Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Colonel Lauten's uniform
That there is little uniformity in Kentucky Colonel uniforms over the years is typical of American military garb of the nineteenth century. Despite what movies may show, the Union and Confederate forces wore a variety of uniforms. Each regiment or unit had its own uniform, and colours included blue (worn by both sides), grey (also worn by both sides), red, and green. The Union even had a militia unit dressed in kilts like a British Highland regiment (the 79th Regiment, New York State Militia). Thus an American tradition continues, curiously upheld by Canadians in Toronto.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Thanks to all the persons who voted in the Aurora Awards.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Holocaust Education Week (November 1-9, 2011) is not usually the occasion to discuss the lives of science fiction writers, but there is a connection between the Holocaust and a science fiction writer. Now available in bookstores is the diary of Petr Ginz, possibly the only verifiable science fiction fan and writer to die at Auschwitz. He was only 16 years old when he was murdered.
Few people know about Ginz, who was a highly intelligent boy and fan of Jules Verne. He wrote five novels, at least three with science fiction themes, between the ages of 8 and 14. Alas, none were professionally published, and only one, A Visit From Prehistory, has survived. However, many people have seen his drawing, "Moon Landscape", a copy of which Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took aboard the ill-fated space shuttle Columbia. More recently, he was mentioned as an inmate of Theresienstadt concentration camp in the documentary Hana's Suitcase.
The Diary of Petr Ginz was recovered and edited by his surviving sister, Chava Pressburger. He started writing it when he was 14 years old in Prague. It ends when he goes to Theresienstadt, the "model camp" that the Nazis used to fool the outside world that they were treating Jews humanely. Ginz survived for another two years at Theresienstadt before being taken to Auschwitz.
Of course, people will compare Ginz's diary to a more famous diary of that era, Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl. Both are diaries, but they differ greatly in style. Anne Frank wrote about relationships and feelings among her family and a few others trapped in their Secret Annex. Her diary is all about feelings and emotions and growing up.
Petr Ginz, in contrast, treated his diary like a newspaper and wrote about current events and observations of life under German rule. Unlike Anne Frank, Ginz could roam about his ghetto, albeit with increasing restrictions on his movement. Thus his diary reports the daily news of life under German occupation. In addition to writing about school classes and German soldiers in the streets, he also mentions the loss of civil rights inflicted by the Nazis upon the Jews. One day, they have to surrender their fur coats, the next day, they're forbidden to walk on certain streets. There's a sense of impending doom as the indignities stack up one at a time.
At Theresienstadt, he edited a magazine called Vedem (We Lead) and assumed the title "editor in chief". The Diary of Petr Ginz includes several articles and drawings from Vedem.
Petr Ginz's diary may not be as famous as Anne Frank's, but it's an excellent first-hand account of life in the Prague ghetto, and the Vedem articles and drawings show rare glimpses of life in Theresienstadt.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
My article "The Norway Tragedy: Influences on Madness" was published in SITREP, the journal of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, September - October 2011. It is about Anders Breivik, the confessed killer of the massacre in Norway on July 22, 2011. Media reports say that Breivik was a Christian fundamentalist and a right-wing racist, but my analysis of his manifesto, 2083 - a European Declaration of Independence, shows that he was neither type of person. Instead, he is really a science fiction nerd gone violent. His manifesto, far from promoting Christian or right-wing ideas, has plenty of references to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, and other science fiction and fantasy movies, TV shows, and video games.
The article is available on my website here.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Four Stories From The Dragon and the Stars Get Honourable Mentions on Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction List
"The Character of the Hound” by Tony Pi,
"Across the Sea" by Emily Mah,
"The Water Weapon" by Brenda Clough
"The Son of Heaven" by Eric Choi
Click on the titles to read excerpts from the stories.
The Dragon and the Stars is a finalist for a 2011 Aurora Award for Best Related Work in English. If you like its stories, please vote in the Aurora Awards.
Tony also made the list for three other stories ("The Curse of Chimère", "The Gold Silkworm", "Night of the Manticore") as did Melissa Yuan-Innes ("Iron Monk") and Ken Liu ("The Literomancer"). Congratulations to everyone!
