The Future of Into the Ruins

The sun is streaming in through my living room window on this chilly but sunny day–the sort of day that always seems to show up at some point each February here in the Pacific Northwest. Make no mistake, it is still winter, even as spring swiftly approaches; and make no mistake, the rain will inevitably return. But it is not uncommon to get this brief respite this time of year. It is not uncommon to be reminded of the warmth and renewal that is yet to come.

I don’t know if it feels appropriate or not to be writing this post on such a day, but it does speak to coming changes. And I have some of those to announce, with a certain reluctance. I know I’ve been quiet the last few months and the newest issue of the magazine is long overdue (and we have once again skipped right from Winter to Spring due to timing). The good news is that it has arrived. The fifteenth issue, Spring 2020, is now available for order and in the process of shipping to subscribers, and the usual full details can be found in this announcement post.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is an important announcement in this issue in the Editor’s Introduction, which is that I will be ceasing publication of Into the Ruins after the upcoming sixteenth issue, the Summer 2020 issue slated for publication in June of this year. I make the announcement reluctantly and with a heavy heart, knowing what this project has meant to me and to many of you readers and subscribers. I also make the announcement after much thought and consideration and doubt. Despite all that, it feels necessary for me at a personal level.

The full details of why I am doing this can be found in the Editor’s Introduction of the new issue. It is not a single reason, but more a constellation of needs and desires on my part and the challenges of publishing a quarterly magazine, particularly when it is primarily (though certainly not exclusively) a one-man operation. New pursuits in my life, the desire to provide more attention and focus on my own writing, the commitments of my day job, the need to not cut short my time with my family, and other considerations have all entered into this decision. It’s not one that I have enjoyed making, as I have loved publishing Into the Ruins these past four years, and I am consistently impressed and gratified by the incredible community that has grown around the publication. This has been a profitable venture, both in terms of money and, more importantly, in terms of my own pleasure and joy, as well as the sense that I am putting something worthy out into the world and bringing a community around the creation of something enjoyable and worthwhile.

To be clear, I am not ending publication due to a lack of support. Indeed, I think there is very much a market for a deindustrial science fiction quarterly, and I think Into the Ruins has proven that. My hope is that someone else will take up this mantle–and if anyone is interested, I would encourage them to get in touch with me for advice and feedback and guidance, as well as for publicity to this magazine’s readership for a project getting off the ground. I will do whatever I can to help a new deindustrial science fiction magazine be successful.

A big part of me would love to continue on this magazine to Issue #100 and beyond. But at this moment in my life, I feel the need to step back and reevaluate where my energy is going, to prepare for personal changes, and to reorient myself during a time of change. I hope that all of you, those of you who have been so steadfast in your support of this project, can understand that need and forgive me for stepping away.

All that said, I do not plan to disappear from your life, assuming you’ll have me. I will be launching an author’s website in short order to host my writings and a personal blog, and I hope that when I soon announce that site, many of you will be willing to follow me there and keep tabs on what I am doing. Issues of Into the Ruins will remain available for sale indefinitely, with this site staying in operation for the foreseeable future. (And remember, there is still another new issue to be released in a few months.) For those of you who have subscribed beyond the sixteenth issue, I will be in touch soon to offer you a refund or provide credit for purchase of other issues of the magazine, whichever you should choose. And I have not ruled out the possibility of more Into the Ruins publications in the future, perhaps as a one-off or series of anthologies, or in other forms. Should some kind of project along those lines eventually coalesce, I will be sure to let you all know through this website and the email list. You can also continue to follow the Figuration Press website for any announcements, as any future publication projects that take place will release under that press. (I hope as well to publish my own writing in the future; stay tuned!)

Finally, if you visit the subscription page, you will see that I am now only taking subscriptions for Issues #13-16. I have also deactivated the renewal link on the renew page. However, I will be offering partial renewals to anyone who has subscribed and whose subscription ends before the sixteenth issue. Please contact me for more information and I can get you set up with a purchase link.

Publishing Into the Ruins has been a fantastic experience thanks to the incredible community that has built itself up around it. I cannot thank all of you enough for your support, your dedication, your interactions and feedback, your contributions, your personal notes and insights and kind words. It has meant so much to me. And to all the writers–of stories, of letters, of essays and reviews–Into the Ruins would obviously be nothing without you. So thank you so much, as well. I will no doubt have plenty more to say this summer in the upcoming sixteenth and final issue of the magazine, but know that this project has been a truly great stretch of my life, and you all are responsible for that.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions, thoughts, feedback, concerns, or general commentary. My inbox is open, and as always, I would love to hear from you. And you’ll be hearing more from me, so stay tuned.

