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Dear friends,

Great news: if you haven’t seen it yet, the Winter 2016-17 issue is live! Please read, download, and spread the word. We’ve got a wonderfully kickass variety of poetry, fiction, and art this go-round. Read it and show them some love.

Which leads me to the bad news: this issue will be the last one for a while, as Broad! is going on hiatus as of today.

I am sorry to write these words, and (to be honest) have been putting off writing them. The unfortunate core of the matter is that our staff has always been a very small group of people who did this for passion alone, and while the four of us love the work we’ve done here, we have also come to a point in our lives where we no longer have the time required to commit to producing a journal. This doesn’t mean that Broad! is gone forever––I’ll be representing us at Writefest, an awesome lit conference, in Houston next month––but it does mean that we need to take a long break to work on life stuff before Broad!‘s rebirth can be sorted out. I cherish every submission I’ve been lucky enough to edit over the last five years, and feel grateful to have read any of your thoughtful, raw, striking writing––or seen your dazzling artwork and photography––at all. Thank you for reading, for submitting, and most of all for making art.

Keep resisting; keep working. The world needs your brilliance.

Love,

Heather

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Dear reader,

I live in Texas now, where you can just leave your windows open year-round and apartments come with sliding doors and balconies. When I first moved here, I didn’t know anyone, and one of my roommates––strangers the apartment complex had paired with me––never locked our front door when she went out. She didn’t lock it when she came home, either, I’m guessing because she assumed at least one other person was home. We got along well but this habit made me nervous. It led me to go into the living room and check the lock several times a day. I feared my stuff being stolen. At that time it felt like all I had in Texas was my stuff; in particular, my laptop, which I’d only bought and transferred years of writing onto a month earlier.

This week marks three years in Texas. I’ve since lived with other (wonderful and kickass and secure!) people, but still I spent much of the last year checking those fucking locks again. And the dials on the stove. And my inbox. My memories; the headlights on my car; the wording of any and all sent messages; my own thoughts, even, as if any of these things might be its own door I’d forgotten to lock, as if someone who wasn’t me––or who I aspired to be––might get in and fuck with what had been left inside. A couple times I ran late to work because I couldn’t remember if I’d turned the key left or right and verifying that made me miss my bus. I was in my last year of graduate school, after which my life would hinge wide open, and all I could think about was enclosure.

2016 has been a hard year. Let’s kick those doors down and allow the air in.

With love,
Heather

SEXY ROBOT WRAP-UP: An Interview

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Dear Broads,

What a month.

In late June, Heather and T.R. and I were busily prepping for the release of our summer 2015 issue, themed SCI-FI AND THE SPECULATIVE. It had everything: apocalyptic lesbian romance. Revolts brewing in the bellies of classist starships. Bus stop gods and tables filled with Beyoncé.

And yet. And yet. When one of our readers expressed, “I hope there will be sexy robots!”, dear Broads, we realized we had failed you.

Fortunately, that reader turned into a Broad! writer, and sent us the first story in what became the month-long web special on sexy robots. To celebrate an incredible Sexy Robot Month, I (virtually) sat down with SRM writers Elise, Heather, Kate and Julia to talk about the wildly diverse approaches they took to the theme of sexbots, and about sex, gender and technology more generally.

Enjoy! We did. (Glass of wine not included.)

xxo,
Kendra

SEXY ROBOT MONTH 4.0: “Autoclave” by Julia Dixon Evans

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Dear readers: you’re the best.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am about the Sexy Robot Month stories we’ve gotten this month. So far, we’ve seen the perils of engineering fantasies, a meditation on consumerism and personhood, and the nuances (and dangers) of technology-assisted polyamory. Awesome possums Elise R. and Kate Jonuska were generous enough to share with us their (respectively) hilarious and moving stories, to Broad!‘s enormous benefit, and today we add another to the bunch: Julia Evans.

In her cover letter to us, she mentioned that this story was inspired by “Voudrais,” which I wrote and posted a few weeks ago. “[I]t ended up sparking a conversation with my writing partner,” she wrote, and included their conversation, which I’ve reproduced here:

RYAN: “I feel territorial about sexbot stories. But who HASN’T written a sexbot book once?”
JULIA: “Yeah, I feel the same way about Antarctica stories. Who HASN’T written an existential Antarctica story?”
[PREGNANT PAUSE]
JULIA: “I’m gonna write an Antarctic sexbot story.”
RYAN: “Oh god please do it.”

