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.