Thank you.

Joel Caris
Editor & Publisher

Into the Ruins: Spring 2020 (Issue #15) is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that the 15th issue of Into the Ruins is shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase!

This Spring 2020 issue runs 106 pages, featuring seven great new stories of deindustrial science fiction, an Editor’s Introduction, a review of Richard Powers’ The Overstory, and an extensive and thought-provoking letters to the editor section.

The world of today is a distant memory in many of the stories within, while in others the near future brings strange surprises. Baseball still reigns supreme in New England as the rest of the world falls apart, somehow never negating the false hopes of small-town citizens. In a Greenland remade by climate change, a mysterious girl transforms the life of a strange young boy. Meanwhile, a surprising message from another solar system may hold important truths about our own civilization-while in another story, the last remnants of a perished society await in a cave, harboring their own truths about the new world outside.

These stories and more, seven total in this issue, bring us ways of imagining the future that awaits us all, asking us important questions about the realities of today, and what they may become tomorrow.

There’s something more in this issue, though, and that is a discussion of the future of the magazine in the Editor’s Introduction. It’s a hard discussion and a reluctant announcement–and the gist of it is that I will be discontinuing publication of the magazine after the upcoming 16th issue, set to be published in June. I do this with a fair bit of sorrow, but also feel for a variety of personal reasons that it’s necessary. A more complete explanation can be found in the Editor’s Introduction of this new issue, and also over at my new blog post, “The Future of Into the Ruins.”

No doubt there will be more to say about this in the future, and I am open to hearing feedback from readers and subscribers. Please visit the above post for full details. But in the meantime, there’s still a new issue to be had (not to mention another one coming in a few months) and so let’s continue on with the details.

Subscribers should be receiving their copies shortly.  Those of you who aren’t subscribers but would like a copy of the new issue can order a copy here from our store, which will ship immediately. The issue is also available from Amazon or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For  international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available through, or send me an email for options to purchase directly for international delivery.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, there is currently only one subscription option, which is for Issues #13-16. Is that relevant to you? Then sign up! Already a subscriber but perhaps your subscription has expired, or you’re unsure if your subscription has ended? Shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where you stand. I am asking everyone who wants to renew to contact me directly given the magazine’s limited future, but I will be offering partial renewals to anyone whose subscription expires before the final issues, so please contact me for details.

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the 16th issue of Into the Ruins, scheduled for publication in June. Comments for contributing authors, as well, will be happily forwarded on.

Now go read the new issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction.

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Into the Ruins: Fall 2019 (Issue #14) is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that the 14th issue of Into the Ruins is shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase!

This Fall 2019 issue runs 105 pages, featuring seven great new stories of deindustrial science fiction, an Editor’s Introduction, and an excellent letters to the editor section.

What might the deindustrial future bring? Cut off inhabitants in a flooded California face a furious storm; the residents of an island of refuge must determine the fate of unnerving visitors; a desolate landscape is visited by a series of mysterious and haunting musical notes; and one final, critical act determines the outcome of a new Civil War.

These possibilities and more await in the pages within, weaving tales of the future that refuse to bow to the assumptions of our times and instead ask us to imagine what might come from the choices we face, and in what ways we might yet forge futures of meaning in the hard times ahead.

Subscribers should be receiving their copies shortly.  Those of you who aren’t subscribers but would like a copy of the new issue can order a copy here from our store, which will ship immediately. The issue is also available from Amazon or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For  international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available through, or send me an email for options to purchase directly for international delivery.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, consider signing up! Already a subscriber but perhaps your subscription has expired? Renew today! Aren’t sure if your subscription has ended? Shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where you stand.

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the 15th issue of Into the Ruins, scheduled for publication in December. Comments for contributing authors, as well, will be happily forwarded on.

Now go read the new issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction. Happy Fall!

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Into the Ruins: Spring 2019 is Now Available!

I’m very pleased to announce that the 12th issue of Into the Ruins is shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase!

This Spring 2019 issue runs 112 pages, featuring five great new stories, an Editor’s Introduction, and another great letters to the editor section with plenty of interesting insights, considerations, and reflections on a variety of topics.

