Archive for Blog

From the darkest corners, the voices can be heard

Y’know, Halloween has always felt like the perfect time for storytelling. Whether it is ghost stories by the campfire, or Hammer horror from the comfort of your own living room (my personal preference), its just the perfectly obvious season for the supernatural and scarifying. While it has ever been thus for people like you and me, it seems to be catching on in the mainstream too. AMC’s zombie TV series The Walking Dead, based on the Eisner award-winning comic book series from Image, premiered to their biggest debut audience ever at 5.3 million viewers. Seasonal television is an American staple (perhaps less so here in the UK), with even series like the surreal college sitcom Community playing quite brilliantly with the zombie genre just a couple of days before.

Halloween also saw the launch of a new, free online podcast magazine and website, showcasing the best in genre short fiction. Dark Fiction Magazine is the brainchild of Sharon Ring and Del Lakin-Smith, two names familiar to the UK genre scene. Their stated aim is to produce a monthly short fiction podcast magazine, featuring at least four short stories in each issue focussed around a distinct theme.

In the spirit of ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ (thanks for that, Mur!), we spoke to Sharon and Del about their new project and what people can expect.

Escape Pod: Thanks for joining us! Let’s start with yourselves – what are your respective backgrounds, and what gave you the idea of starting Dark Fiction Magazine?

Del: I have been working in IT for over 15 years in one form or another and have either run or helped out on numerous websites, so I have my feet firmly in the cloud, so to speak. I’m also obsessed with music, audio engineering and genre.

I launched a podcast in February of last year called WordPunk which covers all sorts of geeky stuff like tech, genre, movies, etc. I had been looking for ways to expand it or cross pollinate with other non-audio based blogs. Sharon ran the idea of Dark Fiction Magazine by me and I was hooked.

Sharon: I got into book blogging a couple of years ago with Dark Fiction Review. From there I moved into working as a freelance editor, mostly on horror novels and short stories. Dark Fiction Magazine was an idea I’d had rattling around my head all summer. Turned out, talking to Del, he’d been thinking along the same lines. And that was it: the coolest partnership in podcasting history was born.

What made you want to make Dark Fiction Magazine a podcast instead of a regular, text-based website?

Podcasts have been around since late 1998, but it was not until 2005 that Apple included native support in iTunes, increasing their popularity massively. These days most people will listen to a podcast in some form, be that a BBC iPlayer Listen Again, an audio book or an internet radio station. So to us, this is the perfect growth medium to launch a short fiction site on. There are many text based short story magazines, and a few audio based ones too, but we saw an opportunity in the market to bring a curated monthly magazine offering high quality genre audio fiction to the masses.

How do you see Dark Fiction Magazine fitting into current landscape of podcasts and free audio fiction? Hugo-winners aside, the UK seems to be lagging a little in the area, with podcasting still dominated by US shows. In particular, free audio fiction in podcast form has been produced Stateside for a long while now – Escape Pod being just one example!

This is a very good question. Both in fandom and publishing, it is a very close knit community. And there are many passionate, selfless people all working together (and apart) to strengthen the community and industry.

When we looked at the current market, we felt that we could add value to the guys and gals already bringing fantastic audio fiction to us. We are UK-centric, certainly, more from circumstance than deliberation, which lets us offer something different and focus more on our audience. We still see ourselves as a global service bringing out stories from authors all over the world.

The liberating thing about being a free service is that the rules of competition and engagement are different. We are not stealing customers from others, as there are more than enough to go round and our service is similar enough to others that any new listener we get is also a potential listener for them. So we are trying to strike that difficult balance of differentiation enough to be intriguing, but not too much where we have nothing to compare ourselves to and align with.

What are your mid- and long-term goals for Dark Fiction Magazine?

To be honest we have been blown away by the positive responses we have had since launch and we are really pleased with how it is going. As for plans going forward, we aim to keep growing our range of stories, authors, narrators and artists while creating a valuable medium for new talent to launch themselves from.

We are also keen to partner with disability charities to ensure their customers get the best access to our free audio stories as possible and we are playing with the idea of expanding the platform into more cutting edge digital experiments. We are all about accessibility, so if there is a way to get great fiction out there, we hope to embrace it.

So, who exactly is Dark Fiction Magazine aimed at? As well as current fiction, will there be readings of old classics? And are you open to submissions or contributions?

Dark Fiction Magazine is for absolutely everyone who loves genre fiction. We’re not tied to one genre or sub-genre, so we’re able to podcast lots of content with broad appeal. Our target audience is anyone and everyone. We hope to get sci-fi readers tuning in to horror episodes; fantasy readers listening in to sci-fi. Too often people stick within their own little reading and listening niches. We’re after a wider audience than that. Good genre fiction knows no boundaries, and neither does Dark Fiction Magazine.

We’re interested in submissions from new and established writers but we would ask people to check out our submissions policy first to see whether their material is eligible for submission.

There may be some classic stories read in time. You’ll have to keep an ear out for future episodes to see which of your own favourites make an appearance!

Del and Sharon, thank-you very much!

Issue 1 of Dark Fiction Magazine is available now, and features stories by Gary McMahon, Sarah Pinborough, Joseph D’Lacey, and Conrad Williams. Authors lined up for future issues include Pat Cadigan, Cory Doctorow, Jon Courtenay, Grimwood, Ramsey Campbell, Rob Shearman, Kim Lakin-Smith, Ian Whates, Lauren Beukes, Mark Morris, Adam Nevill, Gareth L Powell, Jeremy C Shipp, and Jennifer Williams, among others

Dark Fiction Magazine can also be subscribed to on iTunes. Dark Fiction Magazine and its founders are all on Twitter as @darkficmagazine, @dfreview (Sharon), and @dellakin_smith (Del).

Happy listening!

Halloween Redux – Some Just Aren’t That Into It

As a writer and consumer of genre fiction, now should be the perfect time of year for me, right? After all, Halloween is just around the corner* [Ed note: Mur was very bad in getting this up, so consider Halloween having just passed us by…] and every sci-fi blog, podcast, and show is extolling the virtues of Halloween.

To me, though, Halloween… just doesn’t matter.

Now, maybe when my daughter is a little older and she starts going door-to-door asking for donations of unhealthy food** while wearing an amusing costume, I might care a little more. I might also care more if more trick-or-treaters came to my door, but I think we get an average of five per year. I’ve taken to putting out a bowl and being done with the matter.

Halloween holds no special place in my heart. Which is weird, because I write some pretty dark, disturbing fiction when the mood strikes. But I don’t care about costumes, decorations, scary movies being more relevant now than in February or June, candy (except Nerds Rope, which is awesome), or parties. I don’t dress up (I might wear a funny wig to work), I don’t gorge myself on sweets, I don’t watch The Ring or listen to a reading of “The Cask of Amontillado”. This year I’ll probably be asleep before the trick-or-treaters even arrive because I have to be at work before 6am the next day.

And it’s not just being old and crotchety. I’ve never crocheted in my life. In college, I didn’t make it a point to go to Halloween parties. When I was a kid, I trick-or-treated, but I wasn’t one of those who kept it up as a teenager. I stopped dressing up at about age 11, and that was that.

I just don’t see the point of making such a big deal out of a holiday that you don’t even get off of work or school. Maybe that makes me weird, or an outcast in the community, but I can’t be the only genre person who doesn’t care that October 31 is supposed to mean candy, costumes, parties, and scary media — I think we were all really sick of ER‘s Halloween episodes after a couple of seasons.

These days, sadly, Halloween exists to sell stuff, and so the media can trot out their “razor blade in the candy” and “check over your kid’s trick-or-treat bag” stories that they’ve been brushing off for the past few decades. Good space fillers. Good ways to sell things people don’t really need to eat. Good for kids (unless their parents object to the holiday, which kind of makes “write your favorite Halloween memory in your writing journal today” assignments pretty hard).

