Back in the 90s, when there was no Amazon, no streaming, no IMDb, and when most video rental shops carried little in the way of foreign, cult, or controversial films, I became a regular at what was then called Elgin Street Video Station. This was the place to find the surreal and the repulsive as well as the classic. This was the place to find the BBC policiers like Prime Suspect and Cracker. This was the place to gaze upon rows of VHS tapes (often sorted by director) and learn first-hand about movies in all their permutations. Back then, Elgin Video had a “7 for 7” deal, which let customers rent 7 movies for a week–I did that most weeks for many years and expanded. I was the girl toting an awkward load of 7 VHS tapes through the streets of Centretown in a haze of happiness. No matter how banned, how obscure, how old, how terribly B a movie was, chances are they had it in stock, and chances were just as good the staff could talk about it. Film became my world, and I became a film buff and film writer, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Elgin Video partly shaped who I am. Bloody hell.
So happy that Issue 6 is finally out, the more so because it contains a breathtaking story by L.S. Johnson that was originally slated for Issue 4 (“Institutions”). Her tale, “Littoral Drift,” deserves to be out in the world. I’m also pleased that this issue contains not one but two formally experimental pieces, by U.K. author/academic Steven Earnshaw, and New York author/academic Michael Cisco. (Um, yes — a large portion of our contributors are PhDs. This surprises no one.) Lackington’s always wants stories that play with traditional prose structure as well as language, so I’m tickled. It’s an added privilege to be able to feature a fragment of Cisco’s amazing, yet-to-be-published novel, UNLANGUAGE, another section of which appeared in Postscripts to Darkness Volume 5.
Lackington’s Issue 5 is bursting with beldams, so I suppose it’s anagram-ably fitting that the cover features a god of bedlam, the magnificent Dionysus. Lackington’s covers aren’t commissioned to match issue themes,* but this one worked out, in a way. My friend, the equally magnificent Derek Newman-Stille of Speculating Canada, had done interior artwork for the magazine before, and when I asked him for a cover, our mutual love for all things Dionysian resulted in an image I couldn’t be happier with. Thank you, talented one! I hope you never stop painting. (Readers: check out Derek’s portfolio. ‘Tis beauty.)
*I give each cover artist only two instructions: that the image feature books and that it give some sense, even if just fleeting or symbolic, of the late eighteenth century, in honour of the magazine’s namesake. I’m always delighted to see how each artist interprets that request.
Lackington’s Issue 4 was sent to subscribers and went on sale October 28, and now it’s free to read for everyone on the website (please do consider supporting us if you’re a happy reader). This issue contains five stories that tell of “institutions” material and otherwise, and has already garnered some wonderful attention from reviewers I admire. Charlotte Ashley wrote up Penny Stirling’s remarkable experimental piece about a parliament of birds for Apex Magazine‘s “Clavis Aurea” review series, while Amal El-Mohtar, over at Tor.com‘s “Rich and Strange” review series, has expounded on the connections between two pieces of science fiction I am proud to have been able to include in Lackington’s: Rose Lemberg’s “Stalemate” and Kate Heartfield’s “Bonsaiships of Venus.” These readers are the market we work for, so our satisfaction runs deep. It fills me with wonder to discover such impressive fiction in the submissions box and to have that fiction noticed and written about so beautifully and perceptively after the fact. I don’t think these thrills will ever wear off.
Today I got to chat about editing and genre-writing from a feminist slant on CKCU-FM’s Femme Fatale with host Lilith Nuttal. I’ve become a bit of an evangelist about “active editing” and admit I like to talk about it at every opportunity — and will continue to do so until editors’ inboxes are brimming with submissions from a diverse population that feels 100% welcome. Until writers of colour stop getting rejections from editors who tell them their setting isn’t “Western enough.” Until stories about straight white dudes are no longer seen as “apolitical” and somehow more genuine. The work, it’s bloody ongoing. But meanwhile fun radio interview on a great and storied station that’s holding its annual funding drive! If you have a few spare pennies, please consider helping CKCU meet its goal. It’s been a fixture in this community, and on the Canadian arts scene, since forever.
I’ll be participating on four panels at Can-Con, October 3-5. I was delighted to be asked for some ideas about panels this year, one of which is close to my heart: a discussion about the place of poetic, experimental, or maximalist prose styles in SFF fiction today (“Stop Counting Adjectives”). It’ll also be fun to jog my expertise about the history of execution and representations of execution on the “Crime and Punishment” panel. I’m looking forward not just to the discussions but to the overall gathering, which brings friends in from out of town for conversations, readings, and amazing South Asian suppers. My schedule is below; I’ll also be in the Dealer’s Room at times, staffing the Postscripts to Darkness table with co-editor Sean Moreland and cover artist extraordinaire Cherry Valance.
I have been Chosen. By one James K. Moran, an Ottawa writer and friend. James nominated me to be the next stop on the Canadian Writers Blog Tour. I’m not sure where it originated or how long it’s been going on, but all I have to do is take a week to respond to four questions, paste them on the internet, and pass the torch. Here’s me being obliging: