Monday, 22 September 2014

«Fragments d’histoires», Espace Kairos, Fribourg

Cécile Matthey, exhibition « Fragments d’histoires » at the gallery Espace Kairos, Fribourg (Switzerland), 20 September–18 October 2014.



Q: Your work is of course well-known to readers of TFF. Could you tell us a bit about how you put your exhibition together, what the themes and focus are?

Cécile: My first idea was to show illustrations of fairy tales and legends. But along the way, I felt I wanted to work on other subjects too, from mythology, fables or novels. Besides, I thought this exhibition was a good opportunity to show some of the works I produced in the last few years, including TFF illustrations, and posters advertising theatre plays. The initial theme was thus broadened to illustrations in general, and the exhibition called « Fragments d’histoires » (« Fragments of stories »), because it shows images that open like windows in the big world of stories: Little Red Riding Hood, Moby Dick, Treasure Island, the Raven and the Fox, The Hobbit, Alice in Wonderland, Icarus, Richard III, …

Q: Espace Kairos is an independent gallery featuring the work of local talent. Tell us more about this gallery: how does it work? Which other local artists will be featured in coming months?

Cécile: Espace Kairos is a small gallery located in an old house close to the cathedral of Fribourg (Switzerland). It is run as a non-profit activity by Vincent, a man who wishes to promote local artists in a simple and convivial way. The exhibitions, usually lasting one month, are very varied: paintings, drawings, sculptures, puppets and so on, and can include cultural happenings such as concerts or readings. The gallery has been successful for a few years now. But Vincent has new plans for the future and unfortunately, Espace Kairos will close in December. After “Fragments d’histoires”, two more artists will show their works: André Stauffer, who makes drawings in “ligne claire” style, and the painter Pierrick Matthey (perhaps a distant cousin of mine?).

Now show us some of the art!

Little Red Riding Hood
This interpretation of the well-known fairy tale is inspired by an old-fashioned advertisement, originally showing an elegant pair leaning on either side of a street lamp. The technique used, involving Indian ink and gouache, makes it look like an etching. It requires a little courage, because the drawing must be completely soaked in water, and the result is not entirely predictable.

Treasure Island
Illustrating this classic novel is a long-range project of mine, and this exhibition was a good opportunity to get started on it. I tried to compose the illustration like an old-fashioned book cover. It shows Jim and Long John Silver on the Hispaniola, seen from the back, arriving in sight of the island. The parrot turns to the spectator screeching, as if knowing what will happen next…

Richard III

This piece was made as a poster advertising the theatre play by Shakespeare. It was all about showing the archetype of the villain in a simple but scary way. A shadow is a good way to achieve this, as I remembered from the old film “Nosferatu” by Murnau. To create the silhouette, I posed in the sun wearing a long thick winter coat, and added a menacing spiked crown inspired by John Howe’s version of Sauron and… the top of the cathedral of Fribourg!

Shadow Boy (for “Shadow Boy and the Little Match Girl” by C. Allegra Hawksmoor, 2013)
To give a sense of the melancholy and solitude of the protagonist, I drew him seen from the back, walking among the graves at dusk. The long white hair brings some strangeness and ambiguity to the character, and adds contrast. The cemetery is inspired by old English and American cemeteries, which always impress me with their gravestones all askew—you wouldn’t see that in Switzerland.

Josh and Paris (for “The Man Who Watched the Stars” by Carol Holland March, 2014)

This illustration is inspired by the souvenir photos made by the NASA before each mission, showing the astronauts posing in their suits, smiling. It seemed a simple and elegant way to evoke the first flight out of the solar system, on which the story is based, and the main protagonists. Josh is inspired by Claude Nicollier, a Swiss astronaut. As for Paris, I found it hard to draw an attractive alien with huge eyes, avoiding the Roswell cliché. In the end I used a tarsier's face as a reference, because it is strange but cute!

