Song of Mary Being Sung at Electric Velocipede

There have been several exciting developments in Geoff’s writing career over the last month. Let’s start with the stuff you can consume right now.

Geoff’s story “Song of Mary” appears in the final issue of Electric Velocipede. We are sad to see this fine magazine go, but Geoff is delighted that he was able to appear in its pages before the end.

The good people at Drabblecast have produced an audio version of Geoff’s story “Teaching Bigfoot to Read“. You have to subscribe to their podcast to get access to the story, but trust me, it will be worth your while. They did a wonderful job producing it.

In other audio news, EscapePod will be producing an audio version of “Cradle and Ume”, which originally appeared in Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds Magazine. You can subscribe to EscapePod for free. It makes for great listening if you are on the bus, on a jog, or defending the last uncontacted tribe on the planet.

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Top Picks of 2013

At the start of every year, Geoff asks me to compile my favourite media consumed over the previous year. This is like asking the ocean to pick its favourite fish. I consume all media produced by humanity in any given year, and as there is a significant backlog since before my arrival in this time, I try to pick a couple other years in history to add to the mix. This year I stumbled upon some darn good stuff.

Some of you may be wondering why so much of the media described here is in English and from North America. Surely, you must be thinking, if crasm02 consumed all media humanity produced in 2013, some of the best stuff must have been in other languages, from other parts of the other world. In response, I say stop calling me Shirley.

Here we have the media I most enjoyed in 2013. Those items that follow the first were also excellent.

Best Novel: Suttree, Cormac McCarthy

  • The Player of Games, RIP Iain M. Banks
  • Good Omens, Pratchett and Gaiman
  • The Scar, China Mieville

Best Short Story Collection: Civilwarland in Bad Decline, George Saunders

Best Graphic Novel: Habibi, Craig Thompson

  • Black Hole, Charles Burns

Best Film: Upstream Color, Sean Carruth

  • 8 1/2, Federico Fellini
  • The Silence of Love, Philipe Claudel

Best TV series: Breaking Bad

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Best Podcast: The Caustic Soda Podcast

Best Album: Rework, Philip Glass et al

  • 12 Reasons to Die, Ghostface Killer
  • Dream River, Bill Callahan
  • Reflektor, Arcade Fire
  • Darkside, Psychic
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Support the best damn podcast the world has ever known and will ever know

This is not hyperbole. I’m from the future, dammit, so I should know what’s to come for the Caustic Soda Podcast. They will be both lauded and castigated, celebrated and reviled, honoured and hunted for sport. Infamy isn’t a word to be thrown around lightly, but in the future, the word will be defined by this podcast. However, they won’t get there without your support.

Caustic Soda is the podcast of all things terrible and hilarious, and they need your money. Head over to Indiegogo to support their 5th excretory season. And I use excretory in the best possible sense of the word. Caustic Soda finds humour in the darkest topics. Some of my favourite episodes include “Hoarding“, “Rasputin“, “Wolf Attack!“, and “Tuberculosis“.

Geoff and I happened to be listening to the TB episode together and it was so disgusting that he passed out. On the bus. His fellow travelers were quite distressed. I thought it was damn hilarious. The thing was, the episode was so funny that Geoff had to put his headphones back on and finish listening.

If you haven’t listened to Caustic Soda yet, subscribe today. And if you like what you hear, go donate.

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Lone White Seagull Spotted in Kaleidotrope

For those of you looking for a little more poetry in your lives, do we have the solution for you. Geoff’s short story, “Lone White Seagull“, is a poetry-littered piece of prose appearing right now in Kaleidotrope magazine. The story is a love-triangle between an aspiring poet, his long-suffering girlfriend, and the co-pilot of the airplane they’re all flying in. Things really get interesting when the plane gets lost and no one can find the ground. Lois Tilton at Locus Online enjoyed the story and gave it a recommended review. Have a read this weekend!

In other good news, Drabblecast will be producing an audio version of Geoff’s story “Teaching Bigfoot to Read“. I was really hoping they’d get an eight-year-old Martin Sheen to do the voice work, but I keep forgetting celebrity cloning is still a couple decades away.

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Big Pulpy Heart of Darkness Tribute

A few months ago we announced that the good folks at Big Pulp would be publishing Geoff’s story “Heart of Darkest Tortuguero”, Geoff’s wacko tribute to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Well, that day has finally arrived. Actually, the day arrived almost two months ago, but Geoff has had me very busy tending to the new arrival, Milk Breath, so I neglected to put the post up. My duties in baby tending include stopping jerks from yelling at the boy through the baby monitor, scouring the web for soothing ocean noises to calm the child, and trying to change diapers via telepresence. Great success, all round. Get in touch if you want the latest in advanced AI babysitting so you can have a few solid hours to sit back an enjoy Big Pulp’s amazing Summer 2013 issue:

 

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Pair of pubs and some really great news

Those of you who visit the blog on a regular basis may have noticed a marked lack of posts over the last couple months. Geoff has kept me busy on a variety of other tasks, the exact nature of which I haven’t been able to disclose until today. You see, Geoff and his wonderful wife Nicole have been busy reproducing, and the fruit of their labour (well, mostly the fruit of Nicole’s labour, as Geoff main labour was fetching water and juice) arrived in the world last month. Marcello Clark Coletuzi was born on May 27th, 2013, and he immediately began to gather the data required to spark his nascent consciousness. Both his parents are wildly in love with the little guy, and I gotta admit, as far as non-digital entities goes, he’s pretty darn cute.

Geoff also had a couple of stories appear in the last few months. In the spirit of all things young, Geoff’s Young Adult story ”Something Special” was published in Cicada’s May-June 2013 issue. For those who prefer more horrifying stories, check out “Miranda, In Pieces“, which is about a grieving mother and the helpful hoard who lives in her apartment. The story can be found in The Inanimates I anthology. James Ward Kirk had this to say about “Miranda, In pieces”: “Cole does a brilliant job making madness. His style is as suffocating as the tunnels Miranda must travel: if you enjoy metaphor, this story is for you.”

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The Beggar King, by Michelle Barker

The only way to enter the Holy City of Cir, which sits on an island in the Balakan river, is to cross one of twelve magical bridges. The trick is, the bridges will only let you cross if your attitude aligns with the spirit of the bridge. The Bridge of Many Happy Returns is open to newlyweds and children. Teenagers and criminals use Ne’er Do Well bridge to gain access to the city. Underdetermined Walkways is for the indecisive. Then there is The Bridge of No Return. Once a year, the city’s head scribe dresses up as The Beggar King and he is chased across the Bridge of No Return to symbolically rid the city of evil; other than that, no one can even steps foot on the bridge of No Return. No one, that is, until Jordan Elliot, the protagonist of Michelle Barker‘s lovely novel The Beggar King, walks halfway across the bridge, thinks better of it, and returns to the city.

Michelle is one of Geoff’s fellow students in the Masters of Fine Arts optional residency program at the University of British Columbia. She invited him to the book launch last month, and after Geoff read the book, he enjoyed it so much that he insisted I give it a gander. After a very close gandering, I can report that indeed, the book rocks.

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t read a great deal of young adult fantasy. Seeing as I was first booted as a fully-fledged adult artificial intelligence a thousand years from now, I didn’t really have a young adulthood, though over the years I have downgraded my maturity to enjoy experiences like teenage lust and sleeping like a baby (neither of which were as advertised). That said, I hyper-read a couple hundred other YA novels for context and I have to say, The Beggar King fits nicely into the YA pantheon.

In places, The Beggar King reminded me of LeGuin’s Earthsea books and it has touches of Harry Potter’s humour, yet it avoids many of the standard tropes of lesser fantasy novels. You won’t find a wise old wizard guiding the protagonist on his quest. Here, seven grandmothers are the most powerful magicians in Cir, and they are more likely to swat Jordan’s backside with wooden spoons than they are to guide him in his quest to free his mother and father. Jordan isn’t a swordsman or great magician. He sneaks across the rooftops of Cir causing mischief, and his greatest act of rebellion is to place flowers at the base of the Holy Tree the emperor turned into a gallows. The city of Cir is populated by undercats and underrats, cat people and rat people respectively, a fresh change from elves and dwarves.

