Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
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The Power of Collaborative Fandom: Challenges, Bangs, and Charities

by Linda Codega

Fandom is not an isolation chamber. It is created and built in places like convention halls, online communities, mailing lists, social media groups, theaters, and bookshops. Fandom is created when people dress up for the Harry Potter book release, when fanartists create genderbent or racebent versions of their favorite characters, when fic writers post a new chapter. Fandom thrives in a communal, collaborative, constructive environment.

When zines were passed out at conventions, there were collating parties and meetups with the actors at cafes. The scene was just small enough that you felt like everybody could tug on a few strings and know anyone else. Now certain convents are so large and sprawling that it wouldn’t be hard to get lost in between a signing booth and a merch table. Community creation is harder to do in-person, and has migrated heavily to digital platforms, most commonly in spaces that encourage following and re-sharing content, such as Tumblr and Twitter. Old forum-based community sites like Dreamwidth and Livejournal are still around, but legal action taken against the client base has greatly reduced their usage.

So how do online communities create collaboratively? There are a lot of ways that fans can meet and speak to each other online, but one of the ways that prioritizes fanwork creation and fandom development is called a fandom challenge. Challenges can vary widely, but usually there are two or more fancreators involved who ‘challenge’ each other to create a new piece of fanwork. This fanwork can be centered around a theme, pairing, media, or even just a single character. Fanwork can consist of fanfic, fanart, podfic, playlists, or graphics. Each challenge has a different set of rules, requirements, and structure.

Challenges and fanwork exchange is certainly not new to the online fandoms; there is a record of the Star Trek fandom engaging in Fic-a-Thons, where writers were challenged to write a fanfic in a certain amount of time. Sometimes these were called Thing-a-Thons, wherein art and other work would be allowed in. Many times Trek fic writers would submit pieces to zines based on previously published pieces of art, and some times art and fic would be submitted together, both produced by different artists.

Online communities took this kind of collaborative creation and made it more accessible and easy to enter. There are many different kinds of challenges, focused on many different kinds of media. An extremely common challenge is called a Bang. Usually the way a Bang challenge works is a group of mods create a community (on Tumblr, Dreamwidth, or Livejournal) dedicated to the bang. They ask fan writers to write a new fic based around a certain theme, and then they allow artists to claim fics. The writers and artists collaborate to create a finished piece of fanfic and at least one (sometimes multiple pieces) of accompanying fanart.

Bangs have many iterations; Big Bangs usually have require high word counts; Reverse Bangs ask the artist to submit pieces first; Podfic Bangs encourage writers and podficcers to work together; Flash Bangs encourage microfiction and collaboration without claims. Community is built through these sorts of exchange and collaborations. There is usually space to discuss your work, your experiments and trials, and you get to see what the rest of the fans are creating while you are also working.

This is an incredibly important part of fandom-building. When people are in small fandoms that don’t get attention from other fans, they feel isolated and can be easily discouraged. When there is no feedback and no audience, fandom cannot be maintained. The opportunity to engage with other fans, even after a show has been finished, or a book series concluded, is essential for the growth and longevity of fandom. Sometimes it takes a new version of a musical, or a single interview to reactivate a fandom, but unless there is active creation of some kind — whether through discussion, fanwork, or just conversations at conventions, fandoms lose fans and are not longer enjoyable to even longtime fans.

If you’re interested in looking at the nitty-gritty of bang challenges, here are some excellent challenges that have produced some amazing fanwork and community; Yuletide (for lesser known fandoms and pairing, given every year around Christmas, has been occurring annually since 2003); the Inception Reverse Bang (a great example of an active community that has lasted far beyond the initial media release); the Merlin fandom has a huge numbers of bangs and challenges; you can view an incomplete list on Fanlore.

