New Lit on the Block :: The Fantastic Other

The Fantastic Other online journal of speculative fiction and poetry, science fiction and fantasy issue 5 cover image

The Fantastic Other is a biannual digital literary magazine that specializes in speculative fiction (including flash) and poetry, and science fiction and fantasy, as well as visual art in any medium. Editor in Chief G. E. Butler adds, “We also get excited for magical realism, surrealism, or anything that is altogether strange and ‘out there.’” In addition to the summer and winter issues, The Fantastic Other also publishes occasional articles to their website between issues, such as their Author’s Spotlight segment. Readers can find the latest issues online and download them as PDF documents. All content is free to read. [Cover art by Irina Tall (Novikova)]

Joining G. E. Butler is a team of “incredibly talented co-editors”: Amy Clement, Flora Soper, and (their newest addition) Sarah Jackson. Everyone on The Fantastic Other team are writers in their own rights and collectively have publication credits across various literary journals and magazines.

The inception of The Fantastic Other began in the final year of Butler’s writing degree at the University of Tampa in Florida. “As a fledgling writer,” Butler explains, “I began the process of submitting my work to journals for publication. It soon became clear to me that many of the most illustrious publications would turn away my work before reading it, due to my inclusion of speculative elements. It was then that I first considered the idea of creating a new space for writers like myself and giving back to this new and growing demographic of the literary community. I only found the courage to pursue this idea because of the talented writers in my graduating class, allies willing to donate their time and help piece this passion project together. Two of these allies were Amy Clement and Flora Soper, both of whom helped build this magazine into what it is today.”

When asked about the name, Butler shares, “The ‘other’ in The Fantastic Other refers to the stories and subjects that most traditional literary journals would decline to publish. Our magazine was founded with the desire to provide a space to creators who wish to write about things not of this world, things that have a quality of ‘otherness’ to them. We wish to collect these works and showcase their beauty and literary quality to the literary world because these things are also fantastic!”

Sharing begins with submissions, and all submissions are currently sent through e-mail. A member of the editorial team reads and responds to every email. Submissions are then collected and read for either the summer or winter issue, depending on the time of year. “First and foremost,” Butler says, “we look for submissions that fit our magazine’s theme: something fantastic and representative of the literary quality of speculative fiction.”

The editors hope this process creates a unique experience for readers. “As tired as the cliché is,” Butler explains, “I would tell readers to expect the unexpected. Every issue will take readers to bizarre, strange, unsettling, and magical places. They will find journeys to distant planets, retellings of old myths, and re-imaginings of our world in a fantastical light. Many of our published pieces reuse tropes of speculative fiction to shed light on social injustices and common bigotries. Though we do a themed issue every winter, all our authors’ interpretations shine through as unique voices and perspectives. My one advice to a reader of our magazine is to not get too comfortable!”

Causing some of this pleasant discomfort in the unexpected are contributors like Elizabeth Upshur (“How to Tend a Zombie: Prose Poem,” winner of The Fantastic Other 2020 Poetry Contest), Rhonda Eikamp (“The Things You Will See,” winner of The Fantastic Other 2021 Flash Fiction Contest), Briar Ripley Page (“Lanie’s Monster”), Logan M. Cole (“Tusk Hunter”), and E.C. Haskell (“Coriander, Lemon Rind, and Deer Musk”).

It’s fascinating to learn about publications that started just before or during the pandemic, and Butler offers their perspective on the start-up experience. “Our timing for this project was less than ideal. We began assembling the magazine in the latter half of 2019, then launched in 2020, just as the Covid-19 pandemic began. The new hardships on our families and work lives created delays. Additionally, the online platform grew more crowded than ever, and we struggled to find our readers. Thankfully, my team remained positive, and we worked through the initial delays and disappointments.”

”Since then,” Butler continues, “sticking with our magazine has yielded various joys. My personal favorite is still the pleasure I receive from informing new writers we have selected their work for publication and seeing their excitement in response. A different, yet notable milestone for our magazine was when we were privileged to interview the wonderful SFF author, F.D. Lee, for our Author’s Spotlight segment. Lee was a joy to interview and gave insightful words for any aspiring SFF writers seeking non-traditional avenues of publication.”

Going forward, Butler says The Fantastic Other has some ambitious plans. “Our biggest goal for our magazine is to be able to pay every contributor a suitable amount for the time and care they put into their work. Currently, we are now only able to offer token payments of 5 USD, but we are working to increase this down the line. We will soon offer a paid option for detailed payback on submissions, in which we will detail what we like about a received work and how we think the author might be able to improve it. Ideally, this will provide financial support that we can pay forward to our contributors but will also aid new authors in finding their footing in the lit mag scene.”

For writers ready to take the plunge into submitting to The Fantastic Other, Butler advises, “We have recently decided on our theme for our Winter 2022 issue: ‘Mirrors.’ Writing has always been a means to hold a mirror to ourselves and to the societies that we are entrenched in. I would like to encourage submitting writers to hold the mirror up to themselves as they write their next piece. We are excited to see what this theming will yield.”

Butler closes by saying, “Our Summer 2022 issue has just launched, and it includes more content than any issue before it. I want to give a shout-out to all of the readers and writers who believe in us and are helping us build this dream every day.”

Be a part of dream building with The Fantastic Other by checking out the newest issue today!

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