Update Post

Hello all, a little update for you. The pandemic is still pandemiccing, and now that Queer Galaxy Storm! is finished I’ve slowed down on the blogging.  For those of you who don’t know, I did have COVID back in March, and am still doing a slow recover. Alright, and did not have to be hospitalised, but supremely slow and bloody aching all the time. There is much fatigue and brainfog.

Reading: currently reading The Deep by Rivers Solomon, and listening to the songs that inspired it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EnPFsk4lOo&list=OLAK5uy_nvgRCvdpAGBFgauzqs2QyD2X-QMRVSkdY

Writing: I’m in a bit of a dip between projects. There are a few things I want to look at, but everything is rather slow at the moment. I might go back to poking that poetry book notion… Gonna try to write book reviews as well, as I have actually managed to read a few and it’s been nice to get that part of my brain back.

Listening to:  Tales to be Told Volume II by the Mechanisms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Uz1LkOn4jQ&list=PL6qTkVOYGwr0HGMdvD5SGRQRcJSPBwpC3

And also every version of Hadestown that I can get my hands on.

WatchingThe Witcher. Aaaaah, it’s just, oh it’s so camp, and silly, and fantasy, and swords, and magic, and timelines, and fight sequences. Mmmmmmm. Also the memes are golden.

Image shows me wearing a crocheted cape in autumnal colours with a hood

Making: I have created a cape. I may be, a little bit, embodying my Wizard self from Wherefore. Also you should definitely watch Wherefore, and then tell me which wizard you think I am. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qzo8uejd13E&list=PLd-6bmI3UuPDjEp1YqIYY6GkVTmG-1qux)

That’s it for now – short and sweet. Hopefully back with book reviews in the near future. Take care all!


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REBLOG: The uncanny death of Annamarie Nightshade — The Hopeless Vendetta

Enjoy this story about a story, in which we discover that I have been infected by Hopeless, Maine. It was only ever a matter of time… SO MUCH THANKS TO TOM AND NIMUE FOR LETTING ME CLIMB INTO THEIR WORLD AND PLAY!

Hopeless Maine gets inside people’s heads. This is a story about a story… Merry Debonnaire was one of the many people who was not best pleased about what happened to Annamarie Nightshade. She dealt with this by writing into the original story and adding a second layer that changes everything. If you’ve not read that…

via The uncanny death of Annamarie Nightshade — The Hopeless Vendetta

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Book review: Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

image is bookcover, background is white. The title is written on the front: Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race. The words 'To White People' are in white, the rest of the text is in black. The author name, Reni Eddo-Lodge, is in grey at the top

On 22 February, I published a post on my blog.

So, this is less a review, as I am severely lacking in the knowledge that would be required to do a nuanced review of this work, and more of a strong recommendation. I recently read this book, and it is, frankly, excellent. Reni Eddo-Lodge is a brilliant, clear writer. In this book about race and racism in the UK, she covers a lot of things very quickly, very clearly, and with no waffling about. I am absolutely going to have to read it at least once more, if not several times, because there was a lot to absorb. It really hit me how badly I’d been failed by history teachers at basically every level, which was helped along by my privilege meaning that it’s only recently that I’ve searched out information on my own. Did I know the background of the Windrush Generation? No, no I did not. Did I know about the Vagrancy Act? Nope. Did I know about the boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company? Also no. Did I even know about Stephen Lawrence? Not really… Had I ever looked through the statistics on the Met’s stop and searches and databases before? No. Basically, I had absolutely no idea about the depths of my ignorance about the country I live in. And it’s not precisely that I know a lot now – I definitely know more – but that I have a much much better idea of where my knowledge gaps are. Which means I can try to fill them. One thing I want to do is to keep a list of things that I need to do more research on

And now this review has become all about my actions and what I want to do, so back to the point. This is an excellent book. It’s informative, and relevant, and concise. I recommend you read it. No caveats. Just. Read this book. 

Some other things you can do, should you be a person with money. I know a lot of you aren’t – I think most of these places have good information/educational resources available as well if you want to share them.

UKBlackPride – Europe’s biggest celebration for LGBT+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern Descent.

Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust – working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Stand Against Racism And Inequality – Provides support for victims of hate, among other things.

Stop Hate UK – Working to challenge all forms of hate crime.

Hope Not Hate – working towards positive ways of doing anti-fascism.


As always, you are free to buy me a drink through the internet, should you so desire.
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QUEER GALAXY STORM! EPISODE 12: AND SOMEHOW THINGS WERE ALRIGHT by Meredith Debonnaire

IN WHICH THE AUTHOR HAS PROMISED TO SORT THINGS OUT IN ORDER TO AVOID BEING YELLED AT BY READERS.

Where has Andre got to?
ARE CAPTAIN KAZ AND QUEER GALAXY STORM ALRIGHT?
And how will it all end?

Find out in this fabulous episode of
QUEER GALAXY STORM!
Episode 12: AND SOMEHOW THINGS WERE ALRIGHT

In the update chamber, Andre fits a Seedpod into a waiting flower. He then proceeds to sit down. Just for a moment, he tells himself. Just until his knees have decided to be knees again. He hears the booming voice of Ereshkigal the fifty-second announcing the suspension of certain parties from the GGB pending investigation, and the adrenaline leaves him in a rush.

Quite a lot of things happen after that, including but not limited to:

“I don’t care. I got him into this mess, and until someone who knows him better turns up I’m going to sit here next to him until he feels like moving again,” says Madam Schoffren. Nobody argues with her, which is nice. Andre stays on the floor. Someone puts a blanket on him. “Deep, even breaths,” mutters Madam Schoffren.