Monday, August 1, 2011
Help The Dragon and the Stars win an Aurora Award!
Aurora Awards voting is NOW OPEN! Voting procedures are different from previous years'. Now you have to register as a member of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association, receive a membership number, and use it to vote online. There is no charge to register as a CSFFA member, but there is a $5.50 voting fee; however, persons attending SFContario 2 (this year's Canvention) will have their voting fee waived.
Here are the instructions from the Constellation Awards on how to vote:
"Here’s how to begin. First go to our membership page
and login. For those that registered to nominate you just have to use your email address and the society number you used before. For those that are new please click the “Register” button at the bottom of the form to sign up. We will send you your society number with a link to click to verify your account.
Once you have logged in you will see at the bottom the voting section with our “Buy Now” button. As in past years, there is a $5.50 fee to vote. If you are a member of Canvention this fee is being waived and you will instead see a “Vote Now” link at the bottom."
Remember, The Dragon and the Stars is on the ballot for Best English Related Work! To read its stories, go here:
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Photo above: Katherine Curtis and I hold the results envelope for Best Female Performance in a 2010 Science Fiction Film, TV Movie or Mini-Series. My white tuxedo jacket is a Pierre Cardin.
Other awards presenters included science fiction author J.M. Frey (Triptych) and actor Paul Lee (of the TV series Train 48).
The Constellation Awards ceremony was classy, entertaining and fun. It's definitely the most glamorous red carpet event for Canadian science fiction. Many thanks to awards committee chairman Andrew Gurudata, who is nominated for an Aurora Award for Best Fan - Organizational for organizing the Constellation Awards.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
The Dragon and the Stars is on the ballot for the 2011 Aurora Awards in the category of Best Related Work. Many thanks to our talented authors for their wonderful stories (see the list below). Thanks to all who nominated our anthology for Canada's national science fiction and fantasy award.
The Dragon and the Stars is the first collection of science fiction and fantasy stories written by ethnic Chinese living outside of China. It features new fiction from Chinese writers in Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong.
If you like the stories of The Dragon and the Stars, promote our unique fusion of Canadian and international science fiction and fantasy by voting in the Aurora Awards, which are organized by the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association.
You can vote if you're Canadian or living in Canada.
Voting by both online form and mail-in ballot begins in early June and ends on October 15, 2011.
To learn more about the Aurora Awards and to vote, visit:
(More information about the voting process will be posted on the Aurora Awards website later.)
Critical acclaim for The Dragon and the Stars:
"There are wonders aplenty in this hegemony-challenging volume."
"Looking to read something a little different in SF and fantasy? The Dragon and the Stars features eighteen (in Chinese lore, a lucky number) new tales written by English-speaking writers of Chinese ancestry...I would be hard-pressed to select the best story from this collection."
"A taste of Chinese culture and fine story telling."
"Given the broad mandate of The Dragon and the Stars and the variety of the stories, it is a solid collection that should appeal to a wide range of readers."
Many thanks to these talented authors for their wonderful stories in The Dragon and the Stars:
Introduction by Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling novelist.
"The Character of the Hound" by Tony Pi (Canada)
During the war between the Southern Song and the Jin Dynasties, a soldier allows a spirit to possess his body so he can solve a murder.
"The Fortunes of Mrs. Yu" by Charles Tan (Philippines)
A Filipino Chinese woman is horrified that each of her fortune cookies has a blank strip of paper inside it.
"Goin Down to Anglotown" by William F. Wu (United States)
In an alternate America that is dominated by Asians, three young Asian men go out for a night of intrigue in exotic "Anglotown".
"The Polar Bear Carries the Mail" by Derwin Mak (Canada)
Chinese investors and a Chinese Canadian pilot try to start a space tourism business in northern Canada. Unfortunately, they have bad feng shui at their spaceport.
"Lips of Ash" by Emery Huang (United States)
During the time of a historical dynasty, a cosmetics artist uses dark magic to help the ambitious mistress of a nobleman.
"The Man on the Moon" by Crystal Gail Shangkuan Koo (Hong Kong)
Yue Lao (月老), the Man on the Moon, hosts a beauty pageant to find a bride.
