Canada 150 Reading Project: The Final List

Canada 150 Logo (detail)

As detailed in this post from September, in 2017 I will be reading twelve classic works of Canadian literature that I have somehow avoided reading up until now, one for every month for the year. After much consideration, and input from friends and other readers, I’ve come up with a final list. I’m going to try to read them in the order they were published, but a couple of them are still on order from my local indie bookseller, and one of those is apparently out of print until February, so that may not wind up happening. It turns out this list was pretty hard to make! I’ve read a lot of Canadian books over the years, and I’ve read the major works of most of my favourite Canadian writers. Here’s the final list, in the order I plan to read them: Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery… Continue Reading

My 2017 Reading Project: Recommend Some Books

CanLit classics

Most years I engage in what I call a “reading project,” which is basically just a way to give my reading some structure. If I can’t decide what I want to read next, the project is there to point me in the right direction. Two years ago I read with gender parity in mind. Last year I wanted to see if my habits had changed after successfully adding more women writers to my reading list. This year I’m reading classics of the cyberpunk subgenre, along with whatever urban planning books I can get my hands on, especially if they are related to smart city concepts like digital infrastructure. Next year is Canada’s 150th year as a nation, so I want to do something special. I spent January 2013 through March 2016 in northern Saskatchewan helping build a high voltage power line, so this blog was neglected. Since that project ended… Continue Reading

Pushing Back at the Shabbiness of Simulacra: An Interview With William Gibson

Cover of Canadian Notes & Queries - Issue 81

In January 2011 I was given the opportunity to interview William Gibson for issue 81 of Canadian Notes & Queries, despite not being a journalist and having no real experience conducting interviews—this was, in fact, only the second interview I’d ever conducted, the first being a last-minute assignment to talk to Dave Cook, formerly of the Rheostatics, when he stopped by the community radio station where I was volunteering as host of a contemporary world music show. The interview was posted on CNQ‘s website for a time, but was taken down after their recent redesign. Since the rights have long since reverted to me, I am reposting it here for posterity. Special thanks to Mr. Gibson for being so graceful in the face of my inexperience, and saving me from myself. William Gibson is a visionary author who revitalized science fiction with the hard-boiled cyberpunk novel Neuromancer in 1984, and… Continue Reading

Where Did You Sleep Last Night, by Lynn Crosbie

Where Did You Sleep Last Night detail

I bought Where Did You Sleep Last Night almost on launch day, something I never do. I’d heard about the book from my illustrator friend Lola Landekic, who designed the absolutely spectacular cover, which is incredibly polished, on point thematically, and successfully, refreshingly, bucks a ton of boring, outdated trends in cover design. Lola has also illustrated several of Crosbie’s pieces for the online magazine Hazlitt. The premise was just as interesting as the cover: a suicidal Kurt Cobain fan named Evelyn Gray wakes up in a hospital room next to a young man named Celine Black who seems to be either Cobain himself, reincarnated, or somehow possessed by Cobain’s spirit. The two of them fall madly in love almost instantly and proceed to create their own drug-fueled interpretation of Kurt and Courtney’s tragic romance. What could possibly go wrong? I’m glad you asked. This is only my second encounter… Continue Reading

A New Look and A New Engine

Hello folks, and welcome to the new version of vestige.org. After more than a decade using a content management system called Movable Type I’ve determined that it’s no longer able to let me do the things I want to do easily, so I’ve decided to switch to WordPress instead. Half the world runs on WordPress these days, so this will also be an excuse to learn how it works. For right now I’ll be using a modified off-the-shelf theme rather than designing my own. Things will look a little rough for a while, as importing my data has left some images looking weird, and so on. I’ll be trouble-shooting and tweaking all my old posts on an ongoing basis to get it looking as right as possible on this new system. I’d appreciate it if you’d forgive a little weirdness on older posts over the next few weeks or months.… Continue Reading

From A Work In Progress (II)

From the same work in progress as this, although that has changed in the meantime. I write very slowly, as you can probably tell (and yeah, I fudged the geography a little). Comments are still down because I haven’t had time to fix them, but feel free to send me a message on twitter. She hadn’t anticipated the boat. She’d gotten her fake Canadian ID, some bright plastic money in a bunch of different colours, smartphone registered with a Canadian carrier and a Canadian SIM card, even paid extra to have a chequing account set up in her new name at the Bank of MontrĂ©al. She had pictured a night crossing in the back of an ancient Toyota, glare from halogen lamps whipping across her face as they drove through the checkpoint. Lying to the border guards or even trying to stay quiet in the trunk if it came to… Continue Reading

On “Hardness” in Science Fiction

I don’t know if the geeky things I choose to read online on a regular basis just aren’t diverse enough (a strong possibility, given my recent analysis of my 2015 reading list), or if something has happed to cause a number of folks to write about the same or similar issues at more or less the same time, but regardless, people seem to be talking about or around the concept of “hardness” in science fiction. I’m going to throw some links at you, and then we can talk about them. Charlie Stross recently hosted a fascinating discussion on science fiction shibboleths on his blog (along with a similar one about Fantasy shibboleths, which is not relevant to us today, but worth taking a look at in its own right), Charlie Jane Anders put up a great piece about how to integrate character development into your action-oriented story (which is extremely… Continue Reading

Reading Breakdown for 2015

I hope to get back to reviewing books again in the next couple of months, but as I didn’t get much of that done at all in 2015, I thought I’d do another breakdown of my year in reading. This year I did not read to a program as I did in 2014. I decided to just let my spur-of-the-moment impulses guide my reading, and see how things compared to last year. I read a total of 78 books in 2015, up by 6 from 72. Unfortunately, some of my other statistics, specifically those showing writer diversity, did not improve. In fact, they generally got worse: 51 books/65% by men, up from 30 books/42% in 2014 25 books/32% by women, down from 39 books/54% in 2014 2 books/3% by both men and women, down from 3 books/4% in 2014 4 books/5% by people of colour, down from 7 books/10% in… Continue Reading

The Stone Boatmen, by Sarah Tolmie

I’ve been meaning to write about this book for quite a while, but if I had the time to be writing about books I’d still be doing it for money. So: my apologies for the delay, and for how short this is going to be. Simply stated, The Stone Boatmen was the best thing I read in 2014. There’s a blurb on the back of the book by Ursula K. Le Guin comparing it to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, which is pretty accurate. Tolmie’s debut novel isn’t nearly so slow, and it’s far more optimistic in tone, but it shares with Peake’s masterpiece a meditative preoccupation with time, with its variable pace and the thrill or stagnation that can accompany that variability. The Stone Boatmen is about the reconnection of three societies who have lost touch with each other, their collective past, and even the true nature of their own cultures.… Continue Reading