Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gord Zajac Interviewed by the Torontoist

The Torontoist interviews Gord Zajac, author of Major Karnage. The best part is where he compares Major Karnage to a dream, but "[t]he sort of dream where your best friend is a suicidal chicken, and you’re doing everything you can to stop her from throwing herself into the deep fryer at KFC."

Click here to read the interview!

Click here to find out more about Major Karnage!

By Her Hand, She Draws You Down

A trailer for the short film based on the short story of the same name by Douglas Smith, published in Chimerascope.

You can also watch it through Facebook, here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quill and Quire Reviews Hair Wreath!

The Quill and Quire (Print Review) says that Halli Villegas's Hair Wreath "...ignites the imagination..." and "...the stories have a narrative ambiguity that at times can be frustrating, but at other times adds to the unearthly atmosphere."

Click here for more information about the Hair Wreath.

Solid Review of Book of Tongues

Reading the Leaves says about Book of Tongues:

"A western horror story full of gay gunslingers and the Pinkerton men they seduce – sometimes you can understand why people ask writers where they get their ideas, because Gemma Files sure had a humdinger of one with this first novel. Throw in some Mayan mythology and a lot of magic, and you’ve got a plot that comes at you so fast and furiously that you have to put the book down just to catch your breath."

Read the rest of the review here.

Click here to read more about Book of Tongues.

ChiZine Publications Announces Spring 2011 Line-Up

TORONTO, Ontario (September 28, 2010) - ChiZine Publications has released the seven titles it will be publishing in Spring 2011.

This year will mark the first step in what co-publisher Brett Alexander Savory is calling “CZP’s aggressive growth strategy” by increasing their output by two more titles in 2011. This upcoming line-up also illustrates CZP’s loyalty to past authors, in addition to underscoring the continuing diversity of their titles.

The Spring 2011 line up includes four titles by authors that ChiZine has published in the past. Most notable among these is The Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter by Brent Hayward, whose novel Filaria was the first book that CZP published in 2009. Also expected is the eagerly anticipated sequel in Gemma Files’ Hexslinger series, A Rope of Thorns, whose predecessor A Book of Tongues was well-reviewed numerous times for its ‘weird western’ genre bending and intense prose. This spring will also showcase two authors who are moving from their successful forays with short story collections into the novel and novella categories, respectively: David Nickle with Eutopia and Claude Lalumière with The Door to Lost Pages.

“We pride ourselves on having built very strong working relationships with our authors, and it’s really great to have a loyal rapport,” says co-publisher Sandra Kasturi. “We are thrilled that these authors have come back to us with their next book rather than going bigger elsewhere. It really speaks to the strengths of the small press community as a whole.”

But this doesn’t mean that CZP is shy on new authors, according to Savory. “Next spring’s line-up is quite diverse, both in terms of the authors and the books themselves. Whether it’s the mathematical-alchemy-driven Napier’s Bones (by Derryl Murphy), the ultra-hardboiled crime fiction Every Shallow Cut (by multiple-award-winning author Tom Piccirilli), or the dark fantasy The Isles of the Forsaken (by Carolyn Ives Gilman), we are still pushing the envelope when it comes to diversifying our list and the authors as well.”

As with all CZP titles, hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and eBooks will be released at the same time. Pre-ordering for the March hardcovers will begin in October.

Details on the releases are:

Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli
Pub date: March 15th
Genre: Crime/Noir

Napier’s Bones by Derryl Murphy
Pub date: March 15th
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

The Door to Lost Pages by Claude Lalumière
Pub date: April 15th
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Eutopia by David Nickle
Pub date: April 15th
Genre: Horror

A Rope of Thorns: Volume Two of the Hexslinger Series by Gemma Files
Pub date: May 15th
Genre: Western/Fantasy/Horror

The Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter by Brent Hayward
Pub date: May 15th
Genre: New Weird/Dark Fantasy

The Isles of the Forsaken by Carolyn Ives Gilman
Pub date: June 15th
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Brett Alexander Savory, Publisher
ChiZine Publications

About ChiZine Publications

ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent publisher of weird, subtle, surreal and disturbing dark fiction. It is the book-length, print outgrowth of ChiZine (, an online professional market in operation since 1997 focused on the same type of story material. All of CZP's publications are hand-picked by co-Publishers and Bram Stoker Award-winners Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi. Other staff includes Designer Extraordinaire Erik Mohr, Marketing Director Matt Moore, Editor Helen Marshall and Marketing Assistant Laura Marshall.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am Canadian!

By Julie Czerneda

“I am Canadian” is a primer for "Canadian Science Fiction: Taking Over the World, Nicely,” a longer talk that Julie will present on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium.

 “I am Canadian” comes, not from the beer rant commercials (though I do enjoy those), but from my good friend Don Bassie who has done so much online and off to promote the creations of us Canadian SF folk. Even made us buttons. I’ve mine right here. It says, “I am Canadian SF!”

Of course, being Canadian, I couldn’t possibly use the full thing as my title even for this blog. Wouldn’t feel right. I mean, I’m not the only one … nor is SF all I am … it’s such a struggle for us, isn’t it, to toot our own horns?

Well, we should.

I’ll start.

::imagine me standing on a busy street corner with megaphone:: I Love Science Fiction!

I read it, watch it, daydream in it. I love how it opens my mind and shows me possibilities. I love the way it lets me build (or destroy) entire planets and visit futures that may or may not ever exist.

