Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye to the 'oughts...

Well, it's New Years Eve. Soon I will be putting on my ritz-pants for the evening's celebrations. For now, I am working on mid-point outlining for the very secret project of which we must not speak. And also, recalling how much I like Amanda Palmer, and wish I'd made it to a show like this on November 14, 2009 (shot and cut by Michael Pope and BriAnna Olson for mediaVox) in the year that's fast passing:

Happy New Year, apes. See you on the other side.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A quick year-end shout-out for Monstrous Affections

With just days to go before the end of the year, Quill & Quire reviewer Alex Good has put together his 2009 year-end summation at his blog/website Good Reports. There's not a top 10 list, or a bottom 10 list. But there is this:

"It's customary to end the year with a list of highs and lows. I often get asked to suggest names for these and usually pull a blank. This past year was no exception. A couple of new books that stood out, however, were David Nickle's Monstrous Affections and Jason Guriel's Pure Product. An Honourable Mention list would include a half dozen others."

Alex had written a very kind review of the collection in November's Quill & Quire - kind enough that he put a star beside it - so I knew he liked it. But liked it enough enough to make a Top Two list? Man.

Thank you, Alex!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Yule Hits the Yard...

Happy hols, yard-apes - and smoke 'em if you got 'em:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Barely in time for Christmas...

... the second printing of Monstrous Affection ships. Last week, ChiZine honcho Brett Savory let me know that new copies of my ordered-out story collection were in Canadian distributor LPG's warehouse, and should be shipping to those who've ordered 'em Tuesday. Which means that, which has listed the book as 'vanished' for the past month or so, may well have some available for order. This will probably result in a bit of a plummet in the price of copies of the book advertised there from secondary sellers. As I type this, I note that one vendor is selling the thing for $111.48 (plus $3.99 shipping).

As an author, I'm flattered at the price that this bookseller thinks he/she can fetch for a first-printing copy of my book. For a collector who wants a first-printing copy of Monstrous Affections - maybe $111.48 USD plus shipping is a fair price to pay. But if I were a shopper who doesn't put much stock in first printings and just wants the damn book in time for Christmas, I would be mighty ticked to have put down $111.48 USD, only to check back Tuesday and find the book available on Amazon for $14. I would have appreciated a tip-off.

Well consider yourself tipped-off, American shoppers on More MA's are on the way.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Okay. Peter Watts is free right now (although that freedom could well be fleeting). And he is not a squid (although that is what his friends call him).

Nonetheless, I'd like to direct you to Free The Squid, a comprehensive website set up by U.S. fan Chris Knall over the past few days: It's a page that brings together all the information you need to first decide whether you'd like to help Peter defend against charges that he assaulted a U.S. border guard - and then if you do want to help, it tells how to get Peter the money he needs to pay the considerable costs of that defense. It's got news feeds, showing what the news sites and the bloggers are saying about this case - which is plenty. It doesn't have a comments page, because comments have been getting out-of-hand on this situation, and really...

Chris put the whole thing together himself, with no input or approval from Peter and only minimal consultation with me. I would buy him a beer for his troubles, but I'm not going to be in New York for the forseeable future all things considered... so it will have to wait.

Much thanks, Chris. And once again: here's the link.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Radejastians - in your iPod...

Just heard last week from the folk at Pseudopod, that my story in Tesseracts Thirteen, "The Radejastians," will be adapted for podcast sometime soon. This will mark the third story of mine performed on the long-running weekly horror fiction podcast. To get a sense of how it might sound - go listen to the first two, "The Sloan Men" and "The Inevitability of Earth."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction Bookstore is taking donations for Peter Watts

It's been two days since we began fundraising for Canadian sf writer Peter Watts' legal defense - and the response from around the world has been staggering. The money that's come in to date will see Peter financially solvent through the first hump of this ordeal - so thank you, world - but we have no idea, still, how much he's going to need before he's free and clear.

That means we're still at it. And still looking for that "more graceful" way to get money to Peter. Toward that end, Bakka Phoenix Science Fiction Bookstore manager Chris Szego has offered the store's mailing address, for the small but significant number of potential donors who are uneasy about using the PayPal online service and who would rather write a cheque.

Cheques made out to Peter Watts can be mailed to Bakka Phoenix Science Fiction Bookstore at this address:

Bakka-Phoenix Books / 697 Queen St. West / Toronto, Ontario / M6J 1E6

Folks in Toronto can also drop by with cash, and Chris or anyone else on staff there will make sure Peter gets the money.

* * *
Now back to the response. It has been startling, both in terms of donations, and attention. Science fiction writer John McDaid has put together an excellent survey of who's writing about the incident - both mainstream media and blogging - right here.

* * *

(Update December 14). There have been a lot of comments showing up on the various postings about this situation. I'm not weighing in on them - other than to repeat: send money to Peter Watts.

But I am going to link to this one (that very eloquently sums it up), courtesy Robert Ashby (husband of sf writer Madeline Ashby) on her blog, right here.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A small (but significant) correction

I got a detail wrong in the account I gave of Peter Watts' incarceration, in the post below. I had understood that he had been released from custody in Port Huron, wearing nothing but jeans and a denim shirt, during a snowstorm - then walked across the bridge to Canada.

In fact, officials in Port Huron did transport him back to Canada before leaving him there, coat-less and without a vehicle, in a winter storm.

Just learned this fact after talking with Peter again. I've sent the correction off to John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow. I have also posted it here.

Give Peter Watts money

This posting might seem redundant coming as it does at 6 p.m. on Friday afternoon. But I honestly thought that waiting just four or five hours after putting the word out to Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi about my friend Peter Watts' nightmarish legal situation, I would still be timely in posting a plea for help. As it turns out, I am come late to the call for cash to pay for Peter's defense. And the love is flowing.

Nonetheless, I will repost the note that I sent to Cory and John - for those few of you who come here but don't care for Boing Boing and Whatever (if for no other reason than to clarify the possibly-obtuse lead paragraph of this post):

Hugo-award-nominated science fiction author Dr. Peter Watts is in serious legal trouble after he was beaten, pepper-sprayed and imprisoned by American border guards at a Canada U.S. border crossing December 8. This is a call to friends, fans and colleagues to help.

Peter, a Canadian citizen, was on his way back to Canada after helping a friend move house to Nebraska over the weekend. He was stopped at the border crossing at Port Huron, Michigan by U.S. border police for a search of his rental vehicle. When Peter got out of the car and questioned the nature of the search, the gang of border guards subjected him to a beating, restrained him and pepper sprayed him. At the end of it, local police laid a felony charge of assault against a federal officer against Peter. On Wednesday, he posted bond and walked across the border to Canada in shirtsleeves (he was released by Port Huron officials with his car and possessions locked in impound, into a winter storm that evening). He's home safe. For now. But he has to go back to Michigan to face the charge brought against him.