The last thing I want to shed some light on is the way that fan communities can often coalesce around a cause or an event. Charity challenges are a huge part of fandom, and some of the best well known fandom examples are Fandom Trumps Hate (where fans offered to create fanwork for other fans based on donations to specific charities, which has raised over 50K in two years) and Random Acts, a charity championed by Supernatural’s Misha Collins, has also benefited from fandom action. GISHWISHES, a for-profit company started by Collins, has donated almost all proceeds to Random Acts for six years, and has been able to give over 50K to Random Acts. It has been described as a collaborative, non-centrist, democratic, all-media event.

Collaborative community creation is the lifeblood of fandom. Interactions and multiple editions of fanmade creative work are integral to the health of a fandom. Feedback will certainly keep creators invested, but in order to draw new people into a fandom there needs to be time allowed for them to integrate into a fanbase and there needs to be space made for new work to be published, promoted, and distributed to other like-minded and interested fans. Often writing, drawing, and other methods of fanwork creation can be an extremely isolating experience: you are alone at your computer. Bangs and challenges help tie together all the individual threads of fanwork, and keep fandoms strong, thriving, and creative.

So you want to make a book trailer …?

by Jacqui Lipton

I know that title probably makes you think I’m going to tell you all the techie secrets for how to actually MAKE a book trailer … PSYCH! Sorry about that.

No, I’m going to talk about some of the legal pitfalls you might encounter (but hopefully not) in relation to clearing intellectual property rights you might need in terms of music, images, and video clips you might want to use.

And, as always, I note that nothing written in this column is intended as formal legal advice, and folks who need help with particular issues should consult an agent or attorney.

You probably all realize that when you use things you find on the Internet or elsewhere for your book trailer, there’s a good chance that at least some of it is copyright-protected and that technically you may have to seek permission to use that material.

A lot of people think that using snippets of someone else’s music or art video in your book trailer is a fair use because you’re using so little of it. That may be the case in certain circumstances, but it’s always going to be a case specific question. The American fair use defense relies on balancing four factors in any given case: (1) the purpose and nature of your use (in particular, whether it’s a commercial or nonprofit educational purpose); (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion you used; and, (4) the effect of your use on the actual or potential market for, or value of, the work in question.

Sounds complicated? Yeah, because it kinda is.

It’s always about balancing those fair use factors and there’s no perfect equation that tells you whether a particular use is or is not a fair use. However, there are a handful of points you might usefully keep in mind.

  • With popular music in particular, some book trailers use more than a small portion of a song or instrumental piece, which means that the second fair use factor is often of little help to you. Additionally, the use of a lot of popular music on the Internet is heavily monitored by copyright holders or organizations who represent them, so using other’s music without permission can be risky.
  • Even though book trailers are usually short and often homemade, it’s not ever likely to be particularly easy to argue that the trailer isn’t for a commercial purpose in relation to the first fair use factor. The whole point of the trailer is to advertise and sell your book, right? That’s definitely a commercial purpose under copyright law.
  • The third fair use factor can be tricky especially in relation to video clips. For example, you’d think if you only copied a snippet of a movie or other video content for your book trailer, that would be a small enough amount not to bother a copyright holder. Well, that may or may not be the case. The third factor contemplates the “substantiality” of the portion used as well as the objective “amount” of the work you used. So even using a very small snippet from someone else’s work could amount to using a “substantial” portion if that snippet is key to the work in question. I’d love to be able to give you a clear guideline as to what “substantial” means in this context, but it’s incredibly fact specific and usually decided on a case by case basis.

Of course, copyright and fair use will only be problematic if the copyright holder minds what you do with their work. Some copyright holders encourage free use of their work because it’s good publicity for them or for any number of other reasons. Some copyright holders are happy for you to use their work free of charge if you give them attribution or thanks. That’s why it’s often worth asking for permission, especially if the copyright holder is easy to locate.

Oh, great editors…save me from sieves

by Calee Jordan

I hate sieve writing, sieve books. What’s sieve writing? Well, in my head, where I’m not so polite, I call them dumb books.

I don’t mean dumb premises like a woman with a toothpick saving the world from a hangry koala or a woman needing to have sex with a stranger to stay alive.  Those plots may seem ridiculous, but oddly, a good author can make them work.

And I don’t mean low brow or simplistic language and stories. Simple stories can be good stories.

