scenic view of rocky mountain during evening with stars out

Mini-fiction Monday: We Together

I thought it might be fun to post short fiction pieces on Mondays that just streamed out of my brain.

scenic view of rocky mountain during evening with stars out

We together

by Cait Gordon

Genre: fantasy

You wrap yourself around me and I feel enveloped in the coolness of your skin. Here, I am secure. In the quiet of this place, high above where anyone can harm me, knowing we are together, I can regain who I am. Rebuild the woman who has faced one too many sword-points.

But you swooped in and rescued me. I might not have been a young damsel—it’s been years since I was a maid—but I had indeed been in distress. You didn’t care; you still felt I was worth saving.

We might not speak the same tongue, yet we understand each other without spoken language. Our eyes, our gestures let each other know all that there needs to be known. And together, we’ll fly above the tedium and the host of mundanes who threaten to make us less than what we are.

For our bond is greater than any other. Our hearts are one. And as one, they shall conquer.

But for now, we rest.

Deep within this cave atop the highest mount, with a circular view of the multitude of stars shining their light in the distance, we sleep. Or, I shall sleep soon, lulled by the rising and falling of your body as you breathe.

The hand that rests upon you pats your tail gently. The stars pick out the pearlescent gleam in your scales, which cross over from jade to opal to amethyst. You are a host of jewels.

Your wings are folded neatly and docile. How I love when they are in full span! Your majesty puts fear in the faint hearted, but the sight of you strengthens me. I know your heart and your intentions. You want justice and so do I.

So let them fear us. Those trolls, those oppressors, those mundanes. We will gather those like us, assemble our own city, where we shall not rule over them, but in community with each other. Dragons and all of the Othered. Our land will have peace. It will bloom. And it will thrive.

But for now, we sleep.

I shall close my eyes soon, I promise.

Wrapped in the love of my dear one.

My bosom friend.

Mo chara dragan.

Until the morn.

For it promises great things.

A greyscale close-up of me, standing in front of a blank background. I am a white woman with short silver hair cropped closely on the sides. I am wearing dark metallic rimmed glasses with rhinestones on the side. I’m wearing silver hook earrings with flat beads and a plaid shirt.

Cait Gordon is an autistic, disabled, and queer Canadian writer of speculative fiction that celebrates diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’CosmThe Stealth Lovers, and the forthcoming Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space (2023). Cait also founded the Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the multi-genre disability fiction anthologies Nothing Without Us and Nothing Without Us Too. 

Featured photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on

time lapse photo of stars on night

Book acceptance! A new crew is coming in 2023!

I did a teaser trailer about a cool thing that I announced yesterday!

THOSE WITH LIGHT SENSITIVITY: I didn’t have a problem with the flickering border under the text or brief flash of light near the end (I have light sensitivity myself and didn’t find it that intense), but here’s a warning that it starts right after I say, “Get ready for season one,” and the text briefly flashes out toward the screen for the next three panels. If you’re unsure, please do not watch this video.

There is a dramatic score in the background, and what appears to be a whirl of stars in space after the line, “The crew of a certain science vessel tears through space.” The video is mostly text flying onto the screen and there is an audio voice-over of the text.

This is the news: Iris and the Crew will tear through space in the Fall of 2023!

ID: Book advert by Cait Gordon. Aqua background. From left to right: Iris, a platinum-haired woman in a grey uniform with a sash, bending over an aqua robot. Her left hand is on the bot’s head and her right is holding a low-vision cane. Lartha is brown-skinned with half her head shaved, revealing a tattoo that says, “Just try it.” The other half of her head has flowing, wavy magenta locks. She’s wearing a black and grey uniform and aiming a large tubular weapon in front of her. She has two prosthetic limbs, and the left one is a glowing beacon with a short black boot. Davan is blue-skinned with pointed ears and a long trunk. He’s wearing a sleeves amber and grey uniform and waves to his right. Herb is pale skinned with brown and russet wavy hair in chunky layers, just hitting his shoulders. He’s in a baggy green mechanical uniform with pockets. Herb’s back is to us as he points to the tear while trying to get Davan’s attention. Text: Season One, Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space, by Cait Gordon, Coming in the Fall of 2023
(Just an advert. Not the cover.)

I’m so excited for you to meet this crew. I loved writing this first season, although world-building a space opera while inspired by the concept of Universal Design and the Social Model of Disability… during a eugenics-based pandemic on Earth… was… interesting. I found myself diving into Iris’s world just to escape this one. This series is my dream of what things might be like if a society became so accommodating and accessible, they wouldn’t understand the need to use identity-based language for disability. All bodyminds would be celebrated as part of everyday life. They would just… be.

The Iris and the Crew series follows the adventures of a science vessel crew on a massively accessible ship, the S.S. SpoonZ. They are a part of a galactic network known as the Keangal (key’angle), where inclusivity and supports are the norm. But not everyone is living in harmony within the Keangal—most notoriously so are the dreaded Piranha Brigade pirates whose creed is to do away with anyone they consider “weak.” And they’ve discovered a new enemy in Iris and the Crew…

I gobble up so many streaming series, I decided to make one myself, in book form! My hope is to have Blind, Deaf, neurodivergent, and disabled readers find themselves represented as major characters in this story! (I think there might be abled, NT members of that crew somewhere on the ship. I mean, it is inclusive after all.)

Anyway, squeeee!

ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Bruce D. Gordon (left), a white man with sandy brown hair and glasses, smiling, wearing a black shirt. He's sitting in a grey room with an elliptical trainer behind him and black abstract paintings. Cait Gordon on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.

In the ’Cosm Podcast S1, Bonus Episode: How being “dissastified” can lead to a book series, with Bruce D. Gordon

Surprise! We have a bonus episode for season one, which I’ve nicknamed In the ’Cosm, Special Husband Edition! Yes, my spouse, author Bruce D. Gordon, is making his debut with the first novel in his Dissastified Me series, Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story! It’s a humorous mock memoir set against the nostalgic backdrop of pop culture that expands from the 1970s to present day.

Bruce shares with us what led him to write this first book of the series and discusses how popular culture can serve as major life milestone markers. He also talks about his love of music, and has a fun fact that gives me vertigo! (Btw, to clarify, when I mentioned I was also a dual citizen, I meant Irish and Canadian. My Broose is the Sco’ish one.)

You can listen to this episode by clicking the embedded Spotify widget, or you can stream the podcast from  Anchor.fmApple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsRadio Public, and Google Podcasts

(Please scroll down to read the transcript for this episode.)

If you enjoyed this episode, please consider sharing and giving a positive rating!


ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Bruce D. Gordon (left), a white man with sandy brown hair and glasses, smiling, wearing a black shirt. He's sitting in a grey room with an elliptical trainer behind him and black abstract paintings. Cait Gordon on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.
Two Gordons are better than one!

Intro: Hi, and welcome to In the ‘Cosm. I’m your host, Canadian speculative fiction author, Cait Gordon. I started this podcast so I could chat with authors and other creatives I simply fangirl over. I hope you enjoy diving into my microcosm and feel inspired to seek out the works of these amazing humans.

Hi, I’m Cait Gordon, and today, we’re having what I like to call Season One Special Husband Edition, because on this bonus episode, I’ll be interviewing a human I’ve been married to for almost 30 years, brand-new Canadian author Bruce D. Gordon. Bruce’s debut novel, Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story, is a humorous mock memoir, teeming with pop culture nostalgia. After working many years as an IT manager for the federal government, Bruce’s love for creative writing was first sparked by the challenge of NaNoWriMo 2017. Since then, he’s participated in NaNoWriMo each year, with a goal of publishing a Dissatisfied Me trilogy. When not working or writing, Bruce enjoys playing guitar, watching superhero movies, and listening to Iron Maiden. Welcome Brooose!

Bruce Gordon: Hey!!! Hello, uh, Wifey? Or Cait?

Cait Gordon: [Laughs] I will accept both Wifey and Cait. So [laughs], as I was saying to you, it’s funny to welcome you into my microcosm because you’re always here… and you never leave! (laughs)

Bruce Gordon: I know! Aren’t you lucky?

Cait Gordon: I’m very lucky and welcome to my podcast!

Bruce Gordon: Thank you for having me.

Cait Gordon: So, um, I want to just dive in, if that’s okay with you?

Bruce Gordon: Sure! Go for it.

Cait Gordon: So, your very first novel will be out in September. And can you tell us about Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story, how you came up with it, and how you came up with that title?

Bruce Gordon: Oh boy. You know, it’s one of those funny things because, as you said, it is a  mock autobiography, done with a bit of a humorous twist to it, and it’s about this guy, maybe not so coincidentally, but on the eve of his 50th birthday, he’s, he finds himself alone in the basement of his room in his mother’s home, and you know, he’s going through some of some of these old boxes which contain items, which mark milestones of his life. And so, as he’s sorts… so the book really is a reflection of his life story as he’s uncovering these old objects and remembering these things. And you know, when you mix in, you know, your life story, of course he’s going to remember some of the history that goes alongside of that. So, being a child of the late 60s are born in the late 60s, he has a lot of nostalgic memories of his growing up in 70s and 80s. So, I mixed in a lot of that, the pop culture influences there because they too contribute to his milestones. A little bit about how I came up with the title Dissatisfied Me. I always sort of say that there’s a simple answer and a complicated answer. The simple answer is, well my character, as you might guess, leads a somewhat–in his mind–dissatisfied life. So, because I write the story from the first-person perspective, “dissatisfied me” sort of fits that mold, bit of a longer thing and more, uh [makes tongue-tied sounds], sorry, I get tongue tied every now and again.

Cait Gordon: That’s okay. My friend, my friend Dianna Gunn says that we are writers, not speakers. [Laughter]

Bruce Gordon: Yeah. Well, I used to make a joke that people learn to speak Bruce, and I’m glad I’ve been married to someone, for the past 30 years, who’s learned that language very quickly.

Cait Gordon: I’m very fluent in Bruce.

Bruce Gordon: [Shy laugh] The, the longer, the longer narrative about the Dissatisfied Me though sort of relates to how I started my writing journey, you know, and I started writing for lack, lack of a better word, you know, I started blogging about 10 years ago. And in my blogs, my first series was called The Sunday Rants where every Sunday, I’d publish something about–something that dissatisfied me, and I tried to throw in a bit of a humorous twist to it. The blog sort of evolved into Facebook posts, which had a daily message, and it was called by The Days of Dissatisfaction, and every year I have 100 days of dissatisfaction, and the people who followed me on Facebook started dubbing me Mr. Dissatisfied. [Cait laughs] So then, so then you [laughs]. So then, and I appreciated this, as a bit of a joke, and it’s a funny one, you reserve the domain name dissatisfiedbruce [Cait laughs], my website [Cait laughs some more]. And I was so tickled pink by that, and you know, we started designing this character, wearing a kilt, you know, it was a sort of a cartoony character that supported the blog and it was–he was wearing a kilt had a bag over his head, and I continued my blogging around things that dissatisfied me, the days of dissatisfaction, mixed with a lot of nostalgic elements as well [Cait says, “Yeah.”] and they all sort of tied together, and they contributed to the writing of this book.

Cait Gordon: And you know I, officially on this podcast, I’d like to apologize to you for being upset when you came up with the 100 days of dissatisfaction, thinking, “Oh wow,” you know, “I’m so glad that you feel dissatisfied all the time!” And I, I’d like to apologize for that because if you didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have this book! [Laughter] And people loved it. They looked forward to reading 100 Days of Dissatisfaction.

Bruce Gordon: Some of them wanted it to be a permanent entry, but you know, it was hard being dissatisfied that much to be honest with you. [Cait laughs]

Cait Gordon: Yeah, because you’re married to me. [Laughter]

Bruce Gordon: And here’s the weird twist about it: every single time I hit Day 100, I looked back on the 100 days of dissatisfaction and would say to myself, “I’ve nothing to be dissatisfied about, in fact, I have a lot of good reasons to be satisfied!” So, it was a bit of a cleansing exercise, and it made me feel great at the end of it.

Cait Gordon: Oh, that’s interesting, like, for it to be kind of a cathartic thing. I do, I do want to, like, you touched a little bit about why you wrote this backdrop of popular culture. And that’s what I really loved about your book, was laced in between what’s happening in Rick’s life, is all the popular culture, I mean, you and I are the same age basically. And I think it would also appeal to people who are younger and older as well because it’s taking from the 70s to present day. And I just wanted to just ask again why it was important for you to have, I mean, popular culture really integrated because it’s not just like a little ethereal backdrop, it’s almost a character itself in the story.

Bruce Gordon: No, and it’s very true. So apart from all the stuff I just talking about, about how all these ideas connected together. To me, pop culture is an easy reference for history. [Cait makes sound of agreement] So, and if you think about it, that amazed me in my personal life, and maybe also being an only child, certain ideas of pop culture or certain elements of pop culture have made strong, I guess, landmarks of strong markers in my life. You know, I have a very simple example and I’m noy sure if this applies to everybody: Can you remember your first celebrity crush?

Cait Gordon: I can, I can.

Bruce Gordon: Do you dare share with us?

Cait Gordon: Okay. Please don’t mock me, it was Donny Osman, he had those purple socks, I even got purple socks [laughs]. I just had this, I was young, I don’t know if I was five or six, but I had this terrible crush on Donny Osmond.

Bruce Gordon: So, it defined a marker because it was–I had a similar experience too when it defined a marker, saying, “Oh, this is the first time I recognize, I remembered having a crush on someone,” you know. And sure, there’s crushes on the people in real life but, really, in my mind, you know, having a celebrity crush, it marked a time and place in history. [Cait says, “Yeah.”] You know? And you could also extend that further, like maybe your first date, what was the movie, what was the first movie you went to on your first date?

Cait Gordon: Okay, that’s amazing! This is fantastic! I know that too! [Laughs]

Bruce Gordon: So do I. I’m embarrassed to say was Halloween II.

Cait Gordon: Mine was Octopussy. [Laughter] But yeah, no, I really see that though how popular culture could actually, yeah, could be integrated with milestones,

Bruce Gordon: And a challenge when you’re writing over a 50-year period of someone’s life, it’s an easy way of identifying those state markers in the story, so people could say, oh yeah, “A guy saw Videodrome, so that’s probably taking place somewhere in the middle 80s.”

Cait Gordon: Right.

Bruce Gordon: So, it’s a bit of a nice cheat for me as a writer.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, very cool. You know what, I didn’t even know that. So, I’m getting to learn things about your process! [Bruce might be saying, “Well, there you go!”] Isn’t this fun? [Laughs]

Bruce Gordon: For sure. [Laughs]

Cait Gordon: Okay, so I want to talk about another part of your book, which is almost like a character in itself to me, um, music, you know, you there’s a band in the book and because I’ve actually been in bands with you back when we first got to know each other, we were in bands together, so I know how much music means to you. And can you share the role it’s played in your life; in this book you’re writing?

Bruce Gordon: Um, so that’s a very interesting question. So, music has always been a passion for me in my life. [Cait makes agreement sound.] And, you know, there are parts of, again it’s a question for me: What was the first [unclear] music I listened to, what were the first songs where I consciously had a record on the record player and started listening to. Well for me, it was all those, you know those Disney-type stories [Cait goes, “Mmm!”], you know, Robin Hood and, or stories like Wizard of Oz, which was, there was a recording made of the film score.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Bruce Gordon: I used to love those as a six-year-old, and I would listen to them nonstop, and again, I spent a lot of time listening, memorizing. And as I matured, a couple of things came very clear for me. I love music that was up tempo that had, it was just a narrow view of music at the time, but that was the only thing I really liked.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Bruce Gordon: And as I hit teenage life, what was up tempo? Heavy metal. And so, naturally injecting heavy metal, punk, those sort of influences into my character was very easy. I was like, I am a bit of a music geek, I read up about the bios of bands and stuff like that, so it was very easy for me to write about music and things like that. Yeah, very natural connection for me. It’s also in terms of writing and creativity, I always listen to music, not just for the melody or not just for the lyrics but the layers, and so I always look for the depths of things. [Cait makes sound of agreement.] And so, I think, even, even though I played guitar and I haven’t played much in the last few years, when I compose music, I will always compose in layers. And that’s sort of applied to my writing style, too, so I would have layers of characters layers of scenes, you know, and how they also relate and that sort of, you know, that’s sort of my approach in terms of thinking a little bit more than just linear but, you know, bigger picture.

Cait Gordon: And the name of the fictitious band in your book is???

Bruce Gordon: Scottish Rot. [Laughter]

Cait Gordon: And you are Sco’ish yourself. You’re like me, we’re dual citizens. (Btw, Cait is Irish and Canadian, not Scottish).

Bruce Gordon: You bet!

Cait Gordon: I loved, I loved Scottish Rot, I enjoyed their lyrics very much. [Laughter] I mean, I loved everything about that band, and what you put that band through. I think it’s a real fun element of the book.