I’m sorry. I don’t get it.

Go and have your fun this Halloween. Enjoy your movies, and your candy, and your parties, and dressing up like Sexy Elmo, or Sexy Avatar Blue Person, or Sexy Chilean Miner’s Wife, or just your average angel or devil. Spend your money, consume your media, enjoy the hell out of it.

I’ll be sleeping.

* Or, at least, it was when I wrote this. I’ve been woefully delinquent lately.

** Come to think of it, most canned food collected in food drives is absurdly high in sodium, which isn’t good for you either.

Book Review: White Tiger, by Kylie Chan

Confession time: I don’t finish books I don’t like. I find it a waste of my time, and if I don’t care to finish the book, I don’t care to find out what happens at the end. *

The sad truth is, I didn’t finish White Tiger.

It hooked me, quite well in fact. I read 250 pages the first night. The pacing was good, the characters interesting. We have a headstrong English teacher, Emma, quitting her kindergarten teacher job in Hong Kong and immediately getting picked up as a live-in nanny for one of the girls she tutors. The single dad is smokin’ hot, the girl is delightful, and the pay is amazing. The conflict comes when she realizes he’s a god and he can’t return to his palace because he has to protect his daughter from demons who would kidnap her to control him, but staying away from his source of power is making him weaker and weaker. (There’s a romance bit too, of course.)

Emma befriends the chauffeur/bodyguard, who is part information-dispenser and part tool to keep the character (and therefore the reader) in the dark. The character is a good one, don’t get me wrong, but he and Emma begin pulling practical jokes on each other that just seem to come out of nowhere. He doesn’t seem particularly playful, and every time they played a prank on each other, it pulled me out of the story because I started thinking, “Why did that happen?”

But the biggest flaw of this book was the lack of editing. It was far too long and needed tightening. Some dialogue was just unnecessary, some characters repeating verbatim sentences they’d said a paragraph earlier.

I can also see non-martial arts aficionados getting lost in the battle scenes, because Emma begins training with the god and Chan uses words that martial arts fans would know, but I’m afraid others would not. And even though she went into detail about the training, she kept using only the term “martial arts” and never saying what system they were studying. (The fact that this was a Chinese god teaching her “katas” which are Japanese forms bugged the crap out of me. At least she didn’t call him “sensei” which is also Japanese.)

In short, White Tiger had a good hook, a good premise, but suffered from bloat, and I just got bored with the repetition. If an editor had cut 100 pages, it probably would have held my interest.

* OK, there is one mystery I did wonder about. The name of the book is White Tiger, and we meet a god who is the white tiger, but as far as I read, his role was tiny. I wondered where Chan was going to put him that would justify naming the whole book after him…

Book Review: I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett

The world of genre fiction was dealt a serious blow when author Terry Pratchett announced that he suffered from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. It didn’t stop him from writing, but it may have moved up the end of his writing career. His previous Discworld novel, “Unseen Academicals”, was – to my mind, anyway – full of plots and ideas that Pratchett may have wanted to cover in future novels but was afraid he wouldn’t be able to. I thought it made the book suffer.

Not so much with “I Shall Wear Midnight”, the latest – and possibly the last, depending upon the progress of Pratchett’s illness – Tiffany Aching novel.

“Midnight” begins when Tiffany is 16, and has taken on the mantle of the witch of the Chalk, a land in Discworld relatively close to Lancre. She does all the mucky jobs witches do – birthing babies, seeing to the sick, laying out the dead, and generally living and working near the edge. Early on, we are shown just how well Tiffany has learned her craft from Granny Weatherwax, “the most highly regarded of the leaders [witches] didn’t have” (“Wyrd Sisters”) when she has to deal with Seth Petty, who has beaten his pregnant teenage daughter so severely that she lost the baby.

