Nothing Without Us Too

Editors: Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson (September 2022)

Publisher: Renaissance

Book cover: A watercolour of a brick wall with shades of brown, beige, and aquas that has a teal vertical rectangle on the lower left side. Spray-painted in black graffiti is the title "Nothing Without US," but on slighting on top of the word “US" in dark orange graffiti is the word “TOO". The list of authors is in light yellow text in the teal rectangle. Beneath the book title is “Edited by Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson."

Multi-genre fiction where once again, we are the stars.

Nothing Without Us Too follows the theme of Nothing Without Us (a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist), featuring more stories by authors who are disabled, d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing, Blind or visually impaired, neurodivergent, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness. The lived experiences of their protagonists are found across many demographics—such as race, culture, financial status, religion, gender, age, and/or sexual orientation. We want to present these stories because diversity is reality, and it belongs in literary and genre fiction.

So, whether we’re being welcomed to Sensory Hell by hotel staff, witnessing a stare-down between a convenience store worker and an arrogant vampire, or unsure if our social media account is magic, these tales can teleport us elsewhere yet resonate deep within.

With stories by Jayne Barnard, Meg Candelaria, H.E. Casson, Jessica Corra, Matthew Del Papa, Jen Desmarais, Bernadette Gabay Dyer, Ari Fletcher-Bai, A. Gregory Frankson, Tea Gerbeza, Michelle F. Goddard, Anita Goveas, Dianna Gunn, Anita Haas, Juliet Hill, Stephen Graham King, B. Lawrence, Rook Laz, Melissa Mead, Polly Orr, Jessica Peter, Erin Rockfort, N.R.M Roshak, Holly Schofield, Avi Silver, Cathy Smith, and Sienna Tristen

Cover artist: April Laramey

Foreword author: Amanda Leduc

We are so honoured to have a story submitted by Melissa Mead (1967-2022) and are grateful to her family for letting us include it in this anthology. 

Story Teasers!

Here is our list of stories as they will appear in the anthology.

Tour of the Facilities, by Sienna Tristen — A charming (and wonderfully snarky) hotel staff member welcomes us to Sensory Hell.

Saving the World at the Bat Outta Heck Mart, by Meg Candelaria — A classic vampire-meets-girl story. Except maybe the vampire meets an autistic girl who works at a convenience store, and things don’t go as either of them planned.

Pulling Futures, Plucking Thyme, by Avi Silver — A mage nearly destroys their home while experiencing a phase that forces them to try to pull possible futures out of thin air. A mentor comes to their aid, not feeling sorry for them, but to help.

Why I’m Deleting My Account by Cal G. (AKA @RandomTDotQweirdo), by H.E. Casson — Cal is deleting their social media account. Why? Because it’s enchanted. Oh, and their mom has finally found it.

Health Benefits, by Jessica Corra — A disabled girl finds a dead body of a wealthy man, fishes out his identity tag, turns it in for a reward, and is faced to choose her destiny once the activists and local news find out about it.

Orange Rope for Sale, by N.R.M. Roshak — Nobody likes an April Fool’s prank, especially when it’s the Universe playing it. Angela and Ben are two strangers trying to sell some exercise equipment and move on with their lives. But Time is literally not letting them.

Neurodivergent Hire, by Cathy Smith — A woman with schizoaffective disorder is searching for a job in a “reordered” society where people hardly ever live on Earth.

Visiting Hours, by Stephen Graham King — A man is brutally wounded in a life-changing event and recovering in hospital when he finds himself facing a team of strangers during visiting hours, who present him with an insight of the present and a possible future. 

Fishing in Martian Waters, by Bernadette Gabay Dyer — Jayden is a young man who has glaucoma. One day when urging his siblings to go to Martian Waters, the name of his family’s favourite fishing spot, he finds himself in a close encounter of the unexpected kind.

At the Terminus, by A. Gregory Frankson — One man’s internal struggle to come to grips with a traumatic revelation from childhood that sets his mind reeling on his journey to the other side.

The Rats, by B. Lawrence — A humorous take on the serious situation of managing a psychosis condition within a healthcare system that is grossly incompetent.

Lament of the Lotus Eaters, by Erin Rockfort — A “wellness” corporation uses technology to erase people’s suffering (and also their minds) in order to exploit them as labour.

A Cure for Crying, by Ari Fletcher-Bai — Mira is sex worker whose chronic tearing condition helps her get clients, so she can earn a living. When of her regulars offers her an expensive “remedy,” she finds herself tempted by the cure. But is it worth it?

The Pronoun Game, by Rook Laz — Arcady, a dissociative queer college student, navigates the difficulties of fluctuating pronouns and liking it/its pronouns. Arcady also struggles with the fear of having its queerness discarded as a symptom of its undefined and mis/undiagnosed neurodiversity.

24 Things You Never Needed to Know that are Mostly About Tea, by Anita Goveas — A humorous and touching article about tea and trying to come to terms with being chronically ill.

Lattes and Latent Luminaries, by Michelle F. Goddard — Deede is a teen with trichotillomania who is apprehensive about interviewing for a job at the local cafe, especially when she has to compete with two popular girls from her new school and deal with strange occurrences that make her seriously doubt herself. Will Deedee retreat or trust her skills enough to try?

Semper Ubi Sub Ubi, by Jen Desmarais — A slice-of-life style story about a Claudia, who works in a boutique lingerie store while attending second year university in Westmeath, Ontario. She’s excited and nervous about the upcoming fashion show she will be modelling and is trying to keep her relationship with food in a positive position, but is finding it difficult.

Political On-Rampby Matthew Del Papa — A young disabled council member shrewdly proposes a plan to keep the assets of the city of Capreol, Ontario safe from its amalgamation with Sudbury.

Crows’ Hoard, by Jayne Barnard — Trapped in her small apartment after a flood forces everyone else to evacuate, chronically-ill Carmel expects to die, even welcomes it. But when she tells the crows who trade her their treasures for snacks that she won’t be there tomorrow, they bring her a choice she could have never predicted.

Should I Stayby Dianna Gunn — Veronica is a depressed woman who has recently gone through a divorce and moved to a small town… only to discover that her new house is haunted.

Heart on Your Sleeve, by Holly Schofield — Set in a world where memories are actual tangible artifiacts, a neurodivergent person makes a tiny bit of progress in learning to cope with past trauma while in an overstimulating environment. 

Bring it to the Yard Sale, by Juliet Hill — A student with Tourette’s feels tricked after taking part in a theatre workshop at school.

Cool Dudes and Santa, by Anita Haas — Tom is a visually-impaired teacher working in Madrid, Spain, ready to teach his class of pre-teens some important lessons about disability and visual perception, just before the Christmas holidays.

The Flap, by Tea Gerbeza — A woman volunteers to take her friend’s place sledding with his niece while she herself grapples with internalized ableist expectations of her scoliosis body. But this is also a love story, focusing on the beauty of Crip relationships.

Once Upon an End Time, by Jessica Peter — Sarah doesn’t think twice about her mother’s illness and heads to work at a big-box store, wondering where everyone is… then soon discovers she’s almost completely alone during an apocalyptic event. 

Pest, by Melissa Mead — Carol, a.k.a. Pestilence or Pest for short, is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse living in Ciderville (even though there’s only one horseman who is actually a man). When she discovers a group of disabled citizens trapped inside a house, presumably left to perish, Pest is simply not having it.

Together, by Polly Orr — Set in the aftermath of a mysterious disaster that leaves the world in a great state of distress, our hero finds immeasurable strength from the bonds created in their found community, but also fear and uncertainty when faced with a question of who should be included in the safety net they’ve created.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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