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Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  216 ratings  ·  62 reviews
In this debut collection of body-horror fairy tales and mid-apocalyptic Catholic cyberpunk, memory and myth, loss and age, these are the tools of storyteller Jarboe, a talent in the field of queer fabulism. Bodily autonomy and transformation, the importance of negative emotions, unhealthy relationships, and bad situations amidst the staggering and urgent question of how bu ...more
222 pages
Published March 1st 2020 by Lethe Press (first published February 26th 2020)
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Julian This is a good question! My answer to this changes from time to time, but broadly, it's twofold:

1. Superficially and aesthetically - All the excesses …more
This is a good question! My answer to this changes from time to time, but broadly, it's twofold:

1. Superficially and aesthetically - All the excesses and technologies of cyberpunk (late capital) with all the pageantry, adornment, and syncretic ritual of the Catholic Church.

2. Substantially and thematically - Taking seriously the sublime dimensions of bodily experience within a cyberpunk setting (whatever you might see that as being: modern/late capital/post-industrial/virtual/etc), especially those bodily experiences that are commonly used by *both* shallow sci fi and shallow theology to "show" how people are false/unnatural/ego deluded/escapist. For example, focusing on the soul and faith of non human and post human beings, but like actually.

If you're not Catholic or don't know anything about Catholicism, an important FYI is that it's absolutely batshit freaky and we ritually eat the body and blood of a martyr, whose mom we kind of treat as another deity whose body we're also obsessed with, so much that we decided she physically floated fully formed to heaven somehow, and oh hey this person was so into it we decided they were a saint which means, I guess, saving their skull and covering it in jewels! So when cyberpunk has people uploading their minds or altering their bodies or generally messing with and decorating their bodies, using weird codes and knowledge to fuck with the world's systems, it just sort of *lands different* for someone coming from a 2,000 year old mystery death cult with outlandish hats and Latin chants.

Anyway. I could also add some other stuff but then this wouldn't be an answer to your question anymore, it would be another book. So hopefully this helps, even if that help is "well now I know this is not my jam."(less)
Julian So, I've heard that more hardcore Horror-with-a-big-H fans would call the body horror in this pretty mild-- like if you are into Hellraiser this book …moreSo, I've heard that more hardcore Horror-with-a-big-H fans would call the body horror in this pretty mild-- like if you are into Hellraiser this book is practically cozy-- but that otherwise some of the pieces are pretty upsetting to the squeamish, yes.

Some people find "The Marks of Aegis" and "The Heavy Things" in particular to be the most "visceral" since both of them focus on very different but graphic forms of skin cutting. Both short, though, if that makes a difference.

"Estranged Children of Storybook Houses" refers multiple times to a singular instance of human branding/burning but lingers more on the scar than the act. In general, almost all of the pieces have a degree of "my body isn't doing what I want it to" and/or "eating things that aren't really meant to be eaten" and sometimes the tone is comical and sometimes the tone is more anxious, though everyone seems to take away a different interpretation of which ones are which... So YMMV.(less)

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A work of utter genius, truly. Reminds me of Sybil Lamb and Megan Milks, but still very much its own beast.
I am so grateful that Julian K. Jarboe's debut collection, Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel came across my goodreads feed one day. Described on the publisher's page as being a "collection of body-horror fairy tales and mid-apocalyptic Catholic cyberpunk, memory and myth, loss and age... (in the) field of queer fabulism," the stories in this book are composed of many things from many places. I have never read anything quite like it. It is undoubtedly one of my favorite books with the c ...more
Artur Nowrot
Warren Ellis said that we already live in the future, we just don’t notice it. It makes sense, therefore, that Julian K. Jarboe uses the future in their stories in order to better illuminate the present.

Although the stories in this collection very strongly in terms of length and genre, the dominant note for me is near-future dystopia. Climate change drowning cities and rich tourists moving in to gentrify everything that’s left (plus the underwater ruins), locking the citizens in strictly control
Isaac R. Fellman
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm overwhelmed by how good this book is. Every word has the precision of a fired-off nerve -- a pinpoint in a hand that's tingling with shock or hypoxia. It goes without saying that it's deeply affecting and funny, and that each word choice is a Choose Your Own Adventure that Jarboe effortlessly flips to the golden ending, and that above all it has Jarboe's usual virtue of avoiding anything extraneous.