"Across the Sea" by Emily Mah (United States)
A Tlingowa Native American woman's aunt tells a legend about mysterious visitors who came to America hundreds of years ago.
"Mortal Clay, Stone Heart" by Eugie Foster (United States)
During the reign of the First Emperor, a clay sculptor finds love and tragedy with a soldier.
"Dancers with Red Shoes" by Melissa Yuan-Innes (Canada)
In Montréal, magical red shoes dance by themselves.
"Intelligent Truth" by Shelly Li (United States)
A young Chinese American woman discovers truths about herself and her mother’s intelligent robotic servant.
"Bargains" by Gabriela Lee (Singapore)
A young woman meets a strange shopkeeper in Chinatown. The shopkeeper sells success as a writer – but with a terrible price.
"Threes" by E.L. Chen (Canada)
A Canadian man thinks his dead wife has become a Chinese dragon in Lake Ontario.
"The Son of Heaven" by Eric Choi (Canada)
The Chinese rocket scientist Tsien Hsue-shen (钱学森) is persecuted during the Red Scare in America in the 1950s.
"Shadow City" by Susan Ee (United States)
In a fantasy universe, a gatekeeper must stop people from leaving an evil place called Shadow City.
"The Water Weapon" by Brenda W. Clough (United States)
The British police are suspicious of a talking Chinese dragon and a Chinese princess who appear at the Great Exposition of 1851 in London.
"The Right to Eat Decent Food" by Urania Fung (United States)
Two American English teachers in China will do anything to get decent food during the SARS epidemic.
"Papa and Mama" by Wen Y Phua (Singapore)
A Chinese daughter struggles to remain dutiful to her late parents, who are inconveniently reincarnated as a fish and a bird.
"Běidŏu" by Ken Liu (United States)
In the Ming war against Japan, an ingenious Chinese army officer invents new weapons to defeat the Japanese.
Afterword by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi
Photo above: For the first time, Eeriecon had a panel about science fiction from outside the North American-British sphere of influence. The panel was called "East Asia SF". Here I am with Ruhan Zhao, who writes science fiction stories for Chinese magazines such as the one he is holding. Ruhan was Eeriecon's first writer from China, though he lives in Rochester, NY, now. Ruhan talked about the revival of science fiction in China, and I talked about Japanese novels now available in English translation.
Photo above: Horror writer and Three Stooges expert Darrell Schweitzer and I give the Communist salute before the masquerade. No, that is not my military uniform. I'm in costume as the Chinese tour guide from the Japanese anime series Ramna 1/2.
Photo above: April 29 was also the day of the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William, K.G., and Miss Catherine Middleton, the future King and Queen of Canada, so I brought Jaffa cakes to the consuite to celebrate this historic occasion. Jaffa cakes are a biscuit that Giles eats on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The poster is attached to the wall with tape with images of bacon on it. Why do science fiction fans always get the weirdest things?
Anyway, although the Americans were suspicious of the British biscuits at first, by Saturday afternoon, they had eaten all four boxes of them.
Many thanks to convention chairman Joe Fillinger for inviting me to Eeriecon, and many thanks to the convention committee and attendees for this enjoyable convention.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Mirvish Productions, which is staging the British hit play Ghost Stories, starting April 1 at the Pansonic Theatre in downtown Toronto, will be running a small festival of horror films at the Carlton Cinema at 20 Carlton Street (Yonge and Carlton Streets), from March 25-27, 2011. I'll be introducing the following films:
Friday, March 25, 9:30 p.m.: Psycho (1960), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh
Sunday, March 27, 9:30 p.m.: The Shining (1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson
There will be a trivia contest before each film, with prizes being tickets to Ghost Stories.
More information about Ghost Stories and the Ghost Stories Film Festival of Fright is here.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Calling all Canadians, at home and abroad, and landed immigrants in Canada: our national science fiction awards, the Prix Aurora Awards, are now open for nominations. This year, I have three short stories, one novel, and one anthology eligible to be nominated in the following categories:
Eligible for Best Short Fiction:
"Cloned to Kill", Infinite Space, Infinite God II, Twilight Times Books
"The Polar Bear Carries the Mail", The Dragon and the Stars, DAW Books
"Family Tradition", Night to Dawn, issue 17, April 2010
Eligible for Best Novel:
The Shrine of the Siren Stone, Orchard House Press.
Eligible for Best Related Work:
The Dragon and the Stars by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, Editors, DAW Books
To learn more about the Prix Aurora Awards and to nominate stories and editors, visit:
There is no fee or cost to nominate stories.
To nominate stories, go to the above website and register for a free membership in the in the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. Receive your Society number by email, then go back to the Aurora Awards website and submit your nominations. You can submit nominations online (due April 30, 2011) or with the mail-in paper ballot (due April 22, 2011).
You can view my short stories and excerpts from The Shrine of the Siren Stone for free during the nomination period at:
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Infinite Space, Infinite God II has its Canadian book launch at Futurecon on New Year's Eve 2010-2011
Infinite Space, Infinite God II, an anthology of Roman Catholic-theme science fiction stories, edited by Karina and Robert Fabian, had its Canadian book launch at Futurecon, a science fiction convention and New Year's Eve party held in Richmond Hill, Ontario. The launch occurred during the cocktail hour that preceded the banquet.
Infinite Space, Infinite God II includes my story "Cloned to Kill", which is about a teenage clone girl who rebels against her creator with the help of a former army chaplain. Editor Karina Fabian says, "'Cloned to Kill' goes beyond the ethics of cloning to explore the nature of free will, forgiveness and belonging to community. As such, it's a story not so much about clones as about us." She also said that the main character, Lorraine, reminded her of Cameron from the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Futurecon was the best New Year's Eve ever! It was a unprecedented idea: a posh party for science fiction fans, with an upscale dress code (semi-formal or formal or SF-fantasy-anime costumes), hors d'ouevres served with plates and forks, and a code of conduct somewhat based on Russian Empress Catherine the Great's Rules for the Behaviour of Those Entering These Doors. We had none of the ragged clothes and people eating junk food with their bare hands that one sees at most science fiction convention room parties! The live entertainment was splendid, and I felt like I was in one of those parties in War and Peace or Brideshead Revisited combined with SF-fantasy-anime cosplay.
Many thanks to the convention committee: Liana K., Phil Gotfried, Emily Schooley, Steven Kerzner, David Ross, Tina Olah, Lori Dawn Antaya, Marcus Antaya, and Declan Dennehy.
Buy Infinite Space, Infinite God II at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca, and remember, "Cloned to Kill" is eligible to be nominated for a 2011 Prix Aurora Award in the category of Best Short Fiction.
The Dragon and the Stars: 5th bestselling mass market book in 2010 at Bakka-Phoenix Science Fiction Bookstore
This was the best news that I could receive for New Year's Eve. The Dragon and the Stars had not only gotten into the Top 10 but had also ranked 5th in the mass market book sales of 2010 at Bakka-Phoenix Books, Toronto's famous science fiction bookstore. See the Bakka-Phoenix announcement here:
The Top 10 bestselling mass market books at Bakka-Phoenix in 2010 were:
1. Wake, Robert J. Sawyer
2. Sandman Slim, Richard Kadrey
3. Lord of the Changing Winds, Rachel Neumeier
4. Julian Comstock, Robert Charles Wilson
5. Dragon and the Stars, Derwin Mak & Eric Choi, eds.
6. Gaslight Dogs, Karin Lowachee
7. Enchantment Emporium, Tanya Huff
8. Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss
9. On the Edge, Ilona Andrews
10. Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett
I owe many thanks to my co-editor Eric Choi and to all the authors for creating such a wonderful anthology: Tess Gerritsen, Tony Pi, Charles Tan, William F. Wu, Emergy Huang, Crystal Gail Shankuan Koo, Emily Mah, Eugie Foster, Melissa Yuan-Innes, Shelly Li, Gabriela Lee, E.L. Chen, Susan Ee, Brenda W. Clough, Urania Fung, Wen Y Phua, and Ken Liu.