Saturday, November 19, 2016

Quick Thoughts - My SFF Playlist for the Resistance

It's over a week later. It's really not any better. This week I got to sign up for my 2017 health insurance through the Marketplace. Likely it will be my last year to do so. There is no way in fuck that I will be able to afford coverage without a subsidy, so I'm not entirely chill about anything. To say nothing for being more scared in general to go out in public with my partner, to be seen being affectionate, to be seen wearing makeup or nail polish or anything else that I already only really did on the weekends because I don't have protections in this state that cover things like that at work. I can't be fired for being bi at the moment, but that might change, and I certainly can be fired for not living up to dominant gender norms. So no, this is still not okay.

That said, I feel the need to provide something…well, not happy exactly. I'm going to call it my SFF playlist for the Resistance. It's stories, all of them fairly recent (2016 at least) that feature themes of resistance and revolution. Safety and integrity. Justice and corruption. These are not always the happiest of tales but they are about standing up for what's right, to oppose systemic abuse and oppression. These are stories that remind me that progress is not something that comes easily, and it's damn sure not something you need permission to pursue. There have been wake-up call after wake-up call lately, and if you need to be inspired in the face of all the ugliness, if you need to feel like resistance is not only possible, but necessary, then check out some of the stories below. My little descriptions do not do them justice, but I tried to link to those I could. Most are available for free. Some are not. But all are worth supporting and checking out.

Here they are:

"The Book of How to Live" by R.B Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) – resistance against institutional and personal prejudice. The work of pushing things forward. The stress between the magical and the magic-less.

"And In Our Daughters, We Find A Voice" by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark) – Fighting back after trauma. Survival. Murderous mermaids.

"Polyglossia" by Tamara Vardonskaya (GigaNotoSaurus) – language and the veins of history and culture. The drive toward cultural identity in the face of erasure.

"Braveheart's Homecoming" by Dilman Dila (Mithila Review) – a return from abroad sparks a tense showdown and a desperate chase.

"Red as Blood and White as Bone" by Theodora Goss (Tor) – sometimes resistance looks like a person in the skin of a human and teeth red with blood. Sometimes it looks like a teacher protecting old stories.

"Sweet Marrow" by Vajra Chandrasekera (Strange Horizons) – there's often a trade under unjust governments for safety over idealism and expression of identity. Some people find a balance.

"Omoshango" by Dayo Ntwari (Lightspeed) – when oppression is reinforced by colonialism and corruption, sometimes the only thing to do is grow wings and fight back.

"Things with Beards" by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld) – some people have to hide their nature behind a mask. Behind a beard. But what they have is spreading, and dangerous, and freeing.

"The Sound a Raven Makes" by Matthew Scaletta (GigaNotoSaurus) – the end of the world can take many forms. But it's not really the end if people refuse to give up.

"Fragile Insides" by Jason Kimble (Orthogonal: Code) – just because someone is easily broken doesn't mean that they have to live safely. Sometimes safety is just a lie that stalls progress.

"The Taming of the Tongue" by Russell Nichols (Nightmare) – freedom can be perverted by false progress, by broken promises, by systemic injustice. But it doesn't stop the will to be free.

"Winter's Flight" by Susan Jane Bigelow (Book Smugglers) – sometimes things can get better. Sometimes the broken can be fixed. But it doesn't mean that the fight's ever over.

"The Three Lives of Sonata Jones" by Lettie Prell (Tor) – being special doesn't always mean being extraordinary. Sometimes it just means making a difficult decision and standing by it.

"Tower of the Rosewater Goblet" by Nin Harris (Strange Horizons) – you've heard of the tortoise and the hare, right? Not like this you haven't.

"An Impossible Love" by Relme Divingu (Omenana) – love is supposed to conquer all, but some people seem determined to put that to the test by trying to define who can love who.

"Only revolutions" by M Sereno (An Alphabet of Embers) – worlds may change. Realities might bend. But sometimes the strongest force isn't gravity, but love.

"Unauthorized Access" by An Owomoyela (Lightspeed) – what happens when you find corruption in the system? Do you stay silent, and hope for safety? Or do you speak, and make a target of yourself?

"Rooting" by Isha Karki (Mithila Review) – history is written by the victors. By the colonizers. And sometimes the largest revolution can begin by questioning that history, by discovering a different one.

"Standing on the Floodbanks" by Bogi Tak√°cs (GigaNotoSaurus) – often war is simplified down to right versus wrong. Good against evil. But what happens when the only right action is to stand for the people being killed and exploited by all sides?

"That Which Stands Tends Toward Free Fall" by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld) – War and resistance meet high technology and robotic assassins in this piece about distance and violence.

"The Gentleman of Chaos" by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor (Apex) – sometimes you can't help but be part of a bad situation. It doesn't mean, though, that you can't break out. That you can't seek justice.

"Plea" by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Lightspeed) – A family flees in the face of intolerance and violence and comes up against the cold realities of immigration and the fleeting hope of being safe.

And here, a few poems supplied at no extra cost:

I'm tired. But I can't afford to rest yet. So I'm going to keep on being angry. I'm going to keep on doing what I can. I don't do much. I write. I read. I review. But I'm not going to let what's happened force me into silence, leaving only those who have more regard for the erasure of so many amazing stories and voices. No. I'm here. I'm reading. I'm not going anywhere.

All the best,

Charles Payseur


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