“That they should envision themselves greater than nature, that they believe they can control eventualities with their industries both amazes and amuses you, the latter in a grim way. You survey the skyline of London, blotted with inky smoke from their factories, fumes that choke the air, and you wonder: are they insane? They cannot breathe. They die of illnesses brought about by their own wicked habits, and yet they place such childish faith in science”

-Nancy Kilpatrick – Berserker (in Vampyric Variations)

Quote – Considering Ourselves Greater than Nature

How to Download Audio Files of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio

Well the summer radio season is over, so Speculating Canada on Trent Radio will be on a brief break so now is a great time to catch up on any episodes that you missed.

I have heard from a few of you that you would like to download episodes of the programme so that you can listen to them when out for a walk, run, drive, bike ride etc. Here is how to download them:

Right Click (or Control Click if you are on a Mac) on the link for the file – the “click to listen” icon.

Then select “Save Link As” from the drop down menu. It should give you the option of saving as an MP3.

You can then move the MP3 file into itunes or your other media player. You can do this by right click on the saved MP3 file and then select “Open with iTunes”.

 

 

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 16: A Discussion About the Author Readings of Ian Rogers and Sandra Kasturi with Leif Einarson

In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, Dr. Leif Einarson and I discuss the works of Ian Rogers and Sandra Kasturi. We play audio files of author readings by Ian Rogers and Sandra Kasturi and then follow up with a discussion of these works.

Dr. Einarson researches medieval literature, Norse literature, and Canadian literature.

Ian Rogers is the award-winning Peterborough author of Every House is Haunted and SuperNOIRtural Tales. His work “The House on Ashley Avenue” has recently been optioned for television.

Sandra Kasturi is the award-winning poet, writer, editor, and co-publisher of ChiZine Publications. Her poetry collections The Animal Bridegroom and Come Late to the Love of Birds combine the poetic with the speculative.

Listen to these wonderful author readings and hear the nuances of the authors’ voices and then enjoy discussions of their work and insights into some of the ideas evoked by their work.

 

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support. I would also like to thank Dwayne Collins for his consistent tech support and help with the intricacies of creating audio files.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

Superheroic Questions

A review of Northguard Book One: Manifest Destiny by Mark Shainblum and Garbriel Morrissette (Caliber Press, 1989)

Comic books are often treated as a lower form of culture and considered to be pure pleasure reading without intellectual interest, but comic books, like any other form of text, offer a vision of the world around us and the speculative nature of the format offers us a series of questions to ask about normalcy. The superhero genre, in particular, evokes questions about what constitutes heroism, what makes someone special or different, and comments on the way we look at ideas of justice and moral rightness, which are entirely subjective.

Mark Shainblum and Gabriel Morrissette’s Northguard is a figure that offers a critical lens to the superhero genre. He is not the moral guardian who is sure of his rightness and always saving the day, but rather is insecure, uncertain, and cautious in his approach. He does not seek to impose his idea of rightness, but rather dwells in a space of moral question, critiquing himself and his choices. All of this contrasts nicely with the key enemy in the collection Northguard Book One: Manifest Destiny, the organizsation ManDes, an American religious fundamentalist group who sees Canada as an embodiment of weakness to the North, too passive, too diverse, and sinful in our allowance of diversity. ManDes is a group that embodies patriarchal misogyny, religious intolerance, capitalist monopolism, and white supremacy.

P.A.C.T. (Progressive Allied Canadian Technologies) has formed in Montreal to stop organizations like ManDes from imposing their corporate control over people and doing social harm. They form a system to keep multinationals in check. In their attempt to provide a set of balances against other corporate powers, they created a device called the uniband, which has the power to reverse the laws of thermodynamics and operate beyond the restrictions of physics… and it can be integrated into the human body. When the person who has originally worked with the uniband and attuned it to his biorhythms is killed, P.A.C.T. ends up finding an unlikely candidate to wear this personal arsenal: Philip Wise, a comic book fan. Philip only asks for one thing: that he be allowed to design his own suit to operate the machine, one modeled after his own superhero fantasies and featuring the prominence of the Canadian flag.

