HERE IS AN EXCITING THING: it is Feminist Speculative Fiction Week again here at the Rejectionist! Perhaps you remember this thrilling event from last year, in which your face was totally melted by the scintillating conversations that appeared on this very website, thanks to the participation of a number of exceptionally brilliant and insightful women! You are so excited! I can hear you clapping your little Author-hands, all the way over here!
I have been thinking a lot lately about what is is I love the most in books, and why I read them, and what I love most in books is story--and you will say to this, perhaps, "But! That is so obvious!"; and I will say to you that it is perhaps not so obvious. I read for pleasure, and pretty much exclusively for pleasure, and in some places, I think, that is still a shameful thing to admit--the idea being that reading should be a great labor of the mind. I find that labor admirable, but ultimately unappealing; it is not the labor, for me, that is the reward, but the joy of being taken out of myself, and it is why, time and time again, I turn to writers who are reworking the boundaries of genre fiction and making it their own, writers who also are interested in the joy that comes from recognizing, at the heart of the book, a story that rewards simply by virtue of its telling. I do not at all mean to be disdainful of "literary" fiction, or of people who love, say, Ulysses; I mean only to say that I am fundamentally a hedonist, and as I get older I am coming to realize that learning to work with your own nature rather than against it is a far more peacable way to be in the world.
So it is with delight I read, and have always read, speculative fiction--but! as you know, we live in a world in which some kinds of stories are privileged over others, over and over again, and some of us are asked to fall in love with stories that we have been written out of at best, and are deeply wounded by at worst. I think that some of the most exciting resistance to that erasure is happening, right now, in genre fiction ("genre," if you will), and in self-publishing, and it is with great joy I bring to you a small sampling this week of some of the writers doing that work. I will tell you, my little ducklings, that after dipping my toes into the waters of Publishing I do not have great faith in that industry's ability to propagate change of its own volition; people respond best to the stories that represent their own experiences, and if the people who make all of the decisions about what gets published have a near-identical set of experiences--well, you do not need me to tell you what happens then, you need only to gaze about you in a bookstore. No, my dears, it is up to us to be that force, to insist that our stories be heard and valued, to be as joyful in our own skins and our own experiences as we can be, until that fine day comes when the world around us is forced to remake itself into a place where we are all welcome. Some days I do not have a lot of faith in that change, but today I am sitting in a very old library surrounded by the work of writers who are far better than I, looking out a lead-paned window onto a field ringed in trees that blaze gold and red against a flawless autumn sky, and someone has just baked muffins, and it is easy, today, to be hopeful.
I hope you enjoy this week, my little doves!