By Maria Correa
A new zine in Gainesville imagines times after the “big collapse.” So, what’s it going to be like?
If you’ve been to Karma Cream, The Bull or the Midnight this semester, you may have noticed a blue booklet priced at $3 titled “Elotchaway, or, How It Will Be. Accounts of the very bad times yet to come.” It is a publication of serialized stories and illustrations that are set in Alachua in a “proposed post-collapse future-time.”
The title, “Elotchaway,” refers to a common misspelling or mistranslation of the name Alachua. It was also the name of an area in the territory that was Florida in the early 1800s. New issues, each containing two short stories, are published every few weeks. The second and latest issue, Issue One (the first was zero), includes the stories “Thieftaker” and “Sugarcane.”
Jim Chapin, 24, manages the logistics of the project. He edits the stories and assembles the final product. Chapin’s friend, Chris Kane, then distributes the zines to the three establishments mentioned above.
Both the author, “Tom Sims,” and illustrator, “Cincinnati K.,” use pseudonyms. They could not be contacted for an interview. Chapin said he thinks there is something fun about the secrecy of their identity and said Sims does it partly because he “wants it to be about the writing and the stories.”
What is known — according to Chapin, who knew Sims personally prior to the project — is that these are Sims’ first published works, although he has written fiction before.
The stories take place in a post-apocalyptic time, but they are not necessarily meant to be pessimistic about the future, said Chapin. Instead, Sims uses the “big collapse” as a starting point, a blank slate.
A note at the beginning of each issue describes the “big collapse” as “an especially large solar flare, hitting the earth just right…a majority of the transformers in the industrialized world blew simultaneously.”
Some of the scenes and characters, especially the dialogue, give the sense of the past more so than the future. Chapin explained that the “old feel” is what remains after everything has been stripped away.
“The stories are meant to be real,” said Chapin. “They are written from a place of love for the area and affection for the people that live there.”
As far as reactions go, Chapin said he hasn’t heard much feedback. Kane estimates that 50 copies have been sold so far, although more were distributed at a reading held before the publication of the first issue in early August.
“The stories evoke a sense of joy within the reader, the result of a unique, stylistic prose,” said Evan Rippe, a 20-year-old University of Florida student who is familiar with the publication.
Chapin said they sell the stories instead of giving them away for free to offset printing costs, and to show the value of the work. “I don’t understand how musicians can bleed and sweat to produce something and have people take it for free,” he said.
In the end, Chapin said Sims just wants to tell a compelling story and perhaps have people look at their surroundings a little more carefully. The stories, he said, are being written in real time, so the final shape — whether the stories will tie up in an overarching narrative — remains a mystery.
The third issue will be available for purchase this week.