Authors in Quarantine – Chadwick Ginther

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Chadwick’s companion in Quarantine – Algernon!!

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Chadwick Ginther: I’ve been fortunate enough to still be employed at my day job, and have been working from home at what tasks are available to me. I’ve tried to impose some structure on my days, such as not sleeping in, writing before I sign on for work, daily walks and short workouts. I’ve also watched entirely too many terrible horror movies and caught up on a few television shows I’ve been meaning to check out. I’ve also been trying out some new recipes, and doing a bit more baking then normal.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Chadwick Ginther: There was a lot of anxiety at first. Worry about health and wellbeing, for myself, my wife, our loved ones. Fear about what things will look like on the other side of the pandemic. All that anxiety is still there, but the waves of it don’t seem to be hitting quite as heavily as they were.

It’s been painful not to be able to see friends and family, but both my wife and I tend to be pretty solitary folks, and we really enjoy each other’s company. I call my parents to chat a bit more frequently, and a group of my friends created a text channel for us to share recipes and pictures and updates, and that’s been great for feeling connected.
All of my roleplaying games have moved to online platforms, although many of them were partially, or already there. I’m resisting the urge to join new games because I know I won’t be able to maintain the commitment when things return to a more normal normality.

Not going to a store the moment I think of something I want, or run out of has also meant a bit less snacking. Hopefully I’ll carry a bit of that newfound impulse buy restraint forward when the restrictions are relaxed.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Chadwick Ginther: At first, it was brutal. Nothing was getting done. I struggled to finish even the tasks with existing deadlines, like some editor mandated short story revisions. Motivation to revise the book I had been working on prior to the pandemic was nil. Later, after the first couple of weeks, I managed to write a couple story pitches I’m waiting to hear back about, which seemed to help. Two weeks ago I decided to work on a passion project novel I’ve kept telling myself I’d start writing once this or that task was crossed off the list. I’m pretty happy with that decision, as it’s kept me writing every day, and I’m having so much fun exploring what might end up being the weirdest and most ambitious thing I’ve ever attempted in fiction.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Titanic Clashes

Clash  

A review of Chadwick Ginther’s Too Far Gone (Ravenstone, 2015)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Too Far Gone, the final book in the Thunder Road Trilogy by Chadwick Ginther brings together the threads of transformation that have been woven throughout the trilogy. Ted Callan, body tattooed by Dwarves and inheriting the powers of several Norse gods, has straddled the border between myth and superhero throughout the series, playing with the border between ancient myth and modern. Ted begins to embody another aspect of the superhero tradition – a conflict between his superhero identity and his civilian identity. Ted returns home to Alberta and has to cope with the clash of his past and present, his civilian and superhero selves coming into conflict as Ted temporarily buries his power under the performance of human normativity. Even Ted’s tattoos are transformed from Norse symbols to generic tattoos, allowing his appearance to change while his identity does. This may not be a superhero unmasking, but rather is a superhero unmaking, a suppression of difference under the guise of normalcy and mundanity.

Too Far Gone is a text of change involving the clash of past and present and disparate identities. It is a transformative text and this transformative background is not only illustrated through Ted’s changes but through the changes he evokes in others as he realises that his behaviours have consequences for everyone around him. The topic of change is played out through Ted’s engagement with his identities, but it is further complicated by the presence of Loki in the text and Loki’s trickster quality. Loki is fluid, changeable, able to fluctuate through identities and interested in playing multiple parts. Loki can fluctuate in gender, appearance, and personality over time. S/he is mostly identified through his/her smile, a feature that instantly identifies the Trickster quality of the god/dess. Loki also represents the conflict of time periods, both an ancient Norse god from the time before Ragnarok and a potential future for a new way of looking at the world. Loki becomes an embodiment of the uncertain, the changeable, and the chaotic, simultaneously Ted’s greatest ally and greatest threat, and this uncertainty and vulnerability only increases the stakes Ted invests in his friend.

Ted is pulled between nostalgia and the desire for change, with past and present conflicting. Being back in Alberta, where he first encountered the monstrous Surtur who was responsible for his introduction into the world of Norse magic, Ted is forced to explore ideas of closure while also facing consistent reminders that he has changed so much that the things that were familiar, comfortable, and normal for him can no longer exist. He recognizes that the familiar, easy idea of home that serves as a comfort to others only reminds him of all that he has lost and how much he has changed from the type of person who could have a home or normal life. This return to Surtur and final conflict is one with the power to change the face of the world and nothing is certain any longer in this world of collisions between past, present, and future. Myth and real life collide to remake ideas of what is normal, comfortable, and taken-for-granted. 

