Saturday, July 26, 2008

If I have to wake up screaming from a Stepford-Wives nightmare tonight...

... then you all do too. From boingboing:


Now take a moment to uncurl from that foetal position, and join me in congratulating the winners and honourable mentions from the 2008 Chizine Short Story Contest - in which yours truly was a judge. From Brett Alexander Savory's blog:

Final results!
Here we go, folks. Thanks to everyone for entering the contest! The top three placers will be published at 7 cents per word in the October–December 2008 issue of ChiZine.
  • 1st place: “The Blog at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay
  • 2nd place: “Grave's Edge” by Alex O'Neal
  • 3rd place: “Beyond” by Brenta Blevins
Honourable Mentions:
  • “Angelica's Elegy” by Chris Miller
  • “Fitness Freaks” by Matthew Farrer
  • “The Button Collector” by Stephanie Campisi
  • “Organ Nell” by Jennifer Pelland
  • “Low Tide” by Lisa A. Koosis
  • “El Dorado” by Horace James
  • “The TV” by Ben Loory
There were 231 entries.
My deepest thanks to the judges for taking the time to help us out this year:
  • Cherie Priest
  • Claude Lalumi√®re
  • David Nickle
  • Derek McCormack
  • Nancy Baker
  • Peter Straub

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Karaoke Is Bad For Your Brain...

Saw this one on boingboing, and usually I'd leave it at that. But after checking out the above gateway-drug video, I noticed that the twisted puppeteer of terror Matt Ficner had posted a couple of other, less wholesome videos (do I have to say not for kids? I guess I have to say not for kids). This one:





And this one here:



The Yard is pleased to share.

Monday, July 14, 2008

First time lucky...

... not me, this time -- I'm way past first times for most things that you can safely blog about in these repressive times -- but my pal Madeline Ashby, whose first published story, descriptively titled "In Which Joe and Laurie Save Rock and Roll", made honorable mention in Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction. Madeline's younger than me by, erm, decades, and has now matched me point for point for honorable mentions in the Dozois series. And I am fine with that.

Just.

Fine.

Seriously, though... not having ever had kids, or ever intending to, the opportunities for inter-generational pride are few and far between. And so in that spirit, I present to you: my pal, the doctor.

(Hopefully, this will be a credible enough hit that the web-cred-conscious Ms. Ashby will feel she can have something to link to on her own blog, when she starts in with the justifiable boasting).

Polaris Redux

Well, I'm back now, from my weekend at Polaris -- where we spoke of Balthar's nosebleed and Dexter's fake orgasms; Cronenberg's Dracula and Cordwainer Bird's The Starlost; novels that are too long to sell, and stories that are too short to bother about. All in all, a good, busy weekend out, spent talking to people who could get all of those references without batting an eye. Polaris ain't no literary convention, but it ain't illiterate neither. So there were the giant Klingons and tiny cosplayers that would've been shown the door at Readercon, along with all the talk about the politics of Battlestar Galactica and the dynamics of the short fiction market and other sf-nal things you could want. A feast for the eye and the mind.

Some shout-outs, now, to cool people I met for the first time, like Nebraska sf teen dynamo Shelly Li and Ottawa sf author-entrepreneur Barry Alder, and to old pals like Doug Smith, Peter Bloch-Hansen, Tanya Huff, Peter Watts (who rode shotgun on the dawn and midnight drives to and from the airport hotel), Derwin Mak and Christian Sauvé; and to Sherry Moore, who wing-manned me on the hard-sell of the third copy of The Claus Effect to the even-tempered woman at my, erm, sparsely-attended shall-we-say signing Sunday afternoon. And to Erik Buchanan, author of the new fantasy novel Small Magics, who gamely snagged the first.

And of course a big ovation goes to the organizers of Polaris, particularly Alana Otis and Lance Sibley, who made it all run so smoothly.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Polaris and My Weekend Out

I'm going to Polaris in Toronto this weekend! As a guest! With television actors!