Science fiction rewards imagination and critical thought, exactly what we need to ride the waves of change. You there. All of you. Read it!

Not that I’d do that. The megaphone thing.

Being Canadian, I’m more likely to nod knowingly at someone on the bus, or in a bookstore, who has their hands wrapped around a science fiction book. Behold, a kindred spirit! (Which is getting harder to do, by the way, now that people e-read. How can you spot a kindred spirit that way? Don’t mind me, I’m leaning over your shoulder to peer at the header on your screen?)

As for Canadian science fiction? Our science fiction stories are second to none. Everyone should read them! Why are they great? Perhaps it’s our near-obsession with bad weather, since we do live where being outside could kill us. (Or make us deliriously content. We’re complex that way.) Then there’s our perspective on society, which we fully expect to be complicated, clunky, and subject to compromise, though ultimately reasonable if you don’t poke it too much.

Above all, I believe it’s because Canadian science fiction reflects how we view our place on this planet. We aren’t alone and we don’t want to be. We care, we connect, but we don’t tell others what to do. We worry when anyone suggests we lead by example, because we know we haven’t got it right yet, whatever it is, though we’re trying. Our stories are messy and challenging. Our characters are flawed and utterly human. Our ideas?

Oh, those are as big as our backyard.


Julie E. Czerneda is a best-selling, award-winning author/editor. Her latest SF novel is the Rift in the Sky (The Clan Chronicles #3), DAW Books. Her latest anthology is Ages of Wonder, with Rob St. Martin. Next will be A Turn of Light, Julie’s first fantasy novel. Julie is co-editor of Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, with Susan MacGregor. It will be an anthology of original Canadian science fiction, fantasy, and horror for young adult readers. Julie is also a juror for the 2011 Sunburst Award for excellence in speculative fiction writing. For more, visit

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cities of Night Reviewed!

Cities of Night has received a review from SFRevu!

"Loosely connected by the character of Jamie Hurst, introduced in the prologue as an old writer on the verge of a momentous day, the stories range from the city of Bath, England, to Atlanta to Hollywood and beyond. Not all of them include supernatural elements--some are more prosaic tales of the horror arising from strange circumstances than weird intrusions from Beyond--but each one is very definitely horror..."

Read the rest of the review here!

For more information about the book, click here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Queering (My) Genre

By Gemma Files

"Queering (My) Genre" is a primer for "Queering the Genre," a longer talk that Gemma will present on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium.

In 1984, having heard the same “future of horror” quote from Stephen King as everybody else in the world, I bought the first of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. The last story in the book is “In the Hills, the Cities”, and readers, that’s when I knew for sure that I was lost.

I mean, I’d suspected as much previously--as I’ve said before in plenty of other venues, like Yukio Mishima, my heart’s sad leaning has always been towards “Night, and Blood, and Death”, but it’s been a while, and I’m down with that. The things I'm interested in have sharp edges and sad outcomes; I believe that anger is an energy, that the worst things we do we do to ourselves, and that wounds can become sex-organs if we play with them too often. Cronenberg, Ballard, Brite, Kiernan, Koja, Scorsese, they're all my muses: I love opera, narratives that float in a dream-state of bad romance and conflicted motivations. I like a bit of bruise with my kiss.

All of which pretty irretrievably makes “my” genre now and forever maybe horror, maybe dark fantasy, maybe just "dark".

When I was younger, I’d tell people I wanted to write horror (movies, things change, though I sure wouldn’t turn a chance to go back to that down), and they’d say: “Oh, like Friday the 13th?” Aside from the fact that today the referenced film would probably be either Saw or Hostel, things haven’t really changed. “Dark” is not assumed to be a spectrum--with its steadfast concentration on the things most people would rather not think about too deeply, “dark” is assumed to come in one color only, one blood-rot-gross flavour. Because “dark” is not, has never been, never will be, the mainstream.

This is an interesting realization, especially when you factor in the perception that horror (in particular) is a genre which thrives on Other-ation. Peel back modern horror culture, and you fairly quickly reach the concept that dread comes from threat and threat comes from the violation of the "norm", with the "norm" automatically coded as the perceived societal media default: Male, white-skinned, middle-class, cisgendered, straight, Christian of some variety. People from inside these boundaries deserve to survive (our hero, his wife/GF, his kids, his support-system), but sometimes don't, which is horrifying; people from outside these boundaries don't deserve to survive unless they change themselves to fit inside them, and may in fact be coded as allied with/part of “the evil”, just by virtue of being outside the protagonists’ accepted rubric.

I find it only fair to mention here that “the default”, for the most part, bores me by definition, and always has. Not completely--I like to think I’m fluid enough that if you can convince me of something, elevate it beyond the usual, I’ll embrace it whole-heartedly. (Witness my attachment to King’s ‘Salem’s Lot and The Stand, as well as my championship of less-defensible Unca Stevie works like The Tommyknockers and Desperation.) But the problem with coding is that it’s short-hand, and short-hand is lazy; it’s a very easy way to look at the world. Darkness shouldn't be easy.

“In the Hills, the Cities” is a story about that classic horror movie protagonist pair trope, The Couple Who Go On Vacation and Stumble Across Something Unexpected. The thing they come across is a pair of giants made from lashed-together human beings acting in hypnotized concert--the rival cities of Popolac and Podujevo, who’ve had a ritualistic yearly wrestling match for district supremacy. But today, a terrible accident has left Podujevo destroyed and Popolac wandering free, massive and insane.

