Resolution and Mitigation: Responses to the Future

I always enjoy the transition from one year to the next as I settle satisfied into the heady early days of January, the new year spread out in front of me full of possibility and promise. I take time to reflect, I read quite a bit, I often conduct some newly-inspired journaling, and I try to imagine where I want to nudge and steer my life over the next twelve months. I most often avoid predictions, but I’m a sucker for resolutions. Sometimes they’re specific and sometimes more general—often a mix of both—and I try to make both internal and external goals, shaping the way I hope to impact and alter myself on an internal level as well as how I hope to interact and impact the world at large.

This year has been no different (though perhaps the process is taking longer than usual) and it’s likely that I will write about some of these goals either in the fourth issue of Into the Ruins or in an upcoming Litterfall blog post—or both. In the meantime, though, I want to turn to you, dear readers, and ask for your insights. Yes, that’s right, it’s time again for me to prompt you all for some new letters to the editor. My last effort at this proved quite fruitful and, to my mind, led to a fascinating letters section in the third issue. I hope to duplicate that success here. Now, before we get the question at hand, I want to note that I always encourage letters focused on feedback on the previously-published issues, as well as musings and considerations brought to mind by the stories and editorial content contained within. I also encourage recommendations of good deindustrial science fiction. But to get the conversation moving here in the new year, I also want to introduce a specific subject appropriate to the moment. Therefore, I want to know what your new year’s resolutions (or just general intentions) are to mitigate the impact of decline and consequence in 2017.

Most all of you reading this should understand by now the philosophy behind Into the Ruins, and I think most all of us who are willing to can see the (not always) slow unraveling of industrial civilization and the American empire taking place around us: the continuing climate chaos and record-breaking high temperatures in the arctic, the shifting and destabilizing political scene both in the United States and abroad, fast-changing geopolitical alignments, continuing economic countercurrents that suggest a very troubled near future, the ongoing worldwide collapse of ecological stability, ever-increasing income and wealth inequality, and growing cultural divides cleaving to much of our population into increasingly bitter and brittle alcoves of mutual resentment.

There are, of course, no easy solutions for these troubles. In many cases, there are no solutions at all. But there are a range of actions we can take at the individual and collective levels to help mitigate the pain, suffering, and destruction that so consistently rises out of these sort of civilizational cycles—and which may help create a somewhat brighter future on both the near and far side of our civilization’s collapse: years, decades, and centuries from now. With that reality in mind, I’m putting out a request for a conversation here about what you are planning to do in the new year to help mitigate the decline taking place around us.

Responses to the troubles of our time may be personal or political, within yourself or projected out in the world. It may be a new way of living lightly, or an attempt to strengthen your community and create new connections. It could be the starting of new organizations or institutions, work toward political or economic change, rebellion against the system or soft nudgings of it in better directions. It may be new connections: to other humans, to non-humans, plants or animals, the natural world, the ecological cycles that swirl all around us. It may be study, meditation, personal explorations. It may be new limits, fewer screens, more thrift, less energy and resources. It may be denying yourself something and observing the internal impacts of that decision. Maybe it’s learning a new skill, finding a way to make a part of your living outside the money economy, or reducing your dependence on the industrial economy. Or one of a thousand other decisions, all of which have the potential to make the world a slightly better place and the future a bit less harsh.

Ready to join the conversation? There are two ways you can make your voice heard. The first option is to email it to me directly at editor@intotheruins.com. The second option is to post it as a comment on this blog post. However, if your comment is meant for consideration as a published letter in Into the Ruins, please note that at the beginning. Otherwise, everyone is also welcome to post a comment of general discussion, not meant for the letters section.

While this is likely less fraught a subject than the previous political one, I want to note as always to keep your comments kind and considerate. You’re welcome and encouraged to be controversial and challenge the conventional wisdom of our time—just do it with respect and keep it free of undue personal attacks. As before, comments will be moderated, so be patient if yours doesn’t show up immediately. It shouldn’t take long, and should always be up within a day (and generally much sooner) so long as it doesn’t violate the above considerations and doesn’t contain profanity or insults.


On another note, I want to announce a few specials going on right now in the Figuration Press Store. Through the end of January, I’m offering free domestic shipping on all issues of Into the Ruins. In addition, I’m offering Introductory Packages available to new readers or old readers who want to introduce someone to the magazine. Aside from the free shipping (i.e. any issue of the magazine sent anywhere in the U.S. for $12) I’m also offering two other options of either the first and second issues sent anywhere in the U.S. for just $23 or the first three issues sent anywhere for just $33, with free shipping on both options. This is a great way to discover a good number of great stories yourself if you don’t already have all three issues, or to share them as a gift with a friend, family member, or random stranger on the street. You’ll find all options available at the store. You may also contact me directly if you’d like to mail in your payment instead of using PayPal.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Digital and Print Editions of Into the Ruins: Fall 2016 Now Available!

into-the-ruins-fall-2016-coverI’m pleased to announce that the third issue of Into the Ruins has shipped to subscribers and is now available for purchase in both print and digital formats! This Fall 2016 issue features a ton of great content, with a fantastic new story from Jason Heppenstall in which a mysterious old man cultivates a garden on the dusty outskirts of a desert town, Catherine McGuire exploring one woman’s fight against cruelty and exploitation, a tale from Matthew Griffiths set in the world of John Michael Greer’s Star’s Reach, a meditative snapshot of our post-oil future from Ian O’Reilly, and a lovely new tale from Rachel White that captures the mythic dimensions of our future. Not to mention, a new “Deindustrial Futures Past” column from John Michael Greer, Justin Patrick Moore’s survey of characters from James Howard Kunstler’s World Made By Hand series, a new Editor’s Introduction, and a thought-provoking, rollicking, filled-to-the-brim letters section. All of this comes as a 108 page, 7″ x 10″ paperback with another beautiful cover by W. Jack Savage, or as a high quality digital PDF edition.

Subscribers should have received their issues by now and those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the first issue anyway are encouraged to order a copy to peruse at their pleasure. Direct purchases from Figuration Press are available at that link. In addition, you can order directly from Amazon. For Canadian readers, the issue is available on Amazon’s Canada site. For other international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available at or for a link to order directly from CreateSpace, which ships throughout the world. Finally, a digital version is now available through Payhip for $7.50.

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the fourth issue of Into the Ruins, coming in late January. Comments for contributing authors will be happily forwarded on. All are welcome to comment on this post, as well, with thoughts and feedback.

Lastly, I want to once again provide a huge thanks to John Michael Greer for his myriad forms of support; Shane Wilson, who continues to prove a steady and invaluable Assistant Editor, providing feedback and catching mistakes I otherwise miss; Justin Patrick Moore, for going above and beyond in this issue; my amazing partner Kate O’Neill, who continues to put up with my tendency to overbook myself, showing enduring patience and care; to those who wrote letters to the editor and who have helped diversify the views available in the magazine; W. Jack Savage, for again providing such a beautiful cover, and for working with me unendingly; and of course to all the fantastic authors published herein, whose imaginative works form the backbone of this publication and, ultimately, are the reason it exists. And finally, to everyone who has subscribed (or who still is yet to subscribe), thank you for supporting this project and helping to make it happen.

Now go read the issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction!

– Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Mentioning the Unmentionable

It’s raining outside as I type this, and after a stretch of very hot days here in the Northwest, a series of cool days have asserted themselves as if to provide notice that Fall is on the way. And it is; in just three weeks, the Fall Equinox will have arrived. The leaves are beginning to change color here and I notice more and more that plants—perhaps even people—are starting to look and feel a bit more ragged, as though worn out by the steady drumbeat of summer.

Myself, I’ve been canning the last few weeks. Tomato sauce and a variety of jams: nectarine lime, spiced nectarine, pear ginger. I just wrapped up a last few jars, taking care of four remaining nectarines that were puckering on my counter top. I didn’t bother with the water bath; those will simply go into the freezer and we’ll pull them out soon enough to smear on whatever appears handy. We’ve been eating a lot of toast here the last week or so, working on cleaning up all the half jars of jam scrapings inevitably left over once the batch has gone in the canner. I would have to say it’s one of my more favored clean up jobs.

Aside from the canning, I’ve been writing more of late. Not yet as much as I would like to be, but for those of you who haven’t yet noticed, I started a new blog on the Figuration Press website called Litterfall. My intent is for it to be a place for honest conversations about the tough future we face, with musings on peak oil, industrial decline, climate change, ecological degradation, and all the other forms of chaos we’re doing such a bang up job of creating for ourselves. However, while I have no intention of looking away from those consequences, I also plan to write with a very definite focus on some of the positive changes we still can make and the useful responses available to us as our various collective predicaments continue to play out. My introduction attempted to lay out the general ideas behind the blog and my intentions in writing it and, since then, I’ve written about the first two of three key realities I believe promise the United States a continuing era of decline.

I’m updating the blog with a new post every week on Monday nights. In the coming weeks and months, I plan to write about a variety of important subjects: the current, exhausted state of America; redefinitions of some key terms and assumptions bouncing around in our collective discourse; the concept that less can actually mean more; the relief of letting go; and the elegance of simplicity, along with quite a few other topics. We will be talking about hope, too, and about ways to redefine and reorient our expectations of the world. As noted, I want Litterfall to be a place of honest hope, in which we can converse about positive ways forward without deluding ourselves about the challenges ahead. I think that can be a tough line to walk at times and I know that I too often fail at that balance. I intend to strive mightily to get it right with this blog, and I hope that a good number of you will join me, join the conversation, and help me with the process. A good blog feeds and builds on its readers’ thoughts and feedback, so please join in.

Of course, the new blog is not all that’s happening in the world of Into the Ruins and Figuration Press. I also am in the early stages of getting together the third issue, which is (hopefully) coming fast. As such, I want to once again put out a call for letters to the editor for this new issue, but with an extra prod for you all: a question to get the conversation started. As always, I encourage feedback on the previously-published issues, as well as musings and considerations brought to mind by the stories and editorial content contained within. I also encourage recommendations of good deindustrial science fiction. But I also would like to spur a bit of conversation and, being that the Presidential campaign is in full swing, I thought I might regale you all with a question concerning politics.

For sanity’s sake, though, there is one key ground rule for this conversation: please do your best not to mention or advocate for any of our current Presidential candidates. I realize that may seem odd and censorial, but I am far more interested in a discussion about issues than I am in a discussion about candidates—and I’m far more interested in a discussion that isn’t weighted down by the intensely emotional baggage of our current election. From what I’ve seen, it does not inspire much in the way of lively but grounded discussion about the myriad issues before us, and that’s exactly what I’m hoping for from this question. Specifically, I’m interested in a lively but respectful discussion about the myriad unmentionable issues troubling us as a nation.

And therein lies your question: What unmentionable and ignored issues would you like to see an American presidential candidate center their campaign upon? I’ll start off with a very easy example to help get the wheels turning. I would like to see a candidate for President run their campaign on the simple fact that we cannot continue to run our economy upon a paradigm of growth, and to speak about and advocate for a series of policies and changes that begin the process of reorienting ourselves toward a steady-state economy. That’s the sort of straightforward but unmentionable issue facing us that I’m talking about.

I want more of you all than just a sentence like that, though. I want a statement of the issue facing us and then one or more ways of responding that you would like to see advocated. The focus can be tight and detailed, burrowing into one very specific or smaller issue facing us, or it can be much broader with a series of currently-unspeakable principles enumerated. It can be more policy-oriented or more principle-oriented, so long as there is a depth and clarity to the principle rather than a series of vague, feel-good statements. Finally, please focus on issues or principles that are not being spoken about currently on the national stage. If they intertwine or touch on issues being spoken about, that’s fine, but the most important issues facing us are, so far as I’m concerned, largely being ignored in our current national political discussion. It’s those ignored issues that I’m most interested in bringing to light. Therefore, the more off the beaten path you are, the more likely I am to consider your letter for publication.

There are two ways you can make your voice heard. The first option is to email it to me directly at editor@intotheruins.com. The second option is to post it as a comment on this blog post. However, if your comment is meant for consideration as a published letter in Into the Ruins, please note that at the beginning. Otherwise, everyone is also welcome to post a comment of general discussion, not meant for the letters section.

Oh, and one last rule: you may write about controversial subjects (that’s in many ways the point) but I have no interest in putting through bigoted comments, even of groups that it’s currently okay to speak bigoted comments about in polite company. Therefore, no sweeping generalizations or rants about certain ethnicities, races, cultures, sexual orientations, genders, religions (including Christianity), etc. But also none about rural people, certain regions of the country, members of any particular political party, etc. You’re welcome to be controversial, but keep it kind and considerate and, most of all, focused on issues and policies. Note also that comments here are moderated, so be patient once you put yours through and I’ll get it published so long as it doesn’t violate the aforementioned rules, or otherwise is inappropriate or too off-topic.

Here’s hoping for a good conversation! (And don’t forget to join that other conversation over at Litterfall!)

The Summer 2016 Issue of Into the Ruins is Here!

Into the Ruins Cover Issue 2 - Cover Only-page001

I’m quite happy to announce that Into the Ruins was not just a one-off accomplishment; in fact, the second issue is finished and ready for your reading pleasure. This Summer 2016 issue features a ton of great content, with five new and fantastic short stories from Jay Cummings, Chloe Woods, Bart Hillyer, Lawrence Buentello, and the returning G.Kay Bishop. From a distant civilization that cycles through the same ebb and flow of peace and warfare we find littered throughout human history, to a melancholic meditation on our fast-changing world set in 2020 that feels eerily familiar to today; from a love story set in a less energy-intensive time, to a haunting encampment at the edge of dry and dusty ruins; and on again to an adventurous and amusing attempt to deliver a key new manuscript on the herbal treatment of spinal meningitis to a distant library, these stories inspire a wide range of emotions, from meditative reflection on the predicament of our times to delight at unexpected adventure.

In addition, this issue features the debut of “Deindustrial Futures Past,” a new column from John Michael Greer which will be a recurring feature in future issues. In “Deindustrial Futures Past,” Greer will be exploring a variety of deindustrial SF works from the past, and he focuses on Edgar Pangborn for the first go. Justin Patrick Moore returns with a new review, as well, taking a look at Joëlle Anthony’s Restoring Harmony. A new Editor’s Introduction, a variety of letters to the editor, and a very short story excerpt from me round out the issue. All of this comes as a 112 page, 7″ x 10″ paperback with another beautiful cover by W. Jack Savage.

Subscribers should be receiving their issues shortly and those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the first issue anyway are encouraged to order a copy to peruse at their pleasure. Direct purchases from Figuration Press for shipment next week are available at that link, (though order soon for immediate shipment, as I won’t be able to mail issues from August 5th – August 15th). In addition, you can order directly from Amazon. For international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available at or for a link to order directly from CreateSpace, which ships throughout the world. Finally, a digital version is also available through Payhip for $7.50 (or more, if you care to increase your support).

As always, I encourage readers to send their thoughts and feedback to me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the third issue of Into the Ruins, coming before too long. Comments for contributing authors will be happily forwarded on.

Lastly, I want to again provide a huge thanks to John Michael Greer for his myriad forms of support; Shane Wilson, who proved a steady and invaluable Assistant Editor, catching mistakes I otherwise missed; Justin Patrick Moore, for another great book review; my amazing partner Kate O’Neill, who continues to put up with me devoting so much attention to this project; to those who wrote letters to the editor and who have helped diversify the views available in the magazine; W. Jack Savage, for again providing such a beautiful cover, and for being patient with me; and of course to all the fantastic authors published herein, whose imaginative works form the backbone of this publication and, ultimately, are the reason it exists. And finally, to everyone who has subscribed (or who still is yet to subscribe), thank you for supporting this project and helping to make it happen.

Now go read the issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction!

Into the Ruins - Issue 2 - TOC

A Summer of Stories

I missed an appropriate recognition in the pages of this blog, but we have now transitioned into summer. The season has tracked well with my own personal transition, from a rural life on the Oregon coast to an urban life in Portland, Oregon. A relationship and its resultant joy brought me here. Couple that with a May road trip—complete with camping and Redwoods—and life has been busy to say the least. I may have more to say about all that in a future post, perhaps here or perhaps over at Of The Hands.

Still, with the passing into a new season, the next issue of Into the Ruins is now beckoning me. It’s time to get cracking. I have a number of stories already lined up, though the full slate has yet to be settled on. Editorial ideas are knocking around in my head and I may dip my editorial toe into a bit of fiction for you readers—though no hard promises. It depends if the proper inspiration strikes twice. It already has struck once, but that story appears to be spiraling out into something more akin to a novella or full on novel. Perhaps you’ll read it some day.

One element of the second issue that could use some filling out is the trusty Letters to the Editor section. I have only a few musings currently to be published and would like something far more robust. And so I put out a request: if you have read the first issue, and have thoughts or commentary on any part of it, please send it on. You can find instructions at the above link, but it’s pretty straightforward. Email me your comments and I’ll be choosing a selection of the best to include in the Letters section of Issue #2. Don’t have commentary on specific elements of the journal, but on the theme in general? Send those as well. Perhaps you want to comment on the happenings of the day, the election barreling toward us, Brexit, the follies of industrialism, or other cheery subjects directly related to the cascading consequences of our increasingly dumb ways of living. All thoughts are welcome, and conversation encouraged.

Finally, two last notes. First of all, for those interested, Frank Kaminski published an excellent review of the first issue of Into the Ruins on his site, Mud City Press, and at Resilience.org. Please check it out and I certainly wouldn’t mind if you shared it far and wide. In a similar vein, please keep spreading the word about this project and encouraging others to pick up a copy of the issue or subscribe for themselves. The response to Issue #1 has been fantastic, and I would love to keep the momentum going. Lastly, if you’re inclined to write reviews, consider doing so for the first issue where you might prefer: at Goodreads, at Amazon or its international sites, at Powell’s, at Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else you so desire. Best of all, via good old word of mouth. This is very much a project whose success is dependent upon friends telling friends and all of you spreading the word. I ask you the favor of continuing to do this.

And lastly? Comment below. Let me know what you thought. I’ve had so much fun bringing this project into the world; I hope you’ve had a fraction of the same amount of fun reading it.

Thanks, everyone, and stay tuned for Issue #2.

Into the Ruins is Now Available Digitally!

I’m pleased to announce that the first issue of Into the Ruins is now available as a high quality PDF download for those who are interested in having it in electronic format, either out of personal preference or due to challenges receiving it outside of the U.S. You will find this version to be nearly identical to the print copy, except existing in the digital ether rather than on paper, not containing the final blank page, and having two very tiny text alterations in it. (They’re a surprise!)

The issue is available via Payhip for $7 (or more, should you choose a higher level of support). Please spread the word far and wide so that all the digital mavens out there know they can finally get the latest in deindustrial science fiction via the digital tubes. After all, we must slake our thirst for irony.

Enjoy!

Spring Arrives: Introducing Issue #1

intotheruins_coverI’m very pleased, and somewhat relieved, to announce that the first issue of Into the Ruins is finished, proofread, approved, and ready for your reading pleasure. Subscribers should be receiving their issues shortly and those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the first issue anyway are encouraged to order a copy to peruse at their pleasure. Aside from purchasing directly from me (aka Figuration Press) at the previous link, you can also order directly from Amazon. For international readers, you can go to the issue page for links to international Amazon sites it’s available at or for a link to order directly from CreateSpace, which ships throughout the world.

All that out of the way, let’s talk about this issue and it’s content. The journal will arrive to you as a 110 page, 7″ x 10″ paperback with gorgeous cover art by W. Jack Savage; an Editor’s Introduction from myself, Joel Caris, who is your friendly editor and publisher; book reviews of three different science fiction novels, with many thanks to Justin Patrick Moore for his review of The Great Bay; a variety of letters to the editors from readers and subscribers across the world; and—most importantly—five fantastic new stories from G.Kay Bishop, N.N. Scott, J. Shamburger, Tony f. whelKs, and Catherine McGuire. I have to say, I can be a bit picky about my fiction and I worried at times about finding a series of stories that I both loved as fantastic stories in their own right, and that I thought represented a deindustrial future in a compelling and realistic way. Turns out, no worries. These five authors knocked it out of the park, and I’m incredibly proud to present their stories to you.

In fact, I’m incredibly proud of this product in general. It turned out better than I could have ever hoped, and I don’t say that purely for marketing gloss. It really is good, and I really am excited to share it with the world. I also can’t wait to hear what people think of it, and I’m hopeful that readers will share their thoughts with me at editor@intotheruins.com, both as casual emails (rambling acceptable!) and as official letters to the editor that I can consider for publication in the second issue of Into the Ruins, coming fast.

Lastly, I want to provide a huge thanks to John Michael Greer, without whose encouragement and assistance this magazine wouldn’t exist; Shane Wilson, who proved a steady and invaluable Assistant Editor; Justin Patrick Moore, who offered up a lovely book review for publication; my amazing partner Kate O’Neill, who has put up with me devoting so much attention to this project; to George Fehling, for taking a chance on advertising his novel, Dark Peak, in a not-yet-existent publication; to all those who wrote early letters to the editor in anticipation of this project; W. Jack Savage, for providing such a beautiful cover without even being solicited; and of course to all the fantastic authors published herein, whose imaginative works form the backbone of this publication and, ultimately, are the reason it exists. And finally, to everyone who has subscribed (or who still is yet to subscribe, from which you can still receive the first issue!), thank you for supporting this project and helping to make it happen. Your early support was critical to getting it off the ground.

Now go read the issue and enjoy some fantastic deindustrial and post-peak science fiction!

It’s Almost Here

Every spring, right around this time, I start to feel overwhelmed. Normally it’s because of the garden more than anything. It’s the scramble to clear the beds, turn the soil, start seeds, get the crops going. Often it’s a weary dance with the weather, trying to find the long enough breaks in the rain to work the soil without threatening its structural integrity or turning it into rock hard clumps. It normally is madness for me this time of year, and this year is no exception.

Except it is, in its way. This year the madness is not based in the garden, but in major impending life changes and a flurry of work to get the delayed first issue of Into the Ruins finished and out the door. Due to the aforementioned major life changes, I’m not gardening at the moment as I gear up to change locations. The first issue of Into the Ruins, however? That I most definitely have been focused on.

After a few weeks of seeming nonstop work on Issue I, I managed to get the draft file sent off to my publisher late last week. The physical proof hopefully will arrive tomorrow and, barring no major problems, I’ll be mailing out copies to subscribers within two weeks. Yes, folks, this thing really is almost here.

I would like to ask everyone to please forgive the delays. This first issue ended up being a significantly more time consuming undertaking than I expected—though I probably should have expected just that. Essentially, I just spent the last month or so learning a computer program I had never used before (Scribus) so that I could essentially design a book, which is something I never did before. I self taught (thank you, Google) and, well, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I really wanted this thing to look good. So it didn’t come together quite as quickly as hoped.

The good news? I think it looks good. Don’t expect anything visually stunning, as that’s not what my limited design skills (or this publication’s budget, for that matter) are able to offer. Instead, expect a crafted and well-presented text document. I think it looks clean and nice and is quite readable. I hope you feel the same.

Most importantly, expect some really fantastic writing. I’m a huge fan of the stories published in this first issue. I think you’re going to like them.

In the meantime, for those of you who have not already subscribed, what are you waiting for? Get going! This thing’s real, it’s great, and it’s going out in the mail soon. Now’s the time to get on board. That said, if you don’t want to dive into a full on subscription, I’ll have the first issue available for sale here on the website around the second week of May. However, due to the (again) aforementioned life events, I probably won’t be able to send out any single-issue orders until the beginning of June.

Oh, and dust off your writing caps, because I’m hoping to see some great letters to the editor in response to this issue. I’m aiming to get Issue 2 published in July to start getting back on track with the originally planned seasonal publication schedule, and I want to make sure to get plenty of reader thoughts into that issue, as well.

I can’t wait for you all to read this and I hope you’re all just as enthusiastic. Curious to see what you’re about to get? Whet your appetite with a preview of the Table of Contents page below:

Into the Ruins - Issue 1-page003

A Belated Spring Beginning

Happy Spring, everyone! I hope you’re experiencing less hail than I am.

I wanted to provide visitors and readers the same quick update on the progress of Into the Ruins‘ first issue that I recently sent subscribers. As you likely know, I have been targeting the Spring Equinox (also known as March 20th–except for my southern hemisphere visitors and subscribers, to whom I apologize for my northern hemisphere-centrism) as the approximate publication date of the first issue of Into the Ruins. Turns out, that’s now three days in the rear view mirror. Or should I say behind the oxen? Is that more appropriate for this project?

Oxen, car, whatever. The point is this: Where did the time go?

The first issue will not be coming out quite that quickly. The rest of my life has kept me very busy. I have also had some recent computer and internet issues that eliminated hope of a last minute flurry of deadline-meeting. Finally, everything has just taken a bit longer than I expected it to, from putting together my subscriber database to sorting through stories, working on edits with authors, and designing and putting together the template for the publication file.

All that said, I’m not that far away. I have edited stories in hand and am in the process of finalizing the last one, I have a file template in place in which to plug in the magazine’s content, I have cover art, letters to the editor, book reviews, and so on.

Therefore, this blog post is simply to let you know that, while I’m not going to hit my target date for publication of the first issue, I expect to get it out during the back half of April. At that point I’m hoping to get back on track, with the second issue published right around the Summer Solstice. With a file template in hand and much of the upfront work of establishing operations out of the way, the second issue should require much less heavy lifting and be a simpler affair.

I hope those who are following this project understand and aren’t too disappointed. One thing I will say is that I’m excited for the launch issue. I think I have a lot of great content lined up for it, and I’m hoping you’ll find you agree once it’s in your hands.

And when it is? Well, the cover should look something like what you see below, just to whet your appetite. The cover art is courtesy of the estimable W. Jack Savage. To learn more about Jack’s work, visit his website.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Joel Caris
Editor & Publisher

crossing into the ruins cover

Why Stories Matter

It flooded here today. We saw it coming, but didn’t. The warnings were clear, but insufficient. We knew the rain was coming and the rivers would rise, but they crested above the claimed heights and the water found more places to go than it seemed anyone was expecting. The ground shifted and fell, trees dropped, roads crumbled. It feels as though we’re all still figuring out what just happened.

nehalem-night
Nehalem, Tuesday Night – Photo courtesy of Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography

I live on the North Coast of Oregon. Maybe you’ve heard the news about the storms here in the Northwest. It rained and rained last night, after having rained and rained Monday night, and the winds whipped and the ocean rose high. I live outside of Nehalem, a town that was partially underwater much of today. I live along the North Fork of the Nehalem River, which spread itself wide and far today.

The Tillamook County Pioneer‘s headline earlier today sums it up well: “a virtual archipelago of communities separated by floodwater, landslides.” Even as we’ve called and texted, emailed and updated statuses, we’ve been cut off from one another out here on the Oregon coast. I can’t get south past Wheeler, the nearby small town. My roommate couldn’t even get into Nehalem to her job. All three routes were flooded. So we hunkered down, lucky enough to have electricity and a wood stove and the internet. Cars drove fruitlessly back and forth on the rural highway we live on, searching for a route out that didn’t exist.