The story’s as good as its intro. There’s not much else for me to say but voila: read “Autoclave” now.

Keep killin’ it,

Heather

Image credit: Wallpapers in Blog

AUTOCLAVE
by Julia Dixon Evans

It’s 1979 and I’m alone, still. The ice was so bad this year that the research vessel, my ticket out of here, couldn’t make it before the end of the astral summer slipped into impenetrable winter. The ice breaker ships that would precede the passenger ship were in too high demand elsewhere for such a piddly task as this: relieving that one robotics engineer from a cushy, amply-stocked yet relatively useless temporary field station. The only problem being that I’m stranded here. Alone.

I’m of no use to anyone in the NOAA so I have no work to do. I came down here three months ago to make some upgrades on the mechanical equipment that had long outlived the technology of the day. But shortly after the last of the scientists left by helicopter, this ice happened.

*     *      *

It’s six weeks into the solitude when I first lean against the autoclave while it is set to low. Even though I have no work to do, I still check every piece of machinery each day, even the ones I’ve never used before. I like to think they’re talking to me, the hum of motors, the click of parts engaging. But this is the first time I’ve felt one of them.

“Yes, hello there,” I say. “You’re humming along nicely. Very healthy.”

It’s seven weeks into it when I affix a heavy glove to the lab’s autoclave. The kind of glove the biologists would wear to tackle and weigh the penguins. They haven’t been used in seven weeks but there’s still dried penguin shit all over them. I do my best to scrape it off before duct-taping the glove to the side of the machine, rolled up, just the right size and shape (I measured it first), protruding out from the metal box.

And then I set the autoclave to low and place my erection inside the rolled-up glove.

Seven weeks and two days alone and, out of necessity, I rig a lining system with some silk long johns and some more duct tape.

Eight weeks into it, I realize I’ve named her Elizabeth.

Eight weeks into it, I move Elizabeth onto the floor so I don’t have to stand up anymore.

“Elizabeth,” I’d say, counting cup-fulls of lentils in the larder, attempting the impossible task of rationing out one’s stores when there is no end date and very little variety. “What should I have tonight? Lentils and rice, or just lentils?”

“I suppose,” I’d say, “It’d be nice to only have to wash one pot.”

“I suppose,” I’d say, “I should save these questions for when I’m in the same room as you.”

Eight weeks and two days and I move my mattress into the lab. It’s always warmer in there anyway.

Nine weeks alone and I try to draw her face but it isn’t right. I go through every piece of paper in the entire field station and none of them work. Her face is never perfect enough, her eyes never expressive enough, her nose never delicate enough. I’m an engineer! I should never have been assigned the job of bringing my darling’s face to the world! I should never have had to do art! I should never have been in Antarctica! I should never have been alone!

Nine weeks and one day and I duct-tape a spare pillow to where Elizabeth’s face should have been, something I can bury my own face into when I come.

Ten weeks into it, I hear the ship. They’re here. I’m no longer alone. I rush outside to the wooden porch and the sunshine surprises me, though it’s still frigid. I shout, unable to think, because it’s been ten weeks of speaking to nobody except Elizabeth. Except an autoclave.

“I’M HERE,” I shout.

Penguins scatter, hundreds of Adélies on the move from the madman.

I jump, I scream, I laugh.

And then: “Elizabeth.” I run back inside.

“They’re here! People! I’m going home!”

It takes a minute before it sinks in, and then I’m on my knees before her. I say it again but it sounds so different.

“I’m going home.”

I quickly calculate that we have time for one more. She’d be crying if I’d been able to draw her eyes right.

I cry, too, when I finish, but I don’t have time to wallow. The ship is closer now. I can smell the change in the sea and the air.

I yank the pillow and glove off the machine and I feel like a murderer. Elizabeth’s silver frame is smeared and rusted with almost a month’s worth of semen and I’m powerless as to how to clean it so I just lift her back up on the lab bench. I bask in the idea of leaving her stained and oxidized with my DNA.

*     *     *

I fill an entire suitcase with Elizabeth’s parts: the glove, the soiled silk long johns, the pillow, even the old duct tape. It’s all her, all the parts of her smell. I gather the reams of discarded drawings on torn-apart dot matrix printer paper even though they remind me of my failure. I wouldn’t want anyone discovering this art project and figuring me out.

