When the Troops Rally: Kickstarter Campaigns for Jay Lake Reaches Goals in Opening Day

jay top hat
Image courtesy of The Acts of Whimsy Kickstarter

There’s a kinship in genre fiction. I’m sure that can be said of many writers in various genres, but there seems to be something unique about folks writing, publishing, editing and reading science fiction and fantasy. As a community, they rally behind each other. They support each other. They share a wealth of warnings and information to novices in the field. And when one of their own is fighting a battle, well, the troops gear up, roar uphill, shoulder to shoulder with their fellow compatriots.

This is never clearer than when that battle concerns a life and death fight. Jay Lake, our Featured Author and an award-winning American novelist of ten science fiction novels and over 300 short stories, is fighting such a battle. He’s chronicled his fight against colon cancer with frank candor on his blog.

And, as if incited to prove the diligence and unwavering support fellow genre folks offer, many of his friends not only founded the The Acts of Whimsy kickstarter, but surpassed the base line goal in less than 12 hours.

The Acts of Whimsy:

Diagnosed in April, 2008, Jay’s cancer has progressed from a single tumor to metastatic disease affecting the lung and liver, recurring after multiple surgeries and chemotherapy courses, and multiplying from single tumor presentations to multiple tumors presentations. Jay is now in his fourth round of chemotherapy, but it’s not clear that it’s working, and his doctors have little to go on in terms of advising further courses of treatment for him. In short, things are not looking good for Jay. Not at all.

However, a new technology is becoming available—one that may offer his doctors a better option for treating the cancer. We’re trying to raise funds to allow Jay to have whole genome sequencing.There is a small possibility that the results of such a test, which is more comprehensive than conventional genetic testing of tumors, may suggest a treatment path that Jay’s doctor’s may not have considered, and that could be life saving. It’s a really small chance, and Jay knows that. For this fundraiser, we have asked some science fiction and fantasy writers to donate an “Act of Whimsy” which they will share with the community as we reach milestones in our fundraising

As each milestone in the fundraiser was met, the offerings of some of the genre’s biggest and most beloved writers “unlocked” a goal. They include:

  • $2000 — The Juvenalienation: NYT Bestselling author Tobias S. Buckell will crack open a locked box containing his oldest, complete first short story, typed out on cracked, yellowing paper and hidden away in shame lo these many years. Written when he was fourteen, it is full of embarrassingly awkward writing that he will turn into an eBook as a reward for anyone who donates. GOAL UNLOCKED!
  • $4000 — Hugo Award-winning author and voice actor Mary Robinette Kowalwill read selections of beloved classics as phone sex. GOAL UNLOCKED!
  • $12,000 — The creators of the Jay Lake Documentary will unveil a comic short for Jay and you. GOAL UNLOCKED!
  • $15,000 — NY Times Best-selling author and Hugo award winner John Scalzi will sing a lost Bob Dylan song, in the style of Bob Dylan. GOAL UNLOCKED!
  • $20,000 — NY Times Best-selling author Neil Gaiman will perform a cover from the Magnetic Fields album 69 Love Songs whilst accompanying himself on the Ukulele. Every donor of $50 or more will be entered in a drawing to choose the song that Neil sings.

As I write this, the 33 day goal of $20,000 has been surpassed and now is at $25,764. Understand, folks, this is day ONE.

UPDATE: Stretch goals have been added (and some reached) as the total so far is over $31,000:

  • $25,000 — Award-winning author Seanan McGuire rewrote all of season one of VERONICA MARS as a Shakespearean tragedy. Which counts as transformative. She is assembling a small cast to record the closing sequence from the final act of “The Tragedy of Lillian Kane, Princess of Neptune.” GOAL UNLOCKED!
  • $30,000— A goal so awesome your mind will implode when we reveal it. GOAL UNLOCKED!  And yes, we were caught by delighted surprise at how quickly we hit this goal. Details coming as soon as we confirm them with the participants.
  • $32,000 — C.E. Murphy rereads her first novel. She will open the file for the first time in twenty years and read excerpts aloud while offering commentary to her 19-year-old self, all live and first-reaction-on-film, for your entertainment and, she suspects, to her own utter horror.
  • $35,000 — Cory Doctorow will release a  a CC-BY scan of his head while making a funny face. That’s right, a scan of Cory’s head that you can create even more whimsy with.
  • $40,000 — We have no idea what this will be, but it will be whimsical.

Additionally, Waterloo Productions launched a Kickstarter campaign to meet the funding needs of completing their documentary Lakeside which follows Jay during his war against cancer and takes an honest, gripping look at how the disease impacts not only the patient, but the friends and loved ones in their lives. This campaign, as well, has seen its goal met.

While we don’t normally ask our readers to support a cause, and with still roughly a month in each campaign, we would like to urge you to consider donating to both Kickstarters if you can.  We try to take an unbiased approach to political, religious or social causes – but this is none of those; it is simply about fighting a battle on behalf of one of our own, against an enemy who needs to be eviscerated.

Jay Lake is more than a phenomenal talent. He represents so much more than someone to admire, than someone whose career is the mark of passion for the written word and whose spirit is that of a true artist. He’s also the grandfather who suffered and died from lung cancer. He’s the friend whose breasts tried to kill her. He’s the parent who is struggling to understand what is happening to his body.  He is everyone you have ever known or not known who has had to don battle garb and fight with every fiber of their bodies, their spirits, their capabilities to kick cancer’s ass.

To those individuals who have supported and donated to these Kickstarters, thank you. Our respect for you is fathomless. You have shown that we are not irrevocably broken, that for every violent act visited upon the children of this earth, there are a thousand kind gestures, a million gentle touches of compassion that proves we are not without hope.

Bradbury said “It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” Jay Lake has done that in his stories of the fantastic, and by inspiring the community that loves him.  Let’s return the favor, and show him how much we care.


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