The charge is spurious. But it's also very serious. It could mean two years in prison in the United States, and a ban on travel in that country for the rest of Peter's life. Peter is mounting a vigorous defense, but it's going to be expensive - he's effectively going up against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and he needs the best legal help that he can get.

He's got that help, courtesy of one of the top criminal lawyers in the State of Michigan. We, Peter's friends and colleagues here in Canada, want to make sure he gets the help he needs financially to come out of this nightmare whole.

The need for that help is real. While Peter is a critically successful science fiction writer, he is by no means a best-selling author. Without help, the weight of his legal fees could literally put him on the street by spring.

We can't let that happen. So there's going to be fundraising.

We're going to think of something suitable in the New Year - but immediately, anyone who wants to help can do so easily. Peter's website,, has a link to a PayPal account, whimsically named the Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund. He set it up years ago for fans of the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight and his Rifters books, to cover veterinary bills for the cats he habitually rescues from the mean streets of Toronto. Peter has made it clear that he doesn't want to use the veterinary money to cover his lawsuit. But until we can figure out a more graceful conduit for the legal fund, that's the best place to send donations for now. Just let Peter know that the donation's for his legal defense, and that's where it will go.

Here's the link to the backlist page on Peter's website,, or you can just send a PayPal donation to

The link to the Niblet Memorial Kibble Fund is in the middle of the page. The page also links to Creative Commons editions of all his published work, which he's made available free. Peter would approve, we think, if you downloaded one or two or all of them. Whether you make a donation to the legal fund or not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Monstrous Christmas at the Merril

We drank tea and ate scones and sang Cthulhu Christmas carols and carried on like the risen dead at the Merril Collection - and as a final Christmas miracle, my laryngitic voice held out long enough to render a uniquely terrifying reading of "The Mayor Will Make A Brief Statement And Then Take Questions." As I said to the crowd before the reading, "I am deathly ill and delighted to be here, and that sentence doesn't come up in conversation very often."

Seriously - it was a great time, and in a minute I'm going to craft a thank-you email to the Friends of the Merril Collection for having me and ChiZine honchos Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi as guests yesterday at the afternoon tea. For now, here is a shot (courtesy of Yard Ape Do-Ming Lum) of Sandra Kasturi and I, acting out a scene from Nosferatu, in the original Silent.

-photos by Do-Ming Lum

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Off to the Merril Collection...

... and we'll see how it goes, this Christmas Cream Tea reading. I spent the last couple of days battling laryngitis, and this morning have something resembling a voice. So I'm going to try and read a short story in such a way that won't ruin everybody's Christmas and start a run on returns for the story collection. Wish me luck, yard-apes.

In the meantime, however, I note that the Advent Book Blog has posted my review/pitch of Albert Sanchez Pinol's brilliant novel Pandora in the Congo. It was supposed to be 25 words or less. I seem to have gone a little longer -- by, um, a factor of 10. But that's because it's a good and complex book, and saying, Brits Battle Mole Men, Bed Mole Woman, wouldn't do it justice. The editors have indulged me, and it's right here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kaaron Warren and the pulsing blue intestine...

This came in from author Kaaron Warren (Slights), at the Mind Meld section of SF Signal yesterday, wherein she and other authors of note were asked to pick their favourite things of 2009:

Best short story collection: Monstrous Affections by David Nickle. The cover is creepy, tapping into that visceral reaction we have when the 'normal' is slightly twisted. The stories themselves are also very creepy, drawing you into believable, domestic worlds then showing you the blue pulsing intestines of those worlds.

I have conveyed my gratitude privately - and now do so publicly. Inard-felt thanks, Kaaron!

* * *

Also - for those in the United States and the UK wondering where in the world they can get a copy of Monstrous Affections and other fine ChiZine titles: the news is good. Yesterday, the ChiZine team announced a new distribution deal with Diamond Book Distributors, that will see the books sent far and wide.

I'll let them tell you the rest in their own press release:



TORONTO, Ontario (November 29, 2009) – Building on its deal with the Literary Press Group and LitDistCo, ChiZine Publications (CZP) has signed a deal with Diamond Book Distributors to have its books placed in U.S. and U.K. bookstores.

One of the U.S.'s leading distributors, Diamond distributes to booksellers like Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, WaldenBooks, and Borders. It represents a number of book and comic publishers, including Borderlands Press, Night Shade Books, Prime Books, Subterranean Press, and Random House UK.

"It's another step forward, but a bigger risk," says CZP Co-Publisher Brett Alexander Savory. "Getting books on the shelves means getting those books printed. If they don't sell, we eat that cost. But our experiment with the Literary Press Group worked. Some of our books sold out. So if we're going to grow, we need to be in major markets like the U.S. and U.K."

The announcement comes on the heels of a lengthy article about ChiZine Publications that appeared in The National Post's Afterword literary blog. In the article, Brett, fellow Co-Publisher Sandra Kasturi, and authors David Nickle (Monstrous Affections) and Robert J. Wiersema (The World More Full of Weeping) discuss the origins of CZP and the challenges of being a "genre" publisher at a time when "genre" fiction is assumed to not be "literary" fiction.

Brett says the plan is for CZP titles to be in U.S. and U.K. bookstores by early 2010.


Brett Alexander Savory, Co-Publisher

ChiZine Publications

About ChiZine Publications

ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent publisher of weird, subtle, surreal and disturbing dark fiction. It is the book-length, print version outgrowth of ChiZine (, an online professional market in operation since 1997 focused on the same type of story material. All of CZP’s publications are hand-picked by co-Publishers and Bram Stoker Award-winners Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi. Erik Mohr serves as cover artist and graphic designer, with publicity by Matthew Moore.

About Diamond Book Distributors

Diamond Book Distributors is a division of Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc., and is dedicated to making a wide selection of graphic novels and other pop culture collectibles available to the mainstream book market. For more information, visit Diamond Books on the web at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A show of affection from the Black Quill ..

I just found out yesterderday that Monstrous Affections is on the ballot for the 2009 Black Quill Awards. It is up for a prize in the category of Best Dark Genre Fiction Collection, alongside collections from Dennis Cooper, Robert Dunbar, Tom Cardamone and James Currier.

This award, sponsored by Dark Scribe Magazine, is a young one: it's only the third time out. In the necessarily recent past, it's honored folks like Sarah Langan and Joe Hill (and his dad Steve), John R. Little and Tim Lebbon. This year, it's cast its net to the work of Dan Simmons, Ellen Datlow, Brian Keene and others.

Bottom line: I'm well-stoked to see my name in shadows - particularly such shadows as these - on this list.

Which you can read for yourself, right here.