I don't often feel this way about fiction. I usually find, these days, that I learn something
Janet Mason
This piece aired worldwide this week on This Way Out (TWO), the syndicated LGBT radio show.  Click here to listen to the entire show.
(TWO is the first international LGBTQ radio news magazine.)

Everyone On The Moon is Essential Personnel 
Stories by Julian K. Jarboe 

The title, Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel of this collection of short stories by Julian K. Jarboe (Lethe Press; 2020) is prophetic for the times we are in. 
In this collection where the future is now, gender is fluid and cli
Alanna Why
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
“Health and wellness. Wealth and hellness.”

Published in February by Lethe Press, On The Moon Everyone is Essential Personnel is the first book by Massachusetts writer and artist Julian K. Jarboe. In 16 short stories, they go from civilizations without technology to a story with an android for a narrator to a world completely submerged by water. I adored its blend of speculative, horror and humour writing with themes of queerness, community and survival. My favourite stories were “Self Care,” wh
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on a whim during a recent trip to Virtual Powell's (aka their website) because it was shelved as queer fiction and the title was funny. I ended up loving it: the stories here are all very different, ranging from "this is actively difficult for me to read" to "well, this is strange in a way I'm absolutely here for" to "I understand exactly how this was the product of the author's Katamari Damacy binge", but all of them work, and all of them land.

I would later learn (like, ten min
Hal Schrieve
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible speculative fiction-- cutting, dry, satirical in some places, and reflective, magical and heartfelt in others-- sometimes at the same time. Does that sound dumb? I think this kind of writing brings something bubbling to the surface that I want to see far more of in science fiction.

Homelessness, gentrification, body transformation, gods and ancient memories, racist archaeology, bugs, emotional abuse and familial cycles of trauma, gay desire. Social systems are the objects of
Ev Laird
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't want to feel better; I want to know better. ...more
Dec 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, reviewed
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous collection. I think once I buy my own copy and come back to this, it may even be a five star situation!!

As always with rating anthologies like this, it’s difficult to parse all the emotions down. For every story I was stunned by the amount of LGBT+ representation, the themes of family, love, and work. The focus on identity. It’s all so wonderful! Now I want to delve into my three favorite stories, in no particular order.

The apocalypse is the past, the dystopia alread
Caitlin Claunch
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional collection of short stories. Jarobe is brilliant! The writing is just. so. good. — It’s multilayered, clever, jam-packed but flowy, enchanting, mysterious, hilarious, deep; Jarobe has a knack for using words to viscerally embody not only their stories but “the” vastly disparate but similar experience of life. The stories are captivating, full of realism, surrealism and fantasy, dealing with important themes and topics, never allowing the reader to settle into knowing. A gl ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories is a beautiful box of joyful, defiant queer weirdness. Jarboe roams around in time and space, and each one is very different, but they are connected by a really strong authorial voice; all the stories are speculative, with varying levels of whimsy and horror, and usually with a focus on bodies, rituals, religion, gender, and how all of those interact. As a whole, it goes a little too hard on the religion to be a top ten favourite for me, but it went exactly hard ...more
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
William Thomas
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not going to review anything anymore, not even to remember what I liked about it. Just going to keep the rating and a diary of what I read. For what? Idk.
"To take shape is to sever the infinite possibilities of wanting into a fragile burden of being." ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: transgender
With a promise of body-horror fairy tales and blue-collar queer resistance, with 2 stories that were featured in Lambda Award winning Transgender anthologies, I was excited to get an early glimpse at Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel by Julian K. Jarboe.

The stories contained here are what I would refer to as literary speculative fiction, dystopian tales that often put theme and symbolism above character development or plot. That is not a complaint, and not a knock against them, just an
Bryan Cebulski
A beautiful, incomparable collection of fiction--ranging from bite-sized impressions to lengthy, complex narratives--that makes me really eager to see what Jarboe does next.

Everyone on the Moon has the aesthetically messy rhetoric of a social media saturated culture, infused with speculative themes and trappings, the gamut of queer identities and an anti-capitalist punk outlook.

