Reality is Weird: Exploring The Constellation, Clemson’s New Science-Fiction Publication
On a sunny Friday afternoon, a few members of The Constellation gathered around a conference table and introduced themselves to each other for the first time since Dr. Andy Lemons and his senior students Hannah Pearson and Katie Solomon organized the group in late spring of 2019.
It was Pearson and Solomon who pushed for The Constellation to become a science-fiction publication on campus. For Solomon, she had enjoyed publishing the 2nd edition in Dr. Lemons’ Theories of (Other) World Literature class project so much, that she saw the project manifesting into something bigger. With hopes of working in the publishing industry after graduation, she wanted to get publishing experience while also working in the realms of sci-fi, and with the fun people they attracted.
For Pearson, The Constellation was an outlet for the weird that wasn’t just for English majors. “I was the only English major in the room. Most of my classmates were sci-fi nerds looking for an honors college credit. We didn’t consider ourselves writers or readers, but that’s what we became. The Constellation had no rules. It was space for exploration and absurdity. Things got weird. I loved every second of it. That kind of excitement couldn’t be contained in one semester, let alone one classroom. I want the Constellation to shake this campus with its awesome powers of weirdness. People think creative writing is elitist or difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a joy. I want to share that joy with Clemson as a whole.”
Originally focused around publishing the newest edition of The Constellation, the group began playing with the idea of morphing into something larger, like a community. At the end of the day, Dr. Lemons just wants a place for people to express their creative core. “There’s lots of ways that you can express that weird core. You can gather together to do strange things, you can game, read each other’s writings in a less formal sense, or talk about nerd stuff.”
There isn’t just one word to describe the publication and community that is The Constellation; there are multiple and ever-changing. “It’s formative, fluid, changing, polymorphous,” said Dr. Lemons, “All of the things that are at the heart of the weird.”
It is one thing to learn about the otherworldly and the absurd, but being able to practice it gives a whole new understanding to the concept. That is one of the aims for The Constellation and for its members. “The absurd needs to be practiced, needs to be lived, needs to be an experience that you allow yourself to have instead of just saying, ‘no no no, that absurdity that bubbles up in me, I need to put that away because I have a job, because it’s inconvenient,’” Dr. Lemons explained after reminiscing of a time when his class screamed into the reflection pond during exam week as a way to practice the art of the inconvenient.
Dr. Lemons hopes that The Constellation will bridge the gap between students in the humanities and everyone else. “The goal is to draw out the weird and creative in everybody and anybody rather than only trying to attract creative and weird people. Of course, they are most welcome!” He expressed a need on campus for there to be a community for those that do not have one yet. “I’m not sure there is much of an outlet for the creative, the weird, the abnormal at Clemson. Everybody has a creative and a weird part of themselves that just needs a tap.” Those who are interested are encouraged to join, or even to just reach out to your friend or roommate who’s a chemical engineering major and bond over the weird, the creative, and the absurd. For more information about The Constellation, you can email Constellation.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their Instagram, @clemsonconstellation.
Written by: Hannah Rohaley