Sunday 23 December 2012

Outlaw Bodies blog carnival redux

Just before the release of the Outlaw Bodies anthology (paperback: Amzn | UK B&N | Powell's | Foyles | BookDepo etc.; e-book: Wizard's Tower | Amzn | UK) a few weeks ago, we began a blog carnival, logging a series of promotional guest posts and also trying to keep track of what reviews had shown up so far. The anthology has been available from Amazon and other bookstores for just over a month now, and it has been well received as far as I can tell. If you don't have a copy yet, and perhaps you have some gift tokens you need to spend (or even a last minute present to buy for the e-reader in your life), we'll share here a few more posts from people talking about the themes involved and reasons you should read this anthology.

Monday 19 November 2012

New Issue: 2012:25 (Outlaw Bodies)

"The repossession by women of our bodies will bring far more essential change to human society than the seizing of the means of production by workers."
--Adrienne Rich

 [ Issue 2012.25: Outlaw Bodies; cover art © 2012 Robin E. Kaplan ] Issue 2012.25
Outlaw Bodies is an anthology published by our parent imprint Publishing and guest co-edited by Lori Selke.
Outlaw Bodies is available from the usual sellers, including:
Review copies available on request.

Monday 12 November 2012

Guest post: The Clothes Our Bodies Wear

by Anna Caro

In anticipation of a new job, I went on a shopping expedition the other week. The results included three pairs of black trousers, officially women’s but as unisex looking as these things get really, which I needed to have taken up, two shirts and a knitted vest (men’s) and a dress, striped at the top with a dark skirt. A successful, if expensive, haul.

It’s always been this way for me, wearing clothing commonly identified with almost the full range of the gender spectrum. As a small child I fluctuated with apparent ease between the smocked, floral dresses my grandmother made, and my favourite brown corduroy dungarees. Even as a teenager, when I wouldn’t have dared shop for men’s clothes, I still scored some items from a batch donated to my brother by a member of his archery club.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Guest Post: Bodies in Utopia, Bodies in Space

This blog deals primarily in speculations about the future of sex, gender, and society. So does the new publication by The Future Fire, the Outlaw Bodies anthology co-edited by Lori Selke.

The book focuses on characters who are yearning for something more, some way out of the binary that is gender, the divide between the flesh and the digital, the disparities and inequalities that result from those dichotomies, and dares the reader to dream of different spaces, of Other spaces.

This collection points to the body in a very specific way: to ask about its limitations and push beyond them.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Guest post: Outlaw Bodies: Furries

by Kyell Gold

If you’ve been on the Internet in the last five years, you probably know about furries—or think you do. (Hint: It’s not just people who wear costumes.) Furries have been around for twenty years, and the community they’ve built in that time has become one of the more open and welcoming to all kinds of people who often can’t find a home in mainstream society. Early on, for reasons that are still debated in the community, the LGBT presence in the fandom was very strong. That openness has persisted to the present day and grown even wider. Before civil unions were even legal, gay couples held hands and openly expressed their commitment at furry conventions. Transgendered and transsexual people move in the community with confidence.

People often ask why these and other diverse communities have found a home in furry. It’s a complicated question that I’m not going to answer in one post. But I think it has a lot to do with one of the core aspects of the furry fandom.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Guest post: Hush!

by Kay T. Holt

I have a secret. A gift. It sets me apart in ways that are both dangerous and rewarding; it’s like being a superhero. I can’t fly or walk through walls, but I do have a special sense: I’m hard of hearing. I think of it as the opposite of ESP. Anything others can hear, I can hear... Differently. If at all.

In the ordinary world, my hearing loss is disadvantageous. I rarely pass a day without blundering into social pitfalls as a result of missing or mis-hearing something subtle or important. And I can’t just listen-up for threats like most people. Cars, bicyclists, creepers on my tail? Even if someone helpful shouts a warning, I may not hear it. And if I do, I may not understand what I’ve heard in time for it to make a difference. After a lifetime of injuries and insults, I’ve developed survival habits: I glance over my shoulder a lot, always double-check before crossing the street, keep my back to the wall, stay as far to one side of paths and sidewalks as I can, and look up often from whatever I’m reading or fiddling with in my hands. Whenever I’m out with someone and they ask why I’m distracted, I tell them, “I’m just paying attention.” To everything, all the time. It’s exhausting.

Friday 19 October 2012

Guest post: Pygmalion and Galatea

by Jo Thomas

You might be familiar with the names Pygmalion and Galatea. In the classical myth, Pygmalion is the sculptor who scorned the women of his city as being imperfect of feature and character, and who created a beautiful sculpture, called Galatea in many versions. Pygmalion finally found a woman he could love and, after the sculpture was brought to life, they apparently lived happily ever after. That’s the short, short version.

What does this have to do with Outlaw Bodies? Well, several things can be taken from the idea of having a relationship with a perfectly formed statue that’s recently been brought to life but let’s go with image and perception. As the William James quote goes:

“Whenever two people meet there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him and each man as he really is.”

However the story is put together, Pygmalion and Galatea’s relationship revolves around one main point: Pygmalion is the creator who has made his choice, Galatea is his creation and honours that choice (or not, depending on the version). When it works, it is because their perceptions of each other match up.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Outlaw Bodies Blog Carnival

For the next few weeks, up until and possibly beyond the release of the Outlaw Bodies anthology (Amzn (US) | Amzn (UK) | Lulu | e-book), we're holding a blog carnival: every couple of days we'll either post here or guest-post elsewhere something related to the anthology, its authors and contributors, or outlaw bodies/feminist/queer/trans*/disability/race/cyberpunk/posthuman issues generally. If you post or spot anything in this theme that we've missed here, please let me know (or leave a comment) and we'll add it to the list.

