Futuristic Art Submission Period Extended

May 17, 2011

The submission period for queer, futuristic artwork for the July 2011 issue of Collective Fallout has been extended until May 31.  We are accepting submission for the cover; blak & white images may also be considered for the interior (though we do not normally publish interior art).  The “Futuristic” theme of the issue includes sci-fi, slternate history, steampunk, etc.  The following is pasted from our Submission Guidelines page:

Art and Photography submissions must contain queer imagery and fulfill one or more of the following requirements: 1) be related in some way to the accepted fiction genres; 2) be of surrealist, dada, or similar style.  Only one or two full-color images will be printed per issue on its covers.  No other images will be published.  Cover submissions should be submitted digitally via email as an attachment (JPG or GIF) at a maximum of 500 x 500 pixels. Upon acceptance, higher quality images will be requested.

The queer focus of this magazine is on the Art, not the Artist.  So long as the work is queer (and speculative), the sexual orientation and/or identity of the artist is irrelevant.  Likewise, if the work is not queer, the sexual orientation and/or identity of the artist is equally irrelevant.

Announcing the Calamus Prize

April 7, 2011

Collective Fallout is pleased to announce the First Calamus Prize for Queer Speculative Poetry.  First prize is $50 and publication in the January 2012 issue of the magazine.  Finalists will also be published in the January and July 2012 issues.  The reading period for this contest begins August 1st, 2011.  Complete details can be found on our Contests page.

Calamus, or Kalamos, was a figure from Greek mythology.  When his friend Karpos (son of spring and the west wind) drowned in the Maeander River while the two were swimming in a competition, Kalamos allowed himself to die as well.  He was transformed into a water reed; as the wind blew across the reed, his sighs of grief could be heard.  He gives his name to a specific species of wetland flowering plant (also known as sweet flag), which has become a symbol of love — partly for its phallic shape, and possibly because of its psychotropic properties.

Walt Whitman included a section called “Calamus” in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. This sequence of poems homoerotically celebrates the “manly love of comrades.”  It is for the Whitman poems and the transfigured lover that this contest is named.  The following poem is Whitman’s:

We two boys together clinging,
One the other never leaving,
Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions making,
Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching,
Arm’d and fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving.
No law less than ourselves owning, sailing, soldiering, thieving, threatening,
Misers, menials, priests alarming, air breathing, water drinking, on the turf or the sea-beach dancing,
Cities wrenching, ease scorning, statutes mocking, feebleness chasing,
Fulfilling our foray.

from “Bulletproof Faces” by Michael C. Thompson

September 30, 2010


I’m sitting at a glass table in the middle of Fountain Square. Jets of water burst in the center of the tiny man-made lake in the middle of the cross-section, and water splashes lightly to the brick red cobblestones that the glass table that I’m sitting at rests upon.

There is a ragged copy of a novel to my left, an odd little piece entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray. The government claims to have written it. Maybe they did. I’ve never heard of a citizen ever creating anything aside from an outfit to wear. All entertainment is provided to us by the government, even the nightclubs are run by them on some level.

It is a good day. The heat has been too much for me lately. It’s been so intense that it has warped all of the city’s dandies into cartoon-ish wooden puppets, no longer standing straight when they walk but bending into indeterminable angles.

Even in the heat, they won’t stop wearing eight layers of velvet clothing or multiple scarves and top hats. Their plastic eyes gaze out, almost melting, their pupils dilated from obviously the strongest of drugs. The dandies consume absinthe and marrow like water and bread, making homage to their dark god Bacchus, the absinthe his milky green blood and the marrow his own red flesh.

They wear feather boas and fur coats, holding their canes out and slapping the peddlers they pass by. Their hair is dyed black, purple, burgundy, or whichever color they happen to fancy on whichever day it happens to be, and they paint on the darkest of eye make-up, smearing it on their faces like charcoal and smudging it without notice. It runs down their faces in thick rivulets of sweat in this horrible humidity.

I know the government turns up the heat somehow. They must be behind it. They claim it is an unexplained phenomenon, but I’m not as dumb as most of the “citizens” of this prison. They’re behind everything that ever goes on here. I even suspect they are behind my drug dealing. I can’t be sure.

I don’t know Dr. Venison well enough to know anything as an absolute regarding his motivation. But I do know the government is behind this heat. They’re behind the cold when that comes too. I don’t know why. I don’t know why I should care, either.

I have heard that the dandies can be rather violent. Once I saw one beat a young boy of about sixteen bloody and senseless with a cane in a back alley. The boy lay bleeding for ten minutes before crawling under a bench and waiting to die.

I am not a dandy myself, nor could I be. I am decadent, yes, excessive, yes, but I could not fit in with these people because, for the most part, they are my customers. It is not good business to fall in league with your customers. And aside from that, though I do many drugs, I do not find myself reaching the level of pivotal madness that these men do – they are haunted with ghosts from the past, ghosts who visit and torment in the form of syphilis, amongst other things.

