The Art of Empathy: New column in Shoreline of Infinity 7

Yesterday was the Spring Equinox, so that means both a new issue of Shoreline of Infinity and a new installment of my column, Noise and Sparks. This one arrives during interesting times, and for that reason, I feel like it needs a little preamble.

Some columns are tricky because you can’t decide what to write about, and some columns give you trouble because you don’t know how to write about that what. This one was like a blinding light in pitch darkness, as if there was nothing else to write about. I can’t remember when I’ve had such a clear idea of what I’ve wanted to cover – or been so terrified about doing so.

Writing about empathy in art at a time when anti-human rights movements have control of major governments across the world seems like a fool’s game. Yet I’ve never felt so strongly about its importance. Books and art and movies and music are the ways by which we learn about voices other than our own – and those ways will become ever more important as these voices become drowned out by those who should support them. Empathy is the core of truth in an artist’s work, no matter what the subject. But for those who equate empathy with agreement, this can be a controversial statement. In this column, I talk about this knot, and ways in which artists have endeavoured to untangle it in times of hatred – and a little known portrait of Hitler by a failed soldier, a man who’d later become author of one of the most celebrated Fantasy trilogies in history, Mervyn Peake.

Amongst the rest of the issue, you’ll find poetry from Jane Yolen, as well as an interview with the woman herself, stories from David L Clements, Dan Grace, and Katie Gray, the latest in Monica Burns‘ SF Caledonia series, comics and more, all wrapped in a new Stephen Pickering cover. It’s available online now.

Oh, and by the way: if you’ve not yet voted for this year’s Hugo Awards, did you know Shoreline is eligible for Best Semi-pro Zine?

Just saying.