Posts so far:
Reviews of Outlaw Bodies:

    Saturday 13 October 2012

    Outlaw Bodies contributors' joint interview

    Cover art, Robin E. KaplanThe Outlaw Bodies anthology, conceived by Lori Selke and co-edited with The Future Fire, will be released in early November in print and e-book; a few of the stories will also be published online in a special issue of TFF magazine. The book collects speculative fiction stories that deal with the control, repression or regulation of the human—or post-human—body. To set the scene, we’d like to introduce you to the contributors and editors as they ask each other questions in this serial interview.

    Djibril asks Jo: Is there a story behind your choice of subject-matter for “Good Form”? Did you have an actor or celebrity in mind for the Form we meet in the story? (If you didn’t, who do you think would be the first person to license their image like this?)

    Jo Thomas: There isn’t any particular story behind it—just the usual underlying fascination with the train-wreck that is celebrity public life. I have difficulty reading people and I always wonder what the gap is between what I see and what is presented. Likewise, with celebrity, I wonder what the gap is between what is presented and the person behind the presentation. In terms of “Good Form”, I was thinking of a number of male actors who get something of a reputation for being, well, let’s go with “charming”. A characteristic that would sell well and the original might be happy to licence off, particularly if he were unlikely to run into any copies and end up charming the same people!

    Sunday 30 September 2012

    Outlaw Bodies review copies

    The Outlaw Bodies speculative fiction anthology is now complete, and will be available to purchase in paperback and e-book in November. In the meantime, if you are a reviewer, a book blogger, or someone else with an audience you'd like to share this news with, we can provide e-book review copies in all common formats.

    Details: Lori Selke & Djibril al-Ayad (eds.), Outlaw Bodies. Publishing, 2012. Pp. 167. ISBN 978-0-9573975-0-7. £8.00/$13.00.

    Cover blurb: "In this anthology, you will find artists, mothers, and academics; bodies constructed of flesh and of bone, of paper and metal and plastic. Bodies formed of bouncing, buzzing electrons, waves and particles of light. Bodies grown and bodies sewn, glued, folded and sutured. And all of them standing in defiance of the rules and regulations designed to bind them." (from Lori's introduction)

    If you might be interested in taking a look at this book—and hopefully writing a review of it—we can provide Kindle (mobi), EPUB or PDF copies. (Print won't be available for a few weeks, and we'll have a limited budget for review copies.) If there's any other information we can provide you with, or if you're interested in an interview or feature of some kind, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

    Monday 17 September 2012

    Interview: Jungle Jim magazine

    1. What was the inspiration for setting up Jungle Jim and what is the ethos/agenda of the magazine?
      I think both of us (Hannes and Jenna) were at a stage when we were working on things that were dependent on outside factors – people, money, circumstance etc. It was becoming frustrating and we dreamt of having a creative project which we could run on our own terms – something we felt was important, but also not too serious (Little did we know…). One day it just reached a crisis point – we were sharing an office at the time – and we decided to start a magazine. Hannes has a background in independent publishing, but I had absolutely none – so we were guided by very little other than what we thought we could achieve, and for which we felt there was a need. Looking around, there were very few print magazines offering the magical combination of storytelling and images I remembered from childhood. We wanted the adult version – something different, shocking, ‘out there’ – and where I could sometimes get away with publishing my own writing! At the same time, I was becoming more and more interested in pulp writing, the ethos of that time – where writing was accessible, imaginative, visual, dramatic, narrative-driven and relatively ego-less (for better or worse). Of course, it’s easy to idealise that time, but we felt there was also a lot to learn – especially in a country where reading is not the entertainment of choice. We became fascinated with the idea of western pop-genre ‘clashing’ with Africa, of the new truths and exciting ideas this could reveal – and potentially the sacred cows we might upset. So we launched the magazine with this ethos: “Jungle Jim is a bi-monthly illustrated print publication, aiming to showcase narrative- and concept-driven African stories. Taking from the pulp tradition, we publish short and serialised fiction that entertains and engrosses in all dramatic genres, accessible to all, but with a high quality of writing. We seek to publish stories that explore the collision between the visceral daring of pulp and the reality of living in Africa.” And our motto is: “African tales of the uncanny and the unexpected.”

    Monday 10 September 2012

    New Issue 2012.24

    “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
    --Anaïs Nin

    Issue 2012.24
     [ Issue 2012.24; Cover art © 2012 Cécile Matthey ]
    Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

    Sunday 9 September 2012

    We See a Different Frontier CFS: extended deadline

    As announced three months ago, we are seeking submissions for a colonialism-themed anthology of new stories told from the perspective of those with experience of colonization or postcolonial cultures, titled We See a Different Frontier, to be guest edited by Fabio Fernandes and published by The Future Fire. (See the original Call for Submissions for all rules and pay scale.)

    The call for submissions was due to close one week from today. We have received many excellent submissions in this time, but we would like to give more authors who have not yet had a chance to write a story on this theme, particularly authors with underrepresented perspectives (including those whose first language may not be English) the opportunity to do so. Rather than offer this extension of the submissions deadline only to a few authors who have already asked for it, we are keeping the reading period for this anthology open for a few weeks longer, until October 31st 2012.