I don’t have syphilis because I know who I’m fucking (usually). They really don’t care who they’re fucking. And that, you see, is the essential difference between myself and a dandy. I give a shit.

The city’s government tried to crack down on the dandies nearly two decades ago. At this time I was a young man of twenty-six (and I do rather look like a twenty-six year old to this day, as a result of my constant face erasing and other plastic procedures which I have undertaken at great pains to myself). I remember it as if it were yesterday.

The government was not successful in capturing all of the dandies, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole thing was a sham crack down anyway. Those who were not imprisoned or killed were let go for a reason.

They controlled many things that happened in the city back then – maybe starting to rival the Bit City government for power. Now they don’t, of course. Now they are simply mechanical creatures, re-fueling with drugs and unloading all of that un-necessary semen in the closest vessel at hand. Something happened after the crackdown. Maybe they had gained too much power, climbed too high up a tree, and our fearless leader had to shake it to get them to come back down.

Dandies are great lovers because they always fight back. They hate being out of control. Naturally, the older the dandy, the harder it is to capture him (or her) for such a means, but of course, the older the dandy, the less you want to capture him (or her) anyway. The older they are, the more decayed they are, the more dangerous, the more risky.

Get them while they still think they have the city in their hands, ready for a fucking. Hold them down and listen to them protest before the heroin takes effect and collapses their veins, softens their eyes, drains their vitality and hardens their flesh with age. Take it before the marrow powder fills up their eyes with blood and their souls with filth.

I sit at the table with my ragged copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, imagining.

 I look into a back alley from my safe vantage point in the gray daylight. I see a teenage boy trying to fight off an attacker. He’s got green make-up on his face.

Volume Three = Three Themes

June 22, 2010

Why settle for two issues of Collective Fallout per year when you can have three?  Volume Three will do just that with a triumvirate of themed issues!

Number 1 will be released in November 2010 (well, closer to late October) with a Gothic theme—focused on horror, mystery, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be July 1 – September 15, 2010.

Number 2 will be released in March 2011 with a Fantastic theme—focused on fantasy, magical realism, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be November 1, 2010 – January 15, 2011.

Number 3 will be released in July 2011 with a Futuristic theme—focused on science fiction, alternate history, and related genres.  The submission period for this issue will be March 1 – May 15, 2011.

Our requirements for submissions otherwise remain the same—and each issue will continue to include surrealist and metaphysical works as appropriate to the themes.  Above all, Collective Fallout remains a Queer publication—all literature and art submitted must contain strong queer elements in addition to the theme requirements.

from “The Saint Under the Marsh” by Alex Fleetwood

December 30, 2009


I was saying that St Mary’s-under-Marsh used to be a Catholic girls’ school in —-. It was bombed flat in the War, and rebuilt, which means you get the usual problems with old schools: no-one tidies up these old buildings that get bombed; they just build another lot on top. When the governors decided that they’d had enough, they’d sent the student body to merge with a boys’ school down by the estuary and put the land up for tender, and near the end of that process was where we came in.

To shut down a school, this is what you do:

Arrive in two cars, not a van; that’s partly so that we can put it on the risk assessment that team members will be able to get help independently, and partly because we get jokes if all five of us turn up in a van. Normally Paul picks me up and goes on to get Becky, and Terry collects the equipment and Father Mike. The last few times, Paul and Becky have turned up to get me. Wait to be let in by the caretaker, who’s been told you’ve come to do an electrical safety test. Walk around the site, the grounds and outbuildings, taking account of any abnormal readings on your handhelds (Paul and Terry) or shivers up your spine (Father Mike and me). Whenever anything seems as if it shouldn’t be there, carry out a little superstitious ritual and take the atmospherics again. Upload the signatures to our office database as we go, to check for repeat appearances in case anything’s concealing itself on our soil by imitating the traces of our young. Drive home and argue with Paul and Becky over whether to listen to drivetime, the evening football build-up or symphonic metal in the car.

We missed the turn-off for the school the first time because I was telling Paul about which buildings had changed use on the site and we had to take a detour past the town football stadium. Paul supports West Ham, Becky supports Arsenal, Terry prefers rugby (he coaches a Colts team and the Cub Scouts) and Father Mike supports Doncaster. You learn these things about people, when you spend nine visits out of ten carrying out a ritual invented by a distraught war widow just in case of what would happen if you don’t. Summer’s when we do most of the work, needless to say; the rest of the year is tests, remedial visits, and justifying our contract every time they put a new minister into the DCSF. When the work’s slow, we get seconded around the charity to things like working groups on child poverty, which is a bit more like what I’d rather be doing; the people you meet from the other offices say they’ve never heard of your department and ask whether you’re youth field workers, which I suppose we almost are.

