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Keith Miller’s The Book of Flying (2004) seemed like the language-focused, flighty (ha!) novel I was in the mood for, complete with a glowing blurb from Ursula K. Le Guin splashed on the cover. And it was that, to a certain extent: it read easily, evoking a dream-like, metaphor-heavy world devoted entirely to artistic creation, fully of lovely imagery and wonderfully weird landscapes. Still, there were aspects that grew more and more irritating as I read on, causing eye-rolls and muttering that ultimately overshadowed anything good I might have to say. It’s a set of problems I can’t attribute so much to Miller himself as to a literary culture bent towards expressing its own importance, telling us artistic production is important and meaningful but retreating from attempts to explain why. The Book of Flying is a book in praise of books, a story purporting to be “about” stories but really seems to be about something else entirely; that is, making the reader feel good about being bookish. Continue Reading »

Short Fiction News

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Clockwork Canada: Steampunk Fiction was released today and received a fantastic review on Tor.com from Haralambi Markov, with some attention given to my story “Strange Things Done.” Get the anthology from Exile EditionsAmazon.caAmazon.com, and Chapters-Indigo.

I’m also appearing in another Exile Editions anthology later this year, Those Who Make Us: Canadian Monsters, Creatures and Myths. You can view the table of contents here. “A New Bestiary” transplants medieval ideas on monstrosity into a cyberpunk-infused Montreal, and probably contains the most in-jokes out of anything I’ve ever written.

 

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We’re back! This time, we’re talking about adolescence, isolation and social anxiety in the anime series No Matter How I look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m not Popular! AKA, WataMote. Includes verbatim readings of entries from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and plenty of cringing.

Download the Podcast (archive.org page)

Marie’s blog

“Anxiety, Anger and Porn” – Alasdair Czyrnyj’s review of WataMote

Source of our theme song

Re-learning Art

As you might have guessed from the title, this blog started as a place to showcase artwork. Specifically, I was planning to delete my Facebook account after graduating from the University of Alberta and wanted an online place friends could still follow my antics, as well as a better spot to upload all the stupid comics I drew over my last two years in Edmonton. Well, that’s not at all what happened—I stayed on Facebook and even fell to the lure of Twitter (though, to be frank, I still have no idea what to do with that account), while this site drifted further and further away from its initial purpose. I’ve posted plenty of articles on history and various books, but haven’t posted a sketch here for years. Continue Reading »

Writing Home

I didn’t write a story set in the Yukon until last year.

The why of it is difficult to explain. The why of it became something to ponder after reading Thomas Wharton’s old blog post “I hate it here”, a reflection on why students in his creative writing class at the University of Alberta never seemed to write about Edmonton:

But I also shouldn’t have been surprised that this student never writes about Edmonton. It seems to be the attitude of most beginning writers here that only New York, London, or Big Gritty Generic City USA are proper settings for a story (actually the problem for them isn’t so much Edmonton as an unworthy setting as it is Canada altogether, which is another problem for another post). Many of my students over the years have set stories in these famous foreign cities, often for no good reason other than they believe this is where stories take place. Stories that matter, which seems to mean stories they see on TV.

Continue Reading »

Animating Fairy Tales

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This is going to be a looser post than I usually write on this blog, mostly because I’ve had a hard time concentrating on any one thing so far this year. Call it a combination of seasonal affective disorder and ennui. What I have been doing is watching a lot of animated films and, of course, reading, and I’ve been mixing the subject matter from both in my brain a lot lately.

These thoughts were precipitated by reading Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber for the first time, a very short collection of stories that since its publication in 1979 has gauged a deep and lasting mark in fantasy, particularly the glut of fairy tale retellings of the 90s that still haven’t quite withered away. Even I’m in an anthology of retellings, but Carter was also playing into a cultural moment that had its earlier rumblings in Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy stories” and other authors slowly dredging up folk and fairy tale material out of children’s books to repackage for an adult audience. We can’t pin the fairy tale resurgence in fantasy solely on people imitating Carter, though she certainly had and still has her share of slavish imitators who try to mimic her baroque, layered prose and fall flat on their faces doing it. The stories in The Bloody Chamber range further, giving characters and atmospheres that, despite all these stories taking place in a vague 18th to early 20th century setting, are most commonly found in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. The trappings pass on, the core of why these stories work largely remain untouched. Continue Reading »

Cyborgs with Attitude

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I lost part of December and all of January to absorbing as much anime and manga as I possibly could. I’m still not entirely sure why, but coming to the tale end of that obsession I’ve found myself thinking back to the first Japanese comic book I ever read, Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell (1989-1990). Continue Reading »

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