Angela Yuriko Smith of Space and Time interviews Michael J. DeLuca

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    Angela Yuriko Smith, the new publisher of Space and Time interviewed Michael on her blog about ebooks and the future of publishing:

    AYS—One of my favorite features from your site is having a MOBI sent directly to my ereader. What other features do you offer that I may have missed?

    Michael—I think the big selling point, compared to the 900-pound gorilla, is that everything we sell is DRM-free and always available to you through our My Library page. We want you to be able to think of them as your books and do with them as you would with a physical book you own. Share them! Just don’t pirate them, please.

    Read on

    Pick up the latest issue of Space and Time:

    Space and Time Magazine Issue #133 cover - click to view full size

    LCRW Guest Editor Interview: Michael J. DeLuca

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    lady-churchills-rosebud-wristlet-no-33-coverAndrea Pawley interviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet guest editor Michael J. DeLuca:

    Q: The theme of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue 33 is humanity’s relationship with the earth. When you became the issue’s guest editor, did you anticipate you’d get story submissions from the likes of Sofia Samatar and Carmen Maria Machado?

    DeLuca: As a matter of fact, I asked them specifically! Along with a handful of others, though those are the only two I solicited whose work appears in the issue. Which is a bit of a cheat, I admit. One of the reasons I love LCRW is how it has been a showcase for new writers. But I felt an imperative to hedge my bets a little, given that it’s a theme issue, and I am not a known brilliant editor like Gavin and Kelly.

    Q: LCRW 33 is filled with female perspectives and a strong undercurrent of feminism. What connections do you see between the two and the future in the age of the anthropocene?

    DeLuca: Insofar as there is feminism in the issue — and there absolutely is, and I’m very happy that’s the case — I take no credit for it. I’m as feminist as I think any financially solvent white cis American male can reasonably be expected to be, which is to say not as much as I’d like to be or should be. Women’s voices have been and are institutionally tuned out and devalued as much by the literary establishment as everywhere else. But I really didn’t have to make much conscious effort in that direction for the issue to come out the way it did. I solicited work from some amazing women, and I tried to make clear in the submission call that I was interested in points of view other than my own. But for whatever reason, an overwhelming proportion of the submissions came from women. And I don’t really have an explanation for it. Do women have a stronger relationship with the earth than men? Creative women in particular? I could speculate fancifully about Gaea and the sacred feminine, but I fear I’d be wading in too deep.

    I’m not a feminist scholar; I’m married to one, but I only manage to osmose so much. What I think I can say is that the future of the anthropocene has to involve a reevaluating and breaking down of traditional narratives of all stripes. And that absolutely must depend upon empowering women to reshape those narratives. The massive, deleterious effect humanity’s trajectory is having on the earth is the direct result of established, patriarchal modes of thought: the capitalist notion of progress, just to name one. And the people best situated to recognize and question those modes of thought are not the people currently situated to benefit from them, but rather the people they hurt: women, minorities, the disenfranchised, the poor.

    Q: If you could make the majority of the world do one thing to benefit the future of the planet, what would it be?

    I’m a little wary of wish-fulfillment: anything I say is going to be something that could never really happen in a million years. But okay, in the name of speculative fiction, I’ll speculate.

    What if everybody, everywhere, tomorrow, stopped using fossil fuels? There’d be enormous fallout. Economic collapse. Just in terms of food distribution — everything’s globalized, my fruit comes from Chile, my walnuts from California. We’d be forced into an incredibly rapid, drastic period of readjustment. Communities would change overnight. A lot of people would starve. A lot of people would have to relearn how to grow their own food. But in the long run — and I don’t think it would be that long, really, a generation let’s say — I think we’d bounce back, and the world would be so much better for it. We’d have learned a lesson. And meanwhile, the whole rest of the world would have bounced back too: forests, watersheds, animal populations, even the ocean.

    But can I actually wish for that, knowing the hardship it would cause? Only in fiction.

    Q: What do you see as the future of Solarpunk?

    I’m curious about that. It’s a very new idea, new enough I hesitate to even call it a movement. Applied broadly, I think it’s a great idea and I really hope it catches on. In other words, if it’s not really so heavily solar-focused, but is used more as a blanket term for all kinds of speculation, technological and otherwise, about where we could go, all taken in a spirit of optimism and play, that could really be amazing. If you think about it as an answer to cyberpunk rather than or not quite so much as steampunk: cyberpunk actually spawned a lot of real advances; it changed the world more rapidly than maybe any other movement in fiction ever has. But it was, for the most part, cynical. And with good reason. Those advances are all pretty amazing: cryptography, mobile technology, virtual currency, social networking. But they’ve led us to some dark places. If solarpunk starts and grows from a place of progressivism and hope — who knows.

