Canada Day Complexities and Questioning the 150

By Derek Newman-Stille

Art by “Chippewar”

Like many marginalized Canadians, Canada Day can evoke some complicated feelings. We are often very aware of the oppressions that have been carried out in the name of “Canada”: residential schools for aboriginal people, asylums that perpetuated the torture of people with disabilities, the Pink scare, bathhouse raids, and other attacks on queer Canadians, the razing of Africville and so many other acts of violence that seek to position white, straight, able-bodied, Anglophone Canadians as the only “true” Canadians. 

Canada 150 has been constructed as a celebration of Canadian history, and yet, in the nation’s attempt to construct itself as a country of justice and benevolence, it has erased large parts of its past, trying to make itself seem as though it is a country of constant justice, rather than a country that needs to acknowledge that it has carried our horrible abuses of people in the past and continues to do so. Even the title “Canada 150” carries a problematic assumption, erasing the thousands of years of aboriginal presence on this landscape in trying to make it seem as though Canada was born from nothing 150 years ago. Canada’s acts 150 years ago were a theft of land, an oppression of people who have lived on this landscape and who have continued to be robbed of land and have been oppressed for the length of those 150 years. 

Canada has supported arts for its 150, but only if those arts celebrate the message that it is trying to evoke, and the arts council positions artists within its “cultural mosaic”, but only if one fits into the mosaic in the right way, only if one performs identity the way that the arts council wants to see. 

As writers, researchers, and fans of speculative fiction, we have an opportunity to ask big questions (the speculative part means being inquisitive). We can ask these questions of our past through historical fiction, inviting questions about what could have happened in Canadian history if things had gone differently and invite readers to learn about Canadian history beyond the canonical history we are often taught in our schools (the sanitized version that constructs this nation as heroic). We can invite questions about where we are going from here, ask questions of our future, and interrogate possibilities and alternatives that we are told are impossible or improbable. With our creative energy we can invite those impossibilities to the table and see how they play out. We can write dystopian fiction that invites critical questions about how things can go wrong if we continue on our current path. We can write utopian fiction that imagines a radically new nation of justice and inclusion. We can write horror that showcases the horrors that constantly take place behind closed doors in our nation, imagine fantasies where Canada can be transformed through a different relationship to our environment, superhero fiction that doesn’t end up just being nationalistic tripe, and science fiction that imagines different ways of understanding the sciences that we use to justify our actions. 

Speculative Fiction, like all fiction, is an act of imagination, and, as such, it is about the potentials that we can dream up. It is a genre of our imagination, our thoughts, our perspectives, our aspirations, our anxieties, our fears, our dreams and our nightmares. It is a genre of ideas, and we need to remember that ideas are powerful, transformative, and, yes, dangerous. A nation is a boundary – one that is placed on geographies and people and that uses techniques to try to bind those disparate people and geographies together. But we aren’t defined by our boundaries. Canada’s boundaries have separated people, sought to erase aboriginal territories and nations, and the process of drawing that boundary was as much about exclusions as it was about inclusions. It is up to us to redraw boundaries, or, better yet, to imagine beyond boundaries and conceive of new types of definitions and new ways of understanding ourselves and the places we access. We need to remember our history, and that means all parts of it, including (or possibly especially) the ugly parts of it. We need to question the way that borders have been drawn around what is appropriate Canadian history and what is not. We need to invite questions of our government when it tells us that it has given people enough and as it why, ask it to give access to fresh water to aboriginal people, ask it to make spaces actually accessible for disabled people, ask it to stop pathologising queer people and trying to portray only one type of queer person (normally the most normative behaving) and actually open things up for areas of radical expression and radical inclusion. 

We can imagine new possibilities in our arts and our critiques and we have a responsibility to imagine better.
To find out more about the art by Chippewar above, visit http://www.chippewar.com/product/free-150-years-of-colonization 

On the Power of Language

Words have power.

There is a reason why in fantasy narratives (and in many actual cultures), words are believed to have the ability to shape and change the world – words can become spells. Yet, we, as authors, already know this. They shape the worlds we create in our heads, those realms of the imagination that can have the power to shape the minds of others. 

