Selfishly, I want this project to be funded, because I want to read the book. But for a better incentive, we’ve invited five of the Resist Fascism authors to TFF to tell us why they think it’s an important project, what their stories contribute to the anthology, and how the whole is an act of much-needed resistance against political repression worldwide. We’ll let Izzy, Marie, Barbara, Tiffany and JL take it from here…
Crossed Genres Magazine was already legendary by the time I started writing speculative fiction. To my great regret, it was also closed. So when this project was announced, I was eager to be a part of it.
My story is set during one of the great failures in the fight against fascism: the Spanish Civil War. Fascists enthusiastically supported Franco, while the western governments, fearing communists more than fascists, failed to help the Republicans. I wrote this story because I believe that even small kindnesses and unwitnessed bravery can make a difference. It’s up to each of us to do what we can. I fervently hope this story helps make a difference.
What excites me most about this project is that it’s an important part of a larger effort to imagine how we can defeat fascism, and how we can cultivate a better world. Despair is a powerful temptation, but we must continue the struggle. We must be victorious. We owe it to the future.
My story was about public housing. I have a personal tie to that, since the first home I remember was the projects. My grandparents lived in the same project. It's gone now, like so many others, and the lack of good, clean places for people to live galls me. The public perception of the projects is skewed, too. People think of public housing as hotbeds of crime, when in actuality they are islands of safety. It's harder to get into the projects than Harvard most of the time. You have to have a job. You have to have income to pay the rent. You have to have a clean record. The people in the projects are worried about the less vetted people living in tenements around them. Neighbors are kind and look out for each other. That's true everywhere, I think, other than wealthy home owner's associations. :P
Anyway, that's just pontificating. The story was inspired by an interaction I saw of a little girl scolding her obviously older brother at the base of steps in Cleveland's public housing. I was biking by, but the brief interaction really stuck with me, how girls were so often put "in charge" as kids. Expected to be more selfless, more mature at an early age. So I got this idea of an inner-city matriarchy.
Then I got worried about Own Voices, so I moved the setting to a smaller town with a predominantly white population. I made my main character black because I wanted people to see the role of the social worker as a minority and the poor being helped as white. Because that does happen and it's not what's represented. As a poor white kid, I got a lot of help from black professionals.
So yeah, I wanted to write something about the projects, and make it science fiction, and have the projects WIN, which might be the most science fiction part of it.
I’ve known Bart and Kay for several years—Crossed Genres published three of my stories when it was a monthly magazine—and when I met Bart during the Readercon genre convention, and he told me about the upcoming anthology, I was very excited. I started working on it as soon as I got home, but it was difficult for me at first to come up with an idea. I made several starts before I got underway with “In the Background.”
Whenever I watch a show or read a story, I’m usually more interested in the characters who are not the front-and-center heroes—the best friends, the walk-throughs, or the unnamed individuals in the crowd. I recently spent three fascinating days working as an extra for a TV series, and I suddenly realized that this could be the basis for a story about those anonymous individuals and the real effect they can have. Just as a production can’t be made without its background actors, political and social movements depend on their background volunteers to call the voters, contact their representatives, type in the data, design the websites, and do all that other necessary work without applause or recognition—except perhaps from close colleagues, friends or family. My hope would be that stories like “In the Background” can help those of us who are not in the spotlight understand that we too are important.
Tiffany E. Wilson
Like most of us, I'm burnt out and often feel hopeless about the political situation in the US, especially because it feels like many of the horrific things that are happening are beyond my control. My story grew from that frustration.
“Meet Me at State Sponsored Movie Night” is about a future nation where fascism has taken hold, restricting people's access to resources, media, and education. It follows two teen girls and their small act of resistance to reclaim their community. I hope the optimism of the story serves as a reminder to readers that small actions matter, even if it only helps a small group of people for one night.
Art—especially science fiction—has a very important role in inspiring change. Since SF is often forward-thinking, it can help readers envision possible futures and the pathways to create or avoid them. As we near the midterm elections, this country is at a critical turning point where each citizen can help shape the trajectory of our future through the simple act of voting. Books like Resist Fascism can be a rallying cry, not only to encourage everyone to persist through the struggles and setbacks but also to remind people to step up and do their small part to resist.
I wrote “We Speak in Tongues of Flame” last year, though it had been percolating a while longer than that. The idea of an artist’s creation coming to life and spurring her on to a destructive act of defiance had been with me a long time, but the way it’s framed in terms of displacement and linguistic oppression comes out of my complicated feelings about my home country and about Welshness, especially in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote and the rise in open racism and xenophobia that has followed. (Naïve nationalism sometimes claims, “The Welsh aren’t racist because we know how it feels to be colonised!” but, given how decisively Wales voted for Brexit, I think it’s pretty clear that this is bullshit.) My home country is there in Keris’s struggle to hang on to her native tongue—but also in the complicity of the townspeople who shrug and go along with the actions of their repressive government.
I found out about the anthology and about Crossed Genres via the Submissions Grinder, and after learning more about what they do and the ways they’ve championed diverse SFF over the years, I couldn’t be happier to be part of the anthology. Stories of resistance are important not just for showing us ways to oppose the rising tide of right-wing extremism, but also for giving us the catharsis that helps us get back up when it all feels hopeless.
For more context, Bart Leib and Kay Holt talk about the history of the Crossed Genres magazine and publishing house in an anniversary video.
Please support the Resist Fascism fundraiser, and help make sure this anthology happens!