Clockwise from top left: Alex Smith, Rasheedah Phillips, Camae Defstar, Ras Mashramani, and M. Téllez. Photo courtesy of Metropolarity.
Book review by Suzy Subways
What if millennials had their own Audre Lorde, Sun Ra, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin? What if this sci-fi crew called themselves Metropolarity, and they were from Philly, and you could hear them read live — in your neighborhood — their stories of the magic and dystopia that is our city now, our city in the future?
STYLE OF ATTACK REPORT, the 2017 Lambda Literary Award finalist compilation from the Metropolarity crew’s four founding members, Ras Mashramani, Alex Smith, Rasheedah Phillips and M Téllez, just might set your brain on fire. Instead of writing a traditional review, I’ll give you a few glimpses inside the book.
“Abduction was a compliment for a lonely little stick girl like me,” the narrator of Ras Mashramani’s alien-insemination-story-with-a-twist, InsemNation, tells us. “The other girls, the pretty ones with older boyfriends who bought them acrylic nails and bus passes, they came back blithering and idiotic, and you doted on them and you called their cargo disposable monsters.”
Rasheedah Phillips, who works by day as a mom and a housing advocate/Managing Attorney at Community Legal Services, offers an interactive exercise for creating a Do-It-Yourself quantum time capsule, with blank space for you, the reader, to add your own words. She writes in the essay, “Is Sci-Fi Political?”: “Because we know science fiction to be social commentary on the (d-)evolution of society through the use of parable, it is easy to see where the lines split between the Science of the haves and the have nots, and thusly where the lines split between traditional and DIY sci-fi.”
“YOU ARE NOT PROPERTY,” Téllez invokes in their prose poem, “A Cross Thru.” “PROPERTY IS THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE EMPIRE DADDY COLONIZER. THIS TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT BENEFIT NOR CONCERN YOU. YOU MUST FORGE YOUR OWN. REPLACE SUCCESS AND PRODUCTION AND PROGRESS WITH ABUNDANCE, CUNNING, STILLNESS.”
Alex Smith’s short story, “In the Grips of the Star, Shining” soars over Philly’s skyline: “He is lifting towards the heavens, leaving a comet’s streak exploding behind, truly flying. Off, over the wires where worn out Air Jordans dangle in their final phase of life. As he flies, he thinks about the Burmese children who have to stitch those shoes together; about the construction worker whose hearing slowly fades from too much jack-hammering; about the politicians asleep in their warm beds, wrapped in a 1,000 thread count cocoon and hemorrhaging their own dreams with the nightmares of the people. Rom thinks about an Asian boy he wanted to kiss in the eighth grade, about the time his stepfather threw him against the wall when he thought Rom was ‘walking like a fag.’ And he’s still flying.”
More stories and art by the crew pack this unassuming 122-page book. Order a copy for $15 at http://metropolarity.bigcartel.com or look for it at the library, Wooden Shoe Books, Bindlestiff Books, Penn Book Center, and Omoi Zakka Shop.
Follow Metropolarity on Instagram.
Metropolarity has extended the deadline for your submissions to their upcoming publication, Bad User Agreement. The deadline is now March 24th. The crew will be hosting a workshop at the Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street, from 1 to 3 pm this Saturday, March 3. That night they will be performing at 7 pm, reading their work and welcoming to the stage OOLOI, “a new improv group featuring members of Philly’s weirdest, soul-pushingest afropunk and experimental bands (Madam Data, Sour Spirit, King Azaz, Ronnie Vega, etc), providing the soundscape as we re-imagine the future,” as described on the Rotunda website.
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