Richard Thomas is the award-winning author of seven books—Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), Transubstantiate, Staring Into the Abyss, Herniated Roots, Tribulations, and The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books). His over 100 stories in print include Cemetery Dance, PANK, storySouth, Gargoyle, Weird Fiction Review, Midwestern Gothic, Arcadia, Qualia Nous, Chiral Mad 2 & 3, and Shivers VI. He is also the editor of four anthologies: The New Black and Exigencies (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and the Bram Stoker-nominated Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk. In his spare time he writes for LitReactor and is Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. For more information visit www.whatdoesnotkillme.com or contact Paula Munier at Talcott Notch.
As of right now, as I write this very post, we have just crossed over the $20,000 mark, which is pretty exciting. Over 300 backers, too! But what is Gamut, and how does that relate to science fiction?
Gamut means “a wide range” and what we plan to do at this new online magazine that we’re Kickstarting, is publish neo-noir, speculative fiction with a literary bent—a wide range of dark fiction. So when we talk about the tragic voices we’re going to publish it could be fantasy, science fiction, horror, crime, magical realism—all with elevated language, insight, and depth. We are looking for that sweet spot between genre and lit, between gritty realism and the surreal, between quiet horror and visceral tension. We’ll publish new fiction every week, and we’ll pay ten cents a word, too!
As far as science fiction, specifically, here are a few thoughts. I tend to be drawn to softer science fiction—I’m not a huge fan of intricate, detailed science that goes on for page and pages. The same could be said for extensive world building in fantasy, or horror tropes. The “new” in neo-noir means innovative, fresh—something different. I don’t want to publish “classic” anything.
Could you give us a few examples of what you like, Richard? Sure.
I grew up on Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, so those are some of my early influences. I’m also a big fan of Philip K. Dick, with Blade Runner being a favorite film. I also loved recent films such as Interstellar and Ex Machina. I just re-watched 2001, and wow, that is a wild story, forgot so much of that!
The first story I can really remember staying with me, as far as science fiction, is Kurt Vonnegut’s, “Harrison Bergeron.” Without spoiling it, this is a satirical, dystopian story about equality. It starts off with a couple watching television, and we quickly realize that this particular society handicaps any gifts a person may have—beauty masked, strength held down with weights, mental capacity limited by devices that rattle their thoughts. I think what appeals to me the most is the humanity behind the technology—the way the emotion spills off the page, the tragedy of the ending, and the permanence of it all.
One of my favorite recent science fiction novels is China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station. To me, this is the perfect intersection between fantasy, science fiction and horror. It also kicked off the “new weird” movement. There is science involved, but it’s never too much—fascinating evolution of rainbow caterpillars, as we follow Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, an eccentric scientist living in the city of New Crobuzon with his girlfriend Lin. The fantasy is evident in the creatures—Lin, a khepri artist—with the body of a woman, and the head of an insect. We see it in the Weaver, a spider-like creature who collects scissors, and the Slake Moths—with their iridescent wings and long tongues. And in Yagharek, an exiled and de-winged garuda—half man, half eagle. The horror is evident in the constant tension, and the threats of violence, as well as the remade—half human, half machine—battles later in the novel brutal acts of rebellion.
So I think the science fiction that appeals to me the most, is the same kind of story that appeals to me in fantasy and horror, in Southern gothic and transgressive—fiction that creates strong feelings for me, so that I care about the characters, rooting on the heroes, hating the villains, genuinely moved by the acts, the betrayals, the success, and the failure.
If we can make this Kickstarter a success, we will open the door to submissions later in 2016. Subscriptions are only $30 a year (that’s $2.50 a month) for over 400,000 words of new fiction, reprints, columns, non-fiction, poetry and more! And original illustrations for every story! We will NEVER offer this rate again, the usual rate going up to $60 a year (still only $5 a month). AND, if you subscribe now, you can retain that rate indefinitely, as long as you renew. We have other rewards too—editing packages, books from my own editing and publishing work, classes, as well as donations from Written Backwards, and daily contests giving away everything from lifetime memberships to signed copies books by Craig Clevenger and Laird Barron, to Amazon Gift Cards and dirty limericks. But as the say, “You gotta’ be in it, to win it!”
I hope you’ll be a part of Gamut. You can help to shape and mold this new online magazine. We want to be part of the speculative landscape—next to Tor, Nightmare, F&SF, Shock Totem, Interzone, Shimmer, Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed and many other publications and websites. But we need your help to make this happen.