Philip’s uneasy relationship with the flag represents a microcosm of the Canadian uncertainty around embodying ourselves in a patriotic symbol. Unlike American figures like Captain America, that easily wear the flag and represent a certain brand of American patriotism, Canadians on the whole have been a little less certain about a figure that wears his or her patriotism on the outside and Northguard is the perfect character to embody that uncertainty. Before he decides to model his costume after the maple leaf and dress in red and white, he throws the flag down on the ground yelling at it “mean something”, bringing to his own experience of uncertainty to his garb as well as his conflicting need to have the flag mean something for him. In this simple act, Northguard is able to take up an aspect of Canadian identity: the perpetual search for what Canadian identity can mean.

His own interaction with Canadianness also embodies a particular Canadian notion of dualistic identity and the potential for a multicultural reading. Philip is a Jewish Canadian living in Montreal – his identity is powerfully shaped by his ability to simultaneously represent Canadianness and Jewishness, and living in a city that is bilingual and multicultural. The power of his duality is marked nicely in the comic when the maple leaf on Northguard’s mask and chest are both overlaid by the Star of David, allowing the costume to simultaneously speak to Canadian identity and how that identity is made up of a multiplicity of cultures and cultural symbols.

Yet, ManDes sees Canada as weak because of this multiplicity and attempts to play into the perceived insecurity caused by a collective of cultural interests by purposely trying to play Francophone and Anglophone Canadians against each other, perpetrating violence and attributing it to one language group or the other. Northguard resists these attempts both by foiling these plots by also by trying to become bilingual himself, creating a French name for himself “Le Protecteur” and working with a French Canadian superhero named Fleur de Lys, who wears the symbols of Quebecois identity.

Northguard is able to embody the potential of the superhero to be a figure who evokes questions, both in his own morality and in the way Canadians see ourselves. Shainblum and Morrissette turn the Canadian question about “who are we?” into a suit of red and white, featuring a maple leaf that asks readers to keep questioning and to recognise the superpower that exists in the act of constantly questioning our identity and what we can and do represent.

Unfortunately, this collection is hard to come by and I hope that Shainblum and Morrissette are able to revive Northguard in the future.

To find out more about Mark Shainblum, visit his website at http://www.shainblum.com/

 

 

Speculating the Queer: an LGBTQ2 Canadian Speculative Fiction Reading With ChiSeries Peterborough Featuring Tanya Huff, Michael Rowe, Don Bassingthwaite, and Derek Newman-Stille.

Thursday September 18th at 8:00 PM, ChiSeries Peterborough will be having a reading by LGBTQ2 Speculative Fiction authors Tanya Huff, Michael Rowe, and Don Bassingthwaite hosted by Peterborough’s Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House, 751 George Street North in Peterborough.speculating the queer

We often focus on realist literature when we think of queer lit, but what about science fiction, fantasy, and horror? Queer-identified Speculative Fiction authors are able to explore the extents of queer identity in other worlds, throughout time and space, among the darkness, and within all of those spaces on the edges of imagination. Queer fiction has been under-represented in science fiction, fantasy, and horror, so lets let our authors imagine queer worlds.
Tanya Huff is the Aurora Award Winning author of The Smoke Books, The Blood Books, the Quarters Series, and the Keeper’s Chronicles. Her Blood Books were turned into the television series Blood Ties. In addition to the Aurora Awards, she has received nominations and made the short list for awards such as the Gaylactic Spectrum award, Locus Awards, and the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award.

Author photo of Tanya Huff

Author photo of Tanya Huff

Michael Rowe is the editor of the anthologies Queer Fear and Queer Fear 2 as well as being the author of the recent novels Enter, Night and Wild Fell. In addition to his speculative work, Michael Rowe is an award winning journalist and has published for the National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post, and The Advocate. He has won the Lambda Literary Award for the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender awards for the year, the Randy Shilts Award for works of non-fiction of relevance to the gay community, and the Gaylactic Spectrum Award and has been a finalist for the Aurora Awards and the Shirley Jackson Award.

IMG_3647 - Version 2

Author photo of Michael Rowe

Don Bassingthwaite is the author of several books in the World of Darkness ethos, and for the Dungeons & Dragons series, and has published short stories in Bending the Landscape: Fantasy and Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction.

Author photo of Don Bassingthwaite

Author photo of Don Bassingthwaite

Derek Newman-Stille is a PhD Student in Canadian Studies researching Canadian Speculative Fiction. His review and interview website Speculating Canada (www.speculatingcanada.wordpress.com) has won an Aurora Award and he has been a juror for the Sunburst Awards.

Derek Newman-Stille with the Prix Aurora Award, October 6, 2013. Photo credit Dwayne Collins.

Derek Newman-Stille with the Prix Aurora Award, October 6, 2013. Photo credit Dwayne Collins.

From bisexual and lesbian vampires to gay and lesbian wizards to trans ghosts to queer voyagers through space to shape-shifting lovers, the characters created by these LGBTQ2 authors are complex, powerful, and fascinating. Their works explore ideas of homophobic violence, oppression, complex relationships, changes in body, queer futures, ideas of acceptance, and notions of resistance. Prepare to see characters that are far beyond the stereotypes and one-dimensional references to LGBTQ2 people we often see in popular media.
To join the event on Facebook, go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1525545660996707
And for more information about ChiSeries Peterborough events including this one, visit http://chiseries.com/reading-series-peterborough .

Sharing Darkness

A review of Marie Bilodeau’s Destiny’s Blood (Dragon Moon Press, 2010)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover for Marie Bilodeau's Destiny's Blood courtesy of http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/p/destinys-blood.html

Cover for Marie Bilodeau’s Destiny’s Blood courtesy of http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/p/destinys-blood.html

The motivation to find home, to create a sense of belonging shapes much of our experiences. We are tied to ideas of family, place, and community. Marie Bilodeau’s Destiny’s Blood is an exploration of home from the perspective of loss, need, warring desires, and conflict. Even when venturing through the dark depths of space… we still keep getting called home, returning to a place of memories and we are always searching for a selfhood that is attached to the notion of connection.

Layela and her twin sister Yoma have been on the streets since youth, surviving through theft and constant movement to avoid any legal troubles, but after Layela was assaulted by a Kilita who ripped into her thoughts to see her visions, Layela’s life has been shaped by trauma. Seeing the future in her visions, she is nonetheless constantly mentally returning to the past, to that moment of pain and horror that has shaped her. Seeking to create a future for herself that is calm, that contrasts with the horrors she sees in her visions at night, she decides to create a flower shop, to settle down amid the relaxing scent of vegetation and create a sense of belonging, a place to be home.

But the future persists and Layela is ripped again from the calm she attempts to forge around her pained heart when her sister disappears, she is arrested without warrant, and the police destroy the home she tried to create for herself. She is uprooted, pulled from the planet that she hoped to turn into her home and is once again tossed into the abyss of space and a future that is not as uncertain as it should be.

Destiny’s Blood asks whether home can be a place one has no memory of, whether a distant star can call to one’s blood and stir up a restlessness that can’t find a home no matter how much one tries to create one. Layela is being called by the star around which she was born, a star that is linked to myth… and more personally to her own origins and sense of belonging and it is a star that feeds the universe with ether, a substance that several alien races depend on and that has dwindled in recent years, leaving many of them all but extinct.

