Sunday, February 19, 2012

Acknowledgments; M-Brane #30

The following is from my rather lengthy editor's notes section from M-Brane SF #30, due to release tomorrow, Monday. It contains some overdue acknowledgments for some people who made it possible for me to do the zine and the books for three years. 

Three years ago when I published M-Brane SF #1, I wondered if anyone would ever notice or care, and I did not imagine that there would ever be a #30. Beginning this zine in the first place was a thing I had been wanting to do for years previously, but I began it more or less in the dark, not sure exactly how I’d even make its existence known to anyone. I wasn’t sure it was even worth the effort at all, but as a thing to do with my time it helped bring me out of a very depressing period of my life in part because it ended up connecting me, through social media, with a huge cadre of comrades that I’d never have met otherwise.

This new issue is the last of its kind. M-Brane SF will reincarnate later this year in a new form, but these regular monthly issues (yeah, I know it’s been seven months since the last one) must end now for reasons of personal time management. So before we start reading this thirtieth batch of stories, I want to acknowledge a few of the many people who were integral to life on the Brane over the last three years:

Brandon H. Bell, author and editor. He appeared in M-Brane SF #1 and in a couple other issues, and wrote the gorgeous novella Elegant Threat, which I published as one half of the M-Brane SF Double #1 last year. He also founded and edited our lovely, incomparable sister zine, the print-only beauty Fantastique Unfettered. He conceived the Aether Age shared universe and co-edited the anthology with me. And he’s been my very good friend this whole time, too. We have never met in person, but I feel like I know him as well as almost anybody in my immediate meatspace.

Prolific Writers: Rick Novy, Derek J. Goodman and Michael D. Griffiths supplied me constantly with entertaining and thought-provoking stories and made my job a lot easier, especially during the rocky early months of the zine when I wasn’t drawing as much attention from writers as I’d have liked. All three of these guys are involved in M-Brane Press books projects: Rick Novy’s (as editor) 2020 Visions, a seriously good antho of very near-future SF; Derek J. Goodman’s Machina, a lovely quartet of novellas that I wish to hell more people would buy (get thee to Amazon!); and Michael D. Griffith’s Skinjumper is forthcoming this year. This is a novel-length sequel to a series of shorts that I ran in M-Brane SF, and which I will repackage in book form with the new novel.

Random Actors of Kindness: Writer Dan Tannenbaum, out of pure generosity, donated a ton of time to creating ebook versions of a whole bunch of M-Brane issues and several M-Brane Press books, including my queer-fic antho Things We Are Not. Artist and writer Mari Kurisato provided two cover arts for that same antho and donated several covers to M-Brane zine issues and created the M-Brane SF logo that appears on the cover of this issue and on our print quarterlies, all for no ascertainable reason other than that she is made of awesomeness. Eric T. Reynolds (Hadley Rille Books) decided to take a chance and sign on as publisher of The Aether Age, completely sight-unseen, nothing to go on other than our description of how cool it would be. This is an example of a very cool comrade who “gets” it. I’d also put in this category a few friends who (possibly unwittingly) did a lot of promoting of my zine and my personal existence via social media, these being the intellectually stunning Harrison Brace, and the mysteriously compelling Red Bakersen and the incomparably sweet and wise poet Lydia Ondrusek (who really tries to stop me from fucking up my hair, alas to no avail).

Editor-Comrades: Without the generous feedback from, assistance from, and general camaraderie with other people who were also engaged in the crazy project of publishing short fiction zines, doing my zine would have a hell of a lot harder. I made some really great friends among my peers, such as Bart Leib and Kay Holt (Crossed Genres); Eden Robins and Caren Gussoff (Brain Harvest); Kaolin Fire (GUD); Jason Sizemore (Apex). Those are all, by the way, great writers, too, and I published all of them in M-Brane at one time or another.

