Terror anime/manga seems to have found its stride in recent years. I’m not sure what the otaku name for it would be or whatever. But to me terror anime follows the general guideline of anything that can go wrong will. A seemingly impossible situation is placed in front of a protagonist that is only further exacerbated by literally anything and everything else. These shows are usually steampunk heavy, as technology can often give protags an out, or make things easier. Some examples include Attack on Titan (2013), Berserk (1997) (2016), and some that have even dared to venture into a future setting like Blue Gender (1999) and/or Terra Formars (2014) [it’s usually bugs in the future, huh]. Anyways the no spoilers beyond episode 1 show we are exploring today falls into the steampunk variety, or steam engine rather: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri aka Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.


Plot: The main character is Ikoma, a rather cowardly individual who has to find a way to function in this old broken world. While his fear is totally validated, it’s his reaction to fear that makes him odd, albeit traditional in many anime. While seemingly debilitated by fear, when pushed, Ikoma manages to respond using an above average intellect and pure instinctual reactions to rather extraordinary effect for this [terror] genre. Ikoma’s power [in the first episode] comes from his brain and a stronger than the norm gun that he created.

It’s a gun that he uses against the kabane or corpses, that now plague Japan. These zombies manage to blend the contemporary elements of running zombies, with a slightly spiritual twist. The weak point is no longer the head but rather their heart. Their disease spreads at a rather accelerated rate which helps feed into the hopelessness that the survivors feel. They even carry small bombs so in the event of bite, they can kill themselves for the betterment of the group. To live the survivors travel between their walled cities in huge fortified trains which is where the “title drop” comes from.


Why you might like it: Well if you like Attack on Titan [this was directed by the same person] or just about any of the shows I named above, you should feel right at home here. At only 12 episodes the show doesn’t require a high level of commitment, and most binge watchers can consume it in a day. It packs a few twists that can keep you engaged through its finale. Additionally at times the art style is extremely beautiful and strangely colorful considering the often drab worlds that zombies regularly inhabit. The music is pretty enjoyable and many of the songs seem to have been made just for the show. I also thought it was rather funny that one of the characters has a very particular accent, you just have to hear to believe. The show is just a short ride that one can enjoy and walk away from feeling like you probably broke even, which is better than some anime.


Why you might hate it: Well if you hated Attack on Titan, etc etc… yeah. The show, while enjoyable, doesn’t really break any new ground, but rather just explores one rather “weak” theme using the world as a means of conveyance. So while it could have had more depth it feels like many of the adventures just stall for time, rather build up a stronger narrative. I mentioned the art before being rather stunning at times — well you can also see clearly when they had to cut corners for the show’s better scenes. While this isn’t a crime per se, it shouldn’t often be as painfully obvious as it is at times — be prepared for slow pans of still images with sound effects.

The motivations behind the characters, namely Ikoma, seem to come from one particular trauma, that would seem ordinary when taken into consideration the world they live in. There isn’t a definitive timeline, but it feels like relationships literally blossom overnight, which I guess is inspired by their plight. Contrasted with how some characters behave sometimes the developments may leave you with questions, but it’s unlikely those questions will be addressed. It doesn’t seem like this was done to sell issues of a manga of the same title, as the show was an original collaboration. While it could be to build a bridge to a second season, it still wraps up as ambiguously as it starts, which leaves it feeling rushed needlessly.


Why it matters: Many of these shows seem to pride themselves on their body counts as they climb to eventual victory. However Koutetsujou no Kabaneri seems to beg the question, what does everyone else do in these terrible circumstances? How do survivors who aren’t really heroes or soldiers make it? And while the show handles this rather awkwardly, it attempts to do so with a sense of heart. Rather than solely placing bets on Ikoma alone, you place them on everyone aboard the Koutetsujou in a way. It largely feels like they all contribute and while there is particular focus on the bridge crew [kinda like Star Trek on a train with zombies] you feel like the hopes and dreams of these other people can matter. Because let’s face it, if something like this were to really happen it’s largely probable that you would just be an extra, trying to make it. So while it plays loose with its themes, character development, and resolutions, it feels grounded in a realistic social outline. The world feels good, because it has a good basement, and maybe if they work on the rest of the structure it might turn into something even better.


