All posts by Alyx Dellamonica

After twenty-two years in Vancouver, B.C., I've recently moved to Toronto Ontario, where I make my living writing science fiction and fantasy; I also review books and teach writing online at UCLA. I'm a legally married lesbian, a coffee snob, and I wake up at an appallingly early hour.

Cause and Effect: Yoga Edition

imageYesterday I realized I was bestowing big grins on a subset of the guys I passed on the street. They all happened to be about the same size, in the mid-twenties age range, and bearded and gingery. Not quite scruffy, but definitely not corporate.

In time, I worked out that what these guys have in common is that they might possibly look like one of Yyoga’s ashtanga instructors. Because I go into the studio without my glasses on, I have a smeary and apparently rather approximate idea of what the fellow in question looks like.

Basically I spent the day smiling at people who almost certainly weren’t O the very nice yoga dude.

This may imply that as I get older and blinder, my goodwill toward all humanity will increase as I continue to assume that everyone I see out and about is, possibly, one of my friends or acquaintances.

Ten Books that Left Bite Marks

keep readingOver on Facebook, several people tagged me in the “list ten books that have stayed with you” meme. It has taken me awhile to get to it, in part because the moment I started, I realized I needed a list for childhood faves and a second one for books that had an impact since I’ve been an adult. Here’s the latter list, in no especial order:

Lincoln’s Dreams, by Connie Willis. When we were first married, Kelly and I took turns reading each other novels that were important to us. She got to the crisis in this book one evening, shortly before I had to head off to work at an all-night answering service. I phoned her as soon as things got slow and begged her to finish it over the phone. It took her until 1:00 in the morning. I started rereading it the next day.

How Few Remain, by Harry Turtledove. This was my first real introduction to long-form alternate history, and the first scene whereby a not-assassinated Abraham Lincoln is talking to trade unionists about their rights blew my brain right out of its skull. (I keep tchotchkes and TTC tokens there now.)

Mystery, by Peter Straub. This could just about go on the childhood list. It’s a book I’ve returned to, every couple years, since I was in my teen.

I have a love-hate relationship with Straub’s work, and with the Blue Rose novels particularly. This is the one I love beyond reason: it’s perfect, in terms of its writing and the story it tells, and the fact that he ret-conned the story later causes me actual physical pain.

Zodiac, by Neal Stephenson. Early Stephenson often makes me happier than later Stephenson, though I have mad love for Snow Crash, too. This one, with its poisoned lobsters and anti-pollution activists, goes straight to my enviro-geek heart.

The Shape of Snakes, by Minette Walters, absolutely fascinates me. I reread it just about yearly. The ending gets me every time.

In the Woods, by Tana French. I’ve gone on at length about this one, and its gorgeous prose and unreliable narrator, before.

The Blue Place, by Nicola Griffith. And its sequels. Lesbian noir, with a point of view so convincing it makes you feel as though someone’s reached inside your brain and rewired you.

The Rift, by Walter Jon Williams, a man who has written so many brilliant novels. And yet this is the one I love: a retelling of Huck Finn as a modern U.S. disaster novel. Heart, heart, heart.

The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde. An alternate world where people care about literature the way people here care about football. With time travel to boot. Oh Emm Effin’ Gee!

The Closer, by Donn Cortez. Another book whose final line just kills. This was written prior to Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but the concept is similar. Is it darker? Less dark? You decide.

I will not tag others–I’m coming late to this meme and figure everyone who wants to play has done so–but I will note for anyone who’s interested that I plan to post the childhood books list in the not too distant, so even if you did the above exercise, you can jump on that wagon too.

Here’s Moxy Fruvous to play us out:

Cone cat vs. Bored cat

imageMost of you may know we had CinCin spayed, finally, last Thursday. The vet sent her home in a cone that was wayyy too big, because she is so very small, and she ditched it almost immediately and licked her stitches off the first night.

Friday she went back for a second round of anesthetic and stitching. She’s been encased in a much smaller, jerry-rigged cone of duct tape and shame ever since, and has been somewhat high maintenance as a result. The low point was when she dipped the leading edge of the thing deep into her litter box and then lifted her head, essentially dumping a half cup of cat sand into her own face. My poor baby!

So we have been trailing her around, policing her litter visits when possible, encouraging her to drink extra water, mixing the antibiotics with butter and fish flakes so there isn’t a twice-daily trauma-inducing wrestling match, and luxuriating in the fact that, since she isn’t quite comfortable bolting around the house at top speed with no peripheral vision, she’s super-extra snuggly.

She’s been high maintenance, but it has had its rewards.

Lozo, meanwhile, has been very gentle with her and is going nuts with boredom. We’re running him around as much as we possibly can, but he misses having a fully-committed playmate.

She goes back Saturday morning to get the stitches out and her last round of immunizations. Your good thoughts to the tune of ‘no more vets for awhile!’ would be much appreciated.

