“Our Villains, Ourselves: On SF, Villainy, and… Margaret Atwood?”

SF Canada Member Greg Bechtel’s semi-autobiographical essay on Margaret Atwood, Sad/Rabid Puppies, and villainy appears in Issue 5 of the grad student journal The Word Hoard. The essay examines SF writers’ sense of ourselves as noble “outsiders” to mainstream culture and literature, and how our aggrieved frustration with this perceived outsider-ness–while not entirely imaginary–may also reveal something about us as both SF writers and an SF community. In it, he argues that our choice of imaginary villains (and how we respond to them), may reveal more about us than we might like to admit, and that it may be productive–even necessary–to recognize the ways that even our “real world” villains are often largely imaginary.

You can download the .pdf of Greg’s essay at this link.

To download and read other articles or the entirety of this issue of The Word Hoard, visit the website here.

Greg is currently busy reviewing submissions for Tesseracts Twenty-One with co-editor Rhonda Parrish. You can find his website at http://gregbechtel.ca/.

“Water Is…” Top Pick

SF Canada member Nina Munteau‘s book, Water Is… was chosen by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times as her #1 choice in “The Year in Reading” for 2016. You can find her comments here. Water Canada has also recommended the book as a summer read.

Nina talks more about The Meaning of Writing and Water in this video interview.

In other news, Nina’s short story, “Fingal’s Cave,” was recently published in the Megan Survival Anthology series.

After crash landing on a hostile jungle planet, rebel-scientist Izumi sets out against orders on a hunch that may ultimately save her fellow survivors but risk everything. Still haunted by the meaningless death of her family, Izumi’s intrepid search for life becomes an existential journey of the heart that explores how we connect and communicate—with one another and the universe—a journey intimately connected with water.

You can find “Fingal’s Cave” on Smashwords, and Water Is… and Nina’s other titles on Amazon.ca.

Finally, Nina will be editing an anthology for Reality Skimming Press based around the theme of water. “Stories must use real or realistic science based on the theme of water in the near future (50-100 years from 2017). Your story must be considered optimistic—this does not mean that bad things can’t happen in your story, but there has to be an optimistic twist and an optimistic ending (a happy ending or hope for a happy ending).” Submissions for the anthology are currently open, and full submission guidelines can be found here.

From Another Universe Column – On Religion

Author Lynda Williams is contributing a monthly column to Tyler Clarke’s Cutbanks: The Prince George Cultural Magazine. Tyler has granted Lynda the right to re-publish the columns a few months after each appears. The column, called From Another Universe, connects themes in real life with the Okal Rel Saga and its companion legacies series of stories and novellas set in the same ficitional universe. Below is the first online installment, from the July edition of Cutbanks in print. Cutbanks is a free magazine supported by advertizing revenue and distributed at cultural outlets in Prince George and area.


On Religion

by Lynda Williams, author of the Okal Rel Saga and editor of the Okal Rel Legacies collection

The quintessential Buffy the Vampire Slayer line for me is: “Note to self, religion freaky.” I concluded as much as a teenager trying to make sense of the diverse religious convictions in my father’s family while growing up in Prince George. I read a book named How the Great Religions Began by Joseph Gaer and decided there was definitely something universal underpinning the myriad manifestations of belief in the divine, although it might as easily have been a human need as an actual divinity of any sort. Now, having reached middle-age, I am back to square one on the question of belief in a Greater Good. I think we need it because science has pretty much flopped as a means of achieving peace on Earth through the techno-missionaries of corporate power. But I share Bill Maher’s fears, in his documentary film Religulous, about the threat posed by religious leaders to whom the destruction of life on earth is an acceptable risk in the single-minded pursuit of their own particular dogma. Sadly, I am just as sceptical about the ability of the scientific world view to side-step the pitfall of usurpation by greedy bastards. I doubt, for example, that too many of the CEOs gleefully impoverishing pensioners in pursuit of yet another yacht were attending any kind of church except a bank. In my own work as a novelist, I’ve found answers in the integrity of individuals, whatever their believe system, and a zero tolerance attitude to the idea of anyone blowing up the world to make a point. Part 2: Righteous Anger, in the Okal Rel Saga, deals most directly with religious strife, but moral dilemmas underpin the tensions in most books. Morality itself has become my bottom line. I just haven’t figured out how to define it any better than the dramatic portrayal of decisions made by characters in the thought experiment of my science fiction saga. If forced to try, I think it would go something like this: If nine out of ten grandmothers from a reasonable cross-section of cultures say it’s evil, then it’s evil. Cut it out.