The latest issue of Lackington’s (#9, ‘Architectures’) is out, and thus so is my space gnostics story, “Contra Gravitatem (Vita Genevievis)”.
The issue is on sale now for $2.99, or you can subscribe for an entire year of brilliant, peculiar, lyrical stories at Weightless Books for $9.99, which is not very much really. (Lackington’s is a magazine I would be subscribed to regardless of whether I ever had a story with them — the ethos of the magazine, which is all about strange and stunning thematically-organized fiction, with an emphasis on prose stylistics, is an ethos I really believe in.)
Or you can wait a few months for the stories to be released online, but trust me. These are worth your money. I have amazing company in this issue (Sara Saab! Natalia Theodoriou! Julia August!) and you want to read everything.
Vega Septemiensis 273. “CONTRA GRAVITATEM” a LIFE of the apocryphal SAINT GENEVIEVE preserved in Late English (w/ some Greek characters), anonymous, 23rd century CE, acid-etched on lead sheets.
St. Genevieve the Shipwright took her people out into the black with no intention of coming home. Gravity was a poison birthright: the corruption of the earth entwined in every cell, material hyle infecting both psyche and pneuma. Contemplation and ascetic practice were not enough to perfect a mortal soul, not if she dwelled on the skin of a planet. Each and every one of them had been built by the desires of the demiurge, that lesser creator that sought to trap the divine breath that animated all the universe in shells of substance. By the time she’d reached twenty, Genevieve knew a better way: if she wanted to see the pleroma, the divine regions of light beyond the physical world, she would have to leave all the downpulling earth behind.
So this is a saint’s life, spun through a SF sensibility.
I mean that in a formal sense: this is a hagiography, and I wrote it from medieval models. It therefore has some particular rules about narratorial voice, sequencing, and plot elements, which were extremely fun to attempt to replicate while also obeying the genre conventions of science fiction.
One of my current interests is thinking about the interaction between SF concepts (in this case, worldships and interplanetary exploration) and religion, especially the kind of religious practice which can feel, to a modern/Western audience, speculative in its strangeness: ascetics, stylites, martyrs, the idea of spiritual perfection, a kind of remaking of the self into new and peculiar and transcendent shapes. The impetus for St. Genevieve the Shipwright came from re-reading some Gnostic texts from the 1st century AD, and thinking about how Neoplatonic ideas of perfection might interface with a near-future world that had its own ideas about the ideal future of humanity.
And so: gravity is the corruption of the world, and then well, a gnostic saint would have to leave gravity behind.
After that it was just a matter of figuring out who the demiurge was. 😀
I feel very lucky that Lackington’s exists, and is a magazine which is interested in this kind of hybrid formal experiment; I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate location for this story to appear.
“Having Beheld the Resurrection”, Rachmaninoff (All-Night Vigil no. 10)