What an honour!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monstrous Merril Event

A little belated note to those of you in Toronto who either belong to or think you might like to join the Friends of the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy in Toronto, and also want to pick over the sad remains of ChiZine's stash of first-edition Monstrous Affections:

Come to the library's 2009 Christmas Cream Tea this Saturday December 5. It starts at 1:30 p.m. and goes until 4 p.m. And it's at the Merril Collection of course - at 239 College Street, at the very top of the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library.

In addition to the scones and coffee and other snacks, this year there will be me, and Brett Savory, and Sandra Kasturi. We've been invited, you see, as guests. So there'll be a reading and a sale and lots of conversation, as we celebrate the looming solstice with the appropriate amount of festive dread (okay, that last bit wasn't from the official invitation).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I am a sell-out...

Oh, what a misleading header that is, to lead into a report that Monstrous Affections has sold out its first print-run and is going into the second one now. That is what this post is about, though; just three months after the collection hit the bookstore/online retailer/book launch circuit, ChiZine tells me that the last of the books in the first print run are now spoken for. Fortunately for you Yard-Apes who've been slow with the debit-card, there'll be a second edition coming along briskly.

This is very good news: in fact it is the second bit of good news to come along today.

The first went online at The National Post's website this morning. It's a round-table interview by publishing writer Mark Medley, with me, fellow ChiZine author Robert Wiersema, and ChiZine honchos Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi. We go on forever, it seems like, about Canadian horror and the buttery goodness of ChiZine publications, how Robert Wiersema drank himself into a publishing contract and why Pants Are For Company is not the title of my collection.

You can read it all here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Mohr Monster Gets Around...

Monstrous Affections has been getting face-time, as it were, at some pretty high-traffic spots lately. Just last night, I was reliably informed that io9, the sf/f/h news spot, featured a portion of the cover in this posting right here, about the success of independent sf publishers at the end of the publishing world.

And earlier in the week, the Yard's reliable friend boingboing used the Sloan Man's kissable mug to remind the world that all of ChiZine Publications' books are available as affordable, DRM free e-books.

All this has less to do with me and my deathless prose than it does with the devil's-work of boy genius Erik Mohr, who designed the truly deathless cover of Monstrous Affections and indeed has designed all the covers for ChiZine's books.

Erik really is an evil genius. As Tomb-R.O.A.C.H., one of the commenters at Io9, wrote:

"I would call this a post that starts with a image that makes you wanna run away. But the hashtag was too long."


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Big Fat Toronto Book Launch

People came by during the day, different people came by at night, and at the end of it, nobody could accuse ChiZine Publications, me, Robert J. Wiersema or Claude Lalumiere of failing to launch our books in Toronto on Saturday. I don't know about anybody else, but I had a fantastic time, reading and signing and hanging about.

Karen Fernandez, my partner in life and crime, shot some video of my reading from Monstrous Affections, and also took some pictures.

Here we are, Claude, me and Robert, sharing a moment of repose at our signing desk at Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction Books in Toronto:

Here we are, signing at our signing desk:

Here's some video, in which after awhile I get around to reading "The Mayor Will Make A Brief Statement And Then Take Questions:"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monstrous Affections makes a 'long list' at Publisher's Weekly

I figured that periodical was done with Monstrous Affections, but apparently... not quite. Rose Fox, the author of Publisher's Weekly's Genreville blog (and PW's editor for science fiction, fantasy and horror reviews), has put out her Top Books of 2009 list for fantasy, science fiction and horror. And while Monstrous Affections didn't make the top five, it did make the top 10 - or as she refers to it, the long list. The list includes books by people like Robert Charles Wilson, China Mieville, Peter Straub and Ellen Datlow. You can read it here.

This follows on the heels of a very kind, starred review of the collection in Publisher's Weekly, which has had me over the moon ever since it showed up about a month ago. This one has me over... the other moon, that hangs in the first one's shadow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Monstrous Affections goes digital...

There's a new edition of Monstrous Affections out, and this one utterly dispenses with that paper and glue and ink that have come to define all previous editions. This one's all digital, from digital cover to digital cover, and suitable for reading on your i-phone, e-book reader and laptop computer. Dedicated yard-apes may have already read some of the stories here, at The Devil's Exercise Yard's Monstrous Affections sampler page. But there are only a few stories from the collection there.

The whole shebang is available for instant download here, at the wallet-friendly price of $5.95.

It should go without saying that the $20 paper-and-glue-and-ink editions are still available in bookstores in Canada, and on Amazon everywhere else. And there's still a launch happening November 14, and books are available there too -- and if you only bring your digital copy, you can pretty much forget about getting me to sign it.

But still. Digital. $5.95.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Go Lyons!

I actually do not know if William Lyon MacKenzie C.I. has a team called the Lyons. But I do know that the North York collegiate has a weblog called The Lyon. I spent some time on it this morning, reading and reflecting on how much more intelligent and insightful todays teens are, as compared, say, to the crew of hunched-over, dodecahedron-rattling Morlocks that we were when we did basically the same thing with a school newspaper in Richmond Hill some... koff... seven or eight years ago.

Google Alerts sent me to The Lyon just now, because yesterday it posted Ksenia Gueletina's intelligent and insightful - and, not co-incidentally, quite positive - review of Monstrous Affections. You can go read it right here.

It is, I believe, MA's first blog review by a blogger who I do not know personally.

So now, I must find me a suitable pull-quote. Maybe "David Nickle’s particular talent is a subtle integration of the terrifying and the supernatural into an otherwise ordinary setting, but not relying on the supernatural ele­ments of the story to provide the scare."

Yeah. That looks good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hey, it's going to be Halloween tomorrow!

And we've got plenty to be thankful for here at the Yard. The reviews have been good for Monstrous Affections, the writing on the new project of which we shall not speak has been going well, and next week, the Yard will be putting on its best duds and heading off to the Writer's Trust Gala in Toronto...

... and okay, it is true that technically Halloween is not the holiday upon which we give thanks for things. It is more a day to watch videos like this:

Happy Halloween, Yard-apes. Go easy on the brains.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Monstrous Dissection...

... of monsters, in an interesting and provocative way, can be found at the Chronicle of Higher Education today, in Monsters and the Moral Imagination by Steven T. Asma. For long-time monster-afficionados such as we, his revelation that a close reading of Dracula " will reveal not only a highly sexualized description of blood drinking, but an erotic characterization of the count himself," or that the lesson of the Frankenstein movie franchise is "We must overcome our innate scapegoating, our xenophobic tendencies," may seem a wee bit obvious.

But Asma goes on to suggest that the idea of monster might serve as a kind of moral playground for people - that by objectifying threats in a fantastical way, we can imaginatively map out our response to threats, menace and the world as it actually presents itself.

