In Anticipation…

Well 2019 is well upon us and as you may have noticed our first title is out. I am very excited to release our first collection of fully furry stories, and I hope we have done justice to the genre and the community. I grew up on Wind in the Willow and Redwall so to be able to venture into furry tales for an adult audience is a great source of personal joy. 

Of course I am just as excited about the rest of the years releases for all sorts of reasons. I thought we would give you some idea of what’s coming. 

Up very shortly we have Pseudopod Tapes 2, the second volume of Alasdair Stuart’s outro essays. If you aren’t familiar with the show you should be and you can also find Alasdair here providing our Not the Fox News. 

 

Graham Wynd has a collection of deliciousness in ‘Love is a Grift’ and Jonathan Ward’s Caleuche is also due out this year.

We have a set of three collections by Anne Michaud, the sequel to Hobgoblin’s Herald, Eater of Names by Andrew Aston and Like Wheels for Wings by Ren Warom amongst other things, including the second part of our tour of American Monsters.

We have just launched our own ebook store so you can buy direct in mobi and epub. You can get links to our books on amazon, other small presses we recommend and art over on our buy links too.

On top of an exciting set of publications we have also replaced the old newsletter with two new formats. A Foxy Bulletin for those interested in writing for us, which offers a quick break down of new releases and some of the thinking that went into our choices. We also invite you to join the Skulk and be part of our foxy family, getting your paws on exclusives!

New Release! The Jackal Who Came in From The Cold

Fox Spirit’s first foray into an entirely Furry anthology is now live! 

Tales, or tails, from behind enemy lines. Stories of daring and some downright shenanigans. You can wander through wars and stumble on adventures as our brave and sneaky spies conduct their business. This collection of furry shorts brings us a broad range of spy stories and an equally ranging look at Furry literature.

 

Cover Art by Tyler Arseneau and layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

Introduction by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
A Treacherous Thing by C. A. Yates
Survivors of the Holocene by Madison Keller
Starlight and Thorn by K. C. Shaw
The Man in the Background by Miles Reaver
Dirty Rats by Jan Siegel
The Sentinel by Will MacMillan Jones
Pay the Piper by A McLachlan
The Long Game by Neil Williamson
Agent Friendzone by Kyell Gold
Big Bird by Frances Pauli
The Off Air Affair by Huskyteer
Game of Shadows by  H. J. Pang
The Winged Fox by K. R. Green
Le Chat et la Souris by Tom Mullins

Available in print from Amazon (ignore the out of stock, it’s a quirk of Ingram and Amazon’s relationship)

Coming soon as an ebook available direct from our estore in mobi and epub, to suit most readers.

The Eligability Post

Well, with Hugo noms open, it was inevitable.

Our eligibility for 2018 titles

Novel
Starfang 2 : Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Starfang 3 : Will of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Children of Artifice by Danie Ware

Novella
Petra MacDonald and the Queen of the Fae by Shona Kinsella

Anthology 
American Monsters part 1

Short Fiction
Contents of American Monsters
Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»

The Judgement Call (7506 words) by Simon Bestwick
Along the Long Road (5500 words) by Penny Jones

Graphic Stories
Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» – American Monsters
Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» – American Monsters 

Artists 
Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh – American Monsters internal art
Daniele Serra – American Monsters cover
Neil Williams – Judgement Call/Along the long road cover
Tabatha Stirling – Petra MacDonald cover
Sarah Anne Langton – Children of Artifice cover
Rhiannon Rasmussen-SIlverstein – Starfang 2 & 3 covers

Editor (short form) 
Margrét Helgadóttir

A P.S. Our period columnist for Not the Fox News, Alasdair Stuart is eligible as fan writer and probably some other stuff, you should get on that. 😉

Are we the hoarders?

I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and I have been watching book twitter argue up a storm, helped by inflammatory comments by a newspaper blogger.

The implication has been that Marie Kondo is telling people to get rid of their books, to only keep a few and that this is monstrous. This was not my interpretation. 