Bruce Gordon: Well yeah, and you know, it was easy for me to…  it was easy for me just because I can, I can remember it was like being a 16-year-old. Even though I learned to play guitar a little bit later, but the attitudes of being a teenager, learning an instrument, are still present, I mean, you thought you could do anything. You could practice for a few minutes and suddenly, you think you’re the best band since sliced bread. You know, it’s funny I remember recording an original song like, shortly after I learned how to play guitar, and I played it for someone, you know, I was proud of it and really excited, and the person looked at me as if I was growing another head. [Laughs]

Cait Gordon: Oh my!

Bruce Gordon: They just couldn’t understand it. But for me, it was my baby, you know, and I couldn’t understand why no one else could appreciate it. So, I mean, I certainly had those feelings and attachments early on in my life, in terms of what it means to play in a band, write music, and get that initial reaction from people too.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, whether it’s good or bad, it’s still your baby, and really, good or bad, that’s all relative anyway. I can definitely say that you are an excellent song composer.

Bruce Gordon: Well, thank you.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, and an arranger. You’re awwwesomme. [Bruce laughs] I want to switch lanes, though, because you know, we mentioned about NaNoWriMo in your bio, and this is, this is something I actually want to talk to you about. I’d like to chat about how Nano, the NaNoWriMo writing movement, say that five times fast, has impacted you like, you seem to be really for NaNo, and I’m gaining enthusiasm for it as well, so can you talk to us about NaNo, and how that sparked you as an author?

Bruce Gordon: Yeah well, so. So, for me, I always, I’ve always been one to need challenges to push me forward [Cait makes sound of agreement]. Many, many years ago, I took on the challenge of learning to run a half marathon. And so, it was just a matter of okay, how do you get there, and you need to sort of have a bit of structures, really to get there. And I get it, you know, people do things very differently and I will never say, “My way is the best way or anything like that.” No no no. But what I loved about NaNo is that it gave you a conscientious goal to work towards [Cait makes sound of agreement], you know, and you could work towards that goal in any way that you wanted to. Now at the time when I did it, the goal was very, I thought was a very lofty; it was around 50,000 words to be written in a month.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Bruce Gordon: But the whole objective was to get writing and encourage people to write and to keep writing, even when it’s a little bit tougher to write. Because some days you’re gonna have great days, and other days may not be so good. So, for me, it sort of inspired me to just keep putting pen to paper and even on those days that I struggled, I found, you know what? I discovered a new lane to write down in that struggle day.

Cait Gordon: Nice.

Bruce Gordon: I discovered a new prompt, which I could write around and help guide me and point me in the right direction. And I’ve never been someone to structure myself when I’m writing, I’ve always had a little bit of prompts along the way, a little bit markers and goals where to write towards, and NaNo helped encourage that quite a bit.

Cait Gordon: Very cool. I tried NaNo for the first time also in 2017, and that’s when I was writing for The Stealth Lovers, and then in the spring and CampNaNo in 2018, I kind of finished the first draft of The Stealth Lovers, and then I didn’t really do anything with Nano after that. And the pandemic, everything going on in the pandemic really affected my ability to read and to write. And this year though, CampNaNo was coming around in April and I thought, well, what I like about it is you can set your own word count. So, I thought, “Okay 20,000 words.” I know how I feel with my body, my mind. I feel I can do 667 words a day or whatnot, right? Um, and then I met that, and I was like, “Hey!” And I think for me it was, it was going to that dashboard every day and just putting in the word count. Like, I actually started to be excited about it? Um, and that kind of prompting and structure just kind of helped rehabilitate my brain to just get on the bandwagon again. And so, I took May off and realized, you know, towards the end of May, I only really need about 20,000 more words to finish the first draft of Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space. So [laughs], I set another 20,000-word goal and called it CaitNoWriMo [laughter], and then I hit it, and so now, I’m kind of the mindset of, hey, if I ever feel like I need that little push, I’m just gonna use the NaNoWriMo dashboard because you can actually do things, anytime a year. Like, if I wanted to write a novella that was 30,000 words or something, I could like, you know, I don’t even have to do it in a month, I could just keep on going and uh… Would you ever consider using the NaNoWriMo dashboard, outside of the regular times or for smaller goals and such?

Bruce Gordon: I haven’t thought too much about it, and I think partially because the November timeframe always held a special place in my heart because over the last few years, they’ve helped me shape some my writings today. That said, going forward, as I start new projects, I think I would. I think it makes sense to do that, if they’re small motivators and it’s a great tool to use. I especially found it useful in the last year where, you know, it’s nice to see the graphs and the tracking of your progress and it’s a nice little encouragement to keep you motivated.

Cait Gordon: And I have this thing about the digital stickers [laughter]: 5000 words, 10,000 words! I don’t know, I just find that I it just appeals to me.

Bruce Gordon: Yeah, well they’re small encouragements, and you want, and you want to get that little sticker, and you want to get, and you want to be able to claim the prize at the end, because some of the prizes are pretty cool. If you reach your goal.

Cait Gordon: There’s prizes?

Bruce Gordon: Not–well, do they offer discounts and things like that.

Cait Gordon: Oh, that’s cool! [Laughs]

Bruce Gordon: In fact, my first, so I use Scrivener quite a bit. I’m a huge Scrivener fan, especially when learning to draft out your work. It’s such a flexible tool, but I yeah, I was able to purchase it from NaNo at a substantial discount. I think it was available to winners, but I could be wrong on that. Maybe was available to all of NaNo writers.

Cait Gordon: Well, that’s really neat. I’m gonna actually look into that and see what else is there.

Bruce Gordon: But they had subscriptions to Grammarly and neat little things like that. Nice little tools to leverage, being part of the NaNo community.

Cait Gordon: Nice!

Bruce Gordon: Yeah!

Cait Gordon: Okay, so hey, we’re kind of zooming through this. Oh my gosh, that was a pun, and I didn’t even know it [laughs].

Cait Gordon: There you go [laughs].

Cait Gordon: So, um, I typically like to ask authors about what they’re indulging in, like, are there any books and series that you’re into right now?

Bruce Gordon: You know, these days I’ve been, in this past couple of weeks, I’ve been indulging in Stanley Kubrick movies.

Cait Gordon: Right [a little laugh].

Bruce Gordon: And [laughs] it’s one of those things where I’ve been trying to rewatch them all. One thing I like about a lot of the stories that Kubrick chooses is that he likes to pick stories that have strong antiheroes, and I’ve always been a fan of the antihero. A lot of the shows that I watch and love? Yeah, they’ll have an antihero in them. And so, just to list a couple I mean, and they’re the big, big ones out there you know like you talk about the Breaking Bad‘s and you talked about the Dexter‘s and Sopranos, you know, they all have a– 24, even Jack Bauer ordinarily, he’s a, he can be considered an antihero. They’ve always been there as part of my interests that draw me into a story. So, generally speaking, yeah, but those are the types of stories that interest me is when the characters are far from perfect.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Bruce Gordon: And, and so, and they’re always interesting to me.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, I mean, they’re fun to read, they’re fun to write as well.

Bruce Gordon: Yeah, exactly.

Cait Gordon: I’m surprised you didn’t mention all the DC series that you watch!

Bruce Gordon: Yeah, I know [Cait laughs] and funny in your blurb at the beginning, you talk about [my] watching superhero movies, and it’s true, I mean, I do love superhero stuff. I have to admit during the COVID, and I’m starting to feel this in the last few weeks, I’ve been a little bit oversaturated [laughs] with the amount of DC, and again it’s part of how I do things like NaNo, if there’s a goal, I’m committed to hitting that goal, and I won’t stop until I get there. With this DC superhero stuff? There’s so much TV content that was generated. And look, I would say cautiously for DC fans out there that the Arrowverse that’s on the CW Network? There’s some interesting storylines in there, but it really plays out like a soap opera, and it can be slow, and it can drag, and there’s a lot of space filler, and there’s a lot of times where people are just talking about their feelings, so for about 20 minutes, when they can just say, by what they do in five seconds what they truly feel.

Cait Gordon: [Laughs and tries to speak] You and the feelings thing! You have to understand, folks, that I watch stuff with Bruce, and every time there’s an overly, over discussion of feelings, he gets very upset [laughter]. “More feelings? We have to talk about feelings?” [Laughs]

Bruce Gordon: And the thing was, I never was sensitized to that before watching these DC things, because you know it’s true. When you, when you watch constantly the episodes of Flash and The Arrow, you get you get bombarded with that. And it’s sort of sad because you could have a really good TV show, and they have one episode where they really need to talk about feelings, [laughs] and I get this sort of adverse reaction to it.

