We welcome Jonathan Olfert, author of “The Thousand Tongues of Sara” in The Future Fire #64, to answer a few short questions.
|Art by Cécile Matthey, © 2023
Jonathan Olfert: I found a lot of meaning in the fear and excitement of engaging with a diverse universe through languages and food. I’ve lived in something like fifteen towns and cities across North America: I’ve blundered through language barriers and loved all manner of cuisines.
TFF: What other species on Earth do you think should count as sapient (if we manage not to drive them to extinction in the meantime)?
JO: Drawing a firm person/not-person dichotomy has rarely been on the right side of history, but based on metacognition, tool-making, ritual, humor, and language, yes, some kinds of cephalopods, great apes, and cetaceans are people. Where the rubber hits the road: I eat pork but not octopus.
TFF: What are you working on next?
JO: These days I’m trying genre after genre to see what really clicks. I’ve sold bits of paleofiction, horror, poetry, and sword-and-sorcery, and I’ve given myself permission to write about neurodivergent people like me. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll be engrossed in romance and experimental lit fic. It could happen.
Humans, the matriarch Sara understood, experienced time as a thing to be counted, as if days were hyenas guarding a watering hole. They’d used only numbers (310 days each way, plus 40 on the alien world, all carefully translated) to tell her how long she’d be away from Earth. What they should have said, if they cared, was that she’d miss family and sky as long as any of her pregnancies had been, with just as many tears.
Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories, poems or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html.