Content Warnings: Extremely violent, abundant suicide



If you haven’t already, eventually, you will have a moment in your life where you wish you could go back and change something. Time travel fiction is largely connected to this concept. Whether it’s going back in time to stop the assassination of JFK [11.22.63] or going back just to get an “A” on a history project [Bill & Ted] the point remains that changing time can potentially have grave consequences. In the anime we are reviewing today, these concepts are explored in a rather vague manner to help guide you toward an anime you might like. This is Metropolarity’s, no spoilers beyond episode 1, anime reviews. The anime we are exploring today is called Boku dake ga Inai Machi (the town without me/ the town where only I am missing) aka Erased.

Plot: Our main character, Satoru Fujinuma, is a 29 year old burnout who works as a pizza delivery guy while aspiring to make a career as manga artist. However publishers are unwilling to buy into his ideas because they seem to lack a missing element, pushing him to seemingly give up this dream. We soon learn his life of passive regrets is juxtaposed with a unique ability called revival. Revival, which often is coupled with the appearance of a blue butterfly, is a form of déjà vu in which a keen observer is given a chance to find something wrong or bad and then alter it before tragedy strikes.


However when Satoru gets involved he seems to break even or something bad seems to befall him. When this happens in the first episode his mother comes to take care of him, and the story quickly spirals out of control from there.

Why you might like it: If you’ve ever managed to sit through special victims unit marathons, criminal minds episodes, or even case closed/detective conan this is right up your alley. Erased shares quite a few similarities with case closed: solving a mystery, boy investigator, plucky companions who may or may not know more. However their stark differences help Erased feel more grounded, Satoru has no gadgets that help him defeat his foes. He is cunning, but ultimately just a powerless boy, who must sway the adults around him to use their abilities to bring about real change. Also at being only 12 episodes it’s a show that doesn’t require an extended commitment, and it produces a slow burn that allows the mystery to flesh itself out. Additionally the show is slightly more enjoyable the second time around, as you can notice things you may have missed the first time.

Why you might hate it: The details are scant at times, without well rounded explanations of everyone’s motivations, which may leave some viewers wanting more. Additionally the show suffers from “sixth sense syndrome”, its good and you can enjoy it a second time, but it doesn’t really have moments that one would want to re-watch again and again. While the pacing felt good for the majority of the show, the last few episodes do feel quite jerky [slow, fast, slow]. This is compounded by not being totally privy to the actions of Satoru within the climax which can leave viewers slightly confused, as all of this deviates from viewers being in his mind/thoughts the whole time and only done to deepen the dramatic effect in the finally; But it doesn’t really, and the whole “Light Yagami-inspired” wrap up feels a little weaker for it.


Why it matters: Like the theme song “Re:Re:” implies Satoru is given another chance and while the rules surrounding this chance are fantasy based and sketchy at times, it should resonate with most viewers. As many of us, like Satoru could use a second chance even if it’s only to make a small change, and even if it would put one at risk. The show manages to argue for synchronicity [Mulder] and causation [Scully] which leave Erased in an amicable no fail zone. The balance is refreshing outlook from the standard “grab life by the horns or die” message of many anime before it. As we all are a result of both shit happening and your actions and while you should work to change what you can; you shouldn’t linger on failure brought about from what you can’t. The heart of Erased shines through its emotional conveyance of the importance of relationships (family, friends, mentors, ect). This is bolstered by a central theme of as “long as you try your best, you can never fail” and dialog that keeps viewers both entertained and engaged on a dime.


Content Warnings: Show is v engrossing n we like it a lot but subject matter is heavy – shows a graphic murder & a lot of the story revolves around a child predator, which can get stressful/triggering. We would say that the content isn’t callously deployed as a gratuitous plot device, though, and that’s why we fux with Erased. [-Eighteen]


Mark C. Jerng really went in with their review of Stories for Chip, a tribute anthology to Samuel R. Delany, featuring a story by our own Alex Smith. Jerng’s review does what feels rare to us as “marginalized” sf writers and that’s go to the trouble of talking about the influence of Delany’s work (and the work within the anthology itself) outside of binary categories of capitalist empire. Our neighbors were saying this is one hell of a good review. Delany fans, dig in.

a sampling of the printed works of Alex Smith (thus far) sitting on his coffee table

#selfcare is remembering that you are a part of a #continuum that stretches beyond yourself, that #ancestors have decreed you a part of the #myth , that you are not just changing the world, not just envisioning the world made better, you are that change, that vision. you’ve done it, but you’re not done. #rise #scifiart #scifi #afrofuturism #storiesforchip #blackquantumfuturism #zines #metropolarity – Alex on Instagram

Ask your local library to carry Stories for Chip or buy a copy here.

Book searching while black can be a traumatic experience. Throw in gay and it can make your casual trip to Barnes N Noble an experience so dire, you feel like you’re a starving black orphan tucked into the back of a young adult dystopian novel, scrounging for crumbs at the bazaar while these Harrison Ford clones saunter through the stacks picking out spec-fic and fantasy with abandon. No, for QPOC interested in reading compelling, otherworldly, righteous sci-fi and spec-fic written by one of our own, featuring us as lead characters, this little adventure (choosing a book) can be nothing short of a nightmare. Thankfully, a lot of thoughtful and intriguing fiction is coming out this year from writer’s in the African diaspora that I’m anticipating giddily: T. Geronimo Johnson’s “Welcome to Braggsville”, Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout” and James Hannaham’s “Delicious Foods” for starters. But while those stories will fill a certain desire for me to read weirdish, darkly comic, transcendent black penned spec-fic that doesn’t support a monolithic view of black life quite well, none of them are specifically science fiction. Enter Jennifer Marie Brissett’s impossible-to-put-down debut novel, “Elysium”.

The slender, beautiful, Philip K. Dick award nominated “Elysium” from Aqueduct Press is a neatly packaged, whirlwind of a tale, awash in dreamy, nuanced emotion and bristling with imagination. Told in twisting, anti-synchronous swaths of poetic prose, the story revolves around humanity’s interaction with a violent race of roach-like aliens who’ve bio-nuked earth with a strange dust. The story dives through the shared memory of many characters, the core of whom share names, personalities, and lineages. The ultimate twist of this story is hard to discuss without revealing it, so I won’t. But Brissett doesn’t shy away from introducing a world where LGBTQ characters are given dynamic, rangy voices, where gender is melted away, remolded, and shaped again.

The story starts off introducing Adrienne, a woman struggling in her relationship with her husband, Antoine. While Antoine seems aloof, perhaps busy but ultimately frustrated with married life, Adrienne seems lost and incapable of escaping some kind of palpable dread. She’s having visions, lapses of memory and bursts of images of other memories pop into her head, memories she’s not sure she’s supposed to have. As I read these pages, my heart sank, not for fear that alas, poor Adrienne is unloved by her dear husband, but because perhaps I’d stumbled into a paltry romance instead of a science fiction thriller. Yet, suddenly the narrative is interrupted by a staticky computer program rendered in retro-futurist cyber text, breaking up the monotony of the everyday-ness of Adrienne’s previous life, and transporting her, and us, the reader, into the body of…someone else? A doppelganger? A possible future-past? It’s entirely unclear at this point, although things start to coagulate fairly quickly. And just as they do, as the reader realizes they’re experiencing a folding of the multiverse, we’re transported into the lives of young women abused by a dark cult.

The “whoa, she went there!” weirdness that Brissett wields in this novel is a breath of ozone laced, dusty air. It’s harsh in moments, but completely lucid and elegiac in others. Brissett’s skill as a writer is in her ability to mine sci-fi tropes for what lies at their diamond-like core. She’s not overtly concerned with bogging down the narrative in newspeak or having us trudge through page after page of diplomacy and bureaucracy with characters verbally expositing about the ins and outs of their inhabited universe. No, Brissett gets to the point, but still finds the space to build a world so tremendously intricate that it can be seen as nothing short of monumental. When she isn’t filling the pages with wayward graffiti artists locked in a subterranean existence, aliens that flicker in-between fourth dimensional space, or sci-fi weaponry rent from underground ’90s comics, she’s telling us a story about our deep connections to each other. “Elysium” spiritually connecting in ways “Cloud Atlas” or “Life of Pi” perhaps tried to be, but without actually telling us so, by trusting the reader and allowing the characters to discover that connected kind of humanity, echoing the mythic work of Samuel Delany in the process, ultimately helping us, the reader, find that same feeling.

