At NiTH, were always keen to explore new genres. For example, we were the first website to put together a Climate Fiction Short Story List, a page that is ranked top in Google’s search rankings, and includes some great authors, including the soon-to-be-published-by-Soho-Press Clarissa Goenawan
Walking a Plank and a Tightrope
Flintlock Fantasy is an emerging genre that has us curiously interested. Not quite Steampunk, Flintlock has a more saltwater feel. Less eye goggles, more beer googles. Victorian airs traded in for a cutlass and a trusty bo’son.
In any genre that plays with colonial historicity, there’s a fine line of sensitivity to be walked. Genre fiction often relies on archetypes to immerse readers into the world and its characters, but when these archetypes become stereotypes we risk alienating our audience instead of illuminating, or entertaining.
To the outsider fiction can be a tricksy thing. We take liberties with reality to tell stories in heightened realities that speak to universal experiences. At the same time, it’s impossible to please everyone. Detractors often relish in being the loudest voices, drowning out more considered approaches in the economy of outrage.
It’s important that as readers and writers of fiction we stand up for artistic creators and their rights. Not just to create great art but to make mistakes, fail, and even the right to make something we don’t like. If we try to silence the fiction writers, we also silence the idea that people can tell fact from fiction, and replace fact with dogamtism.
With new genres come new writers. Two in fact on the Flintlock & Folly Award. Both seem almost born to the genre. Ryan D Mills is building a deck of cards with Suit of Batons, his follow up to Suit of Cups. He’s also out great effort into the artwork for each piece.
I don’t enjoy keeping secrets from Suryatta. But here’s one for the list.
A dark one: that Don Gato is a friend of my father’s.
But on this island, away from the shipping lanes, I’ve lit a candle.
The little flame represents a pact between myself and the Lady of Shadows. The Skeleton Bride, protector of ocean traffickers.
When I read Ryan’s story I am reminded my my grandfather teaching me Briscola, of the artfully crafted images in a deck of Italian playing cards.
Meanwhile Jessica Seymour continues with the piratical aeronautics of The Argonauta’s Prey. Set high in the clouds among an immortal host, these swashbucklers are far from angels, dealing in dry, sardonic banter.
“Rusty barkin’ newfangled nonsense,” Legs said. “If it ain’t broke why fix it? That’s what I wanna know.”
“You’re right, Legs,” Dimble-Damble said. He’s still trying to make up for the dead parrot incident. Pike thinks he should have apologised weeks ago but he had let the opportunity pass and now there was no salvaging it. Legs was known for her temper and stubbornly holding grudges – and dead’uns know grudges. It’s how they got so good at hauntin’.
Lydia Trethewey missed out again this week, but Daniel Norrish is finding his groove with the serial awards, with three stories currently on the go. The Blood & Discovery Series is his effort for Flintlocks & Folly.
Taibald studies the woman and sees that every hair on her naked flesh is the exact same colour as the strings with which this building is constructed. He’s standing in a house made entirely of this woman’s own body.
He steps away from the odd person and says, “My name is Taibald and I was shipwrecked.”
“Well tell the whole story, I’ve time to listen.”
In a three horse race there’s a such a fine line between first and third. We welcomed a new judge to the fold (Thanks, Aaron) and saw a blast return with all cannons blazing (Thanks, Vannessa), and together with our regular judges we ended up with a tally that saw first place taken by no more that 0.8 of a point. In the end though, it made all the difference.
Congratulations to Jessica Seymour! The Argonauta’s Prey is shaping up to be a real classic!
With two different winners And one more act to go, the field is wide open for the Flintlocks & Folly Serial Award. We’ll have the new award up shortly, in the meantime, enjoy the new short list for Part 8 of the To The Nines Award.