2021 Publications, Appearances, and Other Notable Things

Text reads "2021 Publications, Appearances, and Other Notable Things."It’s been a great year. Here’s some highlights. I have tried to identify what length and genre everything is, as well as where you can get it. The podcast I work with, IF THIS GOES ON (Don’t Panic), is eligible for Hugo nominations.

In January, my story “Shot Through with Shards of Light” appeared in SPACE: 1975, SPACE OPERA STORIES, 70S STYLE edited by Robert Jeschonek. This story is set in the same universe as my space opera, YOU SEXY THING, and grew out of thinking about a particular aspect of that universe.

March of 2021, my short story “Crazy Beautiful” appeared in The Magazine of F&SF as part of Sheree Renee Thomas’s inaugural issue. This story is very important to me, speaking about something that I deeply care about, and I’ve been stoked that so many people liked it. It is my only story that starts with a Bob Ross quote. Rich Horton said of it, “Perhaps my favorite story from early in 2021.”

In April, Jennifer Brozek and I turned in the manuscript for our co-edited anthology, THE REINVENTED HEART. So exciting! I got a piece of game writing in, with “The Sisterhood of the Shovel,” which appeared in THE WELL from Shoeless Pete Games.

My Beneath Ceaseless Skies novelette, Every Breath a Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer, also appeared in April. This is a Tabat story, and features the protagonists of “Hoofsore and Weary” and “Brittle Are My Boughs, And Sorrowful My Heart.”

Some things reviewers said about Every Breath a Question, Every Heartbeat an Answer

In May, the third book of the Tabat Quartet, EXILES OF TABAT, appeared from Wordfire Press. In it, Bella, Teo, and Lucy all adventure outside the city, with very different results. The final book, GODS OF TABAT, will appear in 2022.

In July, a story that my spouse Wayne and I wrote together, “Stand and Deliver,” appeared in DARK MATTER magazine. It’s a story of fatherhood and time travel…sort of.

In August I actually did some traveling. I went to Laramie, Wyoming, and was part of the Laucnh Pad workshop, an effort aimed at getting more science into one’s science fiction, and I learned so much that I’ve got an entire notebook’s worth of notes.

In October, my flash piece “A Tourist’s Guide to Terror,” appeared in Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, 99 TINY TERRORS.

In early November, my collaboration with Jermaine Martin, “Riders of the Void,” appeared in GUNFIGHT ON EUROPA STATION, edited by David Boop. We took one of my favorite westerns, “Shane,” and used it as the spark to start our story and I’m pleased with the result!

In mid-November, my long-delayed space opera, YOU SEXY THING, appeared finally! Amazon named it one of the 20 best F&SF books of 2021 and there’s been some great reviews. Here’s some of what people have said.

  • “…a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi romp” – Publishers Weekly
  • “A romp. If you’re the kind of person who likes Mass Effect, or enjoyed Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, or fell head-over-heels for Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy… then this book is definitely for you. This is a fast, zippy novel that hides some surprisingly substantial emotional heavy lifting under its hood…. Cozy-with-a-soupçon-of-suspense hoot-and-a-half.” ―Locus
  • …a delightful, action-filled space jaunt, packed with engaging alien species, a bioship that learns emotions, and witty references.” – Library Journal
  • “Rambo absolutely nails it.” – BookPage
  • “Fun, fantastic, and delicious―I loved it!”―Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice
  • This action-packed space opera is loads of fun.” ―BuzzFeed

I did a lot of other stuff, like teaching for the Norwescon Writers Workshop, Cascade Writers, Williamette Writers, and Clarion West. I read for Older Writer’s Grant for Speculative Lit Foundation as well as for a middle grade contest. I did a holy crapton of readings, and plenty of panels, which I should have tracked better in order to include here.

The school did nicely again this year and I added several on-demand classes of my own:

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Upcoming Launch Events for You Sexy Thing

Cover of the space opera novel, You Sexy Thing, by Cat Rambo, published November 16, 2021

Preorder now!

Only a few more days until the book launch and I am super stoked. This Sunday is my birthday and we’re going out for a special festive dinner, and then I launch into a week of frenzied activity in which I will be book shilling right and left for a bit.