Words are in the perpetual act of becoming.

We add meaning to words as we speak them, as we use them. Words shift and change and take on new contexts and associations. They grow. Words are not flat, stable things, but rather they are chimerical, transformative creatures, changing over time and in new contexts. Words are perpetually on the cusp of becoming something, and that process of becoming is shaped by they history and experience (just like a character).

Words are acts as well, evocations to that history, that chimerical process that shaped them. When we use words, we call up the ghosts of their past and apply them to new settings, to new ideas, and they absorb and consume these new ideas. Yet words are also things that are felt, that have bodily resonance – when we speak them, our mouths shape them, resonate with them; when we sign them (for sign language users), our bodies move with them, shaping them through our dance; even when we read them, we shape the words with our eyes. 

One of the activities that I do with my writing students is to introduce them to words that they aren’t familiar with, words that are new to them, and then invite them to explore the resonance of words in their bodies, examine how the words make them feel, what they are associated with in their minds. I use English words that are no longer used, words from other languages that don’t have adequate English translations, and ASL signed words to get them to feel words in different ways and to see the narratives that can come from word play. I then ask them to look at English words in a way that defamiliarizes them, looking at their sounds, their interplay, and the feel of them. 

Words become stories.

My writing students quickly discover that there are whole stories within words and that stories can spring from a particular word. Certain words can be touchstones for a character, aptly describing them in a single utterance. Certain words can be environmental, shaping a setting by their resonance with place. Certain words can contain an entire narrative because words have entire worlds inside of them. 

I frequently ask students to explore how words can create a character, looking at the meaning in a word and how it shapes a personality, a thought pattern, or way of being. 

Words have the power to shape the way we think – language patterns shape our process of thinking and the way we codify information. Words can be played with to inspire new ways of thinking, new ways of viewing and understanding the world around us. I often suggest that people play with words, play with their sounds and the ideas that they evoke in order to create narrative, to build new ideas. 

Consider the words that you use every day. Think about what ideas they embed in your consciousness, how they reflect you. Think about the way that the language you use shapes certain codes of thinking and understanding. Think about how words create you. 

When we write and when we read, words bounce around inside, bringing up images, patterns. Words change us. Consider the extra dimension a consideration of words brings to your reading process and think about how words can inspire a new way of writing. Consider the poetry of words and the magic that they evoke in us.

Speculating Fantasy

Speculating FantasyBy Derek Newman-Stille
Fantasy fiction is frequently viewed as an escapist form of fiction, one whose sole purpose is to provide a retreat from reality. Even people who advocate for the importance of fantasy tend to treat it as being important solely for its ability to provide an escape from reality. However, fantasy, like any genre fiction, is produced and created through the social lens of the author who writes it. Authors draw on the events, anxieties, uncertainties, ideas, developments, and issues of the world that they belong to when writing fantasy, converting these contemporary thoughts into symbolic form and writing them onto the canvas of a different world. 
Fantasy is unselfcritically defined in opposition to realism, not seeking to pretend to be based on the real world and therefore it has leeway for addressing issues that are “too real” for realist fiction by converting them into symbolic media, transforming them from issues into ideas. By defining itself as “untruth” – as fantasy – the genre does not lay claim to any single truth or single interpretation, but, instead presents a series of dream-like images. Dreams have symbolic power and blend images together in a way that requires the mind to be actively involved in translating them. 
Fantasy provides a lens for us to examine our own world in abstraction, slightly removed from reality. It is as much a journey as it is a genre, pulling the reader between the pages with an intensity that makes him/her come back to the everyday with a form of culture shock, suddenly viewing the “normal” anew and asking questions about the taken-for-granted qualities of the “real” world. 
In saying that fantasy has the power of reflection (though a distorted mirror) embedded into itself, I am not suggesting that fantasy is without problems. The genre has been based on extreme ethnocentrism, colonial ideologies, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism. But, fantasy still contains that seed of change, that embedded potential that allows for engagement with mythic themes, fairy tale ideas, and the power of imaginative new possibilities. Fantasy could invite questions about the normative gaze, that socially embedded structure that reifies the world into Us and Them, Self and Other by providing a more distant Other, an Otherworldly set of encounters that invite questions about the Self, about what we consider the easy-to-define norms. 
Fantasy operates through the power of estrangement, inviting readers to accept unfamiliar universal rules (planes where magic exists alongside technology, where orcs and elves and goblins are possible, and where it is possible to confront the monsters that lurk in the shadows) and through this process of exploring the unfamiliar, fantasy has the ability to question the familiar, to invite questions about why we accept certain ‘rules’ as universal and instead open the world up to the question “what could be true?” and “what is possible?” 
We return from the adventure of fantasy with quest items that are really questions, speculations that invite us to wonder at the world we return to like our epic heroes/heroines, who once they return, discover that they have been permanently changed by their experience.