The story is brutal, poetic and crazed, with a striking sensual immediacy which set my creative bar forever at exactly that level--out of reach, I’m sure, but well worth trying for nonetheless, like I’ve been doing ever since. It breaks all sorts of rules, but the first one it screws with it does pretty much in paragraph one, by making that central couple a pair of dudes.

So we can credit/blame Clive Barker for having convinced me that what makes far more sense than knee-jerk heterocentrism in horror is the idea that if “dark” is for outsiders, then perhaps it’s the perfect place to find the representation that we’re denied everywhere else. The place where the outsider perspective can be centralized and given protagonist agency, as we often see in even the most mainstream of “dark” narratives--ghost stories starring women, monster stories starring children and old people, narratives in which the post-apocalyptic world boils down to a representative sample of humanity, and the freaks and geeks take over.

Or even those classic slashers which gave rise to the image of the Final Girl; once upon a time, that was a crazy idea. Now it’s become the rule rather than the exception, so we routinely stretch it just as far as it will go, and further--the same way we once began with ridiculous fake-inclusionary things like Blacula, cooked up specifically to access a particular market, and somehow (by stretching the definition of what was genre-“allowable”) ended up with the inventive, brave, unabashedly Afrocentric work of Tannarive Due, Maurice Broaddus, John Ridley and Octavia Butler.

This is why it can’t be all blood and boobs, why “dark” is the absolute best place for the envelope to be pushed--because when the biggest things are on the line, the subtext reads, anyone can be both the victim and the hero, like Barker’s Mick and Judd, who end up shattered not because they’re gay and deserve to be punished but because they’re humans confronted by the gloriously unspeakable.

And for all the blood and thunder it usually comes wrapped in, perhaps the real reason I keep on returning to darkness’s well, again and again, is that I personally find that idea...very comforting.

The End

Gemma Files is a Canadian horror writer, journalist, and film critic. Her short story, "The Emperor's Old Bones", won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Short Story of 1999. Five of her short stories were adapted for the television series The Hunger. Her first novel A Book of Tongues explores the range of homosocial and homosexual bonds that bind her exceptionally strong characters, drawing attention to the way in which an ultra-masculine network of relationships underpins the history and mythology of the American West.

A Book of Tongues: Volume 1 of the Hexslinger Series
by Gemma Files

Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West's most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by "Reverend" Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned "hexslinger," and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow's task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook's power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Magicians, cursed by their gift to a solitary and painful existence, have never been more than a footnote in history. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a plan to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by an unholy marriage-oath with the goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men. To accomplish this, he must raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.

Caught between a passel of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook's witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow's only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess's fate comes clear-the doom written for him, and the entire world.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Submit Your Videos to Sunburst!

The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year.

Unfortunately, the Sunburst Awards have run into a hiccup. They do not have enough operating capital to keep going as they currently stand. This sad news comes at a particularly critical juncture in the award's life--the operating committee is in the process of getting the Sunburst organization registered as a non-profit, and getting it "national arts organization" status.

As part of a fundraising drive to shepherd the Sunburst through this change of status and structure, we’d like to ask fans, writers, editors, and publishers from the speculative fiction community to help raise awareness of this vital institution...

How to Participate

We're looking for short (30 second to 2 minutes) videos that say what you think about Canadian speculative fiction. These should be interview-style videos in the vein of Speaker's Corner and can be recorded as simply as with a web camera. Prior interviews or footage can be submitted provided that you have permission to do so. We will
host these individually on a YouTube channel (sunburstaward), but will also edit them in order to create a series of short videos to promote awareness of the fundraising campaign. A longer video will be shown at the opening remarks to the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium.

Not savvy with a camera? Send us a high res image of yourself and either a short paragraph in text or a recorded audio track.

Not Canadian? Never fear. If you have something you want to say about Canadian speculative fiction then we want to hear it.

To participate, send your name, contact information, submission and a short release statement giving us permission to use the video/image to by October 15, 2010.

Possible Topics:
-favourite Canadian authors and/or stories
-the relationship between Canadian writing and the rest of the world
-publishing speculative fiction in Canada
-the state of Canadian fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc
-how does Canada inspire your work?
-favourite Canadian settings to use in your writing

Of course, these topics are intended to be a jumping off point. Feel free to think outside of the box. And, above all, show your enthusiasm!

Click here to donate directly!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Part Two: Interview with Joan Frances Turner

"That's Somebody's Mother":
Joan Frances Turner Approaches Zombies
from a Personal Angle
Interview Conducted by Mark McLaughlin


MM: This is your debut novel; have you had any short stories or other works published?

JFT: This is my first. I've tried to write short stories but they don't seem to come to me naturally, and I was very worried my lack of a track record, as well as not having any personal connections in the publishing industry, would doom my chances right out of the gate. As it turns out, however, you really can get plucked at random from the slush pile at a fortuitous moment, so here we are.

MM: What's a typical day in your life like? Do you also hold down a job, and if so, how does your writing fit into your schedule?

JFT: I have a day job with a lot of immutable writing deadlines of its own (law), and so in order to work on fiction I get up much earlier than I'd like, sit in bed with the laptop and write or outline, no Internet or other distractions, until it's past time to shower, eat and run. The drive to and from the office is a good time to let my thoughts wander and the back brain work through ideas; I owe a lot of random bursts of inspiration to getting stuck in traffic slowdowns on U.S. 30.

MM: Let's hear about the book. Who are the main living characters? Who are the main dead characters? Where is the story set?

JFT: It's set in the Calumet region of Indiana, the industrialized northwest corner bordering Illinois and Lake Michigan (this geography is increasingly significant as the book progresses), in the here and now. Jessie, our protagonist, was killed in a car crash nearly a decade ago, rose up and is now a member of the Fly-By-Nights, a tiny, fractious undead gang whose territory is an abandoned county park. The Flies are her surrogate family, with an elderly paterfamilias (Florian, a centuries-old undead reduced to a walking skeleton), various "siblings" and "cousins" and a gang leader, Teresa, who's been vanishing for long periods amid rumors of a strange new disease that seems to target the undead. Humans barely figure at all in Jessie's life, other than as a meat-source everyone else seems to savor more than she does, until, one day, her living human family finds her again. And then everything really starts getting complicated.

MM: Zombie movies are pretty popular these days. Would you like to see DUST on the big screen?

JFT: Given I like to joke that Dust is my big shot at "directing" a virtual B-movie I'd love to see a film version, though also given that one character's a walking carpet of maggots and another a full-on skeleton and pretty much the entire "cast" goes through profound physical transformation of one sort or another, you'd really have to pile on the CGI. Could I get Rick Baker to do the makeup, since this is all blue-skying anyway? It'd be an honor to get Rick Baker.

MM: Here's something I've always wondered: Was Frankenstein's Monster a zombie?

JFT: I was going to say he's not one because he required 50,000 volts to come to life, instead of spontaneously reanimating, but then a lot of "proper" zombies are also only with us because of top-secret medical experiments gone horribly wrong so I can't use that as the criterion. However, since Frankenstein's monster is a man-made aggregate fashioned from multiple corpses -- not a singular corpse of a single dead person -- I'll say no, he's not a zombie, any more than a hamburger patty slapped together from multiple meat sources is the same thing as a steak. (Of course, you do realize that since half of what lawyers do is sit around having arcane, insane discussions of how it all depends on what your definition of "is" is, it was unwise ever to ask me this in the first place. I'll be arguing it back and forth in my head now for hours.)

MM: Also: Is a mummy just a wrapped-up zombie?

JFT: A mummy is a right fool to leave behind a whole mausoleum full of fabulous wealth and luxury to go on needless killing sprees, ancient curses or no ancient curses, but as it's a "whole" dead human being (minus the innards in jars) restored to life you could certainly argue it fits the definition. I was never frightened of mummies, growing up, both because all the "King Tut" kitsch took the mystery out of them and because dealing with them was fairly simple: Don't become a greedy international grave robber and ninety percent of your problems are solved.

MM: Do you have another book, or books, in progress?

JFT: I'm well into a sequel, with the working title of Frail, which looks at the aftermath of Dust's events from the neglected human perspective -- though as it turns out, defining "human" and "living" are much more complicated than it first appears. I'm also working on outlining several unrelated books, one of which I can already tell will be great fun because background research will require me to read both Satanic Panic and Helter Skelter. If I can somehow make the whole rhyming-research thing a theme then God knows what creative heights I could hit.

MM: Where on the Internet can folks find out more about your work, and where to get it?

JFT: My official website is at, with links to Amazon and Powell's and all the discriminating bookseller types. If you love reading writers saying interesting things like "I had soup today," or "Ow, my shinbone!" or "One-star book reviews are clear evidence of an international fascist conspiracy," you can also follow my Twitter feed at

MM: Have I left out anything that you'd like to mention?

JFT: Just a plug for another book entirely: If you have any interest in the meat and drink, so to speak, of any thanatological issues at all -- clinical and cultural definitions of death, the forensics of decay, step-by-step embalming, funeral customs, death-related superstitions and folklore, all of it --find a copy of Kenneth Iserson's Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? I found a copy entirely by accident in my local library and it became my bible while I was researching Dust,as well as completely fascinating reading in its own right.

MM: Thank you for your time! :- )

JFT: Thank you for the chance to talk, and it's an honor to be featured on ChiZine!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Interview with Joan Frances Turner

"That's Somebody's Mother":
Joan Frances Turner Approaches Zombies
from a Personal Angle

Interview Conducted by Mark McLaughlin

These days, zombies are popping up in books and movies like wild mushrooms in a forest after a thunderstorm.

Authors are even retrofitting zombies into literary classics, the most popular example being the novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Can Gone with the Zombie Wind and Zombie Quixote be far behind?

Authors are also letting us know that zombies have their sensitive side. In 2009, author Michele Lee's short novel Rot, from Skullvines Press, portrayed zombies as dead persons whose loved ones don't want to see them go. And this year, Dust, a new novel by Joan Frances Turner, forthcoming from Penguin Books, will feature another new take on zombies that shows that they are more than just moaning, shambling brain-eaters.

Like Michele, Joan isn't jumping on the zombie bandwagon. She is creating a more personal vehicle for zombies to drive into the blood-red sunset.

Joan took the time to talk with us about her new breed of zombies.

MM: In a pop culture currently inundated with all-things-zombie, your debut novel is being promoted as a new take on the whole zombie concept. What is your new spin on the ambulatory dead?

