Book Review in latest issue of CSZ

The latest issue of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is out and I got a book review in there! I reviewed “Time’s Oldest Daughter” by Susan W. Lyons, a retelling of the Creation Story from Sin’s point of view. You can buy the issue at their website–PDF is $3, print copy for $5. There’s also book reviews from fine people such as Arley Song and Maria Velazquez, poetry from Rose Lemberg, Sonya Taafe and Nancy Kress, and an essay by L. Timmel Duchamp. 

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Afrofuturism and Black Panther

Last week, Twitter sort of exploded (because it’s always exploding one way or another) thanks to Nnedi Okorafor’s tweets regarding Afrofuturism. I’m…not…real…sure on how I feel about it. Confusion mostly, because I really don’t know enough to add much to the conversation. What I can do is list some of the responses. 

Mikki Kendall’s got a thread here.

K. Tempest Bradford’s has another thread here.

Troy Wiggins got a blog post on it here.

One thing stood out in my mind: Nnedi kept saying we need to talk about this due to the Black Panther movie coming out. I didn’t get it until I read Troy’s previous post “Critical Conversations: Marvel’s Black Panther” which began to put it into perspective for me. I wonder if this isn’t so much who is gets to define Afrofuturism, but how can black american writers honor our roots in our creative work without it descending into cultural appropriation. Which, yeah, that’s a way, way bigger cultural conversation that needs to happen between Black Americans, Africans, and Blacks of the Diaspora. 

I’ll keep updating this, mostly for my own reading, but if anyone has anything to add, feel free to let me know in the comments.

New Essay up at Uncanny Magazine: “Learning to Turn Your Lips Sideways”

I was doing some maintenance on my website, updating a few things, and I realized that I never mentioned here on my blog my essay that was published at the TWO-TIME HUGO AWARD WINNING Uncanny Magazine. It was published in their May/June 2017 issue…and things were a little crazy so while I mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter, I hadn’t really gotten around to my blog and then dayjob stuff blew up and then other things happened and…

So HEY GUESS WHAT! I have an essay up at Uncanny Magazine called “Learning to Turn Your Lips Sideways“. I like to think of it as an unofficial response to the Fireside Fiction report that was released a couple of months afterward the Uncanny issue.Yeah…let’s go with that. Enjoy!

New Book Review Column up at Lightspeed!

It’s been a super, duper SUPER DUPER busy time for me, but just wanted to say that my August book review column is now up at LightspeedThis month, I’ll explore the nature of caretakers in The Sum of Us anthology, take a trip back to The River Bankin a sequel to The Wind in the Willows, and get turned into an emotional wreck by N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky.

WisCon 41 Schedule

This weekend is WisCon and as usual, I’ll be there. I’m keeping my schedule super light this year for reasons, but here’s where you can officially find me:

Friday, May 26, Caucus Room 4:00 – 5:15p
Love Love Peace Peace: What Makes a Fun Story?
As opposed to beautifully-crafted stories that tell powerful tales are funtime stories that we tell to amuse ourselves. We don’t always talk about them because they are “low-brow,” and we’re afraid we’ll be seen as less intelligent somehow. But while fun stories that make people laugh and give readers a joyride might not seem relevant, they are still important. Let’s talk critically about what makes a story “fun” while considering the perspective of the marginalized for whom these stories are often laid with landmines of microaggressions and stereotypes.

Sunday, May 28, Conference Room 4 10:00-11:15a
Reading Group: Personal Demons
What haunts us, what scares us, what makes us tick. Works that deal with metaphorical and actual demons. I’ll be reading from my yet to be published novella “Memphis Minnie and Sister Rosetta Tharpe Sing the Stumps Down Good”.

Either Saturday or Sunday at some point
Spontaneous Programming: Gaming for Janet Elle Plato
I am putting together a short DnD game to honor the memory of Janet Elle Plato, who attended WisCon numerous times and died last summer. If you gamed with her or knew her at some level, connect with me either through social media or at WisCon. I’ll post final details on the Spontaneous Programming board in the lobby.

Yes! I’ll be at the POC Dinner on Friday night. Outside of that, you can catch me either in the lobby, the ConSuite or the parties. There may be times though that I’ll need to introvert, so I’ll disappear for a bit. Again, if you want to hang, message me on FB or Twitter. I should be around.

November 9, 2016

I gave up on sleeping.

I am going to sit here and write.

I’m just going to outright say it. 2016 is well and truly fucked.

Where is God in all of this?

