Dragonpunk: A revolution in fiction

So one of my lovers pointed me to this terrific new genre that its authors are calling Dragonpunk.

Dragonpunk aims to do to the Middle Ages–to renn faire, to the SCA, to all the medievalism in pop culture–what steampunk did to neo-Victorianism. With dragonpunk, we challenge medievalist fantasy to liberate itself from the bounds of history and trope and from the rigid assumptions of what a modern subculture can and cannot do.

I searched about their website looking for bios on publishers/editors Margaret Killjoy and Caelyn Rosch. Under “about us” I found this delicious teaser.

Combustion books is a collectively-run publisher of dangerous fiction. We specialize in genre stories that confront, subvert, or rudely ignore the dominant paradigm and we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty or our houses raided by the government. How many fiction publishers can promise you that?

Rejecting the dominant paradigm doesn’t end with the stories we tell. We operate without bosses and we pay ourselves and our authors outright for work in order to keep us from getting mired in the world of profit-driven publishing.

One of our goals is to break down the hierarchy of the publishing world and develop relationships with our authors and audience that go beyond those offered by a traditional press.

Check out the call for submissions. One fiction to unrule them all.




Dragonpunk is high fantasy set on its head. Dragonpunk isn’t the princess who slays the dragon without waiting for her prince–it’s the washerwoman who drips poison into the cruel queen’s chalice to end her rule. Dragonpunk is found in the band of orphans playing Robin Hood, in the villagers and the druids in the woods reclaiming their sacred groves from the woodsman sent by the crown.

Dragonpunk can be chivalrous, though always without lords. When dragonpunk is chivalrous it is a shield for the weak regardless of their sex or gender, and it is loyal to its peers instead of the king. When dragonpunk isn’t chivalrous, it fights dirty, and it never backs down. And sometimes, dragonpunk has no use for fighting at all, because there are as many things in this world worth building as there are worth fighting.

Dragonpunk aims to do to the Middle Ages–to renn faire, to the SCA, to all the medievalism in pop culture–what steampunk did to neo-Victorianism. With dragonpunk, we challenge medievalist fantasy to liberate itself from the bounds of history and trope and from the rigid assumptions of what a modern subculture can and cannot do. But this is only the most humble of our goals.

Dragonpunk takes its inspiration from a past that never was to wage war on the banality of the present. With dragonpunk, we demand the right to be whom we want to be at any time of day or night, to dress as we’d like and live how we’d like. To free ourselves from a modernity that bores us. We want permaculture gardens to creep up the stone walls of our modern keeps. We will rewild empty stripmalls and turn the vacant lots of our post-industrial world into the new commons.

We are the new adventurers. We’re punks who were inspired when the Riders of Rohan chanted “death, death, death,” and charged into the forces of fascism, when Frodo set off to destroy the very idea of power over one another. We’re organizers who murmur the St. Crispin’s Day speech as we prepare to stand against authority. We’re hedge knights and armorers and tailors, brewers and bards and witches.

Or maybe we’re just nerds who like chainmail and books about dragons. That’s okay with us too.

The book

We’re looking to put out an anthology of dragonpunk fiction, essays, how-tos, interviews, art, and more, edited by Caelyn Rosch and Margaret Killjoy. Examples of what we’d be looking for would include, but are absolutely not limited to:

  • how to sword fight
  • medieval combat strategy
  • an overview of historical non-western fantasy
  • gender and sexuality in the Middle Ages
  • introduction to types of armor
  • how to craft chainmail armor
  • how to work leather
  • a guide to working with modern scavenged materials
  • the art of modern stonecrafting and castle construction
  • short fiction
  • a dragonpunk’s introduction to modern reenactment culture and LARPing
  • an overview of existing fantasy and historical fiction of interest to dragonpunks
  • fashion ideas (with illustrations/how-tos)
  • dragonpunk comics
  • dragonpunk art and photography
  • really neat stuff most people don’t know about the Middle Ages
  • manifestos of stateless societies inspired by medieval community structures

The tentative deadline for submissions is May 15th, 2013. Reasonable article/fiction lengths are approximately 400-6,000 words. The pay is very likely to be nothing but contributor’s copies. (We editors won’t pay ourselves either, unless we are paying all the contributors.)