“I don’t spend much time with children, though,” I tend to say, and someone will invariably go, “Jealous.”

They could have brought us directly into government, but it’s probably for the best that they never did. Directors of children’s services have a hard enough job these days without the tabloids finding out they’re spending public money on woo-woo too.

Because St Mary’s-under-Marsh is Catholic, there’s been a bit of a turf war with the local bishop, and that’s why we were only getting access to the site at that time of year. I don’t know what we’re going to do about the other kinds of faith schools. It’s not my job to bother, but Terry goes to workshops about it every so often with DCSF and a stand-in for the Communities Secretary, so that they can make a show (in front of the very few people who know that there’s actually a show to make) of respecting today’s multi-faith society. My guess is that we’ll do exactly the same thing, but with an imam or a rabbi instead of Father Mike, and every so often I’ll have to take off my shoes.

Sorry, DCSF is the Department for Children, Schools and Families–or “Department for Children’s Soft Furnishings,” but I can’t take credit for that one–I heard it from a university vice-chancellor when we went in on a slow afternoon to condemn a handful of Portakabins they’d been using for foundation courses.

“You’d feel safe sending a daughter to a school like that, wouldn’t you?” Paul said when he finally hit the turn-off and saw the sign the council hadn’t taken down yet. He smiled at Becky and made it clear the important word was a daughter, not a school. “I don’t know about that,” she said, and her face fell. Paul turned his smile round on me and went, “Megan’s come out of it all right–ain’t you?” Not being Becky, I wasn’t playing up to it, so he made the best of a bad job and said, “Except it didn’t do much for her taste in men.”

He pulled in to park up in the governors’ car park.

from “Coyote Smile” by Kelsey McCarthy

November 30, 2009



He’d come around the ranch the next day looking for this kid, because that’s what he sounded like, a kid. What he found was a bunch of cowboys hunkered around a corral, looking on while a pied mustang bucked around inside, mad as sin at the rider sitting solid on his back. The horse gave it his all, even got down on his side and rolled in the dirt to get the guy off him. All the man did was hop off, give him space until he got up again, then he vaulted back into the saddle. Desperate, the horse made a run at the fence, trying to scrape him off that way. The boards bowed instead and the man stayed put. Horse and rider shot by them and Abe got a glimpse of tan skin, sharp jaw and dark eyes. Long black hair flooded out from under his hat. The mustang came around again, slowing to a canter. He shook out his mane and mouthed at the bit like he was considering it. His ears were still back, but he followed his rider’s lead. 

The owner had grinned next to Abe and said, “Cole’s the finest around these parts. Best I got.”  Abe was plenty sure he wasn’t talking about the horse. 

Horse and rider pulled up in front of them, pretty as you please. Cole tipped his hat up a little with one gloved hand and smiled real wide. “I do believe y’all owe me ten dollars,” he said. 

Grumbling and cussing, the cowboys dug around in their pockets for the money. A couple of them left little bill folds on the fence post and they walked away, kicking at nothing. The one fella left was gangly with a crooked nose, still glaring for all he was worth. He got it in his mind to pull his gun and aim at Cole on the horse, saying he was a cheat, calling the owner an old coot for having some redskin mutt on his payroll.  

The man on the horse didn’t lose his smile and, hell, it got wider. “C’mon, Randy. Fair’s fair. You cheat a deal and it’s gonna come slitherin’ back to ya.”  

Abe felt this wasn’t much of a fair fight and he’d seen no cheating. The grip of his Colt was solid and worn under his hand and he drew, settling his sights on Randy’s sweaty temple. “Pay up or walk away,” he said, prairie grit in his voice. “Elsewise I’ll turn your head into a feed bag.” 

The man looked around and the whites of his eyes started to show. No way in hell Abe could miss from a new paces away and he knew it. The man put his gun up and backed away without leaving the money he owed.  

Cole had swung down off the horse then and strode to the fence. He swiped the cash off the pole and tucked it away into his pocket. He tipped his head at Abe like he was noticing him for the first time, then put out his hand. “Much obliged,” he said when Abe shook it. Cole was a little shorter than Abe expected, but with the dark hair and the shape of his features, he saw how people might call him “Apache bastard”. His eyes were a little too wide, his skin a little too olive under the tan to be any part Indian.  

A ruckus went up behind them and they all turned in time to see Randy jumping around in the dirt like the devil was biting his heels. He kicked off his boots, fell over in the dust, struggling with his pants and until he had them pulled clear off. He hot-footed it back to town, pale ass wagging like white rabbit tail.  

Cole shook his head with a lopsided smirk. “I told him. They never listen.” He clicked his tongue and the mustang picked his head up, following him out of the corral back to the stable. 

