Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SpecFic Colloquium Blog: City Myths

By David Nickle

Could it be that a vampire is prowling the Entertainment District smugly preying on binge-drinking sons and daughters of Etobicoke, from the saddle of a 24-speed hybrid mountain bike that during daylight hours he stores next to his taxpayer-subsidized coffin somewhere deep in St. Lawrence?

Is there a Minotaur lurking at the centre of the Path, dangerously over-caffeinated on Starbucks House Blend and drunk on undeserved self-satisfaction? Has the zombie apocalypse come to Scarborough, and everyone's just somehow failed to notice?

Yeah, urban mythology. It means different things to different people. Writers of horror and fantasy—and their legions of readers – are intrigued by the confluence of traditional myths . . . ghosts, vampires, zombies, or the Gods . . . and the complexity and richness of life in the big city.

I've never shared that fascination. And for evidence, I point to the bulk of my work in horror and fantasy so far. I tend to see creatures of myth in the woods, the more sparsely-populated rural communities, and the dimly-lit, superstitious past.

But that's not to say I don't have a healthy respect for urban mythology. I'm setting this down a couple of days after my local MP Jack Layton received a hero's send-off, after his death from cancer. I remember Jack in the flesh: an ambitious, optimistic and energetically affable man. As a reporter, I knew him and liked him and respected him. I had never, however, mistaken him for a paragon. And that's what he is now: an addition to the pantheon that makes up Toronto's breathing, not-quite-real (but that's the point, isn't it?) mythology.

As a journalist who writes about many things Torontonian on a daily basis, I'm intimately concerned with this mythology. It's how, when I'm feeling the need to generalize and not think about things too deeply, I'm tempted to understand my city. It's a narrative.

So I understand that the Entertainment District (where I don't really spend much time) is populated at night by drunken Etobians, even though that may not be entirely the case (Mississauga parents have a lot to answer for, as do the founders of Liberty Village, and—okay, I admit it—likely my own neighbours here on the Danforth). I've navigated the Path (a network of underground retail tunnels here that connects downtown office towers in such a way that denizens need never step outside) like the labyrinth that it is. There's no minotaur there, but sometimes I feel like I should bring a spool of thread to find my way out of it. And as for Scarborough? People from other parts of Toronto make zombie apocalypse jokes about the east-end former city. People from Scarborough are of the view that there's nothing former about Scarborough, and the only thing standing between it and Elysium are a couple more subways and a little respect, thank you very much.

Suburbanites are a horde of socially conservative proto-fascists who are probably homophobic. People from the former City of Toronto are a bunch of libertine communists and probably gay. Suburbanites don't like that about downtowners. Downtowners don't like that about suburbanites. If Toronto is Heaven, there's a war in it—Mayor Rob Ford and Margaret Atwood are the generals—and bicycles and motorcars are the artillery.

And in the end, there's just not much room for vampires and minotaurs, angels and demons. The city has already made its own mythology, with the materials at hand.


The 2nd Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will take place on Saturday October 15, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Avenue). Register now at


David Nickle is the author of the novel Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism and numerous short stories, some of which are collected in his story collection Monstrous Affections. In 2010, Monstrous Affections was awarded the Black Quill Reader's Choice Award for best dark genre collection.

His fiction has been published in magazines, anthologies and online, and been adapted for television. He lives and works in Toronto.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Introducing the Second Annual Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

Speculative fiction forges, challenges, remakes, and disseminates the mythologies that explain and name who we are today and what we might be tomorrow. Whether by means of technoscience or the fantastic, speculative fiction investigates how the boundaries between the familiar and the mysterious dissolve and bleed into each other, its stories expressing the hopes and fears of modernity in distinct ways and from surprising perspectives.

The 2011 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will focus on Modern Mythologies. In a series of talks and readings, leading speculative fiction writers will discuss, pose questions about, and encourage you to consider the importance and power of the stories that define humanity in the present age . . . from the aliens hiding among us to the gates of Hell ripping open in our backyards.

