Jan 312012

My latest is a short piece on the state of surveillance in Vancouver. This wasn’t my idea, but I’ve been interested in privacy and surveillance issues for a while, and I took the gig.

I had assumed there would be clear laws about where you can put surveillance cameras, whether as private citizens or as business, but the laws regarding this are pretty vague. There are stronger laws about keeping records of other people’s personal information (which includes their likeness.) There’s also a lot of obfuscation about the city government and police’s use of surveillance.

Surveillance is becoming a big issue. When you get right down to it, Google and Facebook and Twitter aren’t offering all these services for free out of generosity. They are businesses, and a large part of their business is selling information about the people who use their services to other businesses. It may be anonymized or otherwise restricted for people’s privacy, but that is still what they do.

Google is rapidly becoming something like the Minds in Iain M. Bank’ s Culture books: nearly all-knowing artificial intelligences so powerful, and so essential, that the humans can only cross their fingers and hope that they aren’t doing anything bad, or if they are, it’s for the humans’ own good.


Jan 262012

I turned up an hour early  for William Gibson’s talk at the library, promoting his new non-fiction collection Distrust that Particular Flavour. Gibson was, as usual, an interesting speaker, ranging from why he thought he would never be a non-fiction writer (too much of a perfectionist to deal with journalistic deadlines), how science fiction ages (more like milk than wine)  and his views on intellectual property and piracy.

During the question session, a female fan asked why this event, which filled the Alice McKay auditorium, was so well attended by women. She compared it to a Neal Stephenson reading which had one women in a sea of guys. Gibson said that when he was getting serious about writing, the most innovative science fiction in the USA was feminist science fiction, so this informed his earlier work.

Local literary figure Carellin Brooks introduced him as a “science fiction writer”, and I wondered if he still considered  himself that. There’s a long, long route from Molly Millions to Cayce Pollard. Has he turned his back on his earlier work? This topic was on my mind during and after my David Cronenberg essay, as there are certain similarities in their career paths. Both moved from low genres like science fiction and horror to high genre like literary fiction and costume drama.

During the autograph session afterwards, I asked him if he still considered himself a science fiction writer. He said that he still considered himself a science fiction writer in the same way he still considered himself a Virginia boy:  they were his roots.  I think Gibson’s answer was pretty good, reflecting his evolution as a writer and the evolution of his work. Pattern Recognition still feels like Gibson, even if it is set in the immediate past.

(I wish I’d had a chance to see him sign somebody’s Kindle or other ereader, which according to his Twitter feed, he does sometimes.)


 Posted by at 01:15
Jan 202012

“In nonfiction the notes give you the piece. Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing. Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.”

Joan Didion

 Posted by at 13:27
Jan 182012

It’s up on the Tyee.

I’ve been a big fan of David Cronenberg for years, not only for his movies themselves, but for his ways of thinking about art and creation and censorship. He’s a fascinating interview subject.

So, when I got the opportunity to write about him (or rather, get paid to write about him), I jumped at it, got every book about him I could find in the library, and rewatched his Dead Ringers to study. I wanted this to be the best essay I could write about him and his work.

Jan 162012

I’ve been a fan of Canadian film director David Cronenberg for years, and I was most pleased to get the opportunity to write about his new film A Dangerous Method. (Or rather, be paid to write about it.)

This was even harder than I usually find writing, as I wanted to make this special and not just throw something down on the screen. I took out just about every book in the library on Cronenberg, and even tracked down a 37-year-old review of his first feature, Shivers, which the reviewer called “the most repulsive film I’ve ever seen.” 26 years later, Cronenberg walked away from Cannes with a special jury prize.

I also had to delay because it took forever for the film to screen here in Vancouver. I got it done and submitted Sunday night.

Currently there are two other paying projects on the go, with one finished but waiting on a clarification about rights and payment, the other in progress. There’s also a fiction story that I have a buyer for, but I’m procrastinating about signing the contract. In back of that is a work-for-hire project that would be a major undertaking, with money and a topic that interests me, but with less creative control.

 Posted by at 11:02
Jan 142012

Last night at the Writer’s Studio, I did my reading of two of my flash stories, “Disappearing Girl” and “The Fortunate Fall”. I chose them because each came in at about 5 minutes, and I also thought the first would be accessible to people who weren’t into science fiction or fantasy, though the transgender elements might be provocative too.

One thing that surprised me was how many people laughed during “Disappearing Girl”. While there are jokey moments in it, it’s a sad story at heart, about unrequited love and about how hard it is to live an authentic life.

Generally they were well received. One person said she was, at first, only intellectually engaged with “Girl” but later getting into it emotionally.

The rest of the readings were interesting, more literary than I usually get into.

 Posted by at 11:42
Jan 102012

I’ll be reading some of my work (probably my flash fiction) at The Writer’s Studio reading series, along with several other local writers. Should be a good time. I’m scheduled to read just before the break.

Time: Friday, January 13th from 7 to 9 pm

Location: Take 5 Cafe, 429 Granville Street at Hastings, Vancouver, BC

Admission: free

 Posted by at 12:03

Vancouver BC BDSM Conference Westward Bound

 History of BDSM, meta  Comments Off on Vancouver BC BDSM Conference Westward Bound
Jan 082012

While I missed the opportunity to present at this event, I will be attending Vancouver’s Westward Bound BDSM conference on February 3-5, presented by Metro Vancouver Kink. This promises a great weekend of educational events and play parties in Vancouver’s Maritime Labour Centre.

I’m a co-founder and former board member of Metro Vancouver Kink, and I’m always pleased to support the organization.