Vampire Week on Speculating Canada – Sept 9- 15, 2012

It’s like Shark Week, but with less teeth. Vampires only need two to do the job that it takes a full mouth full of shark teeth for!!

During the week of September 9th to September 15th 2012, stay tuned to Speculating Canada for :
-An interview with vampire author Nancy Kilpatrick (and find out why she is called Canada’s Queen of the Damned)
-Editorials on the Canadian vampire
-A discourse on the Black Lands vampire by Ian Rogers, author of the Felix Renn series
-Reviews of Canadian vampire literature
-Some recommendations of new vamp books to read

It would SUCK to miss it.

“Curiosity’s primal. Our senses scan our surroundings, alerting us most urgently about sudden change. Useful, that. Change can mean opportunity. It can mean danger. Finding lunch or being lunch. We’re hard-wired to notice the unexpected, then take action.”

–Julie Czerneda – Foreward (Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales)

Quote- Curiosity and Change

Everyone Hides Behind Their Masks, Whether They Are Superheroes or Psychiatrists

A Review of Steve Vernon’s The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass in Nothing to Lose (Nocturne Press, 2007)

By Derek Newman-Stille

What does pain do to a person? In what way is victimhood contagious? Asks Steve Vernon in his short story The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass.  Vernon’s story is a superhero story, but one that is not about someone with incredible powers or a beyond the normal desire for justice. He is a regular man trying to make his city a better place. He is a person in poverty, like many heroes would be – torn between the desire to fight crime and the needs of everyday life in a capitalist society. His hero is one that wears a mask and cape, but lives in a one-room apartment with cockroaches unlike the traditional Marvel and DC comics heroes. He doesn’t have his own method of transportation – no Batmobile – he takes a cab to the hideaways of criminals and into the darker parts of the city, the same as any other citizen would.

This story is fundamentally one about the state of victimhood and may be upsetting for those who have been victims of violent crime. Despite the superhero context, this is a very serious story about the nature of society and the way that crime can spread to encompass more than just the original victim. Pain in this story is like ripples on a pond, spreading outward uncontrollably and affecting greater numbers of people. A lot of that pain centres around those who try to help society, and a psychiatrist in this story becomes both victim and victimiser, having her veneer of control broken by violent crime. She is fundamentally changed by her experience of crime and develops a vampiric hunger to absorb the sensory experience of crime around her, consuming all of the anger and frustration and guilt in the hearts of her patients.  She is a broken mirror reflecting the pain of society, and Steve Vernon asks the question, how can one defeat pain? How can one defeat victimhood?

The hero of The Glint of Moonlight on Broken Glass aptly calls himself Captain Nothing, aware that there is fundamentally nothing under his masks but more masks, an endless Russian nesting doll, a Matryoshka doll spiraling toward a hollow core with every level that is taken away. He represents the anonymity of the city, the social masks that people in civilisation wear to hide their inner selves and the danger that wearing multiple masks can make when one loses sight of their own identity. Masks of class, masks of profession, masks of emotional health that cover the lack of substantial identity beneath. Vernon asks the question what lies beneath the masks? and reminds us that often we wear masks not to hide from others, but to hide from ourselves.

You can read more about Steve Vernon at  and you can purchase Nothing to Lose at

“If cabdrivers are found to be lacking in curiosity, it can no doubt be attributed to that faculty having been lost amid the innumerable other curiosities cabmen find themselves surrounded by every week. In fact, as a general rule, on can say that things are most easily lost amongst similar objects, which is why seamstresses avoid the society of haymakers.”

– Paul Marlowe – Knights of the Sea (Sybertooth, Inc. 2010).


Quote – Lost Amongst Similar Objects

Spectres, Spooks, and Supernatural S.A.D.

A Review of Ian Rogers’ The Ash Angels (Burning Effigy Press, 2010)

By Derek Newman-Stille

The second book in Ian Rogers’ Felix Renn series, The Ash Angels, abstracts issues of depression onto a supernatural enemy. Rogers delves into the heart of depression,  exploring the hollow emptiness of the soul, and the monstrous internal threat of the suicidal impulse. Unlike other novels that have delved into pure fear and horror, The Ash Angels explores the horror of the depressed state and the betrayal of one’s own mind that occurs as one enters into the dark, empty, hollowness within.

Ian Rogers turns the image of the snow angel, an image of joy and playfulness in the winter into one of darkness. The angels are made of ash, dark grey and devoid of life. They are the aftermath of a depressed state and a link to the internal suicidal impulse. The fact that he sets his story around the holiday season brings the image of depression into sharp focus.

By attributing a supernatural cause to the depressive impulse, Ian Rogers subverts the notion that our society has developed that depression is something that comes from within – that it is a choice – and instead frames depression as something external, inexplicable, and not easily solved by personal will. He allows the reader to see that the depressive impulse is not a personal choice to be unhappy, or a lack of effort to find happiness, but rather situates it as something that is sudden, violent, and external to the individual. He causes the reader to stop and speculate about the nature of depression and the depths of horror that the depressive impulse causes for those with chronic depression. By attributing a supernatural cause to the issue, Rogers allows the reader to approach depression from a safe distance, to explore it through a lens of fiction and safety that doesn’t automatically bring up the dark figures in one’s own mind.

This novel is truly terrifying because it deals with the lack of control that comes with depression; the lack of agency and internal chaos that comes when one is submerged in one’s own shadows. These monsters, although external in the novel, are internal for many people and serve as a reminder of the lurking dangers within one’s own soul and the slight change that is needed to plunge a person into darkness.

You can read more about Ian Rogers at . To get more information on Rogers’ world of The Black Lands, check out his site , which contains a history of the Black Lands, background on the Paranormal Intelligence Agency, and a list of the Felix Renn books and short stories.

Deep Space Dexter

Review of “Long Leap” by Derek Kunsken. In On Spec Vol. 24, No. 1, Spring 2012.
By Derek Newman-Stille

Derek Kunsken takes on a huge challenge by portraying a character who is utterly without emotions, a sociopathic (though not officially a sociopath) character who is distanced from the human and who murders. He portrays the ultimate monster – the one that can hide in our society and pass as human. Robert IS officially human, but he is so dissociated from the human experience, he should be unrelateable. However, Kunsken creates his character as a futuristic Dexter, a sociopath that is portrayed as somehow possible for the audience to understand if not entirely relate to.

The skill of Kunsken’s craft can be seen in his ability to make Robert understandable to the reader. Despite the offputting, offsetting nature of the sociopath, Kunsken is somehow able to get into his mind and make him human for his audience.

Kunsten sets his sociopath on a small, restricted society – a space ship adrift in the cosmos on its way to a colony world. This society, knowing that it is going to be in transit for years beyond their own lives have decided to almost entirely give up the sciences and become a colony of artists. He suggests that if given a society in which their physical needs are accommodated, almost everyone would opt to become an artist.

Artists are figured in our society as creatures that live in perpetual emotion, and Kunsten reinforces this by having only a handful of people interested in anything other than the arts. Of the few scientists is the only sociopath, cut off from emotional understanding and the humanistic touch that guides the arts. Despite travelling through space, the only one interested in looking up at the sky and becoming an astronomer… is someone who cannot understand humanity.

This colony of artists are pulled off course and end up having to rapidly learn the sciences when dropped into a binary star system where the only planet is made entirely of toxic metals.  The sociopath in the village, dissociated from humanity, is the only one who is able to understand a wider interpretation of life and make calculated risks.

You can explore On Spec’s website at

Facebook site for Speculating Canada

I have now created a Facebook community for Speculating Canada, and I invite people to join this community.

My hope is that this community will be an opportunity to have more open discussions about Canadian Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy, and other genres of the Canadian Speculative or Fantastic. The Speculating Canada site readers are an incredible resource and this Facebook community will be a chance for all of you to talk to one another and to have open discussions about the fantastic. So far, most people are reading posts on Speculating Canada, but I am hoping that we can develop a place where we can have discussions and engage.

My vision for the site is a combination of a discussion forum and a reading club. My hope is that authors will also join us in discussions and add insights from an author perspective, as well as academics who may provide links and resources to connect SF to wider trends, and, of course, all fans of SF whose resources and insights are incredible.

I look forward to the possibility of having interactive discussions, hearing about what you are reading, getting ideas about questions to ask authors, ideas about where Canadian SF is going from here.

Please join me in talking about the Canadian Fantastic at .