From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Essays

Nonfiction

Worldbuilding With Legs: Incorporating Insects into Your Stories

So I hear you’re writing a fantasy story! May I suggest the addition of some charismatic microfauna? What about uncharismatic? Um, what if we make them macrofauna? No?

Arthropods get the short end of the stick in the average fantasy tale. Oh sure, there are biting flies in the Marshes We Must Cross to Deliver the MacGuffin; a local witch keeps a few hives of Slightly Strange Bees; the heroes might defeat Scorpions Of Unusual Size now and then. But what if we developed more unusual candidates and gave them some power in the plot? Real insects provide us with everything we need for a variety of fictional functions!

Nonfiction

We Are the Mountain: A Look at the Inactive Protagonist

Let me take you through the anatomy of an active protagonist, one that everyone can relate to. We’ll make our protagonist—we’ll call him John—young and healthy, male, of humble origins (perhaps he’s from a farming village). But his status will not be humble for long, for John is dreaming of greatness someday, or adventuring across the world, or perhaps winning the heart of the most beautiful princess throughout the faux medieval European continent he hails from.

Nonfiction

How to Steal a Million Dollars Dragons

Most of us identify as lawful/neutral good, aspiring to the ideals of truth and justice and equity. Why is it, then, that heists and cons are so compelling in fiction? Why cheer for the robbers, the con artists, the swindlers . . . when they go against everything we believe in? Other than the fact […]

Nonfiction

The Fiction of Peace, the Fantasy of War

As an American millennial, my country has been legally at war for more than half of my life. As a Black person in the United States, and as someone aware of the displacement and genocide of indigenous Americans, I would say the country has been at war with itself since its beginning. War seems as ubiquitous in fantasy novels as it does in the real world.

Nonfiction

The Validity of Escapism

I was a lonely kid. As a nerdy, quiet child with big glasses and braces, I was at the bottom of the social pecking order. Books—fantasy books in particular—were my escape. I gravitated toward stories where the underdog gets what they want through sheer determination or discovers they have magical powers, or both.

Nonfiction

All the King’s Women: The Sewer Clown Tragedy of Beverly Marsh

Walking out of the theater after seeing IT part one in 2017, there was only one person I wanted to talk to. Best-selling and Hugo-winning author Seanan McGuire is one of the only humans I’ve ever met who loves Stephen King like I do. When I got to Twitter, she was already yelling. And she was joined by best-seller and Hugo winner Catherynne M. Valente, who is on the same level as Seanan and me when it comes to these books.

Nonfiction

Still We Write

For me, writing is not an easy thing. Of course, there are days when everything flows perfectly, when the words dance out of me like they were always meant to exist and all I have to do is let them flow. But those days are far outnumbered by the ones when the blank page mocks […]

Nonfiction

Give Us Back Our Fucking Gods

Creation myths are the stuff of old, intuitive science. They are the stories that attempt to explain the source of the universe and the very beginnings of life. Creation myths are not synonymous with folktales, animal stories, or playful allegories that instill morals and values. They are, ultimately, our embellished truths—complete with fucking gods, incest, […]

Nonfiction

Learning to Dream in Color

I didn’t grow up dreaming in color. I dreamed in white. Not my literal dreams, the thoughts that flickered within my mind’s eye while I dozed. In those dreams I was a frizzy-haired black girl with unkempt hair and an overbite, same as I was in my daily life. Those nightly dreams were cast in […]

Nonfiction

The Sleepover Manifesto

We know that queers need fantasies. We believe that queers specifically need fantasies of the future to sustain us moving forward. We need utopian dreams of worlds that could be, because, as Jose Muñoz argued, without fantasies we cede the not-yet-here to the imperatives of reproductive futurism. We argue that we need fantasies not just of the future, but of the past.