Furthering the essentiality of this work is Brissett’s use of African-American protagonists. There are black women and men, gay and straight and transgender, doing impossible things here, saving the day, struggling and working towards a better, livable world. While the book doesn’t stray away from a racial identity, that very same identity doesn’t overshadow the story. And after things spiral away from us, then back again, we’re left with an ending that is not only satisfying, but absolutely thrilling in every single way. If you’re a fan of any kind of science fiction— hard sci-fi, fantasy, mythic, superhero, supernatural, historical fiction, time travel, Orwellian/dystopian– read “Elysium” and like a beckoning to it’s namesake Greek concept of the afterlife, release and be transported there.

Did you know? Alex has written most of our event descriptions, and perhaps famously, our HERALD. We like his reviews too.

And suddenly, my Facebook wall is inundated with the strange, twisted images of super-hero mego toys pouring hot cooking oil on top of each other, bare-assed pissing on the sides of buildings and sneaking obvious peeks at each others junk, or, innocuously enough, doing their fucking laundry. And by inundated I mean like, 3 people, but still that’s a lot, especially in this day and age when every tag is a reminder that something dumb, regretful, or over-analyzed is happening, and it’s all unfolding on your precious, precious wall. But it’s not just the irksome practice of the, “oh, let me tag everyone I think might be kinda down with this” (it’s not that irksome and kind of sweet, actually… aw, you’re thinking of me! Thanks, assorted boos!) as much as it is the sort of sad reality that folks not into your particular niche of nerdom just fucking don’t get it, maaaaan!

In this particular case, the gangs all here: Spider-Man, Thor, Batman. It’s a veritable who’s who of mainstream superdom, all of them blistering with sinewy plastic model toy muscles and precisely carved renditions of their respective actor’s chiseled, handsome faces. It’s just that in “Superheroes in Real Life” by Edy Hardjo (or whatever it’s called), the point of parody seems to be uncomfortably off the mark.

Let me explain. I don’t think super-heroes are beyond reproach. In fact, the idea of the super-hero, and the universes they inhabit, with peril at every turn and with it’s strange and fantastical burst of science fiction whimsy, is in and of itself, a parody. It’s a playful rendering of the idea of stoic leadership in the face of inscrutable demands of every day life. Many writers have played within the seams of this concept– hyperreality married with nuke weilding, dragonlaced, alien mutant imbued fantasy. I mean, the first superhero ever, Superman, was an avatar that deftly embodied everything we, the struggling masses, seemed to ceaselessly endure: poverty, abuse, restriction and corruption by power. And through the lens of the super-hero– a fantastic, satirical take on modernity and it’s flawed relationship with our humanity– generations have been able to eke out a vision of the world they’d rather see. So, to me, blatant, unnuanced mockeries of super-heroes miss the mark, painfully.

Is the attempt at satire in Hardjo’s work about the juxtapositioning? Is it an homage to the wonders of play, of the pre-pubescent mind discovering itself? Does it work as an attempt at uncovering mainstream comic movies lack of gender and sexual orientation equality while perpetuating a staid stereotype of uber-masculinity? It’s unclear. I can concede an interest in the work can be made more prescient if the attempt is to satirize the mostly unfun movie universes; those are mainly fascist junk, the modern day take on Rambo and Diehard, and they clearly deserve to be skewered. But since there’s so much ingrained and intrinsic to the characters from the source material– the comics themselves– it becomes dangerously close to pedantic nihilism, cutting and mean spirited for the sake of it’s own self. In short, the comic books are already parodying themselves, playfully and with genuine fervor. In DAREDEVIL, the main character has “come out of the closet” as a superhero, and his everyday life has flipped in many bizarre ways because of it. MULTIVERSITY, penned by legendary meta-fiction writer Grant Morisson, is tackling the exact things I think Hardjo is trying to make light of. It’s a series featuring multiple universes, where sometimes Batman is an infant robot, where talking Tigers leap from the page (quite literally), and each universe exist in the other universes, but only in the form of a comic book! In SHE-HULK, the titular heroine’s adventures come mostly from her desperately clinging to an unusual law firm she’s started as a result of not wanting to carry on as a corporate stooge– imagine a 7 foot tall green superhero showing up in court to defend Dr. Doom’s son; yes, dearlings, hijinks ensue. And this is to say nothing of the constant fourth wall demolishing in DEADPOOL, or the sublimely hysterical, yet still heartfelt and genuine character study taking place in SINISTER SIX, where b-list villains are center stage as they navigate their way through the wonders of the Marvel Universe.

