Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Never Again

A month or so ago, a charity anthology was published with the theme of ‘anti-Fascism’. It’s a big theme, almost certainly too ambitious for any anthology to deal with properly or even in part. Also there’s bound to be a certain lack of clarity as to what fascism constitutes; and how can a worthwhile opposition be mounted against something that lacks strict definition? And yet... The theme of Never Again is still one of the most important of any anthology that has come to my attention in recent years. I believe that one of its editors, Joel Lane, has stated that genre fiction is among the most reactionary of all kinds of fiction, and I'm sure he's right in that assessment. But why is genre fiction so reactionary?

The ultimate problem, I fear, is that a form of 'fascism' (with a lowercase ‘f’) is a basic part of human nature. I suspect that a form of 'socialism' is also a basic part of human nature but I conclude that the fascist part is stronger and more elemental than the socialist part. So the first step in opposing fascism requires an effort of conscious will against our own dark emotional drives; and this fight must take place before the greater outer struggle can commence. I am in constant struggle with my own emotions and urges. True morality consists in using your reason to overrule your emotions when your emotions are inappropriate -- an extremely difficult task that causes angst. Without angst any moral decision isn't really moral. The struggle is internal first, external later. For me it means overcoming my own hotheadedness and impetuosity.

We need to ask: what good will such an anthology as Never Again do? What effect will it have? Will it convert any readers with fascist tendencies to a more tolerant outlook? Very unlikely. So what is the point of it? And what is the point of writers saying they they "support" the cause of this book? My own view is that the main good that will come of this anthology is that the editors, contributors and readers will have “nailed their colours to the mast” -- in other words made a clear unambiguous statement of intent (their opposition to fascism). That's not much of an achievement really, but it is something; and every such statement in the world of genre writing is important.

While this anthology was in the process of being compiled, a rather unpleasant incident occurred which has soured me towards certain corners of the writing world. A brace of small-time writers attempted, rather clumsily, to sabotage the book. Ask yourself why anyone would want to sabotage a project devoted to combating fascism? The obvious conclusion is that the writers in question must be fascists. That makes sense: it’s something I can understand. But no, it turned out that those writers wanted to sabotage the project because they hadn’t been invited to contribute to it. Imagine that! Unable to contribute to a cause they claimed to believe in, they tried to derail the cause, simply because of egotism and narcissism. That’s a rather absurd irony and needless to say I have decided to have nothing more to do with those responsible for such behaviour.

The above photograph of Never Again was sent to me by Allyson Bird, the other joint editor of the anthology. I have an eccentric rule that I like to use unique photographs of the books that I try to promote, rather than the publisher’s own images. I don’t know why I invented that rule for myself but I intend to stick to it. Never Again is published by Gray Friar Press and features 23 stories by such authors as Ramsey Campbell, Joe R. Landsdale, Stephen Volk, Nina Allan and Gary McMahon. My own story ‘Rediffusion’ is also a part of the mix. All profits from sales go to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

I talk about some of my favourite anti-fascist stories in more detail here.

Rhys, please show some evidence of actual intended sabotage and writers so doing.

My review of the book is here - and, in front and behind the scenes I, for one, am also trying to make sure that the book does well in all its aspects of aim.
Certainly. It's easy to show evidence of sabotage:

If you read carefully though the thread, you'll come across people attempting clumsy sabotage, as I pointed out in my blog entry.
I thought you meant that thread. It is aninteresting one for people having the time to interpret the minutiae of it.
Even if you're right, you do no service to anyone or anything by writing that paragraph above and opening old wounds, other than to the service of future argument, in my opinion. Theere is a lot to be said again *if* it is stirred up again. And I don't think it will do the book any good.
I may be being over-sensitive here. I feel I have nothing to be ashamed of (in fact I'm rather proud of my actions based on the intentions I know I had), but I do acknowledge elements of this whole matter that could have been handled better. And that is what I at least am currently trying to do. des
I'm not reopening old wounds, Des. I've been disgusted by what happened since it happened. I have the right to express my feelings and opinions about it, and about anything else I damn well please, on my own blog. And don't let anyone try to stop me... Seriously.
OK, fair enough.
At what point did you go from uninvited to 'My own story ‘Rediffusion’ is also a part of the mix', Rhys? And who did you have to annex fascistly to make it so? :-)

I must admit I didn't read the entire thread. It got a bit tiresome after a while.
Hi Steven! Hey, long time...! How are things? As for your question: I'm persona non grata in the writing world, so I rarely get invited to contribute to horror anthologies or other horror projects... I don't complain about that, though!

The moment I learned of this charity anthology, however, I was determined to see if I could get in, as it's a cause I believe in. I pointed out to the editors that I could bring a different perspective to the task than most other writers. They were sceptical but gave me a chance. My first submission, written especially for the anthology, was rejected, but my follow-up was accepted.

I don't annex things for political purposes; I annex them for the sheer act of annexation. :-)

The next thing I plan to annex is an annexe where Ann, my ex, works.
Correction: I meant that I'm persona non grata in the HORROR writing world, not in the rest of the writing world, of course...
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