Aurora Awards Archive

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Award Season – Part 1 – Prix-Aurora Awards Best Fan Publication

A quick note on programming. Today’s post was supposed to be a review of the first book in Marie Bilodeau’s serialized novel, Nigh. A trip to the hospital (not serious, all is well) and a burst water main (again, not serious, all is well) got in the way of me doing any writing yesterday and has left me running on no sleep for about 36 hours. In this state, I wouldn’t trust myself to review Dr. Seuss, let alone a writer whose chops put me in mind of George R.R. Martin or Andrzej Sapkowski. Hey, what do you know? I bounced back.

Rather than pressing my luck, I’m going to devote today’s post to some preliminary chatter on award season. It’s a sure sign of the new year when one starts to notice writers talking about which of their works are eligible for award nomination. Last year, I was mildly disappointed when the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s Prix-Aurora Awards cancelled its category for “Best Fan Publication” due to lack of nominations. I’d be a lying prat if I said some part of this disappointment wasn’t wholly selfish. It’s not like I campaigned, mind you, but there’s always some very small, very vain, part of me that holds out hope. The greater loss to not seeing a Best Fan Publication award is some very fine writers missed a chance to be recognized for their efforts. Want an example?

Check out Speculating Canada: Canadian Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy. Why? Because Derek Newman-Stille is a hell of a writer. His reviews are outstanding, and his essays are the sort of thing that offer a blueprint for improving this little community of ours. Read his work, be a better person. End of line.

There should be more than enough quality fan writers to prevent us from seeing a second shutout year. I would also implore CSFFA members not to presume that the designation of “fan” constitutes a lower-tier of creative endeavour. The distinction between “professional” and “fan” is rooted in if a person is paid for their work. In terms of quality, I believe the high level of professionalism that goes into most fan work speaks for itself.

And if for some reason you, gentle reader, wanted to toss the Page of Reviews in the ring for Best Fan Publication – if only to ensure there’s an actual competition this year – I wouldn’t kick up a stink.

For your consideration, here are three of my favourite pieces from 2014.

Marginalization and Stephen King’s Rage – April 23, 2014

The Unanswered Question of Land Claims in Homeworld - July 4, 2014

Babylon 5: The Last Best Hope for Empathy – August 11, 2014

There. That’s as shameless and award-grubby as I get. Can I go to bed now?


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Fiction Friday: The Aurora Awards Edition – Part Five: Suzanne Church’s The Needle’s Eye

It is an interesting title to an equally interesting story. The possessive construction can mean both “the eye of the needle” or “the eye that belongs to the needle”. In this, the final post in the Aurora Awards Fiction Friday series, I expect the latter definition is the more relevant.

What it’s about

The Needle’s Eye falls somewhere between science fiction and horror. I’m inclined to say that it’s closer to horror, as I only managed to get two pages into this story before the intensity of the imagery forced me to put down my kindle and take a deep cleansing breath.

The story is about two Canadian doctors, Lise and Rideau, who work abroad inoculating people against a super-virus called retinapox. The inoculation process is possibly one of the most terrible trade-offs that a person can imagine. To decrease the chance of picking up retinapox by sixty-eight percent, a person sacrifices vision in one of their eyes. On the day that Lise admits to Rideau that she is pregnant with his child, Rideau accidentally breaches his hazmat suit. As you would expect from a story that says, “Hey, let’s cook up an epidemic that makes the bubonic plague look like the sniffles” Rideau contracts the virus.

Why it works

Remember when I said I couldn’t get through the story in one attempt? That’s why it works. But I suppose if you’ve taken the trouble to read this review I should offer a justification that is a little more substantial than the fact that the Suzanne Church managed to get inside my head, not easy to do, and rattle my cage for ten solid pages, even harder to do.

The key to this story is the presentation of that which we know, or at least that which we can easily conceptualize, as the most horrifying thing out there. Ghosts, zombies, and antediluvian chthonic space monsters are all well and good, but viruses, in this case mutated from biological weapons, strike a fear that hits far closer to home. Echoing the sentiments that I offered in my Contagion review, the question is never “Could it happen?” rather “How bad will it be when it happens?”

Other horror narratives offer a conditional safety to their characters, which a reader can then internalize as a sense of personal security. That is to say if a character/reader stays out of dark rooms and refuses candy from strangers, they will be safe. The Needle’s Eye eschews any such notions. The message therein: this could happen to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. And if the next big plague is anything like Retinapox, we are all in a lot of trouble.