JFT: Dust approaches the undead using the three magic words: "That's somebody's mother." Zombies are the monstrous reanimated but they're also our friends, our family, our loved ones, our children, they're not just living dead but our once-living dead and in this story, that matters. The undead have minds and memories, they have a "life cycle" of their own (rot to dust), there are emotional ties between humans and the undead though both sides are also consistently murderous toward one another, and zombies aren't a walking contagion. They've always existed, humanity has always existed in an uneasy détente with them, and nobody knows or can predict whether a dead body will reanimate or remain in the ground. Now, however, the numbers of the undead are increasing at a record rate, humans are feeling increasingly hemmed in and pushed out, and there's a race on to reduce their numbers by any means possible, before they reduce humanity to mere meat. (Shooting them won't work, either.) And some humans, knowing that what they're targeting is those they once loved, start getting some subversive ideas of their own.

MM: What was your first exposure to horror media, your earliest memory of a horror movie or TV show?

JFT: This doesn't fit the traditional notion of horror, I know, but when I was young I was allowed to watch pretty much anything broadcast on PBS-- it was "educational" television, after all -- and the uncensored I, Claudius was quite the education for an eight-year-old. John Hurt's Caligula scared the hell out of me right out of the starting gate, clutching his head and screaming about the horses' hooves pounding inside it, and then there was the infamous (and cut from future rebroadcasts) scene where he decides to do to his sister's unborn child what Cronus did to Jupiter, and honestly once you've seen that Bela Lugosi can't really compete. A couple of years later--this was back when VCRs were still novelty items -- a friend rented the original Halloween and I remember her screaming out loud and me hiding my face during most of it, though it was downright decorous compared to the glut of slasher films that followed.

MM: What gave you the idea for DUST?

JFT: As I mentioned at the SDCC zombie fiction panel, it was a combination of a death in the family, subsequent nightmares about what must be becoming of their body underground, a great fondness for Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls (the original versions) and the sudden realization that although there were a few books from the zombie vantage point, nobody (to my knowledge, anyway) had really addressed, without being campy about it, what it means if a monster is merely the corpse of someone's loved one, somewhere. If you're going to speak of zombies in relation to who they once were when alive, they pretty much have to have emotions and memories and lingering ties to life of some sort, despite their essential monstrosity, and that was the genesis of everything that followed.

Also, since zombie fiction tends to go hand in hand with apocalyptic fiction, I wanted to address the idea of "everything" ending in a slightly different way. In the Ray Bradbury story "The Highway" a gas station attendant in a very rural part of Mexico gets a carful of American kids stopping by, and they're in a screaming panic about nuclear war finally coming and they have to flee to parts unknown and oh my God this is it the big one it's the end of the world, and as they drive off the gas station attendant thinks to himself, in very sincere confusion, "What do they mean, 'the world'?" I loved that last line to pieces, when my high school English teacher assigned us The Illustrated Man, and so this is "the big one" as seen by a version of that character, someone who's already very far outside what everyone else thinks of as "everything."

Tune in tomorrow for part two of this interview!

Amazing Review of Thief of Broken Toys!

Cory Redekop reviews Thief of Broken Toys, by Tim Lebbon.

"There is a rough-hewn yearning that permeates every sentence, a sense of foreboding that magnifies every action...As Lebbon's fable wends it's way to a close and the importance of grief is made apparent, it is clear that he's a writer of vast talents and sublime emotional wisdom."

Read the rest of the review here!

Click here for more information on how you can buy this book.

World More Full of Weeping on Shelf Monkey!

Cory Redekop calls us his "new favourite publisher" in both this review of World More Full of Weeping and the review for Thief of Broken Toys.

He says:

"The story is short, precise, and nary a word wasted with an economy of prose that should be taught in schools."

Read the fantastic review here! (Scroll down to the second review).

Find out more about how you can purchase this book.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pontypool Changes Everything: One More Time!

You have one more chance to order the limited hardcover edition of Pontypool Changes Everything, by Tony Burgess! It's been extended one extra week because of the Labour Day weekend, where some people didn't get a chance to get their orders in.

Get it before orders close on Tuesday!

Escaping the Genre Ghetto: Toronto's SpecFic Colloquim

On October 23, 2010 authors, editors and readers will gather to explore the state of speculative fiction in Canada at Toronto’s SpecFic Colloquium (

Canadian speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.)has been increasingly recognized internationally for the calibre of its authors and their insight into the nature of social and religious identities, the implications of new technologies, and the relationship between humankind and its environments. “Our authors are breaking out of the genre ghetto,” says co-organizer Helen Marshall. “Their stories disrupt habits, overcome barriers of cultural perception to make the familiar strange. They show us the speculative fiction can be an ideal tool for social examination and critique.”

The colloquium, a one-day event to launch the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, will deliver lectures by major names in the field on topics such as urban fantasy, cognitive science, queering the genre, and how Canadian science fiction is taking over the world, nicely. The lectures will be followed by readings that showcase emergent and experienced Canadian speculative fiction writers.

Guests include Kelley Armstrong, Julie Czerneda, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tony Burgess, Gemma Files, Karl Schroeder, Peter Watts, David Nickle, Michael Rowe, Bob Boyczuk and Claude Lalumière.

