What’s in Spoon Knife 3?

Spoon Knife is Autonomous Press’ annual anthology of original stories by queer and/or neurodivergent authors. Spoon Knife accepts short fiction of any genre, plus memoir and the occasional poem. Each volume of Spoon Knife has a different team of editors and a different theme.

The 2018 Autumn Equinox saw the publication of Spoon Knife 3: Incursions, edited by Nick Walker and Andrew M. Reichart (who are also the co-creators of the Weird Luck stories, a growing body of interconnected speculative fiction tales).

So, what’s in Spoon Knife 3? Twenty unique and wonderfully strange pieces by twenty authors representing three generations of queer and neurodivergent literary talent. Let’s take a walk through the table of contents and see what each piece is about…

The Bob Show, by Jeff Baker (fiction)
A fugitive hiding out at his eccentric brother’s home discovers his brother’s TV picks up shows from another reality.

Future Dive, by Alyssa Gonzalez (fiction)
A hilarious but all-too-plausible glimpse of a future dominated by the gig economy.

9-5, by Eliza Redwood (poetry)
A short poem about soul-deadening office jobs.

A Twentieth-Century Comedy of Manners, by Old Cutter John (memoir)
An autistic software designer creates an unintentional disturbance in a corporate hierarchy.

Only Strawberries Don’t Have Fathers, by Judy Grahn (fiction)
Released from a psych ward and hired as a gardner, a sensitive soul becomes witness to the evolving relationships within a family of humans and a family of cats.

Stag, by RL Mosswood (fiction)
A depressed man is revitalized by an erotic encounter with the supernatural.

Life on Mars, by B. Allen (memoir)
A childhood suicide attempt leads to a revelation.

Black Dogs, Night Terrors, and Lights in the Sky, by Sean Craven (memoir)
How do you conduct yourself in the world, when your world is full of monsters and weird visitations?

The Trumpet Sounds, by Alexeigynaix (memoir)
How does one make sense of an encounter with a Mystery too big to fit within the bounds of language and rationality?

Vigilance, by Mike Jung (fiction)
An autistic superhero faces a world-destroying cosmic force.

Spacetime Dialectic, by N.I. Nicholson (poetry)
When you look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of an alternate version of yourself looking back at you, it can lead to some interesting dialogue.

Kill Your Darlings, by Verity Reynolds (fiction)
An alien secret agent, stalking a historical figure in an alternate timeline, learns that her mission has some unforseen complications.

B3: Or, How an Autistic Fixation from the Past Blew the Lid Off My Future, by Andee Joyce (memoir)
A fascination with an old Top 40 song sparks a life-changing creative awakening.

Who Is Allowed? by Alyssa Hillary (poetry)
Being autistic in academia means navigating a system that’s determined to exclude you.

Unworldly Love, by Steve Silberman (memoir)
A gay writer’s memoir of sexual awakening.

The New World, by Melanie Bell (fiction)
In a utopian culture of scholars without gender or sexuality, the gender and sexuality of outsiders becomes a controversial topic of study.

Heat Producing Entities, by Dora M. Raymaker (fiction)
Two young thieves from very different backgrounds have to figure out how to deal with each other when they both go after the same item.

Space Pirate Stowaway, by Andrew M. Reichart (fiction)
A powerful being trapped in the form of a cat stows away on a pirate ship that travels between universes — but there’s something else on board that’s far more dangerous.

The Scrape of Tooth on Bone, by Ada Hoffmann (fiction)
A timid lesbian robot mechanic who can channel the spirits of the dead gets caught up in the deadly intrigues of rival paleontologists.

Waiting for the Zeppelins, by Nick Walker (fiction)
Agent Smiley of the Reality Patrol finds himself in dire peril when his plan to stop Sigmund Freud from destroying London goes awry.

You can order Spoon Knife 3 direct from Autonomous Press, or from Amazon, or through your local bookstore.

 

The Spoon Knife Anthologies: Groundbreaking Neurodivergent, Queer, and Mad Lit

[Pictured above: the cover of Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber]

You might already know how integral the Spoon Knife anthology is to AutPress’ mission. More to the point, it offers writers an opportunity to explore themes that intersect with neurodivergence and queerness, or neuroqueer existence. From the annual series’ debut in Spring 2016 to the upcoming third volume, our goals include publishing authors writing radical transformative work, uplifting voices that are generally marginalized by the mainstream, and being one of the paying outlets for writers that values work and compensates its authors.

Thoughts on Compliance, Defiance, and Resistance

Released in Spring 2016, our first Spoon Knife volume featured poetry, fiction, and memoir from more than 25 neurodivergent authors. That first anthology, edited by Michael Scott Monje, Jr. and N.I. Nicholson, collected a body of work in which contributors spoke to how they navigated compliance, defiance, and consent and in many cases, formed their own strategies of resistance. It was also one of the first wave of titles on the NeuroQueer Books imprint, the beginning of books that focus on queer issues, queering, sexuality, gender, and the intersections of gender, neurodivergence, and other aspects of identity.

Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber

The second collection reached out to both new talent and established writers to push literary boundaries and reveal neuroqueer experiences from within. Edited by Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey, the Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber anthology asked contributors to consider a question: What happens when experience itself becomes a series of tests that must be successfully navigated? This volume gathered work from authors from many marginalized groups, resulting in a volume of stunning, innovative neurodivergent, Queer, and Mad literature.

Spoon Knife 3: Incursions

Coming this spring: the series’ third volume, Spoon Knife 3: Incursions. This edition was edited by Nick Walker and Andrew M. Reichart, the co-creators of the Weird Luck universe of novels and webcomics with interconnected stories about interdimensional travel, alternate realities, and improbabilities becoming probable. Stories from Weird Luck have appeared in both the first anthology and the second edition and will also feature in this third collection. Expect more weird fiction, memoir, poetry in Incursions, which asked authors to consider the myriads of possibilities when one reality intrudes into another.

In 2019: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime

The series continues in early 2019 with its fourth volume, Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. N.I. Nicholson is editing this collection, so expect a full volume of neurodivergent spacetime weirdness. Its submissions call is pretty fresh, so you have plenty of time to submit your own work. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the first two volumes and stay tuned for Spoon Knife 3 later this spring.

Barking Sycamores: Breakthrough Neurodivergent Lit

[Pictured: a portion of Barking Sycamores’ Issue 14 cover.] 

This spring, Barking Sycamores approaches two major milestones. For one, the journal celebrates its fourth anniversary on April 1! Also, March marks two years since it joined the AutPress family. In that time, this literary journal centering neurodivergent voices has published 13 issues to date, with number 14 slated to roll out on March 1. We’ve released two annual anthologies, with a third coming this fall. Right now, we’d like to talk a little bit about Sycamores and each anthology.

Year One: Debuting Poetry and Artwork

Barking Sycamores said “Hello, world!” in April 2014, with one primary mission: to change the public discourse about autism by centering autistic creators and publishing their poetry and artwork. The journal later expanded to include short fiction and to welcome writers with all forms of neurodivergence. Although disability literature has a rich history, Sycamores was the first journal of its kind to focus solely on neurodivergent authors and artists.

Naturally, this focus meshed well with our mission, both with the primary imprint and NeuroQueer Books. We published the Barking Sycamores: Year One anthology in Spring 2016 and brought the journal on board, along with its founder N.I. Nicholson (who’s now the NeuroQueer Books imprint editor). This volume includes work by the Puzzlebox Collective, Thomas Park, Heather Dorn, and more than 35 other contributors.

Year Two: Expanding a Literary Mission

Barking Sycamores: Year Two continues the journal’s mission while expanding into newer literary territory. Issue 8 saw the addition of creative non-fiction, and it’s reflected in this second volume packed with first-hand neurodivergent narratives, poems, short stories, and artwork. Year Two includes work by more than 30 contributors such as Erin Human, Amy Sequenzia, Sean J. Mahoney, and Matthew Robb Brown.

The Story Behind the Name

The journal’s name was deliberately chosen to sound strange but also characterizes the American sycamore tree without its bark: symbolic of what fellow AutPress editor Nick Walker called the “intense and chaotic nature of autistic sensory and cognitive experience” in his well-known essay, “What Is Autism?”. It was also originally meant to poke fun at the idea that autistic artistic communication is a fluke, a savant ability, or meaningless gibberish.

You certainly won’t forget the journal’s name or the work from neurodivergent contributors publishing in the online journal and in the yearly anthology. If you haven’t read Sycamores, pick up Year One, Year Two, or get both volumes with the Barking Sycamores Collection available in the AutPress store.

 

Mixing It Up: Strange Storytelling and Weird Works

Say the word “storytelling” and a few different images might come to your mind. You may think of relaxing on the couch with an absorbing book or picture a group of entranced listeners sitting around a fire and drinking in a chilling ghost story. With our rich creative history, we’ve developed multifarious tools to tell our tales. Whether it’s a single-author book or an anthology, mixing up genres can provide fresh perspectives on storytelling.

Moving Beyond Genres With Monsters

Ada Hoffman’s latest release Monsters in My Mind is a great example of how both short stories and poetry become useful narrative tools. As a mix of flash fiction, prose poems, microfiction, and other forms, it’s evident of the delicious weirdness of which the human imagination is capable. Just as our reality can be neat and structured while messy, strange, and frightening by turns, Hoffman’s book is a unique container into which she’s packed artifacts like parallel universes, fantasy quests, reimaged fairytales, almost-sentient AI, velociraptors, and even cephalopods. This anthology is eldritch in all the right places, spilling far past the borders of the expected and predictable.

Strange Tales in Multi-Author Anthologies

The mix of voices in a multi-author collection results in a fabulous blend of shifting sceneries, intersecting timelines, and fascinating folk. For proof of that, just look at Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber. Woven together by editors Dani Alexis Ryskamp and Sam Harvey, the collection features individuals all attempting to navigate the test chambers in which they’ve been placed. For some, the goal is mere survival while others seek to escape and subvert. Examples from the cast of characters in this anthology include an early hominid targeted by the cruel leader of her hunting party, an agent in an interdimensional police force, autistic transgender women navigating landscapes of social connection and desire, and a guy who talks to his wheelchair.

Add Our Wonderful Weird Books to Your Shelves

Whether it’s oral histories born before the advent of the written word, captivating novels, or lengthy posts on one’s social media pages, we naturally engage in narrative acts. Sometimes, our singular or collective experiences extend into realms that are wild, unusual, or fundamentally bizarre. At AutPress, we’re a huge fan of strange worlds, weird storytelling, and genre-blurring books. Be sure to pick up a copy of Monsters in My Mind, Spoon Knife 2: Test Chamber, Barking Sycamores: Year Two and other anthologies from the AutPress store.

 

First-Time Writers: AutPress Wants You!

If you’re an emerging author, you know how challenging it can be to break into print. In a market flooded with both conventional and indie publishers, how can first-time writers even get noticed? Probably the most frustrating part of your endeavors is building a track record that convinces publishers to even open and look at, much less touch your work. This prospect can be even tougher if you’re transgender, neurodivergent, queer, disabled, a person of color or part of any group that’s typically marginalized by the mainstream. These challenges, plus the rich untapped potential of new perspectives and untold stories, is why Autonomous Press exists. At AutPress, we’re here to help new writers realize their goal of getting their best work into the world.

Emerging Writers in Our Anthologies

Both the Spoon Knife and Barking Sycamores series include work from first-time writers and other new voices. For instance, we were honored to include poetry by Marcel Price, a Michigan spoken word artist performing and writing as Fable the Poet, in our first Spoon Knife anthology released in 2016. Later that year, we released his chapbook Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms. It’s a collection that “shine[s] a light on anyone who has ever felt like an outsider,” as poet and critic Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib eloquently states. Price’s work is not only imbued with incredible structure and rhythm, but it’s a vehicle to bring issues of race and mental health to light.

Indeed, Price is one of many first-time writers in each anthology who also come from a huge range of lived experiences and backgrounds, including neurodivergent, queer, transgender, mad, disabled, racialized, and currently or formerly homeless individuals. Every volume of Spoon Knife and Barking Sycamores is also available as a digital anthology, so enjoying each exciting collection is as easy as purchasing it from the AutPress store.

More Books in Store From New Writers

We’ve got more titles in the works for early 2018, but we wanted to quickly mention one of our fall releases before we sign off. On deck we’ve got Nantais, a science fiction novel by emerging author Verity Reynolds that features an engaging web of mysteries demanding to be solved before a child, a starship, and an entire alien species are lost forever. Want to know more? Stay tuned to this blog, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep posted.