eloquently. Speculative fiction has always been a vehicle for imagining change and interpreting histories past and present. These writers let loose a creative maelstrom using the full force of genre to depict our moment.
The unbridled creativity on display in this anthology is why we fight so hard to make space for the Black writer in genre fiction. We know the strength of the stories waiting to be told. We know the breadth of talent out there. We know…as we have always known, that if given the space our people will shine.
As you read these stories and absorb their impact, please take the time to wonder how many tremendous stories have been abandoned because they weren’t given space to breathe. Ponder the ways in which you create space for Black creatives. Be honest and consider the ways in which you take that space away. Power exists along many dimensions and we all need to consider how we amplify the past and present work of Black writers while creating a safe harbor for the new ones navigating unforgiving seas.
Enjoy the anthology. Engage with the work beyond a simple social media boost. Let the authors know that their fire is being inhaled and that their words are a much-needed cleansing of the soul.