Speculating Canada on Trent Radio Episode 65: Star Wars

In this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio, I explore one of my favourite created worlds – the world of Star Wars. I look at the Canadian take on Star Wars by examining the novels of Drew Karpyshyn, a Canadian-American author of several Star Wars novels and the creator of the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic video game.

In this episode, I discuss Karpyshyn’s Darth Bane novels as well as his Old Republic novels Annihilation and Revan. I discuss Karpyshyn’s ability to write the Sith and deal with the complexity of the Sith.

You can listen to this episode of Speculating Canada on Trent Radio at the link below.

[audiohttp://www.dereknewmanstille.ca/media/trentradio/160223_episode68_drew_karpyshyn.mp3 ]

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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.

 

 

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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.

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.

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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.

Superhero Complex(ity)

A review of Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories (edited by Claude Lalumiere and Camille Alexa, Tyche Books LTD, 2013)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Masked Mosaic courtesy of Tyche Books

Cover photo of Masked Mosaic courtesy of Tyche Books

There has been a recent increase in the public interest in the superhero genre with increasing numbers of superhero movies, increasing numbers of people wearing superhero related merchandise and increasingly larger population groups getting excited about the figure of the superhero. Yet superheroes that are being represented often embody American ideals of the self-made man, the perfect body, and dichotomous views of good and evil. It is therefore timely that Claude Lalumiere and Camille Alexa released Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories.

Masked Mosaic seeks to push the boundaries of the superhero genre: to include complexities and issues that were often ignored in the Golden Age of comics and continue to be ignored in our culture’s nostalgia over comic figures of the past. The stories in this volume often play with Golden Age themes and complicate them. Rather than replicating hegemonies, the characters are diverse: aged, not ideals of bodily perfection, queer/ LGBTQ2, and culturally diverse. They represent a more inclusive reality of Canadian culture. It is a combination of pastiche and resistance to the past hegemonies that were embedded and encoded in Golden Age comics.

The binary image of superheroes with a universal idea of good and evil is disrupted in this volume, blurring the boundaries between hero and villain. The authors of these short stories recognise that heroes often support causes that are unjust and that heroism is often tied to political beliefs of the time and are not, in fact, universal concepts. Heroism is tied to ideologies of the ruling elite, enforcing power structures. Yesterday’s heroes may be considered today’s villains or vice versa. This volume is a reminder that heroes can fall.

Superheroes as mythic and iconic symbols are explored as well as exploring the complexities and problematic nature of symbols.

Featuring the work of E.L. Chen, Kristi Charish, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Jonathan Olfert, Kevin Cockle, David Nickle, Derryl Murphy, D.K. Latta, Emma Faraday, Mike Rimar, Emma Vossen, Patrick T. Goddard, A.C. Wise, Rhea Rose, David Perlmutter, Lisa Poh, Marie Bilodeau, Rhonda and Jonathan Parrish, Chantal Boudreau, Michael S. Chong, Jason Sharp, Alyxandra Harvey, Michael Matheson, and Jason S. Ridler this volume contains a diversity of voices in Canadian SF – both new and established. The stories involve everything from supervillains in a relationship with heroes, superheroes made out of dreams, Mexican wrestlers, aliens, seamstresses, archaeologists playing with possession, and figures from the Canadian mythic past and from history.

In an era of obsession with origin stories, Lalumiere and Alexa collect stories that represent every part of the superhero’s life from origin to retirement.

You can find out more about the Masked Mosaic collection at Tyche Books’ website http://tychebooks.com/ . You can check out a review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Iron Justice Versus the Fiends of Evil” from this volume at https://speculatingcanada.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/unmasked

Interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia

An interview with Silvia Moreno-Garcia by Derek Newman-Stille

Author photo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Author photo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I am really excited to have been able to interview Silvia Moreno-Garcia. She espouses a lot of the themes that I talk about in my own work around the ability for SF to include those who are traditionally pushed to the fringes, so I was really pleased that she was willing to share some insights here on Speculating Canada.

Spec Can: To begin our interview, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I am a writer, editor and publisher. My work appears in a number of anthologies and magazines, including Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. The latest anthology I edited is Fungi, with Orrin Grey. I own Innsmouth Free Press, a micro-press that specializes in Weird fiction and horror. I was born and raised in Mexico. I moved to Canada almost ten years ago.

Spec Can: What drew you to write about monsters? What can the figure of monstrosity add to literature?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Do I write about monsters? See, to me when I think monster I picture Godzilla. Vampires, zombies…they seem so normal nowadays you’d expect them to live next door and drive a mini-van.

But the monstrous…I don’t mind the monstrous. When I’m writing about a vampire I actually don’t give a fig about the stuff most people might care about, like sexy dark looks and such. I’m probably more interested in things like the ease for cruelty or the passage of time. That’s what seems monstrous to me: how a vampire can use people like tissue paper, for example. My great-grandmother, when I was growing up, would tell me stories and in those stories witches and shape-shifters were as normal as the baker and the corner policeman. The monstrous and the mundane co-existed. I grew up with that vision of the world so to me, I’m probably more scared of the Mexican police than a vampire.

