The Big Click, & a study in bête NOIR

the big click I’ve guest-edited an issue of the electrifying electronic crime magazine The Big Click. The exact circumstances surrounding the genesis of my guest editorial gig are lost in a distant cocktail-tinted haze, but I recall Nick Mamatas in the bar at World Horror Con in Portland last year saying something along the lines of, “You wanna guest-edit an issue? Sure! How ’bout January? And do a theme. Themes are good.”

This led to that, and that led to me acquiring stories from two of the most incredible short fiction writers currently slinging stories in the field: Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ray Vukcevich.

I had recently finished heading up the Sunburst Award Jury, which had selected BC author Moreno-Garcia’s short fiction collection This Strange Way of Dying as one of theJackals-196x131 five most outstanding speculative fiction books in all of Canada, or written by any Canadian anywhere in the world, for the entire year prior. This debut collection kept company on our considerations list with Booker Prize winners and recipients of numerous other literary awards.  It’s a huge honor to make a shortlist like that, and it was an honor and a joy to have read such a book. Her story “Jackals” lovingly treads that seductively weird, frightening line between what is and what shouldn’t be.

And anyone who pays attention to fiction emerging from this other coast (I’m squinting at you, New York, so far away) recognizes Vukcevich as another regional literary treasure. Also from the Pacific Northwest (though from the other side of the Peace Arch from Moreno-Garcia), Vukcevich’s short fiction collections are award-worthy themselves. His Big Click piece “All About the Ball” is an exercise in surreality, an offkilter crime story set in a swiftly tilting universe, centered on what is most definitely not your typical police interrogation.

The wolf manAdd to these two fabulous stories an interview with David Liss by Claude Lalumière, a peek review of Robert Crais’s Suspect, a deeply thoughtful examination of Patricia Highsmith’s The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder, and an essay by noirist Barry Graham titled “Meeting the Werewolf.” This last opens with a quote from the 1941 film The Wolf Man: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright…”

Here’s my full editorial for the Bête NOIR issue of THE BIG CLICK.

The jury is in! 2014 Sunburst Award Winners announced

~ A huge thanks to my amazing fellow jurors Paul Glennon, Bob Knowlton, Nicole Luiken, and Derek Newman-Stille. It was my sincere pleasure to serve with you! ~

Sunburst Award Announces the 2014 Annual Sunburst Award Winners of Its $1,000 Literary Prize

Toronto, Ontario (October 1st, 2014) The Sunburst Award Committee is pleased to announce that the winner of its 2014 adult award is A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Penguin Group Canada – ISBN – 9780670067046) and the winner of its 2014 young adult award is The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint (Little Brown Books – ISBN – 9780316053570).

About A Tale for the Time Being, the Sunburst jury said: Cast ashore on Vancouver Island by the Pacific Gyre, a Hello Kitty lunchbox opens upon an ocean of story, connecting Ruth and Nao across space and time. Some books flirt with the fantastic, Ozeki’s dances with it, such that it weaves through the narrative with sinuous grace, embracing evanescence. As Nao declares to the reader at the outset, “You’re my kind of time being, and together we’ll make magic.” All matters therein are given equal weight, yet the novel has a deft touch, often humorous. It is a seriously playful work. A Tale for the Time Being is sui generis, free ranging over fact and fancy, physics and metaphysics, the intimate and the universal; in a true sense it is a Zen koan extended to 422 pages, which is yet another paradox. Like the bumblebee, it shouldn’t fly but it does. Beautifully.

About The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, the Sunburst Jury said: A deceptively simple wish-fulfillment fantasy, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest draws upon the deep tradition of animal fables and fairy tales, upon the folklore of New World and Old, and upon the classic children’s literature of the past two centuries, but distilled into pure de Lint, faithful to its sources yet shaped by his own sensibilities. An enhancement rather than expansion of A Circle of Cats, the collaboration of writer and artist produces a fusion of word and image into a seamless whole, delighting the eye anew with the turning of each page. There are darker tones, to be sure, as snake-bite carries young Lillian past the jaws of death to the tribe of cat, and the magic of the deep wood that restores her humanity will come at a cost, and a debt owed. But that’s what a good fable is, timeless yet always cognisant of time’s passage.


430px-RokebyVenusI’ve just finished reading a story for the Toasted Cake podcast. Here’s a direct link to the audio.

Great, great fun. Much as I love performing my own work, there’s something especially intriguing in reading stories written by others. This week for Toasted Cake, I read “Green Future” by Deborah Walker, set in a future London overtaken by rampant flora and microfauna — algae adhering to every surface, changing everything it touches. Not only is there some great urban decay imagery, but the story itself explores what it would mean to be changed oneself by such a change, what it means to embrace things, to cling to things, to let things go.

Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus (famously slashed as protest by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914) features prominently in the story. It’s a wonderful choice on Walker’s part, as this particular Venus so saturates the public consciousness, the dialogue about art, fine art, and what it means culturally, that she’s been rendered and re-rendered:  as Snow White; as a Fat Ginger Cat; as a tattooed goddess; as a… whatever these are. Lovely irreverent reverence. An homage made while blowing raspberries. Now I want one in algae, please — or, playing into my own eco-fascinations, lichen.

Bonus Track: my urban decay board on Pinterest.

2014 Copper Cylinder Awards announced

copper cylinder version

Each year, a five-member jury is charged with selecting the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. It was my great good pleasure to have been asked to serve as chair of this year’s jury, and I’m extremely proud of our consensus-derived finalists. In tandem with the juried award, the Society annually presents a Member’s Choice award called the Copper Cylinder. Congratulations to Guy Gavriel Kay and Cory Doctorow! Sunburst Award winners will be announced later this fall.

From the official release:


Toronto, Ontario (September 19th, 2014) The Sunburst Award Society is pleased to announce the winners of the third annual Copper Cylinder Awards. The Copper Cylinder Award is an annual member’s choice award selected by members of the Sunburst Award Society for books published during the previous year.

The Copper Cylinder Award derives its name from the first Canadian scientific romance, “A Strange Manuscript Found in a homelandCopper Cylinder,” by James De Mille (1833-1880). 

The winner of the 2014 Copper Cylinder Adult Award is River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay (Penguin Group Canada – ISBN – 9780670068401). 

The winner of the 2014 Copper Cylinder Young Adult Award is Homeland by Cory Doctorow (Tom Doherty Associates – ISBN – 9780765333698).

The Sunburst Award Society also confers annually the juried Sunburst Awards for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Both awards celebrate the best in Canadian fantastic literature published during the previous calendar year.                                                                         

For additional information about the Copper Cylinder Awards, Sunburst Award Society membership and the voting process:

For additional information about the Sunburst Awards, the nominees and jurors, eligibility and the selection process: