What Won’t You Lose?

It is something of an article of faith for me that I expect hard times in the coming decades. I would be pleased to be wrong, mind you, but I don’t expect I am. Of course, those hard times won’t be evenly distributed, just as they aren’t today, and some of us will struggle more than others while some of us will be more successful than others. Some of us will even see improvements in our lives—especially, I suspect, among those who are willing to hold a flexible definition of what is meant by “improvement.” But even those of us who see improvements, or who struggle less, will almost certainly be doing without many of the conveniences and commonalities of our time. More and more of us will have to make do without, learn cheaper and less intensive methods of accomplishing tasks, and outsource less of our lives. Some of the pleasures and comforts we take for granted today will not be available to us in the future. Times will change, and we will be forced to adapt.

That said, plenty of what we do or have today will remain available to us in the future. Not all will be lost, and not all that will be lost will be so in our lifetimes. Trying to guess what will stay and what will go is likely a fool’s game, but it’s a game I’m interested in playing today. And perhaps with some appropriate rules, it will be a bit less foolish than it might otherwise be.

So here’s my question for you: What won’t you lose in the coming years?

Given the likely consequences of climate change and other ecological destruction, a destabilized political and economic system, cultural upheaval, intermittent energy and resource shortages—or at least erratic pricing for such—and geopolitical upheaval leading to changes in national power and status and new wars that may touch us domestically, what pleasures, enjoyments, and habits do you expect not to lose in the coming decades?

To clarify further, the goal isn’t so much to guess what unsustainable part of your life today you think may hold out long enough for you not to lose it, or that you may stay well off enough to retain. Rather, I’m interested in learning what elements of your current life you believe are sustainable in the long run. What is it you take pleasure in doing right now that you think can survive disruption and upheaval, economic and political troubles, a backfiring ecosystem, and all the other troubles we’re likely to face?

In a sense, this post is a corollary to John Michael Greer’s “Seven Sustainable Technologies” post from 2014, and part of the idea is to critically examine what elements of our lives we believe we are least at risk of losing. While that may even involve some of the technologies on Greer’s list, this isn’t a question limited to technology itself; it’s also about our habits and pleasures, our work, our connections, the particulars of the individual worlds each of us lives in. I think there’s an importance, too, in understanding what we are least at risk of losing, to the degree that we can predict such things. In doing so, we can better understand where we might best place our efforts now, sinking them into activities and personal infrastructure that have the best chance of surviving deep into our futures, rather than being yanked out from beneath us.

Even better are things that bring you pleasure while also helping make your living. Gardening, of course, is an excellent example of this. It’s something that will be sustainable into the future (though any one individual still might find it cut off as an option, due to a variety of factors) and good gardening can help feed oneself or a family. As an activity that can bring pleasure and reduce one’s dependence on the superstructures of our society that may yet malfunction and crumble, it’s a prime example of something unlikely to be lost and worthy of increased attention and investment.

But what else? Chime in below or by emailing editor@intotheruins.com and tell us what you expect to persist. Make it personal, not a list, and don’t feel that it has to be something you believe will be sustainable for all. We all have our personal circumstances. Give us not just your answer, but some of the ways in which it weaves through your life today and brings you pleasure and fulfillment. Tell us why you think it will persist. Tell us how you think it will help you. Tell us why it makes you happy.

As you might expect, all answers will be considered for publication in a future issue of Into the Ruins as letters to the editor (unless explicitly stated that they are not to be considered). I hope this sparks a conversation. At a time of disruption, it’s important not just to focus on what might be lost, but on what will persist. Those things, after all, will be the basis of our ways forward. Imagining them is one of the primary purposes of Into the Ruins, and the things we are able to keep in the coming years will be the basis of the stories of our future. Let’s begin talking about them.


Don’t miss our on our limited time sale on back issues! The first five issues of Into the Ruins are on sale for just $10 each. Click here for more information and to order!

Unimagined Worlds to Come

Lately I’ve been diving into the somewhat recent Old Mars anthology. This collection features stories set on the Mars of science fiction’s old solar system—the Mars, that is, with a breathable (if often cold and thin) atmosphere, ancient canals and ruined cities, and a variety of strange alien life. As someone who did not read much science fiction as a child and has heretofore delved only lightly into the old solar system, the collection is proving quite fun, and leaving me excited to crack open the companion collection, Old Venus.

I came upon the anthology via John Michael Greer’s recent announcement of a new writing contest. Unlike many of his past contests—which have focused on deindustrial science fiction and, ultimately, proved the impetus for the founding of Into the Ruins—this one is focused on stories set in the old solar system: one teeming with strange life and accessible to human beings through a variety of fantastical means, in many ways unconcerned with technical feasibility as it relates to our current scientific knowledge. The stories set in this universe are proving a real joy to read, and it’s the lack of concern for our current understanding of our solar system that makes them so. Rather than a lifeless void dotted with lifeless planets, the solar system in these stories is filled with varying forms of life, offering stories that are as often as not part adventure, featuring strange new worlds that help get the imagination churning.

In case it’s not clear, I like this. Much of modern science fiction, frankly, is boring in its depictions of techno-utopias, techno-dystopias, and everything in between—so long as there’s a “techno” in front of it. The focus of the story is too often on the technology, and the technology is far too often some extrapolated version of what we have today. That’s not all that interesting—especially if, like me, you don’t find most of our current microprocessor-based gadgets all that interesting. I find life more enjoyable and more lively when such gadgets have a minimal presence in my life.

Similarly, I like my non-Earth planets filled with strange, beautiful landscapes and fascinating alien lifeforms. Based on what we know of the planets in our solar system, though, they aren’t. Mars is not filled with ancient canals, ruined cities, and bizarre Martians. It’s more a barren, lifeless desert with soil that probably kills bacteria, so far as we know, and devoid of the myriad life that makes being outside here on Earth a joy. I don’t mean to knock Mars—if it was simple to take a day trip to check it out, I would—but humans are exquisitely designed for and a product of only one planet with all it’s particulars and peculiarities, and that planet ain’t Mars (or Venus, or Saturn, or Jupiter . . .). It’s Earth. There’s a reason we like it here. It created us.

Given the reality of Mars (to the degree that we know it) and every other planet in our solar system, it’s only in fiction that traveling to these planets opens up thrilling adventures, fascinating discoveries of new forms of life, and sweeping landscapes that rival our own in their beauty. And it’s only in fiction that the dull, lifeless planets of our solar system are transformed into fantastical alternate versions of the one planet that we humans actually do know.

Of course, despite my enjoyment of this type of science fiction, such stories don’t really fit the focus of Into the Ruins. They aren’t set on earth and they don’t tend to follow the laws of the natural world as we best understand them. (Granted, I am open to flexibility on this point, as I don’t believe we fully understand how the natural world works and I’m a big believer in mystery, but I’m confident that Mars and Venus in reality are not the teeming worlds of science fiction past, and I’m furthermore confident that zipping around the solar system to these planets is something that we likely never will do and that, if we do, it will be a one- or two-off affair at best before we realize—consciously or not—that we simply can’t spare the energy and resources for such unnecessary and largely pointless excursions.) Despite this, though, I think they have something to teach science fiction writers, deindustrial and otherwise: unique worlds teeming with life are fascinating settings for a good tale, and worlds largely devoid of life are much less so.

How is that relevant to deindustrial science fiction? Well, to my mind, tales set in unique futures teeming with life are for more fascinating than airbrushed tales of the future dominated by microprocessor-driven gadgets and other technological artifacts. And futures depicting a linear extrapolation of current technology and the dominant political, economic, and social orders of today are not unique futures; they’re mostly just more of the same, both in terms of what we already know in our day-to-day lives and what so much of science fiction unimaginatively regurgitates in the pop culture of our time. That’s one of the reasons I started the magazine, to get different visions of the future out there. Another reason I started it was to publish tales in which humans are given their rightful place in the cosmos: as simply one more unique and compelling species on this planet, evolved out of the particular ecosystems found here over the planet’s life, a part of this world but not apart of this world, and with the ability to influence but not the ability to exert anything near total control over the natural world or our ultimate path within it. Much in the same way that I find adventures in the old solar system more compelling than adventures in the real solar system, tales taking place within this understanding and context are, for me, far more interesting than ones that suppose human control over the natural world.

