Engaging big questions is part of the DNA of this magazine, so it seems fitting that the summer issue poses one that, while seemingly whimsical, is nontheless important—namely, how can we better understand ourselves through the animals around us? The question is a layered one, invested with themes of stewardship, responsibility, imagination, devotion, even citizenship.
And while 224 pages on the subject is just the shallows of a much deeper conversation, the range of content—from a report on antipoaching efforts in the Central African Republic to another on the public health quandaries raised by the infamous Aedes aegypti mosquito in the US and abroad; from an essay on Mozart’s pet starling to a portfolio that reimagines the art and artifice of natural history—suggests the complexity of our relationship with animals.
The questions raised here are also about influence. How do parakeets, seemingly inconsequential against the urban lightshow of Tokyo, inspire a photographic case study? What’s lost when a frog smaller than a quarter disappears from the face of the Earth? What does the chronic behavior of elephants in captivity tell us about the deteriorating effects of keeping them? Can a city ever replace the habitat it erased? What’s our problem with bugs, anyway? Is it ludicrous to argue that conservation also applies to the stars?
VQR has long been committed to asking big questions motivated by the principles of literary excellence and passionate curiosity. The summer issue follows this tradition in a way that offers plenty of insight and surprises.
A logistical note: This summer, on a weekly basis, we’ll be rolling out new content from a variety of genres—from reporting to poetry, fiction to photography. To keep up, we encourage you to sign up for VQR’s e-mail newsletter. Of course, if you prefer to dive into the entire issue at once, you should definitely subscribe.