Demonstrating the diversity of deindustrial science fiction, this issue brings stories told from both the human and non-human perspective. And between Alistair Herbert’s succinct portrait of a future hunter and part one of Violet Bertelsen’s sprawling novella detailing the lives found within the future village of La Vezita, this issue contains both the longest and shortest stories yet published in Into the Ruins.

Two horror-tinged offerings from Daniel Stride and Daniel Soule—the former with a story of a forest with a thirst for human blood and the latter with one of rationalism run amok—and an adventurous tale of a special kind of magic from Clint Spivey help round out this issue.  Those five tales coupled with an excellent and eclectic letters section closes out the third year of Into the Ruins on a high note.

Subscribers will be receiving their copies in the coming days, with a number of you having received delivery already.  Those of you who aren’t subscribers but would like a copy of the new issue can order a copy here from our store, which will ship immediately. The issue is also available from Amazon or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For  international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available through, or reply to this email for options to purchase directly for international delivery.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, consider signing up! Already are a subscriber? Well, this is the end of Year Three. That means two things. First, a new Year Three package is available for purchase, consisting of issues #9-12 of the magazine. Second, it means the majority (though not all) of subscriptions are up for renewal. So renew today! The consistent support provided by subscriptions is critical to the success of Into the Ruins, and I want to go into Year Four just as strong as I went into Year Three. So please up your subscription for another year and keep the magazine on excellent footing. Aren’t sure if your subscription has ended? Shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where you stand.

Finally, the sharp-eyed amongst you have surely noticed that the name of this issue, Spring 2019, falls out of order with the naming convention up to this point. Where did Winter 2019 go? Well, you can find that info both in the pages of the new issue (page 11, to be exact) or on the website blog here.

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the 13th issue of Into the Ruins, scheduled for publication in June. In particular, I would love to continue receiving thoughts and feedback on Hannes Rollins’ essay from the Summer 2018 issue on magic, religion, and superstition in deindustrial science fiction, as well as the letter responses found in both the Fall 2018 issue and this new one–as well as anything else touching upon the contents and theme of the magazine. Comments for contributing authors, as well, will be happily forwarded on.

Now go read the new issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction!

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Changing Seasons

Rest assured, dear readers, I know what you’re thinking as you read of the new Spring 2019 issue of Into the Ruins being released. “Where the heck,” you’re wondering, “did the Winter 2019 issue go?” It’s a fine question—perceptive, insightful, speaking well of you—and one I’m all too happy to answer.

It’s coming. In about nine months.

Yes, I’ve taken the opportunity to alter the naming convention of the magazine. When I first launched Into the Ruins, I intended to release issues on or near the equinoxes and solstices, with the plan of naming the magazine after the season being ushered in by those astronomical events. Unfortunately, my ambitions exceeded reality and the first issue of the magazine launched in late April of 2016, about a month behind schedule. By the third issue I was a month and a half behind schedule and then two months behind by the fourth. For the most part it did not get better from there, and by the time I suffered technology-related delays with the eleventh issue, my release cycle had come to be a full season behind, with the Fall 2018 issue releasing just days before the Winter 2018 solstice—and subscribers not receiving their copies until the new year.

On a related note, my original schedule for the magazine would have seen the fourth issue releasing in mid-December of 2016 and thus being titled Winter 2016. Due to it slipping into 2017, I took the opportunity presented by the fact that winters cross calendar years and simply named it Winter 2017 instead. Yet, that always bothered me. After all, it’s the wrong name; winter is traditionally assigned to the year it starts in, not the year it ends in. Thus, a solution is born. Seeing as I’ve slipped behind schedule enough to come back into alignment with the seasonal transitions, I’m taking the opportunity to properly assign this new issue the name of the season it’s releasing into, Spring 2019, and am going to move the Winter 2019 issue forward to where it belongs: in December 2019, as the title of the fifteenth issue of Into the Ruins.

With luck, this will create minimal confusion, better align the magazine titles with the actual season of their release, help motivate me to stay on track with the schedule, and soothe my Virgo mind. And of course, for all you subscribers out there, this change in naming will have no impact on the number of issues you receive for a year’s subscription. You still will receive four issues, even if the seasons named become a little wonky for the year. As always, thanks to all of you for your ongoing support, and here’s to a great Year Four!

