Friday, May 8, 2015

Occupational Hazards appears in Neo-opsis Issue 25

My short story, Occupational Hazards, appears in Issue 25 of Neo-opsis magazine. It's a great little publication, worthy of your time. And you get to read my story to boot!

Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine - Issue 25
The twenty-fifth issue of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine is 8” by 5 ½”, 80 pages. Not yet in print (at the printers).
The cover of issue 25 is a collaboration by Karl and Stephanie Johanson, Sun-Dragons.
Karl’s editorial is a brief commentary on the notion that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Letters to the Magazine this issue are from: Al Harlow, Catherine Luttinger, Jennifer Fisher, Alycia Mitchell, Maria Isabel Bances, Eric Seaton, Adrian Peterson, Vaughan Stanger, Guy Immega, and Catherine Girczyc.
Karl Johanson’s A Walk Through the Periodic Chart is about the element Bismuth this issue. There are two brief asides about Sodium and Tritium. Illustration by Stephanie Ann Johanson.
The first story in issue twenty-five is Panda-Mensional by Mary E. Lowd. Mary is a science-fiction and furry writer in the Pacific Northwest. She’s had more than forty short stories published, as well as two novels — Otters In Space and Otters In Space 2: Jupiter, Deadly. Her fiction has been nominated thirteen times for the Ursa Major Awards and won a C├│yotl Award. She’s a member of SFWA, the Furry Writers’ Guild, a judge for the Cat Writers’ Association, and co-chair of the Wordos. She lives with her husband, daughter, son, four cats, and three dogs. For more information, visit
The second story is Space Tagger by Daniel P. SwensonDaniel lives in Chino Hills, California with his wife, two children and two furry aliens with claws and whiskers. He has also been published in Lore. He does most of his writing on the train or in other in-between moments.
The third story is New Kid by Guy L. Pace. Guy is a retired information security professional who is now working on novels for young adults, short stories in science fiction and other projects. Guy’s science fiction projects generally center on a universe concept he calls The Expansion. In this concept, humanity leap-frogs out from the solar system to habitable planets circling nearby stars, then further out.
The fourth story is Landing Day by Holly Schofield. Holly has been published in Tesseracts 17AE: The Canadian Science Fiction ReviewPerihelionThe Future Embodied, and Crossed Genre’s Oomph. She has work forthcoming in several publications, including Lightspeed Magazine. She travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of a prairie farmhouse and her writing cabin on the west coast.
The fifth story is License to Live by Nick Aires. Nick is the author of Arrow: Heroes and Villains and the interactive novel app Diabolical. His short stories have appeared in various places, most recently JukePop Serials and Voices of Imagination 2. Nick lives and writes near beautiful Vancouver, BC, and at this moment he is probably thinking about aliens or dragons...or alien dragons flying spaceships through magical portals. Illustration by Stephanie Ann Johanson.
The Sixth story is RestFitTM by Ewan C. Corbes. Ewan lives and writes in Aberdeen, Scotland. His work has previously appeared in Daily Science FictionSand Journal (as Ewan Forbes), and in Digital Science Fiction’s Visions Imprint (as E. C. Forbes).
The Seventh Story is When Every Song Reminds You of a Dead Universe, by Karl Johanson. You’ve seen his non-fiction throughout 25 issues of Neo-opsis, now’s a good chance to check out his fiction. Originally published in Perihelion Science Fiction.
The final story is Occupational Hazards by Lorina StephensLorina has worked as editor, freelance journalist for national and regional print media, is author of seven books both fiction and non-fiction, been a festival organizer, publicist, lectures on many topics from historical textiles and domestic technologies, to publishing and writing, teaches, and continues to work as a writer, artist, and publisher at Five Rivers Publishing. She has had several short fiction pieces published in Canada’s acclaimed On Spec magazine, Postscripts to Darkness, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fantasy anthology Sword & Sorceress X.
Reviews this issue are of the book Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom Demichael, the movie Interstellar, the computer game GemCraft Labrynth by, the movie Jupiter Ascending by Warner Brothers, and the 1988 movie They Live by Universal Pictures.
Awards news includes listings for the Sunburst Awards, the Hugo Awards, the Nebula Awards and the Aurora Awards. There is a collection of photos from the Aurora Awards ceremony on October 4, in Vancouver BC, as part of CanVention and VCon.
There’s a write up on the 2014 VCon in Vancouver, BC.
Additional news is about science fiction and some recent space discoveries.
The Last Nine Pages is an article about Disturbing Episodes of Star Trek. This includes examples from Classic Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Enterprise, as well as from the Rebooted Star Trek movies.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the RainThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It isn't every writer who can take the unlikely elements of an unreliable narrator, a main character who is a dog, race car driving, and brain cancer, and work all that into a highly readable, engaging, moving and memorable story. Garth Stein is one such writer.

Clearly a man comfortable with his craft, dedicated to research and the nuance of language, Stein has created the story of a dog known as Enzo, who believes he will be reincarnated as a human when his time as a dog is done. During Enzo's journey as a dog, he becomes emotionally attached to his master, Denny, who is a rising race car driver. Together Enzo and Denny experience joy in a marriage and birth of a child, the thrill of the race course, and then the devastation of the loss of all they've held precious.

Never maudlin or trite, the emotional impact of Stein's story rings true with a subtlety which is quite astonishing.

Altogether a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable read. Highly recommended.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Two reviews of novels by Wilbur Smith

River God (Ancient Egypt, #1)River God by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An entertaining tale of ancient Egypt, told from the perspective of an arrogant slave. Wilbur Smith creates good environmental detail and demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the subject matter.

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The Seventh Scroll (Ancient Egypt, #2)The Seventh Scroll by Wilbur Smith
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Words fail me! An astonishing work of self-aggrandizement. Badly written, tedious, with cutout characters.

If this novel is supposed to be a sequel to River God it fails in every respect.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Two Reviews

Two overdue reviews from my February reading.

Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)Eric by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Engaging escapism combined with Pratchett's customary wit and prodigious imagination. In this installment we return to the misadventures of Rincewind who finds himself the captive demon of an angst-filled adolescent on a quest for world-domination and self-gratification.

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23122312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It is with regret and frustration I found myself at the end of Robinson's much-acclaimed novel 2312. I've spent a great deal of time thinking about why. Perhaps it was the preponderance of scientific terminology this reader found daunting and falling too far into the expository, while for some Robinson's prodigious understanding of science and what might be possible in the far future would be fascinating.

The characterization had moments of brilliance, but overall fell too far into the unidentifiable and understandable. For a brief segment there was an occurrence and journey which very much put me in mind of le Guin's brilliant novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, but alas that sense of epic journey dissipated.

There are sections which are meant to be in the form of found fragments of notes from a journal, very much stream of consciousness. But, again, very often slipped into the extreme end of the scientific so that the average reader, without knowledge of higher sciences, was without frame of reference.

And in the end the entire novel felt like an exercise to demonstrate Robinson's personal knowledge, rather than a novel to challenge and entertain. The plot, if one could call it that, revolved around terrorism and revolutionary planetary colonies, so that once again I felt as though we were dealing with spies in space.

Very, very disappointing, from an author I had long respected.

Your mileage may vary.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

The heartache of false allegations

I have lived my life privately, never believing in the drama of public declarations of personal details. That sort of behaviour has always smacked of something belonging to pain-mongers like Jerry Springer or Geraldo Rivera, a sort of coliseum mentality. Voyeurism.

During the past year, however, that desire to live a dignified, decent life has eroded under the constant onslaught of false allegations brought on by my daughter, Kelly Stephens, through a blog ironically I encouraged her to create: see none hear none.

This past week her cries of abuse have reached a shrill and very public crescendo, albeit presented with seeming grace, bravery and eloquence.

