After forty years of bringing science fiction and fantasy stories to life, Leading Edge commemorates its founders and continues its legacy in the 75th issue.
Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, a group of students who love science fiction and fantasy gather in the Joseph Knight Building’s publication lab. Their task can only be described as a timeless passion project which has survived and evolved throughout generations.
The origin of Leading Edge magazine goes back to 1980, when a group of BYU creative writing students had a vision of creating a high-quality, student-run magazine featuring science fiction and fantasy stories. Its founders, who include Dave Doering, Mike and Rayda Reed, and Shayne Bell, typeset their first issue using typewriters and stapled by hand each of the 100 copies they printed.
When the magazine was in its first stages of development, founder Dave Doering remembers that the staff were “all very much aware that the magazine’s life depended on [them] doing a good job.”
Leading Edge has continued to progress as staff members rotate through and technology advances, but no matter who is running the publication, their goal always remains the same: to prove that students are capable of creating and publishing a high-quality literary magazine. And they have been largely successful in this goal, as Leading Edge is now counted among the longest running science fiction and fantasy magazines in the industry.
This year, the Leading Edge staff published their 75th issue, which they dubbed their “Quarter Quell” in homage to the Hunger Games trilogy. It features “Retrospectives” from alumni who worked at the magazine as well as an exclusive interview with Doering. Achieving the longevity that this magazine has is a considered a huge accomplishment in and of itself, but the staff has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
For most students, the end of the semester means a lot of time in the library. But for the staff of Leading Edge, it also means that it’s crunch time in the publication lab. Because the magazine is staffed by students, the publication schedule runs adjacent to fall and winter semesters; and each semester, the editors race the clock to publish their semiannual issue.
Current editor-in-chief, Tina Hawley, noted that this rush at the end of each semester is actually her favorite time at the magazine: “Toward the end of the semester, we’re putting stuff into InDesign, we’ve got the art in, and we start to see it all coming together. Everyone’s doing eight different things at once and it’s absolutely insane; yet, things are still happening. It’s kind of magical.”
Hawley also talked about the unique community that has developed among the staff of the magazine. She stated, “It’s this weird blend of professionalism and acceptance that makes this magazine special.”
Abigail Miner, managing editor and previous editor-in-chief, agreed with Hawley, saying, “I enjoy working on Leading Edge because it’s just a lot of fun to go to the meetings. Even if we’re just reading on our laptops for most of the meeting, every so often we have a nerdy discussion or go off on tangents about some TV show or book or character and it’s great!”
Leading Edge is a place for people from all majors and disciplines to come together and share their love of all things science fiction and fantasy. Its roles range from a social gathering to a way to gain publishing experience to a labor of love, but one thing is clear: everyone there is committed to continuing Leading Edge magazine’s timeless legacy.
Leading Edge meets every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7:30-9:00 p.m. They accept volunteers of all majors and experience levels. For more information on how to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
—Heather Bergeson (English ’22)