Sponsored by ChiZine Publications, an independent publisher of weird, surreal, subtle, and disturbing dark literary fiction, the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will take place on Saturday October 23, 2010 in the Debates Room and Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle. Register at

For further information about the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, visit their website. For sponsorship partnering, advertising opportunities or media queries, contact Sandra Kasturi, co-organizer at or Helen Marshall, co-organizer at

To Dream the Impossible Dream: Opening Arguments against Realism

By Claude Lalumière 

"To Dream the Impossible Dream: Opening Arguments against Realism" is a primer for "Against Realism: Hard SF, Autobiography, and Other Questionable Strategies for Writing Fiction," a longer talk that Claude will present on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium.
Genteel society loves realism. That alone should be enough of a call to arms for writers -- indeed, all artists, as iconoclasts by definition -- to strive against it. Here, I will briefly introduce why I mistrust realism, and why I believe it to be an insidious distorter of human expression and lived experience.
I use "realism" in its broadest sense, to encompass not only movements such as American Realism, Naturalism, Social Realism, their legacies, and their descendents -- such as Hard SF and one of its recent subsets, the Mundanes [i]--  but all artistic expression that values the comforting verisimilitude of consensus reality over the disquieting uncertainty of truth -- although few, if any, of realism's adherents and defenders would acknowledge that such is the consequence of a realist approach to art. And by "truth" I do not mean the sophistic illusion called "objective reality" but rather that utopian, romantic, and quintessentially quixotic quest not to understand but to intuit the complex, ever-changing, and fundamentally unknowable web of life and existence of which we are part, thus embracing a sense of wonder, awe, compassion, and even terror. In essence, "to dream the impossible dream." [ii]
The rise of realism in the nineteenth century was motivated partly by "a reaction against romanticism" and "an interest in scientific method." [iii] It will come as no surprise, then, that, as a vocal detractor of realism, I am an unabashed romantic and that my profound and unshakeable atheism encompasses a mistrust of science, its dogmas, and its societal project.
Furthermore, "Purporting to be undistorted by personal bias, Realism believed in the ideology of objective reality." [iv] Although I hope that few thinkers would now explicitly or knowingly adhere to such a naive proposition, it betrays a fundamental unease that still influences and holds sway over the decidedly anti-romantic biases of genteel institutions such as English departments, university writing programs, mainstream literary awards, and literary criticism.
Our individual and collective memories are formed by storytelling, by the stories we tell ourselves and each other. These narrative memories -- about our origins, our aspirations, our defeats, our victimizations, our victories, our kinships -- are the building blocks of our sense of identity, both as individuals and as societies. States, religions, and other forms of identity-based authority notoriously mistrust art, try to dictate what art should or should not express. Such authorities maintain dominance through narratives of collective identity.
Even when it purports to have a progressive agenda, realism, which is necessarily measured against consensus reality, reinforces dominant narratives and thus the institutions validated and empowered by these narratives. Non-realist art, by its very nature, transgresses the boundaries of consensus, identity, and social order, potentially threatening the hegemony of ruling ideologies and, at a personal level, putting into question identities constructed under its aegis.
Of course, I realize there are many shades between these extremes of realism and non-realism, of comforting and transgressive, and many permutations that complicate such a simplistic dichotomy. After all, yes, non-realist art can be used as a tool to validate regressive agendas, and realism can illustrate troubling inequities. Even in such a case, a non-dominant group, too, tends to form its own micro-hegemony and tightly control transgression from its proposed worldview -- and that can include controlling the art that purports to express that group's cultural identity by demanding that it conform to its brand of realism, to its realist narratives. 
Realism, then, being by its very nature rooted in the hegemonic worldview that defines it, remains a primarily reactionary and dominating force that gnaws at the romantic and transgressive roots of so-called "genre" fictions and, more broadly, impedes the potential of individuals and communities to transcend the limits imposed by normative narratives of identity.

In the opening paragraph, I equated "artist" with "iconoclast" -- and I fully recognize my own bias in this matter. I do not consider "art" the work of so-called "artists" whose creations serve to reiterate or reinforce without question the status quo, the dominant worldview, or an entrenched societal paradigm. Art should be the vehicle on our quixotic quest for the unattainable truth. It is by nature restless. It can never be satisfied with where we are. It must forever, at any cost, propel us elsewhere -- where there be dragons. In such dangerous waters, realism can only blind us and thus imperil our survival.


Claude Lalumière is the author of the collection Objects of Worship, the Fantastic Fiction columnist for The Montreal Gazette, and the editor of eight anthologies, including the Aurora Award nominee Tesseracts Twelve: New Novellas of Canadian Fantastic Fiction. With Rupert Bottenberg, he is the co-creator of Lost Myths, which is both a live show and an online archive updated every Thursday. Claude's The Door to Lost Pages, a novella, will be released by CZP in spring 2011.
"To Dream the Impossible Dream: Opening Arguments against Realism" is a primer for "Against Realism: Hard SF, Autobiography, and Other Questionable Strategies for Writing Fiction," a longer talk that Claude will present on Saturday, 23 October 2010, at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

Objects of Worship
by Claude Lalumière

Twelve strange, eerie, sensual stories by a bold new voice in weird fiction. Capricious gods rule a world of women. Zombies breed human cattle. The son of a superhero must decide between his heritage and his religion. Young lovers worship a primordial spider god. The apocalyptic rebirth of the god of the elephants. Monstrous chimeras roam through a devastated future Earth. A retired fisherman caught in the middle of a conflict between gods and superheroes. Teenagers struggle to survive a surreal ice age . . .

[ii] "The Impossible Dream," from Man of La Mancha (1972), lyrics by Joe Darion, music by Mitch Leigh.
[iii] Donna M. Campbell,"Realism in American Literature, 1860-1890,"
[iv] "Realism (Arts),"

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interview with Simon Logan

Simon Logan, author of Katja from the Punk Band gets interviewed by Wayne Simmons at his blog. They talk about what inspires him, Katja from the Punk Band, and what he'll come out with next!