— Joel Caris, Editor

Into the Ruins: Spring 2019 is Almost Here, and We Need to Talk

Hi all you wonderful supporters,

First off, I have some good news. The new issue of Into the Ruins is almost here! That’s right, Issue #12 should be releasing within the next week or so and arriving in the mailbox of subscribers not long after that. This is going to be a fun one, featuring both the longest and shortest stories ever published in the magazine–and will feature part one of the first serialized story published in the magazine. Want a sneak peek? Scroll down for a glimpse of the cover.

I’ll be making an official announcement of the release soon, along with the customary links to purchase copies and an update on when subscribers should expect to see their copies. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about a few relevant things prior to this release.

First of all, as always, I would love it if subscribers could be sure to update me with any changes in your address. I don’t want your newest issue of the magazine disappearing into the ether! So shoot me an email with any updates.

Second, the release of this issue officially marks the end of Year Three. It’s kind of amazing, I have to say; time goes fast! I didn’t necessarily think I wouldn’t get to this point when I started the magazine, but I had no idea if the magazine would be successful or not. Turns out, it has been, thanks to all of you who have supported it. (Thank you so much!) It feels like an accomplishment to have three years of releases under my belt, and to have mostly stuck to the quarterly schedule the entire time.

Speaking of which, it’s time for many of you to renew your subscriptions! As I’ve noted before, the majority of subscribers are on the same yearly cycle of the magazine. As we close out Year Three and get ready to jump into Year Four, that means it’s time for many of you to resubscribe. Granted, not all of you; if you aren’t sure if your subscription has expired or not, send me an email and I’ll let you know. I’ll be sending out reminder emails to individuals soon, too. But know it’s time and want to re-up now? Great! Your support is huge. Go to https://intotheruins.com/renew for instructions on how to renew by mail or online.

Finally, speaking of sticking to the quarterly schedule, that’s not entirely true. It has slipped a little over the years and the sharp-eyed amongst you probably noticed that with this new issue, I went right from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019. Where did Winter 2019 go? Well, I’ll be answering that in a future blog post, as well as in the pages of the new issue. Stay tuned.

Thanks as always,

Joel Caris
Editor & Publisher
Into the Ruins

Winter Sale Ends February 10th!

Hi all,

I’ll make this quick. As you probably know, I’m currently running a Winter Sale on the magazine. All ten back issues of Into the Ruins are just $10 each, with free shipping anywhere in the U.S. And that free shipping extends to the current issue, Fall 2018, as well (which is the normal price of $12). This is a limited time sale, and it ends on February 10th. So if you’re interested, don’t delay!

Not in the U.S. but still interested in taking advantage? No problem. Get in touch. I can still ship to a wide variety of international locations. The shipping won’t be free, but I’ll let you know the cost and ship time and will set you up with a custom order link if you’re interested.

That’s it. Grab your missing issues today, share with a friend, gift to a family member–spread the deindustrial science fiction love! Or just go back to your day. I hope you all are having a lovely winter and thanks as always for supporting the magazine. It’s a labor of love, and it wouldn’t exist without you.

Take care,

Joel Caris
Editor & Publisher
Into the Ruins

I Want To Hear Your Thoughts


Hi all,

I hope you’re enjoying the newest issue of Into the Ruins, which should have arrived for all subscribers by now (except Australian subscribers–it’s on the way!). Haven’t received it yet? Get in touch, and we’ll figure it out. Perhaps you just need to renew your subscription, or maybe just subscribe in the first place if you haven’t already!

That said, I have a quick request for all of you reading this: Consider sharing your thoughts with me about this issue and the magazine in general. You can do it either by commenting on this blog post or sending your missive off to editor@intotheruins.com. There are a few different types of feedback I’m interested in:

  1. Specific thoughts on this issue, the stories within, and the issues raised in the letters section. This includes letters to the editor to be considered for publication in the next issue. If your response is in that vein, please note that you would like it considered as a letter to the editor and I’ll act accordingly.
  2. Thoughts on what types of stories published in Into the Ruins you like, which ones you don’t, and what you are looking for more or less of.
  3. What kind of editorial (non-fiction) content you would like to see in the magazine, whether it be in line with what has been included before or something new.
  4. Your overall impressions of the magazine, both positive and negative.
  5. And perhaps most important, if you are a former subscriber whose subscription has lapsed, why haven’t you renewed? If you haven’t subscribed, why not? And if you have yet to take the plunge and purchase any issues of the magazine, why is that?

