Penumbric Speculative Fiction Magazine
started a long time ago on a web that was very different from today's. Back in the early 2000s companies were just recovering from the "dot net bubble burst" and were suddenly doing everything they could to monetize the internet (which has lead to the current non-stop advertising and data-gathering blitz). Into this frenzy launched a small, pre-bubble inspired magazine, no ads, no revenue stream, just a ton of hope and a dollop of dreams ... and naivete. Lots and lots of naivete.
Eventually this caught up to us (well, me, unless I've recently become a monarch), and Penumbric
sank beneath the frothy seas ($ea$?) of a 'net that would soon lose thousands of individual fan and other sites in favor of conglomerates and a kind of dangerous groupthink. It's a heavy dose of Orwell-meets-Cyberpunk, government as and by corporations and the C-suite, fiddling while the planet burns ...
If I'd have known, or been a stronger person, or been a little wiser, I'd have fought harder to keep going. But I guess time would have to fold its fabric so that yesterday met today.
The best I can do to link yesterday and today is show you what we did all those years ago (and this time I do mean we, for without the amazing work of all those authors and artists Penumbric
would never have existed). Following is a sample of that work. It is all in pdf form, as the html versions barely work in today's browsers, and look a little ... clunky? ... by today's standards.
Ready? On to the archives!
Our first issue! A bit rough (e.g., I found a few typos in my editorial just glancing through), but still a good start. Starting the tradition of including a feature interview/article along with writing, art, and graphic narratives. I wonder if any of the included links work anymore ...
(Download June2K2 pdf)
Wherein I interviewed Kenji Kamiyama and Yoshiko Sakurai as they were putting together Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
. Wherein I also try to tell people how to pronounce "manga" and out myself as a big fan of Sailor Moon (which I point out is not cyberpunk, but is awesome nonetheless).
(Download October2K2 pdf)
I chose to do an issue on cyberpunk during a sort of cyberpunk doldrums--or rebuilding, maybe. (Now I think there's a bit of a revival, although I think part of it is the Hollywood version, and part an ever-changing edgy version.) I don't try to tell anyone how to pronounce words, thank goodness, but I do tell everyone how much I love Serial Experiments: Lain
. Or maybe I don't say it, but I do. (Although ... have you seen the Lain video game? It's even wEirDer. And disturbing.)
(Download April2K3 pdf)
The one year anniversary issue! Amazing art, poetry, fiction ... and an interview with an amazing poet. I also look back on my grandmother's influence on me as a writer, as she'd been in a terrible accident the year before, on the very eve of the first issue coming out (actually, I think I'd published it online moments before I heard the news). She died several years ago, but I still think about her almost every day.
(Download June2K3 pdf)
Virtual idols! And I didn't say a word about Hatsune Miku. But then, how could I? She wasn't out until 2007. (Obviously I have some updating to do if I do this article again.)
By this point I'm happy to say I was flooded with quality works for publication--and by the end of Penumbric at the end of 2K4, I had a year's backlog of acceptances. I still feel terrible about not getting to publish those pieces, and even worse for the authors--although I hope they were published elsewhere, since if I thought they were good, surely other editors did.
(Download October2K3 pdf)
The start of our publication of an awesome webcomic, Mondo Mecho. We didn't get anywhere close to publishing all of it; actually, maybe it would be nice to complete it now that psfm is back ...
Unfortunately, at the time, the end was nigh for Penumbric. We skipped the August issue entirely, and October was a bit scaled back. And by December it was all over.
But now ... but now ... we're baaack!
(Download April2K4 pdf)