obvious politics in fiction

[A few words from Andrew M. Reichart about a recent installment of the serial novel Insurgent Otherworld, co-written by him and Nick Walker.]

One of my fears as a writer is being seen as didactic. A lot of my characters spout political opinions, and I fear they’re taken as just Mary Sue mouthpieces for my own views. In reality, though, I can critique any political statement by any character of mine threefold, if not tenfold.

So here we have an open letter from some sort of witch-coven basically “cosigning” a previous open letter by a terrorist / freedom-fighter. Is this just the author (me) doubling-down on the mouthpiece action? Nah, opposite. My dream is for the careful reader to ask questions like:

What’s the social position of this speaker relative to the previous speaker? How does that affect the implications of them chiming in like this?

What are their shared interests? Are there points of intrinsic conflict, regardless of whatever promises or pretenses they may be entertaining? What’s the on-the-ground relationship between them?

Is this an example of a genuine comrade rallying their followers towards a shared cause? Or are they trying to ingratiate themselves, generate social capital through association, and/or even co-opt the initial speaker’s work?

Is this speaker going to do any actual work to support the first speaker’s cause, beyond this solidarity statement? Even if so, how are they going to direct their efforts such they can be sure they’re helping and not unwittingly hindering?

Of course these are the sorts of questions I’d hope anyone would ask regarding any political statement from anyone….

review of The Secret of Ventriloquism by Jon Padgett

I had the perhaps unusual experience of having heard several interviews with the author before listening to this book. This gave quite a bit of context that richly enhanced my enjoyment, without (as it turned out) any spoilers (except for, y’know, that one time where the guy finds that thing in that place). I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, it just happened to work out nicely.

So, having already listened to his voice for hours, already accustomed to him telling his own tales, I was psyched to learn that he performed this audiobook. He’s frickin’ great. Oddly enough, this background didn’t prepare me for the exquisiteness of his writing. I found him so engaging in those interviews, I didn’t really think about the text itself.

Hypnotic, evocative prose plays out an alienated vantage, transporting us sideways into an uncanny world almost exactly like ours. But askew. Unsettling and beautiful. From things as mundane as air pollution, self-help, and ventriloquism technique, these tales unfold with elegant gradualness into revelations of something cosmically horrific.

If the world unfolds as I hope, someday I’ll see a production of the creepy one-act play in this collection. (If you’re a theater person looking for sinister material, the piece in question might just make yer head spin….)

I love this book.


buy it here I guess

great interview, part 1 of 2

great interview, part 2 of 2

another interview

audio excerpt


My Question on the Outer Dark

by Andrew M. Reichart

The Outer Dark podcast recorded an episode At NecronomiCon 2017 in front of a live audience. They had a brief Q&A, and I got to ask a question.

When speaking in public, I tend to cut myself off too quickly. I really don’t want to be That Guy who rambles on and on. But I sometimes rein it in to the point of selling myself short.

So, not wanting to do that here, I made a conscious effort to err in the opposite direction, and just let myself say my piece. Which I did. Err, that is. In my defense, this is partly because I was trying to get at the heart of a somewhat nuanced question, and even so I barely scratched the surface. But yeah, here I am being pretty much That Guy for a few minutes.

Still, in those minutes (yes, unfortunately, ‘minutes’ plural), I am getting at some stuff worth exploring. So, here’s the question more or less as I asked it, edited a bit for brevity but not so much for clarity. In one or more future posts, I’ll elaborate on certain points I introduce here.

I’m interested in how political ideas are expressed in fiction in ways that are not didactic or obvious. I think that Lovecraft’s kind of an interesting example of this, because sometimes he’s really obvious, where he’s saying explicitly racist stuff. But there are other times where the cosmic vision that he’s presenting – if you’re not reading critically, you can miss the fact that these incursions from beyond are a metaphor for immigration of people that he regards as subhuman, and that sort of thing. So I found myself very interested in subverting that, and in my own early writing, there’s a very direct, “Ok, well, if that’s the case, and I believe the opposite, therefore his monsters are the good guys? What does that look like, and how can we sort of like explore that kind of idea?”