More information about the gallery:
http://www.espacekairos.ch

More information about the exhibition “Fragments d’histoires”:
http://www.cecilematthey.ch/fragments

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Accessing the Future CFS

Inspired by the cyberpunk and feminist science fiction of yesterday and the DIY, open access, and hacktivist culture of today, Accessing the Future will be an anthology that explores the future potentials of technology to augment and challenge the physical environment and the human form—in all of its wonderful and complex diversity. We are particularly interested in stories that address issues of disability (invisible and visible, physical and mental), and the intersectionality of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and class—in both physical and virtual spaces. Accessing the Future will be a collection of speculative fiction that places emphasis on the social, political, and material realms of being.

We want stories from as many diverse people as possible, especially from people with disabilities (visible and invisible, physical and mental), chronic illness or mental illness, who are neuroatypical, or people who have an understanding of the institutional and social construction of disability. We welcome stories from marginalized groups within the speculative fiction community (e.g., QUILTBAG, people of colour, non-North American writers), and from anyone with sensitivity to intersectional politics.

Submission Guidelines

We pay $0.06/word (six cents a word) for global English first publication rights in print and digital format. The authors retain copyright.
  • Send your submissions to accessingfuture@gmail.com by midnight UTC on November 30th, 2014.
  • Length 2500-7500 words (with a preference for 4000-6000 words).
  • No reprints or simultaneous submissions.
  • Attach your story as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file, with your name, the story title, and the wordcount on the first page.
  • We do not require or request that submitting writers identify themselves as a person with a disability, but we respect anyone’s desire to self-identify.
We want stories that place emphasis on intersectional narratives (rejection of, undoing, and speaking against ableist, heteronormative, racist, cissexist, and classist constructions) and that are informed by an understanding of disability issues and politics at individual and institutional levels. We want to read stories from writers that think critically about how prosthetic technologies, new virtual and physical environments, and genetic modifications will impact human bodies, our communities, and planet.

For details, see the full CFS at futurefire.net/guidelines/accessingfuture.html.

AtF final round-up of blogs, interviews, guest posts

We're on the last day of the Accessing the Future fundraiser (igg.me/at/accessingfuture) with only nine hours to go and fast approaching our second stretch goal (which at $8000 will give us internal, black and white illustrations). I won't be awake when the final clock ticks over, so I'm leaving you with this final list of all the guest blog posts, interviews, plugs, and other words about the campaign and the anthology that have been posted in the last six weeks. Many thanks and much love to all of the people who have donated perks, blogged for us, spread the word in other ways, and contributed to the fundraiser itself. You (yes you!) have made it so this anthology will be excellent.
That's it so far! Next up, the Call For Stories will open tomorrow. (Watch this space!) In the meantime, there are still a few hours to pre-order the anthology or claim the last few perks. Please stop by igg.me/at/accessingfuture and help any way you can!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Accessing the Future is pro-paying; stretch goals

Newsflash: Accessing the Future will be a full-length, pro-rate paying anthology of disability-themed science fiction! Thanks to all of our lovely supporters, the fundraiser reached $7000 this morning.

After paying fees and honoring all the rewards for the fundraiser, we will now have enough funds to produce an anthology of a little over 65,000 words of fiction, paid at 6¢/word, to pay our cover artist Robin E. Kaplan a fair artist fee, and to print off a few dozen review copies of the finished anthology next year.

But let's see how much further we can go! We still have over three days to raise more funds, and there are still story critiques, book bundles, and the opportunity to have a character named after you in a future short story by Lyda Morehouse, to be claimed. Or you can just pre-order the anthology itself. We have more stretch goals, which will be activated if we reach there further targets by September 16th:
  • At $8000 we will commission internal, black and white illustrations for the anthology.
  • At $9000 we will increase the wordcount to about 80,000 words (thus giving everyone who has pre-ordered even better value for money than they thought!)
Even if we don't quite make these goals, every penny we receive in this fundraising phase will go into making the anthology bigger and better.

The call for stories for Accessing the Future will open on Wednesday, September 17th, just after the end of the fundraiser.

You can claim one of the perks or pre-order the anthology at igg.me/at/accessingfuture

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Accessing the Future: artist reveal; 2 new rewards

The campaign to fund Accessing the Future, a disability-themed science fiction anthology, reached its first funding goal yesterday! At $4000 the anthology is guaranteed to happen, and will pay at least $0.03/word (“semi-pro” rates) to authors. But we have two weeks left on the fundraiser, and support is still going strong, and we have a stretch goal of $7000 in sight. If we reach this goal, Accessing the Future will be a full-size anthology and all authors will be paid SFWA-defined “professional” rate of $0.06 per word!