While I receive feedback on the magazine relatively often, I am always interested in more. Sometimes it takes a direct request to get that–so here it is. Please let me know what you think. I really want to know, and I want this magazine to do well, including by both retaining subscribers and bringing in new ones. Knowing why people subscribe, why they don’t, and what may convince them to do so helps me, so please send in your feedback, whatever it is.

Finally, one last quick reminder: Our Winter Sale is on, but it won’t be around forever. The sale ends February 10th. So get on it if you want to pick up some back issues at a discount and take advantage of free shipping in the U.S. Just as a reminder, all back issues (#1-10) are all just $10 each (discounted from $12) and all orders ship free in the U.S. Not in America and want to order copies? Get in touch, tell me where you are in the world, and I’ll let you know what options there are.

That’s it. As I said, I hope all of you who have received the new issue are enjoying it, and thank you all for your support of this project. It wouldn’t exist without you. And I’m glad it exists. So thank you.

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Into the Ruins: Fall 2018 (Issue #11) is Now Available — and Winter Sale Expanded!

I’m very pleased to announce that the eleventh issue of Into the Ruins is finally shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase! I apologize for the delay on this one; a forced transfer to a new setup and printing program (I may be writing more about this later) really added some delays to things and proved very frustrating at times.

The good news, though, is that this is a great issue despite those troubles! This Fall 2018 issue runs 106 pages, featuring five great new stories, an Editor’s Introduction, and a thoughtful and insightful letters to the editor section with plenty of great musings on the role of magic and religion in deindustrial science fiction.

Compelling stories of our deindustrial future abound in this new issue of Into the Ruins. From literal castle intrigue to a hopeless girl’s solitary friend, from the lively bustle of a Boston partly swamped by the seas to the solitary horse riders of a far future California. And on to the constant flexibility of language and the unending role of stories in how we make sense of the world—these are the foundations of the tales that await you.

Along with another fascinating and thought-provoking letters section, these tales promise plenty of good reading and fodder for ruminations on what our deindustrial future holds in store for us.

Subscribers will be receiving their copies by the middle of the month (and some of you may have received yours today, even).  Those of you who aren’t subscribers but would like a copy of the new issue can order a copy here from our store, which will ship by January 20th or sooner. The issue is also available from Amazon or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For  international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available through, or reply to this email for options to purchase directly from us for international delivery.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, consider signing up! The consistent support provided by subscriptions is critical to the success of Into the Ruins. Haven’t renewed your subscription and not receiving the newest issues? Please re-join us! Your support is huge.

Want another way to support us? Good news–our Winter Sale is still on and recently expanded! During this sale, all back issues of the magazine are just $10 each and all orders ship FREE in the U.S. And since the new Fall 2018 issue is now released, that means Summer 2018 (Issue #10) is now officially a back issue–and now just $10! Don’t have it yet? Grab your copy now (and why not throw in a copy of some other back issues while you’re at it?) and enjoy some great stories, including the incredible graphic adaptation of John Michael Greer’s “Winter’s Tales.”

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the twelfth issue of Into the Ruins, scheduled for publication in March. In particular, I would love to continue receiving thoughts and feedback on Hannes Rollins’ essay from the Summer 2018 issue on magic, religion, and superstition in deindustrial science fiction, as well as the letter responses found in this new Fall 2018 issue. Comments for contributing authors, as well, will be happily forwarded on.

Now go read the new issue and pick up some back issues and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction!

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

What’s the Role of Magic and Religion in Deindustrial Science Fiction?

One of the key challenges in writing good deindustrial science fiction, to my mind, is how to inhabit the cultural mind of a future civilization utterly unlike our own. This isn’t always a challenge, of course, because great deindustrial science fiction doesn’t have to be set in a future civilization; it can be set in the waning days of our own, a place we inhabit now and will continue to inhabit for years to come. However, as our civilization declines and fades over the coming century or two, new civilizations will inevitable emerge out of the ruins of our own, and what those might look like and how they may understand the world is some pretty fascinating grist for the imaginative wheel.

