Today marks the publication of Fierce: A Hopepunk Anthology.
Way back in early 2020, Cupán Fae was preparing to publish two anthologies. At the time, we didn’t expect Covid-19 to effectively shut the world, and we weren’t prepared for the fallout it would have on how we operated as a group. In the time since the pandemic started, we turned to online meetings and put thinking about the relocation of several people on the long finger. When we eventually get back to coffee shops and hot chocolates, two more prominent members of the group will have been out of Dublin for over a year, and a new member will have joined the table.
That’s a strange reality to process, but the struggles of the last year and a half have taught us to manage ourselves and our activities in new ways. Eventually, despite our quiet promise to ourselves not to work on another anthology during lockdowns, we turned to Hopepunk.
One obvious factor for the decision comes to mind: Octocon, Ireland’s National Science Fiction Convention, is leaning towards hopeful content this year.
Even without that specific nudge, I was getting anxious about how we would keep moving on as a group if we ignored a project that has typically brought us together.
I approached the group with the idea. A book of stories that focuses on not giving up. Resilience as a major aspect of the tales we tell. Hope as a weapon. It was easy to find lists of examples of the genre online, and from there show the authors in Cupán Fae what I was looking for. (I say “I”, in that I was the propagator of the project.)
Those who know me or who follow me on Twitter know that I struggle with my mental health sometimes. Anxiety is an issue for me, and I’m not embarrassed about that. I’ve gotten help, and I’ve found my coping mechanisms, and part of that is in genre fiction. I love to rewatch some of my favourite television shows, or re-read comics from some of my favourite creators. I throw myself headfirst into horror for the fun of the thrill, and the chill of the shadows. With Hopepunk, I was looking for something else.
I needed a project to channel the optimism I needed from the world back into myself. Through writing my story for Fierce: A Hopepunk Anthology, I forced myself to keep a shining light on the tale in a world even more damaged than our own. I looked for love in the darkness, and hope against impossible odds. Hopepunk gave me a tool to survive the pandemic.
Creating the anthology
We changed the rules for Fierce. We removed the necessary Irish element that we’ve normally asked for. We’ve all been trapped here for a year and half – I wasn’t about to keep everyone contained in their fiction. Some of us chose to include an Irish element, anyway. Quinn Clancy returned to her world she had set up in Fierce Mighty. I took Hopepunk in the direction of Pacific Rim, and named a mech after an Irish hero.
Three of us took to the stars.
Looking out beyond the Earth, Cameron and Axel brought us space exploration. They explored the great unknown through different tones and through different styles, examining varying sources of hope. I brought the stars down to Earth in the ships of extra-terrestrial beings.
Kat Dodd sought to explore hope in the bleakest times of humanity in her zombie apocalypse story. They added a companion to the end of the world at the eleventh hour, in a cyberpunk-inspired story about technology.
All of it is Hopepunk. Every story is about keeping up the fight. The stakes are always different. For some of us, it was life and death. For others of us, we dealt our characters a bad hand and tried to get them out of the mess. We aren’t always kind to our heroes.
Where do we go from here?
I would love to reveal all of our plans for the future. Really, I would. Deadlines and accountability are great motivators. At the same time, I wouldn’t do that to the writers in Cupán Fae. Yes, there are plans. There will be more books. For now, we’ll just focus on Hopepunk.
This Saturday, we’re launching the book at Octocon. The event began as a reading, and following a tweet from our account, the programme manager asked if we wanted to be bumped up to a full launch. Are we nervous? Of course. Nerves are a normal part of being a creator of any kind. When we publish something new or unveil a new work of art, we put ourselves out in front of the world and shout “Look at me.”
Writers are not the most extraverted bunch, of course, so we’ll be hiding behind cameras. Kat Dodd will be handling most of the reading. While they do that, I’ll be answering questions and introducing the book and trying to convince more people to read our stories. Because we swear they’re good. We wouldn’t publish them if we had doubts over them. I’m especially excited for people to read the work of our newest member, Cameron Armstrong, and to hear people’s opinions on how I handled Hopepunk and giant robots.
Further reading on Hopepunk
Part of my pitch to the group to work on Hopepunk this year was to prepare an explainer and a list of links for them to find more information on the genre. The introductory paragraphs to the explainer formed the basis of our announcement of Fierce last week. You can find more links here:
- Alexandra Rowland’s Tumblr post about Hopepunk: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/view/ariaste/163500138919
- Alexandra Rowland on Festive Ninja: https://festive.ninja/one-atom-of-justice-one-molecule-of-mercy-and-the-empire-of-unsheathed-knives-alexandra-rowland/
- The Guardian’s list of hopepunk television: https://www.theguardian.com/news/shortcuts/2019/jun/10/in-need-of-relentless-optimism-the-10-best-hopepunk-shows-to-binge-now
- Tor.com’s Hopepunk and the Science of Stress: https://www.tor.com/2020/03/02/hopepunk-and-the-new-science-of-stress/
- CBC’s guide to hopepunk: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/when-hope-is-punk-and-grudges-are-forgiveness-1.5046927/a-guide-to-hopepunk-what-to-read-watch-and-listen-to-when-all-seems-lost-1.5046937
- Vox’s article on Hopepunk as weaponised optimism: https://www.vox.com/2018/12/27/18137571/what-is-hopepunk-noblebright-grimdark
- Morgan Hazelwood: Introduction to Hopepunk: https://morganhazelwood.com/2019/09/02/introduction-to-hopepunk/
And of course, be sure to check out Fierce: A Hopepunk Anthology on Amazon.