    All stories that are currently held for further consideration will remain in our shortlist until this new closing date, at which point we will make our final decision about the contents of the anthology.

    Monday 16 July 2012


    by Ernest Hogan

    So it's not just me. Things are happening here in Azltán, the Aztec homeland, the part of the United States of America that was once Mexico. The future has arrived, and it's firing imaginations.

    It started with a post by Rudy Ch. Garcia, Spic vs spec – 1. Chicanos/latinos & sci-fi lit, in La Bloga about his story “Last Call for Ice Cream” in the webzine Flurb. A critic said, “It has so much slang that it become tiresome very quickly.” After a few brain clicks, Rudy asked, “Do Chicanos/latinos read sci-fi?” and “How many are writing sci-fi? Should more latinos be writing it?

    This got responses from science fiction writing Latinos that triggered Spic vs spec – 2. providing some background, and answering questions from the readers.

    So I had to devote my next Chicanonautica column (every first and second Thurday in La Bloga), to Sci-Fi Evolution and Revolution in the Global Barrio in which I gave examples of science fictional art and even polticial discussion, gave some advice to aspiring scifiistas, and even plugged The Future Fire and We See a Different Frontier.

    In Spic vs spec – 3. Rudy went on to ask about where science fiction readers are (both Anglo and Latino), the need for entry-level books in the genre, and that “future jobs will be filled by someone who will likely have an interest in sci-fi lit.”

    The series ended with Spic vs spec – 4. Rudy got a response from a publisher that was interested in, and had published multicultural science fiction and fantasy for, the young adult audience and gave a nod to David Macinnis Gill's Black Hole Sun, a YA about a Latino mercenary on Mars.

    I went on with another Chicanonautica, Chewing Scifiista Holes in the Tortilla Curtain with links to blogs dealing with science fiction, fantasy, and horror in Spanish, plus a few others to help rescue sci-fi from the monocultural ghetto.

    And not to be outdone, Rudy announced the approaching publication of his novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams, a post-cyberpunk tour-de-force that boldly demonstrates how Chicano is a science fiction state of being.

    Things have being stirred up. I hope some writers who hadn't considered science fiction as a possibility are creating visions of the future the likes of which no one has ever seen.

    And I encourage those of you who haven't checked out La Bloga to do so. Some very interesting things are happening there.

    Ernest Hogan is the author of the pioneering Chicano science fiction novel Cortez on Jupiter. His infamous short story “The Frankenstein Penis” has recently become available in the anthology Love That Never Dies. His blog is Mondo Ernesto.

    Thursday 12 July 2012

    Outlaw Bodies ToC

    We’re delighted to be able to announce the table of contents of the forthcoming Outlaw Bodies anthology, published by The Future Fire and guest co-edited by Lori Selke.

    • Emily Capettini, ‘Elmer Bank’
    • Anna Caro, ‘Millie’
    • Fabio Fernandes, ‘The Remaker’
    • Vylar Kaftan, ‘She Called me Baby’
    • Lori Selke, ‘Frankenstein Unraveled’
    • Stacy Sinclair, ‘Winds: NW 20 km/hr’
    • M. Svairini, ‘Mouth’
    • Jo Thomas, ‘Good Form’
    • Tracie Welser, ‘Her Bones, Those of the Dead’
    Plus introduction by Lori Selke and afterword by Kathryn Allan.

    Outlaw Bodies will be available in print and e-book (PDF, Epub, Kindle) from early November 2012. (e-ARCs available from September: contact me if you’re interested in reviewing a copy.)

    Thursday 5 July 2012

    TFFcon July 13th, London

    The Future Fire and Fabio Fernandes are delighted to invite all of our friends, and anyone interested in speculative fiction with a social conscience, to join us for a mini-TFFcon in the upstairs function room of the Coach and Horses, near Oxford Circus, London (directions below), on Friday July 13th at 18:00 (6pm).

    The evening will involve readings, samples and giveaways, convivial chat, eating and drinking. If you'd like to read some of your work, please prepare about 10 minutes-worth and we'll fit you in. If you have any review copies, flyers, or other freebies you'd like to bring along, that would be great too. Any other suggestions most welcome. Email me, leave a comment below, contact us via Twitter,or just bring your idea along on the day.

    I hope to see many old friends and new faces next Friday. Directions below.

    Coach and Horses, 1 Great Marlborough Street, London W1F 7HG: walking directions from Oxford Street Underground (4 mins)

    View Larger Map

    Saturday 30 June 2012

    New Issue 2012.23

    The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.
    -- Aneurin Bevan

    Issue 2012.23
     [ Issue 2012.23; Cover art © 2012 Eric Asaris ]
    Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

    Thursday 14 June 2012

    Interview: Bart Leib of Crossed Genres

    If you hang around the kind of circles we do, you almost certainly know about Crossed Genres, originally a monthly speculative fiction magazine, now a quality small press publisher of anthologies and novels. Over the past few weeks, CG have been running a very successful Kickstarter fundraiser, first to keep the press going, then to resurrect the magazine, and finally—if they make their next stretch goal—to make the magazine a pro paying venue. Given the fine work CG have showcased over the years, allowing them to pay their authors a professional rate would in my view be an excellent, and natural, idea. I urge everyone to support them with a few dollars (or squid or euro or schillings).

    We've asked Bart Leib, co-editor of Crossed Genres Publications, a few questions about their work.