And so, the damning evidence:

I present this here in the interest of full disclosure.

The complete transcript of the speech Kelly delivered to the Mississauga Celebrating Womanhood gala on March 14, can be found here.

There are times when a state of grace can only be maintained through silence and acceptance. There are also times when it is necessary to address injustice and present a more balanced picture. Had my daughter's accusations remained part of a personal blog which may, or may not, contribute to her coping with bipolar and borderline personality disorder, I might have been of a mind to remain silent, to allow her to go through the process, find balance.

Her assertions, however, have now become very public. And I, my husband, and my son now stand accused, tried and convicted in a public forum in which we have no recourse to defense or justice.

I could enumerate all the accusations with assertions which clearly contradict the alleged veracity of her statements. I could open the entire very personal, very private history of our family for the entire world to read.

But I will not answer an injustice with an injustice. I will refrain from allowing this tragedy to travel too far into voyeurism.

It is tragic in the extreme that both my daughter and I believe in empowering women, giving voice to victims, championing the helpless. It is also ironic in the extreme that I, my husband and my son find ourselves standing as the accused and condemned, we who have embraced the concept of a better, kinder society.

How are we, as a society, ever to evolve toward a paradigm of transparency, honesty, and peace if at our very foundation we also allow accusations and condemnation to occur without giving due process and recourse to the accused? I, my husband and my son are now guilty by virtue of public opinion. Certainly it would seem Kelly's psychiatrist has allowed our guilt to enter the realm of reality. And it would seem the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board have also accepted our guilt without proof. It doesn't matter what we do now, how loudly we proclaim our innocence, or how hard we attempt to live a life of decency and trust. The allegation is out there. And thus suspicion grows.

It is a Salem witch trial in 2015.

And we are not alone. Just do an internet search for false allegations of abuse and you will find cases all over the world of people staggering under the weight of this sort of behaviour.

In our quest to empower victims, let us not forget to also empower truth. Let us not forget about due process. Let us not forget the accused also have a voice, and sometimes that voice is one of innocence.

Kelly, my dearest daughter, if you read this, remember that you have been loved, cherished, supported and championed by us all your life. Remember all those conversations in the wee hours, the rescues both physical, emotional and financial. The shelter both physical and spiritual we opened to you without question. Remember these things.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A sale to Neo-Opsis!

So far I'm batting 100% for 2015 it would seem. I'm sure this isn't going to last for long (oh, optimistic one). Still and all, I've sold my humorous short story, Occupational Hazards, to Neo-Opsis magazine, my first sale to the periodical.

Karl Johanson, editor of Neo-Opsis, tells me Occupational Hazards will be coming out in the next issue.

Of course that means all of you are going to have to rush right out and acquire your own print or digital copy. That's right.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: All the Broken Things, by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

All the Broken ThingsAll the Broken Things by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very much minded of Rohinton Mistry's novels when reading Kuitenbrower's All the Broken Things, albeit we've changed from writing about the tragedies of India's people to the tragedy of Canada's.

In this case Kuitenbrower tells a deftly-crafted tale of a Vietnamese mother, son and daughter who are refugees just after the infamous civil war that ravaged their country. Not only are they victims of the war, but of that deadly and devastating chemical known as Agent Orange, large quantities of which were produced in Grimsby, Ontario, by Uniroyal.

The story centres around the boy, Bo, who attempts to find the strength and compassion to not only deal with his mother who is rapidly sinking into depression, extreme poverty and the effects of Agent Orange, but his sister who was born grotesquely deformed because of the chemical.

It is also a story about freaks and misfits who find a home in the carnivals and sideshows that toured southern Ontario, and were featured at the Canadian National Exhibition.

So it is a story about broken people, broken in body and spirit. It is a story about broken morality. Broken promises. Broken trust.

And it is utterly, completely mesmerizing in the simplicity and beauty of Kuitenbrower's phrasing and story-telling ability.

Highly recommended.

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