Marie Bilodeau’s space fantasy maps out ideas of destiny and the longing for home that shapes people, propels them into the void, searching for something constantly and unable to settle. She charts the way that that need to belong lets people react with extremes: willing to sacrifice the present for a past that lingers, willing to kill to create home. Longing is like pain, like the emptiness of space waiting to be filled by a sense of the familiar, a place of belonging. Her characters are motivated by a persistent sense of loss, and yet they experience it in unique and nuanced ways, illustrating the complexity of loss: urged toward a desire to escape, to forget, to hold on to anything possible, to protect, or even to hate, to delve into the seemingly endless pit of vengeance that the persistence of loss can create.

Destiny’s Blood conveys a transient aesthetic, a constant searching that would be evoked by being tossed out across a cosmic void.

To find out more about Marie Bilodeau’s work, visit her website at http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/ .

To discover more about Destiny’s Blood and other books in the destiny series, visit http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/p/destinys-blood.html .

If you want to hear Marie Bilodeau do a short reading from the Destiny series, visit her author reading at http://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/speculating-canada-on-trent-radio-episode-9-a-mythic-night-an-author-reading-by-marie-bilodeau-and-karen-dudley/

Marie Bilodeau and Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House for the author reading A Mythic Night

Marie Bilodeau and Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House for the author reading A Mythic Night

 

Edgy Relationships

A review of Suzanne Church’s Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction (Edge, 2014)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Suzanne Church's "Elements" courtesy of http://edgewebsite.com/

Cover photo of Suzanne Church’s “Elements” courtesy of http://edgewebsite.com/

In her short story collection Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction Suzanne Church treks across stars, across time, beyond the human experience, into the magical, the mystical, the dark, infusing pages with otherworldly imagination that invite us to be fellow travellers into the unknown. She crosses genre boundaries, infusing each with new life brought trough experiences submerging in the others. Her work touches the barriers between horror, science fiction, and fantasy, playing with reader expectations and expanding the scope of the reader’s imagination.

Elements IS fundamentally elemental, not just because some of her characters play with weather (the elements) and with the elements of fire and water, or even because some of her androids are named after elements from the Periodic Table, but because there is something both incredibly large and incredibly intimate about her work because whether it be about aliens, androids, sentient coffee cups, future warriors, or magic users, her work fundamentally explores RELATIONSHIPS, those strange, impossible, and yet oh so familiar things – and relationships are things that we share, whether they be romantic, familial, friendly, or interspecies. Suzanne builds bridges across species, planets, dimensions, and states of being in order to capture that moment when Others touch, when a sharing of experience occurs, and a fuzziness develops between the Self and the Other.

Not all of the relationships in Elements is positive, because relationships hurt, relationships can damage us. This is, by far, not a romantic collection, but is rather about the interactions between people, the ways in which we understand and relate to each other… and not all of the ways we relate to each other is positive. Her stories deal with issues like domestic violence, sexual abuse, war, imbalances of power, abandonment, and situations where the only safe relationship can be created after an escape from home… but they also forge improbable connections, friendships between unlikely allies, allegiances between seeming enemies, a push beyond fear to allow for connections between people who fundamentally see each other as opposites.

Relationships are part of how we understand the world, how we interpret it, creating understanding and interpretation through dialogue, through the experience of sharing ideas with each other, but they are also painful, sharpened by feelings of abandonment, differences in viewpoints, codependency, contexts of pain, confusion, misinterpretations, and an Us against Them mentality. Suzanne Church explores all of these, pushing the extents of human relationships to the edge, and perhaps even peaking beyond the human, displacing our centrality in our view of the world.

To explore reviews of some of the individual stories in this collection, visit:

http://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/evangelical-science/

http://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2014/07/27/predator-and-prey-relationships/

http://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/body-of-war/

and for a discussion of this collection with Suzanne Church, visit our interview at http://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/speculating-canada-on-trent-radio-episode-14-an-interview-with-suzanne-church/

To find out more about Elements and other Edge books, visit their website at http://www.edgewebsite.com/ .

To discover more about Suzanne Church, visit her website at http://suzannechurch.com/wordpress/ .