What Makes Fairy Tales So Brilliant?

What Makes Fairy Tales So Brilliant?

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Fairy tales always exist in multiplicity, in versions. There is never one TRUE version, but rather a fluid polyphonic group with multiple voices sharing different takes on the same tale. Fairy tales possess the magic of changeability. Born in oral narratives, they have the power to shift and change with each telling, adapting to new tellers and new audiences. They resist the idea that there can be only one truth and illustrate that there are always multiple truths, each with different messages that speak to different people.

 

Fairy tales are delightfully slippery and whenever people seek to pin them down, they adapt, change, and modify themselves to speak to a new generation and a new group of people.

 

We create our fairy tales to tell us about ourselves, to learn from our own imaginative words and explore our boundaries. Fairy tales let us walk out into the darkening woods of our own subconscious and see more of ourselves, the selves that we tell into existence when we sit around a camp fire.

 

In our fairy tales, we encounter strange beings – beasts and otherworldly entities and animals that act far too much like we do – but these encounters are always with ourselves, always about us colliding with murky mirror images of ourselves, and those mirror selves always have something to share, something to teach to us.

 

Our fairy tales shift from generation to generation to capture our new ideas, interests, perspectives, and our anxieties. But what fairy tales do we need for this age? What should we be telling ourselves to learn and change?

 

Now when we venture into the woods, it is not the wolves that Red Riding Hood should fear, but they should fear us because of the damage we have done to our animal neighbours. Tales of commoners who become princesses have reinforced the oppression of women and made sure that we don’t critique wealth because so many people believe they can go from commoner to royalty, so how do we change that tale? We have told tales of desiring youth and fearing old age, so how do we switch it so that we can desire our own aging? How do we tell tales of enchanted apples when they are sprayed with chemicals and waxed?

 

We are storied animals, composed by the stories we hear, the stories we tell, and, most importantly, the stories we tell ourselves to get us through each day.

It Doesn’t Have to be ‘The Way it is’

One of the phrases that frustrates me most is “it is what it is”. As a speculative fiction scholar and fan, when I hear these words, I hear the closing down of opportunities and the reifying of the status quo. “It is what it is” tells me that people are frustrated with the existing state of things, but are unwilling or feel unable to make changes. SF is the literature of change, a literature of new potentials and possibilities. That is not to say that it reguarly challenges the way things are because most SF doesn’t imagine new possibilities but only further entrenches existing ideas and the current structures of power, BUT it has the POTENTIAL to imagine changes, to think of new ways of understanding the world and new possibilities that challenge the world as it is. 

Today I listened to a talk by Alyx Dellamonica about environmentalism and SF in which she reminded listeners that one of the most dangerous things we can do is say “there’s nothing we can do”. She pointed out that people will often close down possibilities for imagining new ways of being in the world because we convince ourselves that substantive change is impossible and then we close down our own faculties for thinking of new ideas and new solutions to existing structures. 

I think this illustrates some of the issues I have long had about phrases like “it is what it is”. These phrases serve to support the way things currently are, serve to further entrench them. We tell ourselves that it is impossible to imagine new ideas and to think of fresh ways of understanding the world and so we support the status quo, we don’t challenge the existing authority structures that are unwelcome, unhealthy, and unsafe for so many people. 

