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A Pre-Apocalyptic Heads Up

May 31, 2013

As I’m sure we all know, the current state of affairs cannot last. Humanity is burning through natural resources while economic inequalities grow and social problems remain largely unaddressed. If the drowning doesn’t get us then the resource wars and ensuing cannibalism almost certainly will. Given that I think this is all going to end badly anyway, I always relish those rare moments in which my writing slithers off the internet and attaches itself to some real-world object like a book or a magazine. Recently there have been two instances of this taking place and I would urge you to seek out both of them even if you have absolutely no interest in my ill-considered rants:

 

SF2012

The first is Speculative Fiction 2012 edited by Justin Landon and Jared Shurin. The idea behind this project is to collect all of the best online writing about speculative fiction to appear in a particular year and republish it in both an ebook and a physical book. Even if I wasn’t included (and I’m sort of surprised that I was) I would still champion this project as one of the most frustrating things about online writing is that it is incredibly easy to miss. Indeed, aside from the sheer volume of stuff published on a daily basis, inhabitants of even the smallest sub-cultures tend to naturally gravitate towards the people with similar tastes and interests to them meaning that you often wind up paying a good deal of attention to the same tiny group of people. This is particularly true in the world of SF where a once supposedly unified cultural space has shattered along professional, generic and even national lives. This increasing siloisation makes it almost impossible to naturally encounter all the good writing that is produced online and projects like Speculative Fiction 2012 are a great way of ensuring that good writing not only escapes its silo but also remains archived in physical objects that may survive the coming apocalypse (as long as it’s not too flame-y). Another great thing about this project is that the editorship changes every year meaning that every volume will embody a different perspective on the field and empower a different affinity group. So yeah… buy this thing as it’s full of great writing. You can get it from Amazon and all the proceeds go to charity!

 

interzone-246

The second is Interzone issue 246 (May-June 2013), which features the first in a series of SF-related columns under the title Future Interrupted. The scope of the column is pretty broad but my current aim is to combine flamboyant political posturing with post-academic alt-criticism and distill them down into a sort of optimistic vitriol that will melt your face and reveal the far more attractive you that lies buried within. Here’s a sense of sample and I promise the stuff about Dutch Santa Clause makes sense in context:

This sense of blockage is everywhere… it’s in the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the films we watch and the books we read. Terrified of change, we cycle faster and faster through the last five decades, desperately trying to convince ourselves that everything is ‘retro’ and ‘vintage’ rather than merely comforting and familiar. Though interrupted, a future is out there waiting to be written amidst the drone strikes, the cloud storage and the teenagers born into the twisted prisms of social media. Like Christmas celebrants tired of a blood-drenched Dutch Santa Claus, it is time to allow science fiction be remade anew. It is time to take a literary idiom designed to celebrate the dreams of Victoria and Roosevelt and use it to unpick the nightmare that the 21st Century seems poised to become. Enough with the deconstruction and the nostalgia, the future is out there and we can rebuild it… we have the mythology.

As Jonathan Strahan put it in a recent podcast, Interzone has something of a reputation for rattling cages both in terms of its fiction and its non-fiction and it is a real privilege to be able to contribute to a magazine that has nurtured many of my favourite things about the world of science fiction. Aside from my column, issue 246 also contains:

  • Short fiction by Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar
  • Film columns by Tony Lee and the great Nick Lowe
  • Non-fiction by Maureen Kincaid Speller, Paul Graham Raven, Peter Tennant and Ian Sales.

You can buy paper subscriptions to the magazine (and it’s equally awesome stablemate Black Static) via the TTA Press website but you can also subscribe electronically through Amazon, Smashwords and Fictionwise. A lot of the magazines that publish fiction tend to be a bit shit when it comes to non-fiction but Interzone is worth buying even if you never get round to reading the stories. I’ve been a subscriber for ages… I read it for the articles.

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