ver since I became some sort of public bike advocate (hey, I just like to gush about riding them to and from work) everyone forwards me articles and stories about bikes. Well, Biketopia was a small collection of short stories combining alarming futures, feminism and bikes a friend sent me. I looked forward to seeing what they could do with the topic.
Not much, I’m afraid.
Maybe it was just me, but the stories all looked like tales put together by people who saw the call-for-submissions stuck to the bulletin board of the local coffee house. Yes, they talked about dystopian futures, and yes, there was some bikes and some angry women in them, but really nobody seemed to capture the flavor of the idea. Bikes and feminism is a freeing human activity, one that breaks us from a male dominating culture (in either sense). And grim tomorrows – it’s a man-made and car-made disaster anyway, so that should have been easy.
But the bikes and feminism – it really wasn’t there. It was just angry women in a nasty world with an occasional bike featured.
A couple of the stories did shine. There was Shelter by Cynthia Marts that nailed it. By the time I was done, I was an angry feminist myself. And bikes didn’t just show up, they were part of the grand answer themselves. It was a fantastic story, so hats off to her for catching the power of writing. Also, Signal Lost by Gretchin Liar touched on how protective a society can become, how codling it is when you look at something like bikes. How many people blanch when I say I ride a bike in commuter traffic – this catches that feeling perfectly. And Maaike’s Aquatic Center for Bicycles raised by Fishes, an effort by Jessie Kwak, that was just funny in a bikey sort of way.
Look, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t support small presses and shouldn’t buy this. Just be warned that, in my opinion, it could have been a little tighter-on-topic. Freedom of self – either through controlling your body or transporting yourself under your own power – that’s the point that should have been made here.