"Prickly", as Daniel Lavery describes on the cover blurb, with brutal perspectives throughout that fly in the face of
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this book range from interesting to bulldozing. A story that stands out is 'the heavy things', a body horror tale of trans experience, and a comment on societies interest in women being so tied to reproduction. All this done so deftly in 3 pages. Its a shining example like this that makes this book a fantastic manifestation of the horror genre, and a great book for those seeking queer literature, especially trans inclusion. My favourite highlight is the (kind of) parody of people ...more
This is an exceptional debut collection, rich in insight and invention. Jarboe explores their central themes of gender and identity constrained by the limited imagination of majority culture with as much joy as dread. Even in these stories' most pained moments, Jarboe's energy and originality are a constant delight.

If you have any interest in the innovative science fiction made possible when re-envisioned through a trans perspective, this book is for you. If you're not interested in science fict
Short stories can be hit or miss for me, but I think it was the body horror that put me off this one.
Mark Schiffer
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not all of the stories landed, but the ones that did were among the best and queerest pieces of recent speculative fiction I’ve read!
Amanda Hudgins
Dec 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Julian K. Jarboe’s collection of short stories for two reasons; one a friend posted a one line review that read “I AM A BEAUTIFUL BUG!” and the other is that the book was described by the author as “body-horror fairy tales and mid-apocalyptic Catholic cyberpunk.” I don’t really know what those words mean together, but they create a delightful word salad in my brain, and reading Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel, they honestly make sense. Not in any way I can actually articu ...more
I will be reviewing this book in my newsletter sign up to have it delivered to your inbox --> ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Brilliant. "Look for trouble and find it. Look at the word “revolution” in every advertisement for soft drinks and sneakers, at “compassion” contained in a forty-five-minute weeknight yoga class with the pretense of spiritual practice. Look at these promises accumulate onto your body and then be ritually shed from it. Look at the world outside your body, and remain the same, regardless." ...more
Feb 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic collection of stories. The writing is so varied that I assumed that it was a collection of authors as well! Some cracking lines that really struck me too.
Briar Page
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection boasts a lot of variety in form and narrative voice. Flash fiction, poetry, short stories, and the titular novelette or novella. Saunders or Karen Russell-esque satirical magic realism, Porpentine-like angry, frenetic, internet/2010s trans culture-influenced surrealist sci-fi; weird, elegiac little fairy tales and parables. It's pretty unusual to encounter a writer who wields this much confident plasticity in their debut book; I enjoyed everything in here, although my particular ...more
Mer Mendoza (Merlyn’s Book Hoard)
The Mark of Aegis – "The first nice thing I ever did to my body was tear it open." This was a really poignant feeling short story, but it dwells a little too close to self-harm as a healing measure for me to find it a comfortable read given my personal history—the overall message is more complicated than that, but the imagery is harsh. HOWEVER the line "My standard cruelty to myself was taking things in that hurt and holding them there. I said yes when I meant no: at work, at dinner, in parked c ...more
Danielle Campbell
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rate this book knowing that I am not the ideal audience for it. So, I rated it for the value I see in it, for the skill and creativity of the writing, and for what I believe it may do for trans people, queer people, anyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community (or wants to).

While I did not read every story in this collection I did read a good handful and the overarching themes I took away from it were pure and meaningful to me, though in a more limited way than they would likely be f
Zachary Littrell
Jun 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Jarboe is promising in the best sense of the word -- how exciting a promise is to wait for it to unfurl into fulfillment. Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel didn't quite fire off on all pistons, but I can appreciate what Jarboe set out to do, the positive influence it can have for the right set of readers, and just what sort of writer they're becoming.

Even if the metaphors can be...a little less than subtle...*distant rumbling of hammers over heads* I think this might be maybe some of t
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it

Loved self care, as tender feet of cretan girls danced once around an alter of love, and estranged children of storybook houses
some really cool concepts on immortality, memory faeries, disability, transness, and art in here

“Please, no soliciting” and they took it for a joke (I’ll give them that one because “Don’t come here to forcefully sell things” is kind of a hard line to defend when you’re the
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