by Cluster Mag Editor-in-Chief Max Pearl.
Number Eighteen constructs a world where the distinctions between the technological and the organic appear absurd, where prosthetics and body-modification have made almost every body a cyborg.
All That’s Left is a sci-fi zine that follows a group of friends living borg lives in the hood, surviving as high-tech foot soldiers in the urban periphery while the ruling classes party it up in sequestered communities called ‘the domes.’ And borders between the technological and the organic are not the only permeable, shifting boundaries. Characters in this post-apocalyptic drama perform gender according to mood and immersive, web-based sex allows users to grow organs or lose them mid-act. It becomes clear that while All That’s Left is a sci-fi narrative, its pessimistic prophecies and its utopian dreams are in some ways real for us already. The wealth gap is fucked, global warming is here, and with the amount of time we spend attached to our smartphones, we’re pretty much already cyborgs.
The zine itself was printed on dumpstered paper dug out from around the Penn campus in West Philadelphia- ‘the domes,’ anyone? The stories themselves are also available in audio form on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.
Cluster Mag interviewed Eighteen about what it means to be part machine, whether we spend too much time on the internet, and when exactly sex is going to catch up with technology.
Cluster Mag: So in All That’s Left, you set the story in these peripheral, militarized slums controlled by gangs and armies of genderqueer cyborgs. What other narratives, genres, or bodies of work inspired and informed you in building this world?
Number Eighteen: Wow! Well, there are dozens of information flows that inform my fantasy dystopia, but in the zine I mention 1990s cyberpunk anime as being an inspiration. I feel like anyone who is a fan of Ghost in the Shell can find obvious influences in my stories. But also there are the worlds of GUNNM (Battle Angel Alita in the U.S.), Appleseed (another Masamune Shirow creation), and Akira (duh) that serve up such gorgeously detailed world settings, technological relationships, and dystopian states. I get frustrated when people—especially sci-fi fans—haven’t given those series the time of day. They’re classics of anime for a reason.
The visual sci-fi of the 80s, 90s, and early 00s (my formative years) are also deep with futurevision; They Live, The Big O, No Escape, Demolition Man, etc—these pulpy “low art” productions are passed over for their perceived campiness, and yet all these series are about power and the oppressed in dystopias of “terminal capitalism” and corporate domination by old straight white motherfuckers who still think their “hard work” is what got them to where they are today. What do you think the #Occupy shit and every other social justice movement is about right now? Humans are humans are humans, and motherfuckers say that money is god, that God founded this country, and that white is right. Fuck that. You know who every villainous motherfucker is in all these series always is? An old white corporate guy.
A shot from the “Using AfroFuturism to Examine Reality” workshop with the Institute for Community Justice program, where the AfroFuturist Affair exchanged perspectives on racism and stereotypes in sci-fi, ancient wisdom, co-creating the future, time as a cycle, and time traveling.
If you would like The AfroFuturist Affair to give a presentation or workshop at your community organization, please contact them at @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The AfroFuturist Affair is a Philadelphia based community aiming to not only provide space for dialogue around Afrofuturistic ideas, but also a space for actual and practical implementation of these ideas as they serve social progress and freedom. The AfroFuturist Affair uses Afrofuturism and Sci-Fi as vehicles for expression, creativity, education, agency, and liberation in communities of color. For more information, visit their website here.
The Laser Life, founded and curated by Alex Smith, is held every other month at the A-Space in West Philadelphia. It’s more special than you know, unless of course, you have been before. It offers a platform for queer speculative fiction writers, poets, performers, and shamans, drawing a packed house every time without fail. Often, Facebook event-goers have shown up fashionably late only to discover they have made folly—the Laser Life starts on time and ends early. The Laser Life leaves you with the feeling of having watched a deeply compelling film in the theater. The Laser Life makes you feel aimless, celebratory, wild, and you empty out on to Baltimore Avenue amidst strangers and friends with no real plans but to enjoy the evening. You feel elevated.
To date, we have only filmed, sparingly, what goes on with with our cell phones . . .
The next Laser Life is this October 19th. [Facebook event]
More on the enigmatic Alex Smith can be found here.
A reading series dedicated to giving voice to the swirl of diversity that exists in the known and unknown universe, LASER LIFE is a queer empowered reading series that serves as a gateway to the dreaming. At its core, it’s a reading of science and speculative fiction and fantasy, with the intensity of a sweaty, West Philly poetry slam on mind-altering, homemade drugs. Through a hum of chaos, this series takes the othering (read: exoticizing) aspects of our experiences and renders them in lush tapestry, placing at center stage the marginalized and forgotten. Transgendered youth battling storm troopers in dystopian futures. Pan-sexual trolls stealing into the boudoir of African princes. Ghosts of orphans hand-in-hand traversing the multi-verse. What happens when the downtrodden, exploited and ignored are suddenly given the keys to the Millennium Falcon? When those who litter the background of a crowded bazaar become more than just peppering for the scenery of the journey of the so-called every-man?
THE LASER LIFE answers those questions, but also challenges audiences to ask more. Channeling Octavia Butler, Sam Delaney and the dollar bin at the comic book shop, the assembled are some of the most talented writers, both published and unpublished, in the Philadelphia area. As empires fall and our old planet crumbles, these writers are opening portals to theirs—braver, newer and out of this world.
M. CRAIG is a freak, a queer, and a punk who writes for freaks, queers, and punks. she likes to take real things and real issues and change them, make them the same but different so it’s easier to get at the truth in them. she makes ordinary things magical and shows the magic in ordinary things. The Narrows is her first novel and she’s currently working diligently in the slums of Brooklyn, NY to scribble out its sequel. http://http://
althea baird is a video, performance, & collage artist using their work for shapeshifting and geometry:: prisms of + portals to memory, identity, violence, healing, speculation and prophesy.
Ras Mashramani hovers in a digital cloud over Philadelphia, waiting. Her work can be viewed at New Wave Vomit, >kill author, and on her blog, motherWAP.blogspot.com. She is a staff member for APIARY magazine and has completed an erotica project with Carolyn DeCarlo which can be found at notupbut.tumblr.com
ALEX SMITH (writer, poet, dj, anarchist, host and curator of LASER LIFE)
SHANE JENKINS (writer and musician responsible for the Razed By Wolves project, forging new cosmology)
MAGGIE EIGHTEEN (Not everyone is good at their body. Not everyone has the skills, the specs, or the access. This is all that’s left. Post-binary dystopian smut stories. For cyborgs by cyborgs. http://cyborgmemoirs.com/
The AfroFuturist Affair presents THE MUSEUM OF TIME
In the spirit of Halloween and all things awesome about Autumn, the AfroFuturist Affair is throwing its annual Afrofuturist-themed COSTUME BALL! Last year’s Affair was legendary and this one promises to vibrate even more intensely as we emanate from our new venue @PhilaMOCA.
Every aspect of this year’s Affair is bigger than the last. For starters we’re happy to announce that the MUSEUM OF TIME will take place at a new space: PhilaMoCA will be hosting this year’s themed-costume event on NOVEMBER 3rd so don’t put away the Halloween spirit JUST yet. Costumes are rabidly ENCOURAGED!!!
THE MUSEUM OF TIME features:
Donyae Coles – www.defaultdaydreams.com
Ebony Malaika Collier – http://ebonymcollier.tumblr.com/
Tafi Brown – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Analogue-Transient-Capturing-the-light-within/234460939945123
Priscilla Bell – www.pbutterpaint.com
The L. Park Project – https://www.facebook.com/thelparkproject
Rell Stylez of S.W.A.G
Nit Ra Sit – http://www.nitrasit.com/
Kitakiya Dennis/Intuitive Expressions
John Morrison – www.liberationmovienight.tumblr.com
The Alien Architect – http://alienarchitect.bandcamp.com/
Napoleon Dolemite – https://www.facebook.com/NapoleonDolemite
Kenny’s Myth – http://kennysmyth.com/
Warren Longmire – http://dountiltrue.tumblr.com/
Lindo – www.lindoyes.net
Alex Smith – www.facebook.com/laserlife
Ras Masramani – http://notupbut.tumblr.com/
Dja DJa N. Medjay – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDjaDjaNMedjay
Bill Campbell – www.koontown.com
and special presentations by
PSL Presidential Candidate Peta Lindsay – http://www.pslweb.org/
Metropolarity – www.metropolarity.net
HOSTED by SxLx
Sanctuary Wholistic Arts – https://www.facebook.com/sanctuarywholisticarts
Philadelphia Printworks – http://www.philadelphiaprintworks.com/
feyasterling inc. – https://www.facebook.com/feyasterlinginc
MythMedia:21 – http://windowfactoryarts.com/node/35
and much more…. please stayed tuned as we release daily information on performers, and other surprises the closer we get to NOVEMBER 3rd!~
$10 admission donation includes refreshments gathered from the future and punch to put you out of this world…
The AfroFuturist Affair is a charity and all proceeds from the MUSEUM OF TIME will be donated to The Futurist Fund Community Grant fund. More details about the grant, who it helps, and how you may donate, as well as application details, are available at https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-afrofuturist-affair/futurist-fund-community-grant-guidelines/406115982777133. The application will be available on www.afrofuturistaffair.com after October 3, 2012.
For more info about the AfroFuturist Affair’s mission, goals, and vision please visit our website @ www.AfrofuturistAffair.com
Photos from last year’s Charity & Costume Ball by the L.ParK ProJecT can be found at:
Rock a costume or just GET FLY… Either way, DONT MISS IT…!
VENDORS: there is still space available! $15 for table space
SPONSORS AND VOLUNTEERS: If you or your organization would like to volunteer and/or sponsor the MUSEUM OF TIME please contact email@example.com.
1. OUR SCI-FI IS OUR REALITY!
Not all of us here are born with a silver spoon, tie-dyed space ship. We want the gristle, the grime, the earth, and steel to bend beneath our feet as we navigate towards the moon and the stars. Because we’re not divorced from the reality of our nightmares, we give voice to the passion of our dreams.
2. OUR GENERATION IS ETERNAL!
These are androids dreaming of electric sheep, going 20,000 leagues below the surface, scraping up lost scrolls and parables of forgotten sowers. We commune with the griots, the orishas, the wizards and the soothsayers. We are always imp, always sage, always forever.
3. OUR PERCEPTIONS ARE NOT OUR OWN!
What looks like a spoon isn’t (is) a spoon. We can burst like 1,000 rainbows in dreary forest, or pour onto your subway cars in psychedelic sprawl, turn bullets into fireflies and asphalt into cloud.
4. OUR SCI-FI IS OUR NEW MYTH!
Those ancient scrolls and scriptures are tattered and torn, rewritten by ogres to fit their own needs throughout time, forward and back again. We graft tales of exploding confetti in alleyways, of dust strewn castles in tenement hallways and of new, unfolding rituals in parking lot bonfires. We believe in their power, their power it guides us.
5. OUR CRITIQUE IS THE TRIP FANTASTIC!
Like a glass moth, in the air on wings of gossamer, the questions rise: what of our future, what of our skin? We believe in unplugging from the machine, in taking the microchips and tracking devices lodged in our lobes and, before smashing them, acknowledging them, making them known. We are the reporters in a rainbowtopia.
6. OUR VOICE IS THE SONG FOR THE VOICELESS!
No more will we slink into the back of the bazaar, huddled over embers in the cold spaces of your library, forgotten and lost playing back up to Captain Kirk. We slipped the bad pills behind our gums and ignored the placebos, to spit them out later as diamonds, to clear our tongues, to sing.
7. OUR DREAM SPACE IS OUR COMMUNION!
A faerie commune in deep space; street corner kid as astronaut; man in bodega as a disembodied spirit. We present this as offering space for new visions and imaginings of identity among the disenfranchised, entwined in the arena of new beginnings.
8. OUR SCI-FI IS OUR LIBERATION!
To simultaneously go beyond and embody gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual identity, with the city backlit on a cosmic green screen, where the shackles of every “-ism” falls as fresh morning dew subtly on a still wet page. We want freedom to determine our destiny, in our time, in our space, in our dreams, in our metro polarity.