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

Reading Breakdown for 2014

So apparently my only blog post for all of 2014 was a breakdown of my reading statistics for 2013 and a plan for how I was going to improve those statistics (specifically in terms of gender) for 2014. I had planned to write a few reviews—and those reviews will still be written and posted—but when you work between 70 and 90 hours a week thousands of kilometres from home, things like that fall by the wayside. I did, however, actually follow through with the changes to my reading program. Specifically, I tried to reach gender parity in my reading for 2014 after realizing that I wasn’t as close as I thought I was when I looked at what I’d read in 2013. I thought I was pretty close to 50/50 men/women, but it turns out I was more like 63/37, and my numbers on writers of colour were even worse.… Continue Reading

2013 Reading Summary and the Plan for 2014

I don’t generally keep track of my reading on any sort of statistical level. I read what I read for reasons that are as much about the mood I’m in when it comes time to start a new book as anything else (probably more than any other reason, to be honest). This means that my reading choices over the course of a year tend to be not particularly considered. But this year everything I read got logged into Goodreads, and for the first time in a while I wasn’t actually paid to read anything, so I thought I’d take a look at what I read in the absence of any direction (beyond a handful of books that were for my steampunk book club). Here’s the breakdown: I read 65 books in 2013; 39 of them were written or edited* by men, 24 were written or edited by women, and 2… Continue Reading

I Write Terrible Poems

Don’t you just hate really earnest poetry? I don’t mean the seriousness and melodrama of the Victorians, or the obliqueness of the Modernists, or even the loony bullshit of sound poets (well, okay, maybe I mean the loony bullshit of sound poets): I’m talking about the work of late-comers, the kind of folks whose work doesn’t show any sense of self-awareness, of irony, of humour, or wit. I hate that kind of poetry. So of course when I sit down to write a poem, that’s pretty much all that comes out. Even worse: most of the time my poetry winds up being about women I’ve loved, or almost loved, or who loved me, or might have loved me, whether I want it to be or not. I make a conscious choice to write about, say, a tree, and by the end I’m writing about how ACYL broke my heart. Some… Continue Reading

A Bit of News

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated. Some things have happened that have kept this blog a low priority: I did some freelance work, switched jobs a couple of times, and have gone through some personal issues. I’ve taken on a new job in northern Saskatchewan, where I will potentially be without regular Internet access three weeks out of every month, for non-business related things, anyway. The job is set to last about two years, so vestige.org will be quiet for most of that time. I’m going to try and update once a month or so, mostly with quick personal notes or nature photos and stuff (there will be lots of nature to photograph), just to let everyone know I’m alive and still reading, but the silence that has become usual around these parts is probably going to continue. The job is a good opportunity, for a whole bunch… Continue Reading

Friday Reads: Blueprints of the Afterlife, by Ryan Boudinot

“Friday Reads,” if you’re not familiar with the phrase, is a phenomenon on Twitter where folks use the #FridayReads hashtag to talk about, and usually recommend, the books they happen to be reading (you know, on Friday). It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s kind of fun and cute and whatever, the way Twitter hashtags are. I’m making this one a blog post because I found myself, only 136 pages into this book, wanting to post a really long string of tweets about it. You know how every Philip K. Dick book blows your mind? If you watch some of the filmed version of his work, like Minority Report or that trippy rotoscoped take on A Scanner Darkly you would be forgiven for imagining Dick’s work as pulpy and unrefined, accompanied by the slightly paranoid low-rent philosophy that comes with its own sour-smelling cloud of smoke and a really bad… Continue Reading