The bio/geopolitical framework in which this story is set offers a lone threadbare safety blanket for readers. Retniapox is very much an “over there” virus. When Lise returns home, the narration comments on how few cases there are within Canada, which I will extend to the Western hemisphere at large. At first I was inclined to call this a weakness in the story, given the ease with which viruses can travel in our globalized world. Yet a healthy Canada within this story invited me to think about the rather draconian immigration measures that the West could enforce, as well as the biopolitical nightmare that would come in its wake, as a means of keeping Retinapox a thing that happens in other countries. To some extent, those things happen right now. If they didn’t Peru’s 2010 outbreak of Bubonic and Pneumonic plague would have been bigger international news.

The most memorable part

When I was in grad school, I did a course on epidemiological history. It was a challenging experience. Yet nothing I read in the primary sources of late renaissance physicians who experimented in viral inoculation, based on two-thousand year old Greek medical treatises, compared to the Retinapox inoculation that Suzanne Church crafted in this story. There’s no way I’ll ever purge my mind of the image of a double pointed needle scraping away at the retinas of countless people willing to trade depth perception for a better set of odds against a virus.

The Bottom Line

The Needle’s Eye is the kind of story that could be successfully visited upon any reader. Some, no doubt, would be scared, perhaps even alienated, by the nature of the text. But I can’t conceive of anyone with any taste in literature turning their nose up to this story. It was originally published in the Chilling Tales Anthology by Edge Publishing. This story, as well as all the others I have reviewed in this series, are available to voting members of the CSFFA.


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Fiction Friday: The Aurora Awards Edition – Part Four: Susan Forest’s Turning it Off

Part four of the Aurora Awards Fiction Friday series peels back the layers on Susan Forest’s Turning it Off. I honestly don’t know how Susan Forest does it. Every time I read one of her stories, I think to myself, “Damn, she can’t get any better than this.” Then I read another and she manages to raise the bar a few inches higher. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

What’s it about

Turning it Off is speculative fiction of the highest order. The story looks at a technologically sophisticated nanny state as seen through two teenagers and their families. And while teenage hormones play a part in this story, I’d be loathed to call it a “coming of age” story.

Carter and Samantha live in a world where people, cars, and anything else you can imagine are surrounded by protective energy shields called “safeties”. Safeties have made things like insurance, physical pain, and unplanned death a thing of the past. On the Saturday in which this story is set, Sam spends the day at Carter’s house when their respective fathers go out for a round of golf. As Carter’s mother prepares to leave the two to their own devices, Sam reveals to Carter that she’s stolen a remote control that will let them do the unthinkable: turn off their safeties.

Why it works

Sex. Well not actual sex, but some symbolism and accidental contact that sees Carter and Sam taking their first steps into sexual maturity through an act of rebellion. However, that’s only the surface level of the narrative. The subtle ways that Susan Forest builds this world really makes the story a fantastically layered piece.

Running parallel to the safeties is a networked computer system that is simultaneously interconnecting and alienating. Everybody in Turning it Off is equipped with a cerebral implant that projects images and data directly into their fields of vision. It’s facebook and google taken to the nth degree. With those innovations come changes in language and the decline of spoken English in lieu of texting or thought transmission. On that point, “hurt” takes on an unexpected context. With safeties making humanity impervious to everything, physical pain is such an antiquated concept that the only hurt that Sam and Carter are able to conceptualize is emotional. Simple changes like that offer endless depth at an almost negligible word count.

Then there’s the criticism of the nanny state itself. In a world without risk, where death is a planned event rather than a tragedy, what’s to motivate a person to strive for great things? What happens when somebody grows bored with a life devoid of risk? The story portrays daredevil antics, such as manually driving a car without a safety in use, as an act of social deviance. Therein the text evokes serious questions about how we protect ourselves. I’m reminded of a recent news story that saw a school ban the use of balls on the playground as a means of reducing scraped elbows and other sundry childhood bumps and bruises. It’s quite obvious that Turning it Off takes safety to the point of absurdity, but in doing so it reminds readers just how slippery a slope regulating common sense can be. Not to mention it illustrates an essential truth that some people are always going to see rules as a thing to circumvent, rather than respect.

