Essays

Give Me Heroism or Give Me Death

Pain and fatigue are everywhere in speculative fiction. The more dramatic the stakes of the story, the more likely you are to witness the protagonist dragging their broken, battered body through a slew of ridiculous challenges to succeed. From Frodo and Sam entering the caldera of Mount Doom to Ripley fighting evil aliens for her […]

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Unlocking the Garret

It’s in the stereotype. The artist of tempestuous temperament who drinks to excess as he stumbles, lean and tuberculotic, up the winding steps to his garret. Van Gogh cut off his ear. Plath put her head in the oven. The artist is passionate; the artist is mercurial; the artist is mad. Sometimes stereotypes do hold […]

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Why I Limp

I don’t know what it is. When I was younger, I was made to believe it was polio, and then I met survivors of that disease and it put doubts in me. Now, I think maybe it’s clubfoot. I could ask my mother, but then, I don’t have the urge to find out. I don’t […]

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Stories That Talk

Late last year, my therapist told me I was bipolar. We had talked about my personal history, and I’d always had phases of depression and mania, though the former had lately been a deeper, more life-altering issue. Depression for me is melancholy, feeling I’m sinking deeper into a hole, and compounded guilt over missing deadlines […]

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Design a Spaceship

Design a spaceship. Or a space station, if you prefer. Imagine an artificial planet, or a galaxy. But start with a spaceship. Start from nothing except the vacuum of space. Sketch it with a freshly sharpened pencil across the blue-green lines of graph paper, or model it in three dimensions, dragging your mouse to shape […]

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We Are Not Your Backstories

(Content Note for discussion of self-harm and suicide.) The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley taught me that gangly, self-conscious girls could become heroes; not damsels, but knights and dragon slayers. Robert Heinlein’s Friday introduced me to pansexuality, sex without shame, and the joy of multiple partners. Like most, I discovered myself through the […]

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