Spec Can: Your work shows an interest in oppressed peoples (particularly since you are an author who has published several stories in Expanded Horizons: Speculative Fiction for the Rest of Us). What has inspired this interest?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: As a woman, a person of colour and an immigrant, I’ve found myself at the lower end of the totem pole in both my country of birth and in Canada. It’s a totally different game when you’ve got the worst cards in the deck. Obviously, due to my background, I gravitate towards fellow POCs as characters, women, etc.

One thing that has always bugged me, for example, is why do aliens always land in the USA? Why don’t people with menial jobs get featured in fantasy stories? Does the kid cleaning the kitchen pots not have an interesting tale to tell? That’s why I tell these stories. It’s the questions I’ve asked myself.

Spec Can: Although SF is often called ‘the literature of change’ it does not represent people from minority groups (whether ethnic, racial, sexual, or gender minority peoples, or people with disabilities) very often. What could SF be doing to better represent human diversity?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia with the anthology "Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction"

Silvia Moreno-Garcia with the anthology “Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Foster it. That means ask for diverse stories, buy diverse stories, promote diverse authors. Don’t nominate the same old names on the same old ballots. Share books and stories that are different and exciting, and explain why they are different and exciting. Demand more than clichés in its narratives and move beyond ‘exotic’ characters to add a dash of spice.

It’s a bit of a circle. If you don’t promote and look for minority point of views, they are not going to come to you. When I started reading Western speculative fiction I could never find people like me. For that reason, I thought I had to write stories the way white Western people did. Set them in New York, have a white hero, due the whole Campbell plot, etc. I didn’t think anything else was possible, that anything else would be transgressive, because I could not find examples of other stories. When I finally decided to move from that self-confined pen is when I began to really write about the stuff that mattered to me. The point is: if young readers don’t see spaces for them in fiction, they are not going to become writers and they are not going to tell their stories. They’ll go to another space where they feel welcome. We have to make them feel welcome.

I attended the VCon festival a couple of years ago and it was in Richmond. It was a huge disconnect because Richmond has a huge Asian population. So I’d be in the convention space where everyone was white – I think I was the only person of colour walking around – and outside, in the streets, there were so many Asian people. I kept thinking: we have to tap into this market! It can’t be that we have this little bubble and all these other people are outside. And that’s what the spec community needs to do.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But, for example, for the Sword and Mythos anthology I’m publishing this year I gave the artist a brief that asked him to paint a female fighter against a monster. Oh, and the woman should be wearing suitable armour and not be white. Why? Why not? Why should the default be white? So I got back a cover with a Japanese-inspired warrior and I think it works nicely because it looks different from other sword and sorcery covers.

We can do stuff like this. We can star or review good fiction from minority groups to help promote, so it doesn’t get lost in the din. We can ask for more diverse programming and guests and cons. We can pause for a moment and ask: what happens if I make the hero gay? Get out of our default zone. There are many, many voices that have amazing stories to tell and we haven’t even begun to mine them.

Spec Can: What can Speculative Fiction do that “realist” fiction can’t?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I’m actually a big lover of realist fiction. Two of my favourite novels are Lolita and Madame Bovary – for short fiction I actually prefer speculative fiction, mind you. Some of my stuff could appear – and has appeared – in realist, so-called literary publications. I’m just…I like not having to worry about certain things when I’m writing. Like if someone suddenly dies and comes back as a ghost, sure, why is that not fair game? Speculative fiction allows you to do that. But then again, I don’t draw many distinctions between literary/realist fiction and speculative when it comes to my writing. I think a lot of what I do is fairly realist.

Spec Can: What is unique or distinct about Canadian Speculative Fiction, and, in particular, Canadian Weird Fiction or Horror?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia with The Book of Cthulhu from her blog at http://silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/2011/09/cthulhu-time/

Silvia Moreno-Garcia with The Book of Cthulhu from her blog at http://silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/2011/09/cthulhu-time/

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I think it’s a bit more fluid than say American speculative fiction. The boundaries between literary and speculative seem hazier. The speculative scene here is a lot smaller. I think you eventually meet everyone, and I mean everyone. Maybe not personally, but you know a lot more people.

Also, Canada seems a lot more concerned with establishing its identity and discovering itself. It’s like Americans kind of know who they are, they are pretty sure about it, but we are constantly asking the same question over and over again. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a tick.

Spec Can: The image of “home” and ideas of home and belonging feature strongly in your work (particularly in short stories like A Handful of Earth). What have influenced these ideas and why is home such a prevalent concept in your work?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Guilt. I left Mexico and moved to Canada. I love Canada, but there’s always a bit of guilt for abandoning my family, my old city.

The last time I went to Mexico I saw how much the old street where I grew up as a teenager had changed and I realized in a couple of decades I might not be able to recognize it. What happens when the things I grew up with are completely gone and erased? All the landmarks, all the bits of my childhood. Who will put flowers at the altars of my dead relatives? Who am I, then?

At the same time, when people were asking me if I’d ever go back to Mexico, I had to say no. Canada is now home. I miss it when I am away. And yet when I walk down the street sometimes someone will be friendly and we’ll chat, and they’ll ask ‘where are you from, where’s home from you?’ and I’ll think about Mexico.

But I can’t go back. That Mexico is gone. But it lives in my memory. It’s a weird thing. It’s like a ghost. It’s the ghost of a past life.

Spec Can: What ideas of feminism influence your work?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: The whole thing? There’s nothing like reading a help wanted ad in the newspaper that says “Secretary wanted. 20-35 years of age. Good looking” to get you on a feminist path. That’s what I grew up with. I couldn’t stand the macho culture around me. It was so stifling.

I remember going to work when I was living in Mexico City. And I’d always wear this long, black, leather trench coat. It was the only way to stop men from whistling at me or trying to touch me in the subway. It didn’t matter if I wore a long skirt or a short skirt or trousers, nothing helped. Except the trench coat. That covered me completely and it made me look like I might be with a gang or something, so they left me alone. Imagine that. Having to make sure you look scary and non-female enough to board the subway every day. I wrote “Nahuales” which is coming out in Bull Spec based on that.

It was so odd when I went abroad and I was living in Massachusetts to suddenly learn all these feminist ideas. Like your body is your own. Eureka! It’s like a light bulb went inside my head. Suddenly I understood everything that had been making me uncomfortable all those years. Feminism. It was awesome.

Spec Can: What are some of the questions that you hope your work will evoke in the minds of readers?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I don’t know. Each story is different. I hope it’ll evoke a feeling more than a question.  I remember an e-mail I got once from an editor rejecting one of my stories saying he couldn’t buy it because, although it had made him cry, he didn’t understand it.

I don’t want people to understand my stuff. I mean, they can if they want. But I’d like if they could feel it. When I was growing up and me great-grandmother told me stories I didn’t ask ‘why.’ Why did the witch turn into a ball of fire? Why is there a lion loose in the sierra? I accepted it all. But it did evoke feelings and it painted pictures in my mind.

Spec Can: How do ideas of the mythic influence your work?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I’m not sure they do. Legends influence my work. Folklore influences my work. That’s what I was exposed to growing up. But the mythic seems to vast and grand for what were much smaller discussions.

Spec Can: What is the importance of mythic narratives for the modern world?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Yeah, I wouldn’t know. Legends, I know. Oral tradition is a pretty big deal to me. One of the things I’m trying to do with my son is tell him all the stories I was told as a child, so that he’ll tell them to someone else. It’s the only way our ancestors will be remembered and our stories will live on.

Spec Can: H.P. Lovecraft and Lovecraftian ideas appear to have influenced a lot of your work. What is the appeal of Lovecraft for you and why is he such a big influence on your own writing? How does he speak to you as a writer?

Author photo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia with the collection "Future Lovecraft"

Author photo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia with the collection “Future Lovecraft”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Lovecraft is a huge influence for the field of horror, so eventually you bump into the guy one way or another. I like his sense of dread and madness. I also enjoy how the past tends to came back to haunt his characters. Like an ancestor will influence current events.

I think I have a subversive relationship with his writing. For example, when reading “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” I felt like the fish people were me. He’s talking about scary minority people in his stories and those are me. I am the outsider he fears. But because I’m the outsider, it’s not scary. I think “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” is a happy story. Guy finds true heritage and reunites with family. Doesn’t that feel like a happy ending? Sure, a bit creepy ‘cause fish people and all, but I was always identifying with the bad “other” guys.

It’s like Lovecraft didn’t invite me to the party but I crashed it anyway.

Spec Can: Memory and nostalgia feature strongly in your work. What has inspired your interest in memory?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia: My great-grandmothers stories, her oral narratives, had a big impact on me. If she hadn’t told me stories, I wouldn’t write today. I write because of her. She told me stories of her childhood, folktales, she sometimes narrated movies she’d seen. The funny thing is when I actually saw the movies — like I sat down and saw Dracula — it was slightly different from what she’d told me.  It had morphed in her mind. Memory is really unreliable and yet it is the foundation of our lives.

There is a movie I saw as a child, an anime flick about a girl who gets some kind of artificial body. I’ve never been able to find it. I’m not sure it exists. Maybe I imagined it or clobbered it together from other stuff. Isn’t that funky? I may be recalling something that never happened.

Spec Can: Is there anything further you would like to add to our interview? Any other comments you would like to add?

Silvia Moreno-Garcia:  Um…let’s see. You can find me blogging at silviamoreno-garcia.com. I’m  also at innsmouthfreepress.com with some irregular reviews and such. Oh, and my first collection, Shedding Her Own Skin, is out later this year.

I want to thank Silvia Moreno-Garcia for her incredible insights and for sharing so much of herself in this interview. She really shows the power of SF for social justice.

I was really fascinated to see how much the mythic and the power of stories, folklore, legends, and tales have influenced her development as a writer. She really illustrates that the mythic is alive and well in our world.