    The Future Fire: You put up a Kickstarter appeal to save Crossed Genres Publications, and received the minimum funding in what seemed like minutes. (Congratulations!) Do you have any specific plans for books that you couldn't have released otherwise? What is the first new thing you're going to do? Are you looking for proposals, submissions?

    Bart Leib: Thanks for the congrats! We're still kind of reeling, and realizing how busy our schedules have suddenly gotten! ;)

    We've never felt that we were restricted from publishing any book on a particular topic. One of the great things about being a small press is that we can publish what we want, and publish more daring ideas that the big publishers can't because they're worried about how much money they'll lose. Being smaller means we can be more flexible, and produce titles unlike anything else available.

    We've never been open to proposals for anthology ideas before, but that's mainly because we're limited on the number of titles we can release. However, I've always wanted to be able to bring aboard a guest editor to spearhead a project they pitch that we'd like to publish but don't have time to handle ourselves. The ability to do that is also limited by funding, so depending on how well the Kickstarter does overall, we may do that in the future.

    And we're always open to novel submissions! We'll be publishing our third novel, Sabrina Vourvoulias' INK, in October! We'd love to find another excellent novel for publication in late 2013.

    TFF: Your stretch goal was to resurrect the fiction magazine incarnation of Crossed Genres, and now you're aiming to make that a pro-paying venue if you receive just a few thousand dollars more. Tell us briefly about the CG magazine format. What made this 'zine stand out from the crowd, in the past?

    BL: Each month, we choose a new genre or theme. And submissions for that issue must combine that genre or theme with some element of science fiction and/or fantasy. Hence the name, 'Crossed Genres'! The structure encourages writers to challenge themselves and as a result we've gotten some truly amazing and unique stories.

    The zine is published online each month, and collected into quarterlies for print and ebook editions. (This may change to biannuals depending on what the Kickstarter enables us to do.)

    We will of course be continuing the practice when the zine re-launches in January. In fact, we've already decided what the theme will be for our first new issue: BOUNDARIES, and all its various interpretations.

    TFF: CG has always been a diversity-friendly magazine and you have been involved in advocacy organizations such as the Outer Alliance. In what ways has the magazine actively promoted inclusiveness and social issues in the past? Do you have any new or different plans to do so in the future?

    BL: We've had issues of the zine dedicated to under-represented groups like LGBTQ and characters of color. This has carried over into our other titles, as we've published books dealing with women and body issues (Fat Girl in a Strange Land), slavery/racism (Broken Slate), immigration (INK, coming in October) and more. We've always actively encouraged stories which address these topics and include these characters, in addition to what any given submission call is for.

    This will always be a part of how CG works, and we're going to step up our efforts in the future. We want writers to know that they don't have to wait for a specific call for characters of color, or LGBTQ, or strong women – they can send us stories with those characters any time! We want those characters represented throughout our publications!

    TFF: What else is on the horizon for Crossed Genres, creatively speaking?

    BL: In July, we're publishing a collection of short stories by Daniel José Older titled Salsa Nocturna. (In their review, Publishers Weekly called Daniel a "rising star of the genre"!) Then in October we're publishing the above mentioned INK. In Jan/Feb 2013 we're releasing Menial: Skilled Labor in Science Fiction (submissions open through June). And we currently have an open submission call for novellas of strong older women, titled Winter Well, which we're hoping to have ready for WisCon 37 in May 2013! Winter Well will be the first time we publish novellas, and we're very excited about it!

    The Kickstarter is also going to provide something new. One of the pledge rewards gives backers input on the subject of an upcoming anthology we'll publish. After the Kickstarter is over we'll talk with those backers and come to some consensus (it's unlikely that everyone will be 100% on board with the final choice, but we'll do our best to satisfy everyone). We've never had this sort of collaborative input before – in fact no one's ever had any say on the topics we've chosen except my co-publisher Kay and I. Who knows, it could bring about an idea that had never occurred to us before!

    TFF: Do you have anything else you'd like to tell our readers about CG or any of your other work?

    BL: CG has always been a labor of love. We never expected to make money from it – and still don't! When Kay lost her job, the easiest thing to do would have been to shut CG down… no one would even have blamed us, considering the situation. But that option was simply never on the table. We immediately started plotting the best way to save it instead.

    We decided to pursue the additional Kickstarter goal of paying pro rates because we felt it would give us the best chance of creating some long-term sustainability for CG. That's damn important, because we want to keep doing this for a very long time.

    Someday, we hope to have the flexibility to publish other things, like comics, children's books, and more. All that would be well down the road… so we hope people who enjoy and appreciate what we're doing now will help us get there!

    Support Crossed Genres Magazine's Kickstarter campaign, get lots of fiction and other goodies, and be part of more future greatness.

    Tuesday 12 June 2012

    Signal Boost: Presenting the Cultural Imperialism Bingo Card

    If you think colonialism is dead... think again. Globalisation has indeed made the world smaller--furthering the dominance of the West over the developing world, shrinking and devaluing local cultures, and uniformising everything to Western values and Western ways of life. This is a pernicious, omnipresent state of things that leads to the same unfounded things being said, over and over, to people from developing countries and/or on developing countries.

    It's time for this to stop. Time for the hoary, horrid misrepresentation clichés to be pointed out and examined; and for genuine, non-dismissive conversations to start.

    Accordingly, here's a handy bingo card for Western Cultural Imperialism--and we wish we could say we've made it all up, but unfortunately every single comment on this card was seen on the Internet.