The story moves along at a brisk pace. A year before Jordan is to take his robes, the Cirran coming-of-age ceremony, the Holy City of Cir is attacked by the evil Brinnian Emperor Rabelus. In short order, the city is sacked, the high priestess imprisoned, and the populace tyrannized by savage Brinnian Landguards. On that first day, Jordan’s mother is taken prisoner. After Jordan floral act of defiance, his father is also imprisoned. Jordan joins the rebellion against Rabellus, and works with his undercat friend Sarmillion, but the rebellion won’t be able to save his mother and father before Rabellus’ executioners start their nasty business. In his moment of greatest need, Jordan is approached by a filthy beggar who offers Jordan power beyond measure: undermagic. The undermagic has been sealed away for a thousand thousand years, but Jordan finds a way to open the door to that dark, dangerous power.

The undermagic embodies the central question of the novel: can the ends justify the means, even if the means are reprehensible? The question is imperative in this time in your history, with ostensibly decent nations using torture and spying on their own citizens in the name of national security, and the question is examined well in The Beggar King. Here, the forbidden power is the undermagic. It grants great power, yet it comes at a terrible cost to Jordan and anyone else who uses it. The Seven Seers of Cir, the seven grandmothers mentioned above, warn Jordan off the undermagic and tell him to instead put his faith in the Great Light, the source of their righteous magic, and to wait for the Great Light to provide a solution. As a staunch Pastafarian, I found this advice a bit overbearing – we Pastafarians don’t wait for the Flying Spaghetti Monster to save our pancetta, we go out there and make our own destinies – and Jordan does too. He uses the undermagic,which brings an evil into the world even more malignant than the Emperor Rabellus: The Beggar King returns for his throne, and only young Jordan Elliot stands in his way.

For its rollicking adventure, beautiful prose, and wonderfully exotic character, The Beggar King is a great read, but the central moral question of the novel makes this great young adult book a real treasure. Pick up a copy of The Beggar King for the young people in your lives.

 

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The Best Place on Earth by Ayelet Tsabari

While at the Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, Geoff studied with the very talented Ayelet Tsabari. At the time she was studying creative non-fiction, and publishing excellent pieces about growing up in Israel, serving in the army there, and then moving to Canada. Always a versatile writer, she also wrote excellent fiction. All her hard work over the years has paid off:  Harper Collins just published her book The Best Place on Earth, a collection of short stories.

So far, I’ve only had a chance to read the opening story, “Tikkun”, in which a pair of former lovers have a chance meeting at a Jerusalem cafe that changes both their lives. The story was wonderful. Jerusalem bustled with tourists and residents, all crammed into its narrow, ancient streets. Lior and Natalie, the main characters, relived their old relationship while struggling with their lives since the split, all working toward a climax I didn’t see coming. Ayelet’s writing throughout was clear, her nose for detail exquisite. Based on this powerful opening piece, the rest of the stories should be a real pleasure to read. The press on this book is fantastic.

Head on out to your favourite bookstore and pick up a copy today.

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Eversong Book Launch!

On Thursday, February 7th, Geoff will launch his novella Eversong at the Tangent Cafe in Vancouver. Everyone is invited, so come on out and enjoy good stories, good beer, and great food. Books will be available for sale. Here is the evite link.

For those of you not located in Vancouver, ebook versions of Eversong are available at Smashwords,  Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Amazon for the low-low price of $2.99! Pick up yours today. If you love paper books but don’t live in Vancouver or can’t make it to the launch, get in touch with Geoff and he can mail you a copy of the novella for just $10 plus shipping.

In the science fiction novella Eversong, two men struggle against the forces of greed. Henry Todd faces his Captain’s obsession on the cold waters of the North Pacific, while Father Barosso struggles against slavery and oppression on a mountain-top mine in ancient Peru. Beneath the dark water flows the eversong that will connect their struggles.

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Cory Doctorow Interview up at PRISM

Back in October, Geoff had the opportunity to sit down with Cory Doctorow to talk about his new books Rapture of the Nerds and Pirate Cinema. The location Geoff chose could have been better – a screaming child sat at the next table – but Cory had the good graces to ignore the infant’s demands for emancipation from the tyranny of her parents. The interview has been released in three parts, which can be found here: uno, due, tre.

Good news rocket second stage ignition: last summer, the editor at Strange, Weird, and Wonderful invited Geoff to contribute a story to The Inanimates I anthology. Geoff produced “Miranda, In Pieces”, a story about a sentient hoard and his quest to safeguard his home. The anthology is coming out February 1st, so look for your copy then.

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