Firstly though, I have not in fact read the book, I just put the show on as soothing background. I then attacked my own clothing hoard and about halved it.  I feel better for that. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff that I never expect to slim back into, largely because being size 12 is no longer an ambition. I am 41 and more concerned with my blood pressure being acceptable than my size. I put some things that I love but that are too small for me away safely, I also got rid of some stuff that honestly if i do ever fit them again I don’t expect to want to wear. It makes me happy. 

I have no intention of going through my books. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that we don’t have a room big enough for all the books to be in at the same time.  The other is that books inherently bring me joy. I don’t bring books into the house that I find upsetting or offensive and outside of those instances books are a thing of joy to me. 

Marie Kondo keeps around 30 books in her home. She does not suggest this is the right number for you. In fact what I enjoyed about the show is at no point does she tell people they have too much of a specific thing (although some of the couples bicker about that).

There were two episodes that dealt with books in a significant way to my mind.  One was a widow who obviously needed help giving herself permission to get rid of all her husbands cowboy paperbacks. There was a huge bookcase taken over by these books that were clearly just making her feel bad and she had no interest in reading them. Marie gently ‘woke’ all the books (I understand this comes from her background with Shinto). I thought that was a lovely thing and if I ever get around to reorganising all my books I will take a few moments to wake them. Why not. She then essentially gave her client the ok to get rid of all the debris of a life she was no longer living. 

The other episode Marie visited a lovely couple where both guys were writers of various sorts. Although they didn’t have nearly enough books for my taste to begin with, they were hanging on to old text books and things they weren’t really attached to any more and they let some go. One of them actually had a much harder time letting go of every piece of paper he had ever written on. 

So all in all, I think there has been a lot of excited outrage at something that hasn’t been said and may not be what is actually intended. So what does that say about us? Why would the idea of getting rid of books be so abhorrent. Lots of people get rid of books. I have been book fairy to many a village and school event and charity shop, and my home is still over run. I am pretty sure at this point there aren’t many left I don’t want, that don’t for whatever reason spark joy. It would be a huge job to accept getting rid of three more books.

The shared horror at the KonMarie suggestion of actually addressing the books we have made me wonder, what are we pushing back against? Why does book twitter care so much about what other people do with their books.

Hans, are we Hoarders?

As someone said, this is not the firemen from 451 bursting into your home to destroy the written word, it’s an elfin Japanese lady telling you very gently, through her translator, that your books should bring you joy. To be honest, that is a message I am on board with. 

Not The Fox News: The Good News In The Bad News

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Markus Schreiber/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6975532f)
SJ Clarkson Director SJ Clarkson attends a photo-call for the movie Toast at the International Film Festival Berlinale in Berlin on
Germany Berlinale, Berlin, Germany

SJ Clarkson is about to have a very good year. You don’t know their name, odds are but believe me you’ll have seen some of Clarkson’s work. She’s directed for everything from Life on Mars to The Defenders and is one of the never ending stream of excellent female directors who drive the US TV drama industry along. Clarkson’s work, most notably on the first two episodes of Jessica Jones, is known for being clean, character-centric and elegant. She’s excellent and when it was announced last year she’d be helming Star Trek 4 it was a pleasure to see her get the slot, and to see the franchise’s directorial blinkers finally be lifted It was also confidently announced that Chris Hemsworth would be returning as Kirk’s dad. Most people instantly assumed it was time for the Mirror universe but I figured time travel and some sort of Quantum Leap situation.

Regardless it’s a moot point now as Pine and Hemsworth were caught up in a contract dispute with the studio that ended with them leaving the table. Now, Clarkson has left the project to direct the pilot of the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel and serve as executive producer for the series. Star Trek 4 appears to have been indefinitely shelved as a result.

And that’s brilliant news, for basically everyone, here’s why.

Clarkson first off. I wasn’t kidding about the legions of female directors keeping US TV afloat, there are dozens of them and they’re all brilliant and underappreciated and underpaid. Sandra Oh’s gag at the Golden Globes this year about ‘FIRST MAN!’ being the default choice for directors and a movie about Neil Armstrong is funny, and sad, because its true. So any time someone makes it over the fence, as Clarkson has done here, I’m delighted. GoT: 90210  or whatever the Hell it’s going to be called is the definition of a prestige gig and there must be a ton of confidence in her for her to be put in place. Deservedly so too.

