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Fantastic Metropolis

Entry updated 4 September 2023. Tagged: Publication.

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US cumulative Online Magazine more akin to a website. It ran from 15 October 2001 to 1 January 2006, though the last release was four months late, and though there were regular monthly uploads of fiction and other features these were not in the form of individual issues. It was started by Gabe Chouinard in order to highlight the wider potential of literary science fiction rather than the traditional or commercial material, with an emphasis on urban fiction (see Cities) that would – as Michael Moorcock put it, advocating here the work of Mervyn Peake – not console but break windows. In his column "Dislocated Fictions" for the SF Site, which he had started in April 2001, Chouinard had bemoaned the lack of progress in creating original speculative fiction and felt the field had stagnated. His thoughts led to action, prompted by Jeff VanderMeer and with the technical support of Luís Rodrigues. The name Fantastic Metropolis was intended as an allegory reflecting humanity's love-hate relationship with the city and how the city needs to evolve or stagnate. Speculative fiction is its own metropolis. The first upload ran original fiction by Jeffrey Ford, Matt Dusek, Patrick O'Leary and Zoran Živković, articles by VanderMeer and M John Harrison, and several reprinted stories, including a Jerry Cornelius tale by Michael Moorcock.

Interest in Fantastic Metropolis was instant, but problems in Chouinard's personal life meant that he had to step down as editor within the first month and he nearly closed the site. It was rescued by Luís Rodrigues who, from then on was editor-in-chief supported by an editorial board of Michael Moorcock, VanderMeer, Zoran Živković and Paul Witcover. Moorcock's presence lent to the magazine both a status and a link to the New Wave revolution with New Worlds, especially as other former New Wave writers contributed, such as Langdon Jones and James Sallis. Chouinard had felt the need to encourage the latest wave of revolutionary writers, which he called the Next Wave, but others weren't so sure that such writers came in waves and that all writers needed a venue like Fantastic Metropolis to help nurture and promote their talents. The website thus continued for four years under Rodrigues's guiding hand, running a diversity of articles, features and fiction, new and reprint. Contributors of original work, both fiction and nonfiction, included Steve Aylett, Kage Baker, João Barreiros, L Timmel Duchamp, Carol Emshwiller, Jeffrey Ford, Rhys Hughes, Harvey Jacobs, James Patrick Kelly, China Miéville, Matthew Rossi and VanderMeer, all writers known for their original, even renegade approach to new writing. A sampler of material from the website's first two years was published as Breaking Windows (anth 2003) edited by Luís Rodrigues. [MA]

further reading

  • Luís Rodrigues, editor. Breaking Windows (Canton, Ohio: Prime Books, 2003) [anth: sampler containing fiction and nonfiction: hb/Hawk Alfredson]


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