As part of this, the good folks at ChiZine Publications have agreed to run a series of blog posts tackling the theme of “Modern Mythologies.” A range of guest bloggers from the industry will give their own personal take on the 2011 Colloquium’s theme. Aliens among us, masquerading as humans. Vampires hunting in our alleys at night. The singularity evolving steadily within fibre optic cables and the code of the internet. Fey waging their eons-old feuds beside us in our cities. Vigilantes confronting sociopaths and psychopaths through claustrophobic streets and crowded skyscrapers. Ancient gods and goddesses hoping to regain power and status in a secular, skeptical world. Post human cyborgs thinking and acting faster than we can comprehend. Hell boiling up into our homes and suburban neighbourhoods.

And, of course, we encourage you to register for the main event, to check out the videos of the Aurora-nominated 2010 Colloquium, and to add your own thoughts and comments to the discussion!

--Helen Marshall, co-organizer of the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium


The 2nd Toronto SpecFic Colloquium will take place on Saturday October 15, 2011 at the Toronto Underground Cinema (186 Spadina Avenue). Registration opens on March 1, 2011 at


Aurora-nominated poet Helen Marshall ( is an author, editor, and self-proclaimed bibliophile. Her poetry has been published in ChiZine, NFG, Abyss & Apex and the long-running Tesseracts anthology series. "Mist and Shadows," published originally in Star*Line, appeared in The 2006 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Poetry of 2005. She recently released a collection of poems entitled Skeleton Leaves from Kelp Queen Press and her collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side is forthcoming from ChiZine Publications in 2013.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another great ESC review

The 'Nerd of Noir' at Spinetingler writes: "...if you’ve got the stones and stomach for it, steel yourself for a shot of some single-malt, black-as-space shit. If the Nerd were a particularly lazy Gene Shalit, he’d review this beast thusly: 'Every Shallow Cut cuts deep.' "

Read the review.

Order Every Shallow Cut.

Strange Horizons reviews Fecund

Matt Hillard at Strange Horizons has written an excellent, in-depth review of The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter.

" The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter is a very effective piece of storytelling, but the story it tells is an unconventional one. Some readers may be disappointed by the relatively brief time in the spotlight the fragmentary narrative gives each of the many viewpoint characters, and others may wish there was a little more room in its mosaic for positive parts of the human experience like joy and love, but those willing to engage with the novel on its terms will find this to be an intriguing and well-written fantasy from a very promising author."

Read it here.

Buy Fecund here.

Napier's Bones is (almost) a bestseller

Locus Magazine has published their bestseller list for August 2011. Napier's Bones got the 'runner-up' position on the trade paperback list, meaning ti was the highest-seeling trade paperback not to make the list. Still pretty good!

View the bestseller list.

View our page on Napier's Bones.

Katja a "very worthwhile read"

I Meant to Read That... got their hands on Katja from the Punk Band, and this is what they think of it: "Very worthwhile read from an intelligent writer who can make you feel the dirt, grime and blood on your hands. Logan manages to induce a sense of disorientation through his use of multiple viewpoints, often recounting the same scene from a different characters point of view."

Read the review!

Order a copy of Katja!

Intriguing review of Fecund

"I’m still not totally sure I understand the story and what it was meant to mean. A part of me wonders if that, too, is not the point. That you are intended to be left asking questions -- big ones -- and not given answers. Again, not all readers wants to be handled in that way. But for those who do, The Fecund’s Melancholy Daughter is a thoughtful, if not entirely satisfying, read..." - David Middleton, January Magazine

Read the rest of the review here.

If that quote made you curious as to what The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter is, click here.

Jonathan Mayberry likes Every Shallow Cut

"EVERY SHALLOW CUT is that rare kind of psychological thriller that every other writer wishes he'd written. This is suspense at its most excruciating. Wow."
Jonathan Maberry - NY Times Bestseller

View Mayberry's Amazon profile, where this blurb was posted.

Order Every Shallow Cut.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great review of Lost Pages

"LOST PAGES gets progressively better and better, with no drag or drop. ...I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in mosaic novels done right, or weird tales about bookstores, books, and monsters." - Carrie Cuinn, Writing about Writing

Read the review.

Order The Door to Lost Pages.

