So the results are up. Some of you may remember I did some drive-by commentary on some of the nominees (novels, novellas, novellettes, short stories), so… meh. Biggest (pleasant) surprise here is Zen Cho’s win in the novellette category; I really loved that work but didn’t think it would win. So… yay for being wrong on that one.
So last weekend was GAMMA.CON, and for my sins I ended up manning the CSFG‘s booth through most of Saturday. We had a shared table with Conflux and it was, uh. An experience. Part of it was possibly the placement; we were up in the back corner near all the sword and prop manufacturers, when we’d probably have been more suited to being in the author’s alley segment. And part of it was straight-up lack of planning; our notification was very, uh. Short. So it was definitely a last-minute scramble to organize things to actually put on the table. We did okay—anthologies were sold, tentaplushies were squeezed—mostly thanks to the arrival of Kaaron Warren, who’s much better at this sort of thing than yours truly.
… is it really only like three days until we launch the Unnatural Order Kickstarter? Eek!
Kickstarter is hard, y’all. Like, my husband literally had an MBA from Harvard and his childhood best friend (and our neighbor) is a professional modeller for a Big 4 firm and it’s still hard to work out exactly what money we need and what rewards to offer. Like… I think we’ve got it. But… yeah. Phew. Yikes.
The dragon on her hoard. The horror in its void. The word-spanning AI. The demon reaping souls. Too often fiction portrays the non-human as Other; as a threat to be destroyed, to be conquered… or to be “saved”, assimilated back into the teeming throngs of humanity.
Not this time. This time, it’s the non-humans’ turn. What is life like, to be imperfect. To observe humanity from without? What does it mean to be seen as horrific, to be rejected… and to overcome that? Or embrace it? To embrace it or reject it? And what does our love of these stories tell us can we, as human readers, learn from that about ourselves?
Unnatural Order is an anthology for strange days and grotesque beauty, as the monstrous seeps out from the dark, and makes the light its own.
Sounds awesome? OF COURSE IT DOES! Monsters, man! Monsters! I can’t believe someone gave me and Lyss the opportunity to make an entire goddamn short story anthology of monsters.
Oh, and did I mention we’re looking to launch this at next year’s WorldCon? Because we totally are.
Because that’s a super-tight timeframe, submissions are open, like. Now. Until October. Next month we’ll also be launching a Kickstarter, managed by Rivqa, who you may remember from the totally awesome, multi-award-winning Mother of Invention anthology. The base project is funding (i.e. there’ll be something at the end), but the Kickstarter is for things like paying authors more, commissioning interior art,2 and actually paying the people we’ve currently got volunteering on services like copyediting and layout. For you guys, however, the Kickstarter is a way to, a) pre-order copies of the final anthology, including an exclusive hardback edition, and b) get sweet, sweet monster-related merch. So… definitely keep an eyestalk out.
And, finally, to celebrate: Liesmith will be free on Amazon for the next week. So… monsters! Eee!
Yet I have come to suspect these punk derivatives signal something more than the usual merry-go-round of pop culture. These punks indicate that something is broken in our science fiction. Indeed, even when they reject it, these new subgenres often repeat the same gestures as cyberpunk, discover the same facts about the world, and tell the same story. Our hacker hero (or his magic-wielding counterpart) faces a huge system of power, overcomes long odds, and finally makes the world marginally better—but not so much better that the author can’t write a sequel. The 1980s have, in a sense, never ended; they seem as if they might never end.
We are still, in many ways, living in the world Reagan and Thatcher built—a neoliberal world of growing precarity, corporate dominance, divestment from the welfare state, and social atomization. In this sort of world, the reliance on narratives that feature hacker protagonists charged with solving insurmountable problems individually can seem all too familiar. In the absence of any sense of collective action, absent the understanding that history isn’t made by individuals but by social movements and groups working in tandem, it’s easy to see why some writers, editors, and critics have failed to think very far beyond the horizon cyberpunk helped define. If the best you can do is worm your way through gleaming arcologies you played little part in building—if your answer to dystopia is to develop some new anti-authoritarian style, attitude, or ethos—you might as well give up the game, don your mirrorshades, and admit you’re still doing cyberpunk (close to four decades later).
Lee Konstantinou on postpunk.
I’ve probably mentioned before that I am endlessly, endlessly cynical about anything with the suffix -punk attached to it, because to me it immediately flags someone as not learning a single damn thing from history.
You know what killed the punks? Like, the original ones?1 Capitalism. That’s always the failure mode of punk; it always sells out, or is appropriated. It’s turned into a marketable aesthetic, into thousand dollar handbags, into liberal communist propaganda for bougie middle-class kids who want to play in the sandpit of rebellion while not, ultimately, doing anything to change a system they know2 will benefit them in the end. And, okay sure. You could make that argument about everything—we live in a late-stage-capitalist hellhole, et cetera—but the fact that we apparently keep recycling this one particular failure mode over and over and over again, with an apparent utter lack of irony, is just frustrating.
Think up a new suffix, kids. Please. And stop retreading the same old paths dressed in different clothes. Trust on this: if you want to get somewhere different, you’re going to have to walk into the scrub.
What’s this? A mascot for a (semi) secret new project? Ooh…
Also: yes! I actually inked something! And then cell-shaded it! I, like, never do either of those things but… this turned out okay? There are a few spots I’m not happy with and might revisit eventually before [SPOILERS REDACTED] but, other than that… whee! Crab-robot person! Their name is Ai! Because lawlz obvious jokes.
New books! Mostly my haul from Continuum, plus one Kickstarter reward, and one book from Japan. Titles include:
- Andrzej Sapkowski, The Last Wish
- Alison Evans, Highway Bodies
- Marlee Jane Ward, Welcome to Orphancorp
- J.S. Breukelaar, Aletheia
- Amanda Bridgeman, The Subjugate
- the remaining B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth collected volumes
- the Over the Edge core rulebook
- a touristy artbook of demon and ghost ukiyo-e works I bought from a museum in Harajuku.
Also, if you squint, in the top left of the image you can see the box of Werewolf: the Apocalypse character sheets from the game we haven’t played for like a year because half the players decided to have a baby. Pfft.