Telling Climate Stories in a Climate Crisis ⁠— DEPART, DEPART! Launch

Despite the fact that another hurricane is headed toward Houston, we’re having a launch for Sim Kern’s DEPART, DEPART!, a book about a hurricane that destroys Houston. Yes, it is too on-the-nose, but this is the reality of contemporary climate fiction. We are telling these stories in the spaces between climate crisis events.

More details about the online event are on our Eventbrite page, including how to secure either a free ticket, a ticket + ebook, or a ticket + signed paperback of DEPART, DEPART!

But we’re most excited to show you the main prize for the event, which you are entered to win simply by showing up on Thursday September 24 at 7pm EST/6pm CST on Zoom.

Photo of the collection of art, zines, and other goodies included in the Queer Climate Apocalypse Survival Kit
A photo of the collection of art, zines, and other goodies included in the Queer Climate Apocalypse Survival Kit

Main Prize: The Queer Climate Apocalypse Survival Kit

With any of our tickets and your online attendance at the launch event, you’re entered to win either 1 of 5 ebook + DEPART, DEPART! sticker pack prizes, or the main prize ⁠— $100 worth of climate change and queer related art, zines and other goodies from Gulf Coast artists. Read on for more info on the pieces included in the Kit.

IT WAS NICE WHILE IT LASTED Print + HOLDOUTS comic, Book #1

Art and comic by Sarah Welch and @MysticMultiples ⁠— a Houston artist duo and self-publishing imprint specializing in risograph comics, zines, and prints. Much of their work focuses on climate effects along the Gulf Coast.

Photo of IT WAS NICE WHILE IT LASTED Print + HOLDOUTS comic, Book #1

POX ON THE PATRIARCHY Print, GLORY HAND tote, sticker, & X2 SNAKE HEAD Enamel Pin

These items are from @antlerantler aka María-Elisa Heg who is a curator, cartoonist, and organizer living and working in Houston since 2005. She is currently a Curatorial Fellow at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

Sparkly TRANS PRIDE mini-painting, RAINBOW patch, and PAINTED LADIES Correspondence Cards

Painting, patch, and cards are from @lisachowart . Lisa is an artist, illustrator, designer and story maker living in Houston, Texas. Her work strives to connect with young viewers through humor, whimsy and a ton of sass.

RESIST DYSTOPIA Poster

This poster is by @ganzeer. Ganzeer, who gained an international following for his artwork during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, has debuted more than 40 art shows all over the world. This image comes from his graphic novel, The Solar Grid.

Photo of Resist Dystopia Poster by Ganzeer.

ANGELIC SEAL Fashion Face Mask

This face mask is by @RubbberNecking. Linda Mota is a Houston-based artists whose work reflect her own body issues and dreams that used to be aggressive growing up.

PEP TALK ZINE!

Zine by @saracress. “A collection of poems to get you through another day.” Sara Cress is a writer in Houston. She writes poetry inspired by the news for a project called Breaking Poems, which can be found at http://BreakingPoems.com or on http://Facebook.com/BreakingPoems.

Photo of Pep Talk Zine! by Sara Cress.

Texas Edibles Print

This print is from the Center for Imaginative Cartography & Research. The CICR is a Houston-based creative studio and Risograph press run by Emily Halbardier and Erik Sultzer. Find them at http://thecforicandr.info and on instagram: https://instagram.com/thecforicandr/.

XICANA VEGAN issue #1 & BLM Floral Sticker

Suzy González is an artist, zinester, curator, and educator based in San Antonio, TX. Xicana Vegan is a zine working towards dismantling systems of power and making amazing food while doing it! Find her at: https://linktr.ee/SuzyGonzalez.

Photo of XICANA VEGAN issue #1 & BLM Floral Sticker

FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT, IT’S BLINDING Poem-Print

The poem-print is by S. Rodriguez, a Texas based artist, curator, and organizer. Their work most often explores the nature of bodies, physical, digital, and linguistic. Unfortunately the print was slightly damaged in shipping. Find them on Insta: https://www.instagram.com/blve.azvl/.

Photo of FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT, IT’S BLINDING Poem-Print

Untitled Photo Print by Ryan Francisco

Ryan Francisco is a Houston based photographer. With her body of work, she invites viewers to seek their own hidden connections within her photographs. Find Ryan on Insta: https://instagram.com/rfranciscophoto/ and the web: http://rfranciscophoto.com.

Photo of Untitled Photo Print by Ryan Francisco

Join Us on September 24 to Officially Launch DEPART, DEPART!

We’ll be chatting about climate fiction and giving away these cool prizes. Don’t miss it! Click through to the Telling Climate Stories in a Climate Crisis on Eventbrite to get your tickets. See you soon!

Photo of Sim Kern's DEPART, DEPART! sticker pack
5 sets of this sticker pack will be given away with a DEPART, DEPART! ebook.
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Stelliform’s Faves, Part 2

This post is the second in our series sharing the Stelliform Team’s favourite books. Part 1 of the series is here.

As a new press still in its first year, we are a small team publishing a select number of books. At this early stage of Stelliform Press’s existence, our readers provide sounding-board conversation and support for the EIC. But that kind of support is informed by the books our readers have loved. We share some of those in this blog post.

Kristen Shaw, Editor and Reader

Future Home of the Living God – Louise Erdrich

Cover of Louise Erdrich's Future Home of the Living God.

This novel takes place in a future in which evolution has stalled (and some say is moving backward); in an effort to preserve humanity as we know it, the government cultivates a dystopian environment in which reproduction is highly controlled. I love this book because it reflects on issues of reproductive rights and freedoms, the relationship between human societies and nonhuman ecologies, and provides an Indigenous perspective on the Anthropocene that pushes against common tropes often visible in apocalyptic/dystopian literature.

Annihilation – Jeff Vandermeer

Cover of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation.

In Annihilation, a group of women scientists go on a trek into Area X: a mysterious, uninhabited stretch of wilderness in Florida where expeditions have been disappearing (or, their members return with amnesia and severe medical problems). This book is my perfect combination of weird, terrifying, and intelligent as hell. Although I enjoyed the whole Southern Reach trilogy, Annihilation has a special place in my heart. I continue to be captivated by this book upon each re-reading and it has made me rethink the relationship between humans and nonhuman ecologies.

The Only Harmless Great Thing – Brooke Bolander

Cover of Brooke Bolander's The Only Harmless Great Thing.

This lyrical alternative history novella combines the history of the radium girls with the narrative of a community of sentient elephants to tell a story that is unlike anything I have read before. This novella is heartbreaking but it is also an important call to action that draws attention to how the current global economic system leads to the exploitation and destruction of so much human and nonhuman life.

Wind-Up Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

Cover of Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl.

Set in the 23rd century on a world devastated by climate change and controlled by biotech and corporate interests, Wind-Up Girl is another example of a novel that perfectly balances emotionally complex characterization and political commentary. Despite being set so far in the future, it is an instance of sff that uses the future to reflect on the present in its exploration of globalization, agriculture, and the commodification of human and nonhuman life.

The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin

Cover of N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season.

The first book of N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy is a sprawling, epic fantasy set on a planet that experiences a period of catastrophic climate change every few centuries. Exploring issues around race, caste, gender, and climate change, and populated with memorable characters and settings, I love this book because of how incredibly dense and intricate the world building is, because of the power and the nuance of the political commentary, and because it is straight up fun and entertaining to read.

Rae Stoltenkamp, Reader

The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

Reading this was the first time I read a book and realised social injustice was not just related to skin colour.

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s lyrical language and a heartrending plot which had me reaching for the tissues. I found this read particularly poignant as I always envied my cousin’s green eyes since mine are a boring brown.

Senor Vivo & The Coca Lord – Louis de Bernières

This is my absolute all-time favourite when it comes to Magic Realism. Stonking plot, fantastic characters, fabulous writing style and a twist which had me openly crying on the top deck of a London bus.

Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler

Never have I read science fiction and felt like I was actually reading current non-fiction as much as with this book and its sequel. My main advice – don’t read either this or the sequel during a pandemic.

When Rainbows Cry – Rae Stoltenkamp

Cheekily, I’ve chosen one of my own for the final book in this list because it’s about a world fighting back against environmental catastrophe. Young people are my protagonists and the earth’s very able helpers as I feel it will be down to them to save us from the disaster we’ve set in place.

What are your Cli-fi, Speculative, or Literary faves?

We’d love to hear from you – if you’ve read any of these books, did they leave a lasting impression? What other books would you recommend?

