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/ .

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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.

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