Thursday, December 30, 2010

Black Gate is optimistic about Eutopia....

It's some months still before Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism hits shelves and mailboxes around the world. But Sue Granquist over at Black Gate is already anticipating its release in a very kind way, right here.

Sue also singles out my pal Claude Lalumiere's The Door To Lost Pages, which is coming out around the same time from ChiZine Publications.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Feeger Sisters Dance Up A Storm

Regular yard-apes may recall a post or so ago, I let on that my dad, Canadian Landscape painter Lawrence Nickle, would soon be illustrating the special signed, limited edition hardcover of my novel Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism.

Well, now that the snow's set in at the North Pole (a.k.a. Burk's Falls, Ontario), dad's started in on the work, and fast as he can sketch them, his friend Bill has been scanning it and interwebbing the exquisite drawings south, to me.

To whet your appetite, I've included above, Illustration #4 - an illustration depicting the Feeger Sisters, and their improvisational dance of supplication to the Old Man, a mysterious fellow who dwells somewhere deep in Trout Lake, Idaho.

There are many more illustrations, but the only way to see 'em all is to go order the special collector's edition of Eutopia. You can do it here, at The Horror Mall.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eutopia - available for pre-order

It has only been a couple of days since we finished the proof-reading of Eutopia, my novel about eugenics and gunfighters and monsters. But already, it's up for pre-order here, at The Horror Mall, in it's high-end, $50 collectable hard-cover edition.

There's a more affordable trade paperback that will be available at the same time (mid-April, 2011). But the hardcover is a limited edition of 150 copies, and having just negotiated it today, I can pre-announce that the hardcover will include illustrations by Lawrence Nickle - a Canadian landscape painter of great regard, who is also, by no coincidence, my dad.

The illustrations won't be in the trade paperback - that's going to just be text with a couple of clever graphics. So if you want to get a book with Lawrence Nickle illustrations, and you have $50 in your pocket - there's only one way to do it, and that's to pre-order Eutopia from The Horror Mall.

It won't be the first time that Nickle artwork has illustrated a Nickle story - the paintings below have been illustrating my story The Pit Heads since 2007.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tesseracts Is Coming To Town

This weekend, I believe the Santa Claus Parade will be kicking up heel in downtown Toronto. Well too bad for Santa. This weekend is also a big celebration for Tesseracts and Edge, at once here in Toronto and Alberta. Tesseracts is, of course, the long-running sf/f anthology series that began when Judith Merrill edited what would have been Tesseracts One if she'd only had the foresight.

I make a little joke. Judith had all kinds of foresight. And in editing that anthology, she effectively gave birth to Canadian speculative fiction, by giving it a venue. Before On Spec, before TransVersions, before Northern Frights and Queer Fear and countless other Canadian sf anthologies... there was Tesseracts.

There are fourteen volumes to the series. Some were published by Tesseracts Books, an imprint run by Candas Jane Dorsey, and some time ago taken over by EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing, Brian Hades' imprint.

Well on Friday, at SFContario, we're going to be launching #14 - edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Alexander Savory, and hosted by me. My story, Basements, is in the collection. It is (let me count...) my seventh Tesseracts story. 

But this is more than the launch. Old-timers like me will be on hand to read from older Tesseracts stories. We'll reminisce. We'll argue over chronologies. It will be like the Legion for SF/F, only without the cheap beer.

It all starts Friday night at eight, in the consuite of SFContario.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Care And Feeding of Horror

For those of you who missed CZP's Speculative Fiction Colloquium last month - here is some video, of my entire talk: The Care and Feeding of Horror: How a Very Unpleasant Emotion Became a Very Unstable Genre.

This video has been made available by CZP and the Chiaroscuro Reading Series. For more information on next year's Colloquium or to donate, visit

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Miles Nickle Fernandez - 2006-2010

A moment of silence, for Miles - the four-year-old black tabby who carved a groove on my shoulder and a deep, infected gouge in my heart. As you can see by the picture above, he was an agile, merciless little familiar of a cat - named for Miles Davis, so as to make a matched set with his lifelong house-mate Dizzy.  Miles was never a picture of health - he spent the first few months of his life locked in a room while he worked the ringworm out of his system. He never did get rid of the feline herpes, so endured a life-long bout of the sniffles that, while endearingly cute, would have driven any lesser cat insane.

Miles was not insane. What he was, was deeply and persistently affectionate. He liked shoulders best, but he was also fond of waking up his humans with a relentless kneading-of-the-bladder, or a damp, snotty head-butt. He ate head-phone wires like licorice, and refused to pay for the replacements. But no one complained. Everybody loved Miles. Miles loved everybody.

He died Friday night, after a week in the tender and competent care of The Animal Clinic in Toronto.  There was something with his kidneys - to the end, no one could figure out precisely what. But whatever it was, it wore him down, and wore him out, and by dinner time Friday, it was time.

He was cuddled by the people who loved him most for hours before that time came.  A whole day. Then the results of his last blood test came, showing that there was only really one course.

The veterinarian warned us about various indignities we might witness: he might twitch, or yowl, or void his bladder when the anaesthetic overdose took effect.

He was quiet. He was still. And having thoughtfully insisted on using his litter box just minutes before the veterinarian returned, he was dry.  He finished his life with immense dignity, in the loving arms of his humans. And that's something.

Miles Nickle Fernandez.  Four years old is too damn young.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Eutopian cover...

Here it is, in its hideous glory: Erik Mohr's cover art for my novel Eutopia, which blends the early American eugenics movement, industrial utopianism and terrible monsters, and of which you have read so much in past postings.

Erik is the evil genius responsible for my story collection Monstrous Affections' cover, and it's clear that he's decided to continue the motif of hideous deformity with this one. That continuation may have something to do with my own motif of hideous deformity, but we will leave that discussion for another day.

This cover is exquisite, though. I am anxious beyond words to see how it looks on shelves, in bookstores mid-April 2011.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Now this is a book trailer...

Not my book trailer - but this one's worth sharing. Bruce MacDonald (of Highway 61 and more to the point, Pontypool fame) shot this trailer for Tony Burgess' new book out of CZP, People Still Live in Cashtown Corners.

So turn down the lights, yard-apes. And prepare to be un-eased.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Care and Feeding of Horror

Apologies for the radio silence here at the Yard. But here we are, just days before I'm to appear at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium at Hart House, and here I am, posting about it.

The colloquium is taking place in Hart House at the University of Toronto - and the day long event will feature talks by a bunch of authors more famous and well-regarded than I... along with I.
I will be on stage twice. Once, at 10 a.m. when I will deliver my talk, The Care and Feeding of Horror: How an Unpleasant Emotion Became an Unstable Genre. The title says it all, but I'll be saying a little bit more than that for a half hour to start things off.

Later, there are readings... for me, much later. I'm listed as the last reader of the evening. I expect I'll be reading from Eutopia, the novel that will appear in April of 2011 from CZP.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SF Contario

In November, I'll be at SFContario, helping inaugurate this new Toronto science fiction/fantasy convention. I've got a schedule - with readings and everything you might hope for. And here it is:

Friday 8:00 PM Gardenview
Small Press Publishing.
How do you get started in small-press publishing? What's the current
market like and what role does the small press play in it? Why should
writers send their stories to the small press? (Gabrielle Harbowy,
Sandra Kasturi(M), David Nickle,  Rene Walling, Brett Savory)

Saturday 10:00 AM Ballroom A
Getting It Done
Writers share their tips on time management and techniques for getting
to work on the days where nothing is working -- whether it's from
writer's block, a hectic schedule, or sheer ennui - to get the job
done. (Alison Baird, Karen Dales, Elizabeth Hirst,  David Nickle,
Caitlin Sweet(M))

Saturday Noon - Autograph session

Saturday 5:00 PM - Gardenview
Learning to write
Is it possible to learn how to write? Why does Clarion enjoy such a
great reputation when the fact is that two-thirds of those who attend
it never publish a single word professionally? Aren't writer’s
workshops just the blind leading the blind? What should you look for
in a creative-writing course? Will you learn more about writing by
reading the dozen or so good books out there on how to write SF, or by
reading a dozen true classic novels, such as To Kill a Mockingbird and
The Catcher in the Rye (Ed Greenwood, Ira Nayman, David Nickle, Tony

Sunday 11:00 AM - Kaffeeklatsch

Sunday 1:00 PM - Ballroom A
Will No-one Free Me From This Troublesome Book?
You’re past the halfway point on that novel you’re writing and you
feel like you’ve been working on it forever. Future chapters stand
before you and taunt you in your sleep. How do you keep going to the
end? Writers share their tips on time management and techniques for
getting to work on the days where nothing is working. (Stephanie
Bedwell-Grime, Karin Lowachee, Violette Malan(M), David Nickle)

Sunday 2:00-2:30 PM - Reading.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Kind of Face You Hate

It's an appropriate title for a blog taking a look at Monstrous Affections, don't you think? Brett at CZP pointed me to this thoughtful review of a couple of stories in Monstrous Affections - and of the cover, which I would say is more The Kind of Face You'd Hate To Love.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eutopia is an April release...

Eutopia is my upcoming novel, acquired some time back by ChiZine Publications. It's a novel about the early American eugenics movement, utopianism, and a terrible monster - taking place for the most part in May 1911.
Well it turns out Eutopia will be hitting shelves just one month shy of the story's centennial. ChiZine's announced its spring 2011 line-up, and Eutopia's coming out April 15.
There will be lots of goodies coming in the months leading up to that date: viral videos, provocative blog postings, perhaps a website ... a jar of guts. To keep you going in the mean time, here is a tiny scene, presented without context or explanation:
Jason brought the candle down the steps. The space in here had been dug out of the ground and lined with fieldstone and timber. the ceiling was a low, whitewashed arch. Air circulation was bad in here, and the few times Andrew had been down before he'd always had the uneasy sense that he was about to suffocate.
"Sure are a lot of jars here," said Jason.
"This is where the hospital keeps its specimens," said Andrew. "Someone's foot gets amputated -- we pull out some kidney stones -- even if we cut out an appendix. It all goes here in a jar."
"Every time?"
"Not every time." Andrew squinted at a line of jars filled with stones of various sizes. Thin sheets of effluvia drifted in the yellowish liquid. "But when there's something remarkable about it. Something worth writing down. Then yes, we keep it."
Jason looked hard at the jars. "Should be a lot of jars like that around here. They're labeled and everything. What're we looking for?"
"Not kidney stones from M. Cunningham," said Andrew.
"Nor a testicle from L. Wharton," said Jason. "A testicle! He can't be too happy with how his life's carrying on."
Andrew chuckled. "I remember that one. I think he's happy enough these days. See how big it is?"
Jason looked closer. "I thought that was just the magnifyin' effect of the glass."
"Oh no. In fact, it looks like it has contracted since the surgery."
Jason whistled. "How'd a fellow walk, dragging something like that between his legs?"
"I wondered that too. And so I removed it."

It goes on like that for pages.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My pal, the author...

This post should, I hope, prove once and for all that this blog is not just about me, me, me. It is also about my friends: this morning, convicted felon and now Hugo-winning sf author Peter Watts. I got this news from various sources in Australia and beyond, where Peter lost a bet and actually won the Hugo for Best Novelette, for "The Island" last night. It was originally published last year in New Space Opera 2 (ed. Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan). I had the misfortune of critiquing the story before it came out, and finding the only lack in it was that it didn't have a Hugo award.

I'm glad to see that Peter has finally corrected my one significant quibble. My opinion's obviously worth something.

You can read the story, at, Peter's website, right here. You'll see what I mean.

Thanks to Allan Weiss, for sending along this photo from Australia, taken after the ceremonies. I'm assuming he took it, so let's say he did.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rumors of My Publisher's Demise have been Greatly Exaggerated (in 140 characters)

This is a public service announcement (and also a helping-ChiZine-deal-with-sloppy-tweeting announcement).

ChiZine Publications, the publisher of my story collection Monstrous Affections and my forthcoming novel Eutopia, is doing just fine. So's their parent webzine, ChiZine. You wouldn't know it if you were a-Twitter today, when a fiend bastard sloppy Twitterer posted a note that ChiZine is shutting down. Perhaps it is an honest mistake - earlier this month, Dorchester Publishing let go Don D'Auria, the editor responsible for the Leisure Horror line, and announced they're going into print-on-demand and ebooks. Many presume this means that's it for Dorchester, which has in the past sponsored ChiZine. So presumably, said twitterer thought that might be it for ChiZine the webzine, and further surmised that CZP is also in the toilet.

Oh, the presuming! My, the surmising! Ye Gods, the unsubstantiated crap!

Don't believe me? Here's what CZP posted on their website, which you can link to here:

A Note From the Publishers of CZP

Recently, Leisure Books, due to financial difficulties, had to cease its sponsorship of There is a note up on explaining the details, but this has no effect on ChiZine Publications. The sponsorship agreement never covered CZP, and CZP never had any business relationship with Leisure—we're not an imprint or subsidiary; we are a privately held company. Rumours we are going out of business or in financial trouble are completely false. If anything, based on advance numbers for our Fall books, we're doing better than ever. Don't miss our October 22nd Toronto Fall launch! —Brett & Sandra, Co-Publishers

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Revenge of the Hell-Skull

Long-time yard apes may recall some trouble awhile back, when we reported the theft of a prized artifact from the Nickle-Fernandez back deck: the Hell Skull of Goran.

It was a deliciously evil sculpture by a once-local sculptor name of Goran, and it was going to be hellaciously, as it were, difficult to replace. The Yard lamented the loss of the Hell Skull, and brought down Hell Skull Curses on the thief who took it.