Then there’s Game of Thrones itself. The world’s angriest Ren Fair is the largest TV show on the planet by a considerable margin and, now it has finally overtaken the books, has been having visibly more fun season by season. However, it’s also got a justifiably shitty reputation for how it deals with female staff. And characters for that matter. This is a great breakdown of the show’s massive fondness for ladymurder season by season but weirdly the horrific statistic isn’t the big number, it’s the small one. In the entirety of its run the show has had 3 women on the writing and directing staff.

3.

In 73 episodes.

With none either writing or directing for the final season.

On its own, that’s a hilariously shitty metric. Placed against the show’s cheerful willingness to use rape the way some people use punctuation marks, it’s disgusting. The largest show on Earth has employed three whole entire women in its biggest roles. That’s an unforgivable failure, if absolutely nothing else, of leading by example. But it does give you a starting position to row back from and, seven YEARS LATE, that’s exactly what the production office is starting to do by hiring Clarkson.

(As an aside, Mo Ryan should be your go to for this sort of thing on Twitter. One of the best entertainment journalists on the planet.)

But what of Star Trek? Well, it’s good news for that too.

The Kelvinverse movies get a lot of hate and the vast majority of it is undeserved. The original Star Trek is great, everything in Into Darkness that isn’t Khan being whitewashed is fun and Beyond is a legitimate love letter to the franchise. In fact, Beyond is a perfect capstone for these movies for all sorts of reasons. Also THIS IS STILL THE BEST THING. It gives Kirk the test he’s always needed and ties the present of this universe to the past it shares with the core timeline. It also sets up an ending that’s elegant, could absolutely stand a sequel or two but is in no way incomplete without them. And can stand toe to toe with the ending of The Undiscovered Country and The Voyage Home, where they get the 1701-A and the music swells and I become a human avatar of ugly crying.

But most importantly, bringing the Kelvinverse into land here salutes the cast members who are no longer with us. Don’t get me wrong, part of me would love to see a fourth movie with Jaylah sitting next to Sulu. But the rest of me is quite happy with that role being filled by Anton Yelchin’s instantly likable take on Chekov, off-screen and quietly, enthusiastically immortal.

Besides, Trek’s far more at home on bookshelves and the small screen now.  The astonishing work consistently being done by novelists like James Swallow and Doctor Una McCorrmack has continued to expand the core timeline. Meanwhile, the launch of Discovery last year, the imminent second season as well as the new Picard show and recently announced pair of animated series all speak to a new found dedication to Trek on TV.

Tellingly, the existence of The Orville does the same thing.  While the show is still very Seth MacFarlane’s bad days on its bad days, the rest of it is a fascinating look at established Trek tropes through new lenses. It is to Star Trek what Scrubs is to ER, a profoundly affectionate and respectful riff playing all the right notes, just in a different order. That’s why the the people who cite it as the ‘true Star Trek’ because it doesn’t let politics get in the way mystify me so much. Not just because they’ve presumably never seen Star Trek before but perhapsnot The Orville either. Social issues are at the core of both of them. It’s just sometimes on The Orville, there’s a punchline as well. Regardless, it’s existence and success speaks to the strength of Star Trek as a small screen concept, whether it’s branded as Star Trek or not.

So like I say, this is one of those rare occasions where a project falling through is good news. Clarkson has a great new job, Game of Thrones gets to take the NO GURLS ALOUD notice off the front door of the production office and the Kelvinverse gets the ending it deserves. Plus Trek as a concept gets to grow in new ways. Seek out new life and new civilizations. Perhaps even, boldly go?

Seriously though this is great news all round. Congratulations everyone. Now, who’s working on that Chief Miles O’Brien show? Take your time, I’ll wait. And turn up the beats and the shouting, yeah?