Writes Asma: "The monster concept is still extremely useful, and it's a permanent player in the moral imagination because human vulnerability is permanent. The monster is a beneficial foe, helping us to virtually represent the obstacles that real life will surely send our way. As long as there are real enemies in the world, there will be useful dramatic versions of them in our heads."

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Because while it's true that thinking about how you might deal with a brain-eating zombie that's gotten into your house one night might give you some ideas about how to deal with a burglar who's done the same, the legal and moral implications of taking out human thieves with head-shots are fundamentally different than are those of doing the same to the maggoty brain pans of the walking dead. Given that, I'm pretty sure I'm not anxious to equate monstrous behaviour in our species with fantastical monsters, as Asma does with a band of suspected Taliban members who murdered Malim Abdul Habib, a headmaster in Afghanistan who dared educate girls along with boys.

Writes Asma: "My point is simply this: If you can gather a man's family together at gunpoint and force them to watch as you cut off his head, then you are a monster. You don't just seem like one; you are one."

Drawing lines like those maps out a dangerous country. Because as much as we ought to be outraged by the behaviour of murderers, assigning them mythical otherness is the same thing as denying their humanity. And that is a fast route to bloodshed, a long road to genocide.

Sometimes, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, a monster is just a monster. Or it should be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There Will Be Launching

... a lot of launching in Toronto on November 14. ChiZine Publications is going all-out on their fall lineup, which includes my collection Monstrous Affections, for what amounts to a day-long festival of signing and sipping and chatting, in two very cool locations.

The day starts at Bakka-Phoenix, Toronto's venerable sf bookstore, at 2 p.m. There, Robert Wiersema (The World More Full of Weeping), Claude Lalumiere (Objects of Worship) and I (Monstrous Affections) will hold court with a room full of loved-ones and Bakka-Phoenix regulars.

Robert will leave us after that, but Claude and I and the ChiZine crew will make tracks to The Central, a night-spot on Markham Street near Bloor and Bathurst, to start the evening launch, from 7:30 until about 11.

So there you have it. Plenty of notice. A daytime launch for those afraid of the dark. A nighttime launch for those with unusual allergies to sunlight (you know who you are). And oh yes, addresses:

Bakka-Phoenix is at 697 Queen Street West, just west of Bathurst Street.

The Central is located at 603 Markham Street, also just west of Bathurst Street.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quill & Quire weighs in...

Okay, back to the stupid collection.

Quill & Quire's November edition features a fantastic review of Monstrous Affections (which was starred) in the midst of an also-fantastic piece about ChiZine Publications and its fall releases, Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumière, and The World More Full of Weeping, by Robert Wiersema.

I cannot link to it right now, alas - Quill & Quire does not post their print editions immediately online. But I can certainly quote from Alex Good's very good review.

He speaks very well of ChiZine, which he says in its first year has filled "the homegrown horror and fantasy genre with its own compelling brand of what its website calls 'weird, surreal and disturbing dark fiction.'" He adds: "Most impressive, however, is how good the books have been."

In describing Monstrous Affections, Good maddeningly avoids the quotable tag line. But I am stoked to note that he describes my half-baked Castle-Rock-esque community Fenlan as "a town somewhere deep within a perverted version of Alice Munro country." I will not argue - although this marks the first time the name Alice Munro has been invoked in connection with anything I've ever done. Later on, he suggests that Fenlan is also a bit "eldritch" (look it up, yard-apes!), which is nearer the sort of thing one such as I might reasonably expect from reviewers.

He likes my ability to write central-Ontario mountain man: "The stories work so well in part because of Nickle's facility with the language of the place he's created. He is comfortable writing in different voices, including that of a nearly illiterate young woman in the excellent 'Janie and the Wind,' and he knows the idiom of his semi-rural environment, where a house might stand 'miles outside town, on an ugly flat scratch of land where the grass grew too high and you saw the neighbours by the smoke from their woodstoves in the winter.'"

Then, after heaping praise on Claude and Robert (I will leave it to them to yank quotes for their pieces in their own blogs) he gives Michael Rowe, the author of the introduction to Monstrous Affections, centre stage in articulating a manifesto for Canadian Gothic that puts Robert, Claude, me and ChiZine in the middle of our own little regional literary movement. To wit:

"It is impossible to experience horror - which is a destination, not a departure point - without first experiencing the security of a place, literal or conceptual, from which the ground will fall away, revealing a vast, awful blackness."

Finally Good brings it home, like so:

"In each of these three books, an archetypal Canadian literary setting becomes 'an eternally rediscovered country,' transformed by imagination. In other words: yes, it's Canadian literature. And it's fantastic."

* * *

What I like about this (aside, obviously, from the very kindly-placed star beside Monstrous Affections) is the formally critical eye that Good brings to the good work that ChiZine Publications is doing. Because really, nobody's done darklit in this country with as much care, energy and savvy as ChiZine is doing now. Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi know beautiful books when they see 'em; their designer Erik Mohr knows how to make 'em, and does, with a terrifying consistency of vision.

Darklit (I think this can become a bona fide canlit term, but I'll need your help with that, Yard-apes - spread the term!) has not really gotten its due in this country, in spite of much good work being done in the past. I'm thinking particularly of Don Hutchison, who pioneered Canadian horror in the Northern Frights series of anthologies and is a particular influence and mentor to me, and the aforementioned Michael Rowe, whose Queer Fear series staked out the territory for queer-themed horror fiction in the same way.

But if Don and Michael led lonely wagon trains - lonely by dint of the simple fact that they were editing one book at a time - Brett and Sandra are leading a full-fledged migration, with whole lines of books raising dust on the plains. Early next year, Gemma Files - one of the finest writers of short horror fiction in this country, and probably on this continent - will see her first novel, A Book of Tongues, published under the ChiZine imprint. Douglas Smith, whose fiction is a bit brighter than Gemma's or mine or Claude's, will see his story collection Chimerascope on shelves around the same time. There will be many more.

And Quill & Quire at least, has Alex Good marking a welcome for them, and hopefully paying close attention to their particulars as they arrive.

It's not all about me and my stupid collection...

... it's also, some days, about the Devil's Exercise Yard's honorary Sergeant at Arms, Tom Waits - the razor-throated troubadour who a year and a bit back announced his Glitter and Doom tour's schedule to the usual room-full of reporters.

Well, turns out he wasn't just faking. There was a tour. It went to places more than a day's drive from the Yard, and so the Yard sent its regrets and listened to it on NPR's website. This month, Mr. Waits is releasing a live album based on that tour in two disks: one, a compilation of songs like this one:

... the other, an edit of between-song patter for those who go to Tom Waits shows for the storytelling.

The LP (it comes out on vinyl as well as CD) doesn't show up until November 24. But Waits has offered up a huge dollop of the thing for nothing, at his own website. Eight tracks. For free. Just like the Yard does with short stories.

I have just finished listening to them. I could go on for awhile, telling you about Yodeling Elaine and her dollar-sign medallion; or how exactly you get a cheery rendition of Singapore to play so sweet. Or precisely why Fannin Street makes me weep. Far better, I think, to just give you this link. For free Glitter and discount Doom.

Right here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hey! The Globe and Mail linked to the Yard!

And so the Yard returns the favour, and links back to the Globe!

John Barber, the Globe's publishing reporter, did a little piece on Monstrous Affections' good reception at Publisher's Weekly, and put it up on the Globe's In Other Words books blog. Apparently, this is John's first blog posting in his capacity as publishing reporter, so it is auspicious - and for the purpose, he has made use of the least-flattering picture of me available on the internet, and so it is doubly-auspicious.

Mostly, though, it is freaking cool. Google analytics tell me that there are a goodly number of Globe-heads coming over to see what the fuss is about. Hopefully, if we are very quiet, yard-apes, they will look around and like what they see, and buy many many copies of Monstrous Affections.

In the meantime, here is a more flattering picture of me. For next time.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Publisher's Weekly. Starred Review. Holy Crap.

My publisher, Brett Savory, sent me a clipping this afternoon. It's from a rag called Publisher's Weekly. Apparently they publish book reviews. They published a review of my book. With a star next to it.

Here is what it said:

Monstrous Affections David Nickle. ChiZine (LPG of Canada, dist.), $18.95 paper (292p) ISBN 978-0-9812978-3-5

Bleak, stark and creepy, Stoker-winner Nickle's first collection will delight the literary horror reader. A jarring cover illustration by Erik Mohr prepares the reader for 13 terrifying tales of rural settings, complex and reticent characters and unexpected twists that question the fundamentals of reality. All are delivered with a certain grace, creating a sparse yet poetic tour of the horrors that exist just out of sight. Standout stories include “Janie and the Wind,” where a battered, abandoned woman does what she needs to survive; “Other People's Kids,” a disturbing examination of the razor-thin moment dividing childhood from maturity and the hand holding that razor; and “The Pit Heads,” a phenomenal story about the cold remnants of a Canadian mining town and the true cost of beauty. This ambitious collection firmly establishes Nickle as a writer to watch. (Nov.)


Holy crap.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Radejastians

I have been remiss, yard-apes. Tesseracts Thirteen, the anthology of fearful fables edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell, has been out for a month, and it was only last week that I posted a sample of my story "The Radejastians" on The Devil's Exercise Yard. When Tesseracts Eleven came out, I put up "Swamp Witch and the Tea-drinking Man" months before the book came out. Same deal for "Wylde's Kingdom" and Tesseracts Twelve.

So last week, I put up a little bit of "The Radejastians." It is right here. Perhaps it will persuade some of you to read the rest. Which is available in Tesseracts Thirteen, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Word on the Street

... that being the annual outdoor book/magazine/street food festival that happens this Sunday at Queen's Park Circle in Toronto - not the sly rumor.

I'm going to be there. At CZP's booth, which is #325 (don't worry, they have maps!), trying to convince passing bibliophiles to pick up a copy of Monstrous Affections. I'm not going to be there all the run from 11-6 this coming Sunday September 27. But I'm going to be there for most of it. And the book will be there the whole time. Unless all of you reading this show up before 2 and buy them all.

That would be okay too.

Bob and Dave and Claude's Flash-Flash Fiction Contest

Yes, you read that right. We're having a flash fiction contest, Bob Boyczuk and Claude Lalumière and me. It's part of an ongoing attempt to 1) find and promote new writers of extraordinarily short fiction and 2) get our ChiZine Publications collections of short fiction in front of said writers.

The rules of the contest are spelled out here, but here's the gist: We're looking for really short stories, and we'd like them to be less than 300 words. I myself have never written a story that short, and am not convinced it is even possible. My story The Mayor Will Make A Brief Statement and Then Take Questions is just under 500 words, and it barely makes any sense at all. But I am willing to be proven wrong, as long as the story actually comes in at less than 300 words (we're going to count) and shows up before November 30, 2009. The winner and second and third place entries see their stories published on the CZP website. The winner gets all our story collections: my Monstrous Affections; Claude's Objects of Worship; and Bob's Horror Stories and Other Horror Stories. Second and third place winners get to pick the one they think they'll like best.

So get writing, yard-apes. There's not much time between now and November 30.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monstrous Affections is now available...

Or to put it another way:


Just got back from a lunch-time trip to The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto. And I am mighty pleased to report that the story collection of which you've heard so much, Monstrous Affections, is on the shelf there. To be specific, four very-recently-signed-by-the-author copies are there, in the Science fiction/Fantasy section (apparently there is a cataloging issue that prevents it from being shelved in the Horror section, where it might do better). But no matter: Mortica, the bookseller looking after the department, got me to sign copies, and also the lone copy of The Claus Effect there. And we had a talk about vampire fiction and the relative virtues of Christmas and Halloween and just exactly how cool Erik Mohr's fantastic cover was.

Then she left me alone to snap this picture:

And this one here, of fellow CZP author Claude Lalumiere's debut collection Objects of Worship, over in the "L"s:

Addendum, September 23

After some not-too-obsessive-really noodling around on the Chapters-Indigo site, it appears as though the book is out in quite a few Chapters-Indigo stores in towns, cities and rural power centres across the country. Brett Savory, CZP's honcho, informs me that had I bothered to look, I would have found CZP titles like Robert Wiersema's novella The World More Full of Weeping and Daniel A. Rabuzzi's The Choir Boats at the WBB too. This is because CZP has signed up with the Literary Press Group, which has been pushing ChiZine titles to retailers across the land with fiendish deliberation, to no less dire an end than total world domination. Or failing that, solid market penetration...

And I believe I have erred in linking Morticia to Jessica's blog. But I still want to link to Jessica's blog on sf at the World's Biggest Bookstore. And so I do. Right here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tesseracts Thirteen: Liftoff

The launch of Tesseracts Thirteen - the scary-story edition of the long-running Canadian sf anthology series - was, by all accounts, a shrieking, quivering success yesterday. There was a huge crowd of authors - a somewhat larger crowd of readers (always a good sign at these things) - and a healthily-diminishing stack of books.

Karen took a break from her photographer duties, but our friend Do-Ming Lum snapped a good gazillion shots, which will soon be showing up at EDGE's Totally Tesseracts blog. Here's one he took of all the authors, which should give you an idea of the scope of the thing:

From left to right: Allison Baird, Jean-Louis Trudel, Jill Snider Lum, Edo van Belkom, Kelley Armstrong, David Nickle, Andrea Schlecht, Suzanne Church, Michael Kelly (photo by Do-Ming Lum)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Off to the Tesseracts Thirteen Launch...

... and for those who can't make it, to Bakka Phoenix books, at three, may I present some John Adams. With Lego.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tesseracts Thirteen launches this Saturday

No, it's not a boat, or a rocket, or a tirade. Tesseracts Thirteen is the latest edition of the long-running sf anthology series for and by Canadians, and when I say it launches I mean that there is a big book-selling party in its honor, and it's happening this Saturday.

We've spoken of this before in the Exercise Yard, so I'm just re-iterating for those yard-apes who are late to the game.

The launch takes place at 3 p.m. at the Bakka-Phoenix bookstore in Toronto. It's located at 697 Queen Street West - just past Bathurst. I'll be there, perhaps reading from my story "The Radejastians." Others will too: namely, Kelley Armstrong, Alison Baird, Suzanne Church, Michael Kelly, Jill Snider-Lum, Andrea Schlecht and Edo Van Belkom.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

John McDaid is a mensch...

When I say John McDaid, I mean the John McDaid who blogs tirelessly about Rhode Island politics, who writes science fiction so well he won the Theodore Sturgeon Award for short fiction with his first sale, "Jigoku no mokushiroku", in 1995, and with whom I hang out for one week a year at the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts on the Toronto Islands. When our mutual friends Cory Doctorow and Alice Taylor got married last year, John wrote them this story, (Nothing But) Flowers, and you can read it for free.

Yesterday, he also gave me and my story collection Monstrous Affections a very kind shout-out on his blog, which you can read right here.

Thanks, John!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Monstrous Affections is available for pre-order

Monstrous Affections, the story collection of mine of which you've heard so much, is now available for pre-order at ChiZine Publications*, which is the most righteous way to pre-order the book. You can click right here, make the necessary arrangements, and the book will be delivered to your home / business / anonymous post office box / loved one's domicile, in October.

ChiZine's making all of their books available for pre-order right now, so if you want to buy 'em all, you can click right here and do that too.


* Yes, yes. I know two posts back, I said it wouldn't be available until October 1, after having originally said it would be available September 1. We're all entitled to a couple of mistakes and mistaken corrections of those mistakes now and then. We're also entitled to get it right once in awhile.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tesseracts Thirteen is in bookstores

Actually, it's been in bookstores for a little while unofficially. But now the first-ever terror-themed Tesseracts is officially out from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. Editors of Tesseracts Thirteen are Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell, and contributors include me among others.

There'll be a launch in Toronto September 12; we already spoke of that, one post back. We will do so again, closer to the date.

But bottom line: T13's a beautiful book. My contribution, "The Radejastians," is quite grim. It starts like this:

We three ate lunch outside in the springtime. There was a picnic table under a small tree, well out of sight of the loading docks, and it is there we met: Viktor and Ruman and I. We had all come from the old country, the same old country, and I suppose that marked us... not in the same way, but as the same, all the same.

And it ends up worse.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer's over...

... and how awful it would have been, were it not for having spent the last two weeks of it swimming, canoing, kayaking, not-bear-hunting, finally watching Twilight, and working on a top-secret new project, on a lake near Temagami, Ontario -- that looked like this:

... or for the fact that summer's not technically over until after September 21, and not figuratively over until after Labour Day, really.

And a couple of things are going on, still.

In chronological order, then:

The story collection, Monstrous Affections, Trade Paperback Edition, will be available for pre-order from ChiZine Publications starting October 1. But in the meantime, you can pre-order it through Amazon and Chapters-Indigo. It arrives in October one way or another. To tide yourself over, you can always go read the free stuff here.

(Couple days ago, I posted an announcement in this space similar to this but for the factual error. I'd said ChiZine was selling the book September 1. That was, um, wrong. It's October 1. Which is well after summer's end. But there you go)

September 12, now, is something else again. There's going to be a book launch in Toronto for Tesseracts Thirteen, the scary version of the Canadian specfic anthology co-edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell. I've got a story in it, "The Radejastians," so I'll be there. As will authors Kelley Armstrong, Alison Baird, Suzanne Church, Michael Kelly, Jill Snider-Lum, Andrea Schlecht and Edo Van Belkom.

It's going to be at Bakka-Phoenix Books, September 12, starting at three p.m. Bakka Phoenix is at 697 Queen Street West - just past Bathurst.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Au Revoir, Montreal!

I'm back, from Worldcon in Montreal - and it was a fantastic time. I didn't make it to as much programming as I'd have liked, but there was business to attend to: the launch of my collection Monstrous Affections, along with ChiZine's other fantastic titles; the launch of Tesseracts Thirteen, Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell's entry into the long line of Canadian sf anthologies; and reconnection with a pile of old friends and a bunch of what I hope will be a heap of new ones.

I have some pictures. First, of ChiZine's launch party at the Delta Saturday night.

Author Suzanne Church, and me, debating the merits:

Karen Fernandez (centre) executing a brain swap between Cory Doctorow and Bob Boychzuk:

Author James Morrow and Objects of Worship author Claude Lalumière, talking about me:

The eastern sales representative for the Literary Press Group Jacques Fillipi, ChiZine honchos Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi, and me, brains freshly swapped, at the CZP launch:

Reading at the Tesseracts Twelve launch now.

Nancy Kilpatrick, co-editor, sets it all up:

My fellow Cecil Street workshop member Jill Snider Lum reads from her story:

I read from mine:

CZP publicist and T13 author Matthew Moore, Suzanne Church and fellow Cecil Street workshopper Sara Simmons take it all in:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Science Strikes Back...

Actually, a U.S. District Court judge strikes back. According to an article in the Pensacola News Journal, a little place called Dinosaur Adventure Land is about to be seized by federal authorities, to pay the $430,000 owed to the government by the park's founder, Kent Hovind. It makes me happy and it makes me sad: happy, in that the "theme park" was a low-rent lie that taught children erroneous science to bolster the Hovind Theory, a bizarre offshoot of young earth creationism that claimed dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together 4,000-6,000 years ago, and that the Flood was responsible for what "scientists" think of as the fossil record. It makes me sad because that low-rent lie was one of the most entertaining fibs I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Karen Fernandez and I spent a morning there back in the spring of 2006 - just two days after the municipality had ordered all the buildings shut down because Hovind had refused to obtain building permits. We were left to wander about, shooting photographs and video of the place, briefly meeting the Good Doctor himself. Eventually, we stitched those things together into an amateurish mini-documentary called Kent and I, posted it on YouTube for awhile, and endured a minor amount of internet fame.

A year and a bit back, we pulled the video down, and down it will stay. But in honor of the day (and for fear the government will bulldoze all that wonderful material that Hovind (excuse me, Dr. Dino) assembled) I thought I'd post some of the pictures Karen took that day. Click on 'em for larger images.

Like this one, of Dr. Dino, Kent Hovind (with tarantula and centipede):

Or this one, of one of those building-permit-free structures we couldn't enter:

Or this one, of a display explaining how the Grand Canyon was formed in weeks, not "millions of years":

Or this one here, containing as succinct an explanation of radio-polonium halos, granite, and how it all fits in with young earth creationism, as you'll ever see delivered to small children struggling to understand the universe in which they live:

Ah, Dinosaur Adventure Land, how we'll miss you. Now Pensacola will have to make do with only a world-class naval aviation museum to draw the tourists to the panhandle.

(Thanks to Madeline Ashby for pointing me to boingboing)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My schedule at Worldcon - an addendum

Turns out my schedule at Worldcon this weekend will be a little busier than I'd thought. Since we last weighed in on where I'd be and what I'd be doing there at what time, I've added a couple of panels to the roster: a 10 a.m. Sunday panel talking about the perils and pleasures of collaboration in P513B; and an 11 a.m. Friday kaffeklatsch with members of the Cecil Street Irregulars workshop in 521C.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tesseracts Thirteen Rises...

Here is something else to do with your disposable income at Worldcon next week: buy a copy of Tesseracts Thirteen. The anthology series is going grue for number 13, curated by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell. My story, "The Radejastians," will be in there with stories by these folk: Kelley Armstrong; Alison Baird; Rebecca Bradley; Mary E. Choo; Suzanne Church; Kevin Cockle; Ivan Dorin; Katie Harse; Kevin Kvas; Michael Kelly; Jill Snider Lum; Catherine MacLeod; Matthew Moore; Silvia Moreno-Garcia; Jason Ridler; Gord Rollo; Andrea Schlecht; Daniel Sernine; Stephanie Short; Jean-Louis Trudel; Edo van Belkom; Bev Vincent - and there's an essay on Canadian horror by Robert Knowlton.

It's not going to be in stores until the fall (I believe there's a launch at Bakka Phoenix coming up in September). But you can come get it at Worldcon, where there'll be a launch, on Friday, between 3 and 5 p.m. at the Montreal Delta Hotel, 777 University Avenue, Suite 2815.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Pimping the Book: The Coda

Well, here we are. July 31. Those of you who RSS this blog may get this final, desperate pitch in time to act. For the rest of you, this posting represents a somber coda for this journey of book pimpage we've all endured - er, enjoyed.

Today, sales for the collectable signed, limited edition hardcover of my story collection Monstrous Affections ends at Horror Mall. If you are very quick with a mouse, modem and paypal account, you may still be able to order it by clicking here. After today, the collectable edition of this collection becomes, well, collectable.

But if you read this post on, say, August 1 (or later today when Horror Mall knocks down the link) don't despair. Attendees at Worldcon next weekend can pick up a much less collectable and much more affordable trade paperback at the ChiZine launch (or at their booth in the dealers' room for that matter). And later in the year (much later) Canadian readers at least will be able to pick it up in bookstores, as I am reliably informed by the publisher that it has already been pre-ordered by some.

And I can attest to the fact that the book is indeed real. On Wednesday night, I got hold of my author copies of the trade paperback. It is, by the unusual standards which writers such as myself apply to things, very beautiful. So beautiful that I took this picture:

So there you are. One pimping spree ends, another begins. It's the cycle of publishing.

Related Links: Monstrous Affections Pimpage Page , Information on the ChiZine Launch @ Worldcon, Peter Watts Likes Monstrous Affections, My Interview With Claude.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it that time already?

Time does fly, when you're procrastinating about buying a limited edition of my story collection Monstrous Affections. Here we are, at about the end of July -- two months after the collector's hardcover went live at The Horror Mall. Soon, it will be live no longer, and the opportunity to purchase said hardcover will be gone. Forever.

Feeling the intense pressure yet? If you cannot stand it anymore, click here and order up a book. It'll show up later this year, signed by me, high-end cover-artist Erik Mohr and Michael Rowe, who wrote the introduction.

If it turns out you don't have the coin set aside for the $50 edition, though, don't despair. Soon you'll be able to pre-order a handsome trade paperback edition for under $20 from the same folks. Even sooner, if you're attending Worldcon in a week, you'll be able to pick up one of those trade paperbacks at the ChiZine launch (see the post immediately below).

It will have everything but the binding and the signatures. If you're curious about what 'everything' entails, by all means check out the sampler currently up at The Devil's Exercise Yard.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Notes from the Island...

Hello, landlubbers. I am writing this from a room at the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts, on the Toronto Islands, currently quarantined by a long-running municipal workers' strike that has stopped the ferries from running. The Islands, for those of you not from around here, are a Village-like setting on city parkland just off the coast of Toronto. Gibraltar Point is the site of a former lighthouse (reputed to be haunted) opposite which there is a former school, that has been transformed into an artist's retreat. I am stranded here with a bunch of artists, and a bunch of sf writers, for a week of writing.

Scroll down, and there are pictures. But first, a bit of business.

There are about 11 days left during which you might purchase Monstrous Affections, my story collection, in its limited-edition, somewhat-more-costly-than-you-might-be-used-to glory. After that, a much less expensive trade paperback will be available from ChiZine, and much afterwards, you might possibly find it in fine bookstores across the nation. So if you want a beautiful signed edition that's cloth bound and don't mind paying for it, now's the time to order. Go here.

You can also, if you're at Worldcon in Montreal, pick up that less expensive trade paperback Monstrous Affection at the ChiZine Publications launch. It's a special, Worldcon-only offer. More info here.

Or you can wait.

And now... The desert Island.

We arrive, via water taxi, through the deserted lagoon not far from the Hanlan's Point clothing-optional beach (me, Madeline Ashby, Janis O'Connor):

The Mysterious Pumping Station (under heavy guard, we are told):

The orchid that would not die:

The Hell Goat of Centreville:

The Haunted Lighthouse:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Phyllis Gotlieb died this week

I got off the phone with her son Leo - and that was one thing he was very clear about: don't say Phyllis passed away, or passed on. She wouldn't have tolerated that kind of imprecise, beating-'round-the-bush talk about something as straightforward as death.

So Phyllis died, at 83, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto after what had been a successful surgery to deal with a burst appendix.

Phyllis was a friend and a colleague, and in an important way, an ancestor. She was a science fiction writer who managed a 50-year career selling stories of space travel and aliens and mutant children from her hometown - something that was until the past couple of decades very unusual, to the point you might call her a pioneer. Or, if you do this kind of thing yourself, an ancestor.