Thank you SO much to everyone who’s pre-ordered or reviewed an ARC. If you would like a signed bookplate, this post has info on how to get one as well as preorder links for Powells, Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble.

Here’s what’s coming up next week for the book launch!

Have you entered the GoodReads giveaway for a special copy?

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Guest Post: The Best Halloween Ever by Wendy Wagner

Halloween has always been my very favorite holiday. I have a brilliant memory of being four years old and dressed as a bat, holding hands with my sister (dressed as a Rubik’s cube) eating powdered sugar donuts at the local fire station. We stood beside a fire burning inside an old metal barrel, and the flames lit our faces up more beautifully than sunshine. Looking at my sister’s multi-colored smile, I realized that Halloween was the best, most terrific day of the year, and I wished it could be Halloween every day.  

But of all the terrific Halloweens—Halloweens when I partied, Halloweens when I dressed up, Halloweens when I trick or treated for charity, all the many glorious Halloweens of the past forty-plus years—the best Halloween was the first one I spent in Ash Valley, Oregon. I was a first-grader, and my family had only moved to town in August. “Town” was a strong word for our community; there was no grocery store or gas station or post office there, only a two-room schoolhouse and a pre-fab shed sheltering the volunteer fire department. About sixty-five people lived in the immediate vicinity, and every holiday they came together at the school for lavish potlucks.  

I’d been excited about Halloween right up until the moment it was decided that instead of making me the costume of my choice (I’m pretty sure that year I wanted to go as a mermaid), we were just going to borrow a costume from our neighbors so my mom would have plenty of time to prepare for her first-ever Ash Valley potluck. On Halloween, I sulked around all day, only brightening when my mom let me lick out the mixing bowl. Although when I learned she was making cupcakes—a food that I’d never gotten to eat before—my day was transformed. As was I when I tried on the borrowed costume, which was a perfectly adorable raccoon suit that I looked cute in.  

When my sister finished painting on my raccoon mask, I saw the cupcakes my mom had created and nearly burst into tears. Orange frosted and decorated with mini-marshmallow ghosts, they were the single most amazing thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t wait for my friends to see how brilliant my mother was. We did a cursory round of trick or treating (in the car, because the houses were all miles apart) and made our way to the school.  

With lights blazing and Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow whirring on the film projector, the school looked nothing like its day-lit self. After dinner (my first potluck, and the first time I ever got to eat two kinds of lasagna in one meal!), adults dressed as witches urged me to go into the basement to check out the haunted house. I held sweaty hands with my best friend and managed to wobble downstairs. More witches attempted to convince me to touch hideous, slimy things. Pirates grabbed at me. A vampire rose from its coffin, making us shriek and run toward the faceless monster rattling in the closet. At the exit, a head on a plate invited us to join them for dinner. I was so terrified I nearly puked.

“Did you recognize my dad?” another student asked, and I nodded. It hadn’t mattered that I’d recognized every face; it had been too much fun letting myself get so scared while I also knew I was perfectly safe. It was the best feeling, and one I’ve spent the rest of my life chasing.  

Then Mom gave me one of her cupcakes, and the night got even better. I’ve recreated her recipe below, although I’ve taken the liberty of jazzing up the frosting a little. You’ll notice that the recipe is vegan; it’s supposedly from the Depression, when eggs were often in short supply. This version might be a touch healthier: I’ve swapped out half the oil for applesauce, which lowers the fat a bit, and I use half as much sugar as some versions of the recipe.  

Trick or Treat Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare your cupcake pan with liners (or by greasing and flouring). I made 6 regular-sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes.  

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c sugar
6 tb cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

In another bowl, whisk together:
2 tb applesauce
2 tb light-tasting oil, like corn or canola (honestly, I used part melted vegan butter & part olive, and it was fine)
1 tb vinegar (balsamic is actually a nice touch!)
1 tb Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey (or vanilla)  

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine. A few small lumps is okay. Fill pans 3/4th full, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean: 12-15 minutes for minis and 15-18 minutes for full-sized.  

Halloween Peanut Butter Frosting

This tastes like a spreadable Chick-o-stick.  