Unsatisfied, Abe had slid his rifle off his horse and walked the few hundred feet to the pile of Randy’s pants. He lifted the waist with the end of the muzzle and jerked when a rattler lunged out, trying to make a meal of his gun. He shook the thing off and let well enough alone. 

Abe’s eyes went to the whiskey bottle standing half-empty on the rickety table beside the bed. He popped the cork back in and settled back, rolling a cigarette. Cole had been one of the smart ones. Abe usually shot those kind and brought them back to the law offices over his saddle like a sack of potatoes. Unfortunately they wanted this horse-thief alive. Too much to pay him back for, they said.  

Abe shot the shit with Cole for a while about horses, faking interest in buying while putting a plan together.  

“Don’t know why you’re in for another ride. That roan out front is mighty fine.” Cole hung up the tack he’d been carrying and turned, tipping his hat back to look up at the mercenary. “What exactly would you be lookin’ for?” 

Abe shifted in his duster. “Something that can take the desert. Big with a sensible temper.” 

Cole’s brown eyes drifted yonder, thinking. Behind the pleasant “how do you do”s was a brain going a mile a minute. Then Cole smiled real friendly. “I think I got one you might like.” 

The horse he brought around was a tall chestnut with white socks on his back feet. The gelding wasn’t particularly kind, but once they had him saddled and Abe put him through his paces around one of the corrals, he loosened up and followed where Abe’s knees nudged him. Cole leaned against the fence, watching, the hot breeze tugging at his hair. He was rolling a cigarette as Abe swung down from the saddle. “Like ‘im?” 

Abe patted the gelding’s thick neck. “I surely do. What’re the damages?” 

Cole smiled. “Hundred ‘n twenty. For you, a hundred ‘n ten.” He stuck the cigarette in his mouth and struck a match. Long shadows grew on the ground and light from the setting sun caught in his eyes, turning them the color of good whiskey.  

“What say I buy you a drink while I think on it some?” 

Cole’s lips pulled back from his teeth, grin splitting his face. He looked down and tapped ash from his cigarette. “Won’t get the horse any cheaper that way, amigo.” 

“Wasn’t expecting to,” Abe had answered with a half-smile of his own.

REVIEW: Queer Wolf, ed. James E.M. Rassmussen

June 19, 2009

[3 out of 5]

Queer Wolf, edited by James E.M. Rasmussen and available in both print and digital formats from Queered Fiction, is a collection of werewolf stories that runs the gamut of style, mythos, and talent.  Each story plays with the rules of the genre–from the place of witches and sorcerers in the werewolf mythos to those of silver, wolf bites, wolf skins and lunacy, and even the place of drug-use.  Not a single mythos unites the stories, which could cause some readers to stumble from one story to the next, having to reset the rules to another author’s conventions.

Some of the wolves in this collection are outcasts from their packs, some are lone wolves, and some have banded together to form queer packs where wolves like them can be safe.  The allegory is obvious:  these are the lives of gay men and women in modern society.  In his less-than-informative introduction, Dr. Berhardt-House draws the parallel between the werewolf and the homosexual.  The stories in Queer Wolf are clearly collected around this principle.

Talent in these stories, like mythos, varies.  While some stories are abysmal, and others barely passable, the prize stories in this collection are: “Wolf Strap” by Naomi Clark, “Shy Hunter” by Gunn Hale and “In the Seeonee Hills” by Erica Hildebrand.

“Wolf Strap” pulls you in fast and hard–not just into the story, but into the collection as a whole.  Both mystery and horror, this story tells of the struggle between pack and humankind–and of what some men will do to even the playing field with the perceived wolf threat.  Clark gives us characters that we can understand in a world that we cannot.

“Shy Hunter” is both a beautiful story of the love of one man for another while also presenting a decent thriller as he faces the external manifestation (and source) of his inner demons.  This story explores the feral, predatory nature both wolves and gay men; and it represents the struggles either community has in keeping these creatures at bay.

“In the Seeonee Hills” explores the difference between the natural-born werewolf and the afflicted.  It is as much about wolf politics as it is about wolf personality–and how those politics collapse when two wolves from different sides fall in love.  It is a lesbian, werewolf West Side Story.

Close behind these stories are “Wolf Lover” by Michael Itig, “Wrong Turn” by Stephen Osborne, “Leader of the Pack” by Robert Saldarini, “War of the Wolves” by Charles Long, “Night Swimming” by R.J. Bradshaw, and “A Wolf’s Moon” by Quinn Smythwood.  While these stories are not superb examples of writing, they good examples and do the genre justice.  The characters are compelling, and their stories complete—leaving just enough to imagine further adventures ahead.

Queer Wolf is a worthy attempt at doing the queer “monster” justice.  It is the first volume in a series that will explore the uncanny lives of gay and lesbian creatures from all worlds.  We look forward to reading more from Queered Fiction as they explore vampirism and science fiction in upcoming volumes.