The Future Fire, an online magazine of feminist, queer, and postcolonial SF and horror, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month with a new anthology, a fundraiser, and a blog tour. We welcome Lori Selke, long-time collaborator with TFF and co-editor of the Outlaw Bodies anthology in 2012, to talk about the celebration and other interesting things.

How did you first get involved with The Future Fire? What is the first story you can remember buying, and what did you love about it?

Lori Selke: I was familiar with The Future Fire in a casual but admiring way; I read stories there on occasion, I liked them, I agreed with their mission statement and their blog posts were smart. When they issued a call for proposals for anthologies, I knew immediately what I wanted to pitch. It was an idea I’d been toying with for a while, but had no place to park it. Outlaw Bodies. Science fiction with a focus on technology and the body, but seen through a social justice lens.

My co-editor and I didn’t buy stories as we went along; rather, we read all the submissions as they came in and made virtual “yes, maybe, no” piles, and then discussed things until we had a final line-up. Then we sent out the acceptances. Very few stories made the “yes” pile off the bat. In fact, at this point I don’t remember if any of them did. What I mostly remember was how much I loved M. Svairini’s “Mouth,” at the same time knowing that it might be a problem in terms of its explicit sexual content—would it throw off the balance of the anthology, stick out like a sore thumb? At least one reviewer definitely thought so. I expected to have to give up this darling, but I don’t recall that my co-editor expressed any major reservations when we were making our decisions, so it went in and I am still happy that it’s there. Including it makes me feel like we’re pushing even more boundaries, and if it makes people uncomfortable it might be that it doesn’t mesh with the other stories, or it might be something else, and I would encourage people to examine those feelings.

Tell us a bit about your own work. What’s the next big thing for you?

LS: It’s a couple years old, but I have a tiny self-contained SF novella at Aqueduct Press called The XY Conspiracy that I would love your readers to check out.

I am currently working on a short story collection tentatively titled Dead Nude Girls and Other Bodies. (Yes, you will notice a ‘body’ theme to my work.) I might be a little angry-slash-obsessed with the way stories use dead women’s bodies as plot coupons, and I might be writing a whole bunch of stories that address with that trope in one way or another. Sometimes obliquely, sometimes directly. I don’t have a publisher or anything lined up yet, but stay tuned.

Which is the institution that you most happily would set on fire?

LS: At the moment, with the news of the death of Sandra Bland making international headlines, the U.S. criminal justice system, which has me deeply concerned for the safety of my family, is in the center of my personal bullseye. Global capitalism might make us miserable daily and push us to die slowly, and most weeks it’s in the lead spot for my “burn it all down” impulses, but right now the risk of a quick death by cop is never far from my mind. White privilege may insulate me, but it won’t protect my black loved ones—my partner and my children and their cousins, uncles and aunts and in-laws. I was originally going to phrase it as “the carceral state” but these days getting all the way to jail (and then out of it) to sentencing and prison is starting to seem like a luxury. My daughter asked me the other day about a news story with a police officer and said “was it a police trying to protect us or a police trying to kill us?” She’s six. Who needs dystopian literature? It’s all beginning to look a little pale and childish to me.

What is your favorite short story ever (or at the moment)?

LS: Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” is always on my short list. I read it when it was first published in Asimov’s in the late 1980s (my mother was a charter subscriber; I am a second-generation SFF geek) and it had a huge effect on me. It embarrasses me to admit it, but it was sexy. I don’t think I’m the only one who read it that way, fortunately, but I think most people just blush and change the subject to how outstandingly disturbing and thought-provoking a story it is. Which is all true, but part of why it’s uncomfortable is its strange sensuality around the danger of the egg-laying and removal, and the intimate relationship between the main character and his protector. I also liked the fact that the humans’ relationship with the aliens was not at all triumphal, and not even an uneasy detente—the humans were clearly subordinate, but at the same time invaluable. All that in one short story. Wow.

Obviously, as you can easily see from my editorial selections for Outlaw Bodies, I like best the stories that leave you unsettled and uncomfortable. Butler was the unparalleled master of this.

Tell us more about the TFF tenth anniversary anthology and fundraiser?

LS: Ten years of The Future Fire! It’s an institution now! That’s definitely worth celebrating. TFF is working to publish an anthology that includes both best-of reprints and new commissioned work, called TFFX. X for ten years, X for marking out a spot in the genre, X for the unknown variable that changes the status quo. OK, maybe I embellished that a bit. There’s a Crowdfunder campaign to help pay authors and artists a fair rate for their work, with the stretch goal being to pay contributors to other projects a better rate as well. The fundraiser runs through August and includes fun perks like story critique sessions, customized art, and personalized knitted zombie dolls. (That’s the one I want!) Other ways to support The Future Fire’s tenth anniversary project: you can pre-order the anthology, or you can purchase e-book or print copies of their previous publications.