Some Changes For the New Year

I’m discontinuing my “Reading 20XX” series, starting immediately. It’s not because I agree with Mr. Beattie’s opinion on “challenges” and quantity tracking or what have you (though I very much do agree with his call to read better). I think that paying attention to the numbers, and participating in things like the Canadian Book Challenge simply appeals to a kind of quirk, a kind of geekiness, that Mr. Beattie doesn’t have. It’s much more prevalent in fans of science fiction, fantasy, video games, and so on (and I qualify, in a, er, qualified way), and I don’t think there’s a right or wrong in it. It’s an impulse to classify, to organize, to manage and compartmentalize. In my case it manifests temporally; even my bookshelves are organized (when they are organized) to reflect when a book came into my life, or when in that author’s career that book appeared. I… Continue Reading

Some Short Fiction

Back in the fall of 2002, when I was an undergraduate going into my final year at the University of Waterloo, I realized that, while I was doing okay for money that term, things were going to be tight once Christmas was over. I’d worked two jobs in high school (at one point working sixty hours a week on top of being a full time student, and maintaining a solid B+ average) and had been so burnt out by the experience that there was no way I would be able to get a job and deal with the workload of being a fourth year university student. I saw an ad for a short story contest, and decided that I would get a little bit of cash by winning that. There’s no way I could manage that level of hubris today, but back then I was kind of like that sometimes.… Continue Reading

Rebecca Rosenblum’s Frosh Questionnaire

There are questionnaires that float around the Internet. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Facebook and Livejournal in particular are overrun with them. They are sometimes very, very long, and ostensibly reveal personal things about whoever has filled them out, but there’s also a distance implied. Most people fill them out, pass them on, and then later claim to hate them. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: if you catch me at just the right time, I kind of love them. Rebecca Rosenblum has recently filled one out, apparently based on a series of “getting to know you” emails that were passed around when she was in her first year of university (we didn’t do that at my school; we actually stood in the common area of our dorm and our don made us introduce ourselves and give a little spiel). Not long after, Amy Jones, who… Continue Reading

Not Dead (Yet)

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that I’ve neither died nor drifted off into space. I have been very busy reading and writing, sometimes even for money. Which means I’ve got a backlog of reviews for the blog, though some are already in early drafts (yeah, I’m even doing drafts now). Here’s what you can expect hopefully in the next few weeks: Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson Spook Country, by William Gibson What Boys Like, by Amy Jones Before I Wake, by Robert J. Wiersema The World More Full of Weeping, by Robert J. Wiersema The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman Five Days Apart, by Chris Binchy I’ve also written some reviews for publication in the last few months, which has been really fun. I’ll let you know when those see print. Anyway, still here, still reading, still… Continue Reading

An Open Letter to Councillor Adam Vaughan, Re: G20 Security and the Removal of Trees

Dear Councillor Vaughan, I am writing you to express my concern that trees may be torn up in the downtown core as part of the security measures for the upcoming G20 Summit taking place here in Toronto. I am writing to you, in particular, because I am a resident of Trinity-Spadina, and because you were quoted in the National Post piece that brought the issue of the trees to my attention. The removal of the trees is an unnecessary and disgraceful addition to what has already become a shameful display of security theatre. There are police officers in my family, and many close family friends are also officers, some serving as constables on the street, some in higher, supervisory or investigative roles at various police services across this country, including in the RCMP. I understand their professionalism, their commitment to public safety, and it is my most profound wish that… Continue Reading

Do Books Need to be “Social”?

Social media isn’t going away. Anyone arguing that isn’t paying attention or is just straight up not very bright. Everything is “going social”. Services like Facebook and Twitter, when coupled with the rise in popularity and greater affordability of mobile computing are making it easier for folks to stay connected to one another over long distances, and to feel like they have a relationship with their favourite brands, celebrities, media outlets, whatever. In some ways it’s a marketer’s wet dream. There’s this idea that social media, or the social web, or whatever you want to call it, is about making direct connections between people rather than, say, connections between dumb web pages and PDF documents and what have you. This dichotomy is true if you think of the Internet as being largely made up of automated, corporate-controlled, business-centred websites and tools. Accurate statistics have always been hard to come by,… Continue Reading

Dear Facebook

re: recent changes to Facebook Connect/Open Graph I am concerned that I had to ‘opt out’ rather than ‘opt in’ to letting Facebook and my friends on Facebook release my private information to third parties not of my choosing. This is a disturbing trend, and it’s clearly not in keeping with the spirit (nor perhaps the letter) of your agreement with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Frankly, it feels like Beacon all over again, with OpenID grafted on top of it. I will continue to tighten my privacy settings and scale back my use of Facebook until such time as you have default settings and policies/practices that treat my privacy with respect, rather than making me feel like you’d sell my information to anyone and everyone, and just hope I won’t notice. best, August C. Bourré

A Question

I’ve been running for just a touch over a decade now, and one thing that I have always, always, always said, is that I didn’t want the site to be about making money. No advertising, no affiliate links, no donations or sponsored posts or any of that nonsense. What you do on your site is your business, but I didn’t want any of that here. Most of my current readership was not around back when I used to be vocal about this sort of thing, so it probably won’t matter to you folks, but I remember it quite clearly, and it matters to me. But. This site isn’t very expensive to maintain, if you define “not very expensive” in relation to some kind of objective measure, like the average income for a thirty-something, university-educated white male living in Toronto. The thing is, I don’t make the average income for… Continue Reading

What’s Wrong With Iron Council

This is not a post about the Bechdel test, nor The Frank Miller test (dramatised here), aka the How To Tell If A Male Science Fiction Writer Is Obsessed With Whores Test. This post is not actually about gender representations at all. It does, weirdly, come from my having just read a post that is kind of, sort of, about those things. You see, a while back I wrote about China Miéville’s novel, Iron Council, and I had some trouble explaining exactly what was wrong with it, stylistically speaking. What I wrote was: Events that would later be referenced with specificity were described with a dream-like vagueness that often made it difficult to figure out just what the hell was going on. It felt like he was in such a hurry to move the plot forward that he ignored the mechanics of his prose. In addition, he once again made… Continue Reading

Goings On

My eyelids are heavy and my hands are cold for no apparent reason because I left the window open and this is a basement apartment wherein the heating is controlled by someone in an apartment the heat rises to rather than from, so what we have here is just a “hey, I’m alive” post for those of you that don’t follow my ramblings on Twitter. There will be no e-books post this weekend, because apparently there’s some holiday called “Easter” coming up, and I’m going to be out of town visiting family, which is the sort of thing I do on holidays. Not having a laptop or other portable computing solution makes posting while out of town a touch difficult. On a related note, there won’t be any post on the Jeff Rubin book for a while either; I’m taking extra care reading it because I think it will help… Continue Reading