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I have acquired a Kobo Touch. Like all tech products, profit margin comes from the accessories, apparently. I may have to get inventive with the knitting/felting.

I am reading Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey for the Permanent Floating YA Diversity Book Clubs.

I highly recommend this lecture: Speak of the Dazzling Wings by Mike Carey, from the 2011 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium. (Assuming, of course, that you weren't there to hear it in person.)

There were other thoughts about this year's event, but I've lost them. Mmm. Mainly that I appreciated Daniel Heath Justice's talk about the intersection of Native mythology and modern myth/Specfic. Could have done with more from a non-European background (I love my Norse mythology, too, but... what about China? and Japan? and India?) Also, Caitlin Sweet and Lesley Livingston were highly entertaining, and convinced me to give both of their work a try. And of course Peter Watts' talk was fun.

I started reading The Night Circus (free book, won on twitter, courtesy of Random House Canada). Not impressed yet, but willing to continue.
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Making the Supernatural Seem Natural
by Kelley Armstrong

- "urban fantasy" is a marketing genre
- supernatural thriller in urban setting
- example of Charlene Harris Southern Vamps => "our world, but not our world"

- must invoke suspension of disbelief to make supernatural as real as possible
- inspiration -> "that's not how I'd do it" + "what folklore can I believe in?"

- establishing own boundaries of disbelief
- fascination of a possibility

About YA in general:
- dystopian, steampunk, and an abundance of angels right now
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Against Realism
by Claude Lalumière

I think this would have made a really interesting essay to read, but it was difficult to follow as a lecture/reading.

Notes:
- was told "be controversial", so this talk is meant to challenge
- realism = comfort of hegemony vs. "pleasure" of challenge of specfic
- red herring of objective reality
- truth is the quest itself
- we remember stories of events, not the events themselves
- meaning lies not in facts
- myths give meaning -> in telling, the event acquires meaning

- non-realist art threatens the establishment

biography => confessional fiction => Canadian literature (CanLit)

- write what you didn't even know you wanted to know
- "leap of empathy"
- mechano-morphism
- Christianity is embedded in science (e.g. in dominion over animals)
- hard SF is art conforming to reality
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Cognitive Science and The Making Of Fiction
By Karl Schroeder

- cognitive science looks at how brain reads and writes (literature, not software)
- reduce memory of trauma by prolonging experience but at a lower level -> points to how brain is wired toward endings and therefore how it processes narrative

- how many characters can brain keep track of?
- why so few stories with only one character?

- current lit theory says: discourse structures reality
- author as mouthpiece of external force
Read more... )
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Gods, Jackboots, And Rule 34: How Pornography Could Save The World
by Peter Watts

[aside: I really hope they get the video for this one up soon, because the talk was amazingly entertaining.
ETA: Video! Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
As always, " " indicates direct quotes, and any misattributions or misunderstandings are mine.]

Peter alleged to write "hard character SF" (hcSF) - he prefers/coins term: "neuropunk"
(examples of hcSF = Battlestar Galactica, Dexter)

neuropunk - started with socio-biology
"we are chemicals and electricity"
brains are survival engines
"free will is incompatible with physics"
"the brain lies" -> fitness trumps truth
we are not thinking machines, we are feeling machines
real science informs personality

hcSF - explores why we are the way we are, and understanding it, can therefore "hack" human nature

natural selection favours the paranoid - those who see agency where none exists
(did something move in the grass, or was it just the wind? the paranoid lived)
- those who are powerless are more likely to see patterns
- belief in god/astrology increases in times of stress

[case in point: Discovery News, Nov 9, 2010: Belief in God Increases with Government Instability ]

the *idea* of surveillance triggers a response (picture of eyes on wall in exam hall enough to deter cheating)
- authoritarian religions have observable advantage in terms of survival
- USA the worst of developed nations on successful socities scale

success - for propogation - depends on self-delusion

throwing rocks at moving targets necessitated time series analysis (invention of time in order to understand world)
- positive feedback loop reinforces black and white thinking

example: climate change
- our species has chosen catastrophe because we don't believe in it

how to short-circuit this behavior?
- you can't reason someone out of a position they didn't arrive at through reason
- have to hack our brains to make our instincts part of the solution

Rule 34: If it exists, there is porn of it. - The Internet

Therefore: to save the world, we need to make change pleasurable - use whatever turns people on.
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Queering the Genre
By Gemma Files (author of A Book of Tongues) & Michael Roe (Editor of Queer Fear)

Watch the recorded version online: Part 1 and Part 2.

"The genre" in this case was horror. I didn't take a lot of notes for this one, primarily because it wasn't what I expected and there wasn't a lot of... comments that weren't kind of stating the obvious for queer writers.

Things I did note:
- life experience as emotional grounding
- horror genre is about Othering
- history of horror -> queers as others/monsters, disgust at sexuality
- reading is participatory - dictates influence
- Clive Barker - was "polymorphously perverse"
- re/addressing sexuality as monstrous

Perhaps the most interesting part of this talk wasn't the talk but the exceedingly random interruption. But I'll let you watch and experience that for yourselves.
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Why You Can’t Teach Writing
By Bob Boyczuk

ETA: Video Part 1, Part 2.

Quote: John Barth
material = life
medium = language
craft = fiction
art

Only medium and craft are teachable.

What can be learned? Critiquing.
"Criticism is a gift"

~

Comment from Sandra (CZP) - they have levels of form-letter rejection, depending on editorial opinion of submission.
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Canadian Science Fiction: Taking Over The World, Nicely
By Julie Czerneda

ETA: Video Part 1, Part 2

SF = the literature of change

Oxford lexicon of SF words (? look into this?)

Asked American publishers to define Canadian SF: "more comprehensible than European SF"
also "it's different," where different = complicated, inclusive, messy.

~

How to survive/get money being a writer:
- public lending rights => $ (how?)
- access copyright
- Canada council grants
- Ontario and Toronto Arts Council grants

Sandra (CZP) - said SF on grant app can be stumbling block
Peter Watts - disagreed, said he'd gotten money with SF on grant, "rub it in their faces"

mention of Tesseracts 15

Derwin Mak - editor of Dragon and Stars antho - said not enough SF in subs

Imaginarium 2011 - reprint anthology, any Can SF publ'd in 2010 (for $) eligible
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Phrases in " " are direct quotes. Any mistakes or misattributions are mine. You can watch the lecture on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.

"The Care and Feeding of Horror – Or How a Very Unpleasant Emotion Became a Very Unstable Genre"
by David Nickle - author of Monstrous Affections

Definition of horror - feeling of "no options at all"

Example of things that caused horror (when he was a kid): "dark rides" at CNE, "haunted barrel works" at Centre Island -- things that "blast away your sanity"

quote - Douglas Winter: "horror is not a genre, but an emotion"

Steven King - injected realism into horror

Horror requires "mature innocent intelligence" in order to work: you have to approach horror without any expectation of it

Problem with horror is that it gives itself away (as compared to SF, which evokes sensawunda) -- ideally, horror preys on innocence -- therefore, need to get reader invested in characters, in emotion, in order to really evoke horror

audience Q: horror vs uncanny?

uncanny is:
- tool for pulling rug out from under people
- a tool to evoke horror
- realism and the contradiction of leaching in of tiny unreal (eg sizzling cat food)
- that feeling of "this is my world... but it's not"
- Suggested reading - Headhunter? by Timothy Findlay

horror, on the other hand, is: very "operatic" - eg Hannibal, Dracula

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Shay D.

January 2014

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