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.
http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/tod-016-the-outer-dark-and-stories-from-the-borderland-live-from-necronomicon-2017/

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.
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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

Argawarga Press at FOGcon

We’re thrilled to be tabling at the Friends of the Genre science fiction & fantasy literature convention (FOGcon), March 11-13 at the Marriott in Walnut Creek, Calif.

not actually FOGcon; it hasn't happened yet
not actually FOGcon; it hasn’t happened yet

We’ll be selling & signing our books, comics, and zines, including the newly-released novel Cannibal-King, the moderately earth-shattering finale to the City in the Watcher trilogy. We’re also thrilled to say that we had to do a second print run of Weird Luck #0, our oddball 70s-style horror comic (which stands alone, but also serves as a strangely tangential prequel to the upcoming science fiction webcomic by Mike Bennewitz, Nick Walker, and Andrew M. Reichart, coming later this year). We’ll also be debuting issue #4 of the Weird Luck Tales zine, featuring a previously unpublished backup story by Andrew M. Reichart with the earliest written appearance of Akaz the god-dog.

We’ll be sharing a table with our dear comrades at Wonderella Printed. Should go without saying we’d be psyched to see you, but just in case: we’d be psyched to see you! \m/

see you at the SF Zine Fest!

Just got word that we were approved for the 2015 San Francisco Zine Fest. It’s a curated event this year, and we’re pretty psyched they accepted us.

We’ll be tabling together with our friends from Wonderella Printed, The Blunt Letters, and Sto*Nerd Press, so it’ll be a blast. Their tables will be loaded with cool stuff (way more than our three novels and miscellaneous pamphlets, to be honest), so be sure to come check them out too.

Sunday, Sept 6th 2015, 11AM – 5PM
San Francisco County Fair Building
1199 9th Ave and Lincoln Way

 

soul portrait
traditional Deep One “soul portrait” tattoo design depicting the Great Nymph