Combine 2 tbs peanut butter with 2 tbs butter (vegan is fine). Add 1 tb vanilla creamer, then add enough powdered sugar to make it smooth and spreadable (about a cup, maybe). Add enough orange food coloring to look seasonal. If the frosting looks too thin, just add a bit more butter and powdered sugar; if it’s too thick, add a bit of milk–make it the texture you like!  

Marshmallow Ghosts

I used Dandies vanilla marshmallows, which are vegan and very vanilla-y. Use scissors to make two or three small snips at the bottom of your marshmallow, giving it a “cute but ragged death shroud” look. Use a toothpick dipped in black food coloring to apply eyes.  

Assemble to your liking! My mom just put the marshmallows on top of the cupcakes, but it’s also fun to create a haunted cemetery tableau, using graham crackers as headstones and chocolate ganache as fresh churned grave dirt (a sprinkle of crushed chocolate wafers adds a nice touch). Do note that if you put these in a sealed container, the moisture in the air might make your ghosts’ eyes bleed a little, so if you make them in advance, maybe toss one of those moisture-absorbing packets in with them, or leave the lid ajar a bit.

BIO: Wendy N. Wagner is the editor-in-chief of Nightmare Magazine and the managing/senior editor of Lightspeed. Her short stories, essays, and poems run the gamut from horror to environmental literature. Her longer work includes the novella The Secret Skin, the horror novel The Deer Kings,  the Locus bestselling SF eco-thriller An Oath of Dogs,  and two novels for the Pathfinder role-playing game. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family, two large cats, and a Muppet disguised as a dog. You can find her at winniewoohoo.com and on Twitter at wnwagner.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!  

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New On-Demand Class! Writing Non-Romantic Relationships

Now that I finally turned in DEVIL’S GUN, I had the time to finish pulling together another on-demand class, this time a version of my Different Kinds of Love: Writing Non-Romantic Relationships workshop. It expanded in the making, and I added sections on things like academic relationships, work relationships, and neighbor/community relationships.

After checking with my Patreon peeps to see what their preferences were, I ended up doing mp3s of all the lectures, but not videos. I may do some videos for the Youtube channel but overall this seemed like a much more efficient approach. Let me know what you think!

I would love to finish up a couple more on-demand classes and get them added by the end of the year, but I’ve also got plenty of writing projects stacked up, and three currently fighting for attention. Right now I have rough outlines for the All the Punks, Writing Stories that Change the World, and Twenty(ish) Types of Terror, but they all still need a lot of work. If you’re interested in the live version of that last class, I’m teaching it this weekend and still have room. Other classes are Horror in Gaming, Writing Gothic Fiction, and Demystifying Outlines.

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Guest Post: Food and Politics by Juliet Kemp

I’m a city person (despite the occasional dream of country solitude), and a crucial part of the worldbuilding for my Marek series of fantasy novels has been the city of Marek itself. It’s been a lot of fun to create. As well as having its own unique form of magic through its cityangel, it’s a port city and the only outlet to the Oval Sea for Teren, the country to which Marek notionally belongs (in practice it’s largely independent, which becomes an issue in the latest book, The Rising Flood). Marek’s trade is lucrative, especially for those belonging to its founding Houses, who act as middlemen between the craft Guilds and the ships from the islands of Salina who monopolise sea transport. Marek grows little of its own food and relies heavily on imports—basics from Teren shipped along the river, more expensive options from elsewhere around the Oval Sea.

At one point in The Rising Flood, Marcia, Heir of House Fereno, is seeking votes in the ruling Council to block a bid to censor some political newspapers. She asks Andreas, Head of House Tigero, the father of her forthcoming baby and also her co-parent-to-be (two slightly different things in Marek) to host a political dinner. As well as providing an opportunity for political debate and canvassing, the menu for dinner gives Andreas an opportunity to demonstrate the strength and prosperity of House Tigero…

Dreaming up the menu for this was a lot of fun!

