From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Category Archive for ‘Non-Fiction’ rss


Not Your Father’s Sci-Fi Convention: WisCon 33

You had to give the cold shoulder to six panels, even at 10:30pm, just to make the What Gender is your Roomba? Panel. (The cringeworthy answer, according to the mod’s informal poll of con attendees: female, because it does domestic duties. Oh, WISCON.)


Dear Superman

This essay originally appeared in Talking Back: Epistolary Fantasies, edited by L. Timmel DuChamp and published by Aqueduct Press in 2006. Dear Superman, I hope this letter reaches you. I wasn’t sure where to send it. There’s no address for your Fortress of Solitude, and Metropolis, USA, is too vague for the postal service. I […]


Razor Blade Valentine: Gay Partington Terry

I was thrown off my high school newspaper for handing in a Valentine poem that the advisor asked me for knowing full-well I was NOT the mushy Valentine type. In it, a jilted lover swallowed razor blades “internally slitting his throat”–in iambic pentameter! Despite the fact that I don’t normally write graphic or violent pieces, I am proud.


A Window of Wonder Closes: David Eddings

But something happened when I read Pawn of Prophecy that had never happened to me before when I’d read a fantasy novel. Quite simply, quite ridiculously, I fell in love–not just with the prose, not just with the setting, not just with the action and adventure and wit and ideas. I fell in love with the characters.


Ain’t I A Woman? Tiptree Winner Nisi Shawl

Eileen: Of course, I also want you to talk about your tiptop Tiptree-tipping short-story collection from Aqueduct Press. How did that come about?

Nisi: Timmi Duchamp, who is the editor at Aqueduct, approached me about doing a collection of my short stories. It was her idea. I mean — of course I had wanted to put a book together for a long time. I had a whole list I wrote down of titles for this imaginary collection. But the book wouldn’t exist without her impetus.

She asked me to send her all my stories, and I took her at her word. I sent the first story I’d ever sold, “I Was a Teen Age Genetic Engineer,” and several others simply not suitable for publication. She picked fourteen of the twenty-eight I offered her. When people ask me if there’s an underlying theme to Filter House, I want to tell them: “Stuff Timmi liked.” Of course there’s more to it than that. When I told her about the Tiptree she said, “I knew the stories needed to be in a book for people to see what you were doing with them. And I was right.”

You know how when a cat leaps down from a table top or window ledge and lands not quite as gracefully as one might expect, they give you this look as if to say, “I meant to do that!” I have felt much like that cat for some time now. I have been criticized, for instance, for calling my genetically engineered human workers “maggies” in the story of the same title, because the double gee made their name a cognate for the “n word.” Well, duh!

Eileen: You didn’t mean to do that?

Nisi: Oh, yes I did! I mean to do a lot of what I do. Most of it. Trust me.

Eileen: Well, whether you did or not, I think you should be allowed to take full credit for your subconscious. Every writer should. Sometimes it’s best not to examine too closely where your backbrain is taking you, at least until after you’ve gotten there. A writer has to exert control at some point, of course. When I get to the end of the line, I usually leap out and see if I’ve arrived anywhere I want to be. Sometimes I haven’t, but I can see where I want to get to better than I could before I set out.


This June In Fantasy Magazine

June articles include an appreciation of Superman by E.C. Myers, reviews of both “Land of the Lost” and “Transformers”, an interview with the creators of the Lord of the Rings game, an article on Star Trek and slash fiction, convention reports, a piece on the writing workshop Clarion West, the top ten differences between television shows TrueBlood and Twilight, a look at zombie fiction mashups, and much, much more.


More Than A Wizard: L. Frank Baum

In writing, Baum tried to remove both the violence and emphasis on morality characteristic of children’s literature of his time, an endeavor other writers would later join him in. Even as a child, Baum had criticized fairy tales for their violent, often horrifying nature. He also removed romance, believing that it did not interest young children. He believed deeply in the power of children’s literature…


The Marvelous Land of Oz: The Tipping Point

All the same, the reveal and subsequent transformation of Tip back into Ozma—described in glittery detail, complete with an illustration of the newly restored Ozma all tarted up like JonBenet doing Stevie Nicks—can’t help but resonate with transgendered people. And by resonate, I mean “feel like a kick in the teeth.” In a good way. Reading it now for the first time at thirty-five, a decade after I began my own considerably slower and less glittery transition from male to female, it’s powerful stuff.


Con Report: BaltiCon (May 22-25, 2009)

A few precious moments linger in one’s life, the still frames that define us, or perhaps, define a portion of us previously out of focus. These moments, sometimes, are experiences one might expect: birth of a child, diploma day, loss of virginity, a first fiction sale. Sometimes the experiences come later in life, unexpectedly sweet. Yes, my friends, I have experienced my first con.


Fascination Led Me to Sensuality: Karen Heuler

I wondered what happened to the children—there were theories about where they went (through the mountain to a new settlement; to death; to be conscripted in the Children’s Crusade), but the tale really ends with the children being swallowed up by a mysterious opening in a mountain. And the piper is gone.