To discover more about Too Far Gone, visit Ravenstone’s website at http://www.ravenstonebooks.com/spec-fic/too-far-gone.html

To find out more about Chadwick Ginther, visit his website at http://chadwickginther.com

Northern Frost Giant Family Troubles

A review of Chadwick Ginther’s “Runt of the Litter” in OnSpec Vol 26, No. 1
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover Photo of OnSpec vol 26 no 1 courtesy of OnSpec

Cover Photo of OnSpec vol 26 no 1 courtesy of OnSpec

Where else are you going to find the Frost Giants of Norse mythology than in Northern Canada? Chadwick Ginther’s “Runt of the Litter” allows us to explore a Frost Giant (Jotunn) who escapes from his family’s northern climes to find a place where he won’t be bullied any more for being a mere 10 feet tall. Grim, the runt of his Jotunn family escapes south to Winnipeg in order to find a place of belonging where he isn’t at risk from constantly family violence. Like any Frost Giant Werewolf… he just wants to find a place in the world that he can make his home. And for a while he was succeeding, finding an apartment with high enough ceilings to accommodate his height when indoors (outdoors, of course, he shapeshifts into a smaller form to blend in with humanity). Unfortunately, his great great great great grandfather Loki, the Norse god of mischief finds him… and where Loki goes, disruption follows…. and in this case, so do Grim’s family who are in pursuit of Loki for his regular mischievous antics.

When a Norse god’s sense of fun is stirring up trouble that can either end in excitement or near-death experiences, things can get really shook up… more so than the thumping feet of the Jotunn. Grim has to decide whether he can trust Loki – after all he is family. Ginther’s narrative is one of the discomforts of family and the complexities involved in family interactions. He explores the image of family as a set of shifting alliances and temporary bonds… largely to create a united front against other family members. He illustrates the precarity of family relationships and the constantly shifting nature of belonging.

Ginther uses the figure of the Jotunn, a figure that is often portrayed in recent stories as fundamentally dim and incapable of complex thought, in a multifaceted way. The Norse Frost Giants were generally pretty intelligent, often out-thinking the Norse gods, so Ginther had a rich heritage of diversity in the intelligence of his subject matter. Ginther explores both the intelligent and the dim and muscly side of the Frost Giant, putting the two images in contrast (and conflict) with one another. Grim exemplifies all of the smart, wily quality of the giants, where most of his brothers are simply large slabs of moving meat. This contrast puts the reader in the position of examining the way that intelligence and brute force butt heads in our popular fiction and portrayals of the heroic and villainous.

Of course, when Loki is involved, nothing is as it seems and everything is subject to being shaken up… which is when the most exciting things happen.

To read more about OnSpec and consider subscribing to their magazine, visit http://www.onspec.ca/currentissue

To find out more about Chadwick Ginther, visit http://chadwickginther.com

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 28: Myth and Canadian SF

In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, I talk about the way that myths and legends have influenced Canadian Speculative Fiction, focusing on the variety of different myths that have been brought to Canada. Myths have a power to inspire us, and to evoke thought and a sense of wonder about the world around us. In this episode, we examine Larissa Lai’s “When Fox is a Thousand”, Hiromi Goto’s “Kappa Child”, Marie Bilodeau’s “The Kevlar Canoe”, and Chadwick Ginther’s “Thunder Road” and “Tombstone Blues”.  This episode examines how myths from China, Japan, French Canadian settlers, and the Norse have inspired our speculative fiction authors.

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. I would also like to thank Dwayne Collins for his consistent tech support and help with the intricacies of creating audio files.

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

 

 

RagnaROCKING Manitoba: The Road to Hel

A review of Chadwick Ginther’s Tombstone Blues (RavenStone, 2013).
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover Photo of Tombstone Blues courtesy of RavenStone books

Cover Photo of Tombstone Blues courtesy of RavenStone books

This second book in the Thunder Road trilogy takes a turn toward the dark. The dead have risen, and Thor, who has been sitting in Hel since Ragnarok… has become dark and twisted by years of post-mortem torture.