Cait Gordon: You’re going to be okay though.

Bruce Gordon: I’ll survive. [Cait laughs]

Cait Gordon: Okay, look, I, I’ve come to the last question.

Bruce Gordon: Oh, okay, well there you go.

Cait Gordon: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Bruce Gordon: Fun fact? You know, I don’t know if I have a fun fact. I work– because you know, I’m a public servant and that sort of fun but uh… [Laughter]

Cait Gordon: I think you could do better than that [laughs].

Bruce Gordon: A fun fact about myself, okay. As a teenager, I used to play squash, and I was on the Quebec squash team for the Under Sixteens.

Cait Gordon: Okay… why don’t you tell the people about when you were in the Naval reserves?

Bruce Gordon: Well, I was going to get to that, but is that really that fun?

Cait Gordon: That’s kind of awesome. You know I’m talking about, right? That photo that we have of you downstairs?

Bruce Gordon: Oh, you mean the one, the one that’s on the wall here?

Cait Gordon: The one where there’s two ships, and then there’s you? That’s a fun fact! [Bruce says, “Yeah, there’s that!”] Why don’t you tell people about that fun fact?

Bruce Gordon: Yeah, so I mean, I was, so I was in the naval reserves, and one of the cool things I did when I was an officer training, I was serving, uh…. I was doing some training on board a tanker, and one job a tanker has is to refuel destroyers or other ships at sea. And part of that process is that not only do they refuel other ships, but they also replenish them with other supplies, and they have what they call jackstay line, which is a line that connects the two ships, where they could pull using pulleys, all these provisions. So, part of the fun we officer cadets had was that they wanted us to have the experience of transferring people between the two ships, in the middle of the open ocean, using these jackstay lines. So yeah, we each took our turn to cut across the ship. I was the second to last to go and you know all the crewmen were doing all the work pulling us from ship to ship. And, you know, as you’re crossing the water, you’re looking down, and you see the wake, crashing between the boats [Cait goes, “Oh, goshhh.”]  and it’s pretty intimidating. You know that if you were to fall, you’re going to get washed away and probably lost at sea somewhere. But these crewmen, you know they’re tired, you know. And so, as we’re going across, you know, I heard someone from the other ship go, “Aw, this this one’s particularly heavy!” [Cait laughs] Some of them started to dip forward as they worked, and then they pulled it up and of course I started bouncing away on the line. They’re howling with laughter at their little joke, but I’m holding on for dear life. Never forget that. It’s been a great moment.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, no kidding! My word! Okay, well thank you so much for appearing on my little podcast. I really appreciate that.

Bruce Gordon: Well, thank you so much!

Cait Gordon: You’re gonna get some cake out of this [laughs].

Bruce Gordon: I think we’ll have some celebratory cake. Absolutely.

Cait Gordon: You learn more about Bruce D. Gordon by following his website You can pre-order Dissatisfied Me: A Love Story through the Renaissance press website, that’s and from online booksellers, including Chapters-Indigo. Transcripts for In the ‘Cosm are available at That’s C-A-I-T gordon dot com. Thanks for joining us. Take care and stay safe.

(Transcribed by Edited for clarity by Cait Gordon.)

ID: Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon, closeup, wearing a black shirt

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who has been vaccinated against COVID-19, or how she likes to say it, “I’ve been stabbed for the good of the realm!” She wants to remind folks to continue to think of others as we battle this pandemic!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

I was interviewed by Ada Hoffman as part of their series about autistic authors, taking place this April!

Canadian speculating fiction author and poet Ada Hoffman interviewed me as part of their series on autistic authors, taking place during the month of April. We discuss Nothing Without Us, autistic representation in fiction, and what it’s like to be an autistic author in the publishing world!

You can find the interview here. I highly recommend following the series!

You can also follow Ada on Twitter!

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Su J. Sokol (on the left, smiling. Su is a white woman with long grey hair, braided on the side. Xe is sitting in a green room and there's a stringed instrument hanging on the wall and Cait Gordon on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.

In the ’Cosm Podcast S1 Ep4: From A (as in seeking asylum) to Zee with Su J. Sokol

You can listen to this episode by clicking the embedded Spotify widget, or you can stream the podcast from  Anchor.fmApple PodcastsSpotifyPocket CastsRadio Public, and Google Podcasts. You can also watch it (with CC) on my YouTube Channel! (Click the bell on my YouTube channel to be notified when new episodes are published!)

(Please scroll down to read the transcript for this episode.)

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ID: Zoom snapshot of Canadian author Su J. Sokol (on the left, smiling. Su is a white woman with long grey hair, braided on the side. Xe is sitting in a green room and there's a stringed instrument hanging on the wall and Cait Gordon on the right, against a spacey backdrop with the In the ’Cosm logo.


Hi and welcome to In the ‘Cosm. I’m your host, Canadian speculative fiction author, Cait Gordon. I’ve started this podcast, so I can chat with authors and other creatives I simply fan girl over. I hope you enjoy diving into my microcosm and feel inspired to seek out the works of these amazing humans.

Cait Gordon: Hi, I’m Cait Gordon, and today is such a big deal for me because I have with me the wonderfully talented Su J. Sokol. Su is a social rights activist and a writer of speculative, liminal and interstitial fiction. Originally from Brooklyn, Su now makes Montréal xyr home. Xyr short fiction has appeared or is upcoming in The Future Fire, Spark: A Creative Anthology, TFFX 10th Anniversary Anthology, Glittership: an LGBTQ Science Fiction and Fantasy PodcastGlittership: Year One anthologyAfter the Orange: Ruin and Recovery, and Amazing Stories.

Su’s debut novel, Cycling to Asylum, was longlisted for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, and has been optioned for a feature-length film. Xyr second novel, Run J Run, was published by Renaissance Press, and Su’s third novel, entitled Zee, has just been released in both French and English by Mouton Noir Acadie.

Welcome, Su!

Su J. Sokol: Sue. Thank you, Cait. Thank you so much for inviting me. This is so exciting!

Cait Gordon: It is so exciting! It’s so exciting for me. I was just—as I was putting this together, I was remembering when I first saw you, I was with Talia at CanCon 2016. And you were on a writing critique panel, and everything you said, we were like, “That person’s cool. That person’s cool. We like that person.” And it’s just it’s just amazing how you could just see someone and have stars in your eyes. And then just through the magic of the publishing world, you become colleagues and friends. And I’m just so happy to have you here today.

Su J. Sokol: Had I know you were thinking those thoughts, we could have become  friends even sooner.

Cait Gordon: [Laughs] I better get my thoughts out there because you know, I am rather a shy and demure type of person. Um, so here’s the thing. You’re working on Zee, no you’ve just released Zee. And that’s your new novel. And I’d like to know more about it because I haven’t yet explored it, but I’m excited to. Could you please share with us about Zee?

Su J. Sokol: Sure. So Zee is a story about a kid who could read the thoughts and feel the emotions of other people. And that sounds pretty cool. And like somebody that would come in handy. But in fact, it’s also something that’s not so great at times. And so the book is largely about the challenges of being such a person, because especially for a child growing up, who’s trying to find their own path, it’s really hard to be burdened with everyone else’s expectations and thoughts and ideas. And it makes it very confusing when you’re trying to figure out who you are, because you want to please everyone and you’re confused. And, and so this is a big challenge for Zee. So, it’s about kind of like the power and limits of empathy. And at the same time, it’s a story about Zee’s family, the four adults who make up her family or who come to understand that they’re family because it takes you know, a bunch of events before that happens, too. So it’s also about the four adults in Zee’s life. This is actually—it’s being marketed as a young adult novel—

Cait Gordon: Okay.

Su J. Sokol: —although I didn’t originally write it that way. But, um, and I’m curious to know what people think about that. I know that, you know, adults have read it and liked it. And I know some kids too, but it’s interesting to me because I don’t really… I think of it as both adult and young adult, but it’s cool to be able to be… you know, also writing for, for young adults as well.

Cait Gordon: And, so the idea of hyper-empathy really appeals to me as an autistic person. You know, a lot of times we’re under the actual real-life trope of not having empathy, but many of us are hyper-empathetic. I want to know what inspired you to choose that theme for your protagonist?

