Watts it all about? Echopraxia and a look back at Starfish

photoI’ve been reading and revisiting the fiction of Peter Watts this month. I knew I’d be doing a review of Echopraxia, see, so I decided to take a look back at Starfish via the Tor.com “That Was Awesome” series. Peter and I are friends now, and we’ve even been published in the same Polish magazine. But I didn’t know him back in 2000 or so, when his first book came out and I reviewed it for Locus. The look back tells about how my not-entirely-positive review sparked our friendship. I won’t cover the same ground here. Instead, I give you the Cliff’s Notes: both books are excellent, but the newer one is better. Both will reward every second you spend on them. And if you want a taste first, try this Tor.com free short, which is a tie-in to Echopraxia. It’s called The Colonel.

Apocalypse, Canada Style

imageMy story “Snow Angels” is now out in Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and featuring stories by (among others) Claude Lalumiere, A.C. Wise, and Michael Matheson. The full Table of Contents is here; I looked for reviews, but haven’t found any yet.

“Snow Angels” may be the first story I wrote after I moved East. I had imagined the apocalypse as seen from British Columbia many times, perhaps most notably in stories like “Wild Things,” and as I accommodated to being here in Toronto I made a real effort to imagine something less Pacific Raincoast, more urban. As a result, this story may have more car per column inch than anything I’ve ever written.

I also wanted to play with the image of Canada and Canadians as quiet, low-key, even boring, while also steering clear of some of the standard end of the world hits–zombie infestation, atomic war, global warming. So the apocalypse in “Snow Angels” creeps in like an unrelenting fall of snow: cold, stealthy. A few flakes at first. Then, eventually it’s a silent, windless blizzard, a creeping not-quite-death that covers the world, a chilly colorless smothering blanket.

Here’s the beginning:

Lindy was elbow-deep in window glass when the tech started giving her hell about her Winkles.

“You haven’t been dusting.” He ran a rag over their faces. They were on a stretcher beside Lindy’s varnishing table: a boy, a girl, a something. Not kin, from their looks: the girl had Southeast Asian features and the boy was a mixed-race cherub with honey curls. “This one’s got cobwebs. You gotta take better care.”

“Who’s taking care of me?” Lindy had been fusing scavenged windshield shards, filtering out the surviving smartcrystals and printing a self-charging pane which drew power from the weak northern sun beyond her window.

“Red here’s got an elevated heart rate.” The tech meant the devil child, the one in the cheap Halloween costume.

Why Moving is Cool… (Toronto, day 466)

Last week I developed a sudden burning need to rewatch the first five minutes of “Mountie on the Bounty,” a Due South episode from about midway through the Ray Kowalski years. In Due South fandom, you are generally either RayK or a Ray Vecchio fan; I’m the latter, and didn’t acquire the DVDs after The One True Ray had left the building.

Youtube, however, has the opening of MotB, which sets Fraser and RayK atop a very tall building, in a gunfight which they’re losing, and midway through the process of maybe getting killed, Fraser comes up with the bright idea of jumping off the building and into what–since this is Chicago–should be Lake Michigan. They do it. Ray, who can’t swim, is Officially Unimpressed.

Anyway, I brought up the clip. Bang, bang, yell, yell, and… jump!

And there was something shiny and new! In a piece of television which I’ve probably watched… oh, hey, let’s not even guess the number of times. I recognized the building! Because the role of Chicago was, naturally, being played by the city of Toronto, and now that I live here I recognized the very tall building as one of my favorite photographic subjects, the Canada Malt silo on the shore of Lake Ontario.

And, yes! I am right. Proof!

I’d see so much more, I realize, if I dipped into a proper DS rewatch.

A-readin’, A-repairin’, A-Kithmetic

Last night I read at the regular ChiSeries event, along with Sarah Tolmie, Charlene Challenger, and Errick Nunnally. (I noticed, but forgot to say, that all of us but Errick read pieces that eventually took their characters to big empty rooms with mattresses on the floor, which seems an odd coincidence.)

I wasn’t sure how many people would make it, what with Worldcon just having ended, but a fair number of the usual marvelous suspects were there. Hugs were exchanged, socializing happened, the food and music were good and as usual Kari Maaren and Peter Chiykowski sang original genre-themed songs between the readers.

(This isn’t the song Peter sang last night, but it’s a good representation of what I’ve heard of him.)

Other things that have happened recently…

Two friendly, burly guys came by Monday, took our apartment door right off its hinges, and vanished with it to the parkade for an hour before reinstalling the thing. If you ever want to feel weirdly vulnerable, try out having no front door for awhile. All of this was in service of trimming the bottom of the door so that Kelly and I can get out and in reliably. (I can’t remember if I told you all about some of our recent adventures in having to have the door kicked in, OMG, on one occasion, and on another having our floor installer break in through a window when the door proved too mighty to be kicked.

The repair process isn’t quite complete–the jamb needs some work, too, it turns out. But it should be soon. Friday soon, is the plan. (And then there are other little things – a closet door, the dishwasher… ah, new homes.)

Anyway, it will be nice to not worry about getting trapped inside or outside the house sometime.

