Truancy 3 comes at the end of a very trying year for the entire planet. It is a time that has us perhaps questioning a little harder our roots, our associations and all of the conflicts that arise from these intersections. This time of year is also fraught for those without traditional families or homes to return to — when our connections of birth and culture cannot entirely sustain us. So many folktales and fairytales are about foundlings or about people looking for their rightful homes and birthrights. So many stories talk about changelings, and replacements. Occasionally they resolve in reunions. There’s a little bit of all of this in what I call our “Inheritances and Legacies” issue. Through the woods of South-East Asia to a German lakeside, this issue has stories that reach back into the roots of our greatest blessings and biggest conflicts in life: Family, and the things we inherit from them.
Maizura Abas’s Two Princes is a Malay story that Maizura imbues with the colour of Malay legends as well as the prejudices faced by children who are born unlovely. Another story that straddles cultures and which specifically and seamlessly refers to both Malay and South Asian folklore is Tutu Dutta’s Princess of the Bamboo, a story full of the kind of danger and surprises one expects in a Malay folktale, but also with a dangerous yakshi at the heart of the tale. Tutu has written about the yakshi before and her article on it was featured in Truancy 1. Moving from South-East Asia, we travel to the conclusion of Mari Ness’s The Huntsmen, a romp through classical fairytale tropes with a twist on it that is uniquely Mari’s. This too is a story of a different kind of inheritance and a chilling reunion that I hope will thrill you as much as it thrilled me. From the satisfying conclusion to Mari Ness’s two-part serial, we move on to another revisioning of an European fairytale — a re-imagining of Snow White by Shannon Phillips. Blood Red and Raven Black has a very different twist on the fairytale that is lovely, lyrical and intense as the narrative meets headlong the colourism that underscores the narrative of the Grimm fairytale and judiciously debunks the value ascribed to fairness in the original fairytale. Following from this theme of mother-daughter relationships, George Nikolopoulos’s lovely and lyrical Daughter of the Sea is a personal narrative of a daughter who unexpectedly stumbles upon her legacy, and is rich with Greek myth.
There is only one reprint this issue, and it is Dantzel Cherry’s charming Love, Your Wolpertinger, about the relationship one man has with a creature out of German folklore, a secret relationship that becomes part of an endearing legacy.
We’re gearing up towards featuring more reviews here on Truancy. In this issue, Arun Jiwa has written an introspective review of Indrapramit Das’s novel, The Devourers. I’ve also decided to review a graphic novel by the Indonesian graphic artist Stephani Soejono to complement the two Malay Archipelago works of folktale revisions in this issue. Tale of The Bidadari looks at an Indonesian analogue of the Orang Bunian, a non-human entity that in some versions seem to be a cognate of the European fairy. This last review brings us back to the setting of this issue, the dangerous and dark woods of the Malay Archipelagoes, wonderfully depicted also in the art of Karen Nunis, an artist I’ve interviewed in Truancy 1.
I hope you’ll enjoy this issue’s year-end offerings, and here’s hoping there will be some respite for the planet (and humanity) in the coming months!
Nin Harris is an SFF author and poet. In her day job she is a tenured literary academic with a focus on the Postcolonial Gothic. Nin writes Gothic fiction, cyberpunk, nerdcore post-apocalyptic fiction, planetary romances and various other hyphenated weird fiction. Nin’s publishing credits include: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Lackington’s, Uncanny and more.