Thursday, February 11, 2010

About the queer zombie affair

I've been sorting through this foofaraw over Library of the Living Dead Press dropping plans to publish a GLBT-themed anthology of zombie stories. Evidently such a book was in the works, then it was cancelled and early word on it was from its editor indicating that a homophobic backlash from writers of other LLDP titles was the cause of it. Later, the publisher himself, who says that he is a big supporter of the queer community, put up what struck me as an honest if rather lame explanation that he became concerned the project would upset people. I learned of it from the Outer Alliance, and have been clicking through some web pages trying to glean more info. Charles Tan has on his page a compilation of most of the relevant info in the form of links to posts by Jim Hines and Lee Thomas and others, if you are interested in looking further into it. But here are my off-the-cuff thoughts on it, in no particular order:

1) How weird that a homophobic backlash against a FUCKING HORROR ANTHOLOGY would A) exist, and B) actually make a publisher change his mind about doing it.  So is this really how it went down? I published the ultra-queer Things We Are Not a few months ago with nary a backlash, nor did it ever cross my mind that there was even a potential for one. Nor would I have cared either. It makes me wonder if I have lost the respect of writers who have written for M-Brane by doing gay shit like TWAN. If so, they haven't told me about it. And if they did, I'd tell them to piss off straight away.

2) Some people posting about this out on the interwebs seem to be assuming that Library of the Living Dead Press is a much bigger operation than it is. I've caught remarks here and there suggesting that some people observing this situation think that there is some kind of major money or Big Name Authors or some kind of shadowy interests working the levers of power under the direction of an Old Boys Network. Well, I don't know much about this press, have never communicated with its publisher, but I can assure you that none of this is true. LLDP is a small operation. So any kind of embargo on their books, as has been suggested in some web chatter, is not going to Stick It To The Man in any kind of serious way.

3) I saw some comments on one of the LJ posts about this topic where some of the commenters were slamming Library of the Living Dead for using print-on-demand through Create Space to print its books, and suggesting that this in itself somehow means that this publisher is a lousy piece of shit. Let me disabuse everyone of that antiquated notion right now: print-on-demand is a totally legitimate way, and the only sensible way, for a small publisher to produce physical copies of books like a gay zombie anthology which (let's just face it, folks) almost no one was going to buy anyway. It makes it possible for some really cool projects to get out there in book form which would be impossible if the publisher had to front tons of money for an old-style print run. While the book may not make a lot of money if it doesn't sell well, it won't lose a whole bunch for a small publisher either. So let me say this in another way, just to make sure that I am making myself absolutely clear: a small publisher using a print-on-demand service is not the same thing as a vanity press nor the same thing as an individual author self-publishing a sloppy  unedited book. So poo-pooing print-on-demand is dumb and real old media. It's the method I use for the print edition of M-Brane and for my book projects, none of which would have ever existed without it.

4) And since I think the market for queer zombie fiction is scaled quite well for print-on-demand, I will be happy to look at submissions of such stories for M-Brane SF if they are sfnal somehow.

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Unknown said...

Hey folks, zombies have sexual preferences too, you know! Dead don't mean dull!

Anonymous said...

Not only is POD a great technology, it might just be the rebirth of the small press.

A queer zombie book. What a strange thing to take a stand against.


Anonymous said...

Chris, speaking as a LLDP author, I think I can give you a little insight about number one. See, the zombie subgenre of horror is very conservative. When you think about it, it's often treated like a conservative allegory. In it, THEY are all around you and trying to destroy your life, forcing you to become one of their mindless drones (the damned commies), and the only people who will survive are all the ones who treat the Second Ammendment as a holy commandment. Taken this way, the genre attracts a lot of people with right-leaning beliefs. With all this in mind, I was surprised from the beginning that there wasn't MORE backlash when the publisher Dr. Pus originally announced it, and I thought it was a great way of getting beyond some of those tropes and themes.

As for the idea of an embargo or boycott, these calls to avoid the publisher have attracted more attention to us than there's ever been before. You could even try saying that any publicity is good publicity (although I wouldn't. This whole situation has worn on me greatly). In the end, any boycott would hurt the authors more than anyone else, and us LLDP authors (most of us, at least. I can think of one author who is now dead to me over this) were just as hurt and perplexed as anyone else.

mbranesf said...

I absolutely agree with you, Derek. The boycott idea is dumb, and would only serve to punish some writers who have nothing to do with the situation (and who probably get very little money anyway even in good times). And also, there isn't any kind of Big Bad Corporation to punish here anyway. While I am annoyed that homophobia (and conservatism in general) exist in the world of spec fic publishing, I do not think that a campaign against LLDP is a productive way to express that ire.

Your analysis of the zombie genre as fundamentally conservative is interesting to me. I had not heard it expressed like that before, but it makes a lot of sense. I wonder, though, what George Romero would say about it. The written zombie genre grew out of the film genre (kind of weird in itself, but it's what happened) which was largely designed by Romero, and I think he is a leftist based on what I'e heard him say in interviews.

By the way, to anyone else who happens to read this: Derek Goodman (to whom I am replying) is a frequent contributor to M-BRANE SF, was published in THINGS WE ARE NOT and I am publishing his book MACHINA shortly. Also, his novel THE APOCALYPSE SHIFT (from LLDP) should absolutely NOT be boycotted. If you can figure out who the homophobes are, go ahead and boycott THEIR shit, but do please purchase Derek's book.

Anonymous said...

Re: the boycott- I mean, really, is boycotting us going to do anything? That would mean you were buying our books to start with, and although numbers are good for some of the authors, they're still at micro-press levels. Pretty much none of these people were buying the books to start with, so not buying them now changes very little.

gtz said...

> a homophobic backlash from writers
> of other LLDP titles

would it hurt to point out who these writers would be?

mbranesf said...

If I knew names and there was something constructive to be gained by naming them, I certainly would.


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