Steve’s story in Metastasis sucked me in from the first paragraph and held my attention up to the very end. He’s here today to answer a few questions in another of our super short Metastasis interviews 🙂
Who or what was the inspiration for your story in Metastasis?
It was really more of a what. Of late there’s been a lot of noise online regarding the role of women and minorities in the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy and also nerd culture in general. The story came about as my brain tried to deal with the ugly, ugly things I was reading online. My thoughts regarding sexism and institutionalized misogyny dovetailed with the idea of metastasis. Most cancer treatments are not kind to the human body. We cut, burn, and bombard it with chemicals. A person’s sexual identity risks damage as a result. Comedienne Tig Notaro when talking about her fight with cancer jokingly referred to a double mastectomy as a “forced transition”. That’s sort of the idea I was chasing.
How has cancer touched your life?
My family is certainly no stranger to the disease. My grandmother beat both breast and lung cancer during her lifetime. My dad has beaten skin cancer. Unfortunately, my Aunt Michael wasn’t as fortunate. Lung cancer claimed her life. Right now one of our dogs is sick, and our vet says that cancer is the most likely culprit. I pray she is wrong.
However the most striking way cancer has touched my life involves a friend with whom I had a falling out with a number of years ago. Our friendship disintegrated over a bunch of stupid bullshit and we ceased all communication with each other. About a year ago I learned he died of lung cancer. A mutual acquaintance showed me a picture of him that had been taken shortly before he died. When I knew him, he was a chain-smoking Falstaff, a larger than life character who was always quick with a joke. The person in the photograph looked to be less than 120 pounds with sagging yellow skin and the suggestion of a smile on their lips. It’s my understanding that the disease hit him hard and fast. Whenever I catch myself acting petty, I think of him. It’s cliché, but life can turn shockingly short for stupid bullshit.
Not counting your own, which story or poem in Metastasis is your favourite?
That’s a difficult question, because I had that in mind as I read the anthology, and it starts off with Jay Lake’s powerful “The Cancer Catechism”. And as I continued to read, there was just one fantastic idea after another. The Phillip K Dick fan in me loved the central idea behind David Sklar’s “Quantum Therapy”. However, at one point during Gabrielle Harbowy’s story, “Arpeggio”, I audibly gasped. So if I had to pick just one, I’d pick her’s.
When not being mean to his characters, Steve Lickman is mean to software in his role as a quality control analyst. His story, “Fangirl”, recently appeared in Sidekicks! published by Alliteration Ink. You can follow him on Twitter @SteveLickman or at his website, BeerAndMonsters.com, where he writes about pop culture, home brewing, and, occasionally, writing.
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