There Be Monsters at Expozine

Here Be Monsters is a local genre short fiction anthology, started by collaborators Alex Newcombe, Vincent Mackay and Duane Burry; here’s why you should check out their latest edition at Expozine this weekend.

Here Be Monsters is a local short fiction anthology, started by collaborators Alex Newcombe, Vincent Mackay and Duane Burry. The project began in 2009, originally as a writing group, then developing into a showcase for its founders’ unique brand of weird fiction.

In 2010, the anthology was nominated for Expozine’s annual Independent Press Award, and this taste of validation encouraged Newcombe, Mackay and Burry to expand the collection to include other writers, bringing in talent from anglophony around the world. Now in its seventh edition, Here Be Monsters enfolds a broad range of genres under its wings, including speculative fiction, sci-fi and fantasy.

“Writers of speculative fiction want new outlets for their work, and readers want a fun, stimulating, original read that takes them to the edge of the map without sacrificing simple reading pleasure,” says founder and editor Vincent Mackay. “Most of all, it’s about the pleasure of reading.”

The writing group forced its participants to “go to the writing gym,” as Mackay describes it, and the anthology stemmed from the desire to impose discipline upon its members, who saw it as “something that would give us a deadline and the motivation to finish the bits of stories we had created in the writing group. Thus the idea of creating a book with our work was born.” From the beginning it was collaborative, featuring extensive input from the group’s members, partners and friends.

“Serendipity has also brought super talented people together. Even better, we don’t hate each other and collaborate well together. We respect individual creativity and expression,” continues Burry. “Why consume all the time when we can create?”

The bound anthologies, which you can catch a preview of here, derive their name from the antiquated cartographic practices of annotating the unexplored regions of maps with this titular advisory, “warning travelers that they were venturing into unknown territory,” as Mackay puts it.

The anthology takes this allegory and runs with it, situating this fear of the unknown in the everyday. “The monsters are in the unknown, the new and unique,” says Burry. “They are in your head. They hide in the dark, underwater, space and the corner of your eye. Really, the monsters are everywhere and different for each of us.”

That said, the folks behind Here Be Monsters don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. Asked about future projects, Burry says “I am working on a way to turn us all into cephalopods.” ■

Expozine takes place Nov. 17-18, basement of the Église St-Enfant Jésus (5035 St-Dominique), 12–6 p.m., free admission

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