Edited to add: this was supposed to go up on Wednesday, and didn’t. Since then, things have gotten more lively:

Autumn Tour Dates

imageQuite a few things that have been in the works for awhile are locking into place now. As some of you already know, I’ll be at the Vancouver Writers Fest, appearing with William Gibson and Sebastien de Castell, on October 25th. Tickets are on sale now – I’d frankly love to have a big hometown turnout.

Afterward, I figure we’ll head somewhere as a mob, grab some decent, affordable food, and hang out. Let me know if you’re in.

On the 28th, I’ll be reading and signing Child of a Hidden Sea at the University Bookstore in Bellevue, Washington. The event’s at 8:00 p.m. and I’m taking the train in that very day, so the get-together window will probably be afternoon/early evening. Once travel logistics have come together, I’ll let you know.

And before all of that happens, I’ll be appearing at the New York City Comicon, on Friday October 10th, with a panel on Friday called Playing with Magic. Here’s the description:

Magic is central to fantasy, whether it takes place in our world or one completely foreign. But there are many different kinds of magic: from shape-shifting to mind-reading to weather control. How does the use of magic affect storytelling? Join A.M. Dellamonica (Child of a Hidden Sea), Ilona and Gordon Andrews (Burn for Me), C.L. Wilson (Winter King), George Hagen (Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle), Jaclyn Dolamore (Dark Metropolis) and Jeff Somers (We Are Not Good People) as they discuss incorporating magic into the fabric of their worlds with moderator Lev Grossman (The Magicians trilogy).

Kelly will be coming along on this one. We’ll be in Manhattan for a couple of days.

Speculating Canada on the queer in Stormwrack

Derek Newman-Stile of Speculating Canada says this about the book:

Dellamonica explores the isolating power of homophobia and its ability to displace LGBTQ populations in her general narrative of displacement.Child of a Hidden Sea is powerful as a narrative because it embodies both curiosity and the desire to find a sense of home and place to belong as well as its ability to point out that displacement is still a persistant feature in our world, one that is further sharpened by economic inequalities, sexism, homophobia, and general power structures that serve to elevate certain groups of people over others.

Here, for a change of pace, is the trailer for the hands-down best of the films we saw at the festival: Behavior, from Cuba:

Wheezing into Monday…

photoKitten updates have been few and far between lately, I know, because Kelly and I were scampering around to a variety of movies at TiFF, with my always delightful and thoroughly brilliant cousins, Alicia and Joe. What’s up with the kids is, basically, that they are cute. Supercute, even!

We experimented a little with leaving the bedroom open to them at night while we were en vacance, but they are still too rambunctious. No big surprise there. CinCin’s headed back to the vet in about ten days for spayage and shots. I’ve also rearranged the top of the cat tree known as Beetlejuice Station. This might, eventually, occasion a new video.

This past staycation has been the best vacation, for me, in quite a long stretch of time. It offered the perfect mix of tourism, intellectual stimulation, good company, downtime, and amazing foodie experiences. Among other things, we tried a huge number of new restaurants: Khao San Road, The Harbord Room, The Senator, Fusaro’s Kitchen, and Byblos. Each of these is as deserving of a review as all the incredible films we saw.

It was illuminating, and has made me consider what K and I require in a break where our entertainment isn’t curated by a savvy, film-loving family member. Next time we have a stretch of time off at home, this shall be the model, I think: buy lots of tickets to lots of things, make a list of restaurants, and lure out various lovely people to partake with us.

Strange Horizons reviews CHS, plus Cumberbatch at #tiff14

imageSarah Frost of the ever-marvellous Strange Horizons says nice things about Child of a Hidden Sea in a lovely, thoughtful, even-handed review.

Dellamonica has imagined a world in which a class of warrior-lawyers spend their whole lives training to duel one another. It would be ridiculous for Sophie, whose primary weapon up until this point has been the waterproof camera case, to pick up a sword and be able to compete with them. No matter how long a twenty-first century heroine has spent pounding the rattan in the SCA, no training montage will make her a match for people whose combat skills have been a matter of life or death since they were old enough to hold a weapon.

I have been quiet this week because I have family in town and we’re going to movies, movies and more movies at the Toronto International Film Festival. Yesterday’s entry was The Imitation Game. It was the most conventional and least challenging of the bunch of things we’ve seen so far, and the script was exceedingly heavy-handed, but the cast was excellent. We’ve got Oscar material, folks.

Kitten television star gets big boy pants

imageLorenzo spent the night at the veterinarian’s. We were not going to get his nuts cut for another two weeks, after our vacation, but he was starting to act in an awfully adult fashion, if you know what I mean. I was having visions of Chinchilla spawning polydactyl brother kittens on our beleaguered couch, and me having to find them homes via all you good people on the Internet.

Anyway, his blood work has just come back. He is fine, and they will do the procedure this afternoon. Mere words cannot capture the scale of my relief on this score.

In the meantime, CinCin is sooooo lonely. I was off writing with some friends at a cafe this morning, and she has been all by herself for a couple of hours. Now she is planted in my lap and will probably stay there until I have to go out again in pursuit of our Film Festival Tickets.