    Q: What/who are some of your environmental influences?

    How about this? In chronological order by how I encountered them:

    1. My family. Camping, hiking, hunting, biking, berry picking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, gardening. Predictable, but it’s how we all learn, or don’t learn, to value the natural world.

    2. Thornton W. Burgess, a children’s writer of animal stories from Cape Cod. His animals are anthropomorphized to a great degree, but they also keep to their natural routines and in so doing taught me a lot.

    3. Ms. Howland, my middle school English teacher. She introduced me to the greenhouse effect, global warming, extinction, pollution, habitat loss, suburban sprawl, all these concepts of modern conservationism. She also taught me how to edit a story.

    4. Henry David Thoreau. “Thoreau” was one of my nicknames in high school. He’s blindly optimistic about some things, very narrow in his views about others — he’s a privileged, classically educated white guy from 19th-century New England, after all. But his prose never fails to blow me away, and his observations of the natural world and human nature and the relationship between them are incredibly perceptive and eye-opening even today.

    5. . . . Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, John Muir, Carlos Castaneda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ray Bradbury, John Crowley, Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut, Jon Krakauer, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Paul Stamets, Benjamin Parzybok, Paolo Bacigalupi, Rachel Carson, Mircea Eliade, Werner Herzog, Willa Cather, Elizabeth Dodd, Karen Russell, Karen Joy Fowler. . . .

    Note the absurd overbalance of white men. This is my fault, and not because men have or deserve any kind of monopoly on ecological writing or thought. And it’s something I’m trying to correct.

    Q: You’re a writer, too. How did that influence what stories you selected for this issue?

    Being a writer probably makes me harder to please. Purely idea-based SF doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ve seen too much of it. Plot-driven fiction has gotten old for me. Likewise, writing that relies on prose fireworks to get away with lack of depth. Because it’s LCRW, there was a certain amount of stylistic consideration that went into my choices — it’s very easy for me at this point, having read many submissions for Gavin and Kelly over many years and also having been a big fan of the final product, to identify an LCRW story. But really, the biggest deciding factor wasn’t about whether it was weird enough or LCRW enough, but just whether it was a good story, whether I got caught up in it, cared about the people in it and felt like it all meant something at the end. To a certain degree, someone who knows how to write and understands the tools of storytelling will be affected in a different way by a story than someone who isn’t in it for the craft. But I think, I hope, a lot of it is universal: the tools for appreciating a good story are written in our bones, right next to the instructions for how to eat and sleep and die and procreate.

    Michael J. DeLuca is a fernlike, woody perennial native to the Eastern US, found on hilltops and in woodland clearings from Massachusetts to Michigan. Leaves astringent; strongly tannic; used in teas, to flavor ales and as an aromatic smudge. Flowers late summer in cylindrical catkins. Recent fiction in Ideomancer, Phobos, Betwixt. Tweets @michaeljdeluca.

    Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is An Occasional Outburst, an arrow shot into the future, a harbinger. Edited since 1996 by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link. LCRW contributors include many writers whose names you may know and many more whose name you may not — and that there finding and reading unfamiliar voices is one of the joys of existence. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is available DRM-free in single issues or in a wide range of subscription options, which may or may not include chocolate.

    Net Neutrality: Some Further Reading

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    Boy, those things sure are distracting.

    Boy, these things are distracting.

    You may have noticed that red popup about “internet slow lanes” featuring the spinning ball of death. Maybe you clicked it and got taken to the petition. Maybe you signed it and/or maybe you were curious to learn more and that’s why you’re reading this now. If so, thank you.

    It didn’t feel right featuring that (in my opinion misleading and at best reductive) banner (also at Small Beer Press along with who knows how many other sites across the internet) without offering some background and perspective. Here goes.

    Net Neutrality, for those who’ve been accessing the internet from under a rock for the last year or so, is the noble and idealistic crusade to prevent the corporations that provide the vast majority of us with internet access from exercising that power too greedily or unfairly. The most prominent example of this in recent news has been Comcast’s battle with Netflix earlier this year. Back in January, the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a 2010 FCC ruling that made at least some effort to codify and enforce net neutrality. With those restrictions lifted, Comcast started throttling Netflix traffic, causing Netflix subscribers to experience slow and interrupted streaming content, eventually forcing Netflix to pay Comcast more for extra bandwidth. Netflix subscribers have not yet seen a rate increase as a result, but likely that’s a matter of time. Here, then, is what the organizations behind today’s “Battle for the Net” mean by “slow lanes”. They’re talking about the economic stratification of the internet: fast access to content for some, faster for the rich, slower for everybody else.