To drink: Exurian wine or fruit juice

Fertile Exuria grows many of Marek’s fruit and vegetables; they have grape terraces around the base of the mountains between Exuria and Teren. The Vintners’ Guild imports wine from Exuria and from the grape-growing regions inland of the Crescent Cities east of the Oval Sea, as well as making more complicated beverages of their own.

First course: salted rice dumplings, pickled vegetable rolls, honeyed goat’s cheese with rosemary crackers

Andreas is terribly on trend: this Salinas-style course, with several dishes on the table from which guests help themselves, is a current fad. The Salinas eat this way because it’s practical on board ship, and their cuisine is heavy on finger food. Andreas’ version wouldn’t all be at home on a Salinas ship; the Salinas grow rice but don’t trade it, so these are Crescent-style rice dumplings. Pickled vegetables are eaten on Salinas ships, but would be wrapped in flatbread rather than thin pastry as here; the goat’s cheese comes from the herds on the precipitous far side of Marekhill.

Second course: barley stew with whole new beets and broad beans, spiced with cumin

Balancing the modern first course, the soup course is very traditional. The barley and vegetables are Teren (and thus Marek) staples. There’s a twist, though: cumin is a brand new spice from beyond the Oval Sea. The Salinas have only recently begun to bring it in, and the Spicers charge through the roof for it. Andreas is showing off.

Third course: hot-pepper lamb skewer, summer squash and peppers fried with wild mustard, wheat rolls

Teren soft wheat rolls, tasty if predictable, with new Exurian lamb (born early spring, best eaten at the start of summer) and summer vegetables, brought by a fast Salinas ship. (In another month there’ll be a glut of summer vegetables in all the markets, but right now, they’re expensive.) Wild mustard is another popular Exurian herb, which has recently come down in price after Marcia sent a team to find a new route over the mountains to Exuria. The route is too narrow and challenging for anything large, but will work for some mountain herbs and spices (culinary and medicinal), and for other small luxury goods. Andreas is giving a subtle reminder of Marcia’s competence.

Final course: preserved berry pastries

Pastries are sold from carts on every street corner, and even the Houses love them (though theirs come from their kitchens, not the carts). These are sweeter than the street versions at this time of year (they’ll be selling goats’ cheese pastries instead), as the berries are preserved from last year’s Exurian crops. A popular note to end on with a touch of luxury; then apple brandy or hot infusions afterwards.

Even the place settings have something to say: Teren porcelain (from the clay deposits in parts of the river basin upstream of Marek); cutlery of Crescent silver; the pastry-platter from the Woodworkers’ Guild, of Exurian wood with silver inlay; and Marek glassware with its unique blue tinge and inlaid copper wires. Andreas is keen to demonstrate his House’s links with both Guilds and foreign traders—the cutlery was a gift from one of their Crescent trading partners, though unfortunately he doesn’t get a chance to mention that.

So, does it all work? Do Andreas and Marcia get the support they need? And how does Marcia handle Andreas having invited his friend Daril Leandra-Heir, wielder of no small political power, and long Marcia’s nemesis (not to mention her ex)?

Well, you’ll have to read the book and find out.

BIO: Juliet Kemp is a queer, non-binary, writer. They live in London by the river, with their partners, kid, and dog. The first book of their Marek fantasy series, The Deep and Shining Dark, was on the Locus 2018 Recommended Reads list. Their short fiction has appeared in venues including Cast of Wonders, Analog, and Translunar Travelers Lounge, and they were short-listed for the WSPA Small Press Award 2020. They can be found online at julietkemp.com. The Rising Flood is available now from your preferred e-book retailer or in paperback from December.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!

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Guest Post: Writing Uplifting Stories by Casey Blair

A few years ago, I decided to try writing a fantasy book as a web serial. It was a project I came to for a lot of reasons, but one of the keys was that I wanted to have a way to put a little joy out into the world on a regular basis with my writing.

That idea spawned a whole cozy fantasy trilogy, which is now complete! And I am Kickstarting funds to officially publish them as books.

That starting seed, that fundamental goal to bring joy with story, shaped the whole trilogy in ways I didn’t initially predict. After all, what does it even mean to write fiction that is “uplifting?” As with anything, people have different tastes for what brings them joy or makes them feel validated.

