Greek Gossip

A review of Karen Dudley’s Kraken Bake (Ravenstone, 2014).
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo for Kraken Bake courtesy of RavenStone books

Cover photo for Kraken Bake courtesy of RavenStone books

Reputation and rumour – they are incredibly interlinked, especially in ancient Athens, and particularly for a celebrity chef whose entire reputation and business depends on being the current talk of the town. Karen Dudley’s Kraken Bake follows Pelops, first introduced as Athens’ newest mythological prince turned celebrity chef in Dudley’s first book, Food for the Gods. Pelops is now even more seasoned and his attitude is perhaps a bit more spicy than it was in the first book.

Kraken Bake explores the notion of gossip, the idea that people are created in the public arena and their identity is partially based on the way they are talked about, particularly when their business life depends on the public’s view. Pelops encounters another figure dependent on celebrity status, but one that is perhaps more attached to the role of the classical world: Perseus, a hero who has just returned from slaying the Kraken. Perseus entered the Athenian Agora (marketplace) long before he arrived in the form of rumours, tales of his exploits, and the arena of public opinion. When he arrives atop Pegasus, a winged horse, public opinion is confirmed: this is what Athens has been looking for, a genuine hero who they can wine and dine and gain status by showing connections to.

But this hero and Pelops have something in common: a connection to the god Zeus (Perseus is his son and Pelops his grandson), and both have a mixed relationship with the Kraken: Perseus’ slaying of the Kraken may not have happened quite as society has imagined… and Pelops has discovered that although he can cook anything else into a delectable treat tasty enough to make the gods weep, he can’t cook Kraken. Perseus’ conquest of the Kraken has already passed, but Pelops heroic quest has just begun, particularly when he discovers that the Athenians want to have a very public cook off, the Bronze Chef competition, and he is fairly certain that the secret ingredient will be Kraken meat.

Karen Dudley playfully blends Greek history and Greek myth together, not particularly concerned with veracity or timelines, and this adds to the sense of whimsy of her work, but also serves to undercut the notion that history itself is a story, a tale made up of rumour, myth, legend, and assumptions. Anyone who has read their Herodotus (the father of history) should know this from the gossipy and creative way he discusses Greek lives. But there is a magic in telling tales, whether they are mythic tales or general discussions of public figures and Dudley reminds us that we are all myths and legends being constantly formed through public discussions: gossip, rumour, debate, and reputation.

To find out more about Karen Dudley, visit her website at http://www.karendudley.com/ .

To find out more about Kraken Bake and other great Ravenstone books, visit their website at http://www.ravenstonebooks.com/authors/Karen-Dudley.html

Advertisements

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

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

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