Words By Dani Hedlund, Art By Zach Meyer
Dear lovely reader,
Two years ago, I was lucky enough to interview Hart Hanson—the brilliant mind behind the show Bones—who took a break from the silver screen to write a crime novel called The Driver. It’s a fun romp full of mystery and sex and guns, but buried beneath all the adventure, a central question brews: Can someone be both a great and a good person?
That conversation has never left me. I bring it up frequently—at work, at home, when I’ve had too many glasses of wine and I can’t stop waxing philosophical. Because, if we look at history, the mutual exclusivity of being good and great is pretty stark.
Look at our greatest world leaders, our brightest minds, the names that grace the spines of our most beloved classics. Their biographies are often littered with broken families and mental health issues. Cleopatra, Nero, Sylvia Plath, Marilyn Monroe, Robin Williams all committed suicide, riddled with heartache, illness, or insurmountable melancholy. And for every suicide, there’s ten times the number of historical powerhouses who were deeply depressed.
From Tesla’s agoraphobia and Van Gogh’s vendetta against his own ear to Alexander the Great’s penchant for death-by-bestie, the conclusion is clear: often those who make the greatest impact on our world are the most unhappy, the most troubled, the most, ah . . . stabbed.
So why, dear reader, are we all killing ourselves to leave a legacy, to make our mark in this world, when the sacrifices that it requires often result in us living a life with little joy? With the least love and trust. With the least “good.”
It’s this massive quandary that our Legacy issue hopes to explore.
In true F(r)iction fashion, you’ll find bone-cuttingly intimate pieces exploring the positive and the downright repulsive tendencies we inherit from those we love. You’ll adventure through wild tales about legacies carried in our blood: curses, prophecies, magic. . . frightening apocalyptic futures. There’s even a stellar historical intro essay exploring the huge rift between creating a lasting legacy and being remembered for it.
As always, I am constantly surprised by how each issue comes together. Our submission pile was full of works that focused not on what we do to create our own legacies—as Hart and I agonized over—but on how the legacies we inherit reshape us. Will we escape the molds our parents poured us into? Will we be strong enough to change the world we inherit? Or, in the end, is our legacy completely out of our control?
Because, if I’ve learned anything from putting this book together, dear reader, it’s that legacy is a tie that binds both ways: the constant pull of those who came before us and the threads we make ourselves, shooting out into the future to make a mark, to weave our name into history, to latch onto those whom we leave behind.
These stories, like our lives, live in the balance between those two forces. And as you navigate them, I hope they inspire you to wonder why we want so desperately to do something worth remembering, and if that desire is the final nail in the coffin of our happiness. Or how, if we are somehow clever and kind enough, we might be able to have both . . .