And that might have been it. But this past weekend,  on the way through Burks Falls from Temagami, we stopped at dad's place -- where he had pretty much finished making drawings and oil paintings and watercolours of what has become known as the Hell Skull 2.*  So we brought it home.

And now, all is right on Heaven, Earth and the Other Place.

* Yes. It is a bison skull. Bison are not minions of Hell, but rather agreeable big herbivores who are harder to come by than they once were. Play along, yard apes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Words in the Wilderness part 2

It's been a week since we drove up to Sudbury to take part in Words in the Wilderness' maiden voyage - and at last, we have downloaded photos. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to sing the praises of the little literary festival that will hopefully become a regular thing in years to come.

It will have finished up now - events were taking place all last week - but the big day for horror fiction was Sunday. That's when local author Sean Costello stepped up at the Creative Spark gallery to talk about his new novel - then Gord Rollo, Ken Lillie-Paetz, Rob Sacchetto and I waxed horrific for two solid hours about horror fiction and us. The audience was small but enthusiastic. I think they liked us - everybody sold a lot of books - and I certainly liked them.

The organizers, primarily in the persons of Ken Lillie Paetz and his wife Jenn, treated Karen and I like the royalty we aren't, putting us up in luxurious digs at the Best Western Sudbury and treating us to a very fine Sudbury Saturday night on the town (if you're in town, have some pizza at Respect is Burning, and try the terrienes at the Fromagerie). The mayor of Sudbury didn't show for us, but he was there the day before we arrived, to kick off the festivities. Hopefully we'll meet up next year, for the second annual Words in the Wilderness festival.

Here are some pictures, courtesy of Karen Fernandez:

At top, Ken, Rob, me and Gord get started on the stories of our own unique acquisition of the horror jones; the conversation continues; I read; and so does Gord Rollo. The audience listens intently.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Alasdair Stuart is a Suave Dude...

I first learned of Alasdair as the genial Serling at the horror podcast Pseudopod, introducing some fine, terrifying horror stories, and also three of my own. He seemed like a very suave dude in podcast - and this spring, when we met up in Brighton at the World Horror Convention, it became clear his suaveness was not limited to the podcasting world. Alasdair is also an editor, of the U.K. sf online 'zine The Hub, and a blogger, for SFX, the British sf / f / h newsmagazine.

Well, one thing led to another - and before I knew it, I was back in Canada and we were conducting hot man-interview over email. We spoke of Captain Scarlet and Harlan Ellison, horror movies and short horror stories, and Eutopia, my forthcoming novel. Alasdair put it together, in a neat package.

And now it's up. At SFX. Right here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Words in the Wilderness

This just in: I'm heading north in a couple of weeks, to talk horror, literature and blackflies in Sudbury, at the brand-spankin'-new Words in the Wilderness Literary Festival. It's being organized at least in part by Ken Lillie-Paetz, and it's a week-long festival to draw together writers and artists and readers from across Ontario.

I'm doing my bit on Sunday July 25, from 3-5 p.m. at the Rainbow Cinema in town. There'll be a reading and some talk, and some book-selling-and-signing going on.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Polaris File...

It is that time again - the height of the summer, when our heat-poached brains turn to television and movies and bright, exciting stories presented in a variety of dimensions. Also Polaris - the media-favouring Toronto sf convention that is taking place weekend after this one, in Richmond Hill. For the past few years, they've been letting the writers in - writers including me - along with the stars.

Polaris is taking place July 16-18 at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel - roughly at Highways 7 and 404. For directions and other miscellany, click right here.
I'll be there all three days, talking up Supernatural and Lost and Dollhouse, a bit about publishing, and also reading and signing.

Here is my schedule.
I will be reading, probably from my upcoming novel Eutopia, possibly a short story,  at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in the President's Boardroom

A post-series discussion of the mythology of Lost.Colleen Hillerup (M), David Nickle, Robert Smith?, Nikki Stafford, Lance Sibley
Scheduled day/time: Saturday 1:00 PM

  Is the Internet — with web distribution, e-books, and buying of books online — going to kill the publishing business? What about authors and independent booksellers?
Panelists: Kenneth Tam (M), David Nickle, Rob St. Martin, Karen Dales, Robert J. Sawyer
Note: No more Panelists are being accepted for this Panel.
Scheduled day/time: Saturday 5:00 PM
A discussion of the plot and character advancements in the second (and final) season of Dollhouse. What did you think of how it ended? What could have been done better?
Panelists: Samantha Daigneault (M), David Nickle, Michelle Rowen, Sheena Callighen
Scheduled day/time: Saturday 6:00 PM
 A discussion of the ethical and technological ideas presented in the most recently cancelled Joss Whedon show, Dollhouse.
Panelists: Samantha Daigneault (M), David Nickle, Julie E. Czerneda, Christin Milloy, Douglas Smith
  Scheduled day/time: Saturday 10:00 PM
Lucifer is risen, God is AWOL, and both Angels and Demons are ready for their last dance of the night. As the armies get into position there is more to Sam and Dean than mere hunters. Discuss the brothers' roles in the coming apocalypse.
David Nickle, Kelley Armstrong, Gemma Files, Sheena Callighen, Suzanne Church
Scheduled day/time:
Sunday 12:00 PM

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I have no empirical evidence, but I'm going to guess that most regular Yard-apes are not regular perusers of No More Potlucks, the Montreal-based online culture journal. So I commend you to my story "OOPS," just now gone live in their Mea Culpa issue. Guest-editor Mariko Tamaki approached me to write a Mea Culpa story - and I wrote this one, which starts something like this:

   A little electric contraption inside played a song every time you opened it. Da, da da Da. Da, da da Da.

  He hadn't heard the song in nearly ten years, but he would have recognized it even if it hadn't been Sarah Michelle Gellar on the front of the card: wooden stake clutched in one hand, hovering over her breast – her airbrush-smoothed face unmistakably stricken. 

  Whatever had happened with that stake, she hadn't meant it.

  Inside, one word:


So yard-apes, please accept my apologies. And check out "OOPS," right here.

A Sunburst Award - Missed It By That Much...

Very flattering news from the Sunburst Awards jury, who announced the finalists for the 2010 Sunburst Award for Canadian speculative fiction. While it appears I will remain in the cheering section this year for my friends Karl Schroeder and Cory Doctorow - both of whose books made the short list - Monstrous Affections was one of four books to make the recommended reading/honorable mention list.

So congratulations to adult fiction nominees Karl and Cory, Charles De Lint, Robert Charles Wilson and A.M. Dellamonica - and to fellow mention-ees Douglas Coupland, Barbara Roden and Don LePan.

Here's the link.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Noting a Notable Shout-Out

Ellen Datlow, who edits - well, just about everything it sometimes seems - has posted a list of eight notable story collections from 2009. And she has listed Monstrous Affections, my own little bag of stories, as one of them.

Here's what she said, from her Best Horror of the Year round-up, and the post:

Monstrous Affections by David Nickle (Chizine Publications) is this Canadian’s first collection, although the stories in it were originally published between 1994 and 2009. That story from 1994, “The Sloan Men,” was chosen for the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Sixth Annual Collection. Michael Rowe provides an introduction to a powerful collection.
She also shouted-out collections by Barbara Roden, Reggie Oliver, Simon Strantzas, Simon Bestwick, Gerard Houarner, R.B. Russell and Ralph Robert Moore.

But they can link to their own collections. Here's where to get mine.

A G20 moment...

There were so many G20 moments worthy of note here in Toronto over the weekend: the moments when black-clad droogs raised the world's consciousness about the dangers of fiscal restraint by setting police cars on fire, smashing store windows and lobbing mailboxes into roads; the moments where police boxed joggers, dog-walkers and Oh-Canada singing protesters into a downtown intersection for several hours during a torrential downpour; or when other police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters outside their makeshift detention centre (a converted film studio that would see about 1,000 detainees - the largest mass arrest in Canadian history - pass through its gates), less than a kilometer from my house. Or there was the moment that most of us missed, when the leaders of G20 countries agreed it was time to start cutting their deficits and their spending, and posed for a photo op in front of a fake Toronto skyline, separated from the real skyline by a giant steel fence and a billion dollars worth of security.

I choose this one, before it all started, on the fake dock by the fake lake that my country constructed in the media centre of the G20, for somewhere between $57,000 and $2 million. In its saucy fakery, it is a nice moment - a far better moment to think of leading into Canada Day tomorrow, than all those real ones that came immediately afterwards.

-Thanks to Erin Hatfield for snapping this photo.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Aurora Awards - Thirty Years of Canadian Science Fiction (and me)

Well this takes me back. In 1991 (or so) Karl Schroeder and I sat down at a Brother portable typerwriter in a farmhouse on the top of the Niagara Escarpment, and banged out the line, "The man in the moon's smile began to slip. It turned into a leer." Which was the first line of "The Toy Mill," our story about a Satanic Santa (or maybe a Santa-ic Satan?) who wishes to destroy the world with wishes, and is ultimately undone by a very focussed little girl. In 1992, it appeared in Tesseracts 4, Lorna Toolis and Michael Skeet's edition of the long-running Canadian sf anthology series. (To give you an idea of how long-running ... well, I've got a story coming out in Tesseracts Fourteen this fall).

In 1992, to our cackling delight, the story won the Aurora Award for Best Short Form work in English. It was pretty early in both our careers, and that award meant a lot to us, and the story. It found its way into David Hartwell's paperback anthology Christmas Magic; Edo Van Belkom's Aurora Award anthology; the prologue of our novel The Claus Effect; and this spring, into The Aurora Awards: Thirty Years of Canadian Science Fiction, from Montreal's Nano Press.

My contributor copies came in the mail yesterday. It's a handsome volume, and it has a somewhat different mix than Edo's compilation more than a decade ago. There are newer stories - work by Isaac Szpindel, Julie E. Czerneda and Hayden Trendholm. And there are francophone stories, translated: work by Elizabeth Vonarberg, Yves Meynard and Laurent McAllister among others. And there's a mix of older stories by Douglas Smith, Candas Jane Dorsey, James Alan Gardner... all people I'm proud to share a table of contents with.

The book is tough to find on Amazon and other spots. It is dead easy to find over at NanoPress' site, right here.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Evelyn Evelyn - or, Breaking Up is Hard To Do...

It's particularly hard to do if you're trying to split with your parapagus tripus dibrachius twin sister - sharing as you do "three legs, two arms, three lungs, two hearts and a single liver."  Good thing that twin rock stars Evelyn and Evelyn Neville (aka Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley) seemed to be getting along so famously in Toronto last night at the Great Hall on Queen Street. 

Which is to say, it is time for yard-apes to brace themselves for one of the Yard's semi-regular, semi-coherent raves about the considerable gifts of Ms. Amanda Palmer and her ever-shifting crew of genius collaborators. They were in town Friday, touring for Evelyn Evelyn, a honky-tonk concept album / rock opera (think Tommy  by way of Geek Love and Sweeney Todd) about the aforementioned conjoined twins, and their picaresque, grand-guignol journey from trailer to chicken farm to Manitoba porn factory to circus sideshow to Myspace stardom. I picked up the album a couple of weeks ago and have been cycling through it on the mp3 player ever since. 

The live show was still a revelation. Amanda and twin sister Jason mashed themselves together in a gigantic frock for a long set of Method-acted piano, accordian, guitar and ukelele duets, while one-man-band percussionist and twin-handler Sxip Shirey handled the shadow-puppet show and proved that he would take a bullet for the twins. Or from them, if need be.

Below, a sample of the song Chicken Man (gone horribly wrong) posted by another attendee:

And here, some tracks from the album set to video from other shows, or by fans:

Bundle that in with the harmonica/music box/marble-in-a-bowl compositions of Sxip Shirey, the Slavic-influenced accordion and guitar set from Jason Webley, and Amanda Palmer's show-ending capper (aided by an unnamed, screaming young woman who came on stage to deliver a show-stopping interpretive dance to a show-stopping performance of Missed Me), and you've got nearly three hours of the best time anyone had in Toronto Friday night.

I post all this here, because as of last night, Amanda came out and announced that ticket sales were, for some reason, fatally unimpressive for her Saturday evening show in Montreal (that's tonight as I type this). She suggested this might be because people in Montreal lack the Internet - and might have been relying on her now-former record label Roadrunner to tell them the show's on.

I don't know about that. Last time I was in Montreal, everybody had the Internet. So in that spirit - for any Montreal-area, wired-up yard-apes looking for something to do on Saturday, June 5 - Evelyn Evelyn's coming to the Corona Theatre, at 7 p.m., in Montreal. After that, they're going somewhere else.

So check it out. And pass it on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eutopia in '11

It can at last be spoken aloud. In the spring of 2011, my novel Eutopia will appear under the ChiZine Publications imprint - the same imprint who did such a fine job with my story collection Monstrous Affections.

CZP announced the title and publication date on Twitter and Facebook just this afternoon. So I am, as ever, two steps behind the curve. But that, like the brevity of this post, should not indicate any lack of enthusiasm.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

* * *

Addendum, May 20: I just realized - the book will be appearing exactly 100 years after the time in which it was set. To the season.

Publishing is an eerie, eerie business, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Frank Frazetta - 1928- 2010

The Death Dealer comes for us all - even Frank Frazetta, the illustrator who almost single-handedly shaped the id of the 20th century teenaged boy; put the thew in Conan; and painted the covers of three-quarters of the paperbacks I read in 1979, easy.

I would say Rest in Peace, but in Mr. Frazetta's case, I can't imagine how that would work.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Road Rage, Canadian Style

The red car was in front of us - like us,  intending to make a left turn from Danforth onto Coxwell. When the light turned green, the car proceeded a nose-length into the intersection but no more - so that only one car - the red one - would be able to make it legally through the intersection on a yellow, if it came to that.