“The Secret Life of Super-heroes” (or whatever it’s fucking called!) is interesting visually. It’s definitely fun to see Spider-Man and his amazing friends taking a selfie while the Hulk tries to peel a xenomorph off of his face. But I think this exhibit is more “Meet the Feebles” than it is “Galaxyquest”. Where the former is an unnecessary, vicious send-up by an outsider trying to shock, essentially parodying a parody (the Muppets), the latter is a sweet, endearing piece of satire that stands on it’s own, with a burgeoning narrative and a willingness to admit that there is power and the ability to dream, dare, and do within the source material (Star Trek). Frankly, if one were to read an actual super hero comic– any one of them– they’d see that the everyday lives of superheros (where Batgirl is constantly losing and checking her phone, riding the subway to school and hanging out with her weird as fuck friends) aren’t so secret after all.

Thanks Alex. You can see more photos from the series in question here on Our cover image is directly pulled from the same place.

And we said to ourselves, shoot, it might be cool to share with people what we’ve been digging, so they can dig too. So here’s our 2013 memorial round-up of tasty media we ingested. Ras put together all the descriptions, we supplied the goods.
Enjoy. ::bows:: -Eighteen


///////RAS’S PICKS///////

+ The Oryx and the Crake by Margaret Atwood
Biotechnology, corporate surburbia, human trafficking
+ Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing
The gradual decline of society, femme adolescent experience, dissociative experiences
+ The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson
Exploration, emergent behavior in artificial intelligence, love
+ Alien Wombs and Spirits by Janice Boddy
Possession, dissociative experiences, anthropology, women’s spirituality
+ Affect and Artificial Intelligence by Elizabeth Wilson
Queerness, cybernetics, Alan Turing, male nerd-bonding
+ Story Revisions: Narrative Therapy in the Postmodern World by Alan Parry & Robert E. Doan
Post-modernity, personal history, multiple selves, existential psychology
+ Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense by Jonathan Moreno
Unspoken contracts, neuroscience, the military, mind-reading
+ Real Utopia: Participatory Society for the 21st Century edited by Chris Spannos
Participatory government, future visioning, post-Marxism
+ Preliminary Materials for a Theory of the Young-girl by Tiqqun & A. Reines
Mysogyny, girlhood, anger, receptacles
+ Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Cold hard survival, dystopia, tribes, DIY communities
+ The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Anarchism, utopia?, isolation, hard work, wisdom

+ “Nightmares, neurophenomenology and the cultural logic of trauma” by Lawrence Kirmayer

+ “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Perception of time, linguistics, kinship

+ Postcolonial Digital Humanities
Digital survival, digital diaspora, digital criticism
+ Longform and Longform/fiction
Narrative, classical digital formats, immersion
+ Socialtext Journal
Open-source scholarship, [post]modern culture, disruption
+ “Neurocultures Manifesto” by Victoria Pitts-Taylor
Neuropower, interdisciplinarianism, decommodifying science

+ The X Files
Trenchcoats, sensible loafers, skepticism
+ Serial Experiments Lain
Manual updates, internet addiction, cyberspaces

+ Upstream Color directed by Shane Carruth
Abduction, memory, shared trauma
+ Killer of Sheep directed by Charles Burnett
Black Los Angeles, deindustrial wastelands, neverending hustle
+ Ganja & Hess directed by Bill Gunn
African curses, black academia, intense monologues
+ Sound of My Voice directed by Zal Batmanglij
Time travel, cults, faith


