This was a challenging issue for us. I tried to step down in favor of a guest editor, and at first that went wonderfully; it got us incredibly badass cover art from Stylo Starr along with the pleasure of her acquaintance, it pushed us into some editorial decisions that wilder and darker and more intense and more serious and we might not have made otherwise, which was exactly why I wanted to take on a guest editor in the first place. So in that sense it has been an amazing year. But Sakara had to back out a little more than halfway through, which left us scrambling to take over her responsibilities, caused us to drop a few balls and have to go chasing them halfway across August. It stretched out our submission response times and no doubt annoyed many a potential contributor. I hope we didn’t lose anybody. That is the opposite of what I want.
In the interest of honoring the work Sakara put in as well as the creative influence of Reckoning’s amazing staff, I decided to keep my name out of the editor slot for this issue and call it a communal effort.
Undaunted, unrelenting, with Reckoning 4 we’re trying it again. I think I shall not yet reveal our guest editor(s) for the new issue, but I’m excited.
Also, of course, this year happened.
I’d already been expecting Reckoning 3 to be darker than Reckoning 2. The issues were always meant to reflect the state of the world in the year of their release; this whole project, the premise of calling it “Reckoning”, is about looking both forward and back, finding the way. This issue is full of both hope and dread. Sometimes the people we’re rooting for drown. Sometimes they have to kill the people holding them down. This issue has a knife and a gun on the cover—Stylo put them there without having seen it all, but that’s how these things go; prophecies fulfill themselves. We’d already accepted Osahon Ize-Iyamu’s “More Sea Than Tar”, Andrew Kozma’s “Exit Here”, Tania Fordwalker’s “The Blackthorn Door” and Michelle Muenzler’s “Flowers for the Living, Flowers for the Dead”—most of what’s full of brutality and grief in the issue—long before the IPCC report came out. We’re reprinting a bunch of #ExtinctionRebellion protest art; I hadn’t even heard of Extinction Rebellion in August.
All of which is just by way of a heads-up: please read, just be ready.
I’ll be at World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore this weekend, November 1-4, 2018. I get to do a reading and a panel.
Time: Saturday – 10:00 AM to 10:30 AM Location: Guilford
I think I’m going to read my Reckoning 2 editorial, even though I’ve been avoiding doing so because it’s deeply personal and emotional and hard, because it’s directly relevant to the panel they put me on, because after the IPCC report and three days before the election I feel like it’s time and I’m out of excuses.
Optimism in the New Dark Age
Time: Sunday – 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM Location: WaterTable BC Panelists: Michael J. Deluca, Sarah Beth Durst, Matthew Kressel, James A. Moore, A.C. Wise (M) Description: The ’00s brought us a glut of dystopian fiction, but in this new dark political era, what value or function can positive or so-called “hope-punk” fiction bring? Is optimistic fiction head-in-the-sand denialism, or is it mindfully visionary? Who are some of the writers creating this type of fiction? #HopePunk
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.