 

When Alasdair Stuart is not hosting PseudoPod and Escape Pod, or running Escape Artists Inc., he’s professionally enthusiastic about genre fiction on the Internet at places like Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, The Guardian, Uncanny Magazine, SciFi Now and MyMBuzz. He’s an ENie-nominated tabletop RPG writer for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. His other RPG writing includes Star Trek, The Laundry Files, Primeval, Victoriana, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, N.E.W. and Chill, meaning he’s got a playbook for any variety of invasion you can name.  He also makes ketchup sometimes and can bake the HELL out of focaccia. Read about his ongoing culinary adventures, as well as a whole lot of pop culture enthusiasm in his weekly newsletter, The Full Lid, published every Friday around 5pm.

He lives in the UK with the love of his life and their ever expanding herd of microphones. Follow him on Twitter as @AlasdairStuart, or at his blog, The Man of Words.

Monster Blog – by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

SOUTHERN MONSTERS

by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

About fifteen years ago, a group of paleontologists made a discovery (just one of many that often take place in Argentine territory) that caught my attention. It was the fossil of a mosasaur, a marine animal that lived on this planet seventy million years ago. The name that the Argentine paleontologists gave to that fossil and the place where they’d found it really impressed me.

It is common that the denomination of a dinosaur or other prehistoric animal is based on the name of the region where it was discovered or after its discoverer. However, this mosasaur, this particular species, received a different name: Lakumasaurus antarcticus.

Yes, the specimen had been discovered in the southernmost place on Earth and bore the name of a mythological animal.

I loved the idea of a dinosaur with the name of a mythical spirit belonging to the Yámana culture, the original inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and a large number of islands that mark the end of the American continent. “The end of the world”, as Jules Verne called that region … except for Antarctica.

That animal had lived on a very different Earth. What today is composed entirely of perennial ice at that time was a tropical, fertile and warm land. A landscape gone millions of years ago that could well have been another world.

When I was still studying astrophysics (later I decided to change my career and got my PhD in philosophy), I used to spend many hours at the Museum of Natural Sciences of La Plata (which is inside the campus). And every day I used to admire the replicas of the prehistoric animals that had lived on a planet very different from mine and, even so, the same one.

When I heard the news of the discovery of Lakumasaurus antarcticus I was already studying philosophy, in Buenos Aires. I could not help but to join the memories of my hours with those ancestral and gigantic bones with the myths that I was investigating at the time for my thesis. Yámana myths among many others. And the myth of Lakuma, the Spirit of the Waters, especially.

I felt that many things in my life were being reconnected by de magic of a very distant creature and place.

When, a few months ago, I was asked to write a story about a South American monster, I had no doubt about what it would be. It would have been impossible to speak of another monster that was not Lakuma: a “monster” that, at the same time, is mythical and scientific (indirectly, of course). And a monster that, far from being “terrible” to me, is deeply evocative.

After years of studying astrophysics and visiting the dinosaur room of the museum, after a PhD in philosophy and research, one day I decided to dedicate myself completely to my passion: writing. It seemed that I had always been jumping from one island of reality to another, just as the Yámanas had lived moving from one south island to another in search of food and dreams.

As a writer, Lakuma became a symbol of my life, of what it was and what it is, of worlds as different as the Cretaceous Earth and the Earth of the present … or as Mars, Jupiter or the space between asteroids. A symbol of the possibility of living completely different experiences and, from a certain point of view, all of them “in solidarity” with each other.

Thus my story was born, one that unites very different times, that interweaves mythical and factual realities, and that ultimately seeks to portray the importance of dreaming and creating “better worlds” (as the writer or the artist does) in the midst of a society that constantly attacks human dignity (a society that often considers its members an statistic).

There was a time when there were not in the South Pole, as there are today, miles and miles of ice as vast and deep as the geological abysses. A time where those lands exuded a green and exuberant vegetation. Days in which immense fusiform reptiles dominated the life and death of its warm seas, as if they were the spirit of its waters.

For millions of years, day after day, this was so. And if there had been humans at that time, they would never have hesitated to consider those landscapes and that life as “inevitable” or “eternal”. But now we know that was not the case.

Probably (hopefully) there will be a future in which humans will populate the Solar System and beyond as if we had always belonged to space. And surely there will also be those who will think of that reality as something “eternal” and “immutable”.

If science fiction is the literary form that announces change (all change), it is also the literary form par excellence that announces the possibility of the different, of the other. The non-immutability.

In our human history, monsters have always been “the Others”, the different ones, those who do not conform, those who demand to be respected for who they are.

Science fiction talks about monsters to be able to talk about the different in a symbolic way and show the need for that difference. The beauty of the monster.

Society loves the status quo, of course, but life shouts with all its strength that change is not only necessary but inevitable. The “monsters” exist, but they are not what people should fear.

We are all monsters as we seek our originality and we separate ourselves from “the establishment”.

Lakuma is my monster, the symbol of what adapts to the sway of the times (just like its body adapts to the waves of the sea), but also of what is capable of anchoring itself to the ideals of a better world (ideals dreamed and put into practice, like those of the Yámana shamans).

And what are those dreams that give me roots but also wings? Those that imply that everything can and should change, but that it is necessary to work so that this change is for the better. Those of a world in which we see the end of inequality between genders, the freedom to be what we are and want to be (and yes, I speak of the right to be LGBTIQ +), and where there is a true human brotherhood (beyond of cultures, socioeconomical differences, skin colors, countries of origin, capacities, etc.).

The Lakumasaurus antarcticus teaches us that nothing is permanent. That the kings of the sea, like the retrograde and inhuman ideas that are dominant in an era, must evolve or perish within the framework of the long marathon of time.

Lakuma, the mythological being of a vanished people, teaches us that the best of a human group, the noblest of what the human being can be, remains beyond themselves in those ideas that prove to be “monsters” before the dead and cold eyes of ossified prejudices.

In my case, these monsters allowed me to see myself (accepting myself as the “good monster” I want to be, without the fear of being different), and to think, to dream and to create worlds where the landscape is wide enough to shelter each and every one of the people (wonderfully different from each other, as we are all) who want to read my stories.

Monster Blog – Gustavo Bondoni

The Story Behind My Choice of Gualicho

A quick google search will inform anyone interested that a Gualicho (or Gualichu) is a spirit from the mythology of the original people of Patagonia.  It’s the kind of evil spirit that every mythology has, and was often used to explain away every misfortune that befell the tribe. 

Now, I’ll be honest: I knew very little about the Mapuche people—the native population of parts of Patagonia—until very recently.  Argentina is a mainly European country and native populations represent a tiny percentage of the overall population.  The history and traditions of the original inhabitants of the country are only superficially studied in school.  When one encounters a person of evident native ethnicity, most assume that they are more recent immigrants from Bolivia or Paraguay.

These attitudes are the result of initial wars of conquest followed by a few centuries of assimilation—unlike in other areas, the original sparse native populations succumbed mainly to intermarriage with the much more numerous Europeans.

 Nevertheless, I’ve heard the word “gualicho” countless times in everyday conversation.  It has lost its original meaning to become synonymous of any kind of magic spell cast by a witch or shaman.

But it survived.

Somewhere in the wars of subjugation of a people who were far from most centers of commerce and population, one concept burned so strongly that not only was it understood by the conquerors, but it survived and entered the dominant Spanish language to live on in the vernacular.

Two hundred years later, an Argentine writer of mainly Italian ancestry (only a quarter of my forebears were from Spain) sat down to choose a traditional monster from South America. 

My research identified dozens of candidates, from legendary monsters to native gods and from spirits only a handful of indigenous people ever believed in to entities that frightened the superstitious colonists hundreds of years later.

The process ended as soon as I found the Gualicho.  I became fascinated with the fact that a word could morph and survive one of history’s truly definitive wars of annihilation.  It must have had some powerful mojo.

As a term that reaches us through an essentially oral evolution, the etymology is pretty confused, but in my imagination, I can see the Mapuches repeating it again and again every time they came into contact with those Europeans who, through firearms or disease, had become so intimately connected to the unimaginable evil befalling their people.