Su J. Sokol: Hmm, I guess there are two things. One has to do with my daughter. So, when my daughter was small, I really did believe that she could read minds. I just I really believed that and I thought, “Well, that would be interesting for a story.” But personally, I also I have a little bit of an issue like Zee has. I mean, I don’t really read minds, I don’t think, but I sometimes I feel myself to be hyper-aware of what other people are thinking. And it makes me… it causes me some pain. Actually, it’s hard to deal with sometimes. I’m always thinking, Oh, that person, they were just upset by what I said, what do I do? You know, gets me tied in knots, and you know, I might be wrong about these things. And sometimes I’m right, but I just don’t realize that it doesn’t matter as much as I think it does. So, I wanted to explore that a little bit, both as someone who experiences something like that. I think sometimes I just, you know, you know how science fiction just takes the thing and just runs away in crazy directions with it, in unusual directions. So that’s what I was trying to do.

Cait Gordon: Well, I mean, I just, I just, now I’m, like, 3000 times more curious to read it. Because yeah, it’s true. Like, particularly if you’re a compassionate person, right? Um, you know, kind of outward thinking, you can be sensitive to what other people think and to take that to the level that you’re taking it to in this book… and to be a young person, the person is young as well. With all the things that growing up means, I could really see how that would be a challenge.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, I mean, whether, you know, most kids just want to please the adults and their peers. Like that’s, especially once you hit adolescence, it’s all about that. And it’s just can be excruciating, you know? And so yeah, I just wanted to explore that, explore that a bit. Yeah.

Cait Gordon: And it’s in English and in French—that’s kind of awesome.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, it’s funny. The, the publisher is a Francophone, you know, French-language publisher, Acadian publisher in New Brunswick. It’s a long story, how it found its way there, but they were looking for kind of edgy, young adult writing. And, and then they, they really liked it, but they’re like, “Well, we need it to be in French.” So they hired a translator, and they translated it. And that was that in itself was a really, really interesting experience. Because I do speak French, I mean, not perfect, perfect. You know, I didn’t really come to learn French, well, or at all kind of, I knew a little bit of French growing up, but not until I emigrated. And then I went to the françaisation classes and tried to learn French and, and so it was interesting for me to read my words in French and see how you would do, you know, how we could do the same thing in there. Sometimes, you have to really come about it from a different angle in French than you would in English.

Cait Gordon: Right. With the idioms and stuff like that, right? Yeah, expressions?

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, different cultural reference points are different. You know, there’s a whole thing we had to figure out good, you know, non-binary pronouns in French. And it’s much more challenging, French, because there’s so many opportunities to genderize language in French that you don’t have an English. All that was super interesting. It was great working with this talented translator, and then, you know, seeing what we could make out of it. Even the title Zee is challenging for Canadians, because, you know, I’m from New York, as you said, and Z is the last letter of the alphabet when you’re an American, but it isn’t here. It’s Zed. So you’ve kind of—yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, but…

Cait Gordon: I’m so glad you said that [laughs], because I almost made the joke that your book is Zee in the US and Zed in Canada [laughs again]. So yeah, it’s true. It’s— I don’t even know how, you know, I should know why it’s zed. But I actually just don’t so, whatever [laughs].

Su J. Sokol: Why is it zee? I mean, I don’t know, either. I think it’s related to French, I mean, European, you know, French and English influenced them each other a lot in Europe. And but then, you know, the US did a bunch of things differently. Some of them, some of the language differences between Canadian English and US English has to do with it being more influenced by, you know, by England and also by French.

Cait Gordon: Mhm, mhm. So, you know, when was the official release of Zee? When was that? That was 2020?

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, I guess it was… Um, no, I don’t know, November or December that at the very end of the year, um basically.

Cait Gordon: Right. So what’s it like to release a novel during a global pandemic? I mean, you know, we’re so used to going to, you know, readings and cons and different things like—-what, like how did you navigate that?

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, I was really worried about that, I have to be honest. My first two books I really, my launches were such special moments, you know, surrounded by friends and family and supporters. And, and I didn’t know how was I going to do a launch. I’ve done readings on Zoom. And it’s just like, to me, it was like talking into a void.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Su J. Sokol: It’s really, really hard. I tried things like well, what if we do gallery, and I can look at everyone’s faces, but they’re so little [Cait laughs] I can’t see their expressions, and I was I was, you know, I was upset. I didn’t know what I was going to do about it. So I kept on thinking about, you know, how we drink wine and eat snacks with the launch. And so I came up with an idea. I’m very fortunate because I live in a house in with a porch, a covered porch, which is not that usual in Montreal.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Su J. Sokol: And I had this idea that I could make mulled wine, it was gonna be like, cold out, of course, we’re in Montreal, vegan chocolate chip muffins. And what I would do is I would invite people who, who felt comfortable to come to my porch, I would give them a glass of mulled wine and a muffin, and I would sign books for them. And I would have people come one by one, and we’d wear masks, and we’d be outside, and it would be COVID-safe. And then I could sort of replicate a little bit at least that human, you know, face-to-face thing. And, and it worked out pretty well. Um, some people arrived at the same time as other people and were there just waiting in the garden, whatever. [Laughs]

Cait Gordon: Oh wow.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah.

Cait Gordon: That’s a pretty creative way to handle it, really. 

Su J. Sokol: It was, yeah, it was it was great. It was really nice. And I actually finally had some mulled wine myself that night. I did—that was the day of the English launch. I did the French launch on a Thursday. And then I did the English launch on a Sunday. So, all day Sunday, I had people coming. But I was also thinking about my friends who couldn’t or wouldn’t, didn’t feel like comfortable to come. And I knew they wanted the book and wanted a signed book. And I wanted them to have it. So, I came up with this other idea, which was that I took a list of people in that situation. And my partner and I biked all over Montreal Saturday, delivering books. And some people were in actual quarantine. So, we did these contactless deliveries of the book and e-payments. And so, you know, it made it feel… I’ve always had bicycles part of my lunches ever since Cycling to Asylum.

Cait Gordon: Very cool.

Su J. Sokol: I was really happy to be able to have bicycling involved. And then the launch itself was very creative. So my publisher, they were great. They found this like this kind of queer Acadian drag queen comedienne, to animate the event. And they were so sparkly [Cait laughs], I was dazzled. And we had, you know, we had readings, and we had Q and A’s and we had audience participation and book giveaways. And so it just made the event much more warm. And there was an advantage. I had two launches, one in French, one in English. But there was an advantage to having the Zoom launch, which because usually I have a launch in Montreal and a launch in New York, and then hopefully also one in Toronto and Ottawa. But I could have everybody at the same launch this way. And I actually had people from France, and Germany, who had to stay up really late. I had a few of them. And it just was like, wow, I couldn’t have done that.

Cait Gordon: Yeah, yeah, the reach is fantastic when you also have virtual. You know, it’s making like, I mean, I’m an extrovert, I love being with people. But I’m half-thinking that even when we come at the other end of this pandemic, virtual and in-person launches are not a bad thing. Because with the virtual, you can reach a wider audience, like you say, if some people feel like staying up or whatnot, or you schedule it a certain way, you could have people from Europe and other places as well.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah. And actually, the first time I’d ever seen anything like that was with you. When we had [the launch] at Glad Day and virtually. And I was like, “Wow, this is great,” you know.

Cait Gordon: That was fantastic and Glad Day Bookshop is always going to have a warm place in my heart because of that accessibility that they offered me. But I do know what you mean, though, because that was—I had never done anything like that before. And it was before I even knew what really Zoom was much about. I had done a few things with Talia, but never like this. And I couldn’t even hear people laugh, and I’m trying to read things that are funny. And I’m going please let them [laughs] I hope they’re laughing! But I think you know, if we designed this as a whole in the publishing industry, we can continue the virtual component as well. I think it would be really good for a lot of people.

Su J. Sokol: It’s true, but we will have to find a solution to that problem. Because it really is a problem when you try to read, and you’re not getting the laughs, and you’re not getting the reaction. I saw comedian, like the comedy show where like, none of the laugh track, nothing’s there. And it just feels all the jokes feel like they’re falling dead [Cait laughs]. So the other act where the person had their partner in the room and joking with their partner the whole time. And that made all the difference just to have one person in the room laughing was really great.

Cait Gordon: Yeah. And that’s something I think, you know, I feel like I, you know, as a person who likes accessibility and accommodation, I got to figure that out. [Laughs] I’ll make that mission as well. I’ll let you know if I learned anything and let me know if you learn anything as well. Okay, um, that’s amazing. Those are great ideas. And I’m going to listen to this again to make sure that I’m writing this down. I want to go talk a little bit about some of your other works. The last book that I read from you was Run J Run, and I even wrote in my notes that I could have done a whole hour podcast on Run J Run. To me, it’s exquisitely written, it explores mental illness and trauma and PTSD in a way that I feel is non-harmful in terms of tropes. I also love that the support system is a polyamorous relationship. And I just wanted to know, was it important to you to write that story? You know, you know, defying those kinds of harmful tropes and, you know, representing mental illness in a way that people who have mental illness can relate to, and also showing, you know, polyamory without all those tropes and cliches. Were those two themes important to you to demonstrate in your work?