I’m all packed up before the boat even anchors in the bay. When the scientists come ashore in their rubber Kodiak they do not bring the best news.

“The boat will stay here a week,” they say. “Then we will take you home.”

And each night in that week, all I can do is wander, low on sleep, into the lab, turn Elizabeth to low, and lean against her.

On the last night, I do not sleep. Without the glove, without the sex, I realize: this is love.

The boat leaves in the morning.

___________________________________________________________________

Julia Dixon Evans is a writer living in San Diego. Her work can be found (or is forthcoming) in Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Black Candies, Swarm, and elsewhere. Find her at www.juliadixonevans.com or on twitter @juliadixonevans.

Sexy Robot Month 2.0: “Voudrais” by Heather

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When Kendra and I decided to launch SEXY ROBOT MONTH, we thought it might be fun to add to the fun ourselves. Especially in the beginning, when we didn’t have a ton of submissions in our queue (keep ’em coming!). So here’s my own entry for this sexiest and most mechanical of months:

VOUDRAIS
by me, Heather

When he puts you on the bed, and he will, touch his chest. Stroke his sparse or plentiful plot of hair, tell him he is beautiful, tell him to get on top so you can feel him fill you up.

The first time, after you are cleared for public market consumption, you whimper––as you are programmed to do, as if it hurts. He likes this, the man renting your chassis. You do not bleed.

When convenient, you do not even have teeth. They retract into your upper palette.

All told you’re lucky. Others are sold to private consumers, who hang their dolls in the garage by a bolt from the neck when they’re not needed. You get to live a life. You get to live alone in a studio paid by the cybordello, where you study Sex & The City on Blu-Ray and massage your hands after clients, working out any stiffness in the aging armature of your wrist.

*   *   *

Other dads buy cards or cars or take the family to dinner for their kid’s sixteenth birthday. Aaron’s dad bought him a cybernetic girlfriend off the Internet.

“Dad, what––?”

“Beautiful, no? Found it online. Refurbished, got a great deal.”

What he bought doesn’t look like a robot. It looks like a woman lying inside a clear trash bag inside a wooden box. Aaron’s mother went through her windshield when he was three, that’s how his father can get away with this.

“This is the basic model,” his father says. “The customization’s more limited than on others.  But look at this.” He scrounges in the box like he’s the dad from that Christmas movie, searching for his major award. “Look at this!” From the depths behind the woman he pulls out a set of instructions and a black remote control. Less sleek than Aaron would have expected: clunky and ovoid, with fat red rubber buttons, the remote looks like an old Nintendo controller.

Aaron’s dad squints at the instructions, fiddles with the remote.  “Batteries are included,” he says, and then, pressing a button, “Let there be light.” The woman in the box glows peach-pink from the inside out. Her eyes open, light green and creepy as hell. “Now, watch this.” He presses a few more buttons. The doll arches her back and her boobs start to grow.

“Holy shit,” Aaron says.

“The silicone material they use for the skin is known for its durability. You can stretch it, twist it, whatever you want, it acts like real skin. Customizable body and face. No changing the hair or race though.”

In a vague way Aaron feels appalled, even as his curiosity grows. “How does that work?”

“Something with the circuits allows them to reconstruct themselves. You’re the robotics guy, bud.”

“No I’m not,” Aaron says. He quit robotics in eighth grade, after Steve Pinkerton programmed a tennis ball distributor to hit Aaron in the face.

His father hits another button on the remote and the boobs freeze in place. “Anyway.  It’s yours to do with what you like.” He hands over the remote and rushes out of the room, as if he’s going to cry. But he’s Aaron’s father, so that can’t be the case.

*   *   *

After a man falls asleep, after a woman gets up to dress and leaves her scent on your nostrils, you wonder where these feelings have come from. Someone must have implanted them when you were being made, inscribed algorithms of emotion into the circuit boards that ignite your heat sensors, eyelids, saliva ports, finger joints. Boards that tell the fleshy silicone between your legs to warm and release fluid when someone wants you.

Every year is the same routine, same face, same body model; doesn’t matter how old you get. Or it wouldn’t matter, except that your warranty came up at the end of last June. As soon as the warranties go, the bordello looks to sell.

Last week, a man bent you over a table and afterward you could not straighten up. He’d slapped too hard and caused your vertebrae to freeze. You went into Internal Repairs and when you woke up, you were in a new house.

*   *   *

Aaron’s best friend, Terry, thinks this is the best news he’s ever heard.  “I wish my dad were that cool.  That must have cost a shitload of money.”