There was nothing else you could call them, was there?  Those pale-faced interlopers must have seemed to be perfect stand-ins for the evil spirit that haunted their people.

It must have been a powerful spirit indeed, powerful enough to find a way to survive.  But surely a spirit strong enough to be familiar to someone unconnected to the history of the region two hundred years after the people whose legends it had sprung from were gone would find a way to abide, to plan for the time when it could vanquish not only its original victims but also the new interlopers…

But who would it fight?  Would it attempt to ally itself with the Mapuche against the new enemy?  Would it continue to torment the Mapuche’s descendants? 

The answer, once I understood the spirit, was obvious.  This thing would fight agains everyone.

But how?

Well, to get that answer, you’ll have to read the story.

American Monsters – Christopher Kastensmidt

The Many Faces of Kalobo

Hello all! I’m Christopher Kastensmidt, author of The Elephant and Macaw Banner series and “A Parlous Battle”, a story in that series published in American Monsters.

The Kalobo (or “Capelobo”, as it’s known in Brazil) is a relatively unknown legend in Brazil. Dozens of people have told me over the years that they’d never heard of it before the Brazilian publication of “A Parlous Battle” way back in 2011. In fact, if you Google images with “Capelobo”, the most popular images of the creature are those related to my series. I’d like to share a few of those here.

Since it was one of the first creatures that appeared in the stories, it was also one of my first art commissions. Brazilian artist Paulo Ítalo produced two drawings of the creature for me. I worked very closely with him on these and they are the closest to my own personal concept of the creature:

After that, I allowed other artists liberty to create their own interpretations, without any interference from me. U.S. artist Jay Beard created two very different pieces inspired by the creature:

When Czech magazine Pevnost published the story, the artist Jan Štěpánek drew this amazing illustration:

Finally, one of the most well-known illustrations is this gorgeous painting by SulaMoon:

Many thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir for the chance to introduce this creature to readers around the world in the American Monsters anthology. For those looking for more stories from The Elephant and Macaw Banner, the complete series is now available in one volume from Guardbridge Books.

American Monsters – Mariela Pappas

The duality of human nature is one of my favourite topics to write about, that’s why when I was invited to be a part of American Monsters, I immediately though about the lobisón; the Guaraní myth of the seventh male son becoming a wolf when the moon is full.

The word werewolf is often associated with fur, claws and fangs. Monsters howling at the moon. But besides all the horror movies clichés, the myth itself speaks about something else; the horrifying idea that someone you’ve met could turn into someone (or something!) completely different in just a split second. The fear that rationality can evaporate and unleash that inner, wild part of ourselves that we try so hard to control. No matter how civilised, rational and well-adjusted a modern man can be, he is still at the mercy of the moon phases. At the mercy of his own hidden nature.

But who benefits with supressing that wild part of the human soul? Despite some concessions must be made in order to coexist with others in a healthy society, institutions like the Catholic Church have gone too far in what repression concerns.

In my short story The Eyes of a Wolf, an orphan named Estanislao is forcefully adopted by a priest in a middle-of-nowhere town in Entre Rios, Argentina. Even though the boy is doomed to become a werewolf, the priest tries to raise him a good catholic. Just like the Church tries to bury that dark part of ourselves where there is lust and desire. But at the same time, the priest fails to bury his own shameful desires for the boy.

And when another young man named Tobias arrives town and Estanislao falls in love with him, there is simply no way to keep that wild, shadow side of him restrained. Tobias, like the full moon in the werewolf myth, is the trigger for Estanislao to reveal his true nature. Just like in the cheap horror movies I love so much the wolf transformation scene carries broken bones, growing fur and painful changes, confronting your own true self involves pain. And exposing that true self can be even more painful, even dangerous in a society that is becoming more and more conservative and fearful of everything that exceeds the norm. In Estanislao’s case, he has love waiting for him on the other side. The love that accepts us for who we truly are, and knows nothing about race, class or gender.

In times like these, when the Church aligns with the right-wing governments in an alarming manner (especially in Latin America) and true horrors like racism, misogyny and hate crimes against LGBT people flood the news, maybe we should look deeper into our inner wolf. Love and nurture ourselves during our painful transformations, and break free from what is keeping us bound, tamed, afraid. Find in the strength and the passion of our beasts, the freedom to be ourselves. And the courage to fight for that freedom before is taken away from us.

Not The Fox News: Turn The Page, Do The Thing

Good news everyone! I’m reliably informed by people in other time zones that 2018 does in fact end! Seriously, folks, the 1st of January 2019 has been confirmed as happening in several other places. It’s okay. It’s okay. This miserable hellscape of a year is about to be gone and the slate is wiped clean, the clock reset to zero.

I want to talk about that and why sometimes it can be frightening.

Like Ford once said, time is an illusion, lunch time doubly so. The end of a year is an entirely arbitrary temporal hinge, a left turn in our passage through linear time that it’s super easy to put a whole lot of unneeded pressure on. It’s why most fitness related new year’s resolutions don’t work, because when it comes down to it it’s only the top of the year for a little bit of time. 2019 only has that New Time smell for so long.

That can put extraordinary pressure on you, and by you, I mean us. But the thing I’m realizing this year is that pressure can be exerted two different ways. If you had a great 2018 part of you may be terrified that 2019 will be worse. If you had a terrible 2018 part of you will be terrified that 2019 will be worse. The House always wins. And the House is a Bastard.

We put ourselves under strain at this time of year even before you take into account the radical life reboots that are already rippling around the globe. Going from late nights back to early mornings if you’ve had time off, the sudden gaping hole in your day where the Quality Street used to be, the total absence of any version of A Christmas Carol. It’s always a little frightening to deal with, you always find yourself shrugging the coat of responsibility back on and wondering if it always had the mittens tied to the cuffs.

(it did. And they look awesome.)

And then you decide to run three times a week, finish a novel, write a novella and plan something else.

Here’s the thing. Do that. But add something else in too.

Downtime.

My partner and I have, between us, somewhere in the region of four jobs. She’s a lawyer, we run the podcasting company together, I’m an RPG designer and journalist, she’s an editor. We fight crime. And it really is, I am a blessed man who will go to his grave astounded at what his life is in the very best of ways.

But the one thing we absolutely stink at is downtime. And today we did something about that. Two nights off a week, one full day of weekend when we aren’t working. I promise you we will break those restrictions but I also promise we won’t do it every time. Because you need downtime and if you don’t take it, your body will take it for you. And I say this at the tail end of my second cold in three weeks, so believe me, I know whereof I hack up phlegm.

The New Year attracts us because it’s a new start. The New Year frightens us because it’s a blank page and the responsibility of what to put on there can bend you in two. Don’t let it. Or at least don’t let it for long. This is a new start. It’s one that’s unique to you and owned by everyone. It’s one arriving at the end of two of the darkest years in recent memory and with more, odds are, on the way. But that isn’t going to stop you and it’s not going to stop me either.

Write the words. Do the thing. Show it to others. Share your joy. Like the lady said, let’s get a shift on. Tomorrow is a new start and tomorrow’s on the way. I’ll see you in there.

 

When Alasdair Stuart is not hosting PseudoPod and Escape Pod, or running Escape Artists Inc., he’s professionally enthusiastic about genre fiction on the Internet at places like Tor.com, Barnes & Noble, The Guardian, Uncanny Magazine, SciFi Now and MyMBuzz. He’s an ENie-nominated tabletop RPG writer for his work on Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space. His other RPG writing includes Star Trek, The Laundry Files, Primeval, Victoriana, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, N.E.W. and Chill, meaning he’s got a playbook for any variety of invasion you can name.  He also makes ketchup sometimes and can bake the HELL out of focaccia. Read about his ongoing culinary adventures, as well as a whole lot of pop culture enthusiasm in his weekly newsletter, The Full Lid, published every Friday around 5pm.

He lives in the UK with the love of his life and their ever expanding herd of microphones. Follow him on Twitter as @AlasdairStuart, or at his blog, The Man of Words.