The Most Memorable Part

One of Carter’s first actions after Sam deactivates his safety is to touch a hot stove. It’s a quintessential childhood experience from which most of us learn abstractions like pain. In that moment Carter discovers a part of his humanity that society had hidden in its attempt to protect him, and everybody else, from the dangers of being alive.

The Bottom Line

Without any heavy world building, Turning it Off creates a fully realized environment, and then populates it with characters whose actions are sci-fi inspired extensions of our society’s current obsession with interconnectivity and safety. If you haven’t read any of Susan Forest’s other writing, then this is a fine place to start. Turning it Off was first published in the December 2011 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.

Next week, I wrap up the Aurora Award short fiction nominees with a look at Suzanne Church’s The Needle’s Eye.

Remember that you too can have a voice in deciding who goes home with Aurora glory. Membership in the CSFFA gets you a voting ballot and access a veritable library of high quality fiction.


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Fiction Friday: The Aurora Awards Edition – Part 3: Randy McCharles’ One Horrible Day

Part three of the Aurora Awards Fiction Friday series looks at Randy McCharles’ One Horrible Day. It’s an interesting story, perhaps even a tale that borders on becoming high concept. But at nearly ten thousand words in length, I found myself wondering why there was such an abundance of world building yet a noticeable deficit of plot.

What it’s about

One Horrible Day is a hard-ish science fiction story set in the aftermath of an accident involving “Strange Matter” and morphic field shifts. Therein, a scientist named Howard Russell wakes up in his lab to find the building ruined, his computer spouting out warnings, and his legs severed. Then he wakes up again to find the wrong pair of legs attached to his body. When he wakes up for a third time, Howard is a Frankenstein’s monster of cybernetic augmentations and his dead colleagues’ body parts. The author doesn’t attempt a serious explanation of morphic fields, except to illustrate that they have somehow slipped Howard out of his universe and into another.

Once that revelation occurs, the action shifts to a side story about two men who work for the mayor of a city called “Glory.” These men go to a club called Oz where they have to “disappear” Dorothy, one of the Mayor’s mistresses. That doesn’t quite go as the mayor’s men expect.

In the final act, One Horrible Day focuses on Howard meeting his alternate universe self in the club. But instead of a being a research scientist, he’s the master of ceremonies for a deviant variety show.

Why it works

About that, I don’t know that it does.

The details of Glory as a city, Glory’s corrupt mayor, and the starlet who murders police because she can, are all very interesting. Yet, there’s nothing in the text to tell me why I should care about them. I don’t even know why I should care about the protagonist, Howard Russell, despite the amount of words that are dedicated to framing him as a victim, monster, and stranger in a strange land.

Perhaps there’s some subtextual message that Mr. McCharles is trying to get at through his invocation of Mary Shelley and L. Frank Baum. I can see the appeal in taking the theatrical image of the Wizard of Oz, and subverting it into a sex club as that speaks to a loss of innocence. As well, turning Howard into a monster allows for some “who is the greater monster” wool gathering. But beyond that, I don’t see the point. There’s nothing in those details that seem to drive the story.

In fairness, the entirety of this near-novella would be supremely interesting if it was the first chapter of a novel. Perhaps within the context of the “Tenth Circle Project”, the anthology series from which this work is drawn, One Horrible Day works quite well. On its own, all I see is world building. Great world building, mind you, but world building nonetheless.

Then again, this wouldn’t be the first piece of Aurora nominated short fiction that I’ve turned my nose up to. I’m willing to admit that perhaps I’m just being too dense to see the trees for the forest. In which case, feel free to educate me.

The Most Memorable Part

Club Oz, itself. McCharles has created a fascinating place with its wicked/good witch hostesses/courtesans and android bartenders in the form of the scarecrow, lion, and tinman. The only particularly interesting event within the story, Dr. Russell’s confrontation with the alternate version of himself, happens within Oz. The wizard kills the wizard; the monster kills the monster. Beyond that, Oz seems like the kind of place that oozes conflicts between the sort of folk that any sane person would want to avoid meeting. Given Oz’s potential, the entirety of the story could have been set there.

The Bottom Line

The words of this story reflect an obvious dedication to the world in which it is set. However, the focus is far too much on that world, and not enough on the events within it. Given the length, I expected substantially more in the way of narrative development from One Horrible Day. Within the pages of the Tenth Circle Project anthology, I suspect this is a magnificent contribution. On its own, it’s akin to watching one episode of Twin Peaks and trying to understand everything that came before it.

Next week, Suzanne Forest’s Turning It Off.

One Horrible Day originally appeared in the second volume of the Tenth Circle Project anthology.

Joining the CSFFA allows you access to this story and many others, as well as a voting ballot in the 2012 Aurora Awards.


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Fiction Friday: The Aurora Awards Edition – Part 2: Marie Bilodeau’s The Legend of Gluck

The Barbarian by ~XiaMan via Deviant Art

Image by ~XiaMan via Deviant Art

This week’s Aurora Awards edition of Fiction Friday changes gears from alternate Earth primate assassins to sword and sorcery fantasy. Before I get into the review I’ll offer one quick disclaimer. I’m not the biggest reader of fantasy stories. Moreover, I thought the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring (book) and the entirety of Peter Jackson’s movie of the same name were boring as sin. Those formative experiences have, for good or bad, shaped a lot of how I evaluate fantasy stories.

What’s it about?

The Legend of Gluck was originally published in Dragon Moon Press’ When the Hero Comes Home anthology. As such, the story centers on events that occur after Gluck the Barbarian, ninth of his name, has fought with an alliance of elves, dwarves, and fairies to defeat Klar the Dark. The story’s opening scene sees Gluck dragging the decapitated head of Klar the Dark back to his ancestral homeland.

For Gluck, defeating Klar was never about saving the world from the forces of evil. Gluck’s motivations were much more personal. Among his people, Gluck the Seventh, Gluck’s grandfather, was believed to actually be Klar the Dark. Therefore, Klar’s festering inhuman cranial remains were to be the proof that absolved Gluck’s family line from the shame that had been heaped upon them. Unfortunately, Lurp the Seventh, chieftain of the barbarians, refuses to acknowledge Klar’s maggoty head as acceptable proof of Gluck the Seventh’s innocence. When Klar’s head comes back to life, things really get bad.

Why it works

First and foremost it tells a story in a fantasy setting without having a word count that is best conveyed in scientific notation. (I’m talking to you, George R.R. Martin.)

There’s also the fact that Marie Bilodeau has eschewed every awful stereotype of barbarians in her construction of Gluck and his tribe. These aren’t the sort of barbarians who include lamentations of widows among the things that are best in life. Gluck’s people have a well developed class structure and vicious internal political squabbles. The few lines of text that shed light on this reality make Gluck’s people seem more akin to Florentine nobles than any sort of Sumerian gimmick.

While there’s an inevitable pathos that comes with stories about war veterans, regardless of the genre, war is hell, The Legend of Gluck draws upon it with the utmost in subtle brushstrokes. In doing so, Gluck’s return home contrasts the difficult relationship between people of worldly perspectives and those who are more provincially minded.

Gluck’s people cling to ancient racial stereotypes of elves as sneaky and dwarves as lazy, despite the fact that those people fought a war, which in the case of the fairies was a genocidal affair, on behalf of the isolationist barbarians. In the hands of a lesser writer, a scenario such as this would lend itself far too easily to a pro-military propaganda piece disguised as fantasy. Such is not the case with this story. Gluck may see his people as narrow minded cowards when they turn on his elven comrade in arms, yet he also recognizes that his sense of self, as well as his personal honour, has grown beyond his tribe’s limited definition. In that realization, going home does not mean returning to the place he was born, but the place for which Gluck took responsibility: the world at large.

The Most Memorable Part

This bit, right here.

Gluck grabbed his axe – the double edged weapon was covered in nicks, but still sharp.

““Wait,” Alara shoulted, but Gluck ignored her, rushing forward. He embedded the axe in both Klar’s eyes with a cross hit. Dark liquid gushed forth.

If I live to be one-hundred twenty years old, I will never, ever be able to get that image out of my head. Awesome.

The Bottom Line

Marie Bilodeau’s The Legend of Gluck might work within established fantasy confines, but it tells a tale that imagines the barbarian as a character who is as sharp as the weapon he wields. There’s a persistent appeal to emotion, but reason is the dominant motif that carries the narrative. Unburdened by excessive world building, the plot is fast paced yet remains suitably complex. Rather than reinventing the wheel, Marie Bilodeau simply fixes horse to cart and lets the story happen. This is exactly what every fantasy story ought to strive for.

The The Legend of Gluck was originally published within the When the Hero Comes Home anthology. Joining the CSFFA allows for access to this story, as well as many other great works of Canadian fiction.

Next week, Randy McCharles’ One Horrible Day.


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Fiction Friday: The Aurora Awards Edition – Part I: Derek Kunsken’s To Live and Die in Gibbontown

Last year I had a brilliant idea: I would write a review on each of the Aurora Award nominees in the short fiction category. Of course, I had this idea a full nine days before voting closed. Needless to say, tracking down copies of the nominated stories turned into a giant pain in the ass.

Many interns were fired.

That’s not a problem this year as all the authors in the short fiction category have included a copy of their work in the voter’s package. Thanks, writers.

Starting today, and every Friday for the next four weeks, I’m going down the list of short stories contending for Aurora glory. Derek Künksen’s To live and Die in Gibbontown just happened to be on the top of the pile.

What’s it about

To Live and Die in Gibbontown is a black comedy about a hit man named Reggie. Reggie, and his partner/sidekick Murray aren’t typical contract killers. In fact, at the start of the story, Reggie isn’t even really a gun for hire. When faced with deportation, Reggie goes into business for himself as a hit man who offers an international spy theme to palliative care. If you’re old and want to die with a little excitement, Reggie can take care of you. Reggie’s also an ape, more specifically a Macaque. And his ticket to staying in Gibbon country involves offing the mother of the Bonobo ambassador.

But it’s okay, euthanasia is legal in Gibbon country. Also, Alexandria Bonobo is a mean old racist who hates Macaques.

Why it works

It’s a story about a trans-simian primate with genetic/cybernetic augmentations who circumvents immigration laws as a hit man for the elderly. Why wouldn’t it work?

Elements of the setting are familiar, Ford Broncos, international intrigue, hippie marketplaces, but viewed through this odd lens of primate society. The world, notwithstanding the fact that there are no humans, looks and sounds exactly like our own. Now I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking about it too, this is the ending to Tim Burton’s god-awful Planet of the Apes remake. Perhaps Künksen did draw some inspiration from that piffle, but he’s elevated it far beyond anything Burton seemed capable of offering in that movie. How so? Well we could start with the fact that this story is a conversation on assisted suicide.

Perhaps telling a story about apes in a world that is so human that they might as well be human is a bit of a farce, but that small dash of absurdity is necessary to ease the reader into the essential details of the text. I’ll also concede that it treads very close to the “Heinlein Line” of “Rayguns in the suburbs”. However, force fields, gene hacking, and cybernetics combined with terrestrial non-human characters are necessary to create a buffer between the text and the contemporary issues orbiting assisted suicide.

Maybe if the story were simply asking and answering the Kevorkian question with a sombre and reflective affirmation of an individual’s right to choose their own end, it could get away with human characters. But creating a hit man whose motto is, “If you see it coming, you don’t pay.” turns the act of dying into an ultimately life affirming, and slightly fun, activity. I find that to be tremendously clever, and maybe even a healthy approach to death. Why go out with a whimper when you can, literally, go out with a bang? Isn’t it better than lying in a bed and pumping morphine into a person until they end up in a terminal coma?

Still, the issue remains controversial enough that there’s good reason to insulate the characters from potential reader outrage with a species change (even if most of us know that they are still human).

The most memorable part

When Reggie gives his business card to another character who wants to bring his aging mother-in-law to town for a “visit”. On one level, there’s the comedy in witnessing the unbridled joy that Reggie, as a small business owner, feels at making some face-to-face contacts. The fact that he’s going to have to kill somebody never enters the equation. On a deeper level, it speaks to the lack of agency that often accompanies a person’s end of life care. The message is clear, but it’s processed through a comedic filter.

The bottom line

In To Live and Die in Gibbontown Derek Künsken follows in the footsteps of George Orwell wherein he uses animals to ask a question about humans. Perhaps issues of end of life care are not as grand as the questions of political science that Orwell probed in Animal Farm. However, the developed world’s aging population should only accentuate the story’s direct, albeit comedic, approach to death becoming a cottage industry.

To Live and Die in Gibbontown was originally published in the October/November 2011 issue of Asimov’s. Check it out there, or join the CSFFA and get access to a voter’s package which contains this and many other great works of Canadian sci-fi/fantasy/horror.

Marie Bilodeau’s The Legend of Gluck is up next week. I’m told there are going to be decapitated heads.


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The Daily Shaft: The 2012 Prix Aurora Nominees

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of the year again. The nominees for the 2012 Prix Aurora Awards have been announced. Voting opened up on April 16, 2012.

Any Canadian citizen or permanent resident can join the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association whereby they will get a voting ballot for the Auroras. This year, however, the ten dollar registration fee buys you more than a franchise. Members of the CSFFA get e-book access to a voter’s package that contains excerpts and some complete editions of the nominated titles.

So if you fancy yourself a literary critic or just want to have a hand in supporting your favourite author, then there’s really no excuse not to get yourself registered.

Here’s the list of the nominees and here’s a link to the Prix Aurora Award homepage. Deadline for all ballots is July 23, 2012.

Best Novel – English

Enter, Night by Michael Rowe, ChiZine Publications

Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism by David Nickle, ChiZine Publications

Napier’s Bones by Derryl Murphy, ChiZine Publications

The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet, ChiZine Publications

Technicolor Ultra Mall by Ryan Oakley, EDGE

Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer, Penguin Canada

 

Best Short Fiction – English

“The Legend of Gluck” by Marie Bilodeau, When the Hero Comes Home, Dragon Moon Press

“The Needle’s Eye” by Suzanne Church, Chilling Tales: Evil Did I Dwell; Lewd Did I Live, EDGE

“One Horrible Day” by Randy McCharles, The 2nd Circle, The 10th Circle Project

“Turning It Off” by Susan Forest, Analog, December

“To Live and Die in Gibbontown” by Derek Künsken, Asimov’s, October/November

 

Best Poem / Song – English

“A Good Catch” by Colleen Anderson, Polu Texni, April

“Ode to the Mongolian Death Worm” by Sandra Kasturi, ChiZine, Supergod Mega-Issue, Volume 47

“Skeleton Leaves” by Helen Marshall, Kelp Queen Press

“Skeleton Woman” by Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, Fairytale, CD

“Zombie Bees of Winnipeg” by Carolyn Clink, ChiZine, Supergod Mega-Issue, Volume 47

 

Best Graphic Novel – English

Goblins, webcomic, created by Tarol Hunt

Imagination Manifesto, Book 2 by GMB Chomichuk, James Rewucki and John Toone, Alchemical Press

Weregeek, webcomic, created by Alina Pete

 

Best Related Work – English

Fairytale, CD by Heather Dale, HeatherDale.com

The First Circle: Volume One of the Tenth Circle Project, edited by Eileen Bell and Ryan McFadden

Neo-Opsis, edited by Karl Johanson

On Spec,published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, edited by Julie Czerneda and Susan MacGregor, EDGE

 

Best Artist (Professional and Amateur Nominations)

(An example of each artist’s work is listed below but they are to be judged on the body of work they have produced in the award year)

Janice Blaine, “Cat in Space”, Cover art for Neo-Opsis, Issue 20

Costi Gurgu,cover art for Outer Diverse, Starfire

Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications

Dan O’Driscoll, “Deep Blue Seven”, cover art for On Spec magazine, Summer issue

Martin Springett, Interior art for The Pattern Scars, ChiZine

Fan/Volunteer Award Nominations

Best Fan Publication

BCSFAzine,edited by Felicity Walker

Bourbon and Eggnog by Eileen Bell, Ryan McFadden, Billie Milholland and Randy McCharles, 10th Circle Project

In Places Between: The Robin Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest book,edited by Reneé Bennett

Sol Rising newsmagazine, edited by Michael Matheson

Space Cadet, edited by R. Graeme Cameron

 

Best Fan Filk

Stone Dragons (Tom and Sue Jeffers), concert at FilKONtario

Phil Mills, Body of Song-Writing Work including FAWM and 50/90

Cindy Turner, Interfilk concert at OVFF

 

Best Fan Organization

Andrew Gurudata, chair of the Constellation Awards committee

Peter Halasz, administrator of the Sunburst Awards

Helen Marshall and Sandra Kasturi, chairs of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series (Toronto)

Randy McCharles, founder and chair of When Words Collide (Calgary)

Alex von Thorn, chair of SFContario 2 (Toronto)

Rose Wilson, for organizing the Art Show at V-Con (Vancouver)

 

Best Fan Other

Lloyd Penney, letters of comment

Peter Watts, “Reality: The Ultimate Mythology” lecture, Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

Taral Wayne, Canadian Fanzine Fanac Awards art

 


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Podcast #15: Pub Chat with Matt Moore

Featuring the voices of: Adam Shaftoe and Matt Moore

Topics under discussion include: The Auroras, fan fiction including Star Wars fan fiction, nerd rage, nerd rage as applied to perceptions of genre lit, Michael Bay, movie remakes, Matt’s review of Red State and a more general thoughts on Kevin Smith.

Matt Moore’s full review of Red State, as well as links to his Aurora nominated short story Touch The Sky, They Say, can be found at mattmorewrites.wordpress.com

For more information on the Aurora Awards click here.

Opening Editorial: 0 to 0:45

Matt’s Aurora Nomination: 1:00 to 6:00

Fan Fiction: 6:00 to 9:00

Star Wars and SW Fan Fic: 9:00 to 15:00

Nerd Rage:  15:00 to 28:30

Michael Bay/Remakes/Cinematography: 28:30 to 37:00

Red State/Kevin Smith: 37:00 to 45:00

Wrap-up: 45:00 to 47:50

Right click “download” and “save link as” to download the ‘cast.


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Geek News: May 17 2011

Today in geek news, it’s a banner day for Canadian Science Fiction writers, a hopeful day for grown-up video games and a poignant day for space exploration.

Yesterday the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association announced the nominees for the 2011 Prix Aurora Awards.  The Auroras honour the best in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy as voted by members of the CSFFA – a non-profit organization that offers free membership to all Canadians.  While I extend kudos to all those in contention for an Aurora, I’d like to offer my personal recognition – for the fifty-three cents that it is worth – to two nominees, both of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at this year’s Ad Astra convention.

Matt Moore is up for Best English Short Story with his story Touch the Sky, They Say.

Marie Bilodeau is up for Best English Novel with her book Destiny’s Blood.

Spoiler Alert: One of these two writers has agreed to be on an upcoming podcast.

On behalf of myself and everybody else who makes The Page of Reviews possible, we wish both of you the best of luck.

The full list of Aurora nominees can be found here

In video games, today sees the launch of two highly anticipated titles, L.A. Noire by Rockstar Games and The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings by CD Projekt.  Rockstar, best known for the Grand Theft Auto and the Red Dead franchises, brings its unique style of hard nosed gameplay to post WW2 Los Angles.  Players will assume the role of Cole Phelps an LAPD detective who finds himself caught up in a story of organized crime, sex and drugs.  L.A. Noire promises to deliver “a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience.”   Given the gritty nature of the game, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before some group of concerned crackpots begin lambasting the game for every ill that society has to offer.  L.A. Noire is now available for the Xbox 360 and PS3.

Meanwhile The Witcher 2 has been collecting its fair share of launch hype.  The game has already been hailed for its mature and non-linear story line, unabashed nudity and solid RPG elements.  This sophomore entry into a franchise that began in 2007 also boasts a deep branching dialogue system that will have significant impact on how the game unfolds.  Naturally, this style of gameplay has invited comparisons between Polish publisher CD Projekt and Edmonton’s BioWare, the studio that brought us such RPGs as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age and Mass Effect. One noticeable difference between the two companies is that CD Projekt will be offering all DLC for The Witcher 2 for free.  That’s right, gratis DLC for registered users.  I’ve got to admit that this game, and its progressive DLC model, have piqued my interest.  Also, it would be nice to use my PC for something other than marathon Starcraft 2 sessions and internet porn.

Finally, yesterday saw the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.  Flying its 25th mission, the Endeavour is set to bring parts and technical staff to the deflector shield station on the third moon Endor said “up yours” to gravity one final time as it brought spare parts for a robot arm and an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.  According to NASA, “The AMS-02 uses the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe’s origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays.”  In a related story, renowned Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking says that Heaven is a fairy story.

Levity aside, I can’t help but feel a collective loss for humanity as another one of our mighty shuttles prepares for life as a museum piece.  It’s well and good for NASA to plan new ships with greater lift capacity.  However, these plans are all talk until the new vehicles get built.  I fear that the short-term exigencies of life on this planet may end up precluding the long-term need for humanity to expand beyond our small world.  So on that sombre note, here’s the video of Endavour’s last launch.  Let’s all marvel at human ingenuity giving the finger to gravity.

That, prisoners of gravity, is your geek news for May 17, 2011.

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