I have the same reaction to “what can you do?”, which, despite starting with “what”, a question, has never been about asking a question, but rather providing a nihilistic rhetoric, a closing down of questioning and imagining new possibilities. I would ask us to take that question seriously, to reimagine it as an actual question. When asked “what can you do?” that we operate in the realm of the imaginative, the realm of potentials and we work on thinking about new ways of existing with and within our world. SF has this potential, but that doesn’t mean that this is exclusively the perview of SF authors. As a public, we too can SPECULATE. We can interrogate existing systems and ask what they exist for, whether new and better ideas can rise out of them, how we can substantively change, what posibilities exist, and what we can imagine our way out of and, perahps more importantly, what we can imagine ourselves into.

I am not saying that we should all walk around with utopic visions in our minds, particularly since, for many of us from disempowered groups, we so often have our utopic visions shattered, but that we keep pushing at the fringes of our society to advocate for positive changes. There is still a place for the apocalyptic in our imagination since it often allows us to articulate the way we see our worlds shaped for something other than us, a world that is fundamentally hostile to us (particularly if we are from disenfranchised groups), but it is important to remember that every apocalypse is about change, about a world in flux, and THAT has imaginative potential. Apocalypses are about recognizing that the world is no longer able to support an existing way of being and they call on us to imagine a new possibility, a new method of understanding a changing and changeable world. 
SF can be a way of critiquing the world as well as a way of imagining a new world, new possibilities, and a change to look at our own world from askance to see the things that we ignore, push aside, choose not to contemplate so that we can exist in a world of “it is what it is”. How do we use SF to imagine a world that ISN’T “what it is”? 

Canadian SF Authors, What Are You Reading? Gemma Files

Gemma Files shares her favourite reads of 2015 with us here at Speculating Canada along with her brilliant insights about the books she has read:

2015 Reading List By Gemma Files

I read a lot, pretty much constantly, and the sad part is that I all too often forget what I’ve read unless I write it down or write about it, even though it all goes into the garburator that is my creative process. So these things are actually very useful for me—I’m forced to think about what I liked and why, what stuck around longest, what I’m still thinking about, etcetera.

As it turns out, the books I’m (re-)reading at the moment are all non-fiction. Two are old, and for research—Harold Schechter’s gleefully trashy Fatal: The Poisonous Life of a Female Serial Killer and Jean Plaidy’s A Triptych of Poisoners, a book I’ve owned since I was thirteen—and two are new, for fun, about one of my all-time favourite subjects (The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul, edited by Gina Freitag and Andre Loiselle) and one of my all-time favourite movies (Canadian Cinema’s spotlight on John Paisz’s Crime Wave, a film so fascinatingly obscure you can’t even find it on DVD, as unpacked by Jonathan Ball).  

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In terms of novels I read this year, meanwhile, I’ll start with something I came to very late but enjoyed the unholy hell out of nonetheless. That’d be Clifford Jackman’s The Winter Family, a hell-bent Western that revolves around Civil War veteran turned “Dandy Killer” Augustus Winter, who evolves from an uneducated, abused child turned soldier first into a complicatedly deadly mechanism fit for little but killing, then a creature of almost unspeakable ravenous purity—the barely humanized avatar of whatever cosmic self-destructive force drives people throughout history to hurt each other for no good reason and feed on the pain that hurt creates. The prose is gorgeous and horrifying and blackly, bleakly funny throughout, Cormac McCarthy by way of Quentin Tarantino; I bought it and devoured in a single day, then spent the weekend re-reading it over and over. There’s a reason it was nominated for a  Governor General’s Award, is all I’m saying.