When it comes to uplifting fiction, I think of this along an axis of “escapism” to “realism.” To be clear, I don’t consider either of these a value judgment: tastes vary, and we all crave different kinds of stories at different times.

For some people, what they want is fantasy that takes them away from their problems. They want to read about other worlds that don’t have the same micro and macroaggressions—or even just the minutiae of daily life—that they have to deal with every day of their actual lives.

For others, those fantasies are unrelatable at best, or erasure at worst, pretending real-world problems don’t exist rather than giving us characters who grapple with them and triumph in some fashion, empowering us in our real worlds thereby.

Fantasy authors have the power to invent the entirety of what goes into our worlds, what’s explicit and implicit. Do we choose to carry over the sexism, racism, queerphobia, ableism, and all the rest from our world and tell a story where characters find happiness despite their oppression? Or do we imagine a world where those oppressions don’t exist, and in so doing invite the reader to imagine other ways of being worth striving for?

Both approaches can be radical. Both can be triumphant, validating, and uplifting stories—though not necessarily for the same audience, and that’s fine.

In Tea Princess Chronicles, I tried to find a balance between them. I wanted to write about people who care about other people, and lifting up everyone around them, and gutting oppressive systems who prevent that; people who do the work, without the feeling it can be too easy to drown in while doomscrolling on social media that caring is a necessarily joyless slog. I wanted to tell stories about people who find ways to make things better, in small ways and large, that don’t feel like wallowing in awfulness but instead inviting joy.

More like the feeling of drinking a warm cup of tea in front of the fireplace on a chilly day.

Whether I succeeded, whether any story succeeds, is a judgment for each individual reader. But I think living with joy, and spreading joy, can be fundamentally radical, and storytelling is one of the most powerful mediums for it. For me, that’s what “uplifting” fiction does, in whatever form it takes.

BIO: Casey Blair writes adventurous fantasy novels, including the cozy fantasy series Tea Princess Chronicles and the novella Consider the Dust. After graduating from Vassar College, her own adventures have included teaching English in rural Japan, attending the Viable Paradise residential science fiction and fantasy writing workshop, and working as an indie bookseller. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest and can be found dancing spontaneously, exploring forests around the world, or trapped under a cat. Find out more at caseyblair.com or follow her on Twitter @CaseyLBlair.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!

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Less Than a Month to You Sexy Thing’s Arrival!

The fabulous cover illustration is by Mike Heath.

I’m counting down the days till YOU SEXY THING comes out. It’s not my first published novel, but it’s my first one with a major publisher, Tor Macmillan, and it’s a book that I have enjoyed writing SO much! I just turned in book 2, have started book 3, and have notes for more along the way.

“Farscape meets the Great British Bake-off” is how they’ve been billing the book. If you’ve missed the hoopla so far, it’s the story of a band of former mercenaries who’ve opened a restaurant on a space station and are doing well, so well a critic may be about to bestow a coveted Nikkelin Orb on the restaurant. But then a mysterious package arrives, things start exploding, and they have to steal a ship to escape. But that ship’s intelligent, and it’s not so sure it wants to be stolen.

Some of the reviews so far:

  • “A romp. If you’re the kind of person who likes Mass Effect, or enjoyed Valerie Valdes’s Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, or fell head-over-heels for Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy… then this book is definitely for you. This is a fast, zippy novel that hides some surprisingly substantial emotional heavy lifting under its hood…. Cozy-with-a-soupçon-of-suspense hoot-and-a-half.” ―Locus
  • “Rambo (Tabat Quartet) launches a delightful, action-filled space jaunt, packed with engaging alien species, a bioship that learns emotions, and witty references.” – Library Journal
  • “Fun, fantastic, and delicious―I loved it!”―Ann Leckie, author of Ancillary Justice
  • “Fun and action-packed…. This action-packed space opera is loads of fun.” ―BuzzFeed
  • “If you like Mass Effect, or enjoyed Valerie Valdes’ Chilling Effect and Prime Deceptions, or Tim Pratt’s Axiom trilogy, Cat Rambo’s space opera romp You Sexy Thing was made for you. Captain Niko Larsen and some of her surviving company got out of the military of the Holy Hive Mind the only way they were allowed: by becoming artists. Their artistic calling is their restaurant, but it’s only one step along Niko’s grand plan that’s been thirty years in the making — a grand plan that’s either interrupted or sped up when the station the restaurant is on blows up and the restaurant crew, plus an extra special guest, find themselves on a biological ship en route to pirate space. Fast, pulpy, explosive, and full of feeling, You Sexy Thing is an utter delight. I thoroughly recommend it.” -Liz Bourke

Cover of the space opera novel, You Sexy Thing, by Cat Rambo, published November 16, 2021

Preorder now!