Submissions and further inquiries can be directed to Margaret Killjoy at margaret@combustionbooks.org.


Revolu-who? What’s that you say?


  1. A person who claims an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.
  2. A person with an amateur interest in the arts.

So throughout my life I’ve done the things I’ve done and joined the groups I’ve joined and people have told me no… you aren’t what you think you are. That’s a this. And truthfully as I’ve collected other people’s labels like badges of honor and worn them all proudly: damned dyke, weirdo, communist, anarchist, deconstructionist, anarcho-commie artist, slam queen, literary giant, best-kept-literary secret, obscurely famous, infamous, unknown, unknowable, semitiocian, egotist, fat bitch, gender queer, bi-lesbian, lesbi.2, post-modernist, pomosexual.

I’ve never really understood what they were talking about. Do you mean who am I? Who do I stand with in relation to history? At tomorrow’s protest rally? in relation to philosophy? In contrast to who do I stand against?

I have been told I’m a bad activist for my love of all things pop culture: powerpuff girls, halloween candy shaped like brains, zombie culture, bad art, brilliantly bad movies, brilliantly crafted movies and book but inappropriate genres like horror, paranormal romance, fairies, mythology, paganism, nonvegetarianism etc.

One of the labels that tickled my fancy and was meant as an insult by a lover who told me I just was too uneducated/ignorant of what anarchism really to see that I wasn’t one. He labelled me a revolutionary dilettante. I adored this. It suggested I dabble out of lack of commitment to any single cause… I dabble it’s true. But I doubt anyone whose met me for more than a few seconds doubts my level of commitment. I have stubbornness that borders on pathology. But mama’s a rolling stone. I gather moss and people’s and philosophies because I believe there is room in the revolution, the world for all of it. That doesn’t mean that cowboys get to keep shooting indians, corporate masters get to keep locking up factories and fiddle while sweat shops burn.

No I definitely think that we should take away their rifles and credit cards, blackberries, “locked factories” and stock options and fiddles… but they must have some skills. No we’re not sending them off to work in those burning garment buildings or blazing non-union farms to harvest crops while we spray pesticides on them and stand outside singing songs of solidarity and revenge.

Jesus, haven’t we learned as that there is no profit in revenge? Just as there is no profit in profit? Still this is a dabbler’s opinion, I travel in the company of other opinions and try to understand them also. So in my rolodex of affection is the activist who did mediations between synagogues and white brotherhood groups. Just a few digits away from the “up against the wall with them” (them being nazis, child abusers, war criminals who run our governments in red or blue ties) spouters.

I dabble… which means yes, don’t put me on your firing squad (in front or behind) I will not serve and I will not serve well because my heart still says isn’t there something useful about everyone?

What does the CEO know… fiction/spin/pr and golf. If you don’t trust him to write press-releases for indie bands then send him off the golf course (liberated now and free to plumbers and poets etc) and let him caddy, mix drinks and give golf lessons.) Everyone has SOMETHING to give to the revolution. BTW golf courses will also be animal sanctuaries, the places that rehabbed squirrels and any animals that “den” and on no golfing allowed (or no golf hours) the perfect place to picnic, public park for organized events like egg rolls, big public bbqs with free food, shakespear and star trek in the park…

oh yeah, dabblers are visionaries! I’ll be there. You’ll recognize me: wearing my Hothead Paizon Lesbian terrorist t-shirt, carrying my powerpuff girl back with the entourage of kids, grandkids and lovers (dressed as Dr Who cosplay, anime, dora the explorer, disney princesses –regardless of their gender). Follow the sound of our dvd player or omg old cassette player from the good will playing hits of the 80s mixed with they might be giants, woodie guthrie and lesbian separatist balladeers. The dabbler family/tribe,  we will probably welcome you enthusiastically; eager to see what you bring to the picnic… and the revolution.