Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brain Harvest is dead; brain populations set to explode uncontrollably

So, Brain Harvest is dead. I think the editors closed it at the beginning of March, or at least I think that's the date I saw when I searched Google's cache after I found their domain expired. Oh, yes: there's the tweet. Despite the fact that Brain Harvest was one of the few magazines I read on a regular basis, "regular basis" only implies "roughly once every two months or thereabouts," so I missed the actual announcement when it was made.

Despite said real-world-disconnection, I suspected such a closure was coming on account of the fact they'd stopped accepting submissions; but it's still a gut punch to see that empty spot on the Internet where www.brainharvestmag.com ought to be. Brain Harvest published really amazing stuff: they straddled the lines between speculative fiction, literary sensibility, and experimentalism in a way that I have yet to see elsewhere. Although there are a lot of other cool rags out there that are in some ways comparable to Brain Harvest and that appeal in similar ways to my readerly sensibilities--'zines like kill author or The Dream People, for example--there was a slick coolness to Brain Harvest--a commitment, specifically, to bad-assery--to which no one else out there currently compares. Whatever Brain Harvest was/did, it was unique in its aesthetic, utterly and without comparison.

It also frequently struck me that the Brain Harvest team lacked pretension: that they were badasses, and not assholes, was certainly not the most important thing about Brain Harvest's editors, but it definitely made it a wonderful thing to watch happen, leaving me both free of the guilt that comes from admiring editors who are jerk-lords (which happens almost as a matter of course with anything experimental or avant-garde) and, conversely, liberating my senses from the dull and interminable rapping sound that fills and beleaguers the mind when trying to find sense in the philosophy of more commercially-oriented publishers.

Obviously, it made me ridiculously, insanely proud to be published in Brain Harvest not once, but twice.

With Brain Harvest gone, there's an enormous void for a certain kind of snappy, intelligent, experimental speculative fiction that I love, and introduces drag into my hopes for what speculative fiction can look like in general. I really hope that the editors put together an anthology--a veritable Almanac of Badass Speculative Fiction--for the sake of posterity. If not, maybe I'll just start a magazine of my own--maybe with a title like Neuronal Packing Facility--because the legacy of Brain Harvest is too valuable to give up on.

-bn