And:

“Norms! NORMS! On Queer Galaxy Storm. The SAME Norms, who were meant to be in rehabilitative custody!”
“They were meant to be in custody,” says Nura, “I’d be very interested to know how they got out.”
“It’s being looked into,” says the head of security.
“I THOUGHT THEY WERE A MYTH BEFORE ALL THIS NONSENSE!” Snarls Maladora. They look like the feeling of sandpaper.
“I really didn’t know,” says Captain Smith Smith, who is sitting awkwardly behind them and holding her hands to her still-bleeding nose. “I just wanted to have a discussion.”
“YOU DON’T GET TO DISCUSS PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO EXISTENCE!” yells Maladora.
“I assume there’s an experienced Organic gardener on the way to assist our starship and our captain? Considering they had to do a full submerge?” Nura being calm is failing to reassure anybody. Behind her, Maladora vibrates furiously and swears in High Dolphin.
“Someone is on their way, of course,” says the head of security, her face giving away absolutely nothing.
“Meeoow,” says Shipcat.

And:

“Hey, are you coming back to us?” asks Nura. Andre smiles and squeezes her hand. He looks at the plait in her hair and tries not to blush.
“Hi,” he says.
“I’ve got you a vidlink through to Gilgamesh Nine, if you wanna talk to your siblings. I already told them what was going on as much as I’m allowed at this point.”
“Thanks. Later?”
“Sure, it’ll be available.”
“Captain? Galaxy?” asks Andre.
“Ah…” says Nura.

And:

Kaz hears a voice talking to her from far away. It’s familiar and warm and full of memories. It addresses her, and it addresses Galaxy, and after a moment she remembers that they are two separate beings. It murmurs, whispering of stolen moments and vidlinks and nights spent holding each other.
“Come back,” it whispers, “come back to me.”
She wants to return. She surges up through her Lobe. Through Galaxy’s Lobe, and the starship is not her body, and her body is not the starship’s body, and oh this ache in her mind and all the places where she’s wrapped around her lover but she has another lover, she has two and she has to return.
She coughs as soon as she hits air, gasping and choking, and someone catches her and holds her and there’s a lot of movement around her (Queer Galaxy Storm is keeping track of it, knows who’s there and reassures her), so she just concentrates on the warm voice of her other partner. Kazimiril Joshua turns her head, blinking, and smiles.
“Anamaria,” she rasps.
“I’m here,” she says.

And:

“… announced across the waves this morning that a full investigation is being made into the involvement of several members of the Galactic Governing Body with remaining members of Normhold, including ways in which the current structures have supported this type of corruption. The GGT herself has made a statement from Ereshkigal the fifty-second, where she went immediately upon receiving the information. We’ll replay that later. So far, we’ve had confirmation of the involvement of both Elisabeth Endar and Gary Stu, along with a lot of the ninth spoke voting block. Notable exceptions are Mme Jha and Agnieszca Sorrel, who regularly oppose many of GGT Anamaria’s policies but appear to have been unaware of the Norm collaboration. Rumours of a Violet Terror sighting have yet to be confirmed or denied, as have the identities of the civilians involved in bringing this information to the archives. A full analysis…”

And:

“…have any idea how scared I was?” whispers Jason, clinging to Nura’s front like a much younger person. Nura wraps her arms around him tightly.
“I know, I know, I’ve got you,” she says.

And:

“…not really allowed to explain any more until the investigation’s done,”
“You realise this is only going to make you more of an emobodiment back home?” Samira says, raising an eyebrow at her brother.
“Shhhhh,” says Andre, “none of the spaceborn know!”
“You’re safe though?” Carla asks.
“Yes,” says Andre, “where’s Imani?” Carla’s face twitches.
“She’s, uh…”
“She’s outside, swearing at the sky in every language she knows and threatening to, oh what did she say?” Lakeisha grins as she talks.
“Oh, she was threatening to ‘come up there and teach you to get in trouble without me’.” Samira fills in.
“Oh!” says Andre.

And, finally:

“I missed you,” says Maladora, stroking the lighting tube full of goldfish which runs through the corridor. Queer Galaxy Storm purrs. They make their way to the kitchen, where all the other Queeronauts are. Captain Kaz is settled into a hoverchair while her new prosthetic grows, and also covered in monitoring beetles. Jason has squished his way into sitting between Andre and Nura, and is consequently being hugged by both. There’s tea, and hot brine, and several plates full of snacks that most likely came out of a Comfort Package. Maladora hopes they get some of the same face scrub that they did last time – it had made Nura amusingly tipsy. They settle next to Madam Schoffren, who looks bereft without her pipe. And there’s Kaz’ Other Partner, sitting next to Kaz and leaning on her shoulder. She’s wearing a face-vine which flashes often, and occasionally she blinks her way through the notifications, but mostly she’s paying attention to Kaz.
“So,” says Nura, “You’re other partner is the Grand Galactic Tyrant.”
“Um,” says the captain. Anamaria laughs.
“We were thinking of changing the title, seeing as it’s a Normhold legacy, but apparently most people enjoy the irony of having an elected tyrant.”
“I’m actually too shocked by everything else to be surprised,” says Nura.
“Did you really rescue the captain from a broken BykeMaxScooter?” Andre wants to know.
“Don’t answer that,” yelps Kaz.
“Mryyyooowll,” says Shipcat, leaping up onto Anamaria’s lap and headbutting her chin. Queer Galaxy Storm rumbles in contentment.
It’ll be some time before they’re healed enough for open space again, and Kazimiril is more tangled up in them than before which means Kaz is having butterfly feelings about a stellar squid and Galaxy feels rather warm about Anamaria, but they’re happy and their people are safe, and they can follow the progress of the investigation from a distance. Somehow, most things are alright, or if not, are going to be. The starship sings, and listens to the echoes as others join in. A vast choir across the spaces.