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One of my backbone pleasures is the fact that powerhouse Irish author John Connolly somehow manages to come out with a Charlie Parker novel almost every other year, and thankfully, 2015 was no exception to the rule. This time, in A Song of Shadows, Parker—a Maine PI with truly horrifying bad luck/homme fatale constantly surrounded by similarly fatal people, who may also be (according to Enochian apocrypha) the vile body currently inhabited by the one fallen angel to ever regret his choice to rise against God—is recovering from his last wrestling match with evil, which left him partly crippled and almost dead. Nevertheless, he still can’t manage to stay out of trouble, or at least out of proximity with other people’s troubles. As ever, this is a fast, engrossing read, every word chosen for both maximum impact and deep-set creepiness. (This year also brought me Night Music: Nocturnes II, Connolly’s second collection of short horror stories, which is equally enjoyable.)

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As always, various friends of mine came out with amazing stuff, some through my own publisher: three ChiZine Publications titles I’d like to highlight here are Lauren B. Davis’s Against a Darkening Sky, which plays like a dark, low-rent mirror of Nicola Griffith’s Hild; Rio Youers’s frankly excoriating Point Hollow and Kenneth Mark Hoover’s Quarternity, the bloodily existential prequel to his Weird West tour de force Haxan. From other sources, Signal to Noise—Silvia Garcia-Moreno’s rightly acclaimed first novel—follows three 1980s Mexican teenagers who come of age while experimenting with a very peculiar sort of witchcraft, channeling their loves and hates through music’s totemic medium, while Amanda Downum’s rich, strange and startlingly poetic Dreams of Shreds and Tatters replants Robert Chamber’s King in Yellow mythos to the raincoast artistic scene of Vancouver, where creativity pushed to its limits opens doors to a terrifyingly inspirational parallel universe, releasing a plague of ecstatic madness that’s at first spread only oneirically, yet gradually grows to infect and threaten the entire waking world.

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And then there’s Paul Tremblay, who—like Helen Marshall—is rapidly becoming yet another person whose brilliant brains I yearn to eat. With A Head Full of Ghosts, Tremblay manages to create a true Shirley Jackson-esque thriller for the 21st century, a multimedia commentary on the surreal truthiness of “reality” entertainment filtered through horror culture and tropes to create a story that can be potentially read from almost any direction. I don’t want to go too deep into it for fear of spoiling your fun, but the nested testimonial structure builds a psychological puzzle-box that’ll have you questioning every character’s motivation by the book’s climax; it’s a sweet trip through unreliable narrator city, and Tremblay makes for one hell of a tour guide.

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2015 also brought the end of a few series I’ve been following for years, and none of them disapointed. At the top of the list has to be Carsten Stroud’s The Reckoning, “the thrilling conclusion to the Niceille Trilogy”…but seriously, if you haven’t checked these books out yet, then do, stat. I once described them to a friend as a happy collision between Peter Straub and Elmore Leonard, and that continues to hold true; the characters are tough, eccentric and utterly human, the mythology rich, odd and essentially American in a way that mines all the darkest veins of racism and violence inherent in that country’s willfully forgotten history (along with our own, sadly).

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On a completely different note, meanwhile, Cherry Bomb brings Caitlin R. Kiernan (writing as Kathleen Tierney)’s hilariously foul-mouthed deconstruction of the received paranormal romance paradigm to a suitably slammin’ conclusion. Her protagonist, Quinn, started out as a monster-slayer but became something considerably more after being bitten by both a vampire and a werewolf; she’s then reduced to making her quote-quote “living” settling disputes in Massachusetts’ supernatural underworld, where she spends most of her time drinking, screwing a laundry-list of bad news dames and tearing her enemies apart limb from limb. My verdict: while all the installments are worth your while, this one reaches epic depths of punk Lovecraftiana, so check it out.

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I also spent some time catching up on Ben Aaronovitch’s wonderful Rivers of London series, best described as a mash-up of Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling, whose multiracial protagonist treats magic like a science while dealing with various locus genii on behalf of the London Metropolitan Police Service. Simultaneously, I acquired and read the last three Marla Mason books, by Tim Pratt—Grim Tides, Bride of Death and Lady of Misrule—in which our favourite brute force-o-mancer deals with the literally world-rocking consequences of her total own inability to lose gracefully, which have already cost her most of her friends and control of “her” city, the tiny industrial hamlet of Felport, California. Both series are consistently addictive, rewarding, surprising and amusing, just like I like ’em.