Click here to read.

"Sometimes the Sad Stories are the Truly Frightening Ones"

Here's an excerpt of Chasing Ray's review of Thief of Broken Toys by Tim Lebbon.

"It's so subtle, so understated, that when it was finished I wasn't even sure entirely what happened. That doesn't mean the plot is hard to follow, just that Lebbon leads you along with such an infinite level of care that you turn the last page, with its heartbreaking conclusion, and think that couldn't possibly - he didn't just do that to me - I thought something else would happen and then you just sit back and think about it and a few weeks later you're still thinking about it."

Click here to read the rest of the review.

Click here for more information about the Thief of Broken Toys.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rue Morgue Reviews Sarah Court

Review by Jessa Sobczuk, taken from Rue Morgue

On first impression, Sarah Court appears to be a well-composed, cleanly edited book of short stories. Closer inspection, however, finds author Craig Davidson doing something a little different with his collection, in that all of the tales are interconnected. The book’s overall structure actually has more in common with a novel; each of the tales work to further the global narrative and are best read in order. In addition, Davidson blurs the boundaries of formatting and narrative voice, so while you might not be able to categorize what you are reading, you will enjoy it.

The horror here is of the domestic variety, and it examines its various recurring themes through the eyes of different members of a single community in the Niagara Escarpment. The definition of suicide is explored in the first story, “Black Water: Riverman and Son,” when Colin the daredevil and his father must come to grips with Colin’s need to go over Niagara Falls in a bucket – a decision made more poignant by the face that Colin’s dad clears bodies out of the water beneath the waterfall for a living.

This flows into a tale (“Black Powder: Stardust”) about parental responsibility and the sometimes overwhelming terror that comes along with being accountable for another person’s life. In the story, Patience Nanavatti saves a mysterious infant who has been abandoned in a toilet bowl at a Wal-Mart. This theme is echoed in “Black Box: The Organist,” where a man witnesses, and is ultimately responsible for, his daughter Abigail’s gruesome body-building accident, and later again in “Black Card: Nosferatu,
My Son,” where the same father’s plight continues, as witnessed through the eyes of Abigail’s close friend. In this latter story, his son Dylan struggles with psychological issues (including his constant need to impersonate a vampire) and suicidal tendencies.

The characters of Sarah Court – including Dylan the wannabe vampire, and “Mama” Russell, a mass murderer of pet squirrels who pops up in the majority of tales – are more memorable than the stories themselves, and many evolve and even occasionally change roles as the book progresses. (Dylan, for example, morphs from an antagonistic problem child into a surprisingly sympathetic, harmless eccentric.) While the subject matter may seem more subdued than explicit and more thoughtful than bluntly terrifying, Davidson slowly reveals an underlying mood that is dark, often depressing and always strangely compelling.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Escaping the Genre Ghetto – Exploring the State of Speculative Fiction at Toronto’s SpecFic Colloquium

TORONTO, ON (September 7, 2010) – On October 23, 2010 authors, editors and readers will gather to explore the state of speculative fiction in Canada at Toronto’s SpecFic Colloquium.

Canadian speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) has been increasingly recognized internationally for the calibre of its authors and their insight into the nature of social and religious identities, the implications of new technologies, and the relationship between humankind and its environments.  “Our authors are breaking out of the genre ghetto,” says co-organizer Helen Marshall. “Their stories disrupt habits, overcome barriers of cultural perception to make the familiar strange.  They show us the speculative fiction can be an ideal tool for social examination and critique.”

The colloquium, a one-day event to launch the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, will deliver lectures by major names in the field on topics such as urban fantasy, cognitive science, queering the genre, and how Canadian science fiction is taking over the world, nicely.  The lectures will be followed by readings that showcase emergent and experienced Canadian speculative fiction writers.

Guests include Kelley Armstrong, Julie Czerneda, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tony Burgess, Gemma Files, Karl Schroeder, Peter Watts, David Nickle, Michael Rowe and Claude Lalumière. 

Sponsored by ChiZine Publications, an independent publisher of weird, surreal, subtle, and disturbing dark literary fiction, the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will take place on Saturday October 23, 2010 in the Debates Room and Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle.   Register at

For further information about the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, visit For sponsorship partnering, advertizing opportunities or media queries, contact Sandra Kasturi, co-organizer at or Helen Marshall, co-organizer at

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Awesome Review of Objects of Worship!

The Left Hand of Dorkness reviews Objects of Worship by Claude Lalumière.

He says: "Now, before I bought this book I hadn't read anything by Lalumiere. I was taken in by the sales pitch put forth by the publisher, Brett Alexander Savory of Chizine (real nice guy BTW), and picked this up at Ad Astra earlier this year. I think the phrase that sold me was "gay zombies raising a human child". Yes, there are zombies in this book, in more than one story..."

Click here to read the review!

Review: People Live Still in Cashtown Corners

Paul Tremblay, who wrote In the Mean Time, reviews People Live Still in Cashtown Corners by Tony Burgess. Tony Burgess also wrote the screenplay for Pontypool, and the novel the movie was based on, Pontypool Changes Everything.

Click here to read the review!

Suite 101 Reviews Major Karnage!

Suite 101 calls Major Karnage a "Recommended Read for Science Fiction Fans".

