Thom Dunn is a Boston-based writer, musician, homebrewer, and new media artist. He enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey), and he firmly believes that Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" is the single greatest atrocity committed against mankind. He is a graduate of Clarion Writer's Workshop at UCSD ('13) & Emerson College ('08).

Q: Is Now The Right Time To Talk About Gun Control?


People are dying at alarming rates. Our current laws are unambiguously failing and yet NRA lobbyists have managed to make it illegal for government scientists to study gun-related violence. Time and time again, data continues to disprove any connection between mental illness and violent crimes — and in fact, gun violence is a major contributor to the suicide epidemic, the tenth highest cause of death in the United States.

(admittedly, there are major problems with the way we address and deal with mental health, but it is separate from issues of gun control)

So let's stop deflecting from the fact that our country engenders a culture of gun violence. Let's break the NRA's stronghold on politics and find a way to enact firearm regulations that actually work.

And let's do it NOW.

Write to your lawmakers today — and refuse to re-elect anyone who refuses to act in the best interests of the country.

Happy Autumn Equinox — now here's an Ode to Candy Corn!

rounded wax wedges, waning; a tawny
base that tapers towards a soft point
white like tundra, in taste and texture,
bleeding out from burning copper ribs
hardly mellow hardened creme
of candle crops to harvest fat
free treats, a sign of times once pagan-
human, uncivilized, re-captured,
re-claimed, costume the dead alive
and turn the season, turn to shovel
handfuls into mouths full of rotting
teeth a special offer, a limited time only
exciting when available but hardly
missed in memories of stomaches
turned to sick, in children as in men
but indulging in each dish we find it
harder to resist the solstice sweets
and let ourselves get lost inside
that sadistic sugar maize


(see also: "It's 'It's decorative gourd season, motherfuckers!' season, motherfuckers" by the inimitable Will Kaufman)

Up and Worthy!

Just a friendly update to show what I've been up to at Upworthy these past few weeks! First, here's a slideshow put together by our Editorial Director, Amy O'Leary, detailing the company's new direction (with the secondary purpose of pre-emptively shutting down your rehashed "clickbait" jokes*):

While I'm still getting the hang of the system (it's only been 2 weeks, after all), I've still got a few stories up that you can check out. It's mostly coincidence that the subject matter is, well, pretty much right my alley. I've also got a new Official Writer-y Facebook page, if you want to follow all of my (strictly professional!) adventures.

*I can say that, because my own jokes are half the reason that I work there now.

A Louisiana Literacy Test For Black Voters, Circa 1960

You have 10 minutes, and if you got one answer wrong, then sorry, you can't vote today.

Granted, the above test is not explicitly racist. But even the worst apologist can't deny the inherent classism of it. Technically speaking, this test was only administered to voters who couldn't prove a certain level of education. Which is kind of arbitrary, no? That's not like carding someone to buy alcohol. There's no visual indicator of someone's education, is there?

Well, sure, if we consider that education is a privilege, not a right, one that is much more easily accessible to people of a certain class. And in Louisiana in the 1960s, most of those people "of a certain class" were of a certain pigment as well...

(and hey, don't get me wrong: there a lot of dumb people in this country, and that they have a voice in our so-called democracy could be seen as an impediment on progress. But as appealing as it sounds to oppress those faces, suddenly your progressivism borders eerily on fascism...)

Alejandro & the Fame at the Cantab Lounge!

That's right folks, everyone's favorite all-male hard rock Lady Gaga (+ other female pop artists) cover band returns to Boston — this Thursday night at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge! Be there, or be having less fun than the rest of us.

And here's a little taste of the tunes...

The First Ever Photograph of a Human

Here's some fun weird history for your Friday enjoyment!

From Wikipedia:

"Boulevard du Temple", taken by Louis Daguerre in late 1838 or early 1839 in Paris, was the first photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because exposure time was over ten minutes, the traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is the man at the bottom left, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show.

REVIEW: King Dork by "Doctor" Frank Portman

I gave this 4 stars on GoodReads but it's really a 3.5. I'm generously rounding up because it reminded me of my excitement when I got to open up for Dr. Frank's band, the Mr T Experience, in high school.