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My brain is beginning to grind to a halt, so here are some more picks, from those who want ’em: Clockworks and Alpha & Omega, graphic novel collections from IDW, finally bring Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s epic, heartwarmingly horrifying Locke & Key series to its climax. They deliver on every possible basis.

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A Daughter of No Nation by Alyx Delalmonica, second in her Stormwrack series, which provides portal fantasy with a difference. In this installment, Sophie Hansa gets to know her literally swashbuckling, potentially psychopathic birth-Dad, and surprises those around her by applying basic CSI/scientific principles to criminal investigations conducted in a world where magic is just another recognized part of the ecosystem.

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Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor, is a fascinatingly raucous and inventive first contact story set in Lagos, Nigeria. While juggling a cast that includes shapeshifting aliens, marine biologists, hardcore Baptists and globally popular rap artists, Okorafor does things you don’t expect in almost every chapter, including telling one from the POV of a spider and another from the POV of a road.

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The Devil’s Ark, by Stephen Bywater, hits all my old-school horror buttons—it’s set immediately after World War I, and follows the excavation of an archaeological site which may contain either a shrine to or the tomb of Lilith, Adam’s legendary first wife, supposedly worshiped in ancient Mesopotamia as a blood-sucking night-goddess. Similarly transportative is Jonathan Aycliffe’s The Sound of Ghosts, a genteelly pitch-black ghost story set during World War II that quickly grows M.R. Jamesian resonances.

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The Glittering World, by Robert Levy, is a startlingly dark first novel whose protagonist returns to New Brunswick to investigate the childhood he can’t remember, thus submerging himself and his friends in a sinister mystery involving some of the least Disney-friendly fairies ever. In Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead, meanwhile, Buehlman—another of my current favourite writers—applies his trope-deconstructionist’s eye to the problem of vampires, conjuring a vicious generational power-struggle set against the funky/gritty backdrop of 1970s New York. And in The Damned, by Andrew Pyper, a man haunted by the malign ghost of his dead twin sister finds out first-hand that hell apparently looks a lot like downtown Detroit.

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Finally, even if you haven’t read her brilliantly weird epistolary thriller The Three (which you really should’ve, so fix that), I’ll put in an equally high recommendation for Sarah Lotz’s Day Four, a side-quel to the same story that’s more than qualified to stand on its own, though it does plug some of the original’s lacunae. It’s like Lost as written by J.G. Ballard, a haunting vision of a potential future terrible enough to infect the present and taint the past; great stuff, if that’s the kind of stuff you like. Which I obviously do.;)

 

Thank you Gemma Files for the brilliant discussion of some fantastic books.

The Speculating Canada Website and the Speculating Canada Radio Show on Trent Radio BOTH Won Aurora Awards

Thanks to the support and encouragement of fans, followers, friends, and interviewees, BOTH the Speculating Canada website and the radio show Speculating Canada on Trent Radio won Aurora Awards. These awards wouldn’t have been possible if all of you weren’t willing to go on this adventure into speculation with me, creating a space where we can all ask powerful questions, explore the deep ideas that SF literature evokes, and imagine possibilities. 

Speculating Canada (whether in its web form or over the airwaves) is ultimately a teaching forum. Now, when I say that, I don’t mean that it is sharing facts (as some people assume teaching is), but instead that it recognizes that fans and authors are brilliant people, more than capable of thinking of the deeper ideas and messages in their literature and interrogating those deeper ideas. We as fans and authors know that little secrets – that even though we say our literature is “just a fun read”, it is always so much more because we understand ourselves and our world through stories, and speculative literature always has deeper questions in it. After all, the term Speculative Fiction says it all – it tells us that we are reading a literature of speculation, of questions, and we all know that we learn best by ASKING questions, not by just giving answers to them (because no answer covers everything). So, Speculating Canada is a forum for questions, for pondering, and for learning TOGETHER. I am honoured to be on that journey with each of you.

