Dystopia via Plattsburgh, Montreal, and Points Beyond


Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead

“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” … With these words from Ray Bradbury, editor Gordon Van Gelder extends his Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead—a new anthology of short (and very short) fiction from OR Books. And when I say “fiction”, I feel compelled to add “alleged”. Because let there be no doubt, the “45” in the title is no accident.

Ray Bradbury
Gordon Van Gelder

In the wake of the 2016 US election, many individuals of a certain social or political persuasion would argue that Bradbury’s preventive efforts (Fahrenheit 451, The Pedestrian, and A Sound of Thunder among them) succeeded only in part and only for a time. If the future he feared isn’t upon us in its grim entirety just yet, there’s no missing the feeling it’s fast approaching.

With Welcome to Dystopia, Gordon Van Gelder enlists a varied group of writers to take up Bradbury’s mantle. As he states in his introduction, “Happy endings are scarce in these pages. The stories gathered here are angry, bold, snarky, defiant, nervous, and satiric … I like to think that readers of any political stripe will find this book interesting, but fans of our forty-fifth president will definitely be put out … Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I’m happy to say my short story, SNEAKERS, has somehow been included in the mix. Or, at least, I think I’m happy about it. Then again, perhaps “happy” isn’t quite the right word. More like … uh … terrified?

Dystopia, Now! Or Kafka Wears Sneakers

SNEAKERS is the charming tale of two young lads from Montreal’s West Island who head off to Plattsburgh, NY, to buy … you guessed it! … sneakers. Nothing unusual in that, eh? Cross-border shopping is as Canadian as hockey, poutine, beavers and, of course, BeaverTails®. It’s been a pastime since John A. MacDonald went searching for Zagnut bars in Massena, NY.  Except for one tiny detail: This is now. And as America steamrolls to renewed greatness, any number of surprises await the unsuspecting, the Plattsburgh-bound protagonists of SNEAKERS leading the oblivious pack.

Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead is available now, directly from the publisher. From dark and dangerous to laugh-out-loud funny and dangerous, the collection makes for compelling reading. Harry Turtledove’s The Terrific Leader. Jay Russell’s Statues of Limitations. Lisa Mason’s Dangerous. Paul Witcover’s Walls. Ron Goulart’s The Amazing Transformation of the White House Dog. Marguerite Reed’s Notes on Retrieving a Fallen Banner. Janis Ian’s His Sweat Like the Stars on the Rio Grande. Richard Bowes’ The Name Unspoken. Barry Malzberg’s January 2018 … If I keep this up, I’ll end up listing the full table of contents. So let’s make it simple: Buy it. Read it. And hope that every author’s “vision of what lies ahead” has totally missed the mark.

Dystopia in Brooklyn on February 6, 2018

Should you be in the NYC area on February 6, The New York Review of Science Fiction Readings series will be hosting an evening of Dystopia, with several authors whose work is featured in the anthology. Curated by Gordon Van Gelder, writers confirmed thus far are Richard Bowes, Jennifer Marie Brisset, Deji Bryce Olukoton, Leo Vladimirsky, and the estimable Paul Witcover. Location: Brooklyn Commons Cafe, 388 Atlantic Avenue. For more information on this and other upcoming events, click here 

Publishing news! Hollywood North novel sells to ChiZine


1. Hollywood North set to get the ChiZine treatment

After weeks of dedicated sighing and moping, as I struggled to keep my publishing news restricted to family, close friends, and the entire population of the Eastern seaboard, I am now at liberty to announce the sale of my novel, HOLLYWOOD NORTH: A SIX-REELER. It has been bought by Sandra Kasturi, editor and co-publisher of ChiZine Publications. No word on publication date, as yet, but you can be sure I’ll keep you in the loop. For more on the novel, including my ChiSeries Ottawa reading of an excerpt, check out my previous blog, Hollywood North, The Realist, and Flin Flon.

The only other thing I can add at this time is the following warning: Visit Trenton, Ontario, while you still can. For your own safety, do not mention my name.

2. Okay, so let me tell you about ChiZine

As their website sums it up, “ChiZine Publications (CZP) is a British Fantasy, World Fantasy, and HWA Specialty Press Award-winning independent publisher of surreal, subtle, and disturbing dark literary fiction hand-picked by co-publishers Sandra Kasturi and Samantha Beiko. ChiZine Publications also includes young adult imprint ChiTeen, mystery imprint ChiDunnit, electronic-only releases under CZP eBook, graphic novel imprint ChiGraphic, and poetry imprint KQP.” But this only begins to tell the ChiZine story.

“Upstart.” “Top-notch.” “Inspirational.” “Thoughtful.” “Outstanding.” “Innovative.” “Gutsy.” “Quality.” … This is just a sampling of reviewers’ comments about ChiZine and its unique approach to literary genre fiction. Yeah, damn right I’m excited to be part of this dynamic and decidedly creepy organization.

3. ChiZine is also the publisher behind Chiaroscuro Reading Series (aka ChiSeries)

I haven’t done a ton of public readings over the years. The ones I have done, well, you’d understand why I might be a tad gun-shy. At my World Fantasy Conference reading in 2015, for instance, three people showed up and I had to beg two of those (stragglers from the previous reading) to stay. Worse, midway through my reading, one of the detainees raised a hand to interrupt. “I think there’s a disconnect in your text. I’d like you to read it again,” she said. I smiled, tried to not come off as defensive or arrogant, and boldly replied, “Um … uh … gee … uh … no.” I carried on, as she huffed and puffed and glared her displeasure until I was done. My ChiSeries experience was a major step up.

The audience was large. I did not have to beg anyone to stick around, not even my wife. And everyone in attendance, including the host (Hello, Matt Moore!), was warm, welcoming and responsive. (The fact Sandra Kasturi offered me a publishing contract immediately after my reading didn’t hurt, either.) I hope I’m invited to read at a ChiSeries event again. But right now, ChiSeries needs our help.

4. ChiSeries even pays its author-readers. Imagine!

ChiSeries is held on a regular basis in cities across Canada. It is the country’s only national reading series dedicated solely to speculative literature. What’s more, they pay their authors an honorarium to present. No small gesture, trust me.

ChiZine and other small presses donate a substantial amount to the series. The Ontario Arts Council has also played a critical role. Here, I pass the torch to one of the founders, the ubiquitous Sandra Kasturi: “Last year we were denied funding by the Ontario Arts Council, the body that gives government support to arts projects. (We had previously received funding every year.) I put together an even better and more thorough submission this year—and we were denied again. This may be due to genre bias, which of course is rampant in the arts councils and non-genre writing world. But it’s also due to the fact that there is more competition for money than ever, and many organizations that once received funding now do not.”

Kickstarter and Go Fund Me campaigns will gear up shortly. I’ll let you know when. Meanwhile, please check out and LIKE the ChiSeries Facebook page.

C’mon! What’s easier than pointing and clicking? Besides, you’ll make me look good (or, at least, no worse) in the eyes of my new publisher.