The types of stories that can come out of such grist are exactly what I wish to publish in Into the Ruins. However, a conundrum inevitably arises: I want such stories of future cultures to be realistic in that they depict a culture with radically different views from our own, but trying to imagine what those views might be without succumbing to the frames of reference enforced by our own culture is incredibly challenging. Furthermore, imagining what kinds of technologies, religious beliefs, occult practices, cultural myths and narratives, and methods of exploring and understanding the world may be found in a future culture utterly different than our own—and what of those is realistic to the degree we can determine that—is all the more challenging.

I think of this as a catch-22. One of the rules I have for submissions is that they must be realistic based on what we know of the physical world and how it functions. This is a crucial rule, as it helps to head off many standard science fiction tropes, such as the discovery of limitless amounts of clean energy, or of continued exponential growth despite the physical limits of our planet. It’s one of the key guidelines in seeking out realistic stories of the futures that factor in and deal with the hard realities of climate change, resource and energy depletion, ecological destruction, and political and economic dysfunction.

But what of the futures that, to our current understanding of the world, sound superstitious at best, insane at worst, but that may be completely feasible within a radically different cultural frame of reference? There are inevitably myriad types of technologies that could conceivably work within our world, following the rules of physics as we understand them, and could be hugely useful—but that we would never imagine due to our culture’s particular habits of thoughts and focuses of scientific inquiry and discovery. Further, the limited scientific materialist worldview so dominant in our current culture that claims that only those things that can be measured by our current instruments of measurement are real, and that all other things are not—or are superstition, or nonsense, or the failure of rational thought—undoubtedly cuts off consideration and discovery and use of very real phenomena that is dismissed out of hand simply because it doesn’t conform to our particular cultural expectations.

Hannes Rollins wrote an essay about this, “The Ebbing Away of Understanding,” in the recent tenth issue of the magazine. He questions what the role of magic, religion, and superstition should be in deindustrial science fiction. I asked the same in the letters section of that issue, writing in part:

[Hannes Rollins] asked [me] what the policy was on magic in Into the Ruins, to which I responded that I honestly was not sure. As I am open to the idea of a mysterious, even magic universe, I do not want to eliminate it entirely. And certainly, I heartily encourage a preponderance of magic and religion in the cultures of the future written about in the magazine, as those elements will play a role in future cultures just as commonly as they have played a role in past ones. The question, then, is not so much the belief in these in future cultures, or in the portrayal of behavior and practices structured around those beliefs, but in the question of if manifestations of those beliefs in the physical world should be allowed—or if such manifestations would violate natural laws as we currently understand them.

Many people today, of course, would argue that they would, though claims of such occurrences go as far back as we have records and memory. I believe the case is not nearly so clear-cut, as just because the scientific method has so far provided no way of explaining a variety of phenomena experienced by humans throughout the world does not mean that such phenomena doesn’t exist. On the other hand, my casual readings of [John Michael] Greer, combined with my own beliefs about the world, are enough to convince me that any real-world manifestations found in the practice of magic are limited in a wide variety of ways; Harry Potter, in other words, is not an accurate guide to real world magic—nor is most any other representation of magic in popular culture.

If a practicing mage edited and published Into the Ruins, perhaps she would have an easier time grappling with this question. I, however, am not one; my interest in magic has never really passed the curiosity stage and is limited to reading what other people with actual experience actually think. So what is possible and what is not, what is realistic and what is not: that is not something I feel qualified to judge at the moment.

So again, we are left with the question of what is the appropriate place of magic in deindustrial science fiction? I have no clear answer to that question. But I believe it’s one worth grappling with.

For those of you subscribers and purchasers of the magazine who have yet to read Mr. Rollins’ essay, or my own letter, I encourage you to do so. And I ask the same question I did in the most recent issue: What do you think should be the role of magic and religion in deindustrial science fiction, and how do we navigate those complex and in many ways foreign concepts in a culture that so utterly disavows them?

I want your thoughts. I want a conversation in the letters to the editor section of the magazine, or longer response essays to my letter and Hannes’ essay. Therefore, I invite any and all readers to make their own attempts at grappling with the above question in letters to the editors or essays of any length, submitted to me at editor@intotheruins.com or via a comment on this blog post. Your thoughts may just end up in a future issue of the magazine—and may just spark a future great work of deindustrial science fiction.

Let’s hear it. And thank you.


P.S. Don’t miss our Fall Sale going on right now for a limited time! All back issues (#1-9) are just $10 each and ALL orders ship FREE in the U.S. Take advantage today!