    My objection to this wording (aside from it being alarmist and hyperbolic, which I acknowledge the international media’s rhetorical arms race to meaninglessness makes necessary to incite anyone to take any action, even the most inconsequential) is that the internet has been economically stratified since its inception. “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” as William Gibson has been saying since at least 1993. To access the internet, you need to be able to afford a computer built by one corporation and a monthly subscription paid to another, or have the audacity and wherewithal to acquire these things illegally. That’s not going to change.

    There is, however, the looming possibility that it’s going to (a) get worse or (b) get a little better. That’s why we’re talking about it now, and what the petition purports to address.

    In May, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a new set of rules to replace those struck down by the courts in January. He then opened the proposal to a period of public comment, which is set to end on September 15th, in five days. Net neutrality activists don’t like this proposal much at all. The details of why and what they’d prefer involve 100+ pages of incomprehensible (at least to me) legalese–so this is pretty much where I get off. But the gist seems to be that the much shorter wording in Wheeler’s version leaves open to interpretation by corporations and their lawyers exactly what exercising their power too greedily or unfairly means, whereas the 100+ page version preferred by the Battle for the Net people lays it out that much more explicitly.

    When I clicked that banner link and wound up at the petition, I balked. I love the principle of net neutrality, but I’m skeptical about pretty much everything else pertaining to it. So I went and read all those articles I’m linking to above and then some, and I came to the conclusion that despite the misleading wording and too-little, too-late feel of this particular iteration of the debate, it was indeed important and meaningful that as many non-corporate persons as possible voice an opinion about this in the hopes it just might sway the people in power away from the far less numerous but far, far more deafeningly loud voices of the corporate persons and their lobbying money.

    So I went and signed the petition, and as you see. I hope you’ll read it all too and come to the same conclusion. Failing that, maybe you’ll just trust that I did and sign anyway?

    Thanks for reading.

    Michael’s new story

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    Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #98 cover - click to view full sizeYou can now read Michael‘s huge new story, “Death and the Thunderbird,” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. It’s a two parter which begins in Issue 97 (along with a story by Tina Connelly) and concludes in the just-released Issue 98 (along with a story by E. Catherine Tobler).

    Carelessly tossed, the sheathed knife cleared the chaos of platters on the table and skidded towards Bienor across the surface of the map. He stretched a shaking hand to stop it falling to his hooves, willing away the alcoholic shivers and the nervous urge to rear. The hilt was elk-horn, scrimshawed in the likeness of a sheaf of rods.

    Icarus down a wing?

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    Icarus, Issue 10 cover - click to view full sizeOr: get 50% off Icarus: The Magazine of Gay Speculative Fiction using this code:

    Icarus

    Updated: this code is now fixed! (Sorry, I broke it.) Reader who went ahead and paid the full price have been refunded and we have

    What else is on sale? Check here. You can also re-order the whole site by lowest price.

    We also added a few more Lethe Press titles, including Heiresses of Russ 2011: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction (with stories by Georgina Bruce, Jewelle Gomez, Michelle Labbé, Steve Berman, Rachel Swirsky, Ellen Kushner, Zen Cho, Csilla Kleinheincz, Catherine Lundoff, Nora Olsen, N. K. Jemisin, & more):

    . . . tales—from new voices as well as award-winning authors—that celebrate the spirit of Russ’s fiction: stories of sorceresses and spectral women, lost daughters and sisters of myth. The transformative power of the written word becomes magic and tests the boundaries of gender, identity, and a woman’s dreams.

    Tachyon got off to a great start last week with Eileen Gunn’s Stable Strategies and Others being the most popular.

    And we added a new Small Beer title: Three Messages and a Warning—34 newly translated Mexican SF&F stories. Irresistible! And it includes two stories translated by none other than Weightless’s own Michael J. DeLuca! We’ll have a couple of the stories on the Small Beer podcast (and two more will be on Podcastle) and yYou can get a taste of the book here:

    Claudia Guillén, The Drop
    Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, Photophobia

    This week it will also be all about new issues of magazines. We’ll post them as soon as we get them. Here are the mags already released:

    Give the gift of ebooks!

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    Running out of shipping time left to get those pesky printed books to your loved ones in time?

    Give them Weightless Books instead! Remember, you can also send a Weightless Gift Certificate.

    It’s easy.

    1) Add ebooks to your cart
    2) Check the box above the Checkout button (see screenshot at right) that says This is a gift order
    3) Enter the name and email of the person you’d like to send ebooks to
    4) Check out as usual.
    5) The lucky gift recipient gets download links sent to her email address and you get a receipt and the warm fuzzies of generosity.

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    If this happens, just let us know and we’ll fix it.

    Happy Gifting!

    Michael is interviewed!

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    on the Small Beer Podcast — and then reads a story (which he translated) for the forthcoming Three Messages and a Warning: Contemporary Mexican Stories of the Fantastic.