The Hopeful Librarian loves Eutopia!

The Hopeful Librarian has a great review of David Nickle's Eutopia: "Nickle has created some amazing monsters here...I’m sure I’ve never heard of anything quite like them before. ...This is just all-around great work, and I look forward to reading more of Nickle’s work in the future."

Read the full review.

Find out more about Eutopia.

Fecund's Melancholy Daughter "a wonderful and entertaining read"

"The character development is excellent and is never overdone. The descriptiveness used by Hayward paints a very bleak place on its last legs, but also shows us other enclaves full of hope for the future. The narrative flows at an even pace while keeping the reader fully engaged to the end. There is nothing predictable or cliché here. THE FECUND’S MELANCHOLY DAUGHTER is a wonderful and entertaining read." - Colleen Wanglund, The Horror Fiction Review

Read the review. (Scroll down, seventh review on the page)

Buy The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter.

Win Pattern Scars and tickets to SpecFic Colloquium!

Open Book Toronto is holding a contest until the end of August. The winner will receive two tickets to the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium on October 15, as well as a copy of Caitlin Sweet's The Pattern Scars. The contest is free to enter, so everybody should check it out!

Click here for contest details and how to enter.

Click here to learn more about the colloquium.

The Pattern Scars is now available for pre-order.

Interview with Simon Logan

Guilty Conscience has an interview up with Simon Logan, author of Katja from the Punk Band. He discusses his musical influences, favourite authors, the importance of book covers, and why Star Wars is better than Star Trek. A must-read for any fans of his work.

Read the interview!

Order Katja from the Punk Band!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Katja review on The Drowning Machine

The Drowning Machine writes: "KATJA FROM THE PUNK BAND is a welcome break from the usual round of serial killers and angst-ridden, alcoholic-loner protagonists. And you won't believe what all she can do with a guitar."

Read the review here.

Order a copy of Katja from the Punk Band.

Amazing review of Every Shallow Cut in Spinetingler!

"I just finished Every Shallow Cut a couple days ago and have got to say: Goddammit, man. After reading that, I think I’m hanging up my spurs. Or Moleskine, as it were. I can’t beat it, or really even come close. . . . Flat out, Tom, Every Shallow Cut is a thing of beauty. I could probably go on about ten other things this book does well. . . but thinking about this has given me the itch to go write something awesome, and that’s about the best comment I could ever give." --Nick Korpon, Spinetingler

Read the rest of his review/letter/rant here!

Buy Every Shallow Cut here!

The World More Full of Weeping mini-review

Or perhaps more like micro-review. Sci Fi Fan Letter writes:

"It's a sweet, compelling story of love and loss. And a reminder that doing what you believe is best for someone doesn't usually take into account their own preferences on the matter."

Click here to read it.

Click here to learn more about The World More Full of Weeping.

Rover review of Lost Pages

"The creation of imagined worlds requires one key attribute: the kind of imagination that works sideways and most definitely outside the realist-naturalist box. The Door to Lost Pages re-inforces what was already very evident in Objects of Worship: Claude Lalumière has this attribute in spades." - Michael Mirolla, Rover

Read the review.

You can open the Door to Lost Pages here.

In-depth review of Eutopia

Bureau 42 gives David Nickle's Eutopia an in-depth look, giving the book high scores in areas such as story, imagery, and emotional response.

"Nickles [sic] shows with clarity both realistic settings and the more bizarre corners of his fictional world. I would quote some of the medical details here, but they’re really rather disturbing. Be warned, and read the book." - JD DeLuzio, Bureau 42

Read the full review.

Buy a copy of Eutopia.

CZP spotlight in Cemetery Dance!

Cemetery Dance #66 is available on newsstands now, and features a review with ChiZine's publishers, Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi. It also has a review of Tim Lebbon's The Thief of Broken Toys:

"[T]his short novel is beautifully written while at the same time unceasingly sad. . . . I’m happy to report that [Lebbon] continues to produce not just quantity, but quality as well."
—Robert Morrish, Cemetery Dance

Be sure to check it out!

Learn more about Thief of Broken Toys here.