It seemed to be coming to that. So I tapped the horn. Twice.

We both made it through. But once we were through, the red car stopped, blocking us. A stout young man got out of the passenger side, came up waving his arms. Karen, who has strong opinions on the etiquette of left turn lanes, told him the red car should have proceeded fully into the intersection. This was the wrong thing to say.

The stout passenger waved his arms and screamed, "No! The law says you must wait until it is safe to proceed into an intersection!"

I interjected: "You need to get back in your car now, sir." And he did.

I love my country.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Remember this?

Dedicated yard apes will recall last watching this video here in July, 2008, when I congratulated winners of the ChiZine short story contest I helped judge. Well, the creepy android lady is back - and so am I.

This year, I'll be helping judge the 15th ChiZine Short Story Contest with a deeply cool slate of judges including fellow CZP authors Gemma Files,  Brent Hayward and Paul Tremblay. Those are actually all of the primary-tier judges. Breaking ties will be Hellblazer writer Mike Carey.

Here are the details.

Brent Hayward
Gemma Files
David Nickle
Paul Tremblay
Mike Carey (tie-breaking judge)

1st, 2nd, and 3rd prizes: Publication in ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words at seven (7) cents per word (USD).

There will also be five honourable mentions.



• Dark.
• Well-written.
• 4,000 words or less.
• Rich Text Format or Microsoft Word attachment.
• No reprints.
• No simultaneous submissions.
• No multiple submissions.
• Send to ONLY this address:
(Submissions sent to any other address will be deleted unread.)
All submissions will be stripped of author identification and sent to the judges via a third party.
Deadline for the contest is June 30th, 2010. Winners and honourable mentions will be announced by July 31st, 2010. The top three placers will be published in ChiZine issue #46 (October–December, 2010).
(Note: ChiZine editorial staff members are ineligible for this contest.)

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Radejastians, at Pseudopod

I knew this was coming at the end of April, but - like the tax deadline - it crept up on me. Pseudopod, that weekly horror podcast of which we've heard so much, has, while I wasn't looking, uploaded a most excellent podcast of my story "The Radejastians" - introduced suavely as ever by Alasdair Stuart, given earthy life by Erik Luke of Extruding America. 

This is the bit they blew out to get folks to listen:

There is a cathedral in the middle of Radejast. It addresses the approaching pilgrim as a fist of granite and slate and limestone, lifting black iron bells and arches and gargoyles to touch the dangled teat of the soot-cloud that ever hangs low over the land. Within: a forest of stone pillars, some carved with the likenesses of Radejast’s saints, some simply chiseled with the mark of its venerable religion — all surrounding the dome, so high and wide that when emerging from the pillars I stumbled beneath it, madly fearful that gravity might suddenly reverse, fling me from the floor, and smash me against the curved mosaics above the whispering gallery.

The Good News Happening Congregation’s hall was larger than Radejast’s cathedral by half again: a great circular space beneath a peaked roof, lit from high, clear windows on every side. Behind the pulpit stood a crucifix with a painted sculpture of Jesus Christ bound to it, bright lines of blood trickling down his slender limbs, from the crown of thorns he wore. Altogether, it was half-again taller than any similar icon in Radejast.

The Radejastians first appeared in Tesseracts Thirteen last year. It does not (as I miscommunicated to Pseudopod, and as Alasdair mentioned in the introduction) appear in Monstrous Affections. But Ellen Datlow did give it an honorable mention in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2. And now - it's right here.

Addendum, May 2:

One of the commenters on Pseudopod this morning mentioned Gogol Bordello, a band  I had not heard of until now. And so I went a-youtubing, and found this - which fits so well with the theme of "The Radejastians" that I am glad I hadn't seen/heard it while I was writing the story.

The song's called American Wedding. Put your hands together for Gogol Bordello, yard-apes.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You know, this week I would have taken a bad review...

... with the same equanimity I brought to what seemed like the total collapse of my car's suspension as we drove back from Port Huron (don't worry - part of the plastic on the wheel-well had come loose, and we were able to fix it handily, thanks to the terrifying and barely-legal pocket knife loaned us by a Sarnia convenience store clerk).

But this is not a post about Port Huron, or car trouble, or armed convenience store clerks, or even bad reviews. Matt from ChiZine just pointed me to a very affectionate review of Monstrous Affections, over at, by reviewer Monster-Chris, who likes... well, monsters.

I'll quote a bit from the beginning:

A giant Cyclops, a cottaging wendigo, a basement dwelling tar baby, a family of mutants with a terrible gift for love, vampiric miners, a swamp witch... these are just a few of the "monsters" that await in David Nickle's debut short story collection Monstrous Affections (2009). As impressively diverse as this rogue's gallery may seem to be, the truly breathtaking feature of the book is the author's marvelously assured hand as a writer and the deft precision with which he manages to give life to that dark world that often seems to lie just out of our view at any given moment.
And a bit from the end:

Monstrous Affections has already won David Nickle the Black Quill Reader's Choice Award and deservedly so, Monstrous Affections is an absolutely brilliant collection and easily one of the most satisfying books of the past few years and marking David Nickel Nickle as one the most talented writers to emerge from Canada in the last 10 years.
And of course I'll link to it, right here.

Thank you, Monster Chris!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

... and Back Again

We got back into Toronto last night at around 9:30, from the sentencing hearing that saw our friend Peter Watts avoid jail time. The crossing back from Port Huron was happily uneventful - particularly as we passed the spot on the bridge where, in December, U.S. Customs and Border official Andrew Beaudry beat and pepper-sprayed Peter without any rational cause, then presented a spurious allegation of assault that might have seen Peter in jail for as long as six months.

As I posted all too briefly yesterday *, that didn't happen. U.S. Circuit Court Judge James P. Adair rejected a pre-sentencing report recommending that Peter be sentenced to six months in jail - less two months, if he came up with about $2,000 in fines and fees - and set him free.

About a dozen of us came down from Toronto to listen to the sentencing and offer up our support. I think it had an impact. It had more impact, certainly, than the presence of officers Beaudry and Behrendt, who took time to attend the hearing but made tracks seconds after Judge Adair rendered his verdict.

The biggest impact, according to Peter's lawyer Doug Mullkoff, was probably from the juror who has posted on various blogs as proudinjun. She and her husband attended the trial hearing too, and wrote to Judge Adair, explaining that no one on the jury had thought Peter deserved jail time - and that she and some others put little credit in the account of the event given by Beaudry, Behrendt and the others. We met at the trial hearing, and Doug toasted her afterwards. She took enormous grief from her fellow jurors, from her neighbours (as represented by the trolls who comment on the Port Huron paper's website) and she didn't flinch. You want a hero in this story - proudinjun is it.

You don't want to underestimate Doug Mullkoff's impact, though. I'd never seen him in action until this moment, and man. That's a lawyer who earns his keep.

He started off tearing apart the sloppy work in the pre-sentencing report, which listed Peter as being a U.S. citizen, over-estimated his income, and downplayed the infirmity of his father by listing the 92-year-old widower's age as "unknown." He strung the various letters of support that Peter had received into a narrative that showed Peter to be non-violent, kind and thoughtful, milking that just as much as he could. He explained that Peter's questioning nature meant that he would not fare well in the military, but that shouldn't be a crime, and he characterized the incident at the border as a "goof up" that already had lasting consequences. He pointed out that the simple conviction meant that Peter would never, ever again enter the United States of America. He asked Judge Adair to exercise his prerogative, and suspend Peter's sentence if he paid his fines in full (which he would do immediately - Peter brought with him $2,000 in crisp U.S. greenbacks).

So Judge Adair rendered his lengthy verdict. He told Peter that he was a puzzle to him; that he thought he would enjoy having a pint with Peter (Peter told him he would buy; Adair said he would get the next round); spoke at great length about the need to listen to and obey police officers. He explained he could only render a verdict after he looked a person in the eye. Then he spoke again about what folly it was to disobey police officers. He messed with our heads, Judge Adair did, for what seemed like an hour but couldn't have been more than 15 minutes. And in the end, he agreed with Mullkoff; a suspended sentence of 60 days (less time served), if Peter paid his bills. In other words: no jail time, but a stiff fine.

We took the news pretty happily, the four of us in the car - me, Peter, his partner Caitlin and our friend Madeline**. The interview with the Canada Customs officer heading back home was giddy and incoherent; we left him smiling and shaking his head. We listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Joan Jett, Kansas and the like as we hauled back along 400 series highways in the late afternoon sun, and laughed and grinned like everything was finally okay.

Of course, everything is not okay. Peter doesn't go to jail. But he's a convicted felon now - convicted of not getting on the ground fast enough when U.S. border guards demanded it. He and the rest of us went through hell while the Michigan justice system played with his life like a cat plays with a mouse. That system and the people who thrive in it persist; Peter's life is forever diminished. 

And he did nothing wrong.

* thanks again to the Quay Street Brewing Company for letting us use their office computer and internet connection (try the Nutting Better Brown Ale - I also hear their wheat beer is very good).

** Madeline Ashby, that is. There's a link to click through on her name. Don't be shy. It takes you to, where she has set down a heart-rending account of our day in Michigan, with far greater detail and emotional depth and beauty than you will find here at the Yard. It chokes me up every time I re-read it. It is, once again, right here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peter Watts is free

I type this from the basement of the Quay Street Brewing Company, where manager Mike Ziegler has kindly let me post this.

Sentencing is finished. Judge Adair dismissed any thoughts of jail time, made Peter pay a fine, and shared wisdom about the respect we must afford police.

But never mind that. No jail time. We are celebrating for a bit at Quay Street, then heading home.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Off to Port Huron tomorrow

Tomorrow (Monday April 26) Peter Watts will be in a Port Huron courtroom to learn what the spring and summer have in store for him.  It is his sentencing date. As discussed on this blog and elsewhere, Peter was convicted of resisting and obstructing border guards, stemming from an incident late last year at the Blue Water Bridge. He is facing jail time - at this point, reading the sentencing report that came forward just last week, it looks like four months, if he pays about $2,000 in fines and court costs. Perhaps the judge will show clemency, and Peter will come home Monday night. Thanks to the generosity of many people around the world, Peter was able to afford an excellent lawyer, Doug Mullkoff. He'll be there in court tomorrow, making the entirely reasonable case that Peter doesn't deserve to do jail time for the offence of which he's been convicted.

I'll be there too. If things go well, you can hear how it went from Peter on his blog at If they don't - I'll be posting reports and updates. I'll be doing that on the news crawl at Rifters, and probably here too, as soon as I can get to a computer with internet connectivity.

If things go badly, that is. I'm not quite there yet.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Affection for the Kindle!

A brief note, to let those of you who've shelled out for a Kindle and have come to mistrust paper, that Monstrous Affections (and other great ChiZine titles) are now available for Amazon's Kindle. I think, actually, that you could read digital versions through the Kindle before. But now you can buy one through Amazon. There's no digital rights management gewgahs attached either.

And you can order it right here.

Other ChiZine titles are also available. Check 'em all out here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

(H)ad Astra

Well that was some Goddamn fun I had, spending the weekend at Ad Astra as I did, staying up too late and doing a stink of a lot of panels and flashing the cover of Monstrous Affections in front of very many people who had no idea what was coming. Ad Astra is the local literary sf convention for me, and I always manage to have a good time there. This time was busy, and enlightening. My high school pal Steve Bevan showed up with Gwen and their daughter Grace, and my only regret was not being able to hang out with 'em a bit more.

But damn, it was busy for us Ad Astra panelists.

We spoke about how there is a fine line between screaming horror and Bugs Bunny; we considered how ravenous, brain-eating zombies might be interpreted as an ode to community and cooperation; we looked at a movie made from a Douglas Smith short story. We read stories,  Peter Watts and I, until the time was up and we had to give up the room; and we all launched the hell out of ChiZine Publication's spring lineup, including Gemma Files' A Book of Tongues, and Douglas Smith's Chimerascope.

And as Michael Rowe observed, it seemed as though the fans who showed up were getting younger, and better looking, and much faster off the mark. I refrained from mentioning then that it might not be the fans that are getting younger, but we...

You get the idea.

* * *

In an unrelated moment of self-congratulations, I would be remiss if I didn't note that Ellen Datlow wasn't quite finished with me when she gave "The Radejastians" an honorable mention in the Best Horror of the Year Volume 2. Today, she released her long list of recommended stories from 2009. Included was "Other People's Kids" from Monstrous Affections.

So thanks, Ellen!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ad Astra

Back from one convention, off to another: Ad Astra, in Toronto this time. It is at the Toronto Don Valley Hotel and Suites - a venue remarkably similar to the Toronto Crown Plaza Hotel, where it was held last year. Both hotels are located in the same physical space, at 1250 Eglinton Avenue East. The only difference, really, is the name.

The convention takes place next weekend - starting April 9, that is. Unlike the World Horror Convention, just past, on this one I've got lots of programming.

Here's my schedule:

Fri 8:00 PM
Ballr. East
Critiquing Groups
Being a good writer does not necessarily make you a good editor/critiquer. What skills, strategies and techniques are needed to set up a critiquing group and provide constructive criticism of a story?
Matt Moore (m), David Nickle, Suzanne Church, Megan Crewe, Lorne Kates

Fri 9:00 PM
Crowne Room
Reading: David Nickle, Peter Watts
David Nickle, Peter Watts

Sat 11:00 AM
Ballr. Centre
ChiZine Publications Panel
Beginning as the print off-shoot of Chiaroscuro, in less than two years, ChiZine Publications has grown into a small but influential player in independent genre publishing. CZP staff and authors discuss and answer questions about its growth in a bad time for publishing, the future of genre publishing, why a small press might be a better option for beginning writers, and how they have fun doing it.
Brett Alexander Savory, Sandra Kasturi, Matt Moore Gemma Files, David Nickle, Claude Lalumiere, Douglas Smith, Helen Marshall, Laura Marshall, Erik Mohr, Bob Boyczuk

Sat 1:00 PM
Salon 243
Monster as Political Statement
Zombies and body snatchers and communism, Frankenstein and the enlightenment, vampires and Victorian morality, the role of women and sexuality. When is a walking corpse just a walking corpse and when does it have a greater message?
Nancy Kilpatrick, David Nickle, Tim Liebe,  Thea Munster

Sat 4:00 PM
Ballr. East
Autograph Session (to 5:30)

Sun 11:00 AM
Salon 243
Genre Crossing
Can cross-over books ever be the best in either field? Will an SF novel ever win an Edgar? Do crossovers get a bigger audience (all SF plus all mystery fans) or a smaller one (only mystery fans who like SF)?
 Stephanie Bedwell-Grime,  David Nickle, James Allan Gardner, Kelley Armstrong

Sun 2:00 PM
Ballr. Centre
Dueling Openings
Aspiring short fiction writers (audience participation required!) take turns reading the opening lines of their published stories, and the audience chooses which opening(s) they like best. Authors discuss what makes a good opening, why they're important
Douglas Smith (m), Claude Lalumiere, David Nickle, Robert Boyczuk

Sun 3:00 PM
Ballr. Centre
Laughing in the Face of Death
There’s more crossover than you’d expect between horror and humour. You can find black comedy, horror franchises becoming self-parodies, and intentional and unintentional humour in horror; why does it work? Why do we laugh at horrifying things?
David Nickle, Sandra Kasturi,  Aaron Allston, Gavin Stephens

I'm also doing something at noon on Sunday, interviewing Doug Smith about his movie. But that's all I know about that.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brighton, 2010

Well I'm back, from England and Brighton and the World Horror Convention.

The business end of it was pretty straightforward, and went very well. We had to get there on Thursday in time to launch ChiZine's line of books that night. This, we did - with a certain amount of gusto, I think. Gemma Files, Philip Nutman, Douglas Smith, Tim Lebbon, Claude Lalumiѐre and I all presented and read and signed while publishing/editing/domestic duo Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi made it happen. 

After that, it was as these things are, when they're good: meeting up with a lot of good folk, seeing a fabulous town and enjoying the hospitality of the Royal Albion Hotel (whose staff were, I will say, very helpful in correcting some of the most eyebrow-raising hospitality infractions to be seen outside Fawlty Towers). I didn't make it to very much programming - which was a disappointment. Organizers Steve Jones and Amanda Foubister did a fantastic job and I should really have paid it more heed. 

Blame the bright glories of Brighton, and the conversations with so many new friends and old ones I don't see often enough.

Gemma Files (pictured at left) was my travelling companion to the World Horror Convention in Brighton. Here we are, just off the red-eye from Toronto at Heathrow, awaiting our motor-coach. Gemma, incidentally (but not co-incidentally) is the author of A Book of Tongues from ChiZine. It had its launch in Brighton, and has received a very favourable review in Publisher's Weekly. Gemma's grin here has nothing to do with that review: this was Thursday, days before the review came out.

It was also several hours before we arrived in Brighton, and at our hotel.

The Royal Albion.

The hotel looks quite lovely from the outside - particularly on a bright morning like this one. In this sense, it leaves a misleading impression. The Royal Albion is well-suited to hosting a horror convention because it is, in so many ways, a horror show.  From the dead flies on the pillows to the toilet that would not flush, the showers that ran cold, the bath plugs only removable with the complimentary tea spoon... well, you won't be hearing about that sort of thing on this blog. Email me separately if you need to hear more.

Feast your eyes instead, on some of the decor: like this Green Man hiding surreptitiously on the corner of an armoire in the hotel's lobby lounge.

Or this rather spectacular lamp, next to the Green Man at the gateway to the dining hall:

The lamp, really, makes a perfect introduction to Brighton's big tourist draw, the Royal Pavilion. Constructed by King George IV when he was just prince, the edifice seemed to have been made with the dual purpose of blithely misrepresenting Asian cultures (aesthetically, it's a bizarre and opulent mash-up of a mogul's palace, a Merchant-Ivory production, a Chinese restaurant and the planet Naboo), and making George's father Mad King George III even madder. I can't show photos from inside, because photography's not allowed, but here are a couple of exterior shots to give you an idea:

The pavilion was built on the site of a farmhouse that the Prince Regent purchased on advice from his doctor. As might be inferred from this statue, George suffered from a certain amount of gout:

It's unlikely, however, that the waters of Brighton helped much - because the structure became a kind of Pleasure Dome of George, Prince Regent, where guests were fattened by an army of cooks and servants, under 30 foot long, dragon-wrapped chandeliers, before they danced like fiends, drank like fish and succumbed to any vices that might be left over after that. It was many years before Queen Victoria would move in and put a stop to all that nonsense.

A group of us headed out to see the place Saturday morning - including Jetse de Vries, who some of you may know as editor of the important new optimistic sf anthology Shine:

When I speak of new friends made at the convention, I mean Jetse - and Alasdair Stuart, and Philip Nutman and Anya Martin, and Sandra Wickham, and Benjamin Kane Etheridge... and that's just a start.

I didn't take pictures of them - stopping mid-conversation to snap a picture is a buzz kill, I find. But we did all get together for a fantastic time Friday evening, courtesy of extraordinarily generous dark thriller author Heather Graham. She was good enough to cut a deal with a pub at the end of the Brighton Pier (pictured here) -

- to cover drinks and victuals for everyone at the convention, whilst she and a band of horror-author minstrels rocked out on the stage. For anyone in need of a little fear, she made sure that the Horror Hotel across the pier provided free shrieking terror to anyone who dared set ass in buggy.

Don't tell anyone, but Gemma kept her eyes closed through the whole ride.

It was, overall, a very good convention and I could go on for five thousand more words easily. But that would take too long. So in their place, here are five more pictures, which should be worth about the same:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Now about WHC...

I'm going to be at the World Horror Convention, cheerful but bleary-eyed after a red-eye flight from Toronto to London, and a bus ride to Brighton, on Thursday morning. If you're there, Yard-ape, say hello. I'm not signed up for any programming, alas - I got my membership after all that had been finalized. But I'll be there at ChiZine's Euro-Launch, introducing Monstrous Affections and a bunch of ChiZine's new titles to the British horror crowd. And I'll be around.

I will also be thanking Ellen Datlow in person, for including my story "The Radejastians" from Tesseracts 13 in her short list of recommended short horror fiction, at the back of The Best Horror of the Year Volume 2. Michael Kelly's T13 story "The Woods" is also on that list. And Ellen said some kind things about the powerful-ness of Monstrous Affections in the introduction. So she's going to get thanked for that too.