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, hm, well, I mean, definitely, they’re important. But the way I come to decide to write a story is a character makes themselves known to me [laughter]. You know, and then I want to learn more about them. And they tell me things that I do research and things, then they tell me things that happened to them. And then I start learning about the people and their life. And that’s how I came to write this story. But then once writing it, like, when I realized I had to deal with these issues, because the person who came to me happened to have a serious mental illness and happened to be in a polyamorous relationship, I knew I would have to write about those things in a way that was, you know, that was good. That wasn’t tropes. And that wasn’t misinformation. And that was sensitive. So like, that was very important to me once, once the story made itself aware to me write. Instead of like, “Oh, I’m gonna write a polyamorous love story with a person who has mental—” It wasn’t like that.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah. So yeah, it was it was very important. I mean, in writing about for instance—so the character who is the person in the story with the biggest mental health problem, who is arguably the main character, although not the narrator—you could go back and forth, and who’s the real main character of that story—but the first thing I wanted to just be really clear about is this sort of idea that someone’s mental illness defines them, like they are their mental illness. And so I thought it was really important to try to show that Zak is a person who’s extremely interesting and complex and attractive and flawed. And some of these things have to do with his mental illness. And some of these things don’t. I mean, he’s just [Cait says, “Right,” at the same time]. Like, he would do these things that were very unusual, like he was, he’s a very unusual person and does unusual things. And some of the unusual things he does, I mean, they don’t have anything to do with his mental health. He’s just an unusual person. And that’s just how it is. And, you know, there’s, there’s a moment in the story where we’re J is talking to his psychiatrists. And it’s like, you know, if there were this pill that Zak could take that would make him like everybody else, that would make him quote, unquote, normal, I wouldn’t even want him to take it, not that he would take it. I just want him not to be suffering, I just want him not to be in pain. Like, that’s what I want, not that he changed to somebody else, you know, so that was an important thing for me to write about mental illness in that way. And, you know, and I also, you know, this is, you know, also Zak is from a marginalized community, so, and there are a lot of bad things that have happened to him. But I didn’t want this toxic trope of someone who’s marginalized, whose story ends in tragedy.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Su J. Sokol: But usually have ended in tragedy. And I’m sorry if this is a little bit of a spoiler, but I wouldn’t write a story like that. I couldn’t, I couldn’t break my own heart [laughs].

Cait Gordon: Exactly!

Su J. Sokol: And so at the same time, though, you have to avoid the trope of “and then we figured out what was the big trauma and then they were okay, forever, and everything was fine.” And yeah, no, no, no, no [laughter]. It doesn’t work that way. You know, and I made it very clear, even in trying to offer like a happily-ever-afterish story that that doesn’t mean Zak is cured.

Cait Gordon: Yes.

Su J. Sokol: You know, or anything like that, you know, just that… Yeah. So those were the things that I was really trying to avoid, you know, in writing about mental illness. Um, with the polyamory… I mean, I guess the biggest misconception when people think about polyamory that I’m familiar with is this idea of a dude with all these wives.

Cait Gordon: [Laughs] Right.

Su J. Sokol: And so, I definitely wasn’t, you know, so you know, I created the—I write about a certain type of polyamory in the story, and there’s so many types.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Su J. Sokol: This is like a stable triad, that’s MMF—male, male, female. And so that’s going to avoid the dude with a lot of wives [laughs].

Cait Gordon: That will do it right there [laughs].

Su J. Sokol: Yeah. Um, but I also wanted it to be really clear that for the female character, Annie, that this isn’t something she’s been forced into like, well, that she’s just going along with, but that it was something that in fact, she’s really pretty much behind it. But aside from that, how much emotional benefit she gets out of this, and she’s the one who explains it to my main character who’s a bit, you know, hesitant. Because the other thing about polyamory is a lot of people thinking, think of it as just promiscuity, or as you know, doesn’t want to commit, which is so the opposite of the story that I wrote. And, but it’s hard for J, because he’s an extremely loyal person, and he doesn’t necessarily—he has ways of thinking sometimes that he kind of break out of, and he had to learn that, you know, being in this relationship doesn’t mean that you’re not loyal, or that you’re not committing. And, and it could be healthy and ethical, and the best kind of, in fact, at some point of the story, he says something like, every child should have at least three parents.

Cait Gordon: Right, exactly! I mean, I love the way it was done. There’s so much about that book that I love. But you know, all the things that you said that you were working hard to make sure you didn’t misrepresent, in my opinion, you get like, you know, when the teacher used to put a big smiley face on your paper? [Laughs] Like you did it so well. Um, and I, I like the, I like the thing that you said about, you know, you wanted to avoid this taking a pill, you know, you say that J says, you know that he wouldn’t even want Zak to take a pill that would make him like everybody else. Again, that resonates with me. I’m someone who manages mental illness, but I’m also autistic. And my autism is what you see, like my humour, my quirkiness, all the little things that make up Cait, that’s my autism. It’s how my brain is configured.

Su J. Sokol: It’s your awesomeness!

Cait Gordon: My awesome “autimness”— but I, but I deal with depression, and I don’t like it. So [laughs] you know, depression is something that I tried to, you know, I have I have help for, I go to therapy, and I’m, if it gets in my way and prevents me from thriving, well, we have to deal with that. But so I kind of like that kind of duality of you know, there’s a personality and their own personal neurodivergence, and then there’s mental illness. So you want to always help people with the stuff that’s harming them. And if something’s not harming them, and that’s just them being them, you just let them be, you know, so I love that.

Cait Gordon: Yeah. And I could have easily also created like, his psychiatrist as being someone who’s like a bad psychiatrist. But she, she wasn’t, she was highly intelligent and empathic and competent. And yet she made mistakes. And, and, but what was critical is her willingness to listen to her patient and to his loved ones. And to change her idea about “Okay, maybe this other thing is going on and, and think outside the box.” That’s what was that’s what made her so great as a psychiatrist.

Cait Gordon: Oh, no, it’s—the book is so good. I just, yeah. I think I’m gonna read it again [laughter]. But the first book that I did buy from you was Cycling to Asylum. And I remember I said something to you, and you said, so many people said to you, like, “Are you a prophet?” [Laughs] The way that you wrote Cycling to Asylum and you wrote it before kind of… the way things are today? That you must have thought that was funny that you were talking about, you know, you writing character now who reads minds in such… half of us were wondering if you could predict the future. Would you like to talk about Cycling to Asylum for a little bit?

Su J. Sokol: Sure. I mean, so Cycling to Asylum, for people who don’t know the story, is about a couple of activists living in a near future kind of dystopian United States, who find that they need to flee, that their lives are in danger, and take their kids and… but the way they flee is kind of unusual because they bike across the border, posing as tourists. And then they make a claim for refugee status in Montréal in Québec. Um, and so, yeah, there’s, people have said a lot of things about the book predicting things, like for instance, there’s a lot in the book that has to do with police violence, and it came out right before Ferguson.

Cait Gordon: Right.

Su J. Sokol: Yeah, but it was, you know, but it was something that was, you know, continuously comes to different boiling points, you know, Black Lives Matter, different waves of that, and, and it’s unfortunately, a problem we haven’t solved yet.

Cait Gordon: Yeah.

Su J. Sokol: And it’s something that, like, I thought about a lot, you know, in my activism, and so it was something I was gonna put into the story, because it existed. And, you know, I think it’s no secret to people who read and write speculative fiction that most—many authors are actually writing about the present when they when they seem to be writing about the future. And that’s what I was doing. Um, so a lot of the things I knew I couldn’t get away—there were a lot of very dystopian things about the United States that actually like existed and still exist. And I didn’t think I could write a story that was just contemporary fiction, where activists come to Canada and get ref—you know, try to get refugee status, there’s no one would believe it, right? People think, “Oh, you know what? It’s a democracy. Everything’s great.” You know, but I live there, and I know better. And, and so I said, “Well, I’ll just make it science fiction to avoid the argument.” [Laughs] You know, so but like, people, but it’s true that people like… just a couple of years after my book, so I came up with the idea in 2008, but I wasn’t able to find space in my life to write it until 2011, 2012. And then it was published in 2014. But then, you know, soon after that, people were sneaking across the border into Canada. And, you know, that’s not the first time people have snuck into into Canada, you know, from the United States. There’s a long history of that, and different events happening. But yeah, and then, but the only thing I always tell people I’ll take credit for is like, maybe a year or less than a year after Cycling was published, Montréal declared itself a sanctuary city, which is something I had in the book [laughs].