The highlight: "Major Karnage is a fun read. It has likeable characters and tense moments, and some real tenderness in the relationship between Karnage and his soldiers. Sometimes it's hard to tell where it's going, but it's the trip that matters."

Read more at Suite101: Gord Zajac's Major Karnage

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ebook Prices Drop on Amazon

TORONTO, Ontario (September 1, 2010) - To encourage the adoption of eBooks, ChiZine Publications (CZP) has dropped the prices of their Kindle-edition books on Amazon.

Novels and short story collections that were priced at $9.95 have dropped to $5.95, and novellas priced at $6.95 are now $3.95. On, novels and collections prices were lowered from £6.95 to £4.59, while the price for novellas dropped from £4.59 to £2.86.

“Our hardcovers are true collectors items, and our trade paperbacks are top quality, but eBooks are more convenient and portable,” CZP co-publisher Brett Savory says. “These new prices will encourage people to try something new from an author they’ve never read before.”

CZP has shown that there’s a taste for eBooks with their free eBook giveaway on in June 2010. Over 7,000 copies of The Choir Boats were downloaded that month, breaking Wowio’s record for the most eBooks ever downloaded in a featured eBook giveaway.

More recently, Wowio featured CZP’s newest title, Major Karnage, which was downloaded over 1,800 times in one week.

CZP’s eBooks are DRM-free and are available through

About ChiZine Publications

ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent publisher of weird, subtle, surreal and disturbing dark fiction. It is the book-length, print version outgrowth of ChiZine (, an online professional market in operation since 1997 focused on the same type of story material. All of CZP’s publications are hand-picked by co-publishers and Bram Stoker Award-winners Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review of Chimerascope

Review of Chimerascope by Douglas Smith, taken from Ideomancer.

There are few misses in Chimerascope, a superb collection of Douglas Smith’s previously published speculative fiction, stuffed with Aurora nominees (and one winner) and Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror honorable mentions. Spanning a wide spectrum of classic sci-fi, stories inspired by mythology, and post-apocalyptic fiction, this is an collection you’ll want to own and re-read.

Smith’s greatest talent lies in creating and then exploring worlds fashioned by posing a deceptively simple question. If a man awoke each morning and died each night, each time waking in someone else’s body, as in “A Taste Sweet and Salty,” would he be able to escape? What if, as in the book’s opening story, “Scream Angel,” an alien species secreted a chemical substance that warped humans’ emotional responses—changing extreme lows into torrid, wonderful highs?

His aliens are fully-fleshed, complicated beings with tangible challenges. They are occasionally horrific (as in the dark “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down,” populated by an entity that absorbs the life force of humans by drawing their portrait on paper). But more often, like his humans, they must make terrible decisions without the promise of a happy resolution. “Memories of a Dead Man,” for example, presents the titular character at a crossroads where he could choose to abandon his quest for vengeance, or wallow in it.

Few of Smith’s stories end on a feel-good note. In his introduction, he writes, “[M]y preferred ending is bittersweet, because that’s how I see life.” And nowhere is that more true than in “Going Harvey in the Big House,” narrated by a man who is—and eventually chooses to be—no more than a cog in the world’s wheel. Given the opportunity to cast down the machine, Big G walks down the easier road with no regrets. Flawed characters are the hardest to write because they are the most realistic: like us, they are plagued by doubts, insecurities, and are woefully void of foresight. Smith manages to capture the sympathy inherent in Big G’s decision; he is, after all, only human.

Another standout is the masterful “State of Disorder,” which contemplates the flexibility and fluidity of time. A number of events occur during a single, three-course dinner: the fortunes of two men are swapped, retrospectively, in time; a child’s life is erased permanently from the timeline; and finally, all three participants finish the meal with the knowledge of what has occurred, and how—one is triumphant, another despairing, and the third seeks revenge. In the hands of a less skillful writer, it would have been chaos.

An introduction to the book by editor and sci-fi novelist Julie Czerneda adds little, as this collection stands handily on its own legs. However, the author’s notes Smith provides before (and sometimes after, to avoid spoilers) the stories are tremendously interesting; each augments the tales with how the story came to be, and why it was written. Smith refers twice to Roger Zelazny, and once each to Poe, Jack London, and Bogey, all as sources of inspiration. It’s a complex mix: one of the many reasons this collection succeeds so powerfully.

Click here to buy Chimerascope from ChiZine Publications!

Review for Sarah Court

Review from Booklist Online:

Lives of the people who live in five houses in one block on Sarah Court, just north of Niagara Falls, intertwine in these five chapters of tightly packed prose. River man Wesley Hill, who picks up the “plungers,” can’t dissuade his daredevil son, Colin, from going over the falls. Patience Nanavatti, whose basement was blown up by Clara Russell’s pyromaniac foster child, finds a preemie in a Walmart toilet. Competitive neighbors Fletcher Burger and Frank Saberhagen pit their children, pending power-lifter Abby Burger and amateur boxer Nick Saberhagen, against each other athletically. And there’s much more, as Davidson loops back and forth, playing with chronology to finish stories. There is a strong emphasis on fatherhood here, with wives and mothers largely absent, and the masculine bent is particularly obvious in a stupid bet—a finger for a Cadillac—over a dog’s trick. Given that a handful of characters suffer significant brain damage, caused as often by intent as by accident, the introduction of a mysterious alien being seems superfluous. In Davidson’s vividly portrayed, testosterone-fueled world, humans cause enough pain all by themselves.

Click here for more information and to purchase Sarah Court!