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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Comics and the Midwest

deadline for submissions:
December 15, 2017

full name / name of organization:
SSML: Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature

contact email:

Seeking papers for a panel on “Comics and the Midwest” at the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature annual symposium, May 17-19, 2018 at the Kellogg Conference Center, East Lansing, MI.

While Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster may have come up with Superman in Cleveland, Ohio, contemporary superhero-themed comics have primarily been set in costal cities, real or imagined. At the same time, many daily comic strips including Crankshaft, Calvin and Hobbes, and Peanuts have been set in a sometimes undetermined but definitively Midwestern landscape. What place does the Midwest have in comics? Is it only a place for origin stories or flyover country for superheroes doing battle in exotic locales? Or is it the idyllic small-town landscape shown in daily newspaper comic strips? What does the way the Midwest is drawn in comics and comic books say about the way America sees the Midwest?

Possible paper topics include:

Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar and American Splendor
The midwestern aesthetic of Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft
Marvel Comic’s Great Lake Avengers dark-comic superhero team based in Milwaukee.
The midwestern landscapes of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes or Charles Schultz’s Peanuts
Superman and his Smallville, Kansas roots

Please send paper proposals of no more than 350 words to Jeff Swenson at by December 15, 2017.

Forthcoming symposium on the fiction of Peter Watts to be held in November at the University of Toronto. All are welcome!

Click here: Watts symposium flyer

CFP: The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy

You are invited to submit a paper for an edited volume tentatively titled The Celtic Obsession in Modern Fantasy Literature to be submitted to Palgrave Macmillan.

Scholarship on Celtic-inspired fantasy literature has mostly focused on source-studies of pre-1980s texts (e.g. Sullivan, 1989; White, 1998). Dimitra Fimi’s recent Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (2017), has widened the discussion by engaging with the Celticism vs. Celtoscepticism debate, focusing on constructions of “Celtic” identities in children’s and young adult fantasies from the 1960s to the 2010s.

This edited collection will take the debate further by focusing on post-1980s Celtic-inspired fantasy for adults. The “Celticity” of each fantasy text can be interpreted broadly to include:

Creatively re-using heroes and mythological motifs from medieval Celtic texts, such as the Welsh Mabinogion, the Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge, etc.
Engaging with perceptions of the “Celts” in classical sources such as Strabo, Herodotus, and Polybius, Tacitus and Caesar.
Imaginatively utilizing insights from Iron Age archaeology, often dubbed “Celtic”
Adapting folklore traditions from Celtic-speaking countries
Evoking a looser notion of “Celtic”-like society, religion, folklore, etc., including in para-textual or marketing material
We acknowledge that the dividing line between children and adult fiction is not always clear. Papers can focus on the work of fantasists such as:

Kate Forsyth
David Gemmell
John Gwynne
Katharine Kerr
Stephen R. Lawhead
Ilka Tampke
Tad Willaims
(This is not an exhaustive list)

Although heroic or epic fantasy may seem to fit better the scope of this collection, we are open to considering proposals on other sub-genres of fantasy literature, such as urban, magical realism and SF/fantasy crossovers.

Please submit a title and abstract to the editors by: 15th December 2017
Essay due: 1st June 2018


Dr. Dimitra Fimi, Cardiff Metropolitan University (
Dr. Alistair J.P. Sims (

Game-based Learning Conference – City University of New York (1/22-23/18) – proposals due 11/1/17

deadline for submissions:
November 1, 2017

full name / name of organization:
CUNY Games Network

contact email:



The CUNY Games Network of the City University of New York is excited to announce the fourth CUNY Games Conference to be held on Monday January 22nd to Tuesday January 23rd, 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

The CUNY Games Conference is a two-day conference to promote and discuss game-based pedagogies in higher education. Day 1 of the conference focuses on presentations; the second day takes place at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and consists of low-key game design and game play.

Game-based pedagogy uses some of the best aspects of collaborative, active, and inquiry-based learning. With the growing maturity of game-based learning in higher education, the focus has shifted from whether games are appropriate for higher education to how games can be best used to bring real pedagogical benefits and encourage student-centered education. The CUNY Games Network is dedicated to encouraging research, scholarship and teaching in this developing field. We aim to bring together all stakeholders: faculty, researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and game designers. Both CUNY and non-CUNY participation is welcome.