When Thor encounters Ted Callan, the first thing he notices is that Ted has been tattooed with Norse artifacts… including Thor’s own hammer Mjolnir…. and he wants it back. Ted has become used to the powers that were granted to him by his Norse tattoos, so, when Thor rips Mjolnir from Ted’s body, he has to adapt to the changes in his body, finding new ways to cope with the magical and mythical world that continues to surround him and finding new ways to deal with the dead who have risen guided by a dark Thor and twisted Valkyries.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the same can be said with the role to Hel, the Norse goddess of death (and the name for her hall and her realm). All of Ted’s acts of heroism, his attempts to save the world have only made it more vulnerable. The wall that Odin placed around Midgard (Earth) to keep otherworldly beings out only allows these beings to influence those who have already been touched in some way by the otherworldly. Unfortunately, that means that every one of Ted’s heroic acts has created a potential victim, marking them for transgression by mythic and magical beings. In his attempts to protect his fellow humans, Ted has unintentionally weakened the barrier around Midgard, and the supernatural is getting closer. His good intentions paved a road for Hel to Earth and as the fog and mists of Nifleheim, the hellish realm between, roll out across the Earth, nightmares are able to visit a human race no longer prepared for the otherworldly, lost in the technocracy we have created.

The Dwarven tattoos carved into his body gave Ted the ability to walk on air, super strength, near invulnerability, power over the weather… and all of this has given him a hero complex, a belief in his ability to solve problems through brute force. But, despite the whisperings of Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn, which should grant him wisdom, Ted is only given information rather than wisdom. Power without knowledge and thoughts about consequences is a feature of many of the heroes our society manufactures, but in Tombstone Blues, Chadwick Ginther forces Ted to face responsibility for his acts, to question and debate his belief in his own moral rightness and question what may happen if he makes the wrong choice. Ted realises that he is only part of a greater world which can be changed by his actions, and not always in the positive way that he intends. A man of action, Ted is forced to reassess those actions, to stop, pause, and speculate about what he is doing and why.

Ted’s own bodily vulnerability, brought on by Thor’s act of ripping Mjolnir from his body allows him to think of wider vulnerabilities in the world, changes and dangers that may be too large for one person’s heroism to change. Like himself, the world has become wounded, and instead of blood, it is leaking the mists of Nifleheim, a fluid that is no less deadly.

To read more about Chadwick Ginther’s work, visit his website at http://chadwickginther.com/ .

To discover more about Tombstone Blues, visit RavenStone’s website at http://www.ravenstonebooks.com/spec-fic/tombstone-blues.html .

Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 2: An Interview with Chadwick Ginther and Discussion of his Work

In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, check out an interview with Winnipeg author Chadwick Ginther where he discusses his Thunder Road trilogy. In our interview we talk about notions of heroism and villainy, moral ambiguities, the interplay of Canadian legends and Norse myths, the landscape, urban fantasy and horror.

After our interview, I get a chance to talk about his novels Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues.

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.

Tune in Tonight at 8:00 PM EST for the Second Speculating Canada on Trent Radio show

I had a chance to chat with Winnipeg author Chadwick Ginther and discuss the Thunder Road trilogy at the Toronto-based speculative conference Ad Astra. In our interview we talk about his upcoming stories, why Loki from Norse mythology is such a fascinating figure, the potential to blur gender boundaries in SF, bringing myths from elsewhere to the Canadian landscape, interconnections between local stories and myths of elsewhere, living in a transnational community, the potential for his novel Tombstone Blues to take on horror characteristics, recreating Thor as a monster, and the relationship between the mundane and the magical.

Chadwick Ginther plays with our notions of the heroic and the villainous, challenging any easy reading. Hear about the way he plays with myth, challenging our assumptions and bringing new ideas into our conceptions of the mythical.

Check out Ginther’s process of creating modern myths and building worlds from fragments of legend from the past on this, our second radio show of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio.

Trent Radio second Icon

Tune in tonight at 8:00 PM EST to Trent Radio (92.7 FM in the broadcast range or online at http://www.trentu.ca) for an interview with Chadwick Ginther and a discussion of his Thunder Road trilogy.

Can Con Updates!

