An anthology of historical speculative fiction? Telling the stories of children who have been marginalized throughout history? Yup, this is the SFF project you’ve been waiting to back. The Kickstarter in question, is right here.
So I don’t ever write blogs about Kickstarters, but I’m breaking that rule. If you’re a fan or supporter of diverse SFF then Hidden Youth is a project you may want to back. Did I mention I have a short story in there titled, The Mouser of Peter the Great? And that it’s set in 18th c. Russia? Or that it’s about a young “Moorish” boy who is brought to the Tsar? And that it was inspired by the real life Abram Gannibal? The great-grandfather of the “veritable Shakespeare of the Russian literary tradition,” Alexander Pushkin?
Oh, also, there’s Slavic faeries…and monsters. Of course.
Here, let me explain.
I first got wind that the anthology Hidden Youth was going to be a thing back in October 2014. Its precursor was the Locus and World Fantasy Award nominated Long Hidden, an anthology of speculative fiction dedicated to telling speculative stories of people at the margin. The editors of Long Hidden described its purpose in their own words:
Most written chronicles of history, and most speculative stories, put rulers, conquerors, and invaders front and center. People with less power, money, or status—enslaved people, indigenous people, people of color, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and religious minorities, among others—are relegated to the margins. Today, mainstream history continues to perpetuate one-sided versions of the past while mistelling or erasing the stories of the rest of the world.
There is a long and honorable legacy of literary resistance to erasure. This anthology partakes of that legacy. It will feature stories from the margins of speculative history, each taking place between 1400 and the early 1900s and putting a speculative twist—an element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the unclassifiably strange—on real past events.
Umm. Wow! Anybody whose been reading this blog over the years knows that this kind of thing is right up my alley! It’s the whole point–right there to suss out in my snarky name: Disgruntled Haradrim.
So you can imagine, I was disappointed that I never got a chance to submit to Long Hidden when the call was made. I was deep in the weeds of a dissertation at the time (finished that in May by the way; PhD’d up!) and just didn’t have the time to spare. No guarantee any story I wrote would have made the cut; but at least would’ve liked to try. It’s only made more ironic by the fact that I was training to be *a historian of marginalized voices.* Oh the humanity! It burns! It burns!
Long Hidden ended up being a fantastic project–of twenty-seven stories of speculative fiction, with magical tales of folklore in diverse settings ranging from the Philippines to Denmark to Kenya. It was published by the small press Crossed Genres Publications which has for years championed high-quality and inclusive SFF. The anthology featured some well-known names like Tananarive Due and Nnedi OkoraforNnedi Okorafor, names I’d just started following like Ken Liu and Sofia Samatar, and introduced me to new names like Troy L. Wiggins and Sarah Pinsker. It was not only an anthology that deserved to be nominated for Locus and World Fantasy awards, it was an anthology that was needed–if we’re really serious about making the worlds of speculative fiction more diverse.
Hidden Youth follows in this trend, to “continue telling these stories, giving voice to those whom history has neglected, ignored or erased.” Like before, these are stories of the marginalized, seeking out tales, folklore and magic that isn’t always valued in fantasy. This time, however, the focus is on young people – and all protagonists in the anthology are under the age of 18!
Watch the editors and varied writers and personages talk about it here!
This go round, I was determined to get a story submitted. I managed to get it done. Woot! And then things went kinda sideways. Crossed Genres Publications suffered financial setbacks and closed its regular magazine publishing in December 2015. The project hoped to go on but was delayed due to other unforeseen circumstances that were all quite understandable (life happens). It seemed for a while that there would be no Hidden Youth after all.
Then boom! Like Harry and that Resurrection Stone, the project roared back! I was delighted to hear from the editors–Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke–that Hidden Youth was going to happen after all! Second Woot! And about three weeks ago I found out my tale of a “Moorish” boy in the court of the Tsardom of Muscovy (complete with Slavic monsters) had been selected to join 20+ other diverse stories from diverse voices set in locales around the world! Third Woot! The anthology will be about 140,000 words, and each story will be accompanied by original artwork. As with Long Hidden, the cover art was done by the amazing, two-time Hugo Award winner Julie Dillon. And you can see that cover at the top of the page. Dope right?! Would look reaaal nice sitting on your coffee table or what not.
BUT. The only way Hidden Youth is going to happen, is if it raises the $23,000 needed to complete the project. Hence all the Kickstarting. Currently the project is almost at
$12,000 $ 17,000 that’s almost three quarters of the way! But there’s only 60 more hours (that’s like less than three generations of adult Mayflies!) to raise the rest. If we don’t reach the goal, the project won’t happen. It’s that simple. No Hidden Youth. No story about “Moorish” boys and Slavic monsters. (Insert sad face Emoji).
So what’s the money for? Most will go directly to authors and artists. Some will pay the editors, and the rest will go to the production, printing and distribution of Hidden Youth, and paying Kickstarter/Amazon/other fees to create a professional product. You can pledge just $1 USD or back the project at multiple levels. And there’s stuff! Stickers with Running Faeries (seriously, this is a thing). Book copies. Artwork. You name it. Take your pick at whatever level you feel comfortable–because it’s all appreciated. And every bit helps!