Some explanation may be in order. Polaris is a big old science fiction convention that until Star Trek effectively went away a few years back was Toronto Trek. Now it's a convention devoted to SF with a media slant, with a healthy respect for the writers of written word and lots of good-looking, well-groomed actors. And me, in such dire need of a haircut...

So I'll be there, and I'm on a good whack of programming, and if you want to hear me reminisce about my Starlost days back in the seventies, the subtle charms of Dexter, and why Battlestar Galactica is so fracking great, Polaris is the place to be, at 655 Dixon Road.

Not so far from Pearson Airport.

See, you take the 427 north from the Gardiner, execute a lightning lane change just south of Eglinton, and...

Ah, screw it. Here's a map.

And here's my schedule:

Friday, 7 p.m.
Minimum 400 Pages
Description: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is not a long book. A World of Ptavvs is not a long book. Today, it's not certain that a book under 400 pages can even get published. What has changed? Is it us, or the publishing industry?


Friday, 11 p.m.
Battlestar Galactica: The New Series

Description: What makes Battlestar Galactica so great? How do we feel about it coming to an end?


Saturday, 1 p.m.
Dracula

Description: Dracula is one of the most-depicted characters in the history of film and literature, second only to Sherlock Holmes. Bram Stoker's 1897 novel has formed the basis for countless imitations. Why has this particular character endured for over a century? What are some of your favourite Dracula films?


Saturday, 2 p.m.
Whither The Short Story?

Description: Science Fiction and fantasy short stories used to be a viable business. There used to be competition for the best writers. What ever happened to the short story? Do people need more character development now, or are they just seen as bad value for the money for some reason? Is it a conspiracy of writers? Even if it isn't, should we start spreading that story?


Saturday, 3 p.m.
The Starlost: 35 Years Later

Description: It's been 35 years since the premiere of the first SF series made in Scarborough. Despite its reputation, one of its scripts won a Writers Guild of America Award, it inspired two novels, and now the British watch it on DVD. Why do people still remember this show?


Saturday 11 p.m.
Dear Disturbed Dexter

Description: Season 1 of Dexter was met with great approval by fans and critics alike. Did Season 2 live up to the promise of the first season? Was Lila as interesting a character as the Ice Truck Killer? Did you enjoy the character development for Doakes? Discuss whether you thought this was a killer season or a let down.


In addition to all of this, they've got me down for a reading (one full hour! Holy crap I can read all of Wylde's Kingdom! Or something else!) at 4 p.m. on Saturday. And I'm signing stuff in the dealer's room. So bring your Claus Effect, or prosthetic, or pet turtle; I'll be all with the signatures suitable for collectables and identity theft at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jonathan Coulton and Our Night Out

So yeah - Jonathan Coulton, Superstar of the American Internet, came up to see the Canadian Internet last night. And the Canadian Internet saw him back.

At least we did: we being me, my partner Karen Fernandez, and Peter Watts and Laurie Channer. Karen, who knows her way around a Canon Powershot like no other, shot some video. Which is right here.

It's okay, though; no need to call Jim Prentice.

Coulton does the Creative Commons thing, just like me here, which means doing things like video-recording live concerts and posting them to YouTube does not, even theoretically, subject anyone to a maximum $20,000 settlement.

Putting up the absolutely show-stopping encore cover that he and henchmen Paul and Storm did of Sweet Caroline, immediately flowing from their encore rendition of First of May - that's something else entirely. So you won't get to see Sweet Caroline on this blog. Not until you write to Canadian Federal Industry Minister Jim Prentice, and tell him in no uncertain terms to scrap Bill C-61, you won't.

But enough about politics. Coulton and henchmen Paul and Storm put on one hell of a show at the Lula Lounge July 9. They should come back every Wednesday.

Check out the video. It's Re Your Brains, and it comes right before First of May and that other song you'll never get to hear.

* * *

Update, July 11: But you will get to hear this song, "I Crush Everything," about giant squid and despair -- which goes well with my upcoming deep-sea action novella "Wylde's Kingdom" in Tesseracts Twelve (a project I haven't plugged for a couple entries, I notice):