Can Con is coming up soon in Ottawa on October 4-6th (and you can find out more about it at http://www.can-con.org/ ). The diversity of activities this year is absolutely amazing with sessions on writing, academic analyses of literature and literary themes, author readings, book launches…. and even a few singing events (seriously!).Canada Day

Prepare for discussions of AI, comics, enhancing creativity, fandom, astronomy, disease, zombies, future technologies, possession, poetry, humour, horror, law, LGBTQ issues, multiculturalism, mystery, publishing, popular music, gender, genre, and YA fiction among many others.

As many of you who follow my blog will note, there are a few special areas of interest of mine in Canadian Speculative Fiction: portrayals of characters and themes of LGBTQ or Queer people, and discourse about disability featuring highly among them. I am particularly excited that I get a chance to talk about both of them at Can Con this year and I hope to see many of you at these panels. Here are the panel descriptions:

Cripping the Light Fantastic: Disability in Canadian Speculative Fiction

How many spaceships are wheelchair accessible? Do office buildings create light shielding for the undead who might be singed by solar exposure? Can my guide dog be a werewolf? Does one need to simply WALK into Mordor… or can one wheel in instead? SF has an interest in the body, whether it is the augmented body of sci fi, the body horror of the gothic, or the magically altered body of fantasy, and it is worth looking at the way disabilities are portrayed in Canadian SF.

Panelists: Derek Newman-Stille, Tanya Huff, Douglas Smith, and Dominik Parisien

Let’s get Fantastic: LGBTQ or Queer Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction is sexy, but so often TV only shows heteronormative relationships. Canadian SF literature seems to be more willing to portray gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgendered, and queer-oriented characters. Let’s take a look at gay zombies, sex-changing aliens, lesbian superheroes, bisexual wizards, and other potential queerings of the fantastic.

Panelists: Derek Newman-Stille, Tanya Huff, and Liz Strange

You can explore all of the panels at http://www.can-con.org/2013/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Can-Con-programming-panel-descriptions-2013.pdf

Check out some of your favorite authors like Robert Sawyer, Tanya Huff, Sandra Kasturi, Chadwick Ginther, Jean-Louis Trudel, Brett Savory, Karen Dudley, Hayden Trenholm, Marie Bilodeau, Violette Malan, Dominik Parisien, Derek Kunsken, Matt Moore, Sean Moreland, Liz Strange, Kate Heartfield, Suzanne Church, Lydia Peever, and many more. This is your chance to meet some really brilliant Canadian Speculative Fiction authors, scholars, and fans and have a chance to ask those questions that have been occupying your minds.

I hope to see you there, and please feel free to come up and chat with me about Speculative Fiction. I always enjoy a chance to have a great conversation about this genre that I love,
Derek Newman-Stille

Spec Can made the short list for a Prix Aurora Award

Dear Readers,

I have exciting news – Speculating Canada has made the short list for the Prix Aurora Awards. I am excited to see that Speculating Canada has made such an impact and that people are excited about the unique way that Spec Can explores Canadian SF.

I want to thank everyone who has participated in various ways in shaping Speculating Canada into what it is today. Speculating Canada has been very collaborative, growing out of the support, encouragement, and suggestions of readers. I have been very lucky to have very incredible Canadian SF authors and publishers take interest in Spec Can and am fortunate that so many of them have sent me books to review that I would not have otherwise encountered. I also want to thank all of those who I have interviewed for their incredible insights, general brilliance, and for giving me the exciting experience of chatting with them about things that I am really passionate about.

Here is the Short List for the Prix Aurora Awards:
http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/2013-aurora-award-ballot/

 

I am excited to say that a few of the authors on the short list are people that I consider to be friends and that there are several works that Speculating Canada has reviewed this year that have made the short list. Here are a few links to reviews of items on the Prix Aurora Awards short list:

Karen Dudley’s Food For The Gods

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/xena-meets-iron-chef/

Chadwick Ginther’s Thunder Road

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/true-norse-strong-and-free/

Leah Bobet’s Above

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/empowering-the-freak/

Douglas Smith’s The Walker of the Shifting Borderland

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-speculative/

Sandra Kasturi and Halli Villegas’ Imaginarium 2012

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/imagining-canadian-speculative-fiction/

Helen Marhsall’s Hair Side, Flesh Side

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/textual-bodies/

On Spec

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/transformative-art/

https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-i-feel-speculative/

 

Thank you all for your continued support. I am so pleased that Speculating Canada has allowed me to connect with so many amazing and brilliant people.

Derek Newman-Stille