///////RASHEEDAH’S PICKS///////

+ Stalking the Wild Pendulum: On the Mechanics of Consciousness by Itzhak Bentov
Continuous Big Bang, eternal return, quantum cosmology
+ The PsychoBiology of Mind-Body Healing: New Concepts of Therapeutic Hypnosis by Ernest Lawrence Ross
Mind-body communication, self-suggestion, the cycle of healing
+ Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha Womack
The afro multiverse, fiction as activism, domestic aliens
+ Experiments with Light and Mirrors (Getting Started in Science) by Robert Gardner
Puzzlers, diversions, everyday phenomena
+ Everyday Quantum Reality by David Grandy
Mathematical anti-formalism, reality, science present
+ The Speed of Light: Constancy + Cosmos by David A. Grandy
Visual perception, existentialism, universal blending
+ Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
Medical ethics, institutional sociopathology, rage
+ Myth, Literature and the African World (Canto) by Wole Soyinka
Ritual, storytelling, unity
+ Crystals and Light by Elizabeth A. Wood
Space lattices, point groups, polarization
+ Develop Your Psychic Skills by Enid Hoffman
Right brain, intuition, reprogramming
+ Quantum Psychology: How Brain Software Programs You and Your World by Robert Anton Wilson
Non-Euclidian geometries, general semantics, relativity
+ target=”_blank”The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics by Julian Barbour
Change, time, immortality, Heraclitus
+ The Big Bang Never Happened: A Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe by Eric Lerner
Decay, plasma, electromagnetic fields

+ “Why I Became an Afrofuturist” by Stafford Battle
Populism, Nat Turner, Steamfunk, Janelle Monae
Crystals, sugar batteries, multicellularity, circadian clocks

+ Discover Magazine, Nov 2013
Comet ISON, OCD, pachyderms
+ Scientific American, June 2013
Octopii, metallic robots, light deflection

+ Hidden Colors 1 & 2
Diaspora, indigenous people, African historical presence

+ Fringe
The FBI, mythology, alternate realities
+ Sliders
Wormholes, parallel universes, Earth Prime
+ Warehouse 13
The US Secret Service, South Dakota, supernatural artifacts
+ Medium
Psychic abilities, intergenerational precognition, deja vu
+ Eureka
Global Dynamics, technological breakthroughs, corporate suburbia
+ The 4400
Mount Rainier, The Department of Homeland Security, precognition


///////EIGHTEEN’S PICKS///////


Eighteen's bookshelf

+ The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency’ by Dahr Jamail
Artic methane, climate nightmares, climate realities
+ Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America’s Most Desperate Town by Matt Taibbi
Real dystopias, vigilante blocks, urban anarchy
+ Scientists Discover a Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics by Natalie Walchover
The amplituhedron, quantum gravity,locality, unitarity
+ Introduction To Nahuatl by Fermin Herrera
The Mexica Movement, indigenous linguistics, cultural substrates

+ Vanitas by Hag Collective
Glitter lips, shiny cream sticky kid, ahaha
+ Undoing Sex: Against Sexual Optimism by C.E., encountered originally at (currently defunct)
Anti-fuck, anti-orgasm, perspectives on intimacy
+ Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English
Witch hunters, the medical establishment, demonization of woman healers
+ ARKDUST 1 by Alex Smith
Home town superheroes, bodega fantasies, ecstacy

+ Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldúa
False dichotomies, la mitologia de Las Aztecas, The Treaty of Guadalupe, cultural tyranny
+ Happy Baby by Stephen Elliot
The juvenile justice system, pain/pleasure paradox, Chicago
+ Snitch Factory by Peter Plate
Welfare bureaucracy, urban decay, corruption, heroism
+ Doc and Fluff: The Dystopian Tale of a Girl and Her Biker by Pat Califia
Outlaws, violent sex, true love?
+ The Cyborg Handbook by Chris Hables Gray
Cybernetic organisms, prostheses, living machines
+ Robin Hood by Louis Rhead
Chivalry, poachers, merry men

+ Battle Angel Alita: Last Order Omnibus 1 by Yukito Kishiro
Sky cities, mad scientists, bio-chips

+ Black Mirror
Wireless, techno-paranoia, techno parables
+ Macross Plus
Colonies, rivalries, AI holograms (tw: sexual assault)