I gave in to curiosity and weighed Lorenzo this morning, and he’s 7.8 bristlin’ pounds to CinCin’s still-wide-eyed 4.7. He is all string and muscle and teen boy attitude, with no cush whatsoever. When he comes to me for love, he rolls off my upper body unless I brace him–he’s so taut he can’t melt into me. Imagine having a warm medicine ball, with whiskers, trying to make itself comfortable on your ribcage.

Me and the Kittens

He spent 20 minutes this morning trying out various poses, and eventually discovered that if he lay parallel to my collarbones and braced his weight against my throat, he could hang out for awhile. It was so delightful to be snuggled that I let him do it. What’s a little asphyxia when set against the goal of having cats who are abundantly physically affectionate, right?

Terms of endearment (the kittens’ many nicknames)

image
CinCin
Fairy Cat
Clownface
Clownfish
Urchin
CheeChee Feathers, or sometimes Mrs. CheeChee Feathers.

Runt (though she weighs over 2 kilos now, CinCin was definitely the runt of her litter. She got weighed on Wednesday during her abortive spay attempt. We haven’t tried to weigh Lozo lately,  but he’s at least a third bigger. And feels like warm, muscular concrete.)

Speaking of whom…

Lozo
Lozo Bambino
Lozo Magnifico
Larry
‘Renzo
Munchkin
Michelin Man – because he’s muscular and taut as an overinflated tire.

Either/Or/Both:
Flip and Flop
Fric and Frac
Thing One and Thing Two
i Bambini

I know you all needed, desperately, to know this.

We also need to come up with an alto part for the Parry Gripp song “Weiner Dog,” because CinCin comes running whenever we play the video or sing it ourselves, and I think hearing it in two part harmony would blow her tiny little mind. She likes things with soprano notes, go figure.

VWF, now with more me!

Alyx portrait 2014 smallI am extremely excited to announce that I’ll be appearing at the Vancouver Writers Fest, which takes place on Granville Island October 21 to 26th. I’ll be appearing in two events: the first is called Serial Success and is intended for high school students.
But the other event is all ages, all the time and will probably sell out fast so if you want to see me, William Gibson and Sebastien de Castell, don’t wait, don’t waffle, and don’t wonder. Tickets go on sale September 8th.
Probables and impossibles
What’s the difference between fantasy and science fiction? Fantasy can’t happen. Science fiction is something that hasn’t happened, but could. Two fantasy writers and one science fiction writer talk about the worlds of the probable and the impossible that they’ve imagined onto the pages of their new novels. William Gibson’s The Peripheral is his latest invention in a long string of inventive novels that have earned him rave reviews and a worldwide following over three decades.  Working in the world of the impossible are fantasy writers A.M. Dellamonica and Sebastien de Castell. Travel to Dellamonica’s Stormwrack, an ocean- based world on the other side of the portal. Or duck the barbarians at the borders of de Castell’s Tristia. Good thing these worlds are impossible—and very entertaining.
On the 28th, I’ll be moving on to the U.S. where I’m signing Child of a Hidden Sea (and of course my other books, if you happen to  be collecting) at the University Bookstore at 990 102nd Ave NE in Bellevue, Washington.

CinCin is still fertile and still feisty… eek!

SONY DSCCinCIn didn’t have her operation yesterday after all. Our very conscientious vet didn’t like the looks of her blood work. She may have picked up a parasite, so we’re deworming. Again. The other stat that’s out of whack is something they often see in growing kittens, so we’re supposed to a) not worry overmuch; and b) bring her back in a month.

She is just as bouncy and happy and apparently healthy as ever. Here’s hoping she doesn’t go into heat before we can get Lozo fixed.

In other news, I just opened my third support ticket with Canada Post in an attempt to deal with the fact that they aren’t forwarding our mail. Iconcluded it with a blatant threat, to wit:

You essentially have until I find time to write a hilarious blog entry about this for my author site, Facebook and other social media to either resolve the situation or refund our $92.60.

I rarely get what I want in life by being bitchy, but the fact that they tweeted unhelpful advice back at me about this problem, using the hashtag #cpcares, has been something of a red flag in my eyes.

The fact that the person who called me said, basically, “We are so doing it! And if we aren’t, we can’t find out why not because… well… computers.” That also didn’t help.

LSQ Interview and a kitty operation

photo by Kelly Robson
photo by Kelly Robson

KC of Luna Station Quarterly has interviewed me about all of my books and about writing generally. If you haven’t looked at LSQ before, it’s worth checking out.

Chinchilla went for a certain operation last night; our vet kept her for fasting and prep, and will fix her today. Lorenzo was allowed, therefore, to actually sleep with us. (I figured that left all alone, he’d cry at the bedroom door all night). He behaved very well, and was gratifyingly snuggly. And apparently he’s sticking too close to Kelly, because I hear the unmistakable sound of a cat almost getting stepped on as I write this.

It’s stunning to think that these two have grown from near-adulthood from this:

More baby pics

The plan is to pick her up, stitched up and good to go (and possibly with a cone of shame on her head) this evening.

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