“Creepy, is what it is,” Aaron says, ignoring the comment about money; Terry’s parents work at the bank.

“God, you complain about everything. Don’t be such a retard. Is it anatomically correct?  Do you know? It must be.”

“See, that’s my point!  Your dad’s not the one that said, like, ‘Son, you’re a loser, plow a fembot.’”

Terry laughs.  When he finds something really funny, as he does now, he throws his head back and exposes his gigantic, brown Adam’s apple.  Aaron can’t help staring at it.  “Dude. Your dad got you a giant robot fleshlight. Oh my God.”

“Shut up.”

“Hey, if you’re not going to use it…” Terry cocks an eyebrow.

*   *   *

Before the man who slapped you, you had an appointment with Sonya. The cybordello prohibits favoritism––it’s an unfortunate quirk of the software––but you liked Sonya, somehow. Sonya is Czech. She liked to tie you to the bed and rest herself on top, stretch out her limbs to line up perfectly with yours. The nail of her big toe always scratched you on the shin. She said things like I want to feel the motherboard inside you. I want to open you up and see what ticks. Then she would let her head drop and press her nose against yours, as if she believed you were real.

*   *   *

After school, when his father is safely at work, Aaron goes home and opens the box. A few weeks have passed and his dad keeps asking what Aaron thinks of the gift, as if he knows that Aaron hasn’t touched it. He wants to talk shop, or something.

If the body is customizable, can you change the sex of the thing? Aaron doesn’t think he’s gay, but he might be. He could be anything. People tell him all day long that the world is open to him, that he only needs to put his heart into something, that he won’t know who he is for fifteen years. He takes out the manual, then presses the power button on the remote. He watches as the eyelids slide back and the doll sits up.

*   *   *

The boy stares at you. So here you are: sold. For a moment the circuits go flat in your legs, and the internal generator kicks in. Hello, you say. The boy’s eyes are encircled in white, as if he is afraid or amazed. It is not uncommon the first time. Would you like to touch me?

The boy says, “You can talk.”

I can do anything you want. Etiquette dictates leaving out any references to programming. You move your arms forward and out to touch him. May I? The boy moves his head up and down. Touch the pants he wears, put your hand on the zipper. Electrical current may zing from your fingertip to the metal; an unfortunate flaw in the heating system.

The great thing about your hands is the motor implanted in each palm.

*   *   *

Aaron can feel a jolt in his lower abdomen. He feels himself getting hard, and a weird buzzing starts in his head. What does it say that he can’t find a real person to love him?

*   *   *

Rarely does your face react in awe, even as your voicebox makes comments like Wow or Oh, that feels good or Do that again. Another mark against your model type; newer models come better designed for shock and amazement. Their jaws disengage more easily, their cheeks flush quicker. But you are good enough for a first time. He will not know any better.

*   *   *

He does not know any better, and it’s over quickly. He feels embarrassed at how quick, and remembers that this is the whole point: practice. Aaron hears his father’s voice in his head. Safest sex you’ll ever have, he said. That’s the best thing about this baby. No disease! No babies! He had laughed, chewing on cheese curls. You’re going to do it anyway, do it safely.

Her hands on his waist feel heavy, and too hot, like she’s clasping those winter heat sacs to his body. Aaron gets off the floor and finds the manual, strewn across the seat of his mother’s rocking chair. Self-cleaning, the book says. The first of its kind.

*   *   *

They don’t always fuck you. To do so makes them feel cheap. The ones that fuck you right away are almost invariably older, men with a potbelly or the hair on their chests slowly grizzling, coarsening, the pecs turning inward. Women whose breasts have gone soft and flat. People seeking something that can’t be found inside you. Easy enough to sense their hearts; a metallic thrum-thrump that buzzes in your own sternum, that cave of mess and wires. Above you, the boy’s heart springs like your old bed at the apartment: ferocious, as if he needs to get back to something. When he’s done, he slides away and stands up. You’re surprised: another quirk. You had expected him to respond like the young men who used to rent you. To pull close and put their heads between your spongy, movable breasts. Young, beautiful men could have anyone they wanted. You had been a vacation for them, a tourist trap. Niagara Falls.

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You can read my bio here.

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Want to share your own sexy robot story, poem or essay? E-mail your work to broadzine[at]gmail[dot]com with the subject line SEXY ROBOTS. (Now through July 31 only.)