Overall, I really enjoyed King Dork. Tom was a funny narrator in his anti-Holden-Caulfield-but-still-so-Holden-Caulfield way, and as a former aspiring punk rock star myself, I definitely saw a lot of me and my high school friends in the story. That being said, I was disappointed with the exposition-y ending. As a writer myself, I was somewhat bothered the whole time through with how much of the story was told in summary exposition, but I was willing to give it a pass because it makes sense diagetically with the narrator that this is how he would convey this story (similar to Holden Caulfield in that way). But Tom's main two journeys -- Fiona, and the relationship with his dead father -- were literally summed up and resolved without any effort on his part (even his hospitalization, though it certainly made sense that he wouldn't have a good memory of the specific events leading up to it, was so blasé: "and then I was hospitalized for a month because I got beat up NBD.").

All that being said: it's probably a good book to help get adolescents into classic books and help with their vocabularies (and the glossary was *hilarious*).

Also, the women in the book left...much to be desired. In some ways (again, diagetically, that is, within the world of the story), I got it, because it was absolutely how a 14 year old King Dork would probably talk about and depict women. It certainly sounded like some of my friends at 14, anyway. But as an adult feminist male, it was a little, well, exactly the kind of subtle misogyny that people are finally and rightfully paying attention to, and I wish had been approached with a more deft hand.

Anyway, here's the MTX song "King Dork," which actually has very little to do with the book (which I assume was named more for brand recognition than anything else, as this is generally seen as one of Dr. Frank's "hits," if you will).

Buy My Poetry In This Month's Issue of ASIMOV'S Science Fiction Magazine!

My time travel love poem "I Loved You More Last Time" is now available in the February 2015 issue of ASIMOV'S Science Fiction Magazine (along with a poem by my Clarion classmate and recent winner of Apex Magazine's Story Of The Year, Marie Vibbert). 

As far as I can tell, Asimov's is erm, not very good at making online purchases easy for anyone. But you can pick up the current issue or subscribe on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes Newsstand (unfortunately, I don't know the exact cut-off date for when the current issue ceases to be "current," and I can't figure out how buy specific back issues either). I'll also have a small stash of hard copies available for direct purchase (more info to come).

My ARISIA Convention Schedule

I'll be at the Arisia sci-fi / fantasy convention in Boston this coming weekend, speaking on a few panels and generally hanging around. I've never been to Arisia before, nor have I ever been on any convention panels, so I'm doubly excited (and very much hoping that I don't say anything too stupid).

Anyway, here's where you can find me. Come say hi!

  • Neurodiversity in SF/F
    Saturday, 11:30am-12:45pm in Marina 2 (2E)
    How are autistic and other neurodiverse characters presented in SF/F? What works handle this subject well, and which do not? Who are some neurodiverse authors whom we should all be reading? And how, as a genre, do we move beyond stories only focused on a “cure”?
    with Don Sakers, David G. Shaw, and JoSelle Vanderhooft
  • DC Comics on the Small Screen: 2015 Edition
    Saturday, 5:30-6:45pm in Marina 2 (2E)
    For all of DC’s much-disdained recent lack of creative success on the big screen, they’ve put together a string of received cartoons going back over twenty years ranging from episodic (Batman) to serialized (Young Justice) to goofy (Teen Titans Go). They’ve also launched multiple TV series, including Arrow, The Flash, and Constantine, even as their actual comics have become a pit of creative despair. We’ll discuss DC’s success (and occasional flop) over the years on television.
    —with Nomi S. Burstein, George Claxton, Jaime Garmendia, Dan Toland

  • Behind the Bristol Board: Comics as a Profession
    Saturday, 7-8:15pm in Marina 4 (2E)
    If you’re a comics fan, odds are you’ve thought about what it’s like to actually work in the comics industry. This panel will feature working professionals explaining the ins-and-outs of everything from writing and drawing, to editing and publishing. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about being a comics pro, but were afraid to ask.
    —with Ken Gale, Bettina Kurkoski, Alisa Kwitney Sheckley, Mercy E Van Vlack

