Darkly Dislocating

A Review of Eileen Kernaghan’s Sophie, In Shadow (Thistledown Press, 2014).

Cover Photo of Sophie, in Shadow courtesy of Thistledown Press

Cover Photo of Sophie, in Shadow courtesy of Thistledown Press

Suspended in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean after the Titanic was pulled beneath the waves, Sophie’s life was forever marked, forever suspended between life and the icy, shadowy depths of death. Re-living her brush with death in her dreams, Sophie brings visions of tragedy into her waking world, piercing the veils of the present to experience tragedies and horrors of the past, present, and future, moments steeped in death.

Death chases Sophie like an impenetrable miasma, thickening in moments of dislocation from the quiet life and English gentlewoman is supposed to experience, and drifting in clouds of horror into Sophie’s perception.

Eileen Kernaghan creates a sense of wondrous dislocation for the reader, a darkly beautiful reminder that every place is haunted, every locale filled with ghosts of memory from the past. Sophie, In Shadow reminds readers that we dwell in a place of fantasy, of wonder and excitement, and that those dreamy places of magic and mystery are always steeped in the shadows of past horrors and veiled in secrets. We are always one step through the veil of time away from tragedy.

Kernaghan reveals landscapes written about as darkly mysterious in the era of British colonialism and scarred by that process of colonial control, made dark by the tragedies committed to maintain colonial control and mysterious by the secrecy and denials of those in power. Sophie’s sense of dislocation from a life marred by tragedy and her ability to see tragedies of the past, present, and future at a distance is mirrored bin the colonial world around her where British subjects try to create an English landscape overtop of the locations they seek to control, building “home” in other territories where they are forever reminded that these places are not home and any sense of home is fiction maintained by harsh regulation, segregation, secrecy, and violence.

Set in the early 1900s, Kernaghan creates a novel of secrecy, espionage, violent resistance, and the exercise of power (both within the body through the regulation of psychic abilities, and throughout India through British governmental control).

To discover more about Sophie, In Shadow, visit Thistledown Press’ website at http://www.thistledownpress.com/html/search/genre/Young_Adult_Fiction/sophie_in_shadow_p586.cfm

To read more works by Eileen Kernaghan, visit her website at http://www.eileenkernaghan.ca/ .

Floating on Myths and Legends

A review of Marie Bilodeau’s The Kevlar Canoe in Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories (Tyche Books Ltd, 2013).

By Derek Newman-Stille

Marie Bilodeau re-visits Quebecois mythology in her story The Kevlar Canoe, reinventing legend and tying it to a modern legend, a myth for modernity: the superhero story. Taking the story of La Chasse-galerie, often translated into English as The Flying Canoe, Bilodeau inserts modernity into the tale, transforming the canoe into one made of Kevlar and lined with Tasers and other weapons attached by Velcro to its surface.

In the Quebecois legend, La Chasse-galerie is maneuvered by a voyager who has made a pact with the devil to gain the ability to fly a canoe through the skies like a leader of the Wild Hunt. But, Bilodeau’s modern Voyager searches for demons, protecting the world from their intrusion and policing the thin veils between the worlds. Like a fisherman of the sky, he feels the flow of the clouds and air currents around him to sense the presence of demons causing trembles in the surface of the world.

Playing with the religious character of the original story, Bilodeau inverts some of the assumptions. Church bells, normally symbolic of warding off evil presences, here are extensions of demonic power; their openings gaping mouths capable of biting the unwary, their chimes rupturing the world, and their influence controlling nuns, their passive servants. Rather than resurrecting a myth that reifies religious assumptions about the world, Bilodeau inverts them, reminding the reader that part of loving myths is questioning them and that myths should be speculations about the world rather than black and white presumed “Truths”.

The Voyager in Bilodeau’s story, like the tale of La Chasse-galerie, is one of the few of his kind, one of only a few voyagers remaining on scarce canoes, which were getting slower and older with time. But, far from being worn out, Bilodeau gives new life to this tale, illustrating that we can always find new meanings in our stories.

Bilodeau reminds the reader that our stories are still haunted by our mythic past, by the stories that pre-date us, but still continue to shape us and our understanding of the world. She shares the secret with her readers that myths are made to be changed, re-told, re-shaped to reveal new understandings, to adapt to the world’s questions and concerns by shifting with social currents.

You can discover more about the work of Marie Bilodeau at http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/

Visit Tyche Press to find out more about Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories at http://tychebooks.com/books/masked-mosaic/ .

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 9: A Mythic Night: An Author Reading by Marie Bilodeau and Karen Dudley

This is a live broadcast of the event “A Mythic Night: An Author Reading by Marie Bilodeau and Karen Dudley” which was held at Sadleir House in Peterborough Ontario and hosted by Derek Newman-Stille. The event was co-sponsored by Sadleir House, Ravenstone Press, and Speculating Canada.

The first time human beings looked out into nature and said “we are not alone”, myth was born. It has shaped our understanding of the world, grown, and changed with us as we human beings have grown and changed. We made our myths and our myths have made us. They are the stories we tell ourselves to understand the world around us and our place in it. They are forged out of our dreams, our pondering, and our desire to remind ourselves that the world is more complex than we can capture with mundane reality.

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

 

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

Marie Bilodeau reading at Sadleir House

Marie Bilodeau reading at Sadleir House

Marie Bilodeau and Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House for the author reading A Mythic Night

Marie Bilodeau and Derek Newman-Stille at Sadleir House for the author reading A Mythic Night

Marie Bilodeau mingling with the audience at A Mythic Night

Marie Bilodeau mingling with the audience at A Mythic Night

Thank you to Dwayne Collins for recording this event, to Sadleir House for providing the space, to Marie Bilodeau for doing a reading and story-telling, to Karen Dudley for allowing me to read from Food For The Gods, to Ravenstone Press for donating a copy of Karen’t Kraken Bake, and to the audience who attended the event, lending their support, energy, and enthusiasm to the performance.

Dark Communities

A review of Craig Davidson’s Sarah Court (ChiZine Publications, 2010)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Sarah Court courtesy of ChiZine Publications

Cover photo of Sarah Court courtesy of ChiZine Publications

Lives intersect in weird and complex ways. The notion of community itself is an interweaving of disparate yet intertwined stories, pulled together by dark threads… because there is something dark about suburban communities. They are built of bricks and blood mortared together by darkness and Craig Davidson’s Sarah Court removes those bricks one by one to reveal the way that communities are built of secrets and suburban streets are tarred with shadow.

Sarah Court follows the lives of a group of neighbours as they proceed through scarred, painful, damaged lives: parents pushing children past the point of their body’s tolerance, foster parents pushing their charges into sociopathic states for their own dark desires, and a man addicted to increasingly dangerous displays of daredevilry. Davidson illustrates the manipulative currents flowing through any community.

Even things like self-sacrifice don’t create positive change. Good intentions brick the path to hell, and hell is as close as the rest of suburbia. The real horror of the novel is made up of people who mean well. Davidson reveals the dark aesthetic underlying the real world.

To discover more about Sarah Court, visit ChiZine Publications’ website at http://www.chizinepub.com/books/sarah-court.php

To discover more about the work of Craig Davidson, visit his website at http://www.craigdavidson.net/ .

 

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 8: An Interview with Marie Bilodeau and Karen Dudley About Myth and Canadian SF

In this interview, SF authors Marie Bilodeau, Karen Dudley, and I explore the mythic underpinnings of modern Canadian SF. Prepare for us to open up mythic worlds within all of those little corners of reality.

Marie Bilodeau is an award-winning, Ottawa-based Science Fiction and Fantasy author and a professional storyteller. A modern mythographer, Marie creates worlds of wonder with pen and voice. Marie is the author of the Destiny and Heirs of a Broken Land series of novels.

Karen Dudley is a Winnipeg-based author of environmental mysteries and historical fantasy. Evoking the wonder of the past and the mysteries of the present, Karen blends humour with the paranormal. Karen is the award-winning author of the novels Kraken Bake, Food for the Gods, Hoot to Kill, Macaws of Death, and multiple others.

Together, we examine the continuity and changes of myth, moral grey areas in Canadian SF, the development of the figure of the hero, the villain, and the monster… and, of course, the ultimate villain: Winter!

Explore Trent Radio at www.trentradio.ca

Explore Trent Radio at http://www.trentradio.ca

 

This audio file was originally broadcast on Trent Radio, and I would like to thank Trent Radio for their continued support.

Make sure to allow a few minutes for the file to buffer since it may take a moment before it begins to play.

This interview was taped in preparation for the event – A Mythic Night: An Author Reading by Karen Dudley and Marie Bilodeau at Sadleir House (751 George Street North in Peterborough) taking place on Thursday June 19th at 7:00 PM.

A Mythic Night poster 2 revised

A Mythic Night: An Author Reading by Karen Dudley and Marie Bilodeau

A Mythic Night Poster

A Mythic Night: An Author Reading by Karen Dudley and Marie Bilodeau at Sadleir House (751 George Street North, Peterborough Ontario).

Thursday June 19th at 7:00 PM at Sadleir House (751 George Street North, Peterborough Ontario)

Looking for a bit of cultural entertainment over the summer? Interested in hearing some exciting story-telling in a historical Peterborough mansion, come to Sadleir House for an evening of exciting stories by Karen Dudley and Marie Bilodeau

Karen Dudley, an award-winning Winnipeg-based author of mythic fantasy, environmental mystery novels, and wildlife biology books, will be giving you a sneak peek into her new novel Kraken Bake, a tale of mystery, myth, and culinary delights with an ancient Greek flavour. Archaeology and Classical Studies meets mystery and the fantastic. As Karen says “Think Gordon Ramsay in ancient Greece with a generous dollop of the fantastical and you’re starting to get the picture.”

Marie Bilodeau is an award-winning Ottawa-based science fiction and fantasy author and a professional storyteller. Her words and voice will draw you into another world filled with magic and mayhem.

Hosted by Derek Newman-Stille, Aurora Award winning creator of Speculating Canada.

This is a free event and all are invited. Bring a friend… bring an enemy… bring a Kraken… bring someone with a taste for literary excitement who wants a free night of story-telling.

You can check out Karen Dudley’s website at http://www.karendudley.com/home and Marie Bilodeau’s website at http://mariebilodeau.blogspot.ca/

Visit Sadleir House’s Website to explore the venue at http://www.prcsa.ca/ .

Share the poster and info with anyone who you think might be interested.

This event is being co-sponsored by RavenStone Books (http://www.ravenstonebooks.com/), Sadleir House (http://www.prcsa.ca/), and Speculating Canada.

Check out the Facebook events page at https://www.facebook.com/events/337637256390411