Last year, Andrew Macrae (andrewmacrae) said to me, "You should submit to Cock."
"I don't have the balls for that," I replied.
Quick, aren't I?
At that time, c0ck was not the small, black collection that he and former Aurealis editor, Keith Stevenson, have put out under their new independent press coeur de lion. No. At the time, when I turned down the invite, it was the anthology they were soliciting for. That they were making. Building. The aim of it was the exploration of masculinity using speculative fiction.
I turned down the invite, yeah. At the time, it was kind of brave to say that, since I was trapped on a mountain. The only way out was a treacherous, twisting road that lead straight into Brisbane, and that's not the way home, y'know? From Brisbane or the Mountain, it is a long walk back to Sydney no matter how you look at it. But I said no. I was lying on a couch. I was cut off from civilisation. I was sick. I had a fever. I was half hoped that Andy would take me out to the balcony and toss me off, like the wasted piece of flesh I was fast becoming, as part mercy and part example to others who turned down the kindness of editors.
I don't take every invite that comes my way, though I like invites, so please, you know, keep asking. But some projects aren't to be to my strengths, and a book on masculinity, that isn't me. It plays to Paul Haines' (paulhaines) strengths, however, and this is while you will find him opening and closing the collection. A lot of Haines' work is centred around sexual politics and he's a perfect fit for a book on this work. But I, personally, didn't (and still don't) have anything to say about masculinity. It is simply not my topic. I had, briefly, before meeting Andy, thought that the collection might become a nasty, misogynistic, rape fantasy horror collection, which fuck me, I'd beat off with a stick. The thought occurred simply because I had never met Andy of Keith Stevenson (who I still haven't met), but after you spend a couple of minutes around the former of the pair, you're more than sure that this won't be the situation. Sometimes you do need that little personal touch.
But still, I have nothing to say about masculinity. Even now, I just draw a big empty blank when I think about it.
The book is out now, however, and I have to admit, I'm curious to see what others say about masculinity. There's not just work by Paul Haines, but authors who, by their simple inclusion, raise the bar of interest for such a project. The sublime work of Lucy Sussex is present, but this is the Sussex who, in the 90s, released a spate of work that seemingly rose out of feminist history and theory, and who also edited the feminist anthology She's Fantastical. In addition, there is work by Chris Lawson, known primarily for his philosophical hard science fiction, Rob Hood, who has spent thirty-six years publishing dark, urban creepiness, and Cat Sparks, who plays to the old, retro vibe in science fiction. Then there's the new author, Jacinta Butterworth, and I don't what the fuck she writes, but that name catches my interest, and you gotta play to your instincts, I say.
Is the book any good? No idea. Haven't read it. Believe it or not, Andy tagged me to make cock themed jokes, which is his gimmick to get the word out. Get it far enough, and he'll send you a copy.* My problem is that I've been listening to all the cock jokes for the last couple of days--and see, I'm so done with them, I can't even use the word gagging and make a joke out of that. And so I tried to figure out a way round this, and, well, you have this post instead. So if the idea of a collection exploring masculinity catches your interest, then you want to hit the website, and get yourself a copy.
* Agnes, here's your chance to get a free book. Blog Icelandic double-entendres, leave the link, and you'll get a free copy.