Parallel Prairies: Stories of Manitoba Speculative Fiction, aspires to be a made-in-Manitoba anthology of speculative fiction. We want writers who live in Manitoba, or who call it home but may live elsewhere, to show us how these flat lands have shaped their perception of the weird and wonderful.
To us, good monster stories aren’t really about the monsters. They’re at their best when they reveal something about the human condition. A dragon is a visual feast, with its hard scales, fearsome talons and steel-melting breath. But it’s the knights in those stories, grinding their boots into the mud and drawing their swords against tremendously bad odds, who teach us about valour. A ghost is scary and gruesome, but it’s the paranormal researcher (or unlucky homeowner) creeping through the halls, revealing only what a flashlight’s beam allows, who teaches us about fear. Speculative fiction is unlike myth in that its status doesn’t shift from accepted truth, to fiction over time. But the messages remain.
Real life, while full of its own wonder, slips into mundanity, with each person preoccupied with the day-to-day. A forest trail is pretty, and the air is fresh, but it becomes something more when one’s eye can imagine spirits, gnomes and elemental beasts hiding just beyond the ridge, or under a leaf. Better to live in a world with faery, than to go without.
That’s what we want to do here: to rip open the portal to those other worlds and inject that magic into our own humble, prairie province. We want writers of all backgrounds to bring the wonders and devils of their myriad worlds into this project. Show us what lives, hidden from view, in the tall grasses, in the northern expanses, in the bowels of our province’s plentiful lakes. Show us what might become of our society if it endures for one hundred, five hundred — a thousand years from now. Or, show us what it might have looked like a thousand years ago. Wherever your muse takes you.
In Manitoba, we find ourselves in a geographic centre, standing at the crossroads of a continent. Who knows what we might find at that intersection?
Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash