Saturday, July 30, 2005

Bulwer-Lytton Results

If you haven't heard of the Bulwer-Lytton Contest, it's an annual event where writers are challenged to come up with awful first sentences for novels. The winner?

As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual.

Two of my personal faves:

The runner up in the fantasy category: The dragon cast his wet, rheumy eyes, heavy-lidded with misery, over his kingdom-a malodorous, rot-ridden swamp, with moss cloaking brooding, gloomy cypresses, tree trunks like decayed teeth rising from stagnant ponds, creatures with mildewed fur and scales whom the meanest roadside zoo would have rejected--and hoped the antidepressants would kick in soon.

...And a misc. 'dishonourable' mention: In considering the wisdom of entering upon an affair of the heart with the redoubtable Miss Ffiona Sensuosa, MacFadden Perfidy weighed the undeniable erotic advantages of such a confluence of physiologically coinciding characteristics against the demonstrably unfortunate fact of her exhibiting pronounced advantages over him in terms of wealth, intelligence and personality, and concluded that their union could possibly be inadvisable.

The funniest?: After she realized the man she had fallen in love with was her long lost twin brother and they must break up immediately, they shared one last kiss that left a bitter yet sweet taste in her mouth--kind of like throwing up after eating a junior mint.

Check out all of the winners (losers?) here.

SF Read of the Week

"I watched you die," I said.
"I watched you watching me," she said.

Daniel Kaysen is quickly becoming one of my favourite short story writers. I reposted another story of his at the start of the month, so I suppose I'll finish it off with one.

This is "Torn" at Strange Horizons. Also, check out his site.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Time's Arrow

Just wanted to recommend another book - Martin Amis' Time's Arrow. It follows the life of an ex-Nazi doctor who executed Jews at Auschwitz. What sets it apart? It's told backwards, beginning with the character's death.

Check it out.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Strippers!

Everyone likes a stripper, especially when they complete their tease by...er...changing into (not out of) some stylish Gap clothing.

Check out www.watchmechange.com and make your own stripper! It's loads of good, clean, fun.

(via Blogography)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Your Story Sucks!

In addition to working on GERA and editing the Apodis anthologies, I've started working on a writing instruction column called Your Story Sucks! I'm hoping to have it picked up by Fictionpress, since their columns have been published at an increasingly sporadic level as of late and they could probably do with some new blood. Plus, it's a place that's oriented towards younger writers, so I might as well get 'em while they're young and impressionable.

I've just completed the first issue which focuses on dialogue. So, if you're a writer who's just starting out or you're already established and want a refresher course (or just want to disagree with my views) be my guest and have a look.

Note: The file is in PDF format. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you should probably get out from under that rock and download yourself a copy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Editing Angst

Stories have started to come in for the Apodis Anthologies. Now that I'm on the other side of the fence, I'm surprised to see the kind of things that show up.

Many of these stories have promise, but clearly haven't been through much editing. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors abound! It's aggravating, really, because I'd like to think that all writers know enough to proofread their stories (a number of times) before sending them out to markets.

The Potter Post

Warning: Spoilers!

I was a skeptic for years. Really, I was. The first five books had come out and everybody and their dog was telling me how great they were. First, I decided it was all overblown hype. Then, I pegged them as inconsequential kid's books. Finally, I said that I might pick them up and have a read once all seven were out. In the end, though, the decision turned out not to be mine. At the start of this school year (it seems I've known Harry all my life, but it's only been nine months, really) I took a Children's Literature class, and the first book was on the reading list.

I devoured the first book in a night. I thought it was a load of fun, but not much else. After all, Rowling had simply taken the tried-and-true formula of the British schoolboy story and jazzed it up with magic. Same for book numbers two and three. It was a lather, rinse, repeat sort of formula, and, while I had a lot of fun reading the first three books, none of them really had a huge impact on me.

Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, however, were something special. The characters, already well-fleshed out in the first three books, seemed to go beyond being mere names on a page. The darkened tone made everything much more tense. Et cetera, et cetera - I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about.

So, when Half-Blood Prince came out, I was stoked. I read the entire thing in a night. When I put it down, though, I wasn't happy with it. I thought it lacked some intangible quality of the last two. The next day, I was mulling over what exactly was wrong with it. I couldn't put my finger on it. Eventually, though, I realized what it was. It had nothing to do with the writing, the structure, or anything of that nature.

When I read, even for pleasure, I tend to focus on things such as narrative and sentence structure, the plausibility and consistency of character and dialogue, and things along those lines. I realized, though, that in reading this book, my reactions had nothing to do with any of these. Rowling had successfully drawn me into her world, and the reason I was unhappy after reading the book was because, well, things looked pretty rough for Harry.

Half-Blood Prince, I think, is by far the best book of the series so far. Rowling's ratcheted up the tension to such a point where it's going to be nigh impossible to wait for the next book. But what she really succeeds at is the darkness of tone. If Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix were dark, Half-Blood Prince is pitch black.

I'd like to illustrate this with a brief excerpt from Dumbledore's death scene that I really think captures the tone of the book.

But somebody else had spoken Snape's name, quite softly.
'Severus...'
The sound frightened Harry beyond anything he had experienced all evening. For the first time, Dumbledore was pleading.


The death scene of Harry's greatest teacher (and, arguably, his most important father figure) is wonderfully underplayed by Rowling. Dumbledore doesn't go out in any blaze of glory, there's no fighting to the last gasp. His murderer simply walks up to him and kills. Harry, meanwhile, has been paralyzed and can do nothing - helplessness, it seems, is the word on this book.

Furthermore, the fact that we're presented with a book that contains no trace of confrontation with Lord Voldemort indicates that, well, we ain't seen nothin yet.

Here's hoping for a quick turnaround on the last book. I fully expect it'll knock everyone's socks off.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Open Thread #1

All the cool blogging kids have open threads from time to time, so why can't I? Of course, it probably won't work, since they get thousands of hits a day and I get something like fifty. Anyhow, I'm away for the weekend and I thought it'd be the perfect time to try it out.

So, have at it. Or, if you're at a loss for things to say, here are some ideas for enthralling comment writing.
  • Harp on the shortcomings of this blog
  • Leave an obscure quote and see if an intellectual discussion results from it
  • Insult the pompous know-it-all who left an obscure quote
  • Give five reasons why your blog is better than all the other blogs in the world combined
  • Say something entirely random, like "I love grilled cheese sandwiches. They're fantastic!"
  • Vehemently disagree with someone's random statement (ie. "Grilled cheese? You $&%!")

I'll leave you to it.

L.A. Confidential

This is one of those movies that I've always wanted to see, but somehow it managed to slip through the cracks. This is one of the best crime drama/mystery movies I've ever scene and it really nails the slick '50s noir feel. The star power doesn't hurt either. My grade: A

Synopsis: 1950's Los Angeles is the seedy backdrop for this intricate noir-ish tale of police corruption and Hollywood sleaze. Three very different cops are all after the truth, each in their own style: Ed Exley, the golden boy of the police force, willing to do almost anything to get ahead, except sell out; Bud White, ready to break the rules to seek justice, but barely able to keep his raging violence under control; and Jack Vincennes, always looking for celebrity and a quick buck until his conscience drives him to join Exley and White down the one-way path to find the truth behind the dark world of L.A. crime. (via Imdb)

Director: Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys)
Writers: Brian Helgeland (Mystic River) and Curtis Hanson (The Bedroom Window) based on the novel by James Ellroy
Stars: Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind), Guy Pearce (Memento), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Kim Basinger (The Door in the Floor), James Cromwell (The Green Mile), Danny DeVito (Get Shorty), Ron Rifkin (Boiler Room), David Strathairn (A League of Their Own)

Useless Trivia: The movie was going to be turned into a television series starring Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Vincennes and Melissa George as Lynn Bracken. Both HBO and Fox passed on it.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Beating A Dead Horse

First off, I wanted to make some remarks on a great book I read (no, not Harry Potter - which was, by the way, extremely good, and I plan to make a rather long and rambling post about it next week, so consider yourselves warned). The book I'm talking about is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. It was assigned in my Utopian Lit class and really knocked my socks off. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it definitely deserves a place equal to the legendary dystopian trio of Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four and We. If you haven't read it and you're into dystopian fiction, be sure to check it out.

The thing I'd like to discuss, though, is Atwood's views on science fiction. And yes, I know I posted recently about how I was fed up with people slagging SF (which, by the way, resulted in me getting an email from Girl at POD-dy Mouth explaining that she doesn't have a bias against it, she just didn't think she was qualified to review it). Anyhow, a few years ago, Atwood came to Ottawa and gave a talk about SF and speculative fiction. I didn't go, but received the gist of the proceedings from classmates. Basically, she did whatever she could to dissociate her works (this was right after Oryx and Crake had come out) from science fiction. Instead, she called them speculative fiction. Why? Well, because SF is silly and not for those who like a book with literary value.

Now, before I start criticizing, I'd like to mention that my reading tastes consists almost entirely of literary fiction and that which is considered speculative fiction. I completely agree with Atwood that there seem to be to sides of SF, a sociological side and a scientific side. I also agree that it's acceptable to assert that one genre generally has more literary value than another. Anyone who tries to tell you that Ian Rankin is every bit as literary as Ian McEwan clearly has a screw loose. However, here's the thing: Just because a book lies within a certain genre does not mean that it has more or less literary value than a book in another genre.

And that, to me, seems to be what Atwood is trying to do with all this 'speculative' fiction nonsense. As far as I know, speculative fiction is an invention of the literary world - in SF, everything is speculative, therefore creating a subgenre with that title would be a little absurd. It seems to me that the genre of speculative fiction is bestowed (by the literary establishment, of course) on any SF book that has been written by a mainstream author or has been sufficiently accepted by the mainstream. Basically, it's a way of saying "It's OK for us to read this book, even though it's chalk-full of SF elements, and still put down science fiction because, as we all know, SF is just silly escapism."

It really irritates me that Atwood should have to attach this label to her books. Not only because the books are clearly science fiction (the final chapter is a transcript of an academic lecture held in 2195) but because Atwood is such a ridiculously accomplished author that it shouldn't really matter to the literary crowd whether she's writing science fiction or not. I mean, if she didn't go through all this trouble to term her books 'speculative' and instead came right out and said "I've written a science fiction novel" do you think the literary crowd would balk and think that Atwood had gone loopy? Doubtful, but the fact that one has to stop and ponder the possibility, which isn't that far-fetched, is rather disconcerting.

Anyhow, I'm done beating this dead horse (until the next opportunity). Feel free to return to your lives.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Apodis Anthologies

I've decided to put out a trio of anthologies through Apodis, as a way of showcasing new science fiction authors who haven't quite gotten around to finishing that novel yet. Of course, you don't have to be an unpublished writer to submit to the anthologies, it's open to anyone who might be interested. Each anthology will have a theme, and they are...
  • Space Opera/Space Exploration
  • First Contact
  • Near Future Earth

I'm looking for short stories, between 2000 and 8000 words. Payment is $10 US for an accepted story and the top three stories in each anthology will receive a free copy of the book, which, of course, will be a nice looking trade paperback.

Visit www.apodispublishing.com and check out the Anthology FAQ for more info.

Harry

Stayed up in order to finish the latest Potter book in its entirety last night, which resulted in having only a few hours of sleep. Still, it's probably for the best - I wouldn't have been able to concentrate on work or school not knowing the outcome. So, now I'll have a few years to mull over R.A.B. and Horcruxes before the next one's out.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Wherein I Write About Writing II

Catching The Bug

Back in first and second grade, each student had to write (and illustrate) a number of stories. These stories would then be typed up by volunteers, bound (with ultra-crafty covers and duct tape, also the work of volunteers) and read aloud to the class by their respective authors. Being a car enthusiast at that time of my life, all of my stories included roughly the same plot: Man buys rusted out car, fixes car up, sells car to highest bidder and reflects with pride on his work as it drives away (see? I haven't always been cynical about consumerism). Of course, now and again I'd spice things up: one car had its wheels replaced with air pads and became a hovercar, another car had a top speed of 10,000 miles per hour and yet another had the unique ability to jump over the world. Occasionally, I wrote stories about family members, mysterious eggs that contained five dollars, but the crowning achievement was the laminated hardback (we had amazing volunteers, now that I think back on it) The Boy Who Lost His Cat, which may or may not have been a direct challenge to my best friend's The Boy Who Lost His Dog. Anyhow, despite all this writing at an early age, this wasn't when I caught the writing bug.

The symptoms didn't truly start to emerge until I was in the fourth grade. My mother had read my brother and I The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia, thereby ensuring my life as a nerd, and that, along with exposure to such kickass NES-era RPGs as Dragon's Lair, I started creating my own worlds - complete with maps and, if required, backstories. Still, the disease was still in its infancy.

It wasn't until the seventh grade, when a number of factors conspired to set me down this particular path, that I took up writing. The first factor was the decision to take a journalism class. When the Christmas holidays were approaching, I wrote a pretty funny little essay about how Santa Claus could easily be confused with a burglar and get himself clocked over the head with a baseball bat by an overzealous homeowner (I later continued my attack on holiday figures by writing an article about the Easter Bunny being nothing more than a worthless corporate shill) . My teacher loved it and persuaded my to send it into the local newspaper. Somehow, that never quite worked out, but her enthusiasm for it sparked something in me. That same year, I read some books called The Darksword Trilogy (later, it became a quadrilogy). I decided that I wanted to write a really cool fantasy/science fiction epic. So, I penned a decently sized novel called The Dark Warriors of Sojin. For the most part, it was a direct copy of the Darksword books, mixed in with a fair bit of Star Wars.

Later - the disease takes its toll...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

SF Read of the Week

The scientists broke many laws, both civil and ethical, in their work. The saints' eggs they transplanted into any woman who volunteered, but each one of the Jesus eggs was transplanted into an amenable virgin. Most of the latter were nuns, again indicating some complicity with the old churches, although each church denied any knowledge of the project.

If you're not one of the readers who checks out my Read of the Week feature on a regular basis, I urge you to change your ways, if just for a week. Dru Pagliassotti's "Joseph's Plaint" over at Ideomancer is one of the best SF stories I've read this year. Not only that, but if you don't have a lot of time to sit down and read, it's quite short (so you don't have any excuse not to read it).

Friday, July 15, 2005

Buy It Cheaper!

The "Buy Blurred Line" links have all been updated to point to the new Apodis version, which is cheaper than the old version.

@ Amazon: $9.95 (and it hasn't even been discounted yet, which it will be)
@ Barnes & Noble: $9.95 (or $8.95 for members)
@ Booksamillion: $9.40 (or $8.46 for members)
@ Amazon.ca: $12.19 CDN (for the Canucks out there)

Thou Shalt Not Covet

(Or Damn You, Cash Warren, You Lucky Bastard!)

I read this little article on Imdb today:

Sin City beauty Jessica Alba credits her blonde hair with attracting new boyfriend Cash Warren, because it gives her a softer, more approachable image. The Latina actress began dating the director's assistant in January, after meeting him on the set of the much anticipated comic book adaptation, Fantastic Four. The 23-year-old star - who is naturally brunette - dyed her hair blonde for her role as Sue Storm to match the original fair-haired superhero and believes this was the major factor that sparked Warren's interest. Alba says, "I thought he was wonderful the moment I set eyes on him. Fortunately he returned my feelings. Would he have felt the same way had I still been a brunette? I like to think so of course. But I know I'm much more approachable as a blonde, so I think it worked for him and me."

First off, if the man thought she needed blonde hair to be attractive, he should be shot. Secondly, how is blonde hair more approachable?


Blonde Alba is still the epitome of physical perfection, of course, but I miss the unfathomably hot girl next door look of Brunette Alba.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Tao of Steve

Donal Logue (a career bit part actor who has been in a ton of big movies - Jerry Maguire, The Patriot and Runaway Bride among them) came home from the Sundance Film Festival with an award for oustanding performance in a drama for this movie. The film doesn't really deliver any big surprises and sticks mostly to the well-travelled romantic comedy route, but Logue's casual performance as the amiable Dex makes the movie rather enjoyable. My grade: B-

Synopsis: In his early 30s, the beer-bellied Dex has things figured out. He's widely read in philosophy, he's studied Steve McQueen the prototypical cool American hero, and he's distilled Buddhism and Taoism into three laws that make him a hit with women: don't express desire, do something heroic in front of her, then retreat. A part-time job with young children, beer, guys, Frisbee golf, pool, poker, his dog Castro, and sex: what could be missing? Then, at his ten-year college reunion, Dex meets Syd, and the "Tao of Steve" may not be enough to get him what he wants. Plus, Syd remembers something important that Dex has forgotten. Can a cool smart guy, 50 pounds overweight, find his bliss? (via Imdb)

Director: Jenniphr Goodman
Writers: Duncan North, Jenniphr Goodman and Greer Goodman
Stars: Donal Logue (Blade), Greer Goodman, Kimo Wills (Empire Records), David Aaron Baker (Kissing Jessica Stein), Nina Jaroslaw, Ayelet Kaznelson, John Hines

Useless Trivia: No, he's not that fat - Donal Logue wore a strap-on belly during filming. You can see it in the scene where Dex knocks over a few baskets at Syd's workplace.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wherein I Write About Writing

Every blogger must, at some point, blog about blogging. I'm not sure why, it just seems that most of us have this undeniable urge to justify the fact that we write about completely random stuff on a regular basis. There's nothing wrong with that (after all, I've done it). In fact, it's probably worthwhile for people to explore the reasons behind their blogs. With any luck, it'd result in a lot less "Today I made a grilled cheese for lunch. It was tasty. Then I had to do the groceries..." kind of blogs.

Of course, there happens to be a portion of the population who continues this sickness of writing outside the blog. Being one of those unfortunates myself, I thought I'd take the time to explain the reasons I write.
  1. Because I must - Sure, it sounds silly, but it's the most frequent response I see whenever the question is posed. Being unable to write for more than a day or two at a time really irritates me. Of course, this whole "I write because I just have to" argument could be boiled down to an addictive personality, which would explain why so many writers are big drinkers (and why I so often feel the need to check my email).

Do you know why that's the most frequent response? Because it's the only one. Really, any other justification one can give is ultimately going to be some variation of it (ie. "I have so many ideas", "I like to create", "I don't like to work so I need to write a bestseller", "If I don't, evil men will put spiders in my bed at night", etc, etc).

I think, instead of trying to put everything I want to say about writing into one post, that I'll break it up into a number of different ones. So, this is to be continued...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

PR Woes

I've been working hard to get the word out about Apodis. Unfortunately, my efforts haven't resulted in much of anything as of yet. I set up a Google AdWords account a few days ago (you know those little ads that come up in a side bar when you search for stuff on Google?). Anyhow, my ads have had almost 1000 impressions, but not one single click yet.

I also sent out a press release for the company yesterday. Pretty much all the views of a press release come on its first day out and the count for this one was 12,000. Now, that might sound impressive, but consider that the press release for Blurred Line's release back in November had roughly 56,000 reads on its first day.

I'm working on some blogads now and have a couple science fiction oriented sites I'd like to advertise on with these. Hope the third time's a charm.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Failure!

I failed my road test today - not due to any sort of poor driving, but because of the fact that I had a brake light burned out. What really gets me is that I'd checked all the lights about a week or two ago and everything seemed to be working.

Anyhow, my license expires on August 29th (if I don't have my full license by then, I have to go back to the lowest learner's permit, meaning that I'd have to have a licensed driver in the car with me at all times). Furthermore, I have an operation to get my wisdom teeth removed on the 23rd of August, so I raced home and prayed that the road test booking gods would be with me. They were.

So, August 19th, 2005 at 1:25 PM: No more surprises. No more confusing the onramp to the Airport Parkway for just another road (which is why I failed the first time). No more burned out lights. I. Must. Pass.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Young and the Self-Published

A brief visit to PRWeb today (I'm working on a press release for Apodis) had me stumbling across this release - Teenager's Debut Novel Hopes To Shed a New, Modern Light on Women in Science Fiction.

Of course, I can only come to one conclusion - we're spiritual twins. We both write science fiction, we both self-published (she at age nineteen, me at twenty), and the covers of our books are frighteningly similar.

















Separated at birth? (What else can explain the love of blue, purple and white swirls?)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SF Read of the Week

My mother’s funeral and her bequest to me were as embarrassing as the woman herself. A kind of final test. The fact there was a funeral at all says it, doesn’t it? A major stakeholder in Genrev dying from old age?

Once again, Futurismic makes a case for being the best source for SF the web has to offer. This week's story is a fantastic one - "Real Death" by Terry Hayman.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Apodis Online!

The Apodis Publishing website is now online, save for a few bits and pieces on the flash site. So, I urge you to go ahead and check out the non-flash site (which is far cooler looking than it was a few days ago, for anyone who checked it last time I posted).

Anyhow, time to hit the hay - I'll be back for the RotW tomorrow.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Things To Do

I have a lot of things to do over the next couple days, so I won't be back on the blog until Saturday's RotW post. Of course, since I wouldn't want to deprive my wonderful readers of anything to do, here are some things to do within my own little blogosphere.

Visit Ali's blog and congratulate him on his invitation to the Cambridge Seminar and his special recognition award at the Bahraini Outstanding Book of the Year Awards.

Visit Blogography and take a trip to Daveland (because, after today's news, I think everyone would like a little escape from the real world). I'd like to mention that if I was Dave I'd put a solid gold Dave statue in the middle of the place which read "I am Dave, purveyor of much ass-kickage."

At Galaxies, Universes and Things That Spin you can make yourself a ridiculously complex origami motorcycle.

Visit POD-dy Mouth and scroll down a little for a list of print-on-demand titles she's reviewed. Pick the one you think sounds most interesting. Purchase off Amazon.

(Or, of course, if it's reading you're after, you can read my novel or the short story "Smoke and Mirrors" by clicking here.)

Visit Planet Moron - laugh at the world.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kinsey

A superbly acted, well written and often funny look at the life of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. My grade: A-

Synopsis: Alfred Kinsey, who in 1948 irrevocably changed American culture and created a media sensation with his book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." Asking thousands of people about the most intimate aspects of their lives, Kinsey lifted the weight of doubt and shame from a society in which sex was hidden, and knowledge was dangerous. His work sparked one of the most intense cultural debates of the past century - a debate that rages on today. (via Yahoo)

Director and Writer: Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters)
Stars: Liam Neeson (Schindler's List), Laura Linney (The Truman Show), Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State), Chris O'Donnell (Vertical Limit), John Lithgow ("3rd Rock From The Sun"), Timothy Hutton (The General's Daughter), Oliver Platt (The Three Musketeers), Tim Curry (Legend)

Useless trivia: In the script, Peter Sarsgaard did not have to strip in the motel scene.

Sick and Tired (And Covered In Paint)

I'm taking a sick day from work, since I feel like the only viable alternative to laying in bed would be curling up into a ball and dying. And, since I can't really afford to die right now (so much to do) I figured I'd best stay home in bed.

I was up rather late last night (while sick, though not quite as much as today) helping my cousin put a couple of coats of primer on her walls. She'd painted her apartment when she moved in and now that she's leaving, the supers want her to prime everything for when they repaint the walls white. The result: my hands and the soles of my feet are covered in white that doesn't seem to want to come off. Maybe I'll tell everyone I have a lot of mosquito bites and it's some kind of fancy calamine lotion.

Reading: Huxley's Brave New World. I'm re-reading this for my Utopian Lit class after having read it back in Grade 11 English. I remember thinking it was a cool book back then, but this time around I'm simply blown away. Mind you, I don't like it quite as much as Zamyatin's We, which somehow didn't manage to make it onto the reading list. Speaking of which, is this not the coolest class reading list ever? - More: Utopia, Bellamy: Looking Backward, Gilman: Herland, Huxley: Brave New World, Vonnegut: Player Piano, Atwood: Handmaid's Tale, Amis: Time's Arrow. The only downside is that it's an awful lot to get through in six weeks.

Writing: I finally restarted Glistening Edges and Right Angles the other day. Only 300 words, mind you, but it's something. I also came up with an idea for a new novel (which, of course, I won't let myself start until I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on GERA). To put it in cinematic terms, it feels like it might be a cross between The Island (minus whatever stupidity Michael Bay manages to infuse it with) and A.I. (except without the atrocious ending).

Publishing: Anyone who wants to have a look at the semi-complete Apodis Publishing site can do so. The flash site is mostly done, but still has some filler text (ie. blah, blah, etc, x goes here kind of stuff) throughout. The non-flash site is technically in operation, but my design is so hideously ugly that I'm paying somewhat to design a better one. Nonetheless, pretty much all of the information is in place, so have a look.

Music to listen to: Check out the site of one of my favourite new bands, Montreal/Toronto's Stars. They're coming to Ottawa's Bluesfest on the 9th, but unfortunately I have no one to go with. Argh!

Monday, July 04, 2005

For All You English Majors

Tired of being harassed over how your English Lit degree will never get you a real job? Well, now you can quote this article at people - "Poor writing steals the money out of your pocket". Read it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Zombie Dogs

I don't usually post news items, but this is crazy. Although everyone I know would love a reanimated dog. Read about it here. (via The Science Fiction Blog)

Apodis Update

The Apodis Publishing site is almost up. Hopefully, the wheels should be set in motion by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Teleconferencing In Utopia

I recently started my second university course of the summer, this one on Utopian Literature. The interesting thing about it, course material aside, is that we're being watched. No, really, there's a big video screen at the back of the room showing a classroom in Cornwall (a relatively small Ontario city). They can see us and we can see them. They also have a two-way radio so they can hear the prof. Additionally, another class in Pembroke (another small Ontario city) also has this two-way radio hookup to our class. So, it's not uncommon in class to be interrupted by this booming disembodied voice that comes down as if God's and says "So, Bellamy likes socialism but not Marx, right?"

Anyhow, my prof likes to run a lot of class discussion. Of course, the people in Cornwall and Pembroke would have difficulty following this since only the prof has a mike. As a result, mikes are attached to the desks and, whenever we want to say something, we have to press a button on the mike so that the other classes can hear. This, of course, leads to a class where a good portion of time is spent by the prof saying "Could you say that again, but with the mike on?"

On one hand, I think it's cool that our university is somewhat technologically advanced, but on the other, I hate having to deal with the reverb of my prof's voice that comes out of the Pembroke/Cornwall speakers. I think the class should be set up like some of those at Carleton University (the other Ottawa school), where lectures are put on TV. All you have to do is tune in from home. I could go to school in my pyjamas!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

SF Read of the Week

"A dating script?" said Kelly, sounding dubious.
"Yeah, you know. 'This special date offer includes dinner at my apartment and the potential for oral sex on my couch afterwards. Would that be something you are interested in?' And then if they say no you flip to page two and you ask them if it's the dinner or the oral sex that they have the problem with."


Had no time at all to do any online reading this week, so I'm going to recycle another pre-Blogger read. Good humorous SF is hard to find, but it's done well in this story.

"The Jenna Set" by Daniel Kaysen at Strange Horizons.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Canada Day

(Of course, even if we did somehow managed to get shot, we'd never have to foot the hospital bill anyway.)

The nice thing about living in the capital during Canada Day is that the majority of the downtown area around the parliament buildings is shut down to traffic and opened up for pedestrians. In fact, every year for the past three years, I've been downtown on Canada Day, hanging out on Rideau Street. Every year, it's insanely packed and always a good time (Canadians know how to throw a party).

Unfortunately, even though it's nice out at the moment, we're supposed to have an incredibly intense thunderstorm later today, so I might not be going down this year. Oh well, I still have a nice view of the fireworks from my apartment.

War of the Worlds

This, not Batman or Star Wars, is the perfect summer theatre movie. Awe-inspiring special effects (ones that actually look real, as opposed to Lucas' recent adventures) headline the movie, but Spielberg does a great job of infusing the film with an emotional intensity that generally isn't present in your typical blockbuster movie. The ending, however, will be a letdown for those who haven't read Wells' novel, as it doesn't translate very well to the screen and when the movie winds down, it all feels a little abrupt. Nevertheless, this is the movie to see in the theatre this summer. Don't miss out. My grade: A-

Synopsis: A contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells's seminal classic, the sci-fi adventure thriller reveals the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it. (via Yahoo)

Director: Steven Spielberg (Minority Report)
Writers: Josh Friedman (Chain Reaction) and David Koepp (Spider-Man), based on the novel by H.G. Wells
Stars: Tom Cruise (The Last Samurai), Dakota Fanning (Man On Fire), Justin Chatwin (Taking Lives), Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings)