Editor’s Desk: Voice

Tumultuous Tunisia is experiencing growing pains; its days-old government has lost five or more ministers, and both the interim president and prime minister have quit the ruling party in an effort to appease the crowds.

Protests are rippling across the region, with numerous people immolating themselves in Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, and even France. Meanwhile, analysts are positioning themselves in the debate: will the Jasmine Revolution spread? Some say yea, others nay.

2011 has its share of political challenges either way: an apparently successful secession vote in south Sudan, Palestine seeking U.N. recognition, and a September election in Egypt.


There are more mundane issues to settle when creating a zine; one of which is the intended voice of the journal. Some magazines use very formal language–The New Yorker is a good example here–whereas others employ a more conversational tone (as seen in, say, Wired). As the editor-in-chief of Cosmic Vinegar, it is my job to set the tonal course of the new journal.

There are a number of questions in the tone category. Who’s our audience? Politically minded scifi fans, for sure. 18-35 adults, more specifically; not just men because I want to be more inclusive than that. I’d love to have an international audience as well, but you’ll have to read English for the time being.

Length? The length of reviews will be in the 1000 word range, although the journal will have to grow into that. The length of serial installments will be in the 5000-7000 word range. Letters section will be a page or two, depending on how many letters we receive. The news section will likewise be a page or two. 30 pages of text; some art would be appreciated but won’t be critical.

Art is an important part of the SF genre, in order to establish the iconography of a genre entirely based in the imagination. On the other hand, art has no place in formal journals, except when graphs are deployed. Cosmic Vinegar is a combination of the two, of artistic journal and genre magazine, so in deference to both, infrequent art will be used, more often in the serial section than anywhere else.

As is the nature of this publication, there will not often be a theme for a given issue, although the idea of featuring different characters or the like in each installment of the serial is an interesting idea. Say you receive issue 10 with a picture of Character A, well, you know–they will be a player in the new chapter.

Back to voice–as with art, a compromise is in order. For news and reviews, a more formal or literary style is necessary. For the serial or any guest fiction, obviously the creator is in control. Politics and SF should stay at the forefront at all times, as the goal of Cosmic Vinegar is to study oppressed peoples and disputed territory through the lens of independent SF. Marginalized people and marginalized art.

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