When I was at the Clarion Writer's Workshop, my cohort encouraged me to stop writing short stories that were clever, and try writing something more personal. So naturally, I wrote a story about a robot who dies by suicide in hopes of feeling more alive.
I think I successfully rose to the challenge (even if the narrative was maybe a little too unconventional).
I thought about this story when I saw the Kickstarter campaign for The Deadlands, a "monthly speculative fiction magazine, exploring all aspects of Death and the borders it shares with the living." Death is one of those things that people are simultaneously terrified and eager to talk about — which I think makes it a fantastic bedfellow with speculative fiction, where the scientific and fantastical elements can be used to make these conversations more palatable. The abstractions of genre fiction make death both more accessible, and more resonant.
Here's what the creators of The Deadlands have to say:
We are never far from death—Dante reminds us. It is always there, just out of sight, around the bend in the road. The faraway nearby, Rebecca Solnit says. We could step past a tree in that wild forest and be there. Where? The Deadlands.
The Deadlands is a new monthly speculative fiction magazine. We will publish short stories, poems, and essays about the other realms, of the ends we face here, and the beginnings we find elsewhere. It will be a journey into the unknown, to meet those who live there still, even though they may be dead. Death is a journey we all will take, but we'd like to peek at the map before we go.
The Deadlands is also planning to pay above the minimum professional rates set by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. This is especially important at a time when pro-paying venues for short speculative fiction — a crucial training ground for new ideas and early career authors — are (ironically) dying out.
As of this writing, The Deadlands has just reached its $25,000 stretch goal with — no joke! — 666 supporters. If you're comfortable breaking that auspicious number, consider throwing a few bones their way.
The Deadlands Speculative Fiction Magazine [Kickstarter]