If you’re not afraid of dragons

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Michelle Jones | Features Editor

In a famous 1974 essay, sci-fi and fantasy author Ursula LeGuin asked, “Why are Americans afraid of dragons?” In today’s culture, it’s interesting to speculate if she would ask the same question.

With the box office success of movies like “The Avengers” and “The Lord of the Rings” and the far-reaching cultural impact of the “Harry Potter” series, it seems like Americans have—to some extent—quelled their fears of fantasy. In fact, many of the popular stories of our time incorporate aspects of fantasy, science fiction, or horror—a group that fits inside the encompassing term of “speculative fiction.”

UVU’s Warp & Weave is a literary journal dedicated to speculative fiction, poetry and art. A team of UVU students runs the journal under the direction of a faculty adviser, producing one journal in the fall semester and one in the spring.

Each semester, the Warp & Weave staff looks through the submissions they receive—most submissions come through fellow UVU students—and choose a selection of short stories, poetry, and art to appear in the journal. Staff members then work with the chosen authors, editing the pieces and preparing them for publication.

Warp & Weave, along with UVU’s other student-run publications, provides engaged learning for students on both sides of the process. Writers can claim published works on a resume and learn how to work with publishers and editors. The Warp & Weave staff members learn the ins and outs of the publishing process and gain valuable editing and typesetting experience.

Warp & Weave believes in the necessity of imagination. That is the origin of the term “speculative,” after all—to speculate, to imagine, and to ask unabashed questions. LeGuin, in the same essay, prepared an answer for the inevitable counter to this assertion: why is imagination necessary? She stated that imaginative fiction deepens our understanding of the world, the people around us, and ourselves. Having a speculative journal at UVU reminds everyone on campus of the importance of imagination.

Science fiction explores new worlds and technologies, but these futuristic elements often remind us of modern ethical questions and current events. Fantasy and horror invoke the supernatural—dragons, zombies, wizards, and the like—but they also summon a part of the human experience into the tale, allotting readers a safe space to deal with hopes, wonders, desires and fears. In essence, Warp & Weave publishes works that warp the expectations of reality but still manage to weave in those human elements that every reader can connect to.

The journal will launch at the end of the semester. Once launched, physical copies can be bought at the English department office. Additionally, the staff is pursuing e-publication and audiobook versions of the journal this semester.

The submissions deadline for Warp & Weave’s Spring 2015 issue has already passed, but there are still opportunities to contribute this semester. Students who would like to be a member of the staff this semester, can still contact them at [email protected] or visit their Facebook page.

Submission guidelines and deadlines for the coming fall can be found on Warp & Weave’s Facebook for any students who want to submit any of their works for onsideration-be they poesm, short stories or art, as long as they have a speculative slant.

America might not be afraid of dragons anymore, but as a society we will lose the imaginative power that’s gained from speculative fiction if readers and writers alike son’t actively seek to foster a fantasy-friendly culture. Warp & Weave stands as a constant reminder to both UVU and the local community that there is always a place for imagination.