Editor's Desk: Best. Wife. Ever.
Typically, the art I select for the cover doesn’t have any particular connection to that issue’s contents. I’ve always viewed the cover as its own feature, independent of the rest. During one of my recent monthly art quests, I came across Rudy Faber’s “Robot in Love” and I knew right away that I wanted it for this issue. No, it has nothing to do with any of the stories or articles. On April 1st, Lisa and I will celebrate our twenty-first wedding anniversary.
We don’t look like this couple, of course, but it’s easy to project our path onto theirs. I like to think they get past that awkward beginning phase and eventually get married. They have Peeps as hors d'oeuvres at the reception and rocket off to somewhere a bit warmer for their honeymoon. They sell a termite-infested house to buy the house to buy another one that they’ll raise their children in, and a few years later, they have a little cyborg running around. Three more years in and they have a set that never fail to entertain and inspire. Sure, they’ll be some rough spots: the loss of a third child in pregnancy; his mechanical heart failing and needing some organic parts to keep going; betrayals by friends, being fired, and more; but together they weather it all.
This robot/cyborg loves his wife and family. We know how lucky we are.
When our first son was born, Lisa quit her day job to stay home and raise the kids. Financially, it was tough, but we both valued that aspect of our childhoods and wanted our children raised that way. It’s meant that for the last sixteen years I’ve been the primary source of income for our family and that has meant continuing a twenty-seven year technology career in academia. For many years, I loved that career and I was happy doing it. Lisa humored and encouraged my side businesses—a bookstore, then a magazine and publishing company—and even started a few of her own (Polka Dot Cottage). I don’t think either of us suspected that one of these would present itself as a second career for me, however.
Since my heart attack, nearly four years ago, I’ve been actively trying to build Clarkesworld into that career. Each year is better than the last, and with Forever, The SFWA Bulletin, The Best Science Fiction of the Year series, and other anthology projects beginning to pile on the plate, I’m finally running into a wall: time. The day job is now an obstacle to future success.
Sixteen years since leaving the traditional workforce, Lisa is going back to work, not because she wants to, but so that I’ll be able to jump at some of the recent opportunities. Her job—when she gets one—will provide the health insurance we need and cover the income gap between the day job and editing income. It’s not here yet, but I’m simply overwhelmed by this gift, and promise that I’ll be working hard to make sure I can do the same for her sometime soon.
What else can I say but “Best. Wife. Ever.”
Neil Clarke is the editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series. He is a ten-time finalist and current winner of the Hugo Award for Best Editor (Short Form), has won the Chesley Award for Best Art Director three times, and received the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award from SFWA in 2019. His latest anthology, New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction (co-edited with Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang), is now available from Clarkesworld Books. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two sons.