Our Call for Proposals ( is now open! Proposals are due on November 1st, 2017. Please forward far and wide!

Questions? Get in touch at! Visit our conference website as

Call for Proposals

The conference theme is composed of two broad goals:

To invent, explore, and learn to effectively use Game Based Learning (GBL) to address higher educational goals.
To advance understanding of how people learn and how to better foster learning in the context of the new kinds of learning experiences that GBL makes possible.

To meet these goals, proposals should aspire to address the following three areas:

Innovation: In what way did you invent a new type of GBL or improving existing GBL for higher education? What new applications of GBL were developed to foster and assess learning? In what new ways was GBL integrated with other teaching methods to foster and assess learning?
Advancing understanding of how people learn in GBL learning environments in higher education: How does your work enhance understanding of how students learn in GBL environments that offer new opportunities for learning? How does your work lead to a better understanding of how to foster and assess learning in GBL environments?
Promoting broad use and transferability of GBL: How does your work inform the design and use of GBL across disciplines, populations, and learning environments in higher education?

All proposals must have a clear and explicit relevance to higher education.

The conference will feature the following session formats:

Arcade game demos

We encourage everyone to consider bringing something to showcase at our arcade this year, which will be given its own time and space separate from the presentations. The arcade area will feature posters and games (finished or in progress), game casting videos and more. We also encourage undergraduate researchers to show their presentations here.

30-minute interactive presentations: Reserved for interactive presentations only, such as workshops and game demonstrations/play. Interactive components should comprise at least 15 minutes of the presentation.

10-minute short presentations: Short talks that briefly discuss theories, research, practice, and/or individual games. 10-minute shorts may be combined into a panel – see below.

Presenters are encouraged to apply for both the arcade and the 10- or 30-minute presentation.

Your proposal must include: session format, contact information for the corresponding presenter, name, affiliation and email address for each additional presenter, title, 250-word abstract, a paragraph on connections to higher education, keywords selected from a list on the submission form, and special requests (e.g., scheduling or equipment needs). Please proofread and edit your proposal before submission. Accepted proposals will be published in our conference proceedings.

Panel Proposals: Panels of three or more speakers run 60 minutes and should include a question-and-answer period. Please submit just one proposal for your whole panel.

Extrapolation, Interdisciplinarity, and Learning: The Second Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

deadline for submissions:
October 31, 2017

full name / name of organization:
Jason Ellis at New York City College of Technology, CUNY

contact email:

Extrapolation, Interdisciplinarity, and Learning: The Second Annual City Tech Symposium on Science Fiction

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Location: New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay St., Namm N119,

Brooklyn, NY

Knowledge is indivisible. When people grow wise in one direction, they are sure to make it easier for themselves to grow wise in other directions as well. On the other hand, when they split up knowledge, concentrate on their own field, and scorn and ignore other fields, they grow less wise—even in their own field.

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. . . . That is all wrong. . . . If we go through the history of human advance, we find that there are many places where art and science intermingled and where an advance in one was impossible without an advance in the other.

–Isaac Asimov, A Roving Mind (1983)

Over twenty years after C. P. Snow published The Two Cultures, the unparalleled writer, scientist, and educator Isaac Asimov defends the “interconnection” between the sciences and the arts. In fact, he demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinarity—both within STEM fields as well as between STEM and the humanities—through his unsurpassed 500+ books ranging from Biblical scholarship to biochemistry, and science to science fiction. He shows how disciplines inform and strengthen one another to create greater knowledge and wisdom, which in turn leads to greater understanding and new insights. While significant strides have been made in promoting interdisciplinarity, Asimov’s defense continues to echo today.

Join us for a one-day symposium in the spirit of Asimov’s defense by exploring interdisciplinarity through the lens of science fiction—a mediating ‘third culture’ (borrowing Snow’s term) that combines the sciences and the humanities to extrapolate new worlds while reflecting on our own. This symposium aims to explore science fiction as an interdisciplinary literary form, a tool for teaching interdisciplinarity, and a cultural art form benefiting from interdisciplinary research approaches.

