A few comments about the work – brief commercial break

When I was a wee tad, my tastes in SF&F were not very broad and not very considered. I liked Tolkien until I read a stinging feminist pamphlet on Lord of the Rings, at which point I put the work aside. I got back on the bandwagon when I had kids of my own to read to, and made sure I pointed out the fiddliest and most sexist bits as I went.  (Then the movies came out. Thank you Peter Jackson.) I’m still a fan.  But I know where the holes are, and I don’t excuse them any more than I let his narrative lapses trouble me.

As these works age (The Upsun Trilogy and its parentheses, Midnite Moving Co and Kima the Salvor) everything mouldy, tired, sexist, racist and homophobic that I didn’t see when I was writing it will be revealed as the muddy tide of oppression recedes.

I’m trying to write scientifically sound sf so it isn’t garbage within the year, but sf fans are very McGuffin-friendly, and that’s not what will age these books fastest.

My refusal to include hentai will be viewed as squeamishness. And it is, but it’s my character that’s feeling squeamish, not me.  Given a chance to make time with a betentacled alien, I’d be happy to ask my family’s forgiveness after the fact.

My inclusion of poly people who use different schemas to organize their lives beyond the nuclear family will likely be viewed as too white, too middle class and too tidy.  Eh.

My gender neutral character, who started as a nickname for a lab tech, demanded a backstory and a future, and I had to give it to them. Whether any gender neutral person on earth will find it an adequate representation of ‘them and people like them’ is not something I will know for a while. Slider kicked my ass and challenged my prejudices, and in the end I feel like I have made a character who can be as at home with their contradictions as I am with mine.

And this work is, of course, an ongoing commentary about being on the autism spectrum.

I wanted to write a story that my mother, who’s been reading SF for 65 years, and has seen many fads come and go, would enjoy. So it’s not exactly a happy ending, but I’m tired of dystopias, my hand to God, and so I didn’t write one.

I wanted to play with a lot of different ideas, like all of them. I wanted a big sloppy story with lots of unknowns, blind alleys and wacky set-pieces.

I owe a lot to Eric Frank Russell and Zenna Henderson and Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Heinlein and Joanna Russ, although I think I owe more yet to Dorothy Dunnett and Hunter S. Thompson. I think most of all it’s modern TV, with its snappy dialogue and superheroes, that’s influenced this work.

But really, it’s all my mother’s fault. I wrote it for her; to please her, to limn difficult feelings, to challenge her and make her go look stuff up on the internet.

Most particularly, in making aliens so like and so unlike humans, we’ve been participating in a reader/writer experiment in fixing the details of otherness, as well as locating all the points where a bridge may be built and solidarity between any two groups of people may be experienced; like the visionaries behind Star Trek, I find you have to believe that improvements to all of us as human beings, and to the planet we share and the cultures that bloom here, are both necessary and possible, or the story just ends up being about which asshole wins the prize, rather than being about the hero who goes back to her plough.

It’s the sf writer’s job to make the improvements plausible, which it turns out is a fucking sacred task in terms of inspiring younger people with more rigour and muscle in the brains department to figure out how to realize something sf made them dream.   I’ve taken it as my job with this work to examine what an alien would have to do to suborn an entire city to his purposes, and how he’d go about identifying the right people to approach. In doing that I’ve learned a great deal about the city I live in which I really, really wish I hadn’t learned. which is the more usual fate of the heroes who don’t actually die in order for a romantic couple to escape alive from whatever grim dénouement you’ve plotted, pace Slavoj Žižek. Heroes who survive have generally smartened up. I am not the hero.  But I had to smarten up while I was writing this, and that was interesting in its own way.

If you don’t like it, this is the Re-Gilded Age of SF (or the Electroplated Age, I suppose since there are good fen and true claiming that little of interest or courage is being written in the genre and it’s all shiny baubles looped ’round exsanguinated tropes which sadly for them is total bullshit). The politics of the state of English language SF aside, there’s tons of interesting stuff being written by writers in translation from Shona and Mandarin and Hungarian, from Spanish and Gujerati and Farsi. Go nuts.

Just bizniss

Kenny Gu and the housing blues. I knew the Vancouver market was fucked up, but holy shit.

Dinner with Mike last night.  It was such a spectacular early fall evening we ate on the patio at the Quay. I had the prawn pad thai and Mike had the glass noodles with chicken from Longtail Kitchen, and the meal was so good my eyes couldn’t focus for a while afterward. I drank a Tiger beer.  I should get it for Jeff. It has ABSOLUTELY NO TASTE.

Now I’m hongring for coffee and thinking about Starbucks.  I don’t normally want to have anything from Starbucks, but the alt-right wants to boycott them, and I do fancy their chocolate croissants.


18 Wishin’ won’t make it so

“I’m sorry, I don’t know your name,” George said suddenly, “My name’s George. It’s my guilty duty to inform you that I’m spying on Drew right now.”

“You are!?” she said.

“It seemed prudent,” Jesse said, mostly because he was tired of being the silent sidekick.

George shot him a look, then turning his attention back to the neighbour and briefly smiled that smooth, almost greasy, professional smile. Then the smile vanished. He looked almost apologetic. “They’re coming.  I planted a bug on Drew. You need to get back to your apartment, this instant.”

She stood and squeezed Chris’s hand, nodding. Then, with creditable speed and grace, Chris’s neighbour heeded George’s advice.  They heard her door quietly close and then the hisses and squelched giggling as the two men shushed themselves. George left the apartment door ajar and peered out as they dopily took the stairs.  He motioned Jesse and Chris into the kitchen, where they couldn’t be seen when the door opened wide. Jesse stood between Chris and the door and waited.

“Where’s Chris?” Drew asked. His boyfriend stood next to him, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“Elsewhere,” George said.  “Leave or I’m calling the cops.”

Figuring it was two to one, they tried to crowd through the door.

George, with no apparent effort, pushed them both back and closed it.

Thunderous pounding and provocative cursing followed.

“Beat it,” said George through the door. “You’re holding Schedule I, II and IV drugs, you’ve been drinking and driving, and you’ve already committed mischief and uttered threats.  Unless you want to spend the night in the central lockup, get the fuck away from this door and shut up.”

There was shuffling, and then giggling again.

“They’re going to beat the door in with the fire extinguisher in the hall,” George said in disgust.  He jerked open the door as Drew tried to smash the door handle, and once again Drew fell over, this time onto his face, simultaneously discharging the fire extinguisher. In the chaos, the boyfriend started to scream and took off down the stairs like a scalded cat. The door to the parking lot banged and reverberated through the stairwell and corridor.

George hauled Drew to his feet and said, “I was going to call the cops, but honestly I don’t think that would help.”

Jesse bodily restrained Chris when he heard Drew’s voice.

“Fuck you,” Drew said. “Who the fuck do you think you are. If I want to talk to Chris you can’t stop me.”

“Wishin’ won’t make it so,” George said.  He shoved Drew, who was resisting vigorously, back out the door, and put a hand over his mouth since, once again, the volume had maxed out.

Then he pushed him down the stairs and called 911.