Please preorder if that sounds interesting! Here’s some links for doing so.

University Bookstore
Barnes and Noble

Or request it from your local library! Most library systems have a webform for requesting books that you want to see them acquire. Here’s the information you might need for that:
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 125026930X
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250269300

I have some bookplates if you’d like to get a dedication and signature for your copy. Mail me a shot of the receipt, your mailing address, and how you’d like the dedication made out.

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Video: Using the Word Frequency Count Feature in Scrivener for Editing

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Guest Post: Storytelling Ourselves Out of Paralysis

Storytelling Ourselves Out of Paralysis

by Christina De La Rocha and Ariel Kroon

One of the best things about science fiction is that it lets us try futures on for size. Do you look good in dystopia, finding the hero within while you rise from the wreckage of civilization, raging through the thrills of a dangerous world? Or do you look better invading the spaces that technology is about to open up for us, stumbling into unintended consequences hilarious, heart-wrenching, and severe?  

The growing solarpunk movement thinks you’d look best in a near future of the sort we’d actually like to live in. The cheerful color scheme complements every complexion. The hope here is that by narrating ourselves into a future where things have turned out well, we can increasingly believe that such a future is possible. Then, armed with that vision of what we could accomplish, we might wake up and start working on it instead of keep sleepwalking into the perfect storm of man-made misfortunes bearing down upon us.  

Because we really are sleepwalking right now. To take it a metaphor further, we, the people of Earth, are the deer staring paralyzed into the headlights of global warming, decimated ecosystems, accelerating economic inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, failing states, refugees, wars, the pandemic, misinformation and propaganda, totalitarianism, hatred, and division. The here and now could easily turn out to be the prologue of a dystopia that only the most savage will enjoy and it’s hard to imagine there will be much in the way of heroes.  

In fact, we’re doing worse than sleepwalking. Those of us who have been shouting about greenhouse gas emissions and the state of the environment for decades are baffled that the collective response of humanity has been to drive its car faster toward the brick wall.  

But at the individual level, it’s almost understandable. We are worried but overwhelmed, thinking, how could I possibly do anything about every single issue we’re facing? How could any action take make any difference at all? So what if we’re on track for having to deal with catastrophic climate change and ecological collapse at the same time that the maximum number of human beings that will have ever simultaneously existed on Earth will all be needing to eat, live somewhere, and have a job. What can do about that (except move to Montana and start stockpiling guns, ammo, and freeze-dried food)?  

But, honestly, enough of that narrative, says solarpunk. What a horrible, self-fulfilling prophecy. Better to decide that we can do something about these problems. That we can create a positive future for ourselves, especially if we start solving problems together. After all, problem solving and cooperation are things our species excels at.  

Would it help get us moving if we started weaving ourselves into narratives in which we have acted to make the future a better place to be? Why don’t we try it? Let’s start creating visions of ourselves having dramatic episodes in fabulous yet feasible futures.  

That can mean setting stories‒full of human dreams, passions, conflicts, and conundrums‒in a world where we have changed the way we do everything, having gone green, clean, friendly, fair, just, inclusive, and supportive of as many people as possible. It can also mean telling tales set amongst the conflicts that will arise as we ditch fossil fuels for renewables (hopefully) in time to avert global warming disaster. Other stories might involve our attempts to engage safely in sun-shading or carbon sequestration to dial global warming down before we trip over climate tipping points of no return. In these stories, characters could romp through cities that we have revamped into working better for people or through lushly rewilding landscapes made possible by our overhaul of agriculture and our abandonment of overconsumption. Some tales could even be fables woven through with the warmth of cultures that have backed away from today’s every person for themselves attitude in favor of community, belonging, and collective problem solving.  

But how could stories showing us thriving in the midst of or on the other side of the remaking we need to do to our societies, methods of energy production, and infrastructure help us take action?  

Well… what if they stoked our enthusiasm for the revolution we are about to undergo that will be as disruptive as the Industrial Revolution that dragged us toward modernity and didn’t rest until it had set the stage for world wars, the collapse of a couple of empires, and the covering of so much of the planet in roads, cars, concrete, and a whole lot more people? Then we would no longer be paralyzed by our fear of such a great set of changes.  

But even if these stories just normalize little things, like driving electric cars, living near wind farms, having solar panels and heat pumps, or availing ourselves of the extensive and convenient public transportation networks that we deserve to have, they could still help us shake that fear of the future that has been paralyzing us.  

It is, at any rate, worth a shot, and it’s a shot that Solarpunk Magazine is taking.  

You probably haven’t met Solarpunk Magazine yet, as it’s the new kid on the block who hasn’t actually moved in yet. Our first issue will burst upon the scene in January 2022. We already have some great stories, pleasing poems, and fabulous non-fiction lined up for you.  

But paying contributors professional rates takes funding and, in his day and age, that means a Kickstarter campaign. Check out ours, which will run until October 30, 2021. For $5, you can secure your copy of our inaugural issue. $10 gets you the first two issues. $25 scores you the whole first year (which is six issues). Plenty of other goodies are on offer as well!  

Every $4K that rolls in funds one issue. As of October 11th, we’ve secured enough funding for the first four issues, and we’re hopeful about getting enough funding for the entire first year. So come pitch in and help us storytell a wonderful future into existence.  

Speaking of which, you can also support Solarpunk Magazine by writing. We need your solarpunk stories, poems, essays, interviews, and articles. Our first ever window for submissions will be open from Nov 1-14, 2021 and we are looking forward to reading your visions of a future we could happily inhabit together in peace, prosperity, and greenery.

BIOS: Ariel Kroon and Christina De La Rocha are non-fiction editors at Solarpunk Magazine.

Ariel (she/her) is a recent PhD in English Literature, specifically in the field of Canadian post-apocalyptic science fiction published between 1948 and 1989. In addition to academic interests in feminist posthumanism and affect theory, she enjoys and pursues speculative futures with an environmental bent, queer optimism, radical hope, and garden dirt. She is an ancient Tumblrkid and hugely appreciative of solarpunk and hopepunk communities. You can find some of her talks on YouTube or read her personal webpage.  

Christina, a recovering biogeochemist and oceanographer raised in Los Angeles, California, has washed up on the shores of northern Germany and lives in a settlement with notably more chickens, cows, and alpacas in it than people. She has published a pop sci book or two, has had a few stories and articles published in Analog, tries to be entertaining on Twitter (@xtinadlr), and occasionally updates her website.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!

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Guest Post: Writing with Cannabis by Derek Nason

Do you like getting high sometimes? Do you like writing? Have you always suspected that these two activities would go really well together but didn’t know how?

Well, here’s how.

I’m going to share my favorite buds to write with and also leave you with some tips on how to find your own favorite.

For the purpose of clarity, assume that you will be consuming dried cannabis flower. If smoking or vaping dried flower is not possible or desirable for you, there will be more near the end about edibles, oils, etc. But for now, continue as though smoking isn’t a problem for you. Not all strains are available in forms besides dried flower. The industry is still young. And still, disappointingly, subject to prohibition laws in some places.

If you’re new to cannabis, it can be hard to know where to begin. Same if you’re new to buying legal weed. In like, a store.

Some of us have spent years consulting little more than a ‘field’ or a ’dealer’; neither of whom care whether they’re giving you indica, sativa, or a hybrid.

Broadly speaking: indica gives you a ‘body-high’ and sativa a ‘brain-high’. You might assume that since writing is a creative activity, you’d always be looking for sativa. But don’t sleep on indica. Remember: you will be physically using your body to write your story. We haven’t evolved into a singularity yet.