    Card designed by Aliette de Bodard, Joyce Chng, Kate Elliott, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, @requireshate, Charles Tan, @automathic and @mizHalle. Launch orchestrated with the help of Zen Cho and Ekaterina Sedia in addition to above authors (and an army of volunteer signal boosters whom we wish to thank very much!)

    Any signal boosting on this much appreciated!

    Monday 11 June 2012

    Guest post: I Hear a Different Frontier by Nisi Shawl

    Fellow geniuses, I have things to tell you that you probably already know. But you may know them in different ways than I do.

    For instance, my friend Jaymee Goh knows about postcolonial science fiction and fantasy the way a woman much younger than me would, and in the way someone who was born and has lived most of her life outside the US would, and in the way of someone who has traveled much further into the figurative world of academia than I. So when she was interviewed in early June on the topic of writing postcolonial SF, and a questioner asked, “Do you think belonging to a Non-Western (sic) culture is essential to write a really good, convincing story about it? Being an outsider to the culture you want to write about is an enriching or empoverishing (sic) experience (or it doesn’t matter in the end)?” her reply was much longer and more considered than mine, and also more revealing. I would have said something like, “I refuse to answer your stupid.” Or, in a more cooperative mood I would have talked about my own experience writing about a culture from its outside, which requires work, which I guess might be equated with “empoverishment.”

    Not Jaymee, though. She bestowed on the questioner several paragraphs of weighty thoughtfulness while flipping the power dynamic inherent in interview and interrogation right around. She noted that describing non-Western cultures from the perspective of their conquerors, or the perspective of their conquerors’ heirs, is quite a longstanding tradition. My favorite line from her response: "I really have to question why any one writer would ask such a question, and am hard-pressed to come up with any other answer besides 'seeking validation.'" Which validation she then proceeded to deny them.

    A couple of weeks before that interchange, I appeared on the “Cultural Not-Appropriation” panel at WisCon 36 with Diantha Sprouse, Sofia Samatar, and Daniel José Older, our moderator. Diantha I’d known for several years, but Sofia and Daniel were new to me.

    Daniel is a something of coreligionist—his practice of Lucumi and mine of Ifa are closely related—so that’s a perspective on empire we share, along with US birth and residency. But Daniel’s also younger than me, plus he’s male, and he speaks Spanish. We both differ from colonizers’ cultural paradigms, but in different ways. Our experiences of postcolonialism, and postcolonial speculative fiction, are different. Like yours and mine.

    Which is where I would have come from if I’d been seriously answering the question Jaymee got asked. Where I did come from when talking on the WisCon panel about How to Do It Right: from the place of being simultaneously innocent and implicated, and paying attention to what that means.

    What we all know, from our many perspectives, is that colonialism bites the flaming donkey weenie. It messes shit up. It messes up most of what could be used to sort shit out and unmess it. It extracts costs from the colonized, costs that are carried across generations. Some of these costs masquerade as benefits. Some are presented as choices.

    I do my best not to contribute to the legacy of colonialism in my fiction, but when it comes to certain entanglements I understand that I must use the utmost caution and concision.

    I made what I’d call a successful foray into explicitly postcolonial science fiction with “Deep End,” which first appeared in the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2004). Taking Australia as a model, I wrote about a prison ship flying to an extrasolar planet with a freight of disembodied activists; these activists were scheduled to be downloaded into clones of their oppressors. “Deep End” was reprinted in my Tiptree Award-winning collection Filter House in 2008. This summer I’m working on a sequel.

    My current novel-in-progress, Everfair, is another deliberate confrontation of colonialism: steampunk set in the Belgian Congo. It arose from my dislike of steampunk’s tendency to privilege imperialism, and especially Britain’s Victorian Empire. It also focuses on the site of one of the worst modern human rights atrocities, an infamous episode intimately connected with the rape of natural resources that lies behind the Industrial Revolution.

    To ensure representation of the multiplicities of non-dominant difference, I’m writing Everfair from many viewpoints: white and mixed-race Europeans, African-Americans, and indigenous Africans. Research is sometimes exhilarating, and sometimes heartbreakingly piecemeal, particularly in the case of the indigenes, whose histories were severely disrupted—to say the least—by their decimation. Often the only voice left to tell a tale is that of the colonizer. When using those versions of events, I do what I can to up-end unwritten assumptions. I learn what I can from the examples of nearby, possibly related, people. I dream and make things up.

    I know I’m treading on the bones of those who went before me. It’s unsteady ground, even if I’m related to the giants beneath my feet. I walk respectfully, carefully, listening with my outer and inner ears. Repeating what I hear, what you already know, but saying it in my way.

    Nisi Shawl was WisCon 35’s Guest of Honor and the editor of WisCon Chronicles 5: Writing and Racial Identity. She is coauthor of Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, a founder the Carl Brandon Society, and a member of Clarion West’s Board of Directors. She edits reviews for the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a literary quarterly. She’s fairly active on Twitter and Facebook, and she promises to update her homepage ( soon.

    Sunday 10 June 2012

    We See a Different Frontier: Call for submissions

    We are seeking submissions for a colonialism-themed anthology of new stories told from the perspective of the colonized, titled We See a Different Frontier, to be guest edited by Fábio Fernandes and published by The Future Fire.