There is so much fear. There is so much turmoil. I’ve lost too many people. There’s been too many changes. And now Trump.

Where is God in all of this?

It is obvious that yesterday is the culmination of a backlash that started 8 years ago. I have received so many messages last night from friends, dear friends of mine, who are terrified. And I fear deeply for so many of my friends. Because the backlash will not only continue, it will just get worse. For my Muslim friends. For my queer friends. For my friends of color.

For my family. For my son.

God, where are you in all of this?

I sit here, in the dark, and I remember.

“I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;” (Psalm 77)

I sit, and think of my ancestors who were brought over by slavery.
I think of all those who marched for the freedom we have now.
And I feel the Holy Spirit gather me close.

It hasn’t changed, the mandate from Him. To act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.

If anything, this is the time where it’s needed most.
It is time.

I think of earlier this year, when I visited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s grave.
I think of legacy. Of following in footsteps of those before me.
I think of stories.

The need for stories has never been any stronger. And the Holy Spirit uses stories to knit people together.

Where are you? I ask God.
Here, he says. In the margins. In the fight for justice. In the caring for others. In the listening, and the silence, and the creation of safe spaces. And in the stories.

If we truly believe God is Love, then the God I serve is the God of the marginalized. Of the persecuted. Of the disowned. Of the ones who don’t fit in.

This is where the fight begins…
…except the fight has always been happening.
History has shown this.

My job is simply this:
to continue to fight for unity.
to continue to fight for equality.
to continue to tell stories
to treat people with dignity
to show God’s love and grace
to love
to love
to love

Come, Holy Spirit.
Because we will need you now more than ever in these following days.

It is morning. November 2016. And I am awake.

Rest in Peace, Jack Chick?

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/october/died-jack-chick-cartoonist-controversial-gospel-tracts.html

Today we learned that Jack Chick, Evangelical Cartoonist, died at the age of 92. 

I could’ve sworn I’ve written about him before. I remember doing so. It was a long post about horror and taboos and fundamentalism. Maybe it was on a reivew, or maybe it was on a blog post. The point is, I can’t find it. So I’m putting it here, again. 

I grew up on Chick Tracts. My church had them in their bookstore growing up, and I used to read them all the time. There were the “This Was Your Life”, with the protagonist more bleah on his faults until he gets tossed into hell. “Somebody Loves You”, which was a pretty grim about a street urchin, who is told by a girl that “Jesus Loves You” and then the urchin dies because, well, the girl gave the urchin books for a pillow and a jacket for warmth, but didn’t like, take the urchin to a shelter. But that’s okay because Jesus took the urchin in the end, so yay? 

It hit me even at that early age that Jack Chick did not like Catholics. Or drunks. Or sinners. Or atheists. Or people who played Dungeons and Dragons (which I never understood). Or anyone, really. And neither did Chick’s God. He was always faceless, shining so bright, but faceless. An angry, angry God that would readily condemn you for doing anything, anything wrong.

 

Jack Chick also did comic books, which went beyond putting the fear of God in you into, well disturbing. The comic books was where I learned Jack Chick really, really hated Catholics. There’s an image that’s been burned on my brain of some people (can’t remember if they were the Inquisition or not )torturing a young pregnant woman. They had strapped her to a chair, pried her mouth open, and forced her to swallow some sort of bristly cloth by dripping water down her throat. 

It was a grisly image, and I don’t think our parents ever knew such a thing was right there among the bibles and story books. 

Looking back on it now that I’m older, I’m realizing that what Jack Chick did could be considered horror. There’s always a feeling of dread that almost bordered on demonic when you read his works. I got a stack of them now packed up with the rest of my books. I can’t read them for long before feeling sick. Maybe it’s because he saw anyone who wasn’t Christian as a villian, so they became these sneering caricatures that made you wonder why God would be trying to save them in the first place. And if they did become Christian, in a way, it was worse, because they became these grinning, dead-eyed dolls praising God. It was really creepy. Even the art was always this ugly 60s-era grotesqueness, sort of like Mad Magazine back in the day, but eviler. And over time, it just got worse and worse.

Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t bother me to write horror sometimes. Jack Chick certainly had an impact on me growing up, and it shows in some of my work. And I’ve grown enough theologically to know that there’s always something deeper to my faith. But still, I also recognize that there’s a side to my faith that yes, can be brimstone and fire. It’s a dark place, something to wrestle with.

I’m pretty sure though, that when it comes time to unpack my books, those Chick Tracks may stay in their box just a little bit longer. Maybe a year. Or two. Or ten.