Earlier this afternoon, I walked out into the fields around my house, wandering toward the wide expanse of water a few hundred yards away. Sheep and cows live next to me, and I visited them, said hello, checked to see how they were doing. They seemed largely nonplussed, if perhaps curious to see if I had any good food for them. I didn’t. I pressed on, a coffee cup in hand, wandering along the small creek that had turned into more of a river, leaving its bank and cutting out into new paths and tributaries. A large expanse of the adjacent field was silted from the night’s more heavy flow. A portion of fencing had swept away. Walking down the raised, gravel path with a herd of heifers following dutifully behind, I came to the edge of the water and stood there looking out. It spread wide and muddy and flowed languid, at least on the surface. A few more daring bovine crept up close behind me and I stood still for them, until one started sniffing and licking at my rain jacket—a favorite past time, it seems, based on other past experiences with them—and we played a small game of feints as I would reach to touch her snout, she would pull away, I would turn my back, and she would next be snuffling and licking at my shoulders and neck.

downtown-nehalem
Nehalem, Wednesday Afternoon – Photo courtesy of Trav Wiliams, Broken Banjo Photography

It was lovely in its way. And yet, around me a wide variety of people seemed to be at a loss, based on my readings of social media and the local news sources. They were cut off, with roads closed that weren’t supposed to be. The emergency crews and county employees did not have any easy answers as they rushed from one bit of broken infrastructure to another, put up signs and cones, warned people, and then moved to the next emergency. People wanted to know when they could drive from one town to another, but the answers still haven’t come. Hours, maybe days. Perhaps it will end up being longer. No one knows for sure. I watched cars drive back and forth in front of my house. Maybe they were just sightseeing, but they seemed lost for lack of the usual and established routes.

This feels to me why we need stories. The routes we know and come to take for granted are not always going to be there. Increasingly in a world that seems ready to come apart at the seams, we are going to have to strike out on new paths and make our peace with the collapsing roads of old. The floods that hit us today here on the North Coast are hardly unique. They’re the worst I’ve seen, granted, but I’ve only been here about five years. As bad or worse happened in 2007, in 1996, and yet farther back. And worse will happen in the future.

It feels as if worse is going to become more and more common. And as we continue to hit the limits of our shortsighted and destructive behavior, the epic storms and crumbling infrastructure, the social chaos, the economic and political dysfunction, and the straight refusal of natural systems to continue to play along is going to hit us harder and harder.

These are the ways we’ll decline. The storms will be worse than expected, the rivers will rise faster than we thought, and the infrastructure we rely on and take advantage of will crumble easier than we imagined. We’ll pick up the pieces, but it will get harder and harder. The costs will become more and more burdensome. And we’ll keep shedding our complexity and comforts as a result.

As those limits bite, we’ll need new stories to point us forward to different ways of living and unimagined ways of coping. We face loss and disruption—material and psychological. We can only do so much about the material, but we can do quite a lot about the psychological. We can prepare ourselves for the loss and disruption and, as a result, we can face it as gracefully as possible when it comes. We can prepare ourselves for hard times we never expected and, when faced with those trouble, work to make the situation better rather than collapse under the weight of failed expectations.

That hope—that we may be very limited in the degree to which we can change the coming hard times, but that we can prepare ourselves for it and face it better as a result—is one of the key drivers behind my desire to take on this project. Into the Ruins is a venue for imagined new paths and routes, for different ways of moving forward in the world that aren’t dependent upon the destructive and self-defeating patterns of our present culture. It’s one of many ways I hope to prepare for the future and make it a small bit better.

What’s yours? Write us a letter. Tell us why you think stories of a future different than the ones so commonly imagined in our culture are important. Tell us what you see coming and what you’re doing about it. We want to launch our first issue with a robust letters section, even though we don’t yet have issues and stories for you to respond to. Tell us instead about the future, about the stories you want to see, about why different narratives are so important. We’ll publish the best, and we’ll get the conversation started. Full details are on the Letters to the Editor page.

Feel free to comment below, as well. I plan to update this blog on occasion with thoughts, musings, and news about Into the Ruins. I also want this to be a venue for conversation about the magazine, about deindustrial and post-industrial science fiction, and about the future and our predicament in general. Keep it lively, but keep it respectful. Thanks.

– Joel, Editor & Publisher