And there we have the first insight that “Midnight”, while being a YA novel and shelved as such in many bookstores, is not for the immature. The thing is, after having read the book, that sequence is the most graphic and adult in the novel. To me it served a similar purpose to Shepherd Book’s death in “Serenity” – a character will be killed off, to show how serious this is. There’s a scene or two later in the book that reminds us, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what Seth Petty did.

I think we needed it, too, because the novel’s main villain, the Cunning Man – the spirit of a long-dead priest of Omnianism, a religion established in “Small Gods” and referred to many times throughout the series – is somewhat hard to wrap one’s head around. We’re told he comes back every few hundred years, and he fights the witches, and the witches generally win. He came back this time because Tiffany kissed the Wintersmith (in the book of the same name) and drew enough attention to herself.

The Cunning Man is the kind of villain that works well for a YA audience because it makes people do things they normally wouldn’t, against their will – similar to the hiver in “A Hat Full of Sky” – but it makes the book a little difficult to follow when it comes to the main plot. It’s like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”: Harry has the Dursleys, school, Quidditch, the Voldemort War, being in love with Ginny, and he has to deal with the whole Voldemort thing… but that last one gets lost in the shuffle amid all the other story arcs. The same with “Midnight” – Tiffany has to handle a lot of things in this book besides the Cunning Man, including caring for the people of the Chalk, the imminent marriage of her friend Roland (son of the Baron), the Duchess’s treatment of her people, and Amber Petty (Seth’s daughter), who seems to really like the Nac Mac Feegle.

Oh, yes. The Feegles are back – Rob Anybody, Jeannie the Kelda, and fan favorite, Daft Wullie. Rob even puts aside his Feegle nature for a moment when the Baron’s men threaten their mound. It’s quite a moment. And speaking of people who are back, one of the best parts of the book is when Tiffany meets Granny Weatherwax’s other successful apprentice.

“Midnight” brings us all our favorite witches – Granny, Nanny, and even Magrat, along with mentions of Tiffany’s friends Petulia and Anagramma, and her teacher Miss Tick – as well as introducing Mrs. Proust, who has a very surprising connection to Boffo (see “Wintersmith”). Tiffany also meets Captains Carrot and Angua (glad to see she’s finally gotten that promotion), Constable Haddock, and the inimitable Commander Vimes. But the book takes place on the Chalk, for the most part, and despite the attendance of the senior witches – one of whom (and you can easily guess which) has fought the Cunning Man before – it’s Tiffany who must save the day.

I’ll be honest: I really didn’t care for “The Wee Free Men”, but the rest of the Aching books have been good, solid stories, and if this one meandered a bit and did contain a tad too much additional plot (Miss Smith, the Duchess and Leticia, Tiffany Goes to Ankh-Morpork – which really felt shoehorned in there), Pratchett is still a good enough storyteller to tie it up neatly at the end. If “I Shall Wear Midnight” turns out to be the final Tiffany Aching novel, then I for one am satisfied with how her arc ends.

Besides, that means we can get back to the business of making Vimes the next Patrician*.

* Oh, come on, you know that’s how the Discworld series will end.

Customized Escape Pod!

You’ve asked, and we’ve answered! Through the miracle of The Internet and RSS, we bring you more customized feeds!

Please note- most of these stories are picked automatically (via categories on the site) and so it’s possible there may be a story in the For Kids feed, for example, that while not objectionable, may contain content that your kid won’t be interested in. There’s a difference between “for kids” and “family friendly.” Moving forward, the kid feed will contain only “for kids” stories.

  • The For-Kids Feed– currently this includes nearly all G-rated stories especially geared for our younger listeners.
  • The Family-Friendly Feed– This will have all G and PG stories for people who don’t want to get into the harder language or sex that may make a story R. The kids may not be interested, but you can probably listen around them with minimal worry.
  • The Best-Of Feed– New to Escape Pod? Check this feed out if our archives are daunting. We’re going through and cherry-picking your favorite stories and putting them in a feed. We’re starting this one slow, so it doesn’t have a whole lot in it.
  • (And if this is all too much detail for you, the catch-all, no-frills Escape Pod feed is still functioning nicely for our audio and epubs.)

Comic Review: Superior

Issue 1
Written by Mark Millar
Drawn by Leinil Francis Yu
Inks by Gerry Alanguilan
Colors by Dave McCaig
Lettering by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Edited by John Barber
Published by Marvel (Icon)
Out now

Simon Pooni has multiple sclerosis, a body that’s rebelling against him and exactly one friend, Chris. Every week they go and see a movie, every week they chat and every week Simon gets a little sicker, a little further away. What matters though is that for two hours he’s somewhere else, transported away from his body and into the film.

Then he meets Ormon, a monkey wearing a spacesuit, who makes him an offer…

Superior is the latest title from Mark Millar, write of Kick-Ass, Nemesis and numerous other titles and, like every Millar comic, it’s surrounded by a corona of hype and bile that resembles nothing more than a circus tent being set alight by an angry crowd who are paying for the privilege of doing so. Millar is a controversial writer, certainly, but this review isn’t about Millar, it’s about Superior and the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s about that moment of escape where pop culture grabs you and holds you and takes you away with it. That’s the moment the circuit closes, the moment everything is a little brighter, the moment the guitars kick in. Everyone has countless variations on that moment and for me, they’ve included President Bartlet’s first appearance in The West Wing, the final line in Daredevil and Liz Lemon rolling her eyes and yelling ‘Son of a MOTHER!;’ Everyone is different, everyone is right.

Simon’s moment comes when he looks at the movie version of Superior (Endearingly, they’re watching Superior 5) and doesn’t see the old fashioned heroics, hackneyed plots and CGI that Chris does. Instead, Simon sees someone who is strong, upright, capable where he’s not, free where he’s restrained. Superior is everything Simon isn’t and everything he desperately wants to be. What happens when he’s given everything he wants and how it affects his world remains to be seen.

Millar’s script is expansive and decompressed but there’s a sense of weight here, as we deftly get Simon and Chris’ friendship, Simon’s past, his relationship with his mother and Superior’s place in the world neatly established. It feels a little like a movie treatment but that’s more in the subject matter than the delivery and Millar takes to this sort of expansive, almost universal storytelling remarkably well. The art team are on top form, Leinil Francis Yu’s sharp, beefy lines expressive, fast but always detailed and with real weight, all neatly grounded by Dave McCaig’s colours.

All in all, Superior looks beautiful, feels confident and assured and is about as good as first issues come. It’s a good story, well told and that’s all that matters when it comes down to it. Well, that and the spacesuited monkey, that’s the icing on the cake.

Just The Doctor, Thanks

It doesn’t take much of an excuse for me to want to Talk About Doctor Who. Really, it doesn’t. But this is quite a nice love letter to the series from James Parker over at The Atlantic, and I’ll take the chance it presents —

This is all meat and drink to the 21st-century viewer, who has no idea who he is either. We are now entering the era of post-secular television—of Lost and Heroes, of time loops, unearthly powers, chaotic entrances into parallel dimensions—and the Doctor and his wheezing sci-fi are, finally, bang up-to-date.

— to talk about the latest kerfuffle in the Whoverse.

On its face it’s not the worse thing to befall speculative fiction that the Doctor is immortal. On a purely production level, a show that’s been going off and on for about a half century doesn’t seem like it would be tripped up by a little thing like losing the main character (Ahem), but reaction to the change in canon (oddly made in the CBBC’s Sarah Jane Adventures) has been mainly critical on story grounds.

Which seems odd to me, after all it’s not like english literature doesn’t have its fair share of immortal characters dotted across the landscape. The show even has its own character who is, for all intents and purposes, immortal. Perhaps the Doctor will come upon the day where life really does begin to seem like butter over too much bread. In the last season he certainly made it clear that the TARDIS has let him skip the boring days, and that he would have a difficult time living a normal life, without the Daleks to defeat and silences to break. Maybe someday the Daleks’ latest invasion of the galaxy at l won’t be quite interesting enough to stop and he’ll go west, but having the character’s end be of his own choosing or the tragedy of a too-quick death won’t dispel the magic of the story.

That said, it does seem to run counter to the arc of the last few Doctors since the restart, who, despite being on the younger end of the Doctor-Actor range spectrum, have increasingly noted their age and general universe-weariness (though, really, given that Doctor #1 was 950ish, and Doctor #11 is still 950ish, I’m not sure how much he’s actually aged, except possibly emotionally). Perhaps the closest match to an immortal Doctor would be Dream of the Endless (though, let’s face it, in terms of cool-factor he’s probably a bit more of a Death). Immortal characters still have arcs, and given the relatively short time frames of most works of literature it’s hardly like a character’s oncoming death is a critical motivator of plots. For the Doctor, life has always been about constant movement, especially since the loss of Gallifrey.

The focus on the character’s final death misses the fact, entrenched in series since the reboot, that each regeneration is really a death in and of itself. Look at the anguish of Ten’s last few episodes, or the quiet sadness that met the regeneration of Nine. To see the Doctor’s final death as the only real one for the purposes of the story is missing the trees for the forest.

I want Science Fiction Magnets

I feel like my first post of the new Escape-Pod-has-a-real-blog era should be full of originality and in no way derivative of prior works, but we just don’t have that kind of time out on this arm of the spiraling blogosphere.

So this morning I read The Guardian’s quite interesting profile of Insane Clown Posse, which I had honestly thought was actually in the vein of Weird Al Yankovic when I first saw the Miracles video (“F#cking Magnets, how do they work?”) oh so many months ago without any of the needed context (actual Weird Al Yankovic-esque version here). The reality is, as it is so often, much worse.

“Well,” Violent J says, “science is… we don’t really… that’s like…” He pauses. Then he waves his hands as if to say, “OK, an analogy”: “If you’re trying to fuck a girl, but her mom’s home, fuck her mom! You understand? You want to fuck the girl, but her mom’s home? Fuck the mom. See?”

I look blankly at him. “You mean…”

“Now, you don’t really feel that way,” Violent J says. “You don’t really hate her mom. But for this moment when you’re trying to fuck this girl, fuck her! And that’s what we mean when we say fuck scientists. Sometimes they kill all the cool mysteries away. When I was a kid, they couldn’t tell you how pyramids were made…”

“Like Stonehenge and Easter Island,” says Shaggy. “Nobody knows how that shit got there.”

“But since then, scientists go, ‘I’ve got an explanation for that.’ It’s like, fuck you! I like to believe it was something out of this world.”

Now, I’ll hazard a guess that if you’re taking the time out of your busy week to listen to a science fiction podcast that you’re probably a big believer in Science as a source of wonderment.  I mean, it’s given us things like CERN and the National Ignition Facility, both of which have to be some of the coolest science happening within a few dozen parsecs of Earth. But really what the profile reminded me of was Jo Walton’s post over at Tor about the Moon landing and a backyard party:

I was at an outdoor party once. There was a beautiful full moon sailing above the trees, above the whole planet. And there was a guy at the party who proclaimed loudly that the boots of the Apollo astronauts had contaminated the magic of the moon and that it should have been left untouched. I disagreed really strongly. I felt that the fact that people had visited the moon made it a real place, while not stopping it being beautiful. There it was, after all, shining silver, and the thought that people had been there, that I could potentially go there one day, made it better for me. That guy wanted it to be a fantasy moon, and I wanted it to be a science fiction moon. And that’s how the day of the moon landing affected me and my relationship with science fiction, twenty years after it happened. It gave me a science fiction moon, full of wonder and beauty and potentially within my grasp.

Which is is an observation that I’ve turned over in my head many times since I first read it so many months ago. Though I’m quite skeptical that the opposite of science fiction is actually fantasy and not a more modern mysticism¹, but the point is that the stars are no more tarnished by our ability to begin to identify the planets among them in than the myths of the great sea monsters of old are tarnished by our discoveries of the real monsters of the deep. But for some the thought that all is not explicable is comforting, and I’ve always thought that part of science fiction’s job is to break down that belief that wonder is only found with a lack of understanding.


¹Overseeing the slush pile here at Escape Pod I know we get a lot of stories that are edge cases between us and Podcastle, and I’d argue that fantasy as a genre doesn’t really tolerate stories where the explanation for events or occurrences is truly lacking, it’s just that fantasy’s toolkit is a spellbook, and ours is a physics text. The explanation still has to exist in fantasy, whereas with these more modern mystics they seem to prefer no explanation whatsoever, merely the end product at which to marvel.

The Sunburst Award Needs Your Help

I received a note from Helen Marshall who is working on a campaign to save the Sunburst Award, the Canadian juried speculative fiction award. Seeing as how Canada has brought us authors such as Minister Faust, Jo Walton, Spider Robinson, and Cory Doctorow (to name a few), I’m greatly inclined to help them out. Please check out her request and see if you can support their cause! (note the deadline is this friday, so you don’t have much time!)

The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year.

Unfortunately, the Sunburst Awards have run into a hiccup. They do not have enough operating capital to keep going as they currently stand. This sad news comes at a particularly critical juncture in the award’s life–the operating committee is in the process of getting the Sunburst organization registered as a non-profit, and getting it “national arts organization” status.

As part of a fundraising drive to shepherd the Sunburst through this change of status and structure, we’d like to ask fans, writers, editors, and publishers from the speculative fiction community to help raise awareness of this vital institution…

How to Participate

We’re looking for short (30 second to 2 minutes) videos that say what you think about Canadian speculative fiction. These should be interview-style videos in the vein of Speaker’s Corner and can be recorded as simply as with a web camera. Prior interviews or footage can be submitted provided that you have permission to do so. We will host these individually on a YouTube channel (sunburstaward), but will also edit them in order to create a series of short videos to promote awareness of the fundraising campaign. A longer video will be shown at the opening remarks to the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium. Check out what we’ve got so far!

Not savvy with a camera? Send us a high res image of yourself and either a short paragraph in text or a recorded audio track.

Not Canadian? Never fear. If you have something you want to say about Canadian speculative fiction then we want to hear it.

To participate, send your name, contact information, submission and a short release statement giving us permission to use the video/image to by October 15, 2010.

Possible Topics:
-favourite Canadian authors and/or stories
-the relationship between Canadian writing and the rest of the world
-publishing speculative fiction in Canada
-the state of Canadian fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc
-how does Canada inspire your work?
-favourite Canadian settings to use in your writing

Of course, these topics are intended to be a jumping off point. Feel free to think outside of the box. And, above all, show your

To donate directly, visit

What we’re reading: White Tiger by Kylie Chan

White Tiger

Occasionally, the EP staff reads more than slush and short stories. I picked up White Tiger by Kylie Chan at the Voyager party at WorldCon last month and have been eager to check it out. I study Southern Shao Lin kung fu and love stories that incorporate martial arts. I’m starting it today and will report back. (Yeah, it’s fantasy, I can be well balanced. I read both kinds of fiction, science fiction AND fantasy.*)

Recently finished books include The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and The Alchemist and the Executioness, linked novellas by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell. And I do realize that blogging these books will indicate which books I’m sorely behind on reading, but hey, we can’t read everything the moment it comes out, right?

(*Paraphrase of this The Blues Brothers classic line.)