Prix Aurora Awards 2020

Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2020 Prix Aurora Awards.

As many of you know, Speculating Canada was nominated again this year for the Best Fan Related Work Category, and congratulations everyone, we won! Speculating Canada started as a way for me to give back to the Canadian SF community and it has been exciting to see it grow and change. It was meant to be a way of creating community and opening up conversations about Canadian Speculative Fiction, and I have been honoured to be part of so many important conversations with all of you authors, fans, publishers, artists, and academics. I am so lucky that we have been able to have the conversations we have and that we have been able to work together toward social change. Although officially my name is listed on this award, it is an award that should reflect all of you as members of this community and reflect all of the work we do together to ask deep questions about SF. I am honoured to have been able to be on this journey with all of you and to continue that journey as we move forward.

The nominees this year were:

Best Novel

Best YA Novel

Best Short Fiction

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga)
  • “Clear as Quartz, Sharp as Flint”, Maria Haskins (Augur 2.1)
  • Alice Payne Rides, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “Little Inn on the Jianghu”, Y.M. Pang (F&SF 9/19)
  • “Modigliani Paints the World”, Hayden Trenholm (Neo-Opsis 30)
  • “Blindside”, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm (Amazing Stories Fall ’19)

Best Graphic Novel

Best Related Work

  • PodCastle, Jen R. Albert & Cherae Clark, eds.
  • Nothing Without Us, Cait Gordon & Talia C. Johnson (Renaissance)
  • Neo-opsis, Karl Johanson, ed.
  • Lackington’s, Ranylt Richildis, ed.
  • “Dave Duncan’s Legacy”, Robert Runté (On Spec 111)
  • Augur, Kerrie Seljak-Byrne, ed.

Best Poem/Song

  • “The Girl Who Loved Birds”, Clara Blackwood (Amazing Stories Spring ’19)
  • “At the Edge of Space and Time”, Swati Chavda (Love at the Speed of Light)
  • “Steampunk Christmas”, David Clink (Star*Line Fall ’19)
  • “The Day the Animals Turned to Sand”, Tyler Hagemann (Amazing Stories Spring ’19)
  • “Totemic Ants”, Francine P. Lewis (Amazing Stories Fall ’19)
  • “Beauty, Sleeping”, Lynne Sargent (Augur Magazine 2.2)
  • “Bursts of Fire”, Sora (theme song for book trailers)

Best Artist

  • Samantha M. Beiko, cover for Bursts of Fire
  • James F. Beveridge, cover for Fata Morgana and cover for On Spec 112
  • Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, “A Rivet of Robots” in On Spec and cartoons in Amazing Stories
  • Nathan Fréchette, covers for Renaissance Press
  • Dan O’Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and cover for On Spec 110

Best Visual Presentation

  • The Umbrella Academy
  • V Wars, Season 1
  • Killjoys, Season 5
  • Murdoch Mysteries, Episodes 10-18 in Season 12 and Episodes 1-9 in Season 13
  • Van Helsing, Season 4

Best Fan Writing and Publications

Best Fan Organizational

  • KT Bryski and Jen R. Albert, ephemera reading series, Toronto
  • Brent Jans, Pure Speculation Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, Edmonton
  • Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau, co-chairs, Can-Con, Ottawa
  • Randy McCharles, chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
  • Sandra Wickham, Creative Ink Festival, Burnaby, BC

Best Fan Related Work

 

The winners this year were: 

Inductees into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame:

  • Heather Dale
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Matthew Hughes

Best Novel:

  • Julie Czerneda for The Gossamer Mage

Best Young Adult Novel:

  • Susan Forest for Bursts of Fire

Best Short Fiction:

  • Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone for This Is How You Lose The Time War

Best Graphic Novel:

  • S.M. Beiko for Krampus is my Boyfriend

Best Poem/Song:

  • Tie between Swati Chavda for At The Edge of Space and Time
  • and Sora for Bursts of Fire

Best Related Work:

  • Diane Walton for On Spec Magazine

Best Visual Presentation:

  • The Umbrella Academia

Best Artist:

  • Dan O’Driscoll for covers for Bundoran Press and cover for On Spec 110

Best Fan Writing and Publications:

  • R. Graeme Cameron

Best Fan Organizational

  • Marie Bilodeau and Derek Kunsken for Can Con

Best Fan Related Work

  • Derek Newman-Stille for Speculating Canada

 

To watch the Prix Aurora Awards ceremonies, hosted this year by When Worlds Collide, click on the link below:

 

In order to check out the award category for Best Fan Related Work, which Speculating Canada won, click on the link below and see my acceptance speech. 

 

Thank you all for your support and for the support of Canadian Speculative Fiction. Thank you to the folks at When Worlds Collide for hosting the Aurora Awards and thank the Prix Aurora Awards organizational committee for their work. Thank you also to Mark Leslie Lefebvre for being an incredible host for the awards.

I also want to thank the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University for their continuing support and encouragement.

Authors in Quarantine – Derek Kunsken

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

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

Derek Kunsken: My day job has been adapted to working remotely from home, so I’ve still been working full time. I’ve also received some friends of mine who were evacuated from Europe, so they will be with me for a few months in my guest rooms. They have a daughter the same age as my son, so that’s been a social plus. And they cook well!

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

Derek Kunsken: I had just spent 4 years working as a full time writer and parent, so I’d actually practiced staying at home before. I think I’ve been relatively okay during social distancing, but I’ve been feeling really bad for friends who have lost jobs, writers with books coming out right now, and families who have lost loved ones.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

Derek Kunsken: Everything seems to take more effort, and I described the feeling as having my max hit points dropped by 20% and being unable to find the cleric some days. That being said, I’m been getting up at 6am each day to write before work. At first, I tried meeting people on Twitter, but now I meet a smaller group by Zoom to keep ourselves honest and working.


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Flipped Worlds

Flipped Worlds

A review of “Flip” (Markosia, Enterprises, 2018) edited by Jack Briglio and featuring work by Derek Kunsken, Wendy Muldon, Eleonora Dalla Rosa, Miguel Jorge, Hugh Rockwood, Alberto Massetti, Marcello Bondi, Francesco Della Santa, and Salvador’s Coppola.

By Derek Newman-Stille

The comic “Flip” offers a series of flashes through different worlds filled with different possibilities, inviting readers to turn the world on its head and look at it differently. Like most Speculative Fiction, even when it is set on a different world, in a different reality, or in the future, it is really about our own world and the things that occupy our imagination, thoughts, and perspectives. “Flip” invites readers to delve into those imaginings, to ask critical questions, and imagine what is not in order to think anew about what is.

The stories in “Flip” bring the reader into worlds where credit card debt is paid back with death, inviting us to think about credit card companies as loan sharks; worlds where people are forced to divorce after only 7 years of marriage, evoking questions about matrimony; worlds where luchadors meld their bodies into those of gorillas to fight, inviting questions of animal violence, human fear, and corporate control; worlds where pensions are saved for the young and people work later in life, inviting questions about age and ageing. There are tales of people meeting between flipped worlds and of choices made and the impact of choices that weren’t made. It is a comic about possibility and change. 

“Flip” is a collection of stories that are meant to unsettle, to disrupt, to FLIP reality and let us see it from another angle. 

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

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 www.onspec.ca.