We invite presentations of 15-20 minutes on SF and interdisciplinarity. Possible presentation topics include, but are not limited to:

Explorations of interdisciplinary ideas, approaches, and themes in SF (or what disciplinary boundaries does SF bridge)
SF as an interdisciplinary teaching tool (or what SF have you used or want to use in your classes to achieve interdisciplinary outcomes)
SF’s interdisciplinary imaginative functions (or Gedankenexperiment, considering ethical issues, unintended consequences, or unexpected breakthroughs)
Studying SF through an interdisciplinary lens (or combining otherwise discipline-bound approaches to uncover new meanings)
Bridging STEM and the humanities via SF (or SF as an interdisciplinary cultural work that embraces STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics)
SF and place (or how SF’s settings are interdisciplinary, or where it is written fosters its interdisciplinarity)
Interdisciplinarity and archival work in SF collections (or making the City Tech Science Fiction Collection work for faculty, students, and researchers across disciplines)

Please send your abstract (no more than 250 words), brief bio, and contact information to Jason Ellis ( by Oct. 31, 2017.

The program will be announced by Nov. 15, 2017 on the Science Fiction at City Tech website here:

Hosted by the School of Arts and Sciences at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY.

The annual Symposium on Science Fiction is held in celebration of the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, an archival holding of over 600-linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and scholarship. It is located in the Archives and Special Collections of the Ursula C. Schwerin Library (Atrium Building, A543C, New York City College of Technology, 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201). More information about the collection and how to access it is available here:

CLOSURE: The Kiel University e-Journal for Comics Studies #5 (November 2018)
Open Section

In the fall of 2018, CLOSURE will once again offer a forum for all facets of comics studies. From literary, cultural, media, social and image research to the sciences and beyond: the fifth edition of CLOSURE continues our ongoing search for the best and most innovative articles and reviews representing the state of the art in comics research. We welcome detailed close readings as much as comics theory and pioneering approaches to the medium —our open section comprises a diverse range of interdisciplinary studies of all things ›comic‹.

Thematic Section: »Failure« The focus of the thematic section in CLOSURE # 5 is »failure«.

How do comics approach the habit of the ›best-laid plans of mice and men‹ to go askew? Whether things fall apart on the personal or the collective level: mishaps and deficits appear as an ineradicable shadow of perfectionism. Failure is a dogged reminder of the limits of growth, the flaws in a design — and the lopsided image in the nine panel grid.
For CLOSURE #5, we seek contributions that trace the ways in which comics address failing fortunes, regrettable calamities, and abject frustrations. The social and political dimension of failure can be addressed as much as formal and narrative failures. Whether Charlie Brown misses the football yet again, Maggie Chascarillo in Love and Rockets faces all-too realistic adversity or Admian Tomine traces the disappointments of his solitary figures — is there a form of failure specific to comics?

Possible topics for the thematic section include, but are not limited to:
• Failure as a narrative strategy
o Loss, victory, and perspective
o Fear of failure: the narration of emotion and empathy
o Thwarted evil plans: failure, (re-)narration, and seriality
o After failure: catharsis, apocalypse, and learning from mistakes
• Characterization and Representation
o The art of failure: hero’s journeys, myths, progress (and regression)
o Heroes and antiheroes, losers and outsiders
o Self-reference: interrogating the failures of comics in comics o Failing at conformity: queerness, heteronormativity, and the interrogation of failure
• Formal failure
o Comics, art, fragmentation
o Aesthetics and non-narrative
o The failure of form: thwarted closure, collapsing panels, text and image at odds
o Changing taste, shifting canon: ‘bad’ comics and their critics
• Intermedial failure o Publishing booms and busts: target audiences, ill-timed ventures, dead-ends
o Failed careers: exploitation, discrimination and the production of comics
o Failure as a matter of principle: DIY, Comix, Underground, Zines o A failing medium? Markets, value, cultural capital

Please send your abstract for the open section or the thematic section (~ 3000 chars.) as well as a short bio-bibliographical blurb to until December 1st, 2017.

The contributions (35.000-50.000 chars) are expected until March 30th, 2018.
For more information about the e-journal CLOSURE and our previous issues, please visit

Eaton Journal of Archival Research in Science Fiction

The Eaton Journal of Archival Research in Science Fiction is a peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal hosted by the University of California at Riverside, affiliated with the UCR Library’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy. Graduate student editors run the Eaton Journal, with scholarly review provided by an interdisciplinary executive board made up of SF scholars, research librarians, and archivists.

The Eaton Journal creates a space for science fiction scholars to share their findings and their experiences within the several archives dedicated to science fiction found throughout the world. The Eaton Journal is also the only journal dedicated to providing a place for archival librarians to discuss the challenges of managing significant science fiction collections and to share their best practices for facilitating as well as conducting archival research in SF.

The Eaton Journal seeks articles that fall under one of three categories:

Scholarly Articles with a significant research component: These articles are not simply notes and speculations regarding materials in an archive but rather use archival materials to build critical arguments that go beyond the textual and theoretical claims of conventional literary research. While these articles must still be textually and theoretically sound, we provide a venue for research that makes archival evidence its primary focus.

Methods and Transformations Articles: This is a space for articles that seek to expand the bounds of the SF archive, exploring new mediums, materials, or discourses as sites for speculative fiction scholarship. These articles generally seek to retheorize, redefine, and/or reframe the SF archive. Such articles may look to understudied archives (music, fan work, internet sites, etc.), and underserved communities within science fiction (drawing on gender, race, and sexuality studies), or may focus on SF performances, practices, and participatory events that challenge traditional archival methods.

Articles spotlighting neglected authors, emerging archives, and other research opportunities: The third type of article featured in the journal is that which identifies newly discovered or undeveloped archival resources, or points to authors whose archival traces offer particularly rich opportunities for scholarship. Spotlights can include, but are not limited to, interviews, editorials, transcripts of roundtable discussions and multimedia and creative works.

For Submission Information and Formatting Guidelines, visit our website at

Articles submitted for publication in the Eaton Journal should be sent to the editors at:

deadline for submissions:
October 28, 2017

full name / name of organization:
Robert Lively/ Truckee Meadows Community College

contact email:

In 1995, Star Trek: Voyager launched in a way very different from its predecessor series. Voyager took place thousands of light years from the Federation, and it contained a multi-ethnic crew with a female captain. Voyager, in a sense, encapsulated the American zeitgeist of the 1990s when major demographic changes were transforming the population of America, and the post-Cold War era left us wondering what strategic alliances would mean moving forward. The series challenged the nature of the American mindset at the time.

This edited collection attempts to ask the questions, what can we learn from Voyager looking back on the series, and in what ways does Voyager show us a path forward as the world is still changing demographically and politically? It is in this spirit that we invite proposals of 250-300 words dealing with literary, political, historical, and/or other critical interpretations of the series or characters.

McFarland Publishers has expressed strong interest in the collection.

Abstracts (300 words max) are due for submission on 28 Oct. 2017. Please send your abstracts, together with a short bio (100 words max), to the editor of the collection, Robert L. Lively/ Authors whose abstracts are accepted for inclusion will be notified by 30 Nov. 2017. Full chapters of 6,000-7,000 words in MLA format will be due on 1 May 2018.

Techniques of the Fantastic
Ninth annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung
September 6th – 8th, 2018 at the University of Freiburg/Fribourg (Switzerland)

The techniques of the fantastic are primarily ssociated to futuristic stories and science fiction, in which mankind designs its world under utopic or dystopic conditions. The technologically explainable Wonderful generally seems to be defined as related to fantastic narration, like Tzvetan Todorov’s definition of the “merveilleux instrumental” suggests. Fantastic techniques, however, are also relevant in High and Urban Fantasy, in fantastic related genres such as horror and in Gothic fiction, and even in fairy tales and adventure novels. In many fantastic contexts, different techniques can be observed: to differentiate the fantastic from magic, as alternative forms of motivations of the Wonderful (cf. Uwe Durst), on the narrative scale as literary and aesthetic procedures, for example by using the technique of the unreliable narrator and other stylistic or (meta-)fictional strategies (cf. for example Denis Mellier; Christine Brooke-Rose), as a production-aesthetic aspect for the creation of fantastic worlds (special effects), as an integral component of fantastic narrative worlds, for example in the form of strangely soulful machines of the romantic period, or as ghostly gadgets and plot device of science fiction.

