Monday 29 March 2021

Companions and Earthbound double anthology

We’re very pleased to receive a visit from Olivia Dreisinger, who recently published a pair of linked anthologies through Painwise Press: Companions and Earthbound. The volumes group together stories on the themes of disability and the environment (themes that have long been dear to us at TFF), in creative nonfiction and SFF respectively. We asked Olivia to tell us a bit about the books (and if you read to the end, there’s a little gift for TFF readers as well).

Companions & Earthbound
A paired anthology of new disability writing

Edited by Olivia Dreisinger

Painwise Press, 2021. 168 pages.

This 2-in-1 anthology collects writing by nine authors about disability, animals, and the environment. A werewolf with PTSD and an environmentally ill AI are featured alongside human characters living with brain injury, chronic pain, neurodivergence, and more.

Contributors: Alexandra Box, Olivia Dreisinger, Sophie Helf, Bára Hladík, Cypress Marrs, Koyote Moone, seeley quest, Vanessa Santos, and George Wu Teng.

Cover concept by Sasha Zamani
Artwork by Audrey Leshay


“You might think that an anthology centered on disabled people and animal companions, captured with a wide-angle eco lens, might end up too narrowly focused. In Companions and Earthbound, the opposite is true: from its chosen center point, the stories and essays burst outwards with energy, complexity, and tender, thoughtful detail, all different, all unique, all worth spending time with.”
—Lori Selke, editor of Outlaw Bodies

“The experience of reading the stories and creative essays in Olivia Dreisinger’s Companions and Earthbound dual anthologies is akin to sitting down with a friend who intimately knows both the pleasures and pains that come with disability. The catch, however, is that friend is a shape-shifter: sometimes animal, human, or imagined intelligence. No matter their shape or space of residence, the voices of these narratives underscore the connections of sinew, blood, dirt, and spirit that bind us together, reminding us that disabled bodies, animal bodies, are expansive and whole and beautiful.”
—Kathryn Allan, editor of Accessing the Future and Disability in Science Fiction: Representations of Technology as Cure

I’m a first-time editor. While assembling this anthology, I found myself constantly referring back to my well-worn (and much-loved) copy of Accessing the Future. How could I ever pull off something as amazing as this, I thought to myself. The stories in Accessing the Future pushed me—hard. I’d be lying if I said this anthology measured up to Accessing the Future, but maybe let’s just say they’re different.

This 2-in-1 anthology looks at disability, animals, and the environment. An encounter with a therapy horse and, later, a service dog in my life really got me thinking more seriously about what disability and animal liberation had in common. Most of the stories inside don’t push for liberation (well, some do). Instead, they focus on our proximities to animals in sometimes banal—or overlooked—ways. (There is something to be said about the banal.)

The anthology is split into two sections: contemporary non/fiction and speculative fiction. I wanted to be open to different styles of writing and telling stories—styles that may very well be informed by the writer’s disabilities. Maybe it’d be accurate to describe the anthology as a disabled hodge-podge—something that I hope you will find generative. May these stories matter.

You can buy Companions and Earthbound from Painwise Press. As a special gift to TFF readers, if you use the code TFF10 at the checkout you can receive a 10% discount.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Speculative or progressive Noir recommendations

“If you’re still in need/of something to read…”

A few weeks ago we ran a round table discussion on Progressive Speculative Noir, which was more focussed on issues, tropes and definitions than recommendations, per se. Today, a few friends join us with some suggested reading or viewing to get you thinking about the possibilities of Noir that push the boundaries, either of social mores or genre (and ideally both). We’d love to hear your suggestions as well!

Mame Bougouma Diene

  • Gabino Iglesias:
    • Zero Saints
    • Coyote Songs
  • Nikhil Singh:
    • Club Ded


  • I feel like Ernest Hogan's High Aztech has some noir tropes, but pushes the envelope in probably every direction at once, so is almost unrecognisable by the end…
  • I recommend Rosa Montero’s Tears in Rain, which subverts speculative Noir in the most blunt way possible, by pastiching and upsetting the sexist/racist underpinnings of Bladerunner.
  • R.S.A. Garcia’s Lex Talionis is a SF/mystery that has heavy Noir influences

Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Neither is speculative but I'd call both progressive:

  • Love Kills Twice by Rien Gray
  • The Blue Place by Nicola Griffith

Valeria Vitale

We’ve discussed most of these already, but they’re really the best place to start:

  • Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall
  • Sarah Paretski's series of novels featuring V.I. Warshawski
  • Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress and the rest of the Easy Rawlins series
  • Lauen Beukes’s Zoo City

M. Bennardo

I can't quite tick all the boxes with these... but I would recommend the following as noir-ish (but not speculative) books that have a non-typical point of view that made me think about crime fiction differently.

  • The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding
  • Innocence, or Murder on Steep Street by Heda Kovály
  • The Street by Ann Petry (not usually classed as noir, but it hits a lot of the tropes)

Fabio Fernandes

  • The Golden, Lucius Shepard. It's Gothic Noir—a whodunit, actually, but with a vampire detective in the late 1800s, complete with a femme fatale of sorts (but who's far from being a damsel in distress, on the contrary; she's a vampire of noble ancestry and very much in control of things).
  • Sandman Slim. Supernatural noir with sharp, witty and funny dialogue. The protagonist is a (not very) beautiful loser, and there are no femme fatales: all the women there are fierce and he respects and admires them a lot

If you would like to add any suggestions or speculative or progressive Noir (stories, novels, films, other) to this list, please use the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to create more progressive speculative Noir to redress the shortage of such work, please consider submitting to our Call for Submissions for TFF-Noir.

Thursday 4 March 2021

Author and artist micro-interviews: TFF 56

So that no one forgets the unconditional struggle for a better world

We have been running short interviews (two questions, one line answers) with many of the authors and artists whose work appeared in TFF #56, to find out a bit more about what went into their stories, poems and illustrations. And just to have a little chat—we don't do enough of that at the moment!

For those of you who won't follow us on FB (or Twitter, where we also cross-post links to these mini-interviews from time to time) here is a collection of the posts that have appeared so far:

We'll add more links here as the interviews go up, or you can see them as they go past by liking or following TFF on FB. If you have any follow-up questions for the authors and artists, feel free to ask them (there or here) and we'll pass them on.