Many of you already know this, but the Speculating Canada website originated from a couple of factors that tied together. The first of this factors was my experience of my own disability. I have always had learning disabilities relating to memory, but a few years ago, an unrelated health disability began to create further memory issues and in order to keep up with my own research, I started to write larger notes for myself about each of the works I was reading. I have always made notes about what I read to remind myself of ideas I have had while reading fiction, but I started to take more detailled and longer notes… and it occurred to me that these were very much like reviews (well, reviews with a bit of analysis). When I realized that I was essentially already writing reviews, I allied this with my consistent desire to make teaching accessible to those outside of the university classroom. I am able to discuss issues and ideas in literature with the university students in my classroom, but I am also aware that not everyone has the privilege to be in university AND many people want to carry on the types of questions they explored in university long after they graduate. So, Speculating Canada became a place for me to put ideas out there for all of you brilliant people who read this website to participate in. 

When friends of mine and fans of the Speculating Canada website started asking me about different formats for my editorials and interviews, I finally took up Alissa Paxton’s suggestion that I turn Sepculating Canada into a radio show. Alissa was already a long-time participant in Trent Radio and she convinced me to create the show over time by gradulally interviewing me on the air for different special topics and through that she convinced me that the radio wasn’t too scary. The people who run and have shows on Trent Radio 92.7 FM made the experience of having a radio show one that was consistently filled with excitement. 
I went with a “coffee shop chat” style for the radio show because I was tired of hearing interviews of authors that were highly edited to the point that their ideas were reduced to robotic sound clips. I wanted my show to be one where the audience feels like they are right at the table with myself and the authors I interviewed – to let the listener feel like they are part of the conversation, because, dear listeners, you are always in the studio with us conceptionally even if you are listening from a distance. I don’t edit out the “ums”, “wait whats” and “likes” because they allow us to experience the author as an actual human being and allows us to realise that autors say brilliant things even when they are having to think on the fly. The fabulous people I have interviewed have been wonderful at going along with the “coffee shop chat” style of the show, letting themselves have a natural conversation… and, of course, for letting their inner geeks loose and allowing us to be fans together. I want to thank the interviewees for letting me push the interview boundaries by asking them deep questions and inviting them to interrogate and explore the deep questions of their work.

Speculating Canada has always been an opportunity to share my love of Canadian speculative fiction with others but it became so much more than that. It became another forum to teach outside of academia (and when I say “teach” I mean share questions and ideas with other brilliant people and let them know that they are able to interrogate what they are reading). It was a forum for reviews (my little love letters to the authors I adore). It provided me with a space to interview authors and share their brilliance with others – the incredible insights that go into speculative fiction writing. But the most important thing that Speculating Canada became was a community. It allowed me to meet others who are passionate about their SF, who love it and love to think about it. I met some of my most treasured friends through Speculating Canada and I want to thank everyone who has supported it. We are lucky to be part of such an amazing fan community and I feel fortunate that I have found a community to connect with and share with. Thank you to all of you who supported speculating Canada in diverse ways. 

 
 

Photo of the 2015 Aurora Award Winnder courtesy of Do-Ming Lum

 
For those unaware of the Prix Aurora Awards, these awards are Canada’s equivalent of the Hugo Awards. They honour all of the top voted creators of Canadian Speculative Fiction. To find out more about the Aurora Awards, visit their website at http://www.prixaurorawards.ca .

Here is the full list of 2015 Prix Aurora Award winners. I am so pleased to be part of such a distinguished list of brilliant people. 

Best English Novel: A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books

Best English YA Novel: TIE:

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books

Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada

Best English Short Fiction: “Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August

Best English Poem/Song: “A Hex, With Bees” by Tony Pi, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE

Best English Graphic Novel: It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic

Best English Related Work: On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society

Best Artist: Dan O’ Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and On Spec magazine

Best Fan Publication: Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille

Best Fan Music: Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel

Best Fan Organizational: Sandra Kasturi, Chair, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto

Best Fan Related Work: Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating, Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM