I can’t find the words to tell you how unbelievably excited, honored, and humbled I am to appear in Issue #2 of Wizards in Space Literary magazine. My story “Our Lady of the Crossroads” is featured, and tells the tale of a teen witch in the ’90s who summons Hecate to deal with her Health teacher, who happens to be a demon cast out of Hell.
Like don’t get me wrong, it’s a good story, but… daaaaaaammmnnn. My piece is surrounded by some incredible, incredible goddamn work.
My personal favorite has to be “The Land of Rough Draft” by Brenna Harvey. If you are a fantasy fan of any stripe or caliber, you absolutely must read this piece. I found it breathtakingly clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and emotionally devastating simultaneously. “The Land of Rough Draft” tells the story of Ventin, the stereotypical manly-man fantasy hero, the chosen one meant to fight the evil sorcerer Elthumath and rescue the blonde and perfect princess. However, the story reads literally like a “rough draft” of a fantasy novel someone is writing as they slowly wake up to the fact that their story is full of gender and ethnic stereotypes, and tired, disheartening tropes of high fantasy. The characters and stories change as the invisible author comes to understand how to write a much better story. Here are some choice excerpts:
“Ventin had an uncertain leadership role in this army. he often made passionate motivational speeches to his men before deadly battles against unbeatable odds. But he also snuck away for a great many entertaining side adventures without a noticeable impact on the organization or discipline of his troops. Whatever his official authority level, Ventin attended a great many strategy meetings held in large, luxurious tents… he stabbed a great many expensive daggers through the yellowed maps and into the rough wooden tables to emphasize just how righteous his fury was. Where he bought the daggers, none could say”
This description of Ventin’s sidekick character, Kimbo-Limbo: “Kimbo Limbo’s description portrayed him very emphatically as a black man, in language both fetishizing and smugly self-congratulatory. Kimbo Limbo had been added to the story under the misguided assumption that any appearance of a person of color in literature is necessarily a progressive, anti-racist move.”
Ventin says at one point, “I have therefore successfully couched stereotypical, oversimplified, homogenized depictions of non-Western cultures in admiring language.”
“Which obviously absolves you of all racism,” said Kimbo Limbo.
“Obviously,” said Ventin.
My favorite character is the villain, Elthumath, who is described thusly: “As a shortcut to imply the Dark Lord’s villainy, everything about his appearance, from his intricate glam rock eye shadow to his luxuriously tailored robes, suggested gleeful and unapologetic gender nonconformity.”
I could go on and on and on. But I won’t, because YOU SHOULD READ IT! Oh my God, please just buy a copy and read it. I’ve never read anything this savagely funny that also made me so, so sad. Because I love Tolkien, but he is the biggest a-hole of them all when it comes to this stuff.
And truth be told, this piece is making me look SO HARD at my own fantasy novel in the works, Harvest of Ash. I’m writing it to be feminist, but I fear to look at my work through Harvey’s critical lens. Because fantasy needs to change, and we need stories that embrace the world we live in now, not some romantic ideal of Medieval life which clearly sucked for 90% of the population at the time.
“The Land of Rough Draft” is just ONE of so many fantastic, illustrious, and wondrous pieces in this lit mag. If you’re a fantasy/sci-fi fan, and believe in reading progressive pieces about identity and representation that really make you think, this is the lit mag for you. Buy it. Buy it! DO IT NOW!!
It will make you go: