content by

Sam J. Miller

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Fiction and Excerpts [4]

Leveling The Playing Field Through Locus Magazine

I still remember the first time I held an issue of Locus in my hands.

June 2012. Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in San Diego. I had gone with my Clarion class, to hear our Week One instructor, Jeffrey Ford, read. The first few days of the workshop had begun to part the curtains on the wild, weird, wonderful world of the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre, and Locus let me in a little more—with insider deal reports, and reviews of the cutting-edge authors my classmates were turning me on to, and detailed reports of conventions (I didn’t even know what a convention was, can you imagine).

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Five Stories About Actual Movie Monsters

Movie monsters made me.

King Kong and Karloff’s Frankenstein were my first heroes. Superman was cool but Godzilla had my whole heart.

Disney villains. Cartoon bad guys. Kaiju and martians and killer robots. They speak to something primal and exhilarating, the anarchic glee of rejecting everything society wants for us and expects of us.

And for many folks from marginalized communities, that identification is particularly keen. My relationship to Frankenstein’s Monster changed when I turned into a queer teen and homophobic bullying became my reality. His fear of the ignorant villagers with pitchforks and torches was suddenly horrifyingly relatable.

And for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, movie monsters can leave traces as profound as those of any teacher or family member… to say nothing of the trauma caused when your dad let you see Alien and Aliens way too young, and ordered McRibs from McDonalds, which definitely made you puke and probably made you extra-inclined toward vegetarianism.

Or is that just me?

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Haunted Houses, Cursed Lands, and the Horror of Gentrification

This might be the year that gentrification comes out of the closet.

Displacement caused by neighborhood transformation is one of those topics people find tough to talk about, especially when they’re directly impacted by it—or implicated in it.

There are strong feelings on both sides. For long-term residents who are being displaced, there’s often rage (at rising rents, being hassled by landlords and cops, seeing loved ones forced out of their homes)… and grief, at watching helplessly as something they love is slowly destroyed.

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Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments Books Didn’t Give Me Validation — But They Did Give Me Permission

When I was an actual adolescent, way back in the 1990s, YA was a very different place. Sure, the category existed—S.E. Hinton, Paul Zindel, Judy Blume—but it was nothing compared to the incredible proliferation of diverse storytelling that young adults enjoy today. And if any of those writers were writing about gay people, they certainly didn’t carry those books at the library in my small town. As a confused queer teen, I had no books about happy awesome gay people doing happy awesome things. When I did stumble upon queer representation, in the work of authors like Stephen King or Jack Kerouac, I was ecstatic… even if the representation itself was not so great. 

Somehow, I survived. I made it out of my tiny home town and went to college, where I found James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Audre Lorde, Reinaldo Arenas, David Wojnarowicz, Virginia Woolf. In books and in real life, I found my people, my chosen family—and I ended up okay: a happy, proud, out gay man. 

Well, as a person I was okay, but as an artist—maybe not so much. Maybe coming of age without ever seeing yourself in books or movies leaves wounds that run deeper than can be cured by a self-taught crash course in the queer classics. Because as a writer of science fiction and fantasy—and especially young adult—I couldn’t figure out how to tell those stories. 

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Read a Deleted Scene From Nebula Awards Finalist Blackfish City

Please enjoy this deleted scene from Sam J. Miller‘s Blackfish City, a 2018 Nebula Awards finalist for Best Novel.

A little about Blackfish City, out now from Ecco Publishing:

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.

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