The End


Goodness, what a ride! I hope you’ve enjoyed this mildly ridiculous journey with me.
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Poem: Sparrowhawk Love by Meredith Debonnaire

SPARROWHAWK LOVE

I wake up to the sound of
A sparrowhawk thudding into the roof above.
We start the day, as ever, with death:
even if only the death of a pigeon
Sacrificed to hunger.
I’m already nine hundred years old,
Even though I’m only twenty-eight,
And I don’t believe you know what love is
Any more than I do.
Because sometimes love is doing the washing up
So that when you come home,
You don’t have to.
And sometimes love is the hunger,
The precision,
Of a sparrowhawk diving toward a pigeon.
And I don’t believe love should hurt,
But we are taught
To sacrifice ourselves on altars of passion.
And we are taught that to love
Is to disembowel yourself,
Is to scream in the street.
We are taught that love is heartbreak.
And I
Am nine-hundred years old,
Even though I’m only twenty-eight,
And although I have the capacity
To love like a tidal wave:
Rushing across the beach and tearing down houses;
Although I have the capacity to love
With all the fire of the immortal,
I think I prefer the love
That does the washing up.
I think the sparrowhawk
Doesn’t love the pigeon at all,
And is only hungry,
And not a very good metaphor.
Because when I fall in love
I feel as though you are a knife;
I feel as though I am an ocean
Dreaming of the drowned;
As though I am a knight surrendered to a dragon’s claw.
And none of that is the basis
Of a healthy relationship.
So please, my love,
Wash the fucking dishes.

 


Keep the poet cheerful by buying them a drink! If you want to, and are able 🙂


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QUEER GALAXY STORM! EPISODE 11: THE VIOLET TERROR by Meredith Debonnaire

QUEER GALAXY STORM!

What will happen next???

FIND OUT IN THIS FABULOUS EPISODE OF
QUEER GALAXY STORM
Episode 11: THE VIOLET TERROR

WARNED YOU Kaz yells, or Galaxy yells, and she/they move. They spin, and they begin to blossom. Violet sparks across the black.

The Minnows are released, a silver and pink shoal darting out across space, with Andre and Madam Schoffren somewhere in there. The shoal Leaps as one, vanishing from sight. The other ships start slingshotting asteroids and Kaz/Galaxy feels the impact, feels Maladora in the Feed Root and Nura in the healing pod and Shipcat in the kitchen, and the echoes of Andre in the Shoal as the Minnows make lots of tiny Leaps like flickering needles.

YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE MESSED WITH US she thinks, feeling Galaxy stirring somewhere far away.

WE FOUGHT THIS WAR ALREADY.

They bloom. They whirl. Swathes of violet arc like deadly petals across the vacuum. Some of the mechanical ships are old enough to remember. There is a quiet “oh stardeath”, and then silence. The other ships hang frozen in the dark: there is a long explanation for what Kaz has just done that involves an in depth knowledge of mechanical ship minds, the way in which starships process light, and an understanding of the unique things that an organic ship can do. The short explanation is that Queer Galaxy Storm is capable, under duress, of blossoming a shade of ultraviolet light that triggers a response of frozen terror in most mechanical ships, which will spread to anyone deeply linked to them and forcibly shut down all navigation and weapons systems. There are still some intruders on Galaxy, but Kaz struggles to hold onto her awareness of them. She sinks down, and down, and down.

***

Nura stumbles out of an internal healing pod, retching, to find Maladora in about six different plankton tanks at once while the Feed Root crackles.

“What?” they grunt.

“Good,” says Maladora, “you’re awake. Help.”

“Are you trying to trigger a FastSwim?”

“Yes.”

“For the love of matter, why?”

Galaxy’s been squabbed, Captain Kaz is in full submerge and just did something very worrying, Andre’s with Madam Schoffren in the Minnow Shoal trying to reach Ereshkigal the fifty-second with some very important information and we are dead on dust unless we FastSwim. There might be boarders.”

“Stardeath. Right. I want explanations later. And you’re doing that wrong, move.”

Maladora moves, and Nura sticks their arm into plankton tank number three. They have to stretch until their shoulder is submerged, and the plait they’ve started wearing in their hair threatens to dip into the plankton, but there at the bottom of the tank is a root that feels almost entirely like any other root. Nura takes a breath, and snaps it. Queer Galaxy Storm lurches into motion.

“Oh! That was easy,” says Maladora.

***

Andre had not realised just how small Minnows are inside. Or that he would hate it quite so much.

“Take deep, even breaths,” says Madam Schoffren.

“I’m fine,” lies Andre.

“Of course you are. Just do it anyway, for me.”

“D’you think we’ll make it?”

“With Kazimiril Joshua at our backs? We’ll be fine.” Madam Schoffren pats his shoulder. Andre takes a deep, even breath.

“Okay. Do you need me to prep any files? Prepare a Seed? Just in case something goes wrong?”

“That… Would be very useful.”

***

Kaz drifts. Queer Galaxy Storm thunders across the void in FastSwim, their mind still squabbed and tangled. Kaz thunders across the void. Queer Galaxy Storm drifts. Nura punches Captain Smith Smith: it absolutely feels therapeutic. Maladora swears.

***

Getting to Ereshkigal the fifty-second goes smoothly. Getting into the archives also goes smoothly: Madam Schoffren strides in as if there is no question about her presence, trailed by smoke rings and Andre.  In fact, it all feels quite anticlimactic until the moment when they are nearly through the update chamber doors and Elisabeth Endar herself steps out, smiling pleasantly.

“Madam Schoffren, so very good to see you.”

“Elisabeth,” says Madam Schoffren, “a pleasure. And Gary! Hi Gary.” She waves. From behind Elisabeth Endar, Gary Stu awkwardly waves back. Andre concentrates very hard on being not noticed, which isn’t difficult because Madam Schoffren, despite being so very short, takes up a lot of room.

“A friend of yours?” asks Gary, tilting his chin towards Andre. Madam Schoffren blinks, and turns her head to glance at him.

“No,” she says, “are you with maintenance?”

“Um,” says Andre, “Yes.” His hands are sweating, and he’s vibrating with rage, but he tries to stay calm. “Just, uh, checking the chamber. For soil balance. Gotta keep those acidity levels… Level.”