(1) First, technology can be examined as a motif and object of fantastic artefacts and/or narrative worlds. Originating from romantic topoi such as machines, mesmerism, ghostlike projections or scientifically occult motifs of Gothic literature (Frankenstein), technology has proven to be a means of surpassing the humanly possible. Furthermore, connections can be established to the technologies of inhabitants of fantastic narrative worlds such as the technophile dwarf peoples of the Tolkien-derived High Fantasy, but also those present in computer games), and to genres which are fully dominated by a certain type of technology (cyberpunk). The often-dialectic relation between technology and magic can serve as an input to reflection (for example in Auguste de Villiers-de l’Isle d’Adam’s L’Ève future or in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race). The reference of magic technology to High Fantasy becomes apparent in the industrial destruction of nature by the magician Saruman in Lord of the Rings, but also in the techniques of switching between worlds (for example the “Hogwarts-Express”). This aspect is especially valid in what concerns science fiction, where techniques range from “warp drive” to thinking robots (for example in the works of Isaac Asimov and Stanisław Lem) up to the neuronal total simulation (cf. The Matrix). These techniques can be found in para-historical narrations (which are especially marked by technology, e.g., in the counterfactual narrative worlds of Christian Kracht’s Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten).

(2) Another main point would be the cultural and techno-historical relation between certain real historical developments and their fictional adaptation and/or anticipation. This interplay between real and fictional inventions plays an important historico-cultural role since the end of the 19th century (cf. the history of moving images or the discourse on trans- and posthumanism).

(3) Third, another main point of this year’s conference is the literary “technique” as an aesthetic procedure of fantastic artefacts. It deals with the means of representation and narration, such as unreliable or multi-perspectivist narration, narrative short-cuts such as metalepsis, epistolary novels or stories in fantastic narrations, the relation between the immersive realism of representation and fantastic worlds, and more recently, with the appearance of the postmodern-ironic “meta-fantastic”, as it can be found in Julio Cortazar or Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon and Ulrike Draesner.

(4) Furthermore, these topics refer to the used medial or artistic techniques of production. Audio-visual production techniques of the creation of the fantastic are worth taking a closer look at, especially concerning their historic and systematic perspectives. Media-comparative approaches (on special effects, CGI or augmented reality) would be particularly welcomed at this point.

(5) Finally, cultural techniques should be analysed in their receptive handling with the fantastic. This includes cultural processing techniques and ways of dealing, in confrontation with fantastic artefacts. This not only refers to known strategies such as the allegorising reading of the fantastic, but also to trans-fictional extensions of fantastic worlds, fan culture (Cosplay), the rabbit holes of the Alternate Reality Games-cultures, to name only a few examples.

The site of the conference, the University of Fribourg (Switzerland), is located at the language border between the French and the German speaking part of Switzerland. The conference is organized by the local German Studies Department in collaboration with the institute of general and comparative literature, and is especially dedicated to the comparative exchange. Therefore, this year’s abstracts and contributions will gladly be accepted in German, English and French.

Possible topics
• Technology as a motif and object of fantastic artefacts
• Technology as a literary/aesthetic procedure of the fantastic, particularly when taking narrative techniques into account
• Representation techniques of fantastic structures (individual reviews or theoretical considerations): Horror and Gothic, utopias and dystopias, science fiction, fantasy, Magic Realism, speculative fiction, (literary) fairy tales, fables, myths, etc.
• Medial production techniques used for the creation of the fantastic
• Media-comparative and techno-historical examinations about the interplay between Fiction and Faction
• Cultural techniques of the (interaction with the) fantastic, such as fan culture (cosplay) or other approaches to the techniques of fantastic structures (making-ofs, exhibitions, interviews, etc.)
• Media-specific or intermedial/transmedial techniques for the creation of fantastic worlds in films, TV, literature, computer games, etc.

As usually at conferences of the Association for the Research on the Fantastic (GFF), there will be an open track for all lectures which are not directly related to the topic of the conference. Hence, we are open to further proposals.

The GFF offers two scholarships of 250 euros each to students for them to cover their travel expenses to the conference. Should you be interested in this offer, please let us know when handing in your abstract.

The deadline for abstracts and short biographies is February 28th, 2018. Please send them to

Conference board
Dr. Sonja Klimek, Dr. Tobias Lambrecht, Prof. Dr. Sabine Haupt, Prof. Dr. Ralph Müller, Prof. Dr. Michel Viegnes

Kit Reed 
by Gary K. Wolfe

Kit Reed, ICFA 37, 2016, photo courtesy of Bill Clemente

When Kit Reed first attended ICFA in 2009, together with her husband Joe, not everyone immediately knew who she was. David Hartwell, himself a legendary editor of science fiction and fantasy who served on IAFA’s board, quickly started pointing her out to fellow board members and other attendees. “Do you know who that is?” he asked one. “That’s the legendary Kit Reed.”

David, who tragically died last year, knew virtually everyone in the field, and wasn’t easily impressed. He was not in the habit of calling anyone “legendary.” So we paid attention to this most senior of senior editors, and over the next few years Kit and Joe became not only fixtures at the conference, but dear and close friends to many of us. One of the ways of measuring the respect authors commanded, at ICFA and elsewhere, was to attend their readings. In Kit’s case, a good portion of the audience always consisted of fellow writers, clearly anxious to see what a master was up to. How did she earn such respect and affection?

For one thing, her career was simply astonishing in its consistency and longevity. One way of putting that career in context is this: when Kit published her first story in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1958, David Hartwell was not yet seventeen years old. Many of the other writers who came to view her as a mentor had not been born yet. She sold stories to some of the groundbreaking editors in the field, including Michael Moorcock, Damon Knight, Avram Davidson, and Anthony Boucher, and sold other stories to publications as diverse as The Yale Review and the Village Voice. Her first science fiction novel, Armed Camps, appeared in 1969 and was among the field’s earliest critical responses to the Vietnam War. But by then she had already published three thrillers, including her first, Mother Isn’t Dead, She’s Only Sleeping. Already she had established a pattern of never quite being pigeonholed in one genre or another; in later years, she’d describe herself as “trans-genred.” As if to demonstrate, her next-to-last published novel, Where? was a classic science fiction mystery of an entire community whose residents mysteriously disappear one day, while her last, Mormama, was a Southern gothic thriller with clear supernatural elements. Her final story collection, The Story Until Now, appeared in 2013 from Wesleyan University Press and is as good a point of entry into the breadth and variety of her work as you could ask for.

Kit and Joe Reed, ICFA 32, 2011, photo courtesy of Andy Duncan

It’s no accident that Wesleyan should have published the collection, because both Kit and Joe were fixtures there long before ICFA. Their students went on not only to become not only successful writers, but to develop some of the most iconic works of recent popular culture, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Game of Thrones to A Series of Unfortunate Events. In 2009, those former students pitched in to pay for a labyrinth in their honor on the Wesleyan Campus. Joe himself, now retired, was a distinguished scholar of American literature and film, as well as a talented painter (one of his paintings is the dust jacket for The Story Until Now).

Nearly everyone who encountered Kit at ICFA–out by the pool bar, in luncheons or banquets, at her reading and panels–came away with stories to tell, often about her toughness, her acerbic and uncensored wit, her no-nonsense encouragement for other writers to “get back to work” or “deal with it” (which seemed, more often than not, to be exactly what they needed to hear at that point). Some of those memories and photos have been shared on Facebook by fellow writers and ICFA attendees.

Peter Straub, Kit Reed, Gary K. Wolfe, ICFA 36, 2015, photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell

I was honored to be asked to write the introduction for The Story Until Now, and in preparing it I came across an earlier essay of Kit’s, which seemed particularly appropriate regarding her approach to both literature and life. Here’s the last paragraph of that introduction, with that quotation:

Reed may take us into the minds of some decidedly unpleasant or demented characters, she may show us wars, catastrophes, dysfunctional families, werewolves, monsters, feral children, plagues, dystopias, cannibals, zombies, and weird small towns, but always with the cool yet sympathetic intelligence of an observer both outraged and wryly amused by the labyrinths we make for ourselves. Her fiction may, collectively, seem rather dark, but it may also be that by showing us the ways into these labyrinths, she’s giving us hints of the ways out as well. Reed has called this attitude “protective pessimism,” and it’s as good a phrase as any for describing the characteristic tone of her best fiction. “Dealing in worst-case scenarios doesn’t depress me,” wrote Reed in the introduction to her earlier story collection Dogs of Truth. “It makes me hopeful and resilient. Expect the worst and you’re always prepared. You scoped the exits when you came in, just in case something comes up. Something comes up and you know the quickest way out. Given a chronic imagination of disaster, I always have a Plan B.”

“This is the way lives—and stories—get built.”

Gay Haldeman, Dale Hanes, Kit Reed, Peter Straub, Joe Haldeman, and Gary K. Wolfe, ICFA 37, 2016, photo courtesy of David G. Hartwell