///////ALEX’S PICKS///////

+ Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Ronald L. Mallett & Bruce Henderson
Theoretical physics, space-time, circulating laser light
+ Long Division by Kiese Laymon
Post-Katrina, violence, teen rappers
+ Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God From Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison
Archetypes, superheroes, modern myths

+ Copra by Michel Fiffe
Supervillains, psychedelic dimensions, experimental visuals
+ MIND MGMT by Matt Kindt
Super spies, espionage, government agencies
+ I am not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett
Racial identity, absurdity, recurrent communication problems

+ All That’s Left by Eighteen
Commodified bodies, dome-life, block life, enhancements
+ Destroy the Scene: BROS FALL BACK by The Secret Society of Femmes
Hetero-patriarchy, punk scenes, DIY
+ HYPEBEAST print magazine “The Synthesis Issue
Fashion, IRL identity conjuring, online commerce

+ Young Fathers TAPE ONE and TAPE TWO 12″ EPs
Romance, fortune, remains

+ Black Girl Dangerous
Mia Mackenzie, voice, experience, expression

::in blaring sports announcer voice::


A R K D U S T by our own Alex Smith

Alex writes fiction that reads like an absurd reality show super hero comic with the emotional weight of the last really good movie you saw, combined with total “crazier things have happened” subway riding plausibility. Ever since starting the queer sci-fi/fantasy reading series, Laser Life, we’ve all begged and begged Alex for some take-home print form of the arresting stories he would diplomatically drop on us lowly commoners. So when he announced he would be making a zine to debut at the April 2013 Laser Life, we all counted our pocket change and patiently held our breath till the appointed day.

A R K D U S T is a fangirl dream. It contains five short stories by Alex, plus an excellent bonus story and interview from his partner, Shane Jenkins of Razed By Wolves, another mainstay of Laser Life, whose stories touch on the surreal fantasy vapors that always start to creep up from behind our spines when watching Princess Mononoke alone in the dark. All this in an old-school Kinkos xerox 8.5″ x 11″ format!


“Wow. Wow, really? Look, Wondra could snap your wanna be Ricky Martin ass in half and mail your spleen to Hook if she wanted to, so why not keep all the “bitch” comments tucked away into that turd brain of yours. I mean seriously, you’re the shittiest stool pigeon ever, how do you even find out any of this underworld shit you’re always reporting to Hook with as high a profile as you keep? I feel like Hook’s just too lazy to use Google on any one of his many goddamn smartphones because your information can’t be too insider. Like, every fucking wanna-be carjacker and armed insurrectionist knows who you are!” – A Little Light


The air outside was crisper, a refreshing spray of April breeze tickling at his flesh. He pulled his Harrington jacket a little tighter. The street was alive with drag queens and leather daddies and kids voguing in knock-off Yves St. Laurent, punks with spikey pink hair and Camaros with their trunks rattling under the weight of anthemic bass. Henry kept his eyes trained on the misshapen sidewalk, at the crack vials and used condom wrappers crackling under his Doc Martens. He was busy thinking about nothing, letting the wild night’s conversations slip over and through him, so much so that he’d walked a bit past his bus stop and had turned to go back when he saw the boy of velvet standing in front of TRINITY, under an awning, patting his pockets, shaking nervously, his muscles rippling out of his thin green shirt. He looked like a shadow. When the boy found his pack of cigarettes, the boy cursed to himself that he’d lost his lighter. A kind of ghostly sadness crept over Henry when he saw the boy standing there without a light, and this sadness grew as he watched wave after wave of clubgoers pass the boy, and though the boy’d ask, none of them had a light for him. Henry quickly patter himself, but remembered he’d stopped smoking a year ago. – Clones


Get a copy of A R K D U S T by contacting Alex at theyarebirds @ gmail. com or follow Alex’s new queer superhero tumblr, the A\terv3/rz3.