My preferred strains for a solid, two-hour writing session in the morning or afternoon are all hybrids. My favorite two are Jack Haze and Mac-1.

Jack Haze is more sativa-tending and Mac-1 is more indica-tending. Jack Haze is available from 7 Acres, which is an easy to find brand.

Mac-1 was bred by Capulator’s Cut and is only available to companies that meet their conditions for cultivation. The easiest way to find a store selling Mac-1 in your area is to use Leafly. The Mac-1 I smoke is by Edison.

Both strains provide an uplifting, energetic boost, propelling you through ultra-clear thoughts as though you’re taking the greatest shower you’ve ever had. If your brain is bushed from storming for your WIP, it will suddenly alight with suggestions.

However Mac-1 also has more of the physical effects you might look for in an indica. This can be helpful if one of your writing barriers is anxiety.

The Science is still catching up to the generations of wisdom from the consumers on this, but I believe indica targets more of the body’s CB2 cannabinoid receptors. CB2 receptors are abundant in the gastrointestinal tract.

With indica, the effects on the vagus nerve in our tummies is immediate. And anxiety treats our vagus nerve like a punching bag.

My favorite straight-up anti-anxiety strain is Sensi Star, which is widely available. I’ve had the 7 Acres and Spinach brand Sensi Stars and they’re both great. If I’m having more anxiety than usual, I might sprinkle a bit in with my Jack Haze or Mac-1.

If physical pain is a barrier for you, I recommend a more potent indica such as I.C.C. (aka Ice Cream Cake), or Wappa 49. I also recommend you see a medical professional and look into medical cannabis.

If neither anxiety nor pain are a barrier to you, and you’re someone who would be too easily distracted by, for instance, how good it feels to wiggle your toes right now, you might do better with a sativa. Your CB1 receptors are most abundant in our brains and Cannabis sativa aims right for them. There are literally too many good sativas to recommend. The easiest thing would be just to try them all.

Keep in mind that brainy sativas are more likely to give you paranoia. If you suspect paranoia would be a writing barrier for you, choose a low THC% strain, or a strain with a more balanced ratio of THC:CBD, or avoid sativa altogether.

If you don’t like to smoke but still want to give writing with cannabis a try, edibles and edible oil are a nice way to go. A cheap way to explore this is to buy an indica oil, a sativa oil, a CBD oil, and find a combination that works best for you. The cheapest brand I’ve found anywhere is Soleil.

If you’ve never taken edibles before, you need to approach with caution. Smoking gives you the peak of a high immediately. Whereas with edibles, you will be high for 2-4 hours before you even reach the peak. And you will be stuck at that peak for another couple of hours.

And some effects of a dried flower will be heightened. Indicas will have your skin feeling tingly for longer. And sativa will give you a prolonged change in your perception of time.

For some, 8 hours is too long a time for time not to exist. For me, it’s perfect.

If you find a strain you like in dried flower like but don’t like smoking, and you also perchance enjoy baking, you can get a butter infusion kit. A homemade cookie is actually my favorite way to consume.

Finally, take your time. And don’t be intimidated by all the choices and the jargon. Not all weed jargon is necessary to enjoying weed.

Don’t worry about ‘terpenes’, ’tasting notes’, or any of that. That’s just pothead stuff. And potheads like me fetishize pot. How it smells or tastes has no bearing on how it makes you feel. Or in any case, the causal links are too acute for beginners—or even some seasoned potheads—to discern.

As a final note, I just want to add that if your area is still under prohibition laws, or if it only recently became legalized, please consider donating to a local marijuana legal defense fund. No one on Earth should be serving a prison term for cannabis.

Derek Nason lives and writes in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, where he owns and operates a special care home for men with mental illness. His speculative fiction has appeared in Fusion Fragment, Abyss & Apex, and anthologies by Gehenna & Hinnom and Belanger Books. He can be found on twitter @dereknason.

If you’re an author or other fantasy and science fiction creative, and want to do a guest blog post, please check out the guest blog post guidelines. Or if you’re looking for community from other F&SF writers, sign up for the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers Critclub!

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