Be sure to check out last week’s list and commentary and stay tuned for next week’s instalment, a post from Stelliform’s Proofreader and Editorial Consultant, Jacqueline Langille, discussing some favourite environmental books and films.

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Stelliform’s Faves, Part 1

With our first two books in print or at-the-printer, and our next two on the decks (surprise! book #4 will be announced soon!), we’re looking to the climate and social justice related books we love, reading them backwards in a ring of fire to conjure up more environment-focused submissions for Stelliform Years 3 and beyond. Just kidding, we’re sharing them here so you can get to know us a little better — what we love and what kinds of stories we’ll likely publish in the future.

This post is the first in a three-part series in which each of the Stelliform team will discuss some of their favourite books and what they like about them.

Selena Middleton, Publisher and
Editor-in-Chief

Midnight Robber – Nalo Hopkinson

Cover of Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber

First of all, the language in this book is entrancing. The playfulness and rhythm of the Caribbean and Caribbean-inspired diction picks me up and carries me away not unlike one would be carried away during Carnival. But I also love how this book approaches the idea of home and exile and how those concepts shape individuals, families, and communities. By the time the young protagonist Tan-Tan arrives at New Half-way Tree, she is already at least two times removed from her Earth origins and the ways in which she interacts with her surroundings and the indigenous douen who care for her replays a colonization narrative with a critical lens.

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever – James Tiptree Jr.

Cover of Her Smoke Rose up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

This is classic feminist science fiction. Nearly every story in this short story collection is a devastating blow with enough rage to level civilizations — and white, cishet normative, patriarchal civilization in particular. And yet Tiptree also displays a profound tenderness to those who are vulnerable and hurting and that tenderness is extended to the Earth itself. While these early stories are more cognisant of the effects of over-population than climate change, there is a deep awareness of the interconnections between environment and human relationship that makes Tiptree’s anger even more cutting.

The Dazzle of Day – Molly Gloss

Cover of Molly Gloss's The Dazzle of Day.

The prose in this novel is gorgeous. The Dazzle of Day is a generation ship story and a beautiful ode to life on Earth and the connections we make with our environment — the connections we take with us wherever in the universe we go, connections that are inescapable. I love this book as a counterpoint to more traditional space-faring and space colonization stories because it does not deny the ways that we are connected to our planet of origin and the way that primal connection helps us to stay connected with each other. Plus, Quakers in space.

Alien Virus Love Disaster – Abbey Mei Otis

Cover of Abbey Mei Otis's Alien Virus Love Disaster.

This short story collection is a new addition to my list of favourites. I picked the book up at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown and was immediately in love with the strength of Otis’ voice which often transports to rural or suburban wastes and invites the fantastic into the everyday. Otis’ worlds are so recognizable for people like me who grew up on the edge of so many different categories: between rural and urban, poverty and comfort, belonging and alienation. While climate change and ecological destruction feature in a few stories, more than that there is a singular awareness of the world’s many networks. Otis explores these webs with an enchanting open-eyed curiosity that makes this book a horror and pleasure both.

The Empire of Wild – Cherie Dimaline

Cover of Cherie Dimaline's The Empire of Wild.

I’ve followed Dimaline’s career since she wrote The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy in 2013 and then soared to CanLit stardom with The Marrow Thieves in 2017. While Empire of Wild didn’t get as much attention as Marrow Thieves, the writing in this novel is Dimaline at her best. I loved how this is simultaneously a Western fairy-tale inversion (the warrior “princess” Joan of Arcand must save her beleaguered prince) and drawing deep from the well of Métis folklore with the story a werewolf-like creature, the rougarou. Most importantly, these elements come together to tell a story about one’s relationship and responsibility to the land and how discounting that relationship and responsibility can make one a monster.

Do you love any of these books? What do you love about them? Let us know in the comments or on social media and check out the next instalment of this series wherein Stelliform Editor and Reader Kristen Shaw and Reader Rae Stoltenkamp will discuss some of their favourite books.

Hurricane Laura Relief Fundraiser

Photo of seven stickers from the Depart, Depart! sticker pack
The DEPART, DEPART! sticker pack

Last week Hurricane Laura missed Houston but devastated Louisiana and we postponed the launch for Sim Kern’s trans hurricane novella, DEPART, DEPART! Now, Kern and Stelliform are fundraising for folks impacted by Hurricane Laura — particularly trans, Black and POC folks. We’re giving away 20 ebooks & 5 DEPART, DEPART! sticker packs when you donate to organizations supporting these communities.

The media has moved on, but 100,000s of people in LA still don’t have power, and many have had homes & livelihoods destroyed. This disproportionately affects already-marginalized people who have less of the wealth & resources needed to rebuild, due to systemic injustice.

Sim Kern wrote DEPART, DEPART! in part to shine a light on how after a hurricane, trans people often face discrimination and a lack of appropriate medical care from crisis relief organizations, such as the Red Cross, United Way, and other Christian-led charities, however the affected parts of Louisiana have few LGBT organizations, and none focused on housing or emergency aid. Consider supporting LA Trans Advocates as a form of crisis relief., or another crisis organization working in the state (links below).

How Does it Work?

To enter the draw for the ebooks and sticker packs, follow these directions:

  1. Donate at least $5 (& as much as you can afford to give!) to one of the optional charities listed below.
  2. Email a screenshot of your receipt to Books4LauraRelief@gmail.com between now and Wednesday 9/2 at Midnight, EST.

More Contest Details

  • You’ll get a raffle ticket for every $5 — so $25=5 tickets.
  • 15 winners get an ebook of DEPART, DEPART! and 5 ppl get an ebook and a “Symbols” sticker pack w/quotes from the book that Sim Kern drew
  • Unfortunately, due to the situation with the US postal service + Trump + COVID, the sticker pack prize is only available to folks in the US, but ebooks can be sent anywhere!

Where to Give?

  • ANY of the Hurricane-Laura focused crisis relief organizations listed here.
  • Or LA Trans Advocates, to support the ongoing well-being of Louisianan trans folk.

Are you a Trans Person in Crisis?

If YOU are a trans person affected by Hurricane Laura, please drop a link to your fundraiser/paypal/etc. in the comments here or on Sim Kern’s contest Twitter thread and anyone can enter the contest by donating to your direct aid fund.

A Final Message from Sim Kern

September 1 was supposed to be launch day for DEPART, DEPART!, but when it seemed Laura might hit us, I cancelled our promo events, boarded up the house, & evacuated. And I can think of no better way to celebrate what would’ve been DEPART, DEPART!’s birthday than by helping our neighbors.

Just like Louisiana, here in Houston, we braced for Hurricane Laura to hit, and didn’t know until the day before that we would be spared. It grieves us terribly to watch our neighbors suffer, and we know it could be us next. LA, Houston always has your back.

Sim Kern, author of DEPART, DEPART!

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Hurricane Delays DEPART, DEPART! Launch (Updated)

Meteorological map of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura heading toward Houston.
Two major storms are headed for Houston

This was the most recent map of the storm paths for Tropical Storms Marco and Laura when we made the decision to postpone the contest and launch event for Sim Kern’s DEPART, DEPART!

For those of you who don’t know, DEPART, DEPART! is about a hurricane destroying Houston and how the crises of climate change intersect with some of our most pressing social emergencies. In light of the very real storms currently threatening the Gulf region, and the likelihood that these storms will at the very least cause mass power outages which will interfere with Internet connectivity, Sim Kern’s book launch has been postponed until the storms have passed and everyone is safe.

We will post updates about the launch as soon as we have a new date. In the meantime, Kern posted about the artists who are involved in the book launch prizes. So check out their fantastic work on climate change, queer identities, and Houston:

On their Youtube channel, Sim Kern is vlogging their hurricane preparations:

Post-Hurricane Update (August 28 2020)

Hurricane Laura turned away from Houston, but made landfall in western Louisiana as a Cat 4 storm — one of the strongest storms the region has seen in decades. As Sim Kern notes in the video below, its time for those who were spared to step up and help the communities who were hit.

The event which was originally a book launch is now pivoting to a hurricane relief fundraiser. The book launch main prize will be used to help affected communities on the Gulf Coast. A specific focus of the fundraiser may be relief for homeless LGBTQ youth.

We’ll release more details about the fundraiser as the plan takes shape. A DEPART, DEPART! Launch event is still in the works, but will be postponed as Kern focuses on helping hurricane-affected communities recover and rebuild.

While the launch is delayed, Sim Kern’s book will still be released on September 1, 2020. Signed copies are available here.