Cait Gordon: Right!

Su J. Sokol: Like, it’s a sanctuary city. So I’m like, “Okay, I’ll take that.” But sadly, the truth is, that Montréal is not a sanctuary, or it’s not a sanctuary city. And, and we have a way long way to go to become one. And so I just hope will point seeds, you know, to, to work more on that issue, but you know, yeah, so, so that’s Cycling. And I’m actually, I hope I could say this, but I’m working on a sequel—

Cait Gordon: Oh!

Su J. Sokol: That takes place three years after Cycling ends. And, you know, I mean, you mentioned I’m from New York. So, you know, our decision to come here was politically motivated. So it is related, you know, we weren’t asylum seekers but, but now I’m writing this sequel with the eyes of someone who’s lived here for a while now, and a little bit more clear eyed. And so again, I’m writing about contemporary problems, both in our country and in the United States and abroad, and about the people who were trying to, to fight those problems and make the world a more just place. But I’m just futurizing it, using cool technologies and made-up countries. And, and that kind of thing.

Cait Gordon: That’s very cool. With—I mean, I can’t believe it, I say this every podcast as I can’t believe it; we’re starting to run out of time. And because I get so involved, and I just want to hear everybody talk all day long… but just thinking about, you know, Cycling to Asylum and such, you describe yourself as a social activist, can you just quickly tell us, you know, like, do you feel like your writing is also part of that? And do you do other things related to social activism?

Su J. Sokol: Yes, I mean, yes to both. So in New York, I was, a, like a legal services lawyer, a lawyer for tenants and tenant organizations, and housing organizations and fighting for, you know, decent, affordable housing for people as a basic, you know, right. And I do similar work here in in Montreal, I work for a community organization. And we also write for, you know, work for the rights of people to have a decent income, access to healthcare, so on and so forth. We work with a lot of immigrants or refugees, but we work with everybody. And so I feel like the work that I do is advocacy and activism. And then I’m also just an activist in my life, you know, involved in a lot of different causes and against a lot of isms and phobias.

Cait Gordon: Right, right.

Su J. Sokol: And I do see my writing as a form of activism, too, because I’m trying to write about the things that I see in my ideas of what would be a better world and what we need to get rid of, and I tried to, you know, present it in that context. And in fact, when Cycling came out, a lot of the events I had, I tried to combine with some sort of social justice issue like, like, rights of immigrants or cycling environmentalism, and like that.

Cait Gordon: Well, it’s amazing. Just keep writing, keep doing everything that you do. It’s time for my final question, because this is my favorite one because I get to learn new things about people. What is a fun fact about yourself? [Laughs]

Su J. Sokol: Fun fact about myself, okay. Um, I don’t know if it’s fun or not. But let me let me say this. So people who are familiar with my work probably get that I like sports. I enjoy cycling and know a lot about baseball and basketball and play both things, but I guess probably maybe don’t realize that I’m also into music. So, a fun fact about me is that as a kid, I played piano, cello and string bass—

Cait Gordon: That’s awesome!

Su J. Sokol: And I was in many choirs and in fact, I was in a children’s choir that performed at Carnegie Hall. I have no idea Canadian Canadians know what Carnegie Hall is?

Cait Gordon: Yes, we do!

Su J. Sokol: I made it to Carnegie Hall—practice, practice, practice! Okay. Anyway. So yeah, maybe that’s a fun fact. Because it’s less, maybe it’s less obvious from my persona and my writing that that is a big thing in my life, too, or has been for since I was little. Well, that’s fantastic.

Cait Gordon: You know what I play electric bass guitar so you can get your string bass. I’ll play electric bass and we’ll do some kind of Spinal Tap with, like, too much bass in it.

Su J. Sokol: Ooo, that sounds like fun.

Cait Gordon: That’s great!

Su J. Sokol: Let’s do that.

Cait Gordon: Um, I have to say goodbye to you, and I don’t want to, but I do. Thank you so much for coming on my little podcast. I really appreciate having you here.

Su J. Sokol: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. This was so much fun.

Cait Gordon: Folks. You can learn more about Su J. Sokol’s books and how to connect with Su by visiting xyr website That’s S-U-J-S-O-K-O-L dot com. Transcripts for In the ’Cosm are available at That’s C-A-I-T gordon dot com. Thanks for joining us. Take care and stay safe.

(Transcribed by Edited for clarity by Cait Gordon.)

ID: Greyscale headshot of Cait Gordon, closeup, wearing a black shirt

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to be wise and think of others as we battle COVID-19!

Cait is also the author of humorous space opera novels Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers, and she is the co-editor of the Prix Aurora Award nominated anthology Nothing Without Us. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Her latest new adventure is hosting the In the ’Cosm podcast, which is really an excuse to gush over authors she admires.

Shiny coppery gears on a reflective surface

You feeling lucky, ’Punk?

Author’s note: This is my flash fiction for April’s entry of the 2020 Flash Fiction Challenge. Each month of 2020, on the first Monday, I’ll draw cards to determine the genre, setting, and an object that has to appear in the short story. Participants will have until the following Monday to link their stories to the blog post I put out each month. Then I’ll do a follow-up post and share the stories that have come in (before the deadline). It’s only for fun and non-competitive.

April’s draw results: (Genre) steampunk, (setting) an apothecary, and (object) a spider. I might have mashed-up genres here because I’ve so little experience with steampunk. Here’s my entry: You Feeling Lucky, ’Punk?

Just about 410 kilometers from Hertia, the most heavily populated planet of the Horatio system, floated the Witherbee Apothecary. Why its owners hadn’t established a chain on the planet itself had been a bit of a mystery, but travellers enjoyed the eccentric establishment and interacting with the proprietors. It was also a convenient place to stock up on medicines if one had forgotten something essential after leaving one’s planet.

The base station of the apothecary itself was a sight to behold. It boggled the mind that it functioned at all as a spacecraft, what with resembling a bronze antique made up of gears, cogs, and almost offensively large bolts, but it functioned well enough these past 10 years, just as it was.

To dock at the station felt the real treat, especially for the children who’d cry, “Let’s do it again!” enough times to make their parents wish they’d used a prophylactic during those fateful nights of passion. However, for the young and young-of-heart, there was something amusing about the protruding metallic arms, hands, and fingers that whirred and turned as they grabbed onto the hull and carried a craft to the dock, ever so gently placing it and anchoring it there as individuals or families alighted their transports.

Entering the front door often confused first-timers, who had been used to doors just whooshing open the moment a sensor detected them. A bronze wheel had to be rotated three times in order to turn the massive gears on the front door, which also triggered the latches within, and let out a little ping! when the mechanical choreography proved successful. Once slightly ajar, the door invited customers to push it the rest of the way so they might go inside.

On one such occasion, Jonathan Sniffles was desperately seeking sinus medication, along with a multi-purpose, extra-strength antihistamine. He chronically suffered from airborne allergies and resented his surname immensely, but having little imagination, he could not think of a replacement for it.

After ducking his head as a tiny metallic trapeze artist flew over it, tossing a pill bottle to another coppery trapeze artist while the first one landed safely in a rope net that sucked her into a tube, Jonathan marched over to the Drop-off section of the obnoxiously wide bronze counter.

Nobody stood at post. Jonathan spotted the gunmetal-grey bell in the shape of a spider, and hit its torso with not a little pique.

A cacophony of sound nearly made him faint. It was anyone’s guess what that spider had been attached to, but the result felt like every known chime in the galaxy rang out in unison.

Appearing with utmost serenity into view, as if the store was silent as a tomb, was Velma Witherbee. Her long black skirt dusted the floor as she walked, her waist was cinched and bosom propped up by the brown leather corset she wore. Bare shoulders proudly boasted from her frilly white blouse, and her kind face was adorned with thin round spectacles. A small black hat decorated with an assortment of tiny gears and a hint of lace rested jauntily on her chestnut brown updo.

“May I help you?” she asked in a sweet voice.

“Jonathan Sniffles.”

“Does he? Well, we have many remedies for that, my friend. Where is Jonathan, so I might inquire further of his symptoms?”

“No, I’m Jonathan, Jonathan Sniffles.”

“Ah, I see. You like to refer to yourself in the third person.”

“Sniffles is my family name.”

“Oh, so you don’t have the sniffles, then.”

“Well, yes, I do, but that’s beside the point!”

“Is it? Then what is the purpose of your visit?”

Jonathan cover his eyes with his hand and gritted his teeth. “Right. Let’s begin again. My name is Jonathan Sniffles, not through any fault of my own, and yes, I do have the sniffles.”

“Good! Now we’re getting somewhere!” said Velma.

“I’m flying to the moon of Daz, and I require something to help me with my allergy-based sinusitis.”

“You mean allergic rhinitis,” said the apothecary of the apothecary. “That I can help with, but first…”

Velma pushed a button and another mechanical flying trapeze artist just narrowly missed decapitating poor Jonathan. However, the artist landed gracefully, carrying a small vial in his arms.

“Do you think maybe you could have, I don’t know, a slide-based system, or a robotic arm to just hand you the products, instead of these potentially lethal dolls soaring all around the place?”

Velma paused. “What a curious notion. No, indeed. This system works far better.”

“They almost knocked my block off, twice! Haven’t there been any injuries?”

“Why, no. In fact, you’re the first one to have complained to date.”

He had no response to that.

“Anyroad, I suggest you drink this right away,” said Velma, handing him the tincture.

Jonathan swirled the vial in his large hand. “What is this?”

“Something to give you immediate relief.”

He raised his eyebrows, but took a swig. Then he coughed. “This is rum!”

“Indeed. I felt you needed a tonic to soothe your nerves. You seem rather uptight to me.”

The expression in his eyes was of undiluted incredulity.

“Now then,” continued Velma, “Do you have a prescription I might fill?”

Jonathan licked his lips. “You know, that stuff wasn’t bad. May I have some more?”

“I can only distribute it in small doses. So, about your prescription—”

“I didn’t realize I needed one. I thought perhaps—”

Velma lifted her hand. “Not to worry, my good man. My brother is a physician, and he shall diagnose you! Bertie!!! You have a patient!”

“Coming!” cried a voice from above.

Jonathan looked up. Flying overhead in a glider attached to yet another pulley system was a man with goggles, a soft tanned leather helmet and white scarf, creamy-beige trousers, tall boots, and a brown trench coat.

“Yeah, okay, I think I’ll just sneeze,” said Jonathan, bolting for the front door.

You feeling lucky, ’Punk? © 2020 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. This is a work of fiction from the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

CampNaNoWriMo Dashboard Results, Day 3: 4,847/40,000 words

Iris and the Crew is underfoot!

Total word count: 10,924 (4, 847 during Camp NaNoWriMo)

You know, my writing of space opera books has been a bit of a weird experience. I wrote Life in the ’Cosm while in intense physical pain, barely able to walk or stand. I wrote The Stealth Lovers while experiencing the worst panic attacks of my life. And now I’m writing Iris and the Crew Tear Space a New One during a…global pandemic?

What the heck, folks?

And I’m still injecting humour into this work, too. I don’t fully understand it either, but maybe I’m imaginative and funny during stressful times because I just need to be. My brain wants to travel to the worlds I build. I find comfort there.

The last thing I expected to do right now was to be productive on a book project. But I guess we embrace the salve we require for our souls at times like these.

So, Camp NaNoWriMo is the motivator for me this month. To date, I’ve three of the thirteen “episodes” drafted for Iris and the Crew. I’m getting really attached to these characters. I thought I’d have a hard time not being with my ’Cosm aliens, but my heart has expanded to love a whole new cast!

It also feels good to be in a story that’s dominated by disabled, Deaf, and neurodiverse folks. It’s like being on the ship with a Disabled community who I can hang with on their adventures as a crew and in their personal spaces.

Writing this as a “season one” series with 13 episodes seems to be the trick as well. I knew I’d be too tired for undertaking an epic novel in 2020, so these self-contained episodes are lovely to put together. And there’s still forward motion, too.

Hey, if I can’t get hired to write a series on Netflix, I’ll write it in book format! 🙂

Now to take a break and eat lunch.

Keep well, everyone. Stay safe!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

Cait Gordon Reads From Home, featuring The Stealth Lovers (book cover is shown)

Cait Reads from Home: The Stealth Lovers

I’m watching fellow authors reading excerpts of their works, and it’s lovely. I decided to do this myself because if we artists can distract you for a few minutes, then that’s a good thing!

Today, I read from The Stealth Lovers, Chapter 13: The Trials. Xax and Viv are about to start testing to see if they will make Special Ops, their ultimate goal!

Closed captions are available for this video.

To learn more about this book and where you can buy it, please go to The Stealth Lovers page on this website.

Thanks for listening, reading, and for your support!

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate who wants everyone to pummel that curve!

She’s also the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When Cait’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world.

My review: Love and Lemonade, by Jamieson Wolf

Book cover of Love and Lemonade. A pink background. An older couple dances on their wedding day as the guests smile on.

This is the third book in Jamieson Wolf’s Lemonade series, and I love these characters so much. It’s like catching up with old friends. I’m a big fan of the episodic nature of each chapter, and this series reminds me a bit of Tales of the City, with respect to the chosen family theme. I really love the way this cast of characters continually strives to seek love and redemption and forgiveness. They aren’t perfect, just like we aren’t perfect, but they know the value of friendship love, romantic love, and family love. I was very satisfied with how the series ended. I feel a little sad to say goodbye, so I might reread it again one day!

I was also really glad to see the authentic intersectionality of a character who is queer and disabled. I think it’s really important to include disabled characters who are just trying to live their lives like anyone else. It’s nice to read that realness on the page.

If you want you cuddle up with a funny, touching, and delightful series full of great characters, I highly recommend this series. The order of the books is: Lust and Lemonade, Life and Lemonade, and Love and Lemonade.

See Jamieson Wolf’s website to learn more about this author and his works.

Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.


Even Funny People Get Pissed Off

I like making people laugh—it’s my thing and has been ever since I was a little girl. It was an easy decision to make my “brand” about being a humorous weirdo because IT ME! Humour has always served me well, whether I’m weeping from laughter at comedies and comedians, coping with dire situations, or just trying to dole out giggles to those who need them. (The other day I was encouraging author S.M. Carrière to embrace her awesome by saying, “It’s not arrogance if it’s true!” She’s got such a hearty laugh, and it’s hard for me not to provoke it!)

Absurdist humour is my absolute fave because the more ridiculous a notion, the more it’ll make me howl. And when you merge absurdity with cheekiness, you get things like “wibbly wobbly timey wimey,” which is an ingenious way to dodge flawed scientific theories and give us a catchline that we adore. Thanks, Doctor Who!

Humour calms and deflects stress, too. When I thought I might have breast cancer at 32, I was petrified as I awaited the results. That was when my husband gave me a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. With trembling hands, I opened the book. Bet you could hear me laughing all the way into the main waiting room. The funny can be magic at times. And when years later, a beta reader told me they were in stitches at the hospital from reading Life in the ’Cosm, I felt I’d paid it forward.

The only problem with being known for the funny, is people might forget I’m also human and possess all the emotions. Sometimes I’m terribly blue, and other times I’m supremely pissed off. Lately, frustration and anger have been a thing. I blogged about what’s been bothering me in Calling for a Disbanding of Cliques and the Culture of Fear. Man, I hate reading about people being pushed around, harassed, and worse. The empathy goes to 11 from triggering my own stuff, then I just want to call out the crap and stand up for those who’ve come forward.

My social media posts haven’t been all sunshine and roses and silliness for a few weeks. I’m trying to get back there, even for my own mental health, but it’s been rough. The Canadian Speculative Fiction ‘cosm looks different to me now, and I’m trying really hard to find the pockets of people who are inclusive, welcoming, and encouraging folks. Because right now, my perception is that it’s a gaslighting mess. Hopefully, my opinion will change, as I have been seeing some people forming new reading series and cons. Perhaps other people will never see past their own privilege, but there will be those who do and who care.

So, anyway, I’m recovering from exhaustion these days. My number one priority is to get back to Regular Crappy Fibro levels. When my energy returns, I’ll continue writing in my favourite genre: Silly. I’m also trying to remember this has been a special year for me, publishing-wise: The Stealth Lovers, Nothing Without Us, and Space Opera Libretti (coming Dec 2019) actually happened! TSL is full of adventure and zaniness, NWU‘s authors also embrace The Snark at times, and my story (The Silken Eclipse) in Space Opera Libretti is pretty darned wacky. This is what I do, I live for humour and encourage it in others.

Just remember that sometimes I might be ticked. Even supremely ticked. But I’ll always come back to the laughter. It’s too much a part of who I am.

Now then, what do we do when wanting to battle against the ugly in this life? That’s right, we:


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch
Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.