What’s most exciting to me about these old solar system tales, though, is the ways in which they allow for a wide variety of visions, creatures, worlds, landscapes, and other creative and imaginative details not locked into some straight jacket of over-familiarity. Granted, no doubt this version of the old solar system has its own tropes and common themes that I’m sure were written into the ground throughout the decades of the subgenre’s dominance. But one of the joys in returning to them now is the stark contrast they provide to the dominant SF tropes of today, and the dizzying array of storytelling options available on planets with water and breathable atmospheres, as opposed to the lifeless deserts or otherwise hostile environments we now know them to be.

You know what other planet with water and a breathable atmosphere offers a dizzying array of storytelling options? The one we call home, of course. That, to me, is the eventual promise of deindustrial science fiction: the opportunity to break SF as commonly presented today out of its doldrums and unleash it into a future world that can—and almost certainly will—look nearly as alien as the planets of the old solar system. I don’t think we’re there yet, as many stories still have not moved past some of the already-established tropes of the emerging genre and it is still so hard for most of us stuck in the prison of our shockingly unimaginative culture to truly envision future cultures that look nothing like our own, use technologies as alien to us today as our current technologies would have been to someone living centuries or millennia past, organize themselves along economic and political lines that have yet to be thought of or invented, and interact with domestic and wild species yet to evolve. And yet, all those future possibilities are out there, and they all can exist within realistic natural limits.

The old solar system—and good deal of other forms of science fiction settings—have led to incredibly imaginative works from writers throughout our history. The future as imagined by science fiction has, too; it just so happens that many of those future imaginations—particularly more recent ones—not only won’t happen, but can’t happen due to the limitations and hard realities of the planet we live on and universe we live within. There are still, however, an incredible variety of futures yet to be imagined that could still happen within the limitations of our planet. Yet the vast majority of those futures have remained unexplored in science fiction because they don’t confirm to the computer-focused futures and the linear extrapolations of today’s realities that have come to dominate the genre.

It’s far past time to start exploring those futures, though. This is not only because those are the kinds of futures we actually are going to get, but that humane and functional futures that are feasible in the face of energy and resource constraints are far more likely to come to fruition if we begin imagining and exploring them through the creative avenues of our time. It’s also time to start exploring them because these are far more interesting futures than the ones that science fiction so often explore. I think there are fascinating future civilizations that will develop in the centuries and millennia to come, and I’d really love to read some good stories in which creative writers imagine those future civilizations and their distinctive and, to us, likely bizarre ways of understanding, knowing, and interacting with the world. Just as a great story set on a shockingly alien world is an exhilarating spark for the imagination, so too can a great story set in a shockingly alien, but still distinctly human, future right here on earth send the mind wheeling off in a thousand creative directions.

As Into the Ruins continues to develop and evolve, and the subgenre of deindustrial science fiction does the same, I hope to see more of these strange, stunning, alien futures come to the fore and emerge as creative forces from some of the many great writers in the world today. Minds set to unleash the possibilities of completely different forms of technology, different economic and political arrangements, new religious forms, different ways of living within and interacting with the broader world, and different ways of meeting basic needs, taking joy in life, and earning personal fulfillment could yet influence the course of history, opening up possibilities that seem unimaginable—or, more on point, currently are unimagined—in today’s world. There’s no reason we can’t begin discovering those futures today, and so I hope that those reading this will take the time to pick up a pen or fire up the word processor and begin imagining those futures.

And when you’re done, send it in. Whether as a full fledged story or a letter to the editor, let’s start getting the ideas out there, and start imagining the real futures facing us, and the exhilarating possibilities those futures hold.


Visit our introductory page for special offers on Into the Ruins.

Into the Ruins: Summer 2017 (Issue #6) is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that the sixth issue of Into the Ruins is shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase! This Summer 2017 issue features five excellent new stories from authors returning and new, as well as an extended Editor’s Introduction and a host of letters to the editor.

A doctor journeys southwest from New York and finds a small community terrorized by religious fanatics. Two children follow a witch into the woods—and discover the dark secrets of the former nation they call home. A young woman chafes against the future lined out for her by others, then sets out in search of a very different kind of life. A man spends years monitoring a small river until one day a hard choice is forced upon him. And sudden, desperate visitors force the leaders of a small town to weigh a threat at the edge of their borders.

In this sixth issue of Into the Ruins, journeys and revelations abound. Ordinary people caught up in the complex web of civilizational collapse must make hard decisions, determine who to trust, and open themselves to life-altering discoveries. They travel the land in hopes of finding new lives and helping those in need—and in the process, unveil the hard and complicated futures coming for us, beset with the consequences of our current society’s destruction and excess.

Subscribers should be receiving their issues within the next week or two. However, many of you have yet to renew your subscription. Please renew today if you haven’t already! (Or use this direct PayPal link if you’re a U.S. subscriber.) For those renewing, I’ll get the sixth issue (plus any previous ones you hadn’t already received) shipped off to you ASAP upon renewal and your subscription will continue on into the future, ensuring you never miss an issue. If you aren’t sure or can’t remember if you’ve already renewed or if your subscription has expired, feel free to contact me to confirm.

Okay, with that out of the way, for those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the sixth issue anyway, you can order a copy here to peruse at your pleasure. In addition to ordering directly at the previous link, you can order from Amazon or CreateSpace, or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For Canadian readers, the issue should be available soon 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.

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 seventh issue of Into the Ruins, scheduled for November. Comments for contributing authors will be happily forwarded on.

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

— Joel Caris, Editor & Publisher

Staying Grounded in Upheaval

One of the particular pleasures of living in the city is the opportunities it provides for walking. I take advantage of those opportunities throughout the year, and even more so now that summer has truly arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. On average of late, I tend to get in a good five miles or more of walking each day. The more, the better. I walk my errands and my pleasures: grocery shopping, shipping packages at the post office, picking up books at the library, the occasional eating out, a pint and a movie at the second run theater, a visit to the park, or just an evening walk with my fiancee.

I find that walking grounds me. I suppose it does that in a certain literal way as I pass across the city, each footstep a small transfer of energy between myself and the earth (even if it so often is, sadly, intermediated by concrete). But it also places me into a rhythm, a satisfied state of mind, and engages my body in ways healthy not just physically, but mentally as well. Walking often settles me emotionally. And when I don’t read while walking (an occasional habit) it helps me to both clear my mind and to break away from my preoccupation with the troubles of the human world.

It’s too often forgotten that the human world is just one small part of our world. The rest is there around us, though too commonly ignored: our swirling ecosystem made up of so much more than humans and our myriad artifacts. I hear it in the chatter and cries of the crows, in the feel of the breeze, the rustle of trees and plants, the blooming scent of flowers, the pollen-induced sneezes, maddened squirrels, and the well- and not-so-well-tended gardens. It’s far easier to lose track of the nonhuman world here in the city, with its gridded streets and right-angled buildings, and yet it’s still not nearly so dominant as we imagine. There’s a lot of world out there that has little to do with humanity.

This all grounds me. And in a time of increasing chaos and upheaval, that grounding is critical. I’m a person who reads and studies and tracks our various predicaments. I don’t imagine I need to go through the data points to convince those reading this that we live in very troubled times, and that the future tends to look worse, not better, than the present. It’s hard living in such a time, and understanding that our future promises the harsh realities of decline rather than the prosperous upswing of ascent can create a certain grouchiness among society’s participants. I read a lot, track elements of our decline, and worry at times about our future; a deep mental burrowing into such topics creates strain and stress that can build until it manifests into useless, self-defeating, and at times downright destructive behavior.

Staying grounded and, in particular, staying rooted in and conscious of the realities of the non-human world helps even me out, calms me, heartens me, and brings me back to joy and pleasure. It mitigates the strain of decline and places the slow collapse of industrial civilization into perspective. Human civilizations do this, after all, and non-human populations do the same. We live and we die. We ascend and descend. We grow, prosper, contract, and collapse. It all is natural. It all is rooted in the unending ecological cycles of our world.

Walking helps me remember this. Sometimes it does so explicitly, but the vast majority of the time it simply is through the movement of my body, the sight and sounds of the crows and songbirds, a stray squirrel or dog or child, the wind or the sun or the rain, exuberant and sore muscles: the feedback from and asserting of the natural world around me. It grounds me in these times of trouble. It brings me pleasure and satisfaction to mitigate the frustration of seeing the world fragment around me.

I intend to write more about this in the introduction to the upcoming Summer 2017 issue of Into the Ruins, but in the meantime, I want to hear from you readers. What grounds you? In this time of decline, what helps keep you measured and sane and provides you respite from the many troubles bearing down on us (not to mention already arriving)? What puts your mind in order when it risks spiraling off down too-dark paths?

As usual, I’m hoping for some thoughts that are printable as letters to the editor, though I welcome all comments regardless of if you want them considered for publication. You can respond as a comment to this post or directly to me via email. If you don’t want your comments to be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, please say so. And if you email, please include your location in the form of city and state; you can do so in the comments, as well, or I’ll work to get in touch with you for that information if I want to publish your comments in the magazine.

Thanks, all!


And a quick note: For those of you whose subscription ended after the fourth or fifth issues and who have yet to renew, you can always do so and get caught back up or simply be on deck for the upcoming publication of the sixth issue. Don’t miss out! Renew today.

Into the Ruins: Spring 2017 is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that the fifth issue of Into the Ruins is ready to ship to subscribers and is now available for purchase! This Spring 2017 issue features five excellent new stories from authors returning and new, as well as letters to the editor, a new “Deindustrial Futures Past” column from John Michael Greer, the return of Justin Patrick Moore reviewing Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, and the usual “Editor’s Introduction.”

In this fifth issue of Into the Ruins, explorations of our deindustrial future take intriguing turns both dark and delightful. A naive, young government official arrives in an economically devastated midwest and soon finds himself entangled in a disturbing mystery. An expedition gone terribly wrong leads to the discovery of a hidden clan with surprising social arrangements born of disease, cruelty, experimentation, and physical pleasure. A bus ride across the deindustrialized Canadian countryside spurs a happy connection. Two men form an unlikely friendship as they work their way toward flight. And a village mentor discovers unexpected forms of darkness in her friends and neighbors, leading her to question herself and those around her.

These visions—extraordinary at times, rooted in an utterly normal and yet still fascinating world at others—stretch the boundaries of our imagined future. At times mysterious and thrilling, this is a new type of science fiction, offering unknown worlds found right here on earth.

Subscribers should be receiving their issues within the next week or so. However, many of you have yet to renew your subscription. Please renew today if you haven’t already! (Or use this direct PayPal link if you’re a U.S. subscriber.) I’ll get the fifth issue shipped off to you ASAP upon renewal and your subscription will continue on into the future, ensuring you never miss an issue. If you aren’t sure or can’t remember if you’ve already renewed or if your subscription has expired, feel free to contact me to confirm.

Okay, with that out of the way, for those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the fifth issue anyway, you can order a copy here to peruse at your pleasure. In addition to ordering directly at the previous link, you can order from Amazon or CreateSpace, or you can purchase a digital edition of the issue at Payhip. For Canadian readers, the issue should be available soon 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 will be soon) or for a link to order directly from CreateSpace, which ships throughout the world.

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 sixth issue of Into the Ruins, coming in July. Comments for contributing authors will be happily forwarded on.

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 returning to contribute a great new review to this issue; my amazing partner, Kate O’Neill, who is ever patient, ever loving, and brings me happiness every single day; 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

What Do You Hope For?

As we slip into May, this year passing so fast, I can’t help but wonder at how quickly the world seems to change. Here in America, such a sense is at least somewhat inevitable with a new and discontinuous administration driving our national and foreign policy in new directions. But even setting aside the political disruptions experienced of late, it still feels as though the tipping points are arriving faster and faster. As decline accelerates and continues to push the United States and a number of other nations and regions into the early stages of collapse, I can’t help but believe the world is going to be dramatically and irreversibly changed in the coming decades, with a good number of incredible challenges staring us in the face.

It’s a sobering reality, but it’s also an opportunity to stop and reflect on what hopes we hold for the future. I know that can feel like an odd statement to make at a time that feels quite dark. However, in the times like these that challenge us, hope strikes me as more critical than ever. There is little question that we face a harsh future; yet such an impending reality demands from us an honest hope to make the world better than it otherwise might be through hard work, perseverance, an honest appraisal of where we are heading. John Michael Greer once wrote that hope “is the quality of character and the act of will that finds some good that can be achieved, no matter what the circumstances, and then strives to achieve it.” There is little question to my mind that now is a time for such efforts.

With that in mind, I turn to you good readers with a simple question: What do you hope for? Given the state of decline and the harsh futures facing us, what is it that you hope to do or see to make the future better than it might otherwise be. Much like the stories in Into the Ruins, I ask that the hard realities facing us not be dismissed or glossed over: please don’t write that you hope for an easy solution, or for something to happen to allow us to continue to live our lives as we have been, skating by the consequences of our idiotic and destructive decisions. No, given the realities of climate change, economic and political dysfunction, war, poverty, environmental destruction, and all the other troubles facing us, what do you hope for? It can be something at the personal or societal level, local or global, rooted in physical action, mental contemplation, spiritual practice, or something else.

My favorite responses I plan to publish as letters to the editor in the upcoming fifth issue of Into the Ruins. You can provide your thoughts either by commenting on this blog post or by emailing me directly at editor@intotheruins.com. If for any reason you do not want your thoughts to be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, please make a note of it in your comment.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Into the Ruins: Winter 2017 is Now Available!

I’m pleased to announce that the fourth issue of Into the Ruins is shipping to subscribers and is now available for purchase! This Winter 2017 issue features five excellent new stories, including the tale of an abandoned and dilapidated old church in the woods with a lively history of religion and scandal; a story of communication and friendship between species; the search for a particular treasure in the flooded remains of a great American city; a Cardinal’s fascinating letter about surprise visitors from the sea; and a near future tale of social unrest that plays off the uncertain political mood of the day. Also included is a new “Deindustrial Futures Past” column from John Michael Greer, reviews of deindustrial science fiction novels, and another thought-provoking letters section, making this an issue not to be missed.

For those of you who have followed my blog on the Figuration Press website, Litterfall, you’re in for what I hope will be a treat: my own story, “An Expected Chill,” completed and ready for your reading pleasure. Also, I’ve heard the calls for the title to be printed on the spine; consider it done!

Subscribers should be receiving their issues within the next week or so—all subscriber orders have been placed as of this weekend. For the vast majority of you subscribers, that means your subscription has come to an end. For those of you who have already renewed their subscription, thank you, thank you, thank you! For those who haven’t, you can do so right here. I hope you’ll join me for a second year of Into the Ruins, and I hope that you’ll consider doing it soon; it helps me tremendously to know how many subscribers I’m going to have for the fifth issue, which is a big part of how I set my author payment rates. This project has so far been a massive success—I really hope that continues to be the case! So please, renew if you haven’t already.

Okay, with that out of the way, for those who aren’t ready to subscribe but who would like to check out the fourth issue anyway, you can order a copy here to peruse at your pleasure. In addition to ordering directly at the previous link, you can order 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 will be available soon through Payhip for $7.50. I’ll make an announcement when that’s available.

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 fifth issue of Into the Ruins, coming in May. Comments for contributing authors will be happily forwarded on—and I’ll note that I would love to hear direct feedback on my own story from anyone who’s inclined to provide it.

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 Associate Editor, providing feedback and catching mistakes I otherwise miss; Jason Heppenstall, for contributing a book review to this issue; my amazing partner, Kate O’Neill, who is ever patient, ever loving, and brings me happiness every single day; 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 unendingly, and 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 purchased issues, 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

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!)