“I thought the Archives ran on a closed circuit water system?” says Elisabeth, looking at him. Gary Stu is paying precisely zero attention.

“Well yes, but you still have to keep the soil balanced. It’s a whole ecosystem of micro-organisms working together to store information on multiple levels and the retrieval alone requires…”

“Yes, thank you, I’m sure it’s all fascinating. Do go ahead and… Maintain,” says Elisabeth Endar. She holds out an arm to Madam Schoffren, “walk with me.”

And Andre is abruptly alone. He slips into the update chamber, removes a Seedpod from his sleeve, and looks for a vine.

***

“…thought you could get away with this. Where is the information?” Elisabeth’s grip on Madam Schoffren’s arm is tight, and Gary is much closer than he needs to be. Madam Schoffren blows out smoke rings thoughtfully.

“Hidden, obviously. Come along now, I’m not just going to waltz in here with it.” Madam Schoffren rolls her eyes.

“Here,” says Gary, opening an office door and ushering them through. This is followed immediately by an undignified tussle, during which Madam Schoffren’s pipe is broken, Elisabeth gains a rip in her jacket, and Gary acquires a bruised jaw.

“Hah!” he says, holding up a Seed triumphantly.

“Oh no, you have defeated me,” says Madam Schoffren. Elisabeth  produces an unhooked vine from somewhere. A few moments pass while the two politicians get the vine wrapped into the Seedpod and Madam Schoffren mourns her pipe. Eventually a voice emanates from the vine:

“…the sensation of pleasure shivering through every nerve-ending. Captain Santos gasped, certain he was about to pass out. ‘Oh, Delight!’ he cried, overwhelmed. Surely, surely this would be too much? After all, he’d never before heard of a Captain sleeping with someone else’s ship, let alone someone else’s ship, their own ship, and their human lover at the same time…”

“What?” whispers Elisabeth. Gary just blushes. Madam Schoffren grins.

“Must have picked up the wrong Seedpod,” she says.

“Then where is it? Where is the evidence?”

“…gentle fingers trailed down his thigh, leaving sparks of warmth in their wake. ‘Relax, my love. You’re so beautiful like this.’”

“Perhaps I lost it,” says Madam Schoffren.

“Is this the new Ciaran Lust?” asks Gary, “I swear it hasn’t been released yet.”

“Oh, I got an advance copy,” says Madam Schoffren.

“…his lover’s eyes, changed by time and experience but still, almost unbelievably, the same man who’d years ago been lost to him. ‘Amora,’ he sighed, and the name on his lips was better than any poetry.”

“Gary focus!” snaps Elisabeth. Gary sighs.

“Look, let’s just call in the Norms. They can take the fall for this.”

At which point, a security guard in the doorway clears their throat and explains that the honourable politicians need to come with them now, as there are some questions about corruption that need to be answered. Madam Schoffren grins, and goes to find Andre.

And in next week’s episode: Where has Andre got to? ARE CAPTAIN KAZ AND QUEER GALAXY STORM ALRIGHT? And how will it all end? Find out next Friday!


In this science fiction future, people in positions of power who abuse that power actually get consequences. Oh yes they do. And Madam Schoffren didn’t even need to use her weapon.

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QUEER GALAXY STORM! EPISODE 10: WE HAD IT IN WRITING by Meredith Debonnaire

QUEER GALAXY STORM!

The return of Madam Schoffren plus SURPRISE POLITICS!
IS ANDRE ACTUALLY SWEARING?
And can we figure out where all those Norms kept coming from?

FIND OUT IN THIS FABULOUS EPISODE OF
QUEER GALAXY STORM!
Episode 10: WE HAD IT IN WRITING

“I don’t understand what’s happening!” Maladora’s voice has several inhuman layers as they wail across the vines.

“I know, I know, but we need to get out of whatever this is. How’s Nura doing?” Captain Kaz sounds calm.

“He’s still unconscious. He just… He was just knocked right out of the vines. I’ve put him in the internal pod for healing but, Captain, I can’t… I can’t help Galaxy like he can. I don’t know how to work a Feed Root!” Andre sounds less calm.

“We’re going to be fine, Andre. Can you access the Fungal system?”

“I can try?”

“Good, do that. Maladora?”

“We had it in writing, Captain,” says Maladora.

“I know.”

“You promised!”

“I am aware, Maladora. Can we please focus on our current predicament?”

“I can’t do anything. The Looms are blank. I don’t know where we are or what’s around us, and I can’t plot a Leap. I could try to climb in and shimmer with Galaxy but I might end up wiped out as well.”

“Is this an attack?” asks Kaz.

“I don’t know!” shrieks Maladora. As if on cue, the entire ship rumbles and shudders. Somewhere, Shipcat mryoowls in protest.

“Madam Schoffren,” says Captain Kazimiril Joshua, “I think now would be a good time for you to tell us precisely why is it that you needed urgent transportation to Ereshkigal the fifty-second.”

The vines are silent.

“Madam Schoffren, now please.”

“I found evidence that members of the Galactic Governing Body have been working with the remaining Normhold against GGT Anamaria. I have to get it to the Archives on Ereshkigal the fifty-second to trigger an expulsion.”

“They’ve been working with Norms?”whispers Andre.

“Yes,” Madam Schoffren sounds small and scared.

“Those quivering, rock-hearted, parasitic, starkilling, land-eating, sky-burning, half-spliced, treachorous greedmongers!” snarls Andre. There are another few moments of silence.

“Seconded,” says Kaz, “Madam Schoffren, who are we dealing with?”

“Elisabeth Endar, Gary Stu, and most of the ninth spoke voting block.”

“May their bones be eaten by the depths,” snaps Andre.

“We were near the mining colony at Trelt,” says Maladora, “or where it used to be. Remember that asteroid belt?”

“The Trelt belt,” says Kaz, “and if this is an attack we have to assume they’ve deliberately knocked Galaxy. Maybe even a partial squab. They might approach, or they might just rocket asteroids at us while we’re disoriented. Madam Schoffren, I assume you are armed?”