But if we still use certain tropes – tentacles coming from beyond – don’t we just recapitulate hatred of the Other? Or does it? And how can we cultivate a sort of embrace of the Other?

Y’all mentioned “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” I think that’s a really interesting example, because obviously he’s got this fascination as well as revulsion. And I get to the end of that story and I’m like, “Yeah, fuck yeah, I wanna live forever under the sea too, that’s awesome.” And given the basically unreliable narrator, unreliable author here, like, what is Innsmouth really like? He makes it seem creepy, but I don’t trust his judgment about anything, it coulda been some sorta anarchist utopia, I dunno.

So anyway, I’m interested in how folks have put political sentiment in ways that aren’t obvious or didactic, and aren’t unwittingly repeating awful stuff that we actually don’t wanna be reproducing.

Here’s the episode, which is worth listening to. If you must listen to the unedited rambling version of my question, it starts at 1:15:14.

Andrew's NecronomiCon pack: 4 days, 2 climates, & 99 chapbooks
Lived out of this for four days on my NecronomiCon journey. Between the redeye to Logan and switching hotels each night, I had everything with me almost continually. On a mission.

NecronomiCon Providence 2017

swag from NecronomiCon Providence 2017
swag from NecronomiCon Providence 2017

Report back by Andrew M. Reichart

Had a great time at NecronomiCon in Providence, Rhode Island, August 17-20. I was on the fence about flying across the country for this, but I won a contest for a free pass on The Outer Dark podcast, and that tipped the scales. Thanks, The Outer Dark podcast! All weekend I had compelling conversations about literature, publishing, art, and politics, and saw great panel discussions (and regretfully missed many more) about Ligotti, Aickman, small press publishing, editing anthologies, the trajectory of weird fiction… plus recordings of The aforementioned Outer Dark podcast, where I maybe might’ve posed one of those rambling questions-from-the-audience, and the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, where I wanted to do so but couldn’t manage it ‘cause I’d just stumbled in off a redeye.

I lived out of a canvas knapsack the entire four days and nights, including clothes for two different climates and 99 chapbooks I brought to distribute. Through supreme force of will I managed to rein in how much stuff I picked up, pacing incoming swag to match the outgoing zines, ultimately carrying out exactly the same weight as I arrived with. (I have just a few copies left of that limited edition, by the way.)

Things I couldn’t resist picking up included the swag pictured above, such as: a grip of of Mike Bukowski‘s super-limited-edition Illustro Obscurum zines-I-thought-I’d-never-see… the new Dim Shores anthology Looming Low, not pictured ’cause it’s on my nightstand, though there’s a print of the cover next to…: a print of the Alert by Jason C. Eckhardt (which appears in Leslie S. Klinger’s The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft… and Fufu Frauenwahl’s wacky zombie-themed “memory” variant, Zombory (with some really clever advanced rules, actually). Worth mentioning that I was only able to resist Nick Gucker’s amazing “The Cats of Ulthar” print thanks to (a) his assurance that he’d have plenty for mail order and (b) dread of it getting destroyed in my aforementioned bag.

The main thing drawing me to this event was my sense of the level of discourse I’d find there. I hoped to encounter interesting discussions of weird literature and art (and perhaps a bit of political analysis), and hear some good practical advice for writers & publishers. The event sure did not disappoint. Weeks later I’m still riding high on these panel discussions, hallway conversations, and pub rants.

(By the way, speaking of politics, I have to mention that this event really won me over by making Nnedi Okorafor a guest of honor. Here’s her blog post from 2011, which afaik catalyzed the final push to redesign the World Fantasy Award: http://nnedi.blogspot.com/2011/12/lovecrafts-racism-world-fantasy-award.html…. I remember reading this post when it came out, on my phone, at the Occupy Oakland encampment, and finding it hella righteous lol.)

Finally, I must offer my deepest gratitude to Skeleton Camera for his friendship & for the finest conversations of the weekend, including introductions to an inimitable four: the aforementioned Frauenwahl; Brandon (who inspired me to finally get on instagram and, oh yeah, start drawing again); and Greg & Max of (among other things) Feral, my new favorite north american black metal band.

Really inspired. Looking forward to 2019.

Andrew's NecronomiCon pack: 4 days, 2 climates, & 99 chapbooks
Andrew’s NecronomiCon pack: 4 days, 2 climates, & 99 chapbooks

Weird Luck Patreon


The WEIRD LUCK webcomic, co-written by Andrew M. Reichart and Nick Walker and drawn by Mike Bennewitz, will launch sometime this Spring. But the webcomic is just one part of the Weird Luck saga, a web of closely interconnected stories that Andrew and Nick have been working on for some time, and aim to continue working on for a long time to come.

We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Weird Luck Patreon, which will help to fund the webcomic and which is the platform through which Andrew and Nick will be serializing their epistolary novel-in-progress, INSURGENT OTHERWORLD, which starts out as a prequel to the webcomic (and sequel to Andrew’s Argawarga Press CITY OF THE WATCHER trilogy, sort of) and will remain closely connected with the storyline of the webcomic.

Become a Weird Luck Patreon subscriber and support the ongoing creation of the Weird Luck saga (and get to read the latest pieces of the saga as they’re created). There’s one free public post up on the Weird Luck Patreon already, in which Nick explains the basics of what the Weird Luck saga is about. Next week they start posting the first weekly installments of Insurgent Otherworld, which will be accessible to anyone subscribing at $3 per month.

And in March, Andrew’s short story “Monsters” and Nick’s novelette “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez” will appear in the Autonomous Press anthology Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber. Both stories are part of the Weird Luck saga – “Monsters” is an immediate prequel to Insurgent Otherworld and takes place in the same city as the webcomic, and “Bianca and the Wu-Hernandez” takes place 28 years before the webcomic and provides backstory on two of the webcomic’s central characters.



Weird Luck webcomic soundtrack

Tyger in Feral CityThe Weird Luck webcomic is brewing, and we’ll start publishing it later this year. To keep you warm meanwhile, the comic’s creators have put together a soundtrack of songs that have inspired the comic. This rollercoaster ride of different styles and genres will give you some sense of wildness and weirdness awaiting you in the pages of the comic.

And if you’re curious who picked which songs…:

Mike Bennewitz
Secret Chiefs 3, “Nova Ihvh”
Vhöl, “The Desolate Damned”
Judas Priest, “Riding on the Wind”
Secret Chiefs 3, “Resurrection Day Soundtrack”
Black Fast, “I Conspire”
Vhöl, “Deeper Than Sky”
Hammers of Misfortune, “The Day the City Died”

Nick Walker
Wings, “Live and Let Die”
Blue Öyster Cult, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”
Steely Dan, “Sign In Stranger”
Tuxedomoon, “Incubus (Blue Suit)”
Regina Spektor, “You’ve Got Time”
David Bowie, “The Man Who Sold the World”

Andrew M. Reichart
The Coup, “Fat Cats and Bigga Fish”
Bambu de Pistola, “ACAB”
Alix Perez, “Villains 1 x Heros 0” ft. They Call Me Raptor
The Death Set, “They Come to Get Us”
Tuxedomoon, “Volo Vivace”
Coil, “The First Five Minutes After Death”

Holy Calamity (part nine)

table of contents

(excerpted from Weird Luck, book one in the City of the Watcher trilogy)


…Aleck felt a tugging at his foot; glancing down, he saw his shoelace had wound itself in the gears. He braked hard, skidded, and fell over painfully. He disentangled himself from the bike as he rose, kicked off his shoe, and limped up to the wrecked ship. Broken Herax bodies lay strewn across the cobblestones.

Minister Apraxos floated in the air directly above the wreck, his robes flowing.

“Ah, it’s our Earth-boy!” said Apraxos.

“Cannibal-King!” shouted Aleck. The man and woman glanced back at Aleck, the man keeping his rifle trained on Apraxos.

“I’m busy,” said the Cannibal-King.

“I need to talk to you!” said Aleck.

“Looks like you have the same dog we do,” said the freckled, red-haired white woman with the face of the Nymph, pointing at Akaz with her chin.

“People are murdering each other in there,” said Aleck, pointing at the Circus. “Your revolution is going genocidal!”

“Our dog’s inside him right now,” said the woman, gesturing towards the Cannibal-King. “Want to meet him?”

“Uh, don’t do that,” said Akaz, backing away.

A wolf’s jaws burst forth from the Cannibal-King’s mouth, and snarled, “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Oh, shit,” said Akaz. “What are you doing here?”

“You aren’t supposed to be here yet!” snapped the Cannibal-King’s wolf-jaws. “Get out of here!”

With the Cannibal-King momentarily distracted, Apraxos flew away towards the Herax Zone, robes flapping. The woman fired after him with her pistol. The Cannibal-King’s wolf-jaws retracted. He aimed his rifle, lowered it.

“Oh no,” said Akaz, “goddamn it, go get him!”

“You have to stop those maniacs in the Circus!” Aleck shouted at the Cannibal-King. “They’re eating people!”

“What?” said the Cannibal-King.

“Yeah,” said Aleck, “you’re the Cannibal-King, aren’t you? What do you expect?”

“Fuck!” shouted the Cannibal-King. “I made every goddamn one of them vow not to do that!”

Old Aleck and Beth rode up, both unsteadily perched on her bicycle. “Aleck,” said Beth, “come on. This is much too risky.”

“No no no,” said Akaz, backing further away. “This is bad! Get the hell out of here, you idiots, now!”

“Freeze!” blasted an electronically amplified voice. “Reality Patrol!” A dozen soldiers in black riot armor appeared in a circle around them. Most of the squad pointed silvery rifles; some consulted instruments.

“Two temporal recursions,” said one of the technicians. “One foreign; one local.”

“Two entirely foreign parallel recursions,” said another technician, “with a local-slash-mixed trine parallel — correction, that’s quincunx — hold on, I’m registering an error….”

“I’m registering an error as well,” said a third technician. “It’s off my scale; filtering for ECSS…. Oh my God! They all have Weird Luck!”

“Hold your fire!” blasted the amplified voice. Then, a burst of static, and “—fire!”

A beam of light flashed into Old Aleck’s chest. He fell backwards, knocking down Beth and the bicycle. A wisp of smoke rose from his robe. “Aleck!” screamed Beth.

“Train Wreck!” shouted Akaz, flattening himself to the street with his paws over his head.

Doors and windows up and down the street flew open, each revealing a different scene: rooms and streets, woods and beaches, barren wastelands and cities on fire.

Aleck watched the Cannibal-King draw in a huge breath and spit a blazing gout of fire across several Reality Patrolmen. As light-beams flashed and gunfire erupted, Aleck dove through the nearest doorway, slamming the door behind him.

Naked under his Keeper robe, white-haired, scar-faced, and with one shoe, Aleck found himself on the stoop of a ruined shack, hand on the rusty door-latch, gazing through the trees at the wrecked Camaro.

Beside it, on the shoulder, sat an ambulance, the red light atop it turning lazily. Aleck snuck up closer, keeping his hood up. Two paramedics held a stretcher with Mikey on it. Billy stood beside him, looking unscathed.

Mikey reached up to poke Billy in the chest. “We should call you Doomer,” he said.

“Gonna call you Cripple if we don’t get your legs fixed up,” said Billy.

Aleck stepped out of the woods and dropped his hood back.

“Who’re you, Fuckface?” asked Billy. The paramedics looked over, and Mikey looked up from the stretcher.

“Che fuckin’ Guevara,” said Aleck, “who’d ya think?”

Billy and Mikey’s eyes went wide.

Aleck shrugged.


continued in the Aleck Woad adventure

Time Traveling Blues in the City of the Watcher


table of contents

Holy Calamity (part eight)


(excerpted from Weird Luck, book one in the City of the Watcher trilogy)


…Aleck looked around. Everywhere he saw murder. He heard the motorcycle passing by, at the edge of the arena.

“I’m here,” said Aleck. “It’s happening now. I can’t just do nothing. I won’t. I saw your Cannibal-King, and he looked sane to me. He’s a warrior, but not a mass-murderer.”

“You don’t get it,” said Old Aleck. “If you travel back in time like we did, you’ll be able to make it so that none of this ever happened. There’s no hurry! Write a better Guidebook. Find out what broke the Skull. Summon a peaceful Cannibal-King. Who knows! But jump the gun like this, and he could turn out even worse. He could come here with an H-bomb!”

Aleck crossed his arms and closed his eyes in thought. “But why don’t I just go talk to him now, and if it doesn’t work, try it your way when I grow up?”

“Because what if he shoots you,” said Beth. “If you don’t grow up, you don’t get that second chance.”

“I wouldn’t risk it,” said Old Aleck.

“Well then I guess you’re not me after all,” said Aleck, grabbing the handlebars of the fallen pink bicycle. He swung onto it, jumped down on the far pedal, and sped away. They chased after him, Old Aleck falling behind on foot, Beth on her rickety bicycle.

Akaz kept pace with him. “You’re nuts,” he said to Aleck. “And you’re annoying me. This situation is fucking fine, as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t need those hippies complicating it with their ethical handcuffs. Goromath and Apraxos are doomed. Melkhaios is gonna get burned clean of their lousy influence, and we can turn it into a goddamn eternal party like it was intended to be.”

Aleck ignored him, pedaling as hard as he could, following the sound of the motorcycle. Overhead he saw a richly decorated Herax ship, flying away towards the Herax Zone.

“Damn it, Aleck,” Akaz continued, “You can’t even conceive how much goddamn effort I put into this. I hadn’t crossed the Spiral Mounds in years, till you flew us to the God-Dog from Billycutter’s Tunnel. And I’ve completely restrained myself from attacking Apraxos directly.”

“What about when you jumped into Blood Eagle’s mouth?” asked Aleck. The motorcycle headed into a tunnel out of the Circus, following beneath the fancy Herax ship.

“Possession doesn’t count!” snapped Akaz. “That’s indirect. And I only did it under insane circumstances, in the Well, which created a Haugermath resonance to clean my karma of it. Dammit, I haven’t killed a Herax in a hundred years! I don’t want you wasting all that effort by starting a Train Wreck!”

Aleck rode into a tunnel half-lit by firelight.

“What do you think is gonna happen,” shouted Akaz, “when all you people from parallel realities, all with Weird Luck, are simultaneously trying to alter the course of history?” His voice fell to a whisper. “We’re surrounded by dominoes, Aleck. Everything we do has side effects.”

“And I’m going to prevent some of them,” said Aleck. “Try and stop me, if you want.”

“If I could rip yer fuckin’ throat out right now, I would!” snarled Akaz. “Unfortunately, that would start a Train Wreck for sure at this point!”

They exited the tunnel. Aleck saw the man with the rifle take aim from the back of the moving motorcycle. He fired at the fancy Herax ship; the motorcycle wobbled slightly from the recoil. Lightning flashed up the mainmast. Something resembling mist peeled away from the sail and dispersed into the air. The ship sank quickly and smashed into the ground, breaking open, rolling onto its side, and skidding into a building. The motorcycle rode up close and the man dismounted, hefting his rifle. The woman followed suit, drawing a pistol from her hip. They both wore sleeveless army shirts, ragged blue jeans, and boots.

“Don’t go up there!” snarled Akaz.

Aleck pedaled fast up the street towards the wreck….

table of contents