On this occasion we have two announcements to make:

(1) We’re delighted to announce that Robin E. Kaplan will be producing the cover art for the Accessing the Future print anthology!

For those of you who don’t know Robin’s gorgeous work, she illustrated the cover of Outlaw Bodies, and front covers of several issues of The Future Fire magazine. Her website The Gorgonist (and her Etsy store) features more of her art, and we featured an interview at TFF News a few years ago. I think you’ll agree she’ll do a great job with the artwork.

(2) We’re adding two new reward levels to the fundraiser, so if you haven’t yet pre-ordered your copy of Accessing the Future and want to chip in for something a bit nicer, read on:

$65
Robin E. Kaplan signed art

You will receive a signed mini poster print of the cover artwork by illustrator Robin E. Kaplan, on archival photo paper. You will also receive the Accessing the Future anthology in trade paperback and DRM-free e-book.

$250
Nicola Griffith Tuckerization

Nicola Griffith (winner of Nebula, Tiptree, World Fantasy and Lambda awards, and author of Ammonite and Hild) will name a character after you or a person of your choice in a forthcoming fantasy novella. (Note this may take some time to appear.) You will also receive the Accessing the Future anthology in trade paperback and DRM-free e-book.

These and all other perks can be found at http://igg.me/at/accessingfuture

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Flyers for Accessing the Future fundraiser

As we go into the second half of the Accessing the Future fundraiser, and the last few weeks of the summer convention season, we're calling on the army of TFF supporters and allies to help spread the word in the offline world. Are you going to a con in the next three weeks? Do you work or hang out in a library, a genre bookstore, a creative writing or literature department, a trendy café, or anywhere else where potential readers, writers or supporters might pick up a colorful flyer?

Would you be willing to print out a few copies of the flyer to the left, and put them on a leaflet table, hand them out to fellow con-goers, or airdrop them over a receptive crowd?

(Background artwork by the wonderful Carmen Moran, by the way; flyer design by Valeria Vitale.)

We've also uploaded a PDF with 4 copies to a page, which is how I prefer to print them and cut them out. I took a couple hundred of these to #NineWorlds and #LonCon3 this month and practically papered the halls with them!

Shout if you want another format, or if you're in London and would like me to give you a handful of paper copies in person to save you printing them. We'll be eternally grateful either way!

Let's make this happen!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Guest Post: Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

By Tade Thompson

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes is a phrase better known to speculative fiction fans as 'Who watches the watchmen?', popularised by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's opus Watchmen. It holds other significance in psychiatry.

Louisa Lowe wrote Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? in 1872. She married Rev George Lowe in 1842 and moved out in 1870. When she would not return the good Reverend had her detained in an asylum. She languished there for eighteen months. Her documentation is one of the reasons we know about abuses in asylums.1

Asylums ran wild with treatments such as isolation, blood-letting, turning, centrifuging, and water-dousing. None of these were evidence based, and many were cruel. Society let it happen because nobody cared about the mentally ill. It was a gender issue (approximately twice as many women were lobotomised as men); it was (and perhaps still is) a race issue (ethnic minorities are compulsorily detained more in the UK), it's a disability issue, yet still there is something about mental illness that triggers discrimination.

Maltreatment of the mentally unwell and stigma does not just affect the patients. Psychiatrists are not the most esteemed medical specialists. There appears to be a problem with parity. The disease burden is clear, but the funding is not proportional. WHO says “Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.”2 Yet we, as a society, do not appear to care enough about our mentally ill. There is a lot of rhetoric, but little action.

Speculative fiction in all its guises has always been a place for ideas to thrive. Weird, wacky ideas like, hey, how about a world in which mental illness is not a punchline? Where are the narratives where mental illness is not used as a ‘random’ factor to drive your plot in any direction you want? Mental illness isn’t random. Where are your nuanced characters? I love Douglas Adams, but Marvin the paranoid android wasn't paranoid, he was depressed. Even the Black Sabbath song ‘Paranoid’ has lyrics that suggest depression rather than paranoia. I feel people should do a little more research.

I wrote a 7-part primer on mental illness for writers of speculative fiction,3 because I believe the books people read and the films people watch and the music people listen to all play a part in forming a view of those who are mentally ill. If the depictions are non-sensational and well-informed, perhaps we can foster a better understanding.

1 Lowe’s report (The bastilles of England; or, the lunacy laws at work):
https://archive.org/details/39002086343093.med.yale.edu
2 WHO Factsheet on Depression:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
3 Tade Thompson, Mental Illness Primer for Speculative Fiction Creators:
http://tadethompson.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/mental-illness-primer-for-speculative-fiction-creators-contents-page/

Sunday, 17 August 2014

AtF two-week link round-up

Two weeks into the Accessing the Future fundraiser (igg.me/at/accessingfuture), and we're already a third of the way to our ultimate (stretch) goal which is $7,000 and a professional rate-paying anthology of disability-themed science fiction stories. Here's a quick round-up of some of the blog posts, interviews and other features, both here and elsewhere, that have helped us spread the word.
Thanks to all the excellent people who have blogged on this subject, loaned us their platforms, or taken the time to ask us interview questions about the anthology; please keep up the signal boosting! (And thanks to Kathryn for her earlier link round-up last week.)

Friday, 15 August 2014

Guest Post: Werewolves as Patriarchy

25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf

Guest post by Jo Thomas

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I consider werewolves one of the three fundamental monsters of horror fiction. In fact, I consider them the most used embodiment of the “monster within”, of what happens when one gives into one’s instincts and desires.

What we think of as werewolves is shaped by centuries of folklore and stories wrapping up together to form a totally mixed whole. There are plenty who lament the werewolf’s badass decay in paranormal romance and urban fantasy. I don’t especially wish sexy werewolves would disappear, but I wanted to show something of why we have werewolf mythology in the first place: lycanthropy is probably a twisted remembrance of warrior initiations.

There’s a fair chance that werewolves are the last remnants of rituals intended to make young men feel less human—more precisely, less subject to social mores—in order for them to commit some truly atrocious acts. The kind of acts that make certain Northern European tribes memorable to Romans like Tacitus, as it did for the Harii.

The Wikipedia article on the Harii only mentions the links between the warriors of that tribe and the warriors who serve Odin in Valhalla—and the later corruption into the Wild Hunt. There are also similarities with, and suggestions of carry-over into, the concept of the bear-shirts (berserkir) and wolf-coats (ulfhéðnar). Which, basically, may have spread the idea of shape-shifting into wolves around Europe, parts of Asia and possibly into the Americas. Depending on how far you think Viking influence spread.

In fact, if you check out some Germanic and Celtic hero stories and the chances are, you’ll fall over a warrior with a name that includes “hound” or “wolf” in fairly short order. If not, you’ll probably find a reference to someone who was turned into a wolf or dog for a somewhat confused reason that may have made sense before the story was written down by a Christian monk.

So, what have we got? Werewolf mythology comes from warrior rituals intended to make it easier to survive combat—or at least lessen the psychological damage of taking part in it. These warriors would have been the sports celebrities of their day (with added PTSD) and, just as today's celebrities, they would have been managed and controlled by higher status individuals who had either been through it themselves or could pay the warriors' salaries.

The warriors would be considered the best and the bravest of the youth, the most talented with their culture's preferred weapon(s) in hand. While there may have been women warriors, anyone who didn’t measure up—less strong or healthy, anyone who didn’t identify as the warrior ideal, anyone who didn't make the required number of kills—would have not been considered as good, as worthwhile. Generally, these people would have been men and, eventually, the outliers would be forgotten or given mythical status.

But, while they existed, these heroes would have been given or taken what they desired, regardless of what anyone unable to stand up to them wanted. Which is not to say that there wouldn’t have been genuinely nice guys (or girls). But… We are all aware of how difficult it is to resist, refuse, or otherwise turn down someone who has implied power, let alone physical ability.

What remains of bear-skin and wolf-coat references are all for male warriors, so it's possible to assume that all these wolf-warriors were male and so we could consider the seed of werewolves to be a result of male chauvinism, of a particular brand of male superiority. These are men who had gone beyond being human to being mystical animal-shape shifting warriors with special powers and were better than whatever other way of being was out there. If there were women bear-skins or wolf-coats, or even an equivalent, they are no longer described in the same terms.

Yes, I am apparently a card-carrying, man-hating feminist. I never set out to write 25 Ways to Kill A Werewolf as a woman fighting against patriarchy but there must be a lick of that there when the origins of werewolves are considered. And the fact that the men who choose to become werewolves in the world I built are usually in it for the perceived power it gives them fits with that, as well.

The irony is, of course, that werewolves didn’t become a Bad Thing because of being poster children for macho men. The seed of the werewolf idea became a Bad Thing because the men who went through these rituals were pagans and heathens who enacted the rituals in the name of demon-gods, not something the growing Christian Church(es) appreciated. Theoretically the practices died out, although it’s likely that a memory of them continued, becoming more twisted as time went by.

Although there’s an element of settlement and civilisation in there. The more sedentary communities are likely to admire the warrior class less, because warriors spoiling for a fight tend to ruin the sedentary bit—and that may be why werewolves became superstars of horror in more recent history. As the whole un-Christian practices débâcle becomes less important to Western culture, we became more convinced of our own civility and the wild behaviour of werewolves became more of a thrill.

I guess that means that werewolves got declawed by paranormal romance because the thrill had to be brought within more acceptable cultural norms. Although, arguably, the role of the male romantic lead is one of the most “alpha male” stereotypes going as they are there to dominate and show the heroine what she really wants, achieving a happy ending by proving that she really is feminine despite the (plot inspired) need to kick ass and take names.

The paranormal romance werewolf, then, is simply an extension of this: a man who shows all the signs of being physically strong and powerful, able to control the situation, able to sense what the heroine needs before she realises it. Despite his power and strength, he means the heroine no harm so he becomes the best prospective mate in the book—unless there's a vampire around, of course.

Which comes to my objections. Sure, it's nice to read a romance and have a guaranteed happy ending as a given—for certain values of happy or expected outcomes. But what happens if the werewolf does mean harm? What happens if the heroine doesn't want to be dominated? Well, 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf happens, I guess.

Jo Thomas's 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf is out from Fox Spirit Books in August 2014. For more information and to purchase the book, visit: http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/books/fantasy/25-ways-to-kill-a-werewolf/ or Amazon or Goodreads.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Blog hop: Accessing The Future Fiction

Guest post from Jo Thomas

The Future Fire are crowdfunding another science fiction anthology, this time focussing on the issues that come with disability—and the intersections with other issues such as race, gender, sexuality, class, etc, as our friendly socio-politcal SF magazine are wont to do. You may have noticed the blog about it here: http://igg.me/at/accessingfuture.

In order to help explain why such an SF discussion is necessary, the editors (Djibril al-Ayad and Kathryn Allan) brainstormed a bit of a blog hop with a bit of help from Jo Thomas (www.journeymouse.net) and Dylan Fox (www.dylanfox.net)

We've set up the questions so they can be asked of both writers and readers:
  1. Tell us about your Work In Progress (WIP) / Current Read (CR) and the world it's set in.
  2. Who are the most powerful people in this world?
  3. Where does their power come from?
  4. What physical and/or mental characteristics underpin their positions of power?
  5. How does this affect the weakest people in the world?

Jo has launched the "Accessing The Future Fiction" blog hop at
http://journeymouse.net/wp/?p=3677

If you want to take part and you haven't been nominated, please do so. All that we ask is that you post a comment on this post so that others can find your part of the "Accessing The Future Fiction" blog hop and that you mention the Indiegogo fundraiser in your preamble! It would be nice if you could link in some other victims volunteers to carry on the blog hop, too.

And if reading this or taking part means you want to help fund some more inclusive fiction, follow this link here: http://igg.me/at/accessingfuture.

Edited to add: The anthology is now fully funded. As people are still showing an interest in the blog hop, would any future bloggers please link to the Call for Stories (http://futurefire.net/guidelines/accessingfuture.html) instead of the Indiegogo page?