No, dumb—excuse me—sieve writing lacks thought. Sieve books lack awareness of themselves, their characters, or the readers, leaving gaps in logic. They have giant holes in the story or weird character behaviors—usually dumb or oops moments–that don’t fit the character’s personality. The plots read as if no one has thought about the story, as if the readers would never question the situation or its reality, making the stories unbelievable. It frustrates me as a reader because the behavior or concept doesn’t seem plausible.

My example: Voodoo Knights by Amanda Rose.

This romantic (reverse harem) fantasy (voodoo gods and a voodoo queen) wants me to believe four amazingly hot supernatural gods (voodoo knights) hang around a Louisiana mansion protecting the Laveaux voodoo queen (a human with no fighting skills but possessing significant power) from whom they draw strength as she maintains balance between good and evil.  They (these magical loa gods) share her power by kissing her, and they bond their energies through sex.

Ok . . . .I guess. Like I said, an odd premise doesn’t equal a sieve book.

Anyway, before serving the main character, these voodoo knights lived with and served the main character’s grandmother, from whom the main character inherited the mansion, power, and destiny.  Unfortunately, with her inheritance came grandmother’s enemies who want to kill the new voodoo queen.

Ok. Umm? Wait . . . .what?

So many questions flashed through my mind. Since this story is a romance first (I think), my mind immediately jumps to the OMG stuff.

<gasp> Did they kiss her grandmother? Did these guys have sex with her grandmother? How long were these guys/gods whatever dating her grandmother?

These questions never arose, by the way.  The character never thought of it, so I kept reading. Besides, the sex part of it isn’t the most important part of this life and death, good vs. evil situation.  But my mind churns with more questions:

What’s her power? They didn’t say, but she has a lot, and sharing it drains her pretty quickly.

So she doesn’t have that much power? Ummm, maybe more than most, but she doesn’t have infinite power.

How does she wield her power? Through mojo bags and kisses.

So is she a witch who substitutes mojo bags for hex bags? What does her power do? How does she create balance? I don’t know. Those answers weren’t in the book. Strengthen the gods while she waits on the sidelines.

Yeah, that’s super powerful.

Why do gods need to draw energy? Are the other gods, the villains, drawing energy? Is there an opposing character who wants imbalance? I don’t know. Those answers weren’t in the book.

Instead, the five spend most of the book fending off attacks from loa (creatures that come in various forms, levels of power and evil. Did I mention the Voodoo Knights aka the Voodoo Gods are also loa?). Anyway, most of the loa seem to be evil creatures attempting to kill the main character. A random loa siphoning life energy from a student is killed.

Why is she so comfortable in Louisiana when she grew up in Alaska? Do Louisiana and Alaska share similar environments and weather patterns?

So who’s the evil? One of the god’s brother or maybe another guy, Legba?

These questions were never asked or answerd. Well, the character isn’t overly inquisitive, and she accepts the situation at face value. Thus questioning the protectors’ interactions with her grandmother isn’t too unreasonable.

Is this book about lust or soul mates because soul mate was referenced once, but the main character likes them for their abs?

Does she help kill bad loa so that good loa aren’t overwhelmed? Is that maintaining balance? It seems the main character chose a side.

Ok, ok, that’s a criticism rather than a plot question.

You get the point. By the end of the novel, I’m talking to myself and attempting to justify the story. Many, many more questions swirled through my head as I read the book. Only a few were answered, and surprisingly (at least to me), the main character answers only a few of them, but not the most important ones.

Why wouldn’t the character ask these questions?  Why wouldn’t the book answer them?

Even if all the aforementioned questions aren’t addressed, many of them are too simple and reasonable to ignore. I mean I would ask a few questions if the guy (god) who lived with my grandmother is flirting with me.  If some guy was trying to kill me, I’d want to know my power skillset and practice them.

Yet the main character doesn’t ask or practice for weeks.

And that leads me to the second dumb—sieve—moment. Good characters suddenly lack critical thinking skills and reasonable life-or-death thinking that would keep them alive.