  • Superman and Religion
    Sunday, 11:30am-12:45pm in Burroughs (3E)
    Superman remains an enigmatic figure in American mythology. Created by two Jewish kids from Cleveland, perhaps as a metaphor for Jewish assimilation, Superman also represents a Christlike figure in many stories, and the screenwriter of Man of Steel consulted, among other sources, the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh. Does the wide cast of Superman’s religious influences render him a defender-of-all-faiths? Can any religion claim him as one of their own? Come explore this thorny issue with Arisia 2015.
    —with Michael A. Burstein, Ken Gale, Alex Jarvis, Daniel Miller

  • Story Autopsy
    Sunday, 2:30-3:45pm in Alcott (3W)
    Our group of panelists takes a few well-known works of genre fiction and picks them apart to show you how they work, why they work, and in some cases point out the parts that don’t work at all. If you don’t like spoilers this is probably not the panel for you.
    —with M. L. Brennan, James L. Cambias, John P. Murphy, Ian Randal Strock

  • The Medium and the Message
    Sunday, 5:30-6:45pm in Hale (3W)
    A story can be told in a multitude of formats. Anything from short stories and epic poems to graphic novels and screenplays can be used to convey a narrative. How do the various formats compare? Do certain genres work well in one but not another? What about translations from one medium to another? How can you tell which works best for your story?
    —with Heather Albano, Alexander Feinman, John G. McDaid

  • Writing and Racial Identity 
    Monday, 1-2:15pm in Hale (3W)
    What does your race have to do with what you write? Depending on your race, are certain topics forbidden to you? Obligatory? None of the above? If your race matters, how do you know what it is? By what people see when they look at you, or by what you know of your genetic background? By your cultural upbringing? By what you write?
    —with John Chu, Mark Oshiro, Victor Raymond

The 5 Stages of Inebriation (circa 1868)

More proof that Australians are crazy. From the State Library of New South Wales:

The photographs illustrate drunkenness in five stages, played by a male subject in a studio. Possibly commissioned by a local temperance group for educative purposes, the photographs may also have been used by an engraver for illustrations. The penultimate frame of the drunk in a wheelbarrow resembles S.T. Gill's watercolour 'Ease without Opulence', 1863 (PXC 284/30). The printed studio mark on reverse reads "Photographic Artist. C. Pickering, 612 George Street, near Wilshire's Buildings, Sydney"

It's also possible that these images were commissioned in response or relation to the Drunkard's Punishment Bill, introduced by New South Wales Premier James Martin in 1866.

Now that all that history's out of the way...I don't know, I think it's pretty accurate.

"GIMME INDIE ROCK!": The Simple Comforts of A Future Perfect

A Future Perfect is a brand new play by Ken Urban about indie rockers in their 30s dealing with marriage, careers, babies, and of course, rock and roll. The show is currently receiving its world premiere in Boston with SpeakEasy Stage Company, and if you're anything like me — that is, the creative indie rock type somewhere between the age of 24 and 45 trying to find a balance between still doing what you love and living some semblance of an "adult" life without explicitly selling out and/or turning boring — there's a good chance that this show might hit that sweet spot for you. It has all the charm and humor of a great indie movie (like The Happy Sad, also by Ken Urban and currently available on Netflix), along with a fantastic soundtrack featuring the likes of Pavement, Modest Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Smiths, Dinosaur Jr., etc. etc.

In short, it's pretty fantastic. 

Then again, I might be biased. After all, the show is directed by my partner, M. Bevin O'Gara, and I also did some music and video projection work for the show myself (in addition to the sound design by Nathan Leigh). So I mean — sure, if you want to put it that way, I guess I would be biased. But it's also an incredibly touching story about friendship, adulthood, and not losing sight of the things that you believe in. Even without the personal connections, that still hits pretty close to home for me.

A Future Perfect runs tonight through February 7 at the Calderwood Pavilion in the South End (there's also a Pay-What-You-Can performance this coming Sunday, Jan. 11). If you're reading this, you'll like it. Trust me.

Also there's puppets.