Today, we’re delighted to share our final story with you, “Ghosts of Bari,” by Wren Wallis.
When I put the final issue of Shimmer together, I did it as deliberately as I’d done every other issue of Shimmer, considering where each story should fall in the issue. It was something Beth taught me how to do when I edited my first issue—because the story you open with is not necessarily the story you want to close with.
I gave Wren a heads-up the moment I realized I wanted to close out Shimmer with her story. Having your story appear last may not seem like a great thing; if I’d held to the original release schedule, it would have had Wren’s story appearing after Hugo balloting had closed. I didn’t want that for the story, or Wren, because the story is gorgeous and should be read by as many Hugo voters as possible.
Putting a story last doesn’t mean it should be overlooked, it doesn’t mean it’s being hidden away. In fact, in the case of “Ghosts of Bari,” I put it last because it ends on a very specific note. It ends with a directive, a directive Shimmer wants you to undertake. Wren’s story encompasses so much of what Shimmer hoped to do, what we wanted to be. And by placing it as our final story in our final issue, I hope that is evident.
Relatedly, thinking about how we made issues (stories fitted together like puzzle pieces), I got curious as to how many stories Shimmer published in its thirteen years. Near as I can tell, it’s 288 stories, from 224 authors—but I suspect that author count is off, because I’m not convinced every single Shimmer author is on the website list yet. #goals
In my searching and looking through old issues, I was genuinely amazed at all we accomplished over the course of those 288 stories, so here are some notes from along the way.
Issues 1-4 had nine stories each. Our biggest issue, with twenty stories, was eleven which was our Clockwork Jungle Book—stories about steampunk animals. Genevieve Valentine appeared in that one, and so did Alethea Kontis. Aliette de Bodard made her first appearance in issue three, as did Angela Slatter. We got Amal el-Mohtar in issue four, and our first translations in issue five (Lavie Tidar translating Nir Yaniv). Silvia Moreno-Garcia also made her first appearance in issue five. Silvia’s story, “King of Sand and Stormy Seas,” stands out brightly in my memory; it was one of the first stories I remember falling for when I came across it in slush—the first story I really advocated for and wanted to see published.
Issue six contained Cat Rambo—another story I remember being deeply affected by (“Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish”). Also “Sparrow and Egg,” again from Amal el-Mohtar—made me burst into tears. This issue also contained “Tom Cofferwillow Comes Undone,” by Stephen L. Moss—possibly the first story that made Beth realize what weird taste I can have in fiction. This story plays with language in ways that still delight me.
John Joseph Adams guest-edited issue seven, which was packed with pirate stories! Issue eight brought us “Monologue With Birds & Burin” by Daniel A. Rabuzzi. Another story that stands out in my memory. Both the place and the character get me here, hard in the heart.
Monica Byrne’s “5 Letters From New Laverne” showed up in issue twelve; this story made me bawl the first time I read it. We got our first K.M. Ferebee story in issue thirteen (pulled from slush by Keffy Kehrli), and our first Stephen Case, who would also join us in our final issue. Issue fourteen blew me away when I was thumbing through it: our first Sunny Moraine, our first A.C. Wise, and our first Karin Tidbeck! I mean…talk about all-stars.
Issue fifteen was my first to pick stories for; it brought us Megan Arkenberg, Mari Ness, and Milo James Fowler. It also taught me that it’s okay to really fight for a story you want—I bought a story I’d previously rejected, so never say die people. You never know.
K.M. Szpara came to us in issue sixteen, and Damien Angelica Walters and Carmen Maria Machado in issue seventeen. Issue seventeen has seventeen stories, did you know? More than half of the authors moved in the course of publishing that issue… Nightmare level unlocked.
The great Ann VanderMeer guest-edited issue eighteen, which would become our final print issue, containing an Area X story from Jeff VanderMeer. Issue nineteen is when we leapt online—with another K.M. Ferebee story (with a heroine named Elyse, hmm!).
We published 28 issues online over the course of five years, finding yet more wonderful authors. We got an Alix Harrow, a Sam Miller, an Eden Robins, a Tara Isabella Burton, an Alex Acks, a Malon Edwards, a Maria Dahvana Headley, an Isabel Yap, a Helena Bell, an Erika Satifka, a Kristi DeMeester, an Arkady Martine, a Natalia Theodoridou, a Fran Wilde, a Charlie Bookout, and so many other authors who made editing an absolute joy.
Shimmer ended each digital year with a beautiful print anthology featuring artwork by Sandro Castelli, as did almost each and every issue once we found him (issue six was his first cover, I believe, but with issue fifteen, he was our regular cover artist). Beth and I still talk about an anthology called The Best of Shimmer, and we’ll see how far I can twist her arm, eh? We published such an array of wonderful things, and when I think of every nugget hidden in these issues…ah, I want you to read each and every one of them, because they are each dear and special and yeah, shimmery. WHAT IS SHIMMERY? the masses cried. Go read everything we published. You’ll see.
If you’re tempted, we still have some print issues available in our shop, and everything available in digital. Maybe treat yourself to a back issue or two. There’s so much to read!
Thank you for being part of our journey.