BETA DECAY by Andrew Jackson King

Maybe it’s because I started to read Beta Decay #4 while luxuriating on my roof in the hot Philly sun, but the short fiction pieces inside Andrew’s zine remind me of all the random pulp novels I used to bring with me on the week-long family vacation down the shore. Except stranger and more ominous, and neatly within the treatment one could imagine given to summer Hollywood movie releases, but the kind you leave the theater feeling strangely bereft and wondering if a milkshake at the diner after is really going to bring you back to earth. Beta Decay #4’s assortment of unrelated(?) short stories gives the reader glimpses of the incomprehensible world as it reveals itself to mundane human perception. Shit is creepy yo (but I’m not trying to spoil it here!).


Frances closed her eyes. Her mind pulled out from the building, out from the town, out from the metropolitan agglomeration, out from the continents and sea and hemisphere, out of the earth completely. Against the deep black, she saw the planet as a red, pulsing dot, emitting a see of radio waves, microwaves, gamma rays, a nearly infinite spectrum.


Spread out before Jeremiah was a monolith of coral, splashes of orange and red and yellow. Jeremiah always thought someday he would be able to make out patterns, that after a while, he’d be able to understand the exact way that the organisms grew and deviated from geometrical perfection, but this information had eluded him ever since he was a boy pouring over the dusty picturebooks on his mother’s shelf


Get MOAR BETA DECAY here (for free!).

UP AGAINST THE WALL: A History of Resistance to Policing in Philadelphia by Arturo Castillion

I picked up this zine while at a punk/noise/thrash? show at LAVA Space in West Philly, an autonomous organizing space on Lancaster Ave. (Ever since this new show organizer, Zu, rolled up to town there’s been a #brosfallback no racist/colonialist/misogynist/phobic bullshit atmosphere at their shows that’s been a breath of fresh air, especially for someone that stopped going to shows because they were full of violent man babies. Another novel aspect of the shows they organize is the provision for zines & hang-out discussion space, which is embarrassing to find novel because it should be normal if we’re having radical bands play radical spaces. ¬__¬;) Anyway, Arturo was there, and intrigued that someone had made a zine summarizing local black resistance to police, I bought a copy.


This zine is essentially an academic-feeling summary of racism and power relations surrounding the Philadelphia police, its formation, and how the black communities being terrorized by them resisted in the forms of mass uprisings. Appropriately, it feels like reading from a history text book from middle school, and is easy to digest. And similar to most every classroom history textbook, its author provides no personal bio or reasoning for compiling this particular history of resistance. So while it’s very intriguing and useful to read about black Philly resistance to cops, I couldn’t help but feel displaced by the bodiless and unsituated voice of the narrator (despite having shook their hand!).

In Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America Kristian Williams describes how policing has historically functioned to enforce a white dominated racial order. In the city once the nation’s capital, the predecessor of the modern day Philadelphia police was the civilian-run “night watch,” which monitored the populace from the time of the early eighteenth century. The watch, which developed in Boston as well, was the Northern equivalent of the Southern slave patrols. In 1837 the mayor of Philadelphia declared, “Every colored person found in the street after (the posting of) watch should be closely supervised by the officers of the night.” Whether it was the night watch or the slave patrol, the white population as whole was expected to police black people.


The introduction of the first black officers reflected the growing size of the black population. In the Philadelphia Negro W.E.B. Dubois described how in 1884 Mayor Samuel G. King appointed the first sixty black officers to the police department, a move that was opposed by whites. These police were put on duty exclusively in black neighborhoods and only permitted to arrest black people. Dubois also noted that none of the original black policemen would ever receive any promotions. Thus, the incorporation of black police was not a sign of racial progress, but instead a means to control the rising black populous.


Despite the voice behind the curtain vibe, the zine served as a solid reminder that many other histories and conflicts have occurred in this city. It compiles historical facts to demonstrate just how real and tangible white supremacy and racist power dynamics are and how they contributed to the current status quo. What I found most useful and intriguing were the recounts of several street incidents throughout the 50s and 60s where police beatings & other open abuses of power were confronted and stopped by suddenly forming crowds of black Philadelphians. It closes by summarizing the actual tactics and methods used to confront police violence, namely that there is power in quickly gathering groups of people. Useful to read if only to remember, since those in power would love to have us forget. . .

You can probably get your own copy of this and Arturo’s other police resistance zines at LAVA Space shows and Wooden Shoe books, or you can definitely read an updated text-only version of it here.