“Always.”

“Good. Maladora, get off the Looms and head to the Feed Room; I want you to see if you can trigger a FastSwim to Ereshkigal. Andre, any luck with the Fungal system?”

“Not so far.”

“In that case I want you to take Madam Schoffren to the Minnow bay and set up a manual release. Can you do that?”

“Nura…”

“Is as safe as we can make him right now. I’ll be doing a full submerge in the Command Lobe; either I can pull Galaxy back or I will manual steer until we get FastSwum. Let’s go!”

Queer Galaxy Storm shudders again, and fulminates furiously. A single vine unfurls, crackles, and begins to speak in the familiar nasal tones of Captain Smith Smith:

Queer Galaxy Storm, Organic Class Pod, Violet Five, stand down and prepare to be boarded. There’s no need for anyone to get hurt.”

“I don’t know, someone needs their arse kicked,” mutters Andre. Madam Schoffren laughs quietly.

“Captain Kazimiril Joshua, you will respond to our hails. Stand down and prepare to be boarded.”

Nobody responds. In the Feed Room, Maladora fiddles nervously with their Quantum Beholder Unit as they submerge their limbs in plankton and run fingers through delicate roots and whisper. Nura breathes slowly and steadily in an internal pod, tucked deep inside Queer Galaxy Storm’s body. Andre and Madam Schoffren hurry down a corridor, darker than usual and with none of the warmth and liveliness that Andre associates with Galaxy. Madam Schoffren’s fingers drum against a shiny, round device on her belt and she grips her pipe with her lips. Andre presses his hand against a wall, which gives way softly to let them into the Minnow Bay. In the Command Chamber, Kaz settles deep into the Lobe. Warm liquid rises around her with none of its usual glow and she adjusts smoothly to the familiar sensation of breathing it. Her connection to Galaxy is filled with static, quiet and cold as it shouldn’t be. She shuts her eyes, and dives. The Lobe looks large enough to comfortably fit a person, and it is, but it goes much deeper.

Kaz dives, resolutely not thinking about the connection that has gone silent and the enemies outside. She feels her prosthetic splutter and stop responding as she gets deeper in. She’s done a full submerge once before, which is no guarantee that she’ll come through this time. Queer Galaxy Storm is, in essence, an enormous spacefaring sentient plantform. Climbing inside them is a risk, especially when they aren’t conscious to help. Kaz might disintegrate. She might lose her mind. She might come back thinking she has petals or vines or stamen. But Kaz isn’t about to hang about while some greedy politicians murder her lover, hurt the Queeronauts, and use Norms to destroy evidence of their own corruption. So she dives and her lungs burn and her mouth tastes of burnt caramel and her brain stretches out and tingles until she can close her eyes and feel the vacuum around her and the space where Storm should be and she grits teeth that she only just remembers having and speaks:

GET OUT. YOU HAVE ONE MINUTE.

The other ships, all seven of them, shudder. They are mechanicals with minds, designed to be Organic compatible, but more obedient to their captains than an Organic would ever be: it is something that distresses the Captain, usually. Distantly, Kaz notes that Social Conservatism is not one of them.

GET OUT AND TAKE YOUR CAPTAINS I WILL NOT WARN YOU AGAIN.

A fast series of images: there are people on your ship, you are not ship/half only not a threat, weak. Your crew can be hurt, we are many, we have a mission we do not want to hurt you, surrender, we can blockade, surrender, surrender.

WARNED YOU Kaz yells, or Galaxy yells, and she/they move. They spin, and they begin to blossom. Violet sparks across the black.

TO BE CONTINUED *DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUH*


I have the next episode written! I do! I promise! And it will be here next week!

Also just as a note of interest I have had this entire series written since before they started going up. Edits were needed on the last few episodes but yeah, this was all written over twelve weeks ago… Interesting how things start feeling relevant isn’t it…
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QUEER GALAXY STORM! EPISODE 9: IN WHICH MALADORA DOES NOT UNDERSTAND UNRESOLVED ROMANTIC TENSION by Meredith Debonnaire

QUEER GALAXY STORM!

Nura’s third renny threatens to visit.
WHAT IS MALADORA DRINKING?
And is Queer Galaxy Storm actually a matchmaker?

FIND OUT IN THIS FABULOUS EPISODE OF
QUEER GALAXY STORM!
Episode 9: IN WHICH MALADORA DOES NOT UNDERSTAND UNRESOLVED ROMANTIC TENSION

“This is a calamity!” wails Nura.

“I’m not sure I follow,” says Maladora, frowning over a hot mug of brine.

“Absolute calamity. My only recourse is to fake a new ID, move to Bathomet 14 and spend the rest of my life raising tardigrades while listening to stellar bop and telling stories about when I used to sail the stars.”

“I’ve heard it’s a good job.”

Shipcat mryowls, and climbs onto Nura’s head. Their whiskers are covered in something that looks suspiciously like plankton. Nura groans into the table, and Shipcat purrs.

“Why is it a calamity?” asks Maladora.

“Because. It is my third renny, Ismay, and she is very direct.”

Maladora sips their brine, and waits. Nura heaves a great sigh into the table, and continues.

“I haven’t told Andre that I like him yet. And Ismay will.”

“Oh,” says Maladora.

“Oh?”

“Well,” says Maladora, “I thought you were already partnered.”

“You did?”

“Yes. You spend a lot of time together. You get into fights on his behalf. You share food. You give each other gifts. You update Andre about your child, and he updates you about his family on Gilgamesh Nine. My understanding of humans meant I thought you were already partnered. I didn’t realise that there had to be a verbal component to your understanding of this.”

“We’re… Not?” says Nura.

“Does Andre know that?”

“Stardeath. Where is Andre?”

“Filing pod. It’s tax this cycle.”

“Stardeath.”

