In 2017, for the first time since 2010, I resided in the same city, and even the same house, all year. We are now well ensconced at our Ottawa home, Timberhouse. I also visited Montreal (which is conveniently close by), Québec City, Toronto, and Austin.
My most important publication of the year was Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment (MiroLand / Guernica Editions) – a book I started working on in 2006 and, among all my fiction, the project that means the most to me personally. Venera Dreams is as close to a map of my imagination than anything could ever be. It came out in August, supported by a small tour. I also published one new episode in my Chronicles of the Second Global War serial, “The Treaty of Empress Park,” in 49th Parallels (Bundoran Press), edited by Hayden Trenholm (Bundoran Press prepared a fun little teaser for the story in the form of a snippet from a fake news broadcast). In the very final days of the year (I haven’t even seen my copy yet), On Spec published “Nothing Can Stop the Gravytrain!” – the first episode to be appear in my superhero serial The Superstars Dossier.
In Ottawa, we hosted a release party for Venera Dreams here at Timberhouse. And I read from the book at the September edition of ChiSeries Ottawa. I participated in Persisting beyond Margins, a literacy fundraiser on the theme of banned books, at which I presented Norman Spinrad‘s The Iron Dream (1972). I attended Can-Con, Ottawa’s local SF convention; the highlight of my programming was “Claude & Dave: The Conversation” – a two-way interview in cahoots with my pal David Nickle. I also participated in the ChiSeries Ottawa fundraising holiday party by performing a short set of Lost Myths.
In May in Québec City, I was a guest at this year’s Boréal, the Québécois SF convention, held this year in a fascinating venue, the Monastère des Augustines, a Catholic monastery multitasking as a wellness centre and a convention hotel. Its restaurant served the best food I’ve ever had in the provincial capital.
The month before my week-long stay in Austin in August, Malvern Books hosted “Fantastical Fiction presents The Door to Lost Pages” – nice to see my 2011 book still getting some traction. I began my Austin stay with programming at ArmadilloCon 39, including my very first reading from Venera Dreams: the complete text to my Salvador Dalí superhero adventure, “The Surrealist Lanterns.” My stay in Texas ended with the launch of Venera Dreams at the aforementioned Malvern Books.
I went to Toronto three times, each time in support of Venera Dreams. In August we had the Canadian launch of the book at Bakka-Phoenix. In September, Venera Dreams was prominently featured at The Word on the Street Toronto, as a Great Books Marquee selection, which included a reading and a live interview conducted by Steven W. Beattie. That weekend, I benefitted from the generosity of Robert Sawyer, who offered to let me share his table, which allowed me to have a firm presence for the whole weekend. And in October Venera Dreams was one of several books featured at the season launch of Guernica Editions at The Supermarket in Kensington Market.
Being so close, I visited Montreal at every opportunity, not just professionally. But I was there twice as a writer, both times to promote Venera Dreams. In October, for a launch at Paragraphe Bookstore, and in November for a brief performance at the Yellow Door Readings.
It was a good year on the translation front. Only one publication – in Solaris: “Notre amour,” a French translation by Pascale Raud of my 2013 story “Our Love” – but lots of news. Also to be translated by Pascale Raud, Québécois publisher Alire has acquired Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment for a French-language edition. Future Fiction in Italy has acquired rights to three of my stories to be published in a bilingual English/Italian volume called Altre persone / Other Persons: “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” (2002), “Maxim Fujiyama and Other Persons” (2014), and “This Is the Ice Age” (2006). And the Hungarian magazine Galaktika acquired two of my stories for translation: “Roman Predator’s Chimeric Odyssey” (2009) and “The Patchwork Procedure” (2016).
Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen (Edge) which I co-edited with Mark Shainblum, was a finalist for the Aurora Award in the Best Related Work category (which it did not win).
In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, I was one of 150 Canadian writers asked by The Word on the Street Toronto to pick one overlooked Canadian book for a feature called CanLit 150; I chose one of my favourite novels of all time, The Warrior Who Carried Life (1986), by Geoff Ryman.
I rarely write nonfiction anymore, but I contributed to The Fourfold Library series in Foundation #127: an essay on the influence of J.G. Ballard‘s Vermilion Sands (1971) on my own Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment. I also contributed a list of my 13 favourite creepy story collections for Corey Redekop‘s 31 Lists of Horror for Halloween 2017.
Three of my stories were performed for podcast in 2017. Over at Far-Fetched Fables, Martin Reyto gave a killer reading of “The Ministry of Sacred Affairs” (2012); at StarShipSofa, Deanna Sanchez read “This Is the Ice Age” (2006); and at Tales to Terrify, Scott Silk read “The Ethical Treatment of Meat” (2002).
Here are some of the things to look forward to in 2018. Far-Fetched Fables acquired “The Darkness at the Heart of the World” (2009) for podcast. “Being Here” (2005) will be reprinted in the Alien Invasion Short Stories volume of Flame Tree’s Gothic Fantasy anthology series. A new stand-alone story, “A Girl, Ablaze with Life,” will appear in the anthology Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns (Tyche), edited by Rhonda Parrish. And there’s some big translation news I can’t quite share yet.
The thing I’m most anticipating for 2018 is my appearance as one of two Canadian Guests of Honour at DeepCon 19, in Fiuggi, Italy, in April, along with my buddy Rich Larson. The aforementioned bilingual book of three of my stories Altre persone / Other Persons will be published to coincide with my appearance there. I never spend enough time in Italy (perhaps my favourite country in the world), and I’m beyond thrilled to have been invited there for this convention.