Edit: Today, as 2018 ends, "Mother" has also been featured as a daily deviation. Thanks to akrasiel for the feature, and to all who have come here on reading it! In celebration, and also because it's really good and deserves the feature, I have added another recommendation to the end of the list. [/]
The results of Memnalar's All Hallow's Tales contest have been posted! Have a look at the winners (WINNERS - All Hallows Tales 2018), and it's worth looking at the entry galleries as well: apparently it was a very close thing.
My entry, "Mother", placed as a runner-up:
My thanks to the excellent judges, who had a lot of great prose to sort through, and to Memnalar as always for running the thing.
"Mother" takes a fantastical turn at the end - of course - but the situation at the beginning draws very heavily from reality. It isn't, and shouldn't be seen as, cheap entertainment: words are a weapon, and especially now that I am (by placing in the contest, and winning me some fabulous prizes) profiting from these ones I'm honour-bound to make sure that weapon is pointing in the right direction.
I could tell you, now, about the failure of the #StopTheShock campaign, or about the refrigerated isolation chambers used in France. I could tell you about the alarming rates of filicide and lethal shootings by police in the US. I could tell you about the torture masquerading as therapy that results in a something like 70% PTSD rate. I could tell you about the so-called "Autism Parents" who take a perverse pride in dehumanising their children and parading their own absolute unfitness for parenthood for pity points. I could tell you that one of the best-known autism organisations out there, Autism Speaks, is a hate group that advocates for eugenics, sympathises with filicide, and makes a business of dehumanising the people it claims to speak for.
(I know it's generally poor form to make these sorts of claims without linked sources and precise statistics, but I've had an especially terrible month - I was barely even able to write the damn story - and right now, hunting them down is beyond me. If you want details, Google is your friend.)
These things are true, and it's worth ensuring that they're known, but just raising awareness of terrible things does very little except to raise the likelihood of compassion fatigue - which, in these days of terrible things happening constantly the whole world over, is a very real problem, and one I don't particularly want to contribute to. So instead, I'm going to take my little moment of fame here and use it to boost some autistic voices:
Stim is an anthology of stories, essays and art by autistic authors and artists, edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones. It's being crowdfunded on Unbound and is currently at 61%, and includes both low-earner and pay-it-forward pledge levels.
Also on Unbound, In Other Words is a collection of short stories by eight autistic writers, edited by Miranda Prag and Katya Balen. It's at 26% right now.
Ada Hoffmann is an autistic author of speculative fiction and poetry. Her novel The Outside is coming out in June, but is already available for preorder.
If you don't want to wait, she's got plenty of stories already out. I particularly recommend the novelette The Scrape of Tooth and Bone, which is chock-full of excellent selling points: Ghosts! Robots! Dinosaurs! A happy ending!
Ada Hoffmann also writes Autistic Book Party, a monthly review series of autistic science fiction and fantasy (ie: SFF with autistic characters and/or authors). A few highlights from the list:
"That's Entertainment" by Meda Kahn is not quite my thing in terms of writing style, but it has a lot of impact and sticking power. I was thinking about this story for months after reading it.
"They Jump Through Fires" by Gabriela Santiago is a moving horror story which focuses on grief.
"A Silly Love Story" by Nicole Cipri is more or less what it says on the tin: a silly love story with a twist (like a poltergeist), and excellently written.
"The Starship and the Temple Cat" by Yoon Ha Lee is a sad and excellent story about spaceships and a cat who is a ghost.
Rose Lemberg is an autistic author whose stories develop an intricate secondary fantasy world. Grandmother-Nai-Leylit's Cloth of Winds and Geometries of Belonging are two of my particular favourites. They also have a novella coming out, but I believe there's no info on preorders or release dates as of yet.
Rose Lemberg also has a series on Patreon called Writing While Autistic (most of which is free to read for non-patrons). The intended audience is autistic writers, but people of various other neurodivergencies have also found the series helpful.
Per neurotype: "on the nonfiction end, Steve Silberman's NeuroTribes is a comprehensive story of the history of autism, admittedly narrow in places but still a must read."
Also per neurotype: "I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Temple Grandin, who also meets with Oliver Sacks in An Anthropologist on Mars."
"The Sweetness of Honey and Rot" by A. Merc Rustad begins hopeless and moves to hopelesser, but somehow manages to pull around to inspiring by the end. Also featuring some really excellent worldbuilding.
If you enjoyed "Mother" - or even if you didn't - please take a look at some of these! Obviously you're under no obligation to go through the whole list (nor, indeed, to click through at all), but there's excellent writing here that deserves some love.
While I'm here, I'd also like to feature "For the Love of No-fur", which squanpie wrote for The Gauntlet. It is sad and beautiful and full of feels, and you should definitely read it.
For the Love of No-fur So small, so scrawny, this man pup. His stubby legs, his tiny hands with no strength in his grip. All wrinkly skin and no fur in sight. Yet this warmth in my chest! My own pups – bold and strong – then him, so shy, so slight.
But so bright. His wit a star for them all. No-fur and fur; pink, black, brown and tan; a right pack of scamps.
The trash can? The work top? No high spot past his grasp. No child lock past his skill and my pups’ claws. Then tasty crumbs for all. The band of imps at play.
Many months on. Most of my pups far from me in new lands with new folks now. Only black pup for me. Black pup, and no-fur. Still, we warm in my big plush bed, black pup, no-fur, and me. Then puppy class for black pup, potty class for both, and first words for no-fur – all steps on the way to new skills and fresh tests. They both strong. They both bright. My boys.