Early in my career, The Village Voice did a caricature of me that hurts even today when I think about it. It was a picture of me eating money. I had this big, bloated face. It was this assumption that if fiction was selling a lot of copies, it was bad. If something is accessible to a lot if people, it’s got to be dumb because most people are dumb. And that’s elitist. I don’t buy it.
ONEQ is a very talented artist based in Okinawa, Japan. Her work as an illustrator includes a variety of genre such as magazine artwork, DVD cover art, apparel and clothing art, and manga illustrations.
OK, first; didn’t we already do this 15 years ago with HARRY POTTER? And then again with HIS DARK MATERIALS? And then again with TWILIGHT? And then again with… OK, you get the idea.
You know why adults like me read (and sometimes write) YA fiction?
Because YA is one of the few remaining outlets where telling a great story is its own justification.
So much modern literature all but apologises for having a plot. The literary establishment has long looked down its high-falutin’ nose at crime fiction, speculative fiction, thrillers, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, romance… basically, if stuff actually happens in your book, chances are it’s not “proper” literature.
Fuck proper literature.
Young readers aren’t shy about telling you when they get bored. If they don’t like something, or you’re not keeping them interested, they will happily put down your book and pick up someone else’s instead.
(You’ll often hear YA authors explain that “writing for kids” is, contrary to popular belief, actually harder than writing for adults. This is one of the reasons why.)
YA fiction isn’t ashamed to be fiction. It’s not ashamed to tell a story. Personally, I’m overjoyed that so many adults are now reading YA.
Maybe, at last, we’ve realised that what we want from a story…. is a story.
When the Skin Thing, we called it, first came to our doorstep, the growing season was upon us. The only thing we grew were onions. We had come to Oblivia hoping for better, but onions were all that would take in the soil. The colony soured with expired-milk complexions. The allotments we tended were sallow and scuffed.
The Skin Thing dragged itself along on two great stalks that looked like elbows. Imagine a person, out prone on the ground, that drags himself by fits and starts. The elbows strove to gouge the earth, as sharp and tall as circus poles, and they levered the body along by great drags. Its head stuck out eyeless, oblong as a horse’s. Behind the elbow-things it used to drag itself across the ground there stretched, like a laundry sheet strung out for drying, a tensile wall of thick pink skin.
Adrian Van Young is the author of The Man Who Noticed Everything, a collection of stories, which won the 2011 St. Lawrence Book Award, and is out now on Black Lawrence Press. His fiction and non-fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Lumina, Black Warrior Review, Electric Literature, The American Reader, The Believer, Slate, The New Inquiry, and Bookslut, among other publications. He lives in New Orleans with his wife Darcy.
About the Guest Editor
Gigantic Worlds is a forthcoming anthology of science flash fiction published by Gigantic Books and edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto. It features work from Ted Chiang, Lynne Tillman, J. Robert Lennon, Meghan McCarron, David Ohle, Alissa Nutting, Charles Yu, Jonathan Lethem, and many more. Gigantic has been publishing magazines since 2009, and we felt it was finally time to try our hand at a full length book. The resulting anthology contains 51 stories by 51 authors who range from best-sellers to up-and-comers and from masters of science fiction to literary authors trying something new. All of the stories are new or previously uncollected in book form. The hardcover book, which features a cover by Michael DeForge and color interior art, is currently available for preorder at giganticbooks.com.
About Electric Literature
Electric Literature is an independent publisher working to ensure that literature remains a vibrant presence in popular culture. Electric Literature’s weekly fiction magazine, Recommended Reading, invites established authors, indie presses, and literary magazines to recommended great fiction. Once a month we feature our own recommendation of original, previously unpublished fiction, accompanied by a Single Sentence Animation. Single Sentence Animations are creative collaborations: the author chooses a favorite sentence and we commission an artist to interpret it. Stay connected with us through our eNewsletter (where you can win weekly prizes), Facebook, and Twitter, and find previous Electric Literature picks in the Recommended Reading archives.
To be sure, Norman Saunders is known for his crime pulps. Dime Detective, Spicy Mystery, and some of the best covers for the genre defining Black Mask magazine. But in truth Saunders had a remarkably diverse body of work ranging from westerns to jungle adventures to what we see here, Science Fiction.
Anyone familiar with Bela Lugosi’s classic 1930s serial The Phantom Creeps might see a similarity with it’s central ghoul-faced monster, sadly an exaggerated stylish beastie who’s type would soon fall out of fashion in the pulps and paperbacks in favour of a more realistic approach.
And don’t skim over the interiors here, some absolutely amazing stuff from Vergil Finley, Lawrence & Hannes Bok.
Recommended by Lincoln Michel for Electric Literature
Issue No. 142
Henry asked a question. He was joking.
“As a matter of fact,” the real estate agent snapped, “it is.”
It was not a question she had expected to be asked. She gave Henry a goofy, appeasing smile and yanked at the hem of the skirt of her pink linen suit, which seemed as if it might, at any moment, go rolling up her knees like a window shade. She was younger than Henry, and sold houses that she couldn’t afford to buy.
Kelly Link is the author of the collections Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners,Pretty Monsters, and Get in Trouble. Her short stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Best American Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. She has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She and Gavin J. Grant have co-edited a number of anthologies, including multiple volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and, for young adults, Steampunk! and Monstrous Affections. She is the co-founder of Small Beer Press and co-edits the occasional zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Link was born in Miami, Florida. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Northampton, Massachusetts.