A Plague of Immortality

A review of Matt Moore’s “Innocence Prolonged, and Overcome” in Lazarus Risen (Bundoran, 2016)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Contagion narratives have been increasingly popular in our fiction, exploring the human fear of the microorganism, a tiny predator that can consume us without being seen. However, what happens when a virus gives us what we think we want? We are also a society who fears ageing, so what if a virus can end ageing? 

In Matt Moore’s “Innocence Prolonged, and Overcome”, a contagion named the Grail Virus has spread,, killing the vast majority of people that come into contact with it, but granting immortality to a select few people. Because the virus is deadly to most people, this select group of immortals, frozen at the age of infection, have been cut off from the rest of society, quarantined in a small town. 

Moore explores the image that is often projected onto small towns – a timeless space where nothing changes – by introducing a town that is literally frozen in time, unageing… and yet this town is not one that is quant or traditional – this is a town that has systemic violence and a space where people fight against the isolation and agelessness that is often viewed by urban people as the idealized space of the small town. 

Moore’s tale examines the discomfort that comes with agelessness, and the reminder that small towns are places of memory where people can carry on feuds for generations… and in this town, where no one ages, no one needs to rely on stories about slights of family members – these townsfolk remember every slight that has happened to them because they have lived through it all. 

Moore uses the subject of immortality to explore ideas of change and to examine whether people are actually capable of change, interrogating that idea that an “old dog can’t learn new tricks” by giving them an eternity to try to learn new tricks. Moore invites the question of whether people are stuck unchanging because society casts them in that role, always assuming that they are the same person who everyone remembers them being. He asks whether it is possible for people to change if no one will let them and everyone refuses to remember them any other way.

To discover more about Matt Moore’s work, visit https://mattmoorewrites.com/

To find out more about Lazarus Risen, visit Bundoran Press at http://www.bundoranpress.com/product/1/Lazarus-Risen 

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Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 24: An Interview with Matt Moore

This is an interview that has waited far too long. Matt Moore and I have talked often about everything from villains to space to horror… and our conversations were always insightful! We had even organized a panel together… but for some reason, we kept missing chances to interview. So, I was incredibly lucky to have a chance to talk to Matt at Can Con in Ottawa, a brilliant Speculative Fiction Convention.

Matt Moore is an Ottawa-based author of Speculative Fiction whose work tends toward the horror and dark fiction genres, playing at the edge where science fiction meets the darkness. Matt has published short fiction in venues such as Postscripts to Darkness, Jamais Vu, Leading Edge, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, OnSpec, and in collections like Torn Realities, Blood Rites, Tesseracts 14, and Fear the Abyss. His story “Touch the Sky, They Say” was an Aurora Award nominee and his first collection “Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark” is now available to explore.

In our interview, we talk about a variety of topics from identity to horror to science fiction to disability (which those of you who follow my website know is a topic that I love to talk about) to gender to author readings to… well, you will just have to listen and find out! So, click below and hear our full interview.

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.

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

Malicious Math

A review of Matt Moore’s “Delta Pi” (from Torn Realities, Post Mortem Press: 2012)

By Derek Newman-Stille

Matt Moore’s “Delta Pi” is an Aurora-nominated short story that plays with the idea that math can be a spell as powerful as any invocation. Math is a language, a coded system, and reality imposes strict rules upon it, but math is also something that is seen to govern reality, a system that provides guidelines for interpreting the world. What happens when those guidelines shift? What happens when technology changes the basics of math? Does reality itself shift? “Delta Pi” explores technology that fundamentally questions and alters the nature of Pi, the mathematical constant that represents the ratio of every circle’s circumference to its diameter. When that number shifts, when technology alters it, the world, a fundamentally circular space changes and shifts. Our universe is left in a state of question when things that are structured as constants begin to change – the altered Pi is a gateway to the unknown.

Matt Moore sets his story at a research lab where new technology is being tested. His protagonist is a teacher for the children of the lab techs and researchers in the experimental lab attached to the school. Gradually, through an experiment with the children, he finds out that Pi is shifting, the number ramping up from 3.14159 to 3.26, and then to 3.71… the coding underlying the universe’s constants is changing and this could have meaning for the entirety of reality. Moore explores the danger of experimentation and the power of math as a coded system, a language that has the capability for describing the nature of reality.

In particular, Matt Moore’s protagonist fascinated me because of his disability, since few SF narratives deal in depth with disability. His disability is not revealed until later in the story unlike many narratives about disabled people that generally reveal disability early on and structure the entire person and their personality around their body. The significance of his protagonist’s disability is revealed most prevalently when the plot makes it relevant – when the nature of the circle, and thus the wheels on his wheelchair, are fundamentally shifted.

To find out more about Matt Moore, you can visit his site at www.mattmoorewrites.com . To find out more about the Prix Aurora Awards, visit their website at http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/