Queer Is All The Parts Of Speech, Actually

Well, it’s Pride Month, and I’m watching queer discourse cross my social spheres the way it always does. There’s one particular discourse that’s really been bringing up a lot of feelings for me this year – the idea of “queer as a noun” vs “queer as a verb.” Is queer a thing you are, a thing you just know about yourself somehow, even in the absence of having taken any queer actions (such as dating someone of the same gender as you, or undergoing a gender transition)? Or is queer a thing you do?*

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s both, actually – and that a lot of the problems with “queer as a verb” stem from our not recognizing how many queer verbs there really are.

(Read the full post on Substack)

US Book Show – In Conversation with Ada Hoffmann

Hi all! Are you going to the Publisher’s Weekly US Book Show? I’ll be doing a virtual meet-and-greet at the Angry Robot Books virtual booth on Tuesday, May 25th at 4 PM EST / 9 PM BST.

The event is thirty minutes long; we’ll be talking about THE FALLEN and what makes it amazing and special! Anyone who visits the booth will also get a downloadable sampler of the book dropped into their virtual briefcase.

If you’re a US bookseller, librarian, blogger, member of the press/media, buyer, or member of the book publishing industry, I would love to see you there!

Your Bigotry Is A Lie

Sometimes I struggle to explain why I’m so interested in autistic representation in the genres I read, because I’m not sure I vibe with everyone else’s reasons. The prevailing story is about how lonely people feel when they don’t see people like themselves in the stories they read, and how validated they feel when they finally do. I can empathize with this – people should definitely be able to feel validated rather than lonely! I’ve even had moments of validation like that, myself, and enjoyed them. But deep down I don’t think that a desire for validation (mine or others’) is what drives me in this work.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that what really drives me is an autistic desire for truth.

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autistic Author Interviews!

I decided not to link to each individual autistic author interview on here, but I’m not sure if that was actually the best decision! In any case, the interviews series on Substack is now finished. I had a lovely time talking to eighteen different autistic spec fic authors from eighteen very different backgrounds.

If you missed the interviews and would like to read them, I’ve got two masterposts up, both with links to the individual interviews:

Or you can just browse the Substack archive. Three of these interviews are special content for subscribers only, but the great majority of them are free for anyone to read without a subscription.

Autistic Book Party, Episode 63 and a half: Short Story Smorgasbord

Raphael Ordoñez, “At the Edge of the Sea” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, April 3, 2014)

[Autistic author] This is a quiet tale of a man exiled to a remote island, which gradually incorporates familiar cosmic horror themes, such as ancient monstrous creatures, obsession, and transformation. Although the events of the story have horrific elements, I was impressed with how the narrative tone of the story remained soft and peaceful; it may well be that the fate the characters meet is one that was suited to them and their situation, after all. [Recommended-2]

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Robin M. Eames, “ritual” (Speculative City, Issue 2: Game, Fall 2018)

[Autistic author] This poem playfully juxtaposes OCD rituals, superstitions, and folk magic – implicitly asking the reader to guess where exactly the lines are drawn between these things, or if the lines are blurrier than we often want to suppose. [Recommended-2]

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Jennifer Lee Rossman, “The Good, The Bad, and the Utahraptor” (Cast of Wonders 332: Dinovember – November 30, 2018)

[Autistic author] A Weird West story of a cowgirl named Rosita who tames a wild Utahraptor. This is great wish-fulfilment fun. I especially like how Rosita notices her raptor is different from the others, disabled in some way, and how she bonds with the disabled raptor as a fellow misfit. [Recommended-2]

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Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, “Bring the Bones That Sing” (Diabolical Plots #65B)

[Autistic author] Muriel, a young autistic girl, discovers that her grandmother is a psychopomp for birds – and accidentally disrupts one bird’s journey. I really like the way Muriel’s sensory needs and overload are depicted in this one, the accommodations she is and isn’t given in her daily life, and the way her grandmother understands her. The underworld she has to enter is a storm of sensory overload, and the music of her grandmother’s magic makes more sense to her than reading, a skill with which she struggles. As with some of Merc’s other stories, I feel this is a good example of how to write an autistic character with magical abilities – neither the autism nor the magic are reducible for, or simple metaphors for, each other, but Muriel’s neurotype actively influences the way she experiences and uses the magic. [Recommended-1]

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McKinley Valentine, “The Code for Everything” (Fantasy Magazine, Issue 65 – March 2021)

[Non-neurotypical author] Izzy, a non-neurotypical young woman, has trouble working out what her friends expect of her. After being humiliated at a party, she is whisked off to fairyland, where the abstruse rules of fairy interaction are sensibly and explicitly written down. I don’t find this story completely satisfying – I think I, personally, would be very overwhelmed by a sudden change of scenery and an imposition of new rules like the one that Izzy experiences. But the fantasy of interacting with beings whose social rules are plainly intelligible has clear appeal, and is a fantasy many autistic readers will enjoy. For me, what rings especially true are the descriptions of how hard Izzy tries to fit in with her friends, and how miserable she feels when she makes a mistake. But don’t be fooled by my dour descriptions – this story does have a happy ending. [Recommended-1]

A MONTH OF AUTISTIC AUTHORS

Hello, Everything Is True followers! I had to wait until the afternoon to post this, lest it be mistaken for an April Fool’s joke, but this is something I’ve been excited about doing for a long time. April is Autism Acceptance Month, and I want to use the month to run some interviews so you can get to know a whole month’s worth of autistic speculative fiction authors!

(Read the full post for free on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, Part 3: Choices

This is part 3 of my series on what an autistic writing style looks like. If you missed them, here are the links to Part 1 – on character and agency – and part 2 – on emotions and communication. Today we’re wrapping up with one more topic, and then with a bit of rumination about what, exactly, autistic authors can do about an NT market that isn’t familiar with, or sympathetic to, autistic writing styles.

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, part 2: Communication

Here’s part 2 of my series on autistic writing styles and how they might differ from neurotypical writing styles. Part 1, looking at character and agency, is here. This week we’re going to be looking at emotions and communication. In addition to the broad traits of a character, autistic people are known to have atypical emotional reactions to specific circumstances, and to communicate differently than our neurotypical peers. Since writing itself is, by definition, a communicative act, what does that mean for us?

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, part 1: Character

I’ve been chewing on the idea that characteristic aspects of autistic writing are different from neurotypical writing. I think of it whenever I look at essays like Matthew Salesses’ “25 Essential Notes on Craft.” We talk about this topic in terms of authors of color trying to get by in a very white, American-dominated publishing industry. Every once in a while I hear assertions that something like this applies to neurodiverse groups, too, but I rarely see a deep unpacking of what that means…

(Read the whole post on Substack)

Dinosaur microfiction

The MILLION-YEAR ELEGIES Twitter launch went really well! I ended up writing a good handful of micro-stories for people as part of one of the launch games – so here they are, for your reading convenience, all gathered in one place.

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“Unexpected Smilodon”
(for @MockRamblings)

“Don’t be silly,” said John, walking further into the sunlit brush. “There’s nothing in these woods to be afraid of-” The speed of the pounce, the flash of fur and of unnaturally long fangs, took him by surprise.

(see Michael Mock’s continuation of this story)

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“TRILOBITES”
(for @bogiperson)

The researcher crouched in the shallow water, picking up one of the three-lobed, segmented creatures to crawl on her hand. Its small legs tickled. For this moment alone, the journey had been well worth it.

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“Siberian trap climate”
(for @Nanotyrann)

The north was a horror, an ocean of flame. We knew better than to linger there. But when we fled to the south, the air was poison, the seas steaming, the swamps drying up. As if whatever burned there had spread its hellish fingers all across the globe.

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“Plague of Justinian”
(for @CatKimbriel)

The bodies lay stacked in the Byzantine thoroughfare, too many for respectful rites to be given in time. In the alleyways, little eyes gleamed in the shadows, the creatures awaiting their meal.

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“Saturday morning Allosaurus”
(for @Samwitch11)

They brought the creature out on the lawn as a weekend entertainment, its huge jaws muzzled, its red-brown scales painted in cheery, multicolor patterns. You could almost forget that it was a killer – unless, of course, you looked into its hungry eyes.

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“Really large birds”
(for @Sharessan)

The Diatryma stood proud in the green of the plateau, its feathers ruffling as it screeched a high-pitched call into the air. Its gaze locked with ours for a single moment, and then it started toward us, and we ran.

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“From the deep…”
(for @simonru)

There was no warning on that placid sea, no suspicious fin or darkening of the water to tell us what was coming. Only the sudden heave and snap of two jaws, larger around than our little boat, and then darkness.

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“Pachyrhinosaurus”
(for @psygeek)

The creatures nudged each other playfully with their armored noses – almost wrestling, as they milled and ate their fill amid the ferns.

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“PLESIOSAUR RIDES”
(for @GDeyke)

The park put the visitors in wetsuits, after signing countless waivers, and showed them where to grip the harnesses that attached to the vast beasts. They swam free through the waves, faster than the kayaks trailing after them, snapping at small fish as they went.

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“Terror Bird rampage”
(for @PrinceJvstin)

The great claws tearing the earth underneath it, the snapping of the massive beak; it was all we could to just to flee down the hill, with the Terror Bird close on our heels.