Her first novel, Sunburst, was honored by the naming of the Sunburst Award. She wrote many more - the last of which was published in Rob Sawyer's imprint just two years ago. She was also a poet of some reknown.

I work as a reporter for a chain of Toronto community newspapers. So when I heard about Phyllis' passing, I called my editor and told him I'd like to write an obituary in her local paper. And that's what I spent part of today doing. I got in touch with Leo, and also with Calvin, Phyllis' husband of 60 years. I will be honest and say I knew the two of them only a little. But when I saw them together, at conventions or get-togethers such as we in this community have, I was always moved by the love and care they took with one another. Calvin told me, "she was the love of my life," and I believe that he was the love of hers.

It was a pretty tight deadline. I couldn't get as much into the story as I'd have liked. I'd hoped to have gotten a comment in from Rob Sawyer, her last editor, but he was out of town and didn't get my email until the deadline was past. He sent me some quotes anyway, to redact any way I wished. They got redacted right out of the story.

So here they are, unredacted:

Phyllis Gotlieb was the mother of Canadian science fiction, and a great inspiration to me. She was a founding member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America -- the only Canadian in that group when it started in 1965. She was proof of concept that you could live in Toronto and still be a science-fiction writer for major American publishing houses; if I hadn't had her as a role model, I'm not sure I ever would have embarked on the career path I took.

We'd been friends for 30 years -- I met her in 1979 when my high-school science-fiction club had her as guest of honour at a little convention we put on at Northview Heights Secondary School. She was feisty and opinionated and passionate then, and she was still all those things the last time I saw her, not that long ago. One of my greatest professional thrills was getting to publish her final novel, Birthstones, in 2007, under my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint for Markham's Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

Phyllis Gotlieb. I would say 'rest in peace.' But that might be too fussy for her taste as well.

So I'll just say it simple: she's missed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Polaris: the con that heals heels

There's no objective evidence at all, of course, that the 10K run I did this afternoon, after 10 months being down with a very nasty heel spur, had anything to do with the curative powers of Polaris, the media-centric sf convention I attended in Richmond Hill this weekend. And yet...


  • Coming up with the outline for a story about a physician/native American chief who battles aliens from other dimensions in 1950s America;
  • Getting set straight on my misgivings with the artistic choices of Zack Snider by a room at least half-full of people who thought The Watchmen was a pretty good movie;
  • Being taught the error of my ways in wondering why rich people would spend an extra $11 million to use the mind-wiped victims of Dollhouse when they could buy the services of the very best prostitute in the world for $10 million less;
  • Driving each and every attendee of the Edgar Allan Poe in Movies panel from the room before the 25-minute mark;
  • Learning that it's not correct to say that Sookie Stackhouse is necessarily dumb about vampires but merely naive (and that by the evidence of the very enthusiastic young fan in the front row, I am not the only one who thinks True Blood is a pretty fine television program);
  • And meeting up with cool folks like Gemma Files and Erik Buchanan and Douglas Smith and Michelle West and Julie Czerneda and Ursula Pflug and Michelle Rowen, and many, many others...
... I came home with a notably heel-spur free heel, tried a run, and did a good 10K around the portlands, laughing like a mountain man all the way.

There's no objective evidence, but I'll still credit Polaris and the very attentive and helpful crew of volunteers that brought the whole thing off.

Be heeled indeed.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Polaris 2009: My Schedule and Welcome To It

That's right - I'll be at Polaris this weekend. Polaris being the CRT-and-LCD-focussed media sf convention where we talk about television and the movies and a bit of the fiction. I have panels, and a reading, and a signing, in my home-town of Richmond Hill this time. It is at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel, at Highway 7 and Highway 404. And I have a pretty packed schedule (particularly Saturday evening).

Here's how it looks:

Friday 11 p.m. the Aurora Room

We Steal an Idea from Harlan Ellison

Description: Harlan Ellison wrote a story in which a professional writer tries to turn submitted ideas into awesome. It nearly drives him mad and only stopping an alien invasion keeps him from losing it. Anyway we're doing it with our professional panel to see if it drives them mad. I mean if it's fun/helpful.

Panelists: David Nickle, Erik Buchanan, Ursula Pflug, Timothy Carter

* * *

Saturday 2 p.m. the Dealer's Room

Me. Signing Claus Effects.

* * *

Saturday 5 p.m. the King City Room

Who Watches The Watchmen? We Do!

Description: Who watches the Watchmen? Now that you've actually seen the film, what do you think of the giant squid at the end?
Area: Comics, Film, Superheroes
Programming Team Member: Tessa Wojdylo
Panelists: Rob St. Martin, David Nickle (M), Jonathan Fine
Scheduled day/time: Saturday 5:00 PM

* * *

Saturday 6 p.m. in the Unionville Room

Me. Reading a story. I'm thinking "The Sloan Men."

* * *

Saturday 7 p.m. the Aurora Room


Description: "Dolls" can be anyone. Their personalities wiped clean, each doll is a clean slate. This leaves the doll the ability to have new personae imprinted on them once they're hired out. But once they return to the dollhouse, their minds are wiped and they return to a childlike state. What is the mystery shrouding the Dollhouse, and its shady ways?

Panelists: David Nickle, Douglas Smith, Justin Mohareb, Theresa Gesswein-Jusino, Samantha Daigneault

* * *

Saturday 8 p.m. the Gormley Room

Buried Alive! Poe In Pictures

Description: 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of horror master Edgar Allan Poe. Roger Corman directed several films based on the Poe's work, and it can be said that Poe would not be nearly the horror figure he is today without Vincent Price mugging his way through The Fall Of The House Of Usher and The Pit And The Pendulum, or old drunk Peter Lorre whooping it up in The Black Cat and The Raven. Celebrate Poe's birthday by reflecting on Corman's adaptations. Which were the most faithful, and which left you wondering... dude, where's my raven?

Panelists: Matthew LeDrew, David Nickle, Patrick MacDonald

* * *

Saturday 10 p.m. the Stoufville Room

True Blood

Description: God Hates Fangs. At least in the south, he does. Sooki discovers that fang bangers have all the fun, until everyone she knows starts to die on her. Join us for a general discussion of this fangtastic show. (And more puns on the word "fang").

Panelists: David Nickle, Michelle Rowen, Theresa Gesswein-Jusino, William Godfrey, Penny Lipman

* * *

Sunday 10 a.m. The President's Boardroom

Canadian Writers rock it harder than a hockey puck covered in maple syrup being eaten by the Queen

Description: Let's face it, Canada has great writers who are producing amazing books. What? You aren't sure? Then come to this panel and get your head re-threaded right and discover all that Canada has to offer, bookwise.

Panelists: Kate Story, Julie E. Czerneda, Ursula Pflug, David Nickle