Accessing the Future

Future Fire

As many of you are aware, I’ve had the pleasure and the honor of working with the Future Fire for a number of years now. It’s been an honor working with some great folks to create a more inclusive speculative fiction medium.

The Future Fire has an exciting new anthology coming up entitled Accessing the Future. Editor Djibril al-Ayad has a few words as to why this anthology is special and why the work we do is so important.

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Why do we publish intersectional scifi, and who do we think reads it?

We’ve been publishing The Future Fire, an online magazine of social-political and underrepresented speculative fiction, since 2005 (issue #30 came out last month), and in the last couple of years we branched out as Futurefire.net Publishing, and have produced two anthologies. Outlaw Bodies, co-edited by Lori Selke, called for science fiction stories from feminist, queer and body-positive perspectives; We See a Different Frontier, co-edited by Fabio Fernandes, drew speculative and fantastic stories of colonization and imperialism from the perspectives of colonized people.

Now we’re raising funds to publish the third such anthology, co-edited by Kathryn Allan, which will be titled Accessing the Future. This volume will feature stories that address disability, the way our bodies and minds are mediated or assisted by technology, and how this might change disability politics in the future. We’re not interested in stories that “cure” or “eliminate” disability, but rather pieces that interrogate the social and political components of the definition of disability in our lives, that show how people all over the spectrum of abilities (and intersecting nodes of gender, sexuality, race, class, etc.) will be affected by the worlds we create for ourselves in the future, both technologically and socially.

Between them these three anthologies cover a fair range of important social-political themes, but on the surface they may seem to have little in common beyond their progressive natures. What struck me the most about working on the first two volumes, though (as well as on feminist and queer SF themed issues of the magazine a few years ago), was that the most creative, the most beautiful, the most finely tuned pieces of work in a given social/progressive theme are also, always and inevitably, intersectional. Put out a call for stories about the experience of colonialism, or about body politics, and the overwhelming majority of the best stories submitted will also care about gender, race, sexuality, class, ability and every other angle of privilege and discrimination. I couldn’t have asked for a better illustration of intersectionality than this. It’s wonderful. We just can’t talk about “feminism” or “postcolonialism” without including gender, sexuality, disability, class, Anglocentrism, and many other vectors of privilege.

 

As a publisher with an interest in social justice, part of our goal help provide a platform for underrepresented voices, and therefore to bring a diverse range of speculative fiction before the reading audience that is normally swamped by mainstream publications and reading lists. From this perspective, we want to reach the same audiences with our intersectional content that mainstream publishers target. But we’re absolutely not asking our authors to target their stories, based as they are on a variety of experiences, backgrounds and perspectives including culture, language, race, sexuality, health, at an imagined, homogeneous, white-male-cis-het-abled-American readership. People outside that mainstream need to read stories that matter to them too, and if the truths those stories tell shock and alienate the privileged reader?

Fuck that reader.

As a publisher with an interest in social justice and underrepresented voices, our goal is to cater to a diverse range of readers who are underserved by mainstream, homogeneous speculative fiction. I’ve never minded preaching to the choir.

Please support the Accessing the Future anthology by pre-ordering a copy, or consider claiming one of the other perks on offer at http://igg.me/at/accessingfuture

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By Dennis R. Upkins