This character says she’s smart. She seems reasonable. She wants to live; she wants to keep her father safe, but she doesn’t actively prevent danger. They compare schedules and plan training sessions, but—despite being grounded and stuck together for a month—they don’t train or discuss the problem.

Umm, so why is he trying to kill me? How do I stop him? Did you make out with my grandmother to share her power? (Nope, I can’t let that go.)

The threats to the main character’s life might excuse some her lack of curiosity, but weeks of being inseparable and grounded may be the best time to review the details. Which suggests the character is dumb as well after all what great heroine doesn’t realize the best time to learn more about the threat is when the threat is quiet. Even though the threat of monsters is reasonable to accept when said creatures attempt her murder, shouldn’t she be curious about the how, why, and now what?

That brings me to the most important part of sieve books: what do I do about them? Sadly, I always finish the sieve books in hopes the holes will fill themselves. The book is tossed on my “never read it again” shelf and never read the author’s work again, but that doesn’t feel proactive.

I could leave feedback, but leaving feedback appears subjective and more for the readers than the author.  I can save a reader from a frustrating reading experience, but I can advise other readers that the book has plot holes, but that doesn’t fix the problem.

Now what?

The Two of Swords – Tough Decisions

by Tisdale Flannery

The Two of Swords, by Erik C. Dunne. Used by permission of the artist.

Tea with Strangers is inspired by the Tarot Illuminati deck, by Erik C. Dunne, and the companion book by Kim Huggens.

On a concrete bench set on rocks in the surf, a woman sits unmoving. She is blindfolded and holds in front of her two crossed swords. The winds of storm whip her hair all around her face. The waters of the tide splash her feet; they have soaked her beautiful gown to the knee, and the air is saturated with the smell of salt and ocean life, seaweed and mollusk. It is not so cold that we are in danger of freezing, but cold enough that the splashes on my jeans are painful against my skin. I wrap tighter in my anorak, wipe the salt spray from my face with my sleeve and walk carefully from rock to rock until I am close to her.

Those swords look really sharp. They look like the real thing, and with the grip she has on the wrought handles, I’m not eager to find out how well she’s been trained.

I step back and clear my throat.

Unfortunately, between the wind and surf, there’s no way she could hear me.

“Hello?” I call.

No answer.

“Excuse me!”

She sighs, disgruntled, and in a slow, smooth motion, lowers the crossed swords until they are resting on her lap. She lifts the blindfold from one eye. It’s a green eye, unexpectedly soft in expression. “Yes?”

“I’m from the ah…” I gesture behind me. I have to yell a little to be heard. “Didn’t they tell you I was coming?”

“Oh, someone came and made noise. I didn’t pay attention.” She sighs and pushes the blindfold all the way up. “My focus is total, when I’m here.”

I find that impressive, given the tempest around us. “Of course, of course. Would you like to come with me? We can talk somewhere else.’”

Her face brightens. “I can do that?” She sets the swords on the bench, and we pick our way back across the rocks.

There is a lighthouse up higher on the rocks. The keeper is at the top, always, binoculars to his eyes, watching for ships that may come. He pays no attention to people who come and go in the cozy kitchen on the first floor. My lady of the Two of Swords warms her hands on the teacup, dries her face on the towel I find in the drawer, and stares wistfully into the fire in the hearth.

“It’s not easy, you know,” she says. “I have a decision to make. And I do not know the future.” She mimics holding the swords and looks at her hands. “Which path do I take? This one, or this one? Life is full of choices, and half the time we make the wrong ones.”

I’m thinking about the work I’m revising, and the decision I have to make between implementing a major change that will require extensive rewriting, or going with the original idea, which may be less engaging for the reader, but which remains true to my original vision for the story. “Tough place to be in,” I say.

“Do we die by this blade, or this one? Do we take what looks easy, and learn it was easy because it was right? Or do we take what is hard, and learn that hard work is always the best way? I just don’t know. I am stuck.” She slumps.