But the ChiZine Launch is the big deal. Here, from ChiZine's own dark-tinted lips, is the press release/invite:

The End Is Nigh . . . Where Will You Be?

Commanding Hordes of the Undead

Leading a Posse of Gunslingers through Hell

Seeking Oblivion in Drugs, Booze, and Rock 'n' Roll

OR . . .

Carousing at the ChiZine Publications Launch Party!

CHIZINE PUBLICATIONS co-publishers' Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi -- along with authors Philip Nutman, Tim Lebbon, Douglas Smith, Gemma Files, David Nickle, and Claude Lalumiѐre -- will treat you to a dazzling night of books and booze at the World Horror Convention 2010.

On Thursday March 25th CZP will be launching its new fall titles at Bar Rogue from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM

These include:

Chasing the Dragon, Nicholas Kaufmann
Chimerascope, Douglas Smith
A Book of Tongues: Volume I of the Hexslinger Series, Gemma Files
Katja from the Punk Band, Simon Logan
Cities of Night, Philip Nutman
The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon

ChiZine Publications

Saturday, March 20, 2010

How I'm feeling...

I know I promised not to write about feelings (see the Yard's mission statement to the right of this post). But as the case of my friend Peter Watts and the guards at the Blue Water Bridge sinks in, feeling seems to be all I'm doing. So while this might be a good time to start telling you about the ChiZine launch at the World Horror Convention in Brighton next Thursday, I've got no stomach for it.

I wasn't at the trial in Michigan, where a jury delivered their conviction Friday morning; I was here in Toronto, in a meeting with my superiors at the paper, cheerfully talking about how the Toronto mayor's race was shaping up. I'd pretty much convinced myself that, based on what I knew about the case and reports I'd gotten about just how well Peter's lawyer Douglas Mullkoff was arguing it, there would be an acquittal.

After all - under cross-examination by Mullkoff, the border guards had conceded that Peter hadn't assaulted anyone; hadn't threatened to assault anyone; and that his aggressive stance was nothing any reasonable person would consider aggressive. The allegations that he had somehow choked border guard Andrew Beaudry while Beaudry was hitting him, were demolished. The only choking going on is mine right now, typing that Beaudry was merely somehow mistaken when he accused Peter of being a strangler.

If I was wondering anything, it was what we'd be eating at the homecoming party.

Didn't work out that way. Because, there is this statute - that essentially criminalizes non-compliance to such a broad degree that asking a question (as Peter did) before complying with an order from a border guard is a felony. In terms of the sentence one might serve - well, Peter might as well have choked Beaudry. It amounts to the same thing.

As Peter explains on his blog:

The press has frequently characterized the charge against me as “assaulting a federal officer”. The alleged (and discredited) “choking” episode has been repeated ad nauseum. Here at the Sarnia Best Western I don’t have the actual statute in front of me but it includes a lengthy grab-bag of actions, things like “assault”, “resist”, “impede”, “threaten”, “obstruct” — hell, “contradict” might be in there for all I know. And under “obstruct” is “failure to comply with a lawful order”, and it’s explicitly stated that violence on the part of the perp is not necessary for a conviction. Basically, everything from asking “Why?” right up to chain-saw attack falls under the same charge. And it’s all a felony.
This shouldn't surprise me - the United States is a foreign country, for all its nearness. Its founders espoused different values from those of the architects of my homeland; those founders' sons and daughters today espouse values utterly alien to my own. That an American state should pass a law that criminalizes the act of questioning - of hesitation - in the face of a physical assault by a representative of their federal government... that might come as a surprise in the particular case. But generally, in the context of American history, it's not so far off the mean that I should be as shocked as I am.

The temptation to fall into anti-Americanism has the pull of gravity right now; the "neighbour to the south" feels to me like the kind of neighbour that returns our tools broken and leers at our daughters. Ask me now if I ever intend to visit the United States, I'd say no. Not again. Ask me if you should, and I'd say: only if you can't avoid it. And if you do go, bring a bagged lunch, a thermos of coffee and only order glasses of water in the restaurants. Keep your at-par dollar working at home.

That's how I'm feeling - but look, I understand it's not productive. I know too many Americans, and love and respect too many Americans, to start thinking about building walls and silly little personal economic sanctions. America has become fearful for its safety since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Really, it would have far more cause for that fearfulness, were it not for the goodness of so many of its people.

Many of those people did, in fact, contribute to Peter's defense fund, that allowed him to make his case so eloquently - to discredit the lie, that he did anything to deserve the brutal beating he received at the hands of Andrew Beaudry, or that he did anything that might warrant the hell he and those close to him have gone through in its wake. Some jurors even appear have come forward and added nuance to their decision, in singular missives among the many vile comments on newspaper articles and blogs. Like this one, at the Times-Herald, by a commenter claiming to have been on the jury:

proudinjun wrote:
As a member of the jury that convicted Mr. Watts today, I have a few comments to make. The jury's task was not to decide who we liked better. The job of the jury was to decide whether Mr. Watts "obstructed/resisted" the custom officials. Assault was not one of the charges. What it boiled down to was Mr. Watts did not follow the instructions of the customs agents. Period. He was not violent, he was not intimidating, he was not stopping them from searching his car. He did, however, refuse to follow the commands by his non compliance. He's not a bad man by any stretch of the imagination. The customs agents escalted the situation with sarcasm and miscommunication. Unfortunately, we were not asked to convict those agents with a crime, although, in my opinion, they did commit offenses against Mr. Watts. Two wrongs don't make a right, so we had to follow the instructions as set forth to us by the judge.
Or this one, on Peter's blog:


I believe your description of the trial and deliberations is more accurate than you could know. As a non-conformist and “libertarian” (who has had some experiences not unlike yours) I was not comfortable with my vote, but felt deep inside that it was consistent with the oath we took as jurors. I believe nearly all the jurors searched for a legitimate reason to vote differently. In the end it came down to the question “Was the law broken?”. While I would much rather have a beer and discussion with you than Officer B. I never the less felt obligated to vote my conscience. I also believe most, if not all, the jurors sincerely hope that you are handled with a great degree of leniency, we, unfortunately have no say in that matter.

They both sound like good-hearted people. My own conscience would have driven me to a different decision than the one they made. Even if it weren't my friend's life in the balance, I like to think I would have asked the judge the question:

If we feel the statute is mis-applied, if we feel that the accused is a victim of a crime and not a perpetrator - and that statute is functioning to mask the real crime - can we without violating our oath deliver a verdict of not guilty even if the accused's actions technically fall within that statute?

But if some of the jurors' values appear to also be mine - I know that my conscience is not theirs. As Peter said in his blog, they deliberated for some time before coming to their decision. They took the matter seriously. That's something.

It doesn't comfort; it doesn't change anything.

But it's something.