QSFer J. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM sci-fi time travel story out: Prolepsis.
PROLEPSIS pro.lep.sis: The representation of a thing as existing before it actually does
What if you could change the course of queer history, one story at a time?
It’s the fall of 1986, the age of walkmans, mix tapes, floppy discs and Jolt Cola. Sean’s a twenty-five-year-old closeted gay sci-fi geek who runs a popular pulp ‘zine called Prolepsis. A geek with a crush on the cute guy named Jason who works at the post office.
One day a pink envelope from an author named I.H. Tragitto arrives, with a gay sci-fi story that opens up new worlds of possibility in Sean’s head. A story his homophobic boss chews him out for publishing. Emboldened by the tale, Sean finally asks Jason out, and is thrilled when his crush says yes.
When another story arrives from the mystery author, Sean is faced with a difficult choice. Defy his boss and publish it, and risk exposing his own secret, or stay safely in the closet and live a lie. And then there’s Jason, with whom Sean is slowly falling in love.
What should he do? And who in the world is I.H. Tragitto?
Only time will tell.
Ian had been right about everything. Well, everything that mattered over the last thirty-nine years, since that autumn in 1986.
I stare at the pink envelope icon from I.H. Tragitto in my email.
I still don’t know how he did it. Could this really be from him?
I tremble as I open it. A handwritten letter in Ian’s neat script fills my floating screen…
* * *
At twenty-six, I was a brand-new editor for the Prolepsis ‘zine—its first gay one, though my boss didn’t know it yet. I’d made my way up through the ranks of slush pile readers at other magazines, cultivating a keen editorial eye for the unexpected.
Called Prolepsis—the representation of a thing as existing before it actually does—the ‘zine was fresh, edgy and new. We specialized in stories by authors who pushed the envelope, and none did that as well as I.H. Tragitto.
The world was a radically different place back then. There was no internet, no Facebook, no email, and no cell phones. You carried quarters in the pocket of your acid-washed jeans or parachute pants to make calls at pay phones… crazy, right?
Prolepsis didn’t pay much—ten dollars a story—and they paid their star editor even less. I didn’t care. I got to read cutting edge sci-fi before anyone else.
Tucson was a cow town. I would stop by the post office on Oracle on my way home from my job at Waldenbooks, to pick up the latest batch of stories that authors had snail-mailed to the magazine. We didn’t call it snail mail back then. It was just the mail, though it still drove people crazy. Going postal was totally a thing.
One hot fall day, I.H.’s first story arrived in a bright pink envelope. I pulled it out of the box and snorted. Authors. Always with the cheap tricks and gimmicks. An envelope filled with glitter that “represented the stars.” One printed entirely in the illegible Lazer 84 font. And personal appeals based on an interview I’d done in Omni Magazine:
“You said you liked Tron, so you’ll like this too. It has people living inside a giant computer…” I liked the special effects in Tron, but the movie was dreck.
I almost threw the pink envelope in the trash. Something stopped me, and it changed the course of my life.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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