Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn't Die is an anthology of queer joy and queer community in the face of disaster. Now, more than ever, we need to revel in the bright spots amidst the darkness. The anthology features twenty six stories and poems, cover art by Grace Fong, and the indie tabletop RPG Dream Askew by Avery Alder.
"This well-edited anthology is remarkably tonally cohesive, united by a fresh view of the apocalypse and themes of community, mutual care, and self-actualization in the face of adversity. Readers both queer and otherwise will find much to love in this joyful celebration of difference and the power of choosing tenderness in a tough world."– Publishers Weekly
"I highly recommend this anthology for anyone looking for a stellar round up of short fiction featuring queer voices and themes. It is hopeful for a bright and warm future despite calamity and chaos. This is the post apocalyptic fiction that we deserve in a world on fire."– Erin Barbeau, Insectoid Reviews
"Rarely does a small press put together something so good so early on. If Neon Hemlock continues this kind of work, they are destined to become one of the best indie presses around."– Arley Sorg, Lightspeed
Table of Contents
"A Party Planner's Guide to the Apocalypse" by Lauren Ring (short story)
"A Sound Like Staying Together" by Adam Shannon (short story)
"A Future in Color" by R.J. Theodore (short story)
"Be Strong, Kick Many Asses" by Aun-Juli Riddle (short story)
"Champions of Water War" by Elly Bangs (short story)
"Didn't Our Lord Deliver Daniel" by Christopher Caldwell (short story)
"For the Taking, For the Making" by V. Medina (short story)
"Imago" by A.Z. Louise (short story)
"Note Left on a Coffeetable" by Mari Ness (short story)
"Safe Haven" by A.P. Thayer (short story)
"Soft" by Otter Lieffe (short story)
"The Black Hearts of La Playa" by Jordan Kurella (short story)
"The Bone Gifts" by Michael Andrew Milne (short story)
"The Currant Dumas" by L.D. Lewis (novelette)
"The Descent of Their Last End" by Izzy Wasserstein (short story)
"The Dreadnought and the Stars" by Phoebe Barton (short story)
"The Last Dawn of Targadrides" by Trip Galey (short story)
"The Limitations of Her Code" by Marianne Kirby (short story)
"The Valley of Mothers" by Josie Columbus (short story)
"Venom and Bite" by Darcie Little Badger (short story)
"When She Nothing Shines Upon" by Blake Jessop (short story)
"When the Last of the Birds and the Bees Have Gone On" by C.L. Clark (short story)
"You Fool, You Wanderer" by Brendan Williams-Childs (short story)
A Note From the Editor
What can we look for when we read stories of collapse and apocalypse while the world is on fire? It's hard to know at first glance—perhaps, a map? Or a blueprint. Something to guide us forward, take us out of this mess. Reflections on the end of the world and its aftermath have been a crucible leading to so many incredible narratives that give those possible blueprints: Tank Girl and Mad Max: Fury Road, yes, but also The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller, and Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.
These stories show us that the end is not simply a dark road leading to more grit and doom. In that tradition, Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn't Die is an anthology centering queer joy and community in the face of disaster, via the amplified horrors of our current trajectory as well as more haunted and sinister ills. We set out from the beginning to find scraps of hope in every ruined future, knowing that queer folks, especially those with less access to sociocultural capital, often must learn to find meaning within the fractures of all manner of broken terrain. Yes, you'll read stories of folks learning how to get by, how to survive. You'll also read stories of folks learning to love themselves, learning how to find one another in the darkness, and learning how to stand up for each other. Making something stronger and more beautiful.
I am grateful to be able to share the roleplaying game Dream Askew by Avery Alder with you at the end of the anthology. Dream Askew forgoes dice and uses shared authority to explore the collapse through a queer enclave. It's a compelling, thoughtful system and I hope it gives you an opportunity to live and breathe the sort of stories that can become blueprints of your own.
If this summer has taught me anything, it is that there is beauty and power in refusing to back down, especially in the face of seemingly unassailable opposition. Even when the world is on fire. I'm humbled and inspired by the stories in Glitter + Ashes. Each of them is a bright torch against the cold night. Bear witness to their resilience and determination. Hear their laughter, and raise your fists with them.
May they give you the same solace they did me. May that solace be a commitment to nurture scraps of hope, glittering and fragile, amidst the ashes of today, not some uncertain future. Refuse to back down. And if joy is missing, may we come together to make it ourselves.
On unceded Nacotchtank & Piscataway land