Behold, it is my schedule for ConFusion 2018. I’ll have print copies of Reckoning 1 and bookmarks with a code for $2 off Reckoning 2. And…something to read. And also opinions, and ideas. Plenty of those. And a glimmer of hope, if I can muster it.
See you there?
1pm Saturday Isle Royale Reading: Stacey Filak, Andrea A. Phillips, Michael J. DeLuca
1pm Sunday Interlochen Hopepunk in the Age Of Resistance
Author Alexandra Rowland defines hopepunk as the opposite of grimdark: “Hopepunk says that kindness and softness doesn’t equal weakness, and that in this world of brutal cynicism and nihilism, being kind is a political act. An act of rebellion. Hopepunk says that genuinely and sincerely caring about something, anything, requires bravery and strength.” What are the stories that inspire us to reject cynicism and fight for the good in this broken world?
Hey! How are you? I hope you’re weathering all this horribleness okay (and if you’re not, please let me know if I can do anything to help).
It’s been awhile, I know. Time for an update.
I’ve been neglecting the Mossy Skull in favor of a certain publishing venture I’ve embarked on. If you’re here, you may have heard of it. Reckoning is an annual journal of creative writing on environmental justice. I started on it last July; the first issue came out in December. The submission deadline for the second issue is the autumnal equinox, September 22nd.
It’s going well, I think. I’m learning. I’m paying reasonably good money for amazing work that might not have found a home otherwise, or at least not earned its creator quite as much. I’m getting to know some of those creators a little, by interviewing them and working with them. Some of them are getting to know each other. It’s even possible that at right this very moment someone is making something beautiful and thoughtful they might not have made if Reckoning didn’t exist. And of course I hope somebody somewhere is reading it all and being amazed and inspired.
But it’s a hard thing to assess as a whole, at this early stage.
I’m trying hard not to be glib.
“Reckoning” is, I think, a lovely word with quite a breadth of applicability; I feel like I see it used more and more these days, partly as a result of the ascendancy of a certain gumball-colored sociopath, but also it seems it’s the way the collective consciousness of the human race was already going. We’re being asked to take responsibility for the consequences of our actions, or the lack thereof. We’re trying to figure out what that responsibility looks like. This is what I wanted Reckoning to be about. But it becomes clear that publishing Reckoning and a reckoning with my own life and choices are separate undertakings, and one can’t take precedence over the other.
Here, then, by way of an update, and hopefully as a stopgap for the ongoing benign neglect I expect this blog to suffer for a good while yet, is how I’ve been reckoning of late.
I moved away from my huge, loving family and the elite liberal socialist utopia of Massachusetts for the post-industrial, post-working-class kleptocracy of Southeast Michigan. I did this for economic reasons: it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to live here, because no one wants to. Plus my wife got a very good job for the equivalent of which on the east coast competition would have been prohibitive. We were able to make this move at all only because of our privilege. We’re white; we have expensive east coast liberal educations and loving family with the long-term economic benefits of same. And I am aware of this privilege, the extent of it, only because I moved here. The distance allows me to see the stratification of this country for what it is. Did I start Reckoning because of it? Yeah, probably.
I bought a hundred-year-old former church parsonage for one fifth what the equivalent would have cost in the Boston suburbs where I grew up, and therefore could afford to outfit it with solar panels despite active discouragement from my new state and energy utility. I’ve had them for three years and am nowhere near earning back my investment.
I converted my barren food desert of a lawn to a permaculture food forest: apple and cherry trees, elderberry bushes, blackberry brambles, native grapes, hops, asparagus, nettle, strawberries.
I wrote, workshopped and revised a novel. I sent it out to a few agents, then got too wrapped up in Reckoning to follow through, and now it languishes.
I leased an electric car and spent a few months convincing my utility to let me plug it into the solar panels.
I joined my local government. I volunteer on my town’s environmental resources committee, trying to convince a bunch of working-class white Republicans to recycle. It sucks.
I voted for Hillary.
I sold a story to BCS, a weird western set in turn of the (twentieth) century Michigan, stuffed full of references to the Grateful Dead and the Great American Songbook. It comes out in July or thereabouts. Apparently I also get to read the podcast.
Speaking of podcasts, Far Fetched Fables will be running “Asleep in the Traces” sometime soon.
I gave a bunch of money to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center and etc.
Readercon is next weekend. I’m excited. I signed up for the utopian fiction track, which I think I also kind of sort of helped suggest, after last year’s eco-futurism panels went so well, and which fits quite serendipitously with my new project, Reckoning Magazine. It’s a literary journal themed around environmental justice…but let me say more about that in a week.
In the meantime, here’s my panel schedule, including a reading of some utopian fiction of my own.
Friday July 08
11:30 AMReading: Michael J. Deluca.Michael J. Deluca. Michael J. Deluca reads “#Anon and the Antlers”, a short story that came out in Orthogonal SF Volume 1 this winter.
Saturday July 09
12:00 PMThe Apocalypse Is Already Here; It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed.Michael J. Deluca, Haris Durrani, Paul Park, Vandana Singh, John Stevens. Countless cultures and peoples have experienced, or are presently experiencing, apocalypses: invasions, genocides, civil wars, natural disasters. Why do so few apocalyptic science fiction novels acknowledge that worlds have already ended? How does the experience of reading those stories change depending on one’s personal or familial connection to recent apocalypses? If science fiction moved away from the idea of a globe-spanning apocalypse to explore smaller, localized, but equally devastating apocalypses, what might those stories look like?
3:00 PM What Good Is a Utopia? Michael J. Deluca, Chris Gerwel, Barry Longyear, Kathryn Morrow (leader), Andrea Phillips. If an author sets out to write a utopia, several questions arise. Character and interpersonal conflict can drive the story, but how do you keep the utopian setting from becoming backdrop in that case? Were the Talking Heads right in saying that “Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens”? And how do you showcase how much better things would be “if only”?
Tomorrow at 10 AM, I’ll be participating in this panel discussion at ConFusion:
Anthologies as Advocacy
All fiction is in some way political and science fiction and fantasy have a healthy tradition of anthologies that seek to open up space for new voices and new conversations. To what extent do an anthology’s political goals interact with other editorial considerations? And how are such books received and reviewed by the field — both politically, and aesthetically?
Michael J. DeLuca, Yanni Kuznia, Mari Brighe, Kelley Armstrong (M), Michael Damian Thomas
Doubtless I will mention this:
And maybe this:
And lots of other things, for which I have a bunch of notes. Come on by, it’ll be great.
Then, later, 8 PM that very night, I will be doing this:
Beer Lovers Meet Up
Bring a bottle of your favorite or unusual brew to share with fellow beer lovers in this casual meetup in the consuite.
Joel Zakem, Michael J. DeLuca, Scott H. Andrews, Jim Mann
And boy will there ever be unusual and favorite brew. I just packed the cooler; it contains such magics as Guatemalan chocolate smoked hot pepper stout, orange blossom cyser, two different vintages of spruce beer, two different vintages of mead, a wormwood old ale. And those are just the libations I made myself. Please come help us sample; I doubt we can drink it all ourselves.
12:00 PM F Writing in the Anthropocene: SF and the Challenge of Climate Change. Gwendolyn Clare, Michael J. Daley, Michael J. Deluca (leader), Max Gladstone, Vandana Singh. Science fiction and fantasy have often dealt with fictional apocalyptic scenarios, but what about the real-world scenario unfolding right now? Climate change, or climate disruption, is the most challenging problem faced by humankind, and some have called it a problem of the imagination, as much as economics and environment. In the wake of the latest scientific reports on what is happening and what might be in store for us, we’ll examine how imaginative fiction conveys the reality, the immediacy, and the alternative scenarios of the climate problem.
4:00 PM EM LCRW. Christopher Brown, Michael J. Deluca, Eric Gregory, Deborah McCutchen, Alena McNamara. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Group Reading
6:00 PM ENL Solarpunk and Eco-Futurism. Michael J. Daley, Michael J. Deluca, Jeff Hecht, Rob Kilhefer, Romie Stott (leader). In August 2014, Miss Olivia Louise wrote a Tumblr post proposing the creation of a new subgenre: solarpunk. Solarpunk, sometimes called eco-futurism, would be set in a semi-utopian future visually influenced by Art Nouveau and Hayao Miyazaki, and built according to principles of new urbanism and environmental sustainability—an “earthy” handmade version of futuretech, in opposition to the slick, white, spacebound surfaces of 1980s futurism. Solarpunk blogs have since proliferated, as Tumblr users like SunAndSilicon create and aggregate concept art and brainstorm solarpunk’s technological and societal shifts, enthusiastically building a shared-world fandom with no single owner or defining central text. For some, building solarpunk is an escapist fantasy. Meanwhile, in San Francisco there have been meatspace conventions to develop some kind of manifesto, with the hope of eventually moving realworld society in a solarpunk direction. What, if any, are the precursors to this kind of grassroots genre creation? Is it an inevitable outgrowth of fan-funded niche publishing through crowdfunding? Is solarpunk’s locavore pro-tech optimism in the face of climate change a distinctly Millenial backlash to Gen-X dystopias? And can the inevitable contradictions of a crowdsourced utopia survive the rigors of critical reading?
Saturday July 12
10:00 AM ENV Reading: Michael J. Deluca. Michael J. Deluca. Michael J. Deluca reads A short story, 2900 words, forthcoming in Mythic Delirium.