“Have some more tea.” I fill her cup and put a warm biscuit on her plate. “Tell me, why do you wear the blindfold?” My intention is just to distract her from her distress, but as soon as I say it, she takes the blindfold off the top of her head and perks right up.

“This helps. It really does. It’s lavender-scented. See?”

It is, indeed, though also sweat- and ocean-soaked. It is a thick, soft knit of some kind, and looks like it carries more stories than one life could hold.

“My grandmother gave me this a long time ago. She told me that, whenever I am stuck, I should put it on. It blocks out the constant chatter of the mind. When I wear it, I just listen, and then I’ll know the answer.”

She closes her eyes and takes a long, mindful breath. “So many times we think we can make a tough decision by logical analysis. There are times when that is the right way, but those times are not as often as we think, because there’s no way for us to know all the factors that will determine the outcome. We live in a world that constantly changes in countless ways, a kaleidoscope of possibilities, and the ego just isn’t well equipped to direct us. That’s what this is for.” She holds up the blindfold again. “You can do the same thing by meditation, or any activity that engages you completely. And then you listen, and you know the answer.”

“Ah, intuition,” I say.

“Yes. And most importantly, perhaps, you stick with your decision. Going back and forth, hesitating, waffling – you are juggling the swords, then, and you risk being wounded by your own actions.”

“And as writers, do we allow our characters to access this kind of knowing?”

“They can act decisively, yes. They can know what is right, and they can be intuitive, but when they are faced with critical decisions, we have to be cruel. They have to make their decisions in the dark. It must be a choice the reader would struggle with – and then the character must face the difficult consequences that result. Author March McCarron has a succinct post about this element of fiction. There’s no tension if the path is clear.”

She stands. All the energy that she lacked when she entered the warm building has returned. “But I am free of the need for story. I live in this moment only, and I know that this is the moment to be silent and listen. I’m going back to my bench. So long!”

The cozy lighthouse kitchen is a lovely place for me right now, but there are times, I know, when I am the one out there on the rocks. There’s no simple solution for my revision. I believe, though, that I’ll try what she suggested, and distract myself with something meditative, which for me is riding my bike on country lanes. As I pick my way back up the cliff to my home, I see the lady there, on her bench, storm raging around her while she sits frozen in her moment of decision – not frozen in indecision, but frozen in perfect peace, listening for the right answer.

LSQ News Flash! May 2018

by Anna O’Brien

Dearest readers! Here is what you need to know for all things LSQ in May:

  1. We close for submissions on May 15 so get your wonderful speculative fiction stories to us before then;
  2. Issue 034 will be out June 1!!! Brimming with fabulous fantasy, sci-fi, and things somewhere in between, this issue, like all our others, will feature work by emerging female authors and be available in print, digital, and online;
  3. We are growing! We are ecstatic about adding some new editors to our Quarterly editorial board! More specific welcomes to come to the blog and social media shortly so you can get to know and love them;
  4. And don’t forget to celebrate the birthday of author Angela Carter on May 7

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week of April 30, 2018

by Anna O’Brien

May already? YES, dear readers. Here’s what the blog has been up to this week:

  • On Monday, we had our last author interview from Issue 033: Arkady Martine was kind enough to let us pick her brilliant brain about her short story: “Adjuva“;
  • On Wednesday, our own blog editor Jen Gheller discussed the power of description in particular to character clothing in YA books in her column “YA Girl“;
  • On Friday, Tracy Townsend talked a bit about fanfic in her column “A Place Where it Rains

If You Build It, They Will Whump (or Ship, or Squee)

by Tracy Townsend

I have a confession to make. Honestly, it’s a confession that shouldn’t be hard for a fan of sff to make in 2018, but there’s still value in coming out publicly on the right side of an issue:

I love fanfic. I encourage my students to write and read fanfic, for all the reasons so eloquently and passionately discussed in this Seanan McGuire Twitter thread. I think the existence of fanfic is one of the most powerful indicators of a storyteller’s grip on their audience, especially in sff fandoms. If my fantasy series ever grew successful enough to provoke readers to abscond with it for fanfic purposes, I’d be more excited than if it hit the bestseller lists.

I grew up writing my fanfics in spiral bound notebooks that I hid under my pillow, or in loose leaf packets stapled into “books” that I copied out and distributed to friends. My current work teaching high school students is a constant reminder of the distance between their world of between fourteen to eighteen years of age and mine. I had dial-up and got my first email account a few months before going to college. If there were any places I could share my fanfic online, I didn’t know about them; if I had, I would have bought into the conventional wisdom of the early-to-mid 90s, so effectively memed here. Today, as an adult, what interests me most about fanfic isn’t so much the readership laying claim to characters and worlds for their own creative purposes (that’s pretty much the tautological definition of what fanfic is). I’m interested in its frequent drive toward emotional exploration over exterior stakes, and how that’s reshaped the very properties we consume today.

Let’s take Marvel comics as an example.

I grew up reading X-Men comics, loving their big, fractious casts of characters in an adopted-family-meets-hero-SWAT-team arrangement. One of my favorite comics moments of that formative time was the Gizmodo-maligned 1991 pool party issue. Why, yes. Yes, that is Wolverine in a pair of jean cutoffs. (At the time of this blog article’s writing, apparently, jorts are in the midst of making a comeback. So before you snicker at Logan’s problematic sartorial choices, just remember that my mother said there’s a twenty to thirty year turnaround on all fashions, and apparently we need to respect Mama Prescience a little more.) Yes, Colossus is wearing a thong. . . while in metal form. But a pool party for the X-Men was exactly the kind of experience that would have sent me straight to or Archive of Our Own in search of more, if only they’d existed at the time.

Let’s face it: “Let the heroes do something other than punch rogue mutants or anti-mutant hate groups for a few pages” is a very, very fanfic-friendly creative move. It is, unfortunately, also exactly the kind of content at which sff purists and gatekeepers like to roll their eyes. It’s not terribly different than the forthcoming Ms. Marvel slumber party crossover which, if you search around on the interwebs (don’t) you’ll find more than ample outcry against, often framed in the most grossly misogynistic of terms. But this outcry—that these stories are just feelings or too much about the things that happen in the moments between explosions and apocalypses—is the cry of the dinosaur as the meteor descends from above.

Because now, the (former) kids are in charge.

I am (at the time of this writing) thirty-eight years old. And I grew up loving X-Men swimsuit issues, and Amber fanfics that explored the relationships between Zelazny’s sibling characters, and awkward crossovers between characters who could not possibly grate against one another in more delicious ways (Spider-Man and Wolverine, anyone?). There are more than a few people my age, give or take, who are writing professional

ly now, having learned and loved craft first as fanfic authors and readers. Many of these creators continue to write for that audience, as it’s a common and totally defensible sentiment that fanfic writing and “professional” writing aren’t meaningful narrative divides in the Year of Our Lord 2018. These former/current fan writers have stepped into the existing titles and characters they’ve loved. They’ve also written their own, unique works inspired by their experiences writing and reading and growing in the fanfic community, exploring hurt/comfort, meet-cutes, reconciliations, revelations, and more than a few coffeeshop AUs.

The point isn’t that core worlds, characters, or property concepts are being “ruined” or subverted, as the angriest comment threads online would have us believe. The point is this is a generation of creators that both acknowledges fanfic as a valid engagement with the source material, and borrows extensively from its toolbox. With more of those creators in professional prominence, many of the narrative beats and styles essential in the fanfic scene are reshaping the way “mainstream” fiction is written.

The inmates are running the asylum, and thank God for it. If they weren’t, I don’t think we’d have the sense of play that inspires scenes like the Avengers getting shawarma after narrowly saving New York from alien invasion, Sam Wilson meet-cuting with Steve Rogers and talking over his notebook of “adjusting to the 21st century” to-dos, or Diana and Steve Trevor talking about the necessity of men for sexual pleasure in a delightfully ad-libbed “we must sleep together but not like that” scene.

These moments and others in sff film, comics, novels, and short fiction embrace a whole generation that grew up believing that you can make mountains out of what others see as narrative molehills, and that climbing those mountains gives you a better view of the whole story.

I look forward to seeing what the next wave of fanfic writers do to reshape the genres they love. We’re an audience that should love change, after all.

The Power of a Great Outfit… Description

by Jen Gheller

In my last post, I talked about how much I love urban fantasy. I added a brief list of recommended books, which included Lynne Ewing’s Daughters of the Moon series. It was one of my favorites in middle school, and played a huge role in shaping what I like to write about. The series is about four, and later five, girls living in Los Angeles who are actually demigoddesses with unique powers, and must fight an ancient evil called the Atrox. Girls with supernatural powers? Check. A group bound together by fate? Check. Greek mythology? Check. It’s not a perfect series by any means, but it’s fun, and has a permanent place in my heart.

The main reason I started reading these books was because the covers were so awesome. They feature whichever character each book focuses on, looking like she’s just emerged from a tub full of glitter. Imagine my delight when I realized these covers aren’t only for show; they’re almost exact replicas of what the girls wear right before their big showdowns with the Atrox’s Followers. The Daughters live in L.A., are all involved in the arts in some way, and have access to a treasure trove of costumes and props thanks to one of their moms, a costume designer, so their outfits are always spectacular. In the first book, Goddess of the Night, Vanessa must save her best friend Catty from the clutches of the Atrox. She raids her mom’s collection and puts on a silky blue dress with matching high-heeled sandals, draws silver and blue flames and hearts on her legs with body paint, and douses her entire body in glitter. It sounds impractical and over-the-top, but it’s supposed to be. Vanessa gets the effect she was going for: “A thrill ran through her. Her reflection astonished her. She looked otherworldly, a mystical creature… eyes large, skin glowing, eyelashes longer, thicker. Everything about her was more powerful and sleek and fairy tale.”

When I read these books for the first time, they had more of an impression than I realized. A lot of media targeted at kids my age almost always had a pretty, “popular” girl who was mean and vain. Or there would be a “plain” girl who was a social outcast until someone gave her a makeover which helped her win the guy’s attention. The Daughters of the Moon showed me that you could actually draw power from dressing up. Most superheroes wear costumes to conceal their identities, for protection, or because their powers come from their costumes. The Daughters of the Moon dress up for none of these reasons. They do it just to look fabulous and kick ass, and they sure deliver.

However, as their mentor Maggie constantly stresses, it is never their clothes or the moon amulets they all wear that gives them power. The power is in them. As Vanessa puts on her sandals, she has another epiphany: “As she tied the straps, it came to her with a sudden shock. She had been preparing for battle like a medieval knight, or an ancient warrior, with ritual and ceremony.” I like that message. Armor can be an actual suit of armor, or a vibranium suit, or a silky blue dress with heels. It could be a leather jacket and combat boots, that awesome pair of pants you found at the thrift store, or maybe it’s exactly what you’re wearing right now. 

If nothing else, you can’t deny it’s an effective tool for characterization!

Issue 033 Author Interview: Arkady Martine and “Adjuva”

by Anna O’Brien

Here’s another chance to get to know one of our Issue 033 authors a little better — check out Arkady Martine’s story “Adjuva” then read her thoughts on her writing process below:

LSQ: Given your background as a historian of the Byzantine Empire, what about this era and setting fit with the telling of this story?

Arkady: I would not have been able to tell this story without being the sort of historian I am; it is a story very deeply rooted in Crusader history, medieval Western Christian theology, and a (Jewish) Byzantinist’s problem with both. Much of this story comes straight out of medieval accounts of the First Crusade; what doesn’t is my attempt to grapple with what Crusading legends do, how they effect historical memory, how they distort time.

A distortion that Michel and Thomas are well-aware of, by now.

LSQ: Thomas and Michel — are they caught in Purgatory? Are they traveling through time? Can you comment on the mystical nature of this story line and the relationship between these two characters?

Arkady: Thomas and Michel are certainly caught in some sense. And they experience time out of sequence, and over and over. I don’t want to specify whether the way that they are caught is a time loop, or a religious process, or a series of hallucinations – or both, all, none of these things. The importance is that they are caught. Or – Michel is caught, and Thomas may or may not be, but has chosen to be caught alongside Michel.

If I might ask a question in return: would it make a difference if Thomas was real or a figment of Michel’s imagination? Or if Thomas was or was not human?

LSQ: The history of the Crusades in Antioch, returning again and again in dreams, the brutal dryness of the desert — this story has a timeless feel to it. Is there a theme you’d like the reader to pull out of this?

Arkady: This story is less timeless than it is timeslipped; deserts are deserts, aren’t they? No matter when. Right? (Or not right: deserts are hollow spaces that can be variously filled.) I opened this story with a quote from Jabes for very specific reasons: wandering creates the desert. It is not the desert that is changeless. It is the wanderer seeing the desert that sees changelessness.

Is that a theme? If you like.

LSQ: Has Turkey or the Byzantine Empire made its way into other works of yours? Does this setting/era lend itself to speculative fiction in a way readers might not be aware of?

Arkady: So I ran an entire conference about Byzantium in SFF this past summer at Uppsala University in Sweden, because Byzantium and byzantinism is hidden all throughout speculative fiction. Byzantium is a site of familiar otherness. The thematic elements of post-Roman imperial formations and the literatures which they produced – including but not limited to decadence, the post-Roman world, the problem of defining barbarian and citizen, and the use of ‘Byzantine’ settings and symbology as codes for the foreign or exotic – are everywhere. (So are Byzantinists. I am not the only one: Harry Turtledove holds a PhD in Byzantine history as well.)

I myself use Byzantium less as a setting and more as an influence. My debut novel, with comes out in early 2019 from Tor Books, was heavily influenced by my academic work on the 1044 CE Byzantine annexation of the Bagratid Armenian city of Ani. I spent a lot of time thinking about who benefited from that annexation, and what it might be like to be a person who contributed to the devouring of one’s own homeland by a rapacious, compelling empire… and wrote a space opera, which is called A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE, that not only deals with those questions but makes explicit use of Byzantine-esque literary culture as an imperial trait.

I’ve also written what I’d call a ‘SF saint’s life’, “Contra Gravitatem”, which appeared in Lackington’s a bit ago – which again, was highly influenced by Byzantine literature, but is not at all a story about Byzantium.

LSQ: Who are some authors that are influencing your work or inspiring you at the moment?

Arkady: This is a very long list, so the short version is: Elizabeth Bear, CJ Cherryh, Raymond Chandler, William Gibson, Tana French, and Jorge Luis Borges.

I am very interested in procedurals right now. And in telling detail coupled with internality and lyricism.

LSQ: Are you working on other projects currently? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?

Arkady: Currently I have just begun the sequel to A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE, which is about incomprehensibility and impossible wars; I am also working on a couple of short stories, one on ghosts in the New York City subway, one about an AI and a semi-haunted desert house and a murder, and one about what would happen if you entered a prize drawing and won a free marriage to the Raven King.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Week of April 23, 2018

by Anna O’Brien

An LSQ original haiku:

From Earth we are told

Rain falls in spring but it stays

Dry here on moon base


Hello dear readers and happy weekend! Here at Luna Station, our sleeves are rolled up as we sling blogs and prepare for Issue 034 release June 1!!! Here’s what happened on the blog this week:

  • On Monday, Tiffany Levin gave us a unique perspective of comparing a novel to its stage modification;
  • On Tuesday, A. Francis Raymond admitted to being jealous of other writers. . . but describes how she uses it as motivation in her own writing;
  • On Wednesday, Maria DePaul put together a great history of women’s contributions to early speculative fiction journals;
  • On Thursday, KC on YA is BACK with a review of the YA book The Firefly Code;
  • On Friday, Cathrin Hagey flew into the fantastic fringe of fish in fairy tales (can never have too much alliteration) in her column “What’s in a Fairy Tale?”