Those Literati Who Remind Me Why I Do This: I am an emotional dude susceptible to crazy highs and lows, and many times during the run of M-Brane SF, I would get discouraged and wonder why the hell I was bothering with the endless labor over it. And then, wallowing in a bed of disillusionment, I’d remember that Alex Jeffers and Cesar Torres still walk the Earth and just might once again send me something to read and publish, and I’d arise ramrod straight and get back to work. Alex’s work is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and I have gotten to show it off a couple times in M-Brane SF, and in the Things We Are Not antho, and in the Double (his half was The New People). He is woefully under-recognized as an author and that needs to change.  Cesar is the author of the little gem of a book The 12 Burning Wheels (M-Brane Press, 2010) and the short story “The Nagual’s Elision” which appeared in the zine and in the print Quarterly #1 in 2010. He’s a relatively new writer and he is going to be a big deal. These are two genre-blurring writers who seem capable of almost anything with their words, and they are the names I would invoke if ever asked to prove to a jury that I am a competent editor and publisher: read The New People and The 12 Burning Wheels—case closed!

The Haters: Actually they were blessedly few in number but extant nonetheless, those who felt they needed to bash me for my “lifestyle” or for my “normalization” of what they see as abnormal behavior, sending me hate mail, attacking my partner, and so on. And some of them do remain housed within the fiction genres and the small-press publishing world, and the big-press world, too. I won’t dignify any of them by actually stating their names. The Outer Alliance, of which I am proud to have been a founding member, rose to stand against them not with violence and ignorance and hate but with reason, science and art. If the Haters don’t come around, then they may eventually find themselves cordoned into a tiny little intellectual ghetto as stifling as the whole-real-life one that I spent most of my life in. So why do I even mention them here in this makeshift elegy to the end of the First Age of M-Brane SF? Because their very existence occasionally (and ironically) pulled me out of the very deepest depths of depression in the early days of the zine: out of sheer cussedness and pissed-offedness, I rose from the dead to battle my arch-enemies. I’ve seen some blog chatter in the last year about how science fiction is somehow an inherently rightwing, closed-minded (ie. “conservative”) genre. That’s a bunch of bullshit. SF is fundamentally a forward-looking and therefore, by its very definition, a progressive and open-minded genre and I have a huge stack of zine issues and books to prove it. If the impression of the genre is otherwise, then it’s because we don’t speak up enough when assbags spew venom.

The Departed: We lost a few friends. Author Glenn Lewis Gillette, whose story “Time Enough for a Reuben” was the first story of the first issue of M-Brane SF, left the world, succumbed to disease. He was a great writer and a cool dude and we miss him. Author Jamie Eyberg—who was a great Twitter friend to me personally—appeared a couple times in the zine with really cool stories, and we lost him, too, along with his wife in a tragic accident in 2010. The very last sentence of his final blog post before he died still haunts me and occasionally inspires me to action: “Sometimes life really does get in the way.” Don't forget it. I’ll also mention Emily Moore. She had nothing to do with the M-Brane world but she was a very dear friend and the very best friend ever to my partner Jeff. She was also a talented creator, and would have been a great published writer had she made it a few more years. She died in November at much too young an age.

Those Too Numerous to List: Sometimes when I see an entertainment or sports celeb receive some kind of honor and thank “God” or “the Lord” for it, I think to myself “If I were getting this kind of award, I’d say to everyone that God had frak-all to do with it, no miracle involved, I did all this by myself, thank you, good night.” But it’s not really true that all of the cool shit I have been able to do could have happened without help. It wasn’t from God, but it was from all the people above and all the many, many more that I did not mention by name here but whose contributions, friendships, kind words, nicenesses, great art and general coolness are nonetheless deeply appreciated. 

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Unknown said...

"Mysteriously compelling"? You're nutters! ;)

Ed Robertson said...

Great to see another issue on the way. Been too long!

Metafrantic said...

Chris, having gone through this ourselves when we retired Crossed Genres Magazine in December, I really do understand, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you reincarnate. You've done some terrific work with M-Brane and Kay & I have been very happy to have you as a comrade-in-arms (comrade-in-words?). Be proud of what you've accomplished, with and without help - you've earned it.

Charles Muir said...

Putting out 30 issues of a good zine while juggling work, writing and the rest of life is a tremendous achievement. I was proud to be appear in one of those issues and look forward to what lies ahead for M-Brane.
Or as Kirk would say, "In every revolution there is one man with a vision." Very loosely connected with this comment, I guess I just wanted to work in a Kirk quote.
Anyway, all the best!

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