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February 1st, 2012
Over the course of my career I’ve given all kinds of readings, from story books to pre-schoolers (to support early literacy) to academic papers on 18th-century pastoral poetry (to support my academic career). I’ve had everything from great experiences (the kids really liked the animal noises) to eye-rolling ones (someone should have told the hotel hosting the NEASECS Conference that we would need lecterns) to amazing ones (people turned out at 8:30 on a Saturday morning to hear about the georgic).
I’ve had a room full of people show up, and I’ve had no one show up at all. I’ve arrived at places that invited me, only to find no one there who knew I was expected, and, I’ve been taken out for dinner first. Altogether, a pretty mixed bag, and I don’t think there’s a single writer out there who can’t match me, story for story. So why am I taking you on this trip down readings-I-have-done lane? Because in January I found someone who did everything right!
As some of you already know, I took part in the ChiSeries this past January 11th. This reading series is AKA the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, which is sponsored by the fine Canadian indie publishing house, Chizine Publications. The first and most important thing I can say about this series is that, well, it’s a SERIES. To start with, this means this is not their first readeo. It means that they have some experience in throwing a reading, month in, and month out. So they know what’s important about the physical set-up, things like lecterns, seats, tables, lighting, and so on. They also know about the “people” aspect of things. There’s a well-chosen mix of readers. There’s someone to meet the readers, look after them, make sure they’re comfortable and watered. Let’s not forget introducing them in an entertaining way, and breaking-up the readings so that the audience has a chance to go to the bathroom and order drink/food. No one feels read AT, everyone feels read TO.
It also means they have group of regular attendees who are likely to show up every month whether they’ve heard of you or not—which, incidentally, means you’re not just reading to the converted.
Did I mention that the venue is a bar? Okay, a small bar, but that means they can book the whole room, so you have no other groups or noisy neighbours to contend with. It means there are refreshments and food for readers and attendees—the kind of food and drink you actually want and willingly pay for, not the kind you take to be polite. The bar’s within easy walking distance of public transportation, also a big plus.
I’d also like to make clear that I’m not myself a ChiZine author. That’s right, they’re sponsoring a reading series for everyone who reads and writes speculative fiction, not just as a showcase for their own authors. And while they do have their own book table there, they also have Bakka-Phoenix, the specialty F&SF bookstore, on hand with a table for the rest of us.
And if all of this wasn’t enough, I RECEIVED AN HONORARIUM. That’s right, and not just me, who had to travel to get to the event, but the other authors as well. Chizine are pros all the way, and they treat their author guests as pros.
So take notes, if any of you out there are planning to start a reading series. My special thanks and applause go to Sandra Kasturi, Helen Marshall and Dave Nickle, as well as my fellow guests, Shari La Pena and Douglas Smith.
TIME: 7 p.m.–10 p.m.
Join us for the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, Peterborough branch with guest host Sandra Kasturi! And featuring:
NATHAN ADLER is a writer and an artist who works in many different mediums, including audio, video, film, drawing & painting, as well as glass. He is an MFA candidate for Creative Writing from UBC, currently works as a glass artist, and is working on a second novel and a collection of short stories. Nathan won the 2010 Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge. He is a member of Lac Des Mille Lacs First Nation, and currently resides in Mono, Ontario. In April 2017 Nathan was awarded a REVEAL Indigenous Art Award.
IAN ROGERS is the award-winning author of the dark fiction collection Every House Is Haunted. His novelette, “The House on Ashley Avenue,” was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and has been optioned for television by Universal Cable Productions. His work has been selected for The Best Horror of the Year and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Ian lives with his wife in Peterborough, Ontario. For more information, visit ianrogers.ca.
HEATHER SPEARS is a poet, author and artist. She won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1989 and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award three times. Part I of Moonfall was originally published in Tesseracts 2 in 1987, and Moonfall appared in 1991. Sequences The Children of Átwar and The Taming were published in 1993 and 1996. Four Chapters from Lofot if I Live were published as “The Road to Sibir” in Prairie Fire, 1994. Other published fragments and appencides, as well as a dictionary, are forthcoming. Heather Spears travels widely in Europe and the Middle East and lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
URSULA PFLUG is the critically acclaimed author of the novels Green Music, The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness (a flash novel illustrated by SK Dyment) and the story collections After the Fires and Harvesting the Moon. Her award winning short stories have been taught at universities in Canada and India, and have appeared in Canada, the US and the UK, in genre and literary venues including Lightspeed, Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Postscripts, Leviathan, LCRW, Now Magazine, Bamboo Ridge, The New York Review of Science Fiction and many more. Her books have been endorsed by luminaries including Tim Wynne-Jones, Charles De Lint and NYT bestselling author of The Southern Reach, Jeff VanderMeer. Her latest book is the YA novella Mountain, forthcoming from Inanna in May. She is currently editing a new anthology for Exile, The Food of My People, with Candas Jane Dorsey. Visit her on the web at http://ursulapflug.ca/
2017 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium
By Chiaroscuro Reading Series
This year’s guest of honour is bestselling SF author CORY DOCTOROW!
“I Can’t Let You Do That Dave”: How the worst internet law ever is turning science fiction’s least-plausible dystopias into imminent reality. Lawmakers around the world have been convinced of the scientific nonsense that solving our social problems is best accomplished by regulating which programs people may run on their computers. With laws like 2011’s Bill C-11, governments have felonizing tampering with locks that supposedly protect copyright, even for legitimate purpose, with the totally predictable effect that companies are now using these locks to prevent their customers from doing legitimate things, like buying third-party printer ink or getting their cars serviced by independent mechanics. This is an improbable form of dystopia: one in which entertainment law is used to usher in an era of government and corporate panopticon—it’s being Huxleyed into the Full Orwell.
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger—the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of many books, most recently IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, a book about earning a living in the Internet age, and HOMELAND, the award-winning, best-selling sequel to the 2008 YA novel LITTLE BROTHER.
With additional guest speakers & topics:
Special guest Julie Czerneda: “It’s a Wrap, Folks.” If a story is a conversation between author and reader, the final pages are where we make our last—and hopefully lasting—impression. Or ruin everything for someone. Knowing how and when to end a story is part skill, part practicality, but, most of all, it’s a deeply personal choice. Never has that been clearer to me than now, as I write the final chapter of my Clan Chronicles series and end the story that began my career. Join me for some of the skills, a whole bunch of the practicality, and a glimpse into the personal. Of endings.
Madeline Ashby: “Abandon All Hope, Eh?: Lessons Learned from the Company Town Tour” [details to follow]
Vicki Clough: “Alternate Realities in Art” The realm of Speculative Fiction spans the breadth of creative practice, not least of all in the depiction of alternative narratives in the visual arts. From Kent Monkman to Saya Woolfalk, artist engage our sense of wonder and the surreal, often challenging our own roles in the world we inhabit. How do contemporary artists communicate these complex ideas of fantasy in their work? How much truth is inherent in the “fictional” art form and what questions do they raise?
David Nickle: “The Tyranny of of Implausibility” [details to follow]
Jason Taniguchi: “Long Ago and Far, Far Away: Falling Hard for Fictional Worlds” [details to follow]
Books will be sold by Bakka Phoenix Books and ChiZine Publications. The Annual Toronto SpecFic Colloquium is run by the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, and sponsored in part by the Toronto Arts Council. Please see our website for a list of this year’s corporate donors.
Click here to buy tickets!