Shipcat mryowls as Nura stands up abruptly and hurries out of the kitchen. Maladora grins into their brine. Galaxy trills gently through a vine.

“Well, maybe this will actually work,” says Maladora, who is glimmering gently like the sound of full wineglasses.

***

Andre is in a filing haze. Deep connection with Queer Galaxy Storm usually does this to him, which is why Captain Kaz is in a gelpod in the corner keeping an eye on him so she can remind him to do things like eat food and take breaks. Andre has never said how touching he finds it that the Captiain takes time to do things like this, and she’s never mentioned it either, and they both just grin at each other a lot. Andre likes it.

He also likes filing. There’s something very satisfying about having kept the financial flowers in place and entering it all in. Andre’s already registered how much Universal Income the Queeronauts have received, expenses, jobs completed, time spent on community work, and food claims. He’s partway through filing their part-time diplomatic advantages (done in hawthorns) when Captain Kaz gently taps the vines with a reminder that he has a break scheduled, and also to tell him that Nura is hovering in the doorway looking worried. Andre saves his progress and rolls out of the pod, blinking. Captain Kaz’ hair is in the process of springing back into place after exiting her gelpod, and she’s holding two steaming mugs and grinning. Andre decides the state of his own hair is a problem for later.

“Thanks,” he says, accepting the mug.

“No bother,” says Kaz, sipping her own. She has a quiet sparkle in her eye, and whistles in counterpoint to the slight squeak of her hoverchair as she leaves. Nura is indeed standing in the door, shifting from leg to leg. Andre waves. Nura rolls their eyes, and sinks down to the floor to sit next to him.

“How’s it going?”

“Good,” yawns Andre. “More than halfway through. They keep threatening to bring in Monocrop.”

“Hah!”

“Indeed, but so far wiser people have prevailed.”

“I’m glad.”

Andre sips his soup. “So, what’s worrying you?”

“Uh,” says Nura. “Well, my renny is visiting.”

“Yes?”

“And, um, Maladora said some things.”

“Ye-es?”

“Well…”

“Nura, spit it out!”

“Are we partnered?”

Andre chokes on his soup. Nura tries to help by slapping his back, which does not make anything better, and also causes him to spill soup. Tears pour down Andre’s face as he coughs and splutters.

“Nura!”

“Sorry!I just, Ismay is visiting and she’s blunt, well, direct, and she’d definitely tell you that I like you and I want to tell you that and then Maladora said that they thought we were already partnered and…”

“Nura.”

“I got worried that maybe we were? Sort of? But I didn’t want to assume and I wasn’t sure if you were interested in…”

“Nura, can I get a word in?”

“And I do really like you and your whistling and when you lecture on organic filework and…”

“NURA!”

“Sorry. Yes.”

“I’d love to be partnered with you.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Lakeisha is going to be so smug that she called this. And Samira. All my siblings, actually.”

“Oh.” Nura smiles. Andre smiles, and then sighs at the mess on the floor.

“But let’s talk about what being partnered means for us when I’m not filing taxes. Because it’s important to me that we don’t… Misunderstand each other? In this? And we both have a lot of… Family stuff, I suppose. And different cultural things. And as much as I’d like to skip straight to the bit where we have romantic dates and you beat me at mancala, we should do the talking first.”

“That’s a good idea, yes, that’s… Yay,” says Nura. They rest their head on Andre’s shoulder. Andre grins, and drinks what’s left of his soup, and enjoys the wiggly sensation in his stomach that reminds him a bit of caterpillars.

***

Galaxy, I think you should have waited to let them tell us,” says Captain Kaz. Galaxy trills excitedly.

“I know you like your crew to be happy love, but this is private.”

“Shhh,” says Maladora. “I need to savour this moment.”

Captain Kaz rolls her eyes, and refills Maladora’s mug with more brine.

“So, should I tell them that Ismay already arrived?”

Savouring!” says Maladora.

“Don’t worry, I’ll disturb them later. Jason sent presents with me, and I must tell Nura that they’re making a holo about the Violet Terror; they’ll be delighted. Anyway, Captain, you were telling me about the plankton systems?”

Kaz turns to Ismay, a short woman with a luxurious beard and a colourful headwrap, and smiles.

“Of course, so the Feed Root is really Nura’s responsibility, but when Galaxy and I were flying solo…”

And next week: The return of Madam Schoffren plus SURPRISE POLITICS! IS ANDRE ACTUALLY SWEARING? And can we figure out where all those Norms kept coming from?


 

So I have had migrainey stuff going on for a few days, which means although I have edited this episode I may have missed things. Apologies if so! As ever, you can buy me a drink if you feel so moved.

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When you have to break up with an author

Hey all!  Trigger warning for mention of child abuse, mention of transphobia, mention of racism.

So I’m taking a moment to talk about the a thing that many readers will be familiar with: the author break up.

It’s a horrible feeling isn’t it, when someone you look up to turns out to not be actually a great person? I’ve done a few author break ups, and I’m still never sure what the best way to do it is. The earliest one I can remember was the author break up with Marion Zimmer Bradley. I loved The Mists of Avalon when I was young, read it multiple times, never wanted to finish reading it, read most of the other Avalon books as well. And it turns out that she was a child abuser. I’ve not yet actually thrown her books out, but I haven’t been able to read them since. With Marion Zimmer Bradley though, she is dead. She is not still alive actively causing harm (unless I missed the news and we have a zombie apocalypse now too). So I feel that, as long as I’m A) not promoting her as an excellent human being B) not contributing money to her estate C) not being an arse and I dunno, going after the people she hurt (why would I do that anyway? I don’t understand some people) then I’m doing okay. It’s more complicated when the author is still alive, and has a humonguous platform.