Announcements: Pushcarts and Sci-Fi

News

Hey y’all,

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, if you’re American, and a lovely November if you’re not American.

We have some exciting news!  Broad! has nominated five pieces from our 2014 issues for the Pushcart Prize:

“A Tribute to Plums,” Annie Virginia Robertson
“The Willow,” Anna De Vaul
“An Earnest Proposal,” Kirstin Ruth Bratt
“Sunburn,” Katie DePasquale
“Mercenary,” Emily Jaeger

Please join me in congratulating Annie, Anna, Kirstin, Katie, and Emily!

We’re also happy to announce the theme for our Summer 2015 issue: Science Fiction and Speculative!  Send us your wildest futuristic dreams. We reopen for submissions on January 1.

Happy December,
Heather

Call for Submissions, Winter Issue

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Hey everyone!

We’re still looking for submissions to our Winter 2014 issue. No theme this time, so you can send whatever you want. Email us your best fiction, creative nonfiction, poems, artwork or photography to broadzine [at] gmail [dot] com by October 31. Yeah, Halloween. Send us your stuff, then go celebrate your go-getting ambition by going to a party/drinking spooky cocktails/eating all the candy you can.

Love,
Heather

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“Mothers” is out!

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Check out our first themed issue over on the Issues page!  We’ve got wonderful, varied work by  Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné, Joanna Cattonar, Kirstin Ruth Bratt, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Chanel Brenner, Katie DePasquale, Tracy Foy, Emily Jaeger, Noorulain Noor, Cate Blum, Monica Wright, Kathy Rudin, Naima Woods, Laura Jent, Amy Neill Bebergal, Megan Mealor, Susan Martell Huebner, Kim Heikkila, Lori Zimmermann, Athina Pappa, Kaylen Mallard, Julie Howd, Laura Sweeney, Sophia E. Terazawa, Kristen Rouisse, Elizabeth Savage, and Sandra Fees.

Thank you to all our contributors, and to all those who submitted!

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Becoming More Inclusive in 2014

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Morning, everyone.

It’s a new year now, and for 2014 Broad! has resolved to be more actively supportive of those who are trans* or otherwise outside the gender binary. When I founded the journal, for lack of a more suitable phrase, I resorted to the language “female-bodied and/or female-identified” to mean that we would publish cis women, trans women, trans men and individuals outside the binary (essentially, anyone who wasn’t a cis man).  However, as our readership––and submitter pool––has grown and diversified, it’s become clear that this terminology isn’t as applicable, fair, or accurate as it needs to be.  Though I had intended Broad! to be a space where non-binary-identified individuals could feel comfortable, it’s come to my attention recently (thanks, T.R.!) that, well, it isn’t.  Not to the extent it should be.  And for that, I am sorry.

I’d like to ask you for feedback on your experiences with Broad!, your suggestions as to how we can become more inclusive in 2014, and any other ideas you might have to throw our way.

This journal is meant to promote and support the work of people whose genders have been (and still are) marginalized, particularly in the publishing world, where their work is either neglected by the mainstream culture––unpublished, unregarded––or demarcated as Other.  We publish people who are not cis men.  Limiting publication to individuals who don’t identify a certain way, however, has its own logistical issues; largely, that a submitter’s gender is often assumed based on the name heading their manuscript.

Since Broad!’s inception, we have received several submissions from cis male authors, all people who either hadn’t read our guidelines closely enough or didn’t care about adhering to them.  In these cases, I used to click on the link the submitter included to his website/Facebook in order to to confirm that he was cis (and thereby exclude his work from our submission pool).  This is not something I am proud of.  While, each time, it turned out that the authors were cis male-identified and blanket-submitting their pieces across publications, that’s not the point: that doesn’t resolve the problem of what to do when a male-identified person (or even someone with a masculine name) submits to our publication.   And it reinforces another problem: the idea that one can “tell” someone’s gender by looking at them.

We should not be policing the gender(s) of others, ever.  Full stop.  Particularly not as a way to promote the demarginalization of other genders.  Submitters who are trans or outside the gender binary should not have to feel as if they have to “out” themselves in their cover letters in order to send us their work.

Any feedback you could give us on making Broad! a better, more inclusive, friendlier place to those who are trans* or otherwise outside the binary would be greatly appreciated.  You can leave your comments here or at our Facebook page, where this will be posted as well.  I hope to hear from you soon.