The publication of the Journal of Interplanetary Lycan Studies is an opportune time to reflect on the history of our field and what we already know. Although lycans have existed in the histories of all human civilizations and have indeed been embraced in many communities, the rise of European colonialism in the 16th century spread lycanthrophobia worldwide, suppressing many lycan-oriented institutions around the globe. Asylums became the standard “treatment” for lycans; research on lycanthropy was forbidden. Lycans would not begin to regain basic rights until mass decolonization in the 20th century, and although lycan studies arose around that time, the field remained small until midway through the 20th century. At the same time, research on outer space began to take off. It took the space race of the 1950s and various concurrent movements to depathologize lycanthropy for lycans and non-lycans alike to unite to understand the factors that contribute to lycanthropy.
Lycans were one of the first to show enthusiasm over space travel: lycans, after all, are fascinated with celestial objects. When NASA launched the Apollo moon program, so many lycans did not shrink from the dangers and uncertainties of such a journey, but instead tried to sign up to be a part of the program. In the 1960s, though, lycanthropy was still considered a disqualifying condition for space travel. Concerned about the safety of non-lycan astronauts, NASA banned all lycans from space travel. Despite protests from lycan activists and their supporters, Apollo 11 was launched in 1969 with no lycans aboard.
It would not be until the launch of Chang’e-18 in 2071 that humanity would have another chance at landing on the moon. By that time, lycans had gained more recognition, in no small part because of increased lycan presence in international media. Park Hyesoo in particular leveraged her successful career as an actress with global appeal to advance a platform of her various lycan rights interests. Most countries now considered lycanthropy a protected class for employment and housing purposes, though legal protection often did not erase social stigma. Despite backlash and protests, this time from anti-lycan groups, Chang’e-18’s team had two lycans in lead positions: Liu Jianrong and Wang Yingya. Liu Jianrong was particularly notable for being the first openly nonbinary astronaut, hir shy smile and signature peace sign endearing hir to the public.
The general consensus among lycanists was that Chang’e-18 would shed light on many of our questions about lycanthropy. But Chang’e-18 posed more questions than it answered. Yang proved to be more sensitive to moonlight than her fellow crew member, Liu. We had experience on Earth that demonstrated that lycanthropy is more a spectrum than a single condition, but to see these individual differences play out on another celestial body captured our collective imagination. Is it the way sunlight interacts with moonrocks that creates some sort of radiation that lycans cannot tolerate? Or is it our position as living beings experiencing the light of a tidal-locked natural satellite that allows lycan transformation? Many have attempted to create artificial “moonlamps” to answer the first question, but none have been able to capture the essence of that light. The second question remains unanswered.
As space travel progressed, so, too, did our knowledge. In 2093, Themba Adebayo led a majority-lycan crew to Mars and discovered that neither the Martian moon Deimos nor the Martian moon Phobos triggered any metamorphosis of the crew members. Stops on the surface of both Deimos and Phobos revealed that neither was reflective—no members of the crew, not even Rhoda Adeyemi, the most sensitive to moonlight, experienced any mental or physical effects after exposure to the surface. In 2102, Maryam Badawi led a mission to dwarf planet Ceres and found the conditions conducive for suppressing lycanthropic metamorphosis. But, with an average surface temperature of 168K, Ceres was otherwise inhospitable for human life.
As we welcome in a new century, so too do we begin a new chapter of interplanetary travel. The gas giants are now within our reach, and along with them come a formidable set of moons. The Triton Papers of the Metztli-8 mission, included in this issue, offer a curious look into lycanthropy on Neptune: Rather than experience any classic symptoms of lycanthropy or any metamorphoses, the lycan crew members of the Metztli-8 mission reported feeling better than they had felt on Earth. Luciano Velázquez in particular reported that he felt “superhuman—as if [his] mind were limitless, as if the world had suddenly, inexplicably, become much clearer.” The crew of Metztli-8 theorize that Triton’s retrograde orbit, in conjunction with its size, close proximity to Neptune, and high reflectivity, contribute to almost a reversal of typical lycanthropy symptoms, leading to better mood regulation and a sharpening of executive function. These papers are the first instance of close contact with a retrograde moon and offer insight to a factor that had not previously been considered in lunar studies.
It is our hope with the establishment of the Journal of Interplanetary Lycan Studies that our dynamic field continues to grow. As we explore more distant reaches of the galaxy, we uncover more truths about lycan experiences. We develop a more nuanced understanding of lycanthropy, and lycans continue to survive—to thrive. No longer confined to asylums during the full moon and locked in for fear of themselves, lycans now approach moons with courage and curiosity. This is only the beginning of the latest journey for lycankind.
Anneke Halim, Ph.D., Editor
August 16, 2198 ❈
Originally published in Mad Scientist Journal, Summer 2017.