My current, and ongoing for a few years now, author break up is JK Rowling. I grew up on Harry Potter, I was absolutely a Potterhead, and it so hurts to watch this enormously influential author who I looked up to continue to use her platform to be transphobic, to continue to tell stories which, as I got older and more educated, I could see have a lot of racism built into (the money-loving goblins who run the bank, the mixed-race Leta Lestrange who just… dies, the whole thing with Nagini, the furore over Hermione being acted by a black woman [which is a slightly different issue in that JK supported it, certain  racist fans were voraciously against], Cho Chang, house elves, and as I think has been pointed out by multiple people [ who I’m only not naming because I’ve seen so many people point it out, I think Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, the author of The Dark Fantastic, was a big one though] how did the slave trade even happen with the hidden world of magic in HP?). So yeah, it’s safe to say I’ve been in the process of breaking up with JK Rowling for, um, years. I’ve not felt the need to talk about it before. But here she is, again, on twitter, being transphobic, trying to claim her statements are feminist, and saying that she loves trans people but she just doesn’t want them to *checks notes* um, exist? Or she doesn’t think they’re discriminated against and she also thinks that, by existing, trans people are discriminating against women, possibly specifically lesbians. Which is… A take… A bad one, in case I wasn’t making that clear.

So can I continue being a Potterhead? I cannot divorce the author from her comments, from the way her personality bleeds into the things she creates, and from the way she wields her platform like a weapon. When someone as influential as JK makes transphobic statements, when she continues to not check the racism in her creations, it has real life repercussions for thousands of people. I am also really aware of how well timed this has been to draw attention away from BlackLivesMatter, though who knows if that was intentional or not. It’s also pride month. Yeah. I’m not impressed.

And then I thought about it, and, to be honest, although I love arguing the minutiae as much as ever (CHARLIE WEASLEY’S TIMELINE ANYONE?), it’s been about four years since I felt the need to re-read a HP book. I mainly watch the films for Alan Rickman. I already own all the HP stuff I’ll ever want and honestly it’s so easy for me to just… Not buy any more official merchandise. Because all the fun stuff is happening in fandom and has been for years. You heard me, all the new HP content I actually like is in fandom. JK, on top of being an arsehole these days, also gives us such excellent *SARCASM SARCASM* content as “wizards just poop their pants“. The fanfic authors however give me actually great content along the lines of “what if Regulus Arcturus Black survived?” “What if James Potter turned into a deer and speared Voldemort?” “how about trans Harry Potter, please and thank you?” “How about trans, mixed-race Harry Potter?” (I’ve lost the damn link for this one) and yes, there are also an equal number of fics that go “the deatheaters were MISUNDERSTOOD and they just wanted BLOOD PURITY is that too much to ask?” which I avoid like wildfire because yeah, no, I don’t want to read your fantasy racist shit. It may take me longer sometimes to realise it’s racist shit when it’s not as obvious as that example, because I absolutely have white privilege and the accompanying blindspots, but I’m not gonna stay in there once I’ve realised. And with fanfic no-one has any more authority than anyone else (mostly, I recommend checking out Stitch for amazing analysis of racism in fandom, because it does exist and there is an ugly side to fandom, and it is noisy and has real-world consequences) and I can choose what I want to read, and how, and curate it and enjoy it and none of it is going to give JK Rowling anymore money that she really doesn’t need. I have no idea if this is a good enough author divorce. I may need to divorce her more. I’m aware I have only spoken about two author break ups, both of them women, and there’s more to be talked about there in the standards that people are held to and how we hold women and POC to higher standards than we do white men. I may have to poke my bookshelves, and find out if there are white men authors on there I need to break up with too.

But yeah, in short, anyone who wants some  HP fanfiction recs, because they want in the world but don’t want the racism and the transphobia? Hit me up, I can probably do a deep dive on my fanfic bookmarks and find you some. Or you can read this excellent short story When the Letter Comes by Sara Fox – it’s got magic and transness. I’d also recommend checking out this link to a twitter thread, which is full of recs of books about and by trans and nonbinary people:

And here’s another twitter thread full of trans and enby sff and fantasy writers:

I’ve read very few of the books in either of those threads, so lots to look forward to!

And I know it fucking hurts, because for a lot of us the HP world was such a big part of our lives growing up and it was such a huge part of many of our identities, so I guess I just want to say that it’s totally valid to be angry, and upset, and grieving this, and to feel betrayed. I know I do, and I’m not in any of the groups she’s hurling shit at. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t rage when this influential person is literally trying to say she doesn’t want you to exist.

But yeah, this is it, this is my official, it-is-over, author break up with JK Rowling. What I took away from the HP books was that it’s not okay to stand around pretending nothing is wrong when injustice is occurring (and that I will always be angry with Dumbles for leaving HP with the Dursleys) and I’m really really trying to get better at that. This, although a small thing, is a part of it.

If you have money, rather than buying me a drink this time round, why not donate the equivalent of a drink you would have bought me (should you have felt so inclined) to UK Black pride? LINK HERE or possibly the Albert Kennedy Trust LINK HERE

QUEER GALAXY STORM! EPISODE 8: “…THE WHOLE SHIP NEARLY SQUABBED” by Meredith Debonnaire

QUEER GALAXY STORM!

The Queeronauts visit a Recovery Station!
WILL KAZ REVEAL THE IDENTITY OF HER OTHER PARTNER?
And does being the Dolphin Ambassador affect Maladora?

FIND OUT IN THIS FABULOUS EPISODE OF
QUEER GALAXY STORM
Episode 8: “…THE WHOLE SHIP NEARLY SQUABBED.”

“…one of those little BykeMaxScooters, if you remember those? Just about spaceworthy, but mostly powered by your ability to peddle really hard.”

“Are those…  Are those actually a thing?” asks Andre, “I thought that was just a story starborn told people who’d been born soilside.”

“Very real,” says Captain Kaz, who is lying on a towel next to the rippling pool, her prosthetic leg detached next to her, “anyway, there I was. Old enough to know better, drifting about with a broken peddle and no emergency Zoom, trying to screw up my pride enough to send out a hail, when the most banged up mech freighter cruises past. It’s scars had scars. And someone was paying attention because I got hailed.”

