Nov 112008

Photo: :) AliIf you knew I was a science fiction writer, you might assume it’s because I’m eagerly awaiting floating cities or nanotech implants. But actually, it’s the year I figure that all the World War II veterans will be dead.

On November 11th, 2020, we’ll be able to have a discussion that seems ungrateful or spiteful now: were the veterans of World War II heroes, or survivors? Is Remembrance Day actually about thinking about the specific soldiers who died, or about keeping the idea of soldiering alive?
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Oct 032008

I did a talk at Word on the Street last week tailored to a general, writing-interested Toronto audience. Ramón Pérez did live sketches that illustrated the talk, which were amazing considering the scant minutes each was allowed and the not-terribly-visual subject matter.

Other than actually writing, the most important thing to do as a writer is get your writing out to readers. You get feedback from readers, connect with fellow writers who share your sensibility, & you get a sense of closure that allows you to move on to your next project.

Some people think that getting published by a traditional book publisher is the only way to get your writing out to readers. There’s a real bottleneck here — even though there’s some benefit to the publishers in this circumstance, I would argue that writers don’t benefit from it, readers don’t benefit from it, and neither does our writing culture. This perception of the editor-gatekeepers just creates a tense and risk-averse climate.

So, I’m going to detour around the bottleneck and focus on the diversity of methods writers can use to get their writing out there. The ten things I list are often considered different mediums and require collaboration and/or different skillsets, but writing can be central to them. Continue reading »

Jul 192008

My latest contribution to the youth demographic.I turned 36 earlier this month, which makes it half my life that I’ve been an anarchist, a vegan, and a DIY culture maker. I was exposed to these philosophies through punk music and zines in my teens, and it’s a bit of an aberration that the ideas I encountered in a youth subculture are still relevant to me at this time in my life. But they introduced me to ways of thinking about the world and empowering practises that are still true and useful to me now, and I’m grateful I encountered them.

And so while I don’t care about whether I’m old or not, I do care about youth subcultures. Continue reading »

Mar 312008

Jennie hunts the wild camera. For those who’ve attributed my recent silence to Sidney, she’s only part of the cause. I’ve also been doing a gig for OCAD recently — The Mobile Experience Lab was looking to showcase some of the cell phone technologies they’d developed over the past two years in public spaces. I started as a consultant on narrative and then I was kept on to implement the scenarios I’d written. It was a lot of fun working with a bunch of talented folk to figure out how to make these whimsical and odd things happen on John Street. They’re hoping to launch it this summer, funding and situation willing. [UPDATE: They didn’t.] Below is some documentation we got during the alpha and beta testing. Continue reading »

Apr 102007

Click to expand Mak’s screenshot.I’m proud to say that my interview with Emily Short, my favourite interactive fiction author, is on the front page of the equally fantastic game website Gamasutra. And yes, Infocom fans, I think her work is better than Zork-era games both from a programming and writing standpoint. Download her free games and find out why.

While you’re on Gamasutra you might want to read this great interview with Jon Mak, a Toronto game maker who’s EverydayShooter builds on the Japanese underground abstract shooters — it features his sweet indie rock guitar strumming against a throbbing colourfield that makes you feel more like you’re collaborating rather than conquering. He deservedly nabbed several awards at the 2007 IGF.

And if all this game writing excites ya, we’re looking for videogame and other guest articles on theculturalgutter.com, let us know if you have an idea for a genre most consider beneath consideration. We pay $50 on publication.

Feb 082007

Detail from Wilson’s excellent SpinSo I’ve recently been really inspired by a couple of hard SF writers in Toronto, Peter Watts and Robert Charles Wilson. “Hard” SF is grounded in real science, often plot-driven, and I usually find it lacking on the character and prose-style front. Not so in the case of Watts and Wilson, who are great stylists and whose characters are nuanced and believable — plus the science extrapolation is mind-bending. So while I’ve always been an unapologetically character-driven storyteller, seeing them pull off traditional, “big idea” SF in this manner has made me want to play too.

This dovetails nicely with my recent enjoyment of Nature’s weekly podcast. Continue reading »