    It is impossible to consider the history, politics or culture of the modern world without taking into account our colonial past. Most violent conflicts and financial inequalities in some sense result from the social-political-economic matrix imposed by European powers since the seventeenth century—even powerful countries such as the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) have to be viewed through the filter of our history to fully appreciate their current circumstances. The same is true of art and literature, including science fiction; as Rochita Loenen-Ruiz eloquently explained, “it is impossible to discuss non-Western SF without considering the effects of colonialism.” Cultural imperialism erases many native traditions and literatures, exoticizes colonized and other non-European countries and peoples, and drowns native voices in the clamour of Western stories set in their world. Utopian themes like “The Final Frontier”, “Discovering New Worlds” and “Settling the Stars” appeal to a colonial romanticism, especially recalling the American West. But what is romantic and exciting to the privileged, white, anglophone reader is a reminder of exploitation, slavery, rape, genocide and other crimes of colonialism to the rest of the world.

    We See a Different Frontier will publish new speculative fiction stories in which the viewpoint is that of the colonized, not the invader. We want to see stories that remind us that neither readers nor writers are a homogeneous club of white, male, Christian, hetero, cis, monoglot anglophone, able-bodied Westerners. We want the cultures, languages and literatures of colonized peoples and recombocultural individuals to be heard, not to show the White Man learning the error of his ways, or Anglos defending the world from colonizing extraterrestrials. We want stories that neither exoticize nor culturally appropriate the non-western settings and characters in them.

    We See a Different Frontier will pay US$0.05 per word, with a minimum payment of $50, plus the possibility of royalties if sales are good enough. We are looking for stories between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length; we are willing to be flexible about this wordcount, but the further a story falls outside this range, the harder a sell it will be. Please do not submit stories that are also under consideration elsewhere. Query before sending more than one story to us. We are unlikely to be interested in reprints unless they were published only in a market that is not well-known to an anglo-american SF audience, but in any case please query before sending a reprint, explaining when and where the story has appeared before.

    Please send submissions as an attachment (.doc[x], .rtf or .odt) to The deadline for submissions is midnight UTC, October 31, 2012.

    About the publisher: The Future Fire is an e-published magazine showcasing new writing in Social-Political Speculative Fiction, with a special interest in FeministSF, Queer SF, Eco SF, Postcolonial SF and Cyberpunk. See for more details.

    About the editor: Fábio Fernandes is a SFF writer and translator living in São Paulo, Brazil. His short fiction in Portuguese has won two Argos Awards in Brazil. In English, he has several stories published in online venues in the US, the UK, New Zealand, Portugal, Romenia, and Brazil. He also contributed to Steampunk Reloaded, Southern Weirdo: Reconstruction, and The Apex Book of World SF Vol. 2. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Fix, Fantasy Book Critic,, and SF Signal. He is also the non-fiction editor for International Speculative Fiction.

    Thursday 31 May 2012

    One last book giveaway

    We're coming up to the home straight now. Just four days to go on the We See a Different Frontier colonialism-themed anthology fundraiser, and although we've already passed the enhanced funding target of $4000, the Peerbackers site will carry on accepting donations until some time on Sunday night, and all money donated will be put to use making the anthology as big and as great as possible. All our authors will be paid a professional rate, and no money will be taken home by us. The word-count will just get bigger.

    To celebrate the last few days of the appeal, and thanks to several generous donors, we're running another book giveaway. Everyone who donates to the We See a Different Frontier fundraiser in the next four days will go into a hat to win one of the following titles:

    • Steve Berman & Joselle Vanderhooft, Heiresses of Russ (hardcover)
    • Kari Sperring, Living with Ghosts (signed)
    • Inanna Arthen, The Longer the Fall (signed and personalized)

    We'll do the draw on Monday. If you don't want to be entered (but why wouldn't you!), just let me know when you donate.

    Thanks again to the many people who have supported the project so far, in all capacities. You all rock.

    Saturday 26 May 2012

    Guest post: Decolonizing the Utopian Imperative

    For this post, I’m wishing everyone thinking about utopia, imperialism or decolonization would just go read Ursula K. Le Guin’s esaay, “A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be.” You should go read that and come back.

    Still here?

    In this musing on the pitfalls of imperialism and its ideological conflation with utopia, Le Guin brilliantly brings together utopian thinking from Robert Elliot and Milan Kundera, notions about communitas via Victor Turner, social theory from Levi-Strauss, philosophy from Chuang Tzu along with some thoughts about the yin/yang of rationalism as opposed to the soft, the social and the unruly, the way of the Trickster. I can’t hope to summarize it here. 

    But here’s what the essay inspires me to think about:

    On the construct of the New World: as Le Guin says, “Only if a European discovered or invented it could America exist.”

    Colonization, not only in the United States but all over the world, is/was based on economics, exploitation of people and resources, but in some sense, it’s also based on ideas. Big ideas like Democracy, Salvation, Order and Capitalism and their alleged superiority to existent social systems and relationships to the environment. Utopian ideas.

    Results: subjugation, assimilation and disappearance of cultures, along with appropriation, tokenization and exoticism.

    The West is still creating stories about the primitive and the unknown through history and literature: one pretends to tell the objective stories of the world, which ones are worth knowing and how to think about Progress and Civilization, and the other shapes our thinking about people, places and how to think about the Other. Maybe they both do (that landscape is changing, but there’s still a great deal of work to do).

    Have you noticed yet what’s missing from my post/rant? Where are the perspectives from the “outside”? Where are the counter-narratives?

    If you didn’t read Le Guin’s essay, go read it. While you’re at it, read Cornel West. Read Uma Narayan. Read Chela Sandoval. Read Arundhati Roy, anything by her at all, who said, “The only thing worth globalizing is dissent,” and “Fiction is truth. I think fiction is the truest thing there ever was.”

    Support the creation of new narratives, like We See a Different Frontier. Suggest resources for counter-narrative in the comments below.

    Write your own counter-narrative.

    Monday 21 May 2012

    Announcing cover artist for WSADF: Carmen Moran

    We’re delighted to be able to announce the identity of the artist who will be providing book cover art for the We See a Different Frontier print anthology: an illustrator who has worked with TFF for some years by the name of Carmen Moran. As you know, the Peerbacker campaign is still open for a couple more weeks, and we’re keen to raise as much money as we call, so as to fill the anthology with as many great professional-rate stories as possible. Among the rewards, if you’re feeling flush, is the original signed piece of artwork that we’ll use on the cover. Carmen is a professional and exhibited (and as you can see, talented) artist, so owning a unique piece of her work will be a great privilege.

    Carmen has been regularly illustrating stories for TFF (samples) since 2007 when she provided the wonderfully bright and quirky, yet powerful, images to accompany Mark Harding’s irreverent and political cyberpunk satire ‘Art Attack’, one of which (an airship exploding and giving birth to sparkling pink nanobots) we also used as the cover art on TFF #9. Her illustrations have ranged from flawlessly executed simple and gritty sketches, to extravagant and joyful cartoon-like celebrations of insane majesty. Most recently she created two heartstoppingly poignant and evocative illustrations for S. Ali’s fantastic and fierce Arab Spring parable ‘Bilaadi’, including the spine-chilling piece to the left.

    In addition to SF illustrating, Carmen works in a wide variety of craft and design projects, a lot of which can be found in her portfolio. She makes and sells everything from stuffed monster toys and printed teeshirts to greetings cards and gift tags via her online store and at craft fairs, and has been commissioned for children’s books and educational exhibits. Some of our favourite examples of her work include this Tigershark print (right), monster bookplate (below), and the tattoo design (bottom).

    We’re still in the drafting stage of working on the We See a Different Frontier cover art, so nothing to show yet (but watch this space for updates). One idea that Carmen is playing with is to create a stylized map, in the colours and style of an old atlas, but with the coastlines and contours and frontiers suggestive of folk art and symbols rather than the conventional borders and outlines we’re used to seeing on our maps, through western eyes and on a Mercator projection of the Earth's surface.

    Another idea that always comes to mind from the POV of a Third World citizen is the concept of gambiarra. This word (maybe of Portuguese or Italian origin, but of etymology actually unknown) means something like “jury-rigging”, but with the passage of time it came to mean more than that—the poor people’s “McGiverish” power to, say, create a spaceship from junk, spit and paper clips. We thought of a “Frankenstein” spaceship of sorts, all made of different metal plaques welded together, showing different colors and different origins (a CCCP radar antenna here, a porthole design with Indian motifs, names of Brazilian and South African defunct corporations in a few scattered bits of equipment, all this decomissioned stuff, apparently junk—but a junk that works. A gambiarra spaceship made by competent people not from NASA or the European Space Agency. An alternative spaceship that takes off the ground and does its job better than a space shuttle. This has a kind of old cyberpunk flavor, but most of all it represents the post-colonial zeitgeist. The time for a true global SF has come, and we’re ready for it.

    Tuesday 15 May 2012

    Guest Post: I Didn't Know I Was an Alien, or: How I Became a Recombocultural Sci-Fi Guy

    text and art by Ernest Hogan

    It's the 21st century. Modern media interconnects the world. Suddenly, we have a global civilization, and it is diverse.

    Actually, that's an illusion. Civilization has always been diverse. Unless you are part of an isolated tribe that never contacts the outside world, you have to deal with cultures not your own. It's a basic survival skill going way, way, way, way the hell back.

    This illusion is part of the colonial tradition. The conquerors come in and bring “civilization” to the natives, who are expected to cooperate if they don't want to be wiped out. In my part of the world, the Wild West, AKA Aztlán, AKA The Southwest (of the United States of America), it gets interesting – especially since I'm of Mexican descent, with some Irish thrown in, and I accidentally have the same name as the controversial Father of Ragtime.

    I find myself to be a vintage, veteran multicultural (though I prefer the term “recombocultural” for reasons I'll explain later) science fiction writer.

    Some folks would say speculative fiction – and they may be right, but let's get to that later . . .

    I didn't intend to become Mr. Sci-Fi Recombozoid. It was thrust upon me, like my ethnic identity and place in society.

    I was a wee tot way back in 20th century, in the Fifties. I was born in East L.A. – some folks call it the Barrio, my parents called it the Neighborhood. For me it was the flowers in my grandmother's garden that towered over my head. I thought the whole universe was like that.

    Science fiction came in through the television set. Space Patrol and Commando Cody taught me about the larger universe. Later, Forbidden Planet landed at a local drive in. My developing mind learned early about crossing borders, and new frontiers.

    At first the monsters scared me. I was plagued with nightmares, but couldn't stay away. Eventually, I came to love the monsters. They were easier to identify with than the whitebread-kid mold that the media was trying to stuff me into. I found it was easier to tell the kids at school that I was Martian rather than explain myself.

    Those were the days of Godzilla multiculturalism: Japanese monsters, Mexican vampires, Russian space epics, European sleaze, and Filipino horrors were mixed in with the low-rent Hollywood fare. We can't forget that after Bruce Lee, guys in the ghettos and barrios felt they could be heroes, too.

    It was the fabled Sixties. Besides comic books and monster movies, there was the space program, UFOs, ESP, LSD, and a world gone mad on the evening news. After the Chicano Moratorium riots, I found out I was part of a minority group.

    Before that, Chicanos were invisible. Teachers would talk about “Mexicans” – as if we weren't in the room with them. Suddenly, we were problem. It was easier being a Martian.

    So I let my overdeveloped imagination go wild. I wasn't just into science fiction – I was into surrealism, satire, underground, art films, low-budget obscurities, anything weird and out of the ordinary. Cultural mutations became a life-long obsession. Science fiction was a focus, but never a limit to my interests.

    By the Seventies, my reading went to Edgar Rice Burroughs, to Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison. Dangerous Visions and the New Wave were a big influence – yes, “speculative fiction.” I also read translations from other countries when I could find them. I was always happy to find a new kind of sf.

    I also reveled in writers like William Burroughs, Ishmael Reed, and Hunter Thompson.

    I boldly started writing and trying to sell my work, I didn't limit myself. I tried to come up with the most daring, outrageous stuff I could, inspired by the diverse world I lived in.

    Yeah, it took me years to get good – but even after I improved, I noticed that the genre and I were going in different directions. After Star Wars, science fiction became popular, but suddenly, everyone thought they knew what it was – traditional melodrama in funny clothes – and it wasn't what I was doing.

    It was also assumed that the audience was white and male – all heterosexual nerds.

    I was told things like “You have blacks and hispanics in there – you have to be careful, they get offended, you know.”

    My name – that I share with a black historical figure – had them thinking I was white.

    By the Eighties, I began to sell stories. These were out in the fringes, but I had my foot in the door. Some readers were confused as to what I was doing in their sci-fi magazine.

    And I wasn't just submitting to sf markets. I sent my stories everywhere – especially if they paid well. It just happened that most of the places that have published me have the words “science fiction” as part of their title. There seems to a tolerance for strangeness in some of these places. It also may be a hold over from when science fiction was a catch-all term for things you didn't understand.

    When I sold Cortez on Jupiter, I didn't mention anything about the Chicano or Aztec stuff. Or the Spanglish. I played up the science fiction elements. I had learned how to get away with things.

    When it came out, I got good reviews (The best [first novel] I've read in science fiction since Neuromancer.Locus), and bad (an avalanche of excessive verbiage and abominable prose styleLocus, a few pages later). But nobody called it dull. And some folks really liked it.

    When my second novel, High Aztech, came out, the publisher did not promote it. The ad in Locus showed the cover, but had no text. No review copies were sent out. People told me that they had to call the publisher and cuss them out to get copies.

    Still, High Aztech gained an audience. People still discover it and put good reviews online. You could say it has a cult following.

    And in the introduction to the glossary for the Españahutl slang is my first use of the word recombocultural. I coined to explain what I do in my work, that was rapidly being label multicultural – a term that was becoming maligned, and associated with political correctness. The recombo is as in recombinant DNA, emphasizes that what I am writing about are the cultural mutations that happen when cultures come together, fuck & fight, damage chromosomes, and generate fascinating new monstrosities.

    But, back in the Nineties, they weren't ready for diversity. The New York-based publishers wanted formula entertainment for their sci-fi consumers that didn't present disturbing concepts. They assumed that the audience was white and middle class. Non-white characters were either pale or only showed the back of their heads on the covers.

    Ideas became scarce. I kept meeting readers who said, “I like science fiction because I always know what's going to happen.” I wondered what I was doing trying to write in this genre.

    Also, word spread about my ethnicity. It seemed like I was being treated differently – like the most talented leper they ever met. Like an alien. And it didn't seem to matter if I was legal.

    I could still sell occasional short stories to far-out fringe markets, but New York wouldn't touch my novels. The rejections followed the same format: They would praise my work as highly original, then tell me that it wasn't what they were looking for. Then they'd inform me about the latest hot, new trend – military sf, sexy vampires, zombies . . .

    After years of rejection, I published my novel Smoking Mirror Blues through a small press. I got a hint of why New York wouldn't touch it when an artist refused to do the cover because of a tantric sex ritual in the beginning. There was also a Chicano mad scientist, lesbian lovers, religion, politics, and the world-as-we-know-it reconstructed to illustrate conflicts that are shaping the future. Yet it has attracted a following.

    As the 21st century lurched along, I gave up on New York. They still saw me as an unpublishable alien. The audience is now seen as being young women who are sexually attracted to the undead. And publishing is going through a crisis, with the economic turmoil and the arrival of the e-book. They say they only want to publish bestsellers, but nothing seems to be selling.

    In the midst of it all, I see young writers coming on the scene, doing the sort of thing that I have been doing for decades. I hope they get treated better than I was. My advice to them is to write the most exciting fiction they can, inspired the world they live in.

    Projects like We See a Different Frontier show promise by doing things in a non-traditional manner. We need these experiments. I expect to see traditional publishing dropping dead very soon.

    Empires are falling. Colonies are rearranging. Cultures are mutating.

    Recomboculture is in the air.

    I have given up on being “commercial.” I am releasing my novels as ebooks, and working on ideas that the dying publishers wouldn't dare touch – like my science fiction bullfighting novel. I have seen the audience, and they are diverse.

    The funny thing is, I am not alien – I am native. I am impure, a Chicano, a mestizo, a mongrel. And that is the future.

    Ernest Hogan's Cortez on Jupiter is available as an ebook from Amazon and Smashwords. Smoking Mirror Blues and High Aztech be available later in 2012. Links to short fiction that can be read for free can be found at his blog, Mondo Ernesto.