How did “A Sword Has One Purpose” originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
I wrote it to submit to Silk & Steel: A Queer Speculative Adventure Anthology, so the foundational inspirations came from that call for submissions. While it was eventually rejected, that gave me opportunities to revise it further and make it even better. As for a “consulting swashbuckler” in a space habitat, I was going more “noir detective with a sword,” and considering that it’s very easy to damage sensitive life support systems with bullets, I think there’s a place for swords in space.
Also, potentially interesting fact: this was the last story I wrote in the Before Times, specifically February 2020.
Did you get stuck at any point while writing this? How did you get past that?
The biggest sticking point was in pre-production, since I have a habit of thinking through stories extensively before writing and this was no different. While the original call for submissions went out in November 2019, it took months to come together and I ended up finishing it about three hours before the deadline. It exists mostly because I had committed myself to submitting something to the anthology, and I was not going to go back on my word.
Is there anything you want to make sure readers noticed?
There’s a reason the Jovian fascists in the story named their ship after Charles Lindbergh. While he’s more remembered for his transatlantic flight and is memorialized by multiple airports, he was also a Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist. We have to be vigilant when it comes to people that societies champion and honour, because too often they represent the worst of us.
What trends in speculative fiction would you like to see gain popularity in the next few years?
Given how everyone is dealing with so much pain and suffering and dread right now, I’d love to see more hopeful work coming out in the future. Not that there isn’t plenty already, but from my perspective, these days looking for hope feels like swimming upstream. More explicitly anticapitalist works would also be great for the genre, and of course, queer stories to the rafters.
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
Right now I’m editing my novel Siegebreaker, a portal fantasy about a queer lady abducted from Earth to be made into a giant weapon and her trans girlfriend who crosses worlds to find her. Beyond that, I’m making my first foray into IP writing and trying to keep the fires of my short story furnace going. I spend a lot of time on Twitter at @aphoebebarton, and my website phoebebartonsf.com has plenty of information about my other work.
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