“Oh?” says Andre, kicking his legs in the pool. Maladora is aware of it, and the ripples that spread out, and where all the Queeronauts are in relation to themself, and where Galaxy floats above them. They stretch out in the pool, letting their edges blur.

“Yep. I got hailed. In the most perfect Antique Spanish I have ever heard in my life.”

“No way,” says Nura, looking up from where they are carefully spraying Andre’s hair and separating it into sections. Maladora has tried having hair, but as no-one can admire it, it seemed pointless. They wonder if they should send a vine to Javanova, who wouldn’t be able to admire their non-existent hair, but can speak High Dolphin fluently. Andre is learning, and Kaz can form sentences that are almost grammatically correct, but it’s not the same. Nura will never be able to learn, which is hardly their fault.

“Antique. Spanish. Perfectly accented. I scrabbled about trying to remember if I knew any Spanish at all. Managed to get out something, and to this day she will not tell me what it meant. There was a horrifying silence, and then hysterical laughter.”

“And then she rescued you?” asks Andre.

“And then she rescued me,” sighs Kaz, staring dreamily up at the ceiling above. Maladora has to orient themselves again, remembering where ‘above’ is. The Dolphin Ambassador left some shadows, and Maladora wasn’t meant to be the Dolphin Ambassador at that point in time, so now their spatial awareness is shot. Shipcat  mryowls, stalking imaginary prey. Thoughts arrive slowly in Maladora’s mind, reaching them from NebulaSisters who are far away. Louder is Galaxy, a humming kind of purple. Close by, the Queeronauts all shimmer. They tune back into the conversation.

“…was ages before we got our acts together and actually admitted to loving each other, and I captained Galaxy in that time, but that was how we met.”

“I don’t know if I have anything that dramatic to tell you,” says Nura, now carefully detangling Andre’s hair with a wide-tooth comb. Maladora is shocked all over again at how heavy they are. How solid.

“It doesn’t have to be dramatic. It’s just meant to be a good memory that we want to share,” they point out, drifting in the water, “the first time I tried working as a Navigator, it was on Furious Thunder Helm. I had very little experience with other life forms. Furious Thunder Helm has Navigation Looms that have only ever worked with one other Navigator. The first time we tried to make a Leap, I tried to be the ship, and Furious Thunder Helm reacted so violently that I was unconscious for a week and the whole ship nearly squabbed and Thunder still sometimes contacts me to return pieces of memory.”

“I don’t quite understand how that’s a good memory?” says Nura. They’re intrigued though, if Maladora is reading them right.

“It was a valuable learning experience,” says Maladora, which doesn’t quite convey what they actually want to say. Andre laughs, short and sharp, and Kaz snorts. Maladora listens to Galaxy, murmuring gently at the edge of their mind. “Hmm, no, so. Ah! It was good, because that was when I realised I had successfully built a me. I was very proud. ”

“Is that quite early?” asks Kaz, who has always been good at remembering things about Maladora.

“Yes,” says Maladora, and leaves it at that. Some of their NebulaSisters are singing, and it is good to lie in warm water and hear them. They feel a very strong urge to dive, to look for a stick or a shell and swim with it, to find people to play with in the water.

“Meeting Jason,” says Nura, their voice low, “I mean, it was. It was so confusing. His other parent, well, we just. We came from such different places. And I didn’t understand why she couldn’t keep Jason, not at the time, because she hadn’t told me about him before so traditionally he was hers. But she had, she had to go. She had to go, and I didn’t know where until much later, and there was this tiny screaming child who needed parents, and me with no partners to raise him with and my GrandRens all with different and disapproving opinions and I was about to start my first stint as an engineer on Sita’s Lovely Wings. In the end I just took Jason with me, and the whole crew pitched in. My rens thought it was hilarious, and spent the first year vidlinking me and laughing while giving advice.”

“He’s a great kid,” says Andre.

“He’s not really a kid anymore,” says Nura, then “he sent me some formwork actually: he’s legally claiming Captain Mia as one of his rens. Mia linked me the other night to talk about it.”

“Is that why you were in the kitchen crying?” asks Andre.

“It was good crying,” says Nura. Maladora thinks that, if they looked, they would be smiling, “we’re thinking of throwing a party.”

“Just let me know when – we’ll get you over to Sita’s Lovely Wings and bring cake and goldfish,” says Kaz. Nura is definitely smiling now. Andre kicks his feet gently. He doesn’t speak immediately. The quiet is friendly.

“Coming to work with Queer Galaxy Storm.”

Maladora tries to pull their attention in, to hold the necessary narrow focus.

“Not just for me, but because it meant so much. It meant that it could be done. The genetic grounding could be undone, and we could get to the sky and not just look up with anger. And maybe by the time my siblings get out, they’ll have figured out ways of us returning as well.”

Nura has stopped doing things with Andre’s hair, and instead has their strong arms wrapped around Andre. Queer Galaxy Storm trills gently, helping Maladora understand the concepts of cut off and alone and trapped. Gilgamesh Nine is something that Maladora, even now, struggles to understand. Maladora thinks the other humans struggle to understand it too. Time wibbles passed like a drunk fish. Then:

“I have a seat in the star and space house this cycle,” Kaz says, “I know there’s a proposal to hold certain seats and skylanes in trust until more Gilgamesh Nine are in the sky. I’ve been supporting it, but I think I’d get more traction if we had an actual ‘Mesher speaking. If you want.”

“Yes,” says Andre, “yes I want.”

“We’ll do that then,” says the Captain.

Quiet rolls back in, and Maladora listens to it, and to their NebulaSisters, and to the echoes of the Dolphin Ambassador,  and remembers where their body is.

And next week: Is Nura’s sense of melodrama overdeveloped?  WHAT IS MALADORA DRINKING? And is Queer Galaxy Storm actually a matchmaker?


I do like a drink every now and then
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