Blog Posts

Last day teaching in England

Picture if you will: finding it difficult to get a job in your chosen profession near home, you elect to move to an entirely different country to start your career. Now, some of you might have actually done this. So factor in having stayed in your hometown for almost your entire life, including university studies, with only occasional forays to other places.

Visit to Kentwell Hall

It has been ages since I blogged. There’s plenty I could talk about: TV shows that I have enjoyed lately, the Ontario provincial election and voting by special ballot, my impending return home … and I may indeed get around to blogging about these. For now, though, let’s talk about Kentwell Hall. Last Sunday, I accompanied my landlady and her daughter to Kentwell Hall Through the Ages. Ordinarily this stately manor house has re-enactments from a single time period (often Tudor).

Amsterdam travel diary: Wednesday

When I went to Edinburgh, we took a Sandeman’s walking tour of the city. These tours are given by freelance guides who hire Sandeman’s to promote them; they are “pay what you want” tours, where one pays the guide at the end within their means and according to their satisfaction with the tour.

Amsterdam travel diary: Tuesday

I don’t like travelling. I’m not like Frodo Baggins; I’m perfectly happy to stay in the Shire. It’s nice there. I don’t relish the interruptions to routine that travelling brings, the fiddly bits required in packing, the problem of hygiene on the road. So I travel sparingly. Instead I live vicariously through others: through the stories of friends and the writing of well-travelled people.

Amsterdam travel diary: Monday

We have two weeks off for Easter. Earlier this week, I went to Amsterdam for a few days with three other teacher friends. I’ve written some blog posts about our time there. We left Monday evening, and originally I wasn’t going to blog about that part of the trip, because it’s mostly travel. But Monday was a special day all by itself, and I need to record it. Last year, around this time, I had shingles. In my eye.

Missing winter

I’m wearing shorts right now. Shorts. In March. OK, I wore shorts in March back in Canada—but towards the end of March, when the snow was actually melting. Today it’s so nice that I can go outside and sit in shorts and a T-shirt without so much as a jacket.

Currently Reading

Book Reviews

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling cover image

I actually read this back when Subterranean Press first published it online. I almost didn’t re-read it when I found it in the Hugo Voters Packet … but then I decided that I wanted to write a review of it, and I wanted to refresh my memory. I’m glad I did this, because “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” is even better than I remember. (I am aware of the irony of this statement given the story’s subject matter.)

The subjectivity of human memory is a subject open to endless interesting specu…

Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution cover image

This book made me angry, and definitely a little uncomfortable. However, I’m not angry with the book or with Laurie Penny. I’m angry in the sense that she outlines in chapter 2, “Lost Boys,” when she says, “Anger is an entirely appropriate response to learning that you’re implicated in a system that oppresses women but the solution isn’t to direct that anger back at women.” I’m angry at the abuse and suffering women undergo in our society; I’m angry that as a man I’m expected to act in ways that…

Things Fall Apart cover image

This is not an easy story for me to love, and maybe even like is not the appropriate word. I can appreciate it, as literature. That being said, unlike much of the so-called “great” or “classic” literature I have read to date, I do not feel immeasurably enriched by Things Fall Apart. Although at times moving and disturbing, Chinua Achebe’s account of how Europeans stripped Nigeria of its cultural and tribal identity lacks a certain resonance for me, something I put down to a lack of sympathy towards…

The Exchange Officers cover image

The seemingly inevitable retreat from a human presence is space is as disappointing as it was probably predictable … space just isn’t an hospitable environment for humans. Or, more to the point, we’ve finally become capable of constructing machines that do the job much better than we could ever do. In “The Exchange Officers”, Brad Torgersen posits a retro–Golden Age future in which soldiers remote-operate robot proxies on the skin of space stations and do battle with foreign powers. His main cha…

The Lady Astronaut of Mars cover image

Excellent short novelette from Mary Robinette Kowal about having to choose between having children and striking out amongst the stars. Except it isn’t about that at all. It’s about having to choose between watching your husband die, slowly and with less dignity every day, and striking out amongst the stars. Or maybe it’s about growing old, and the way the old are manipulated and treated, trotted out like icons from a fading past. Or perhaps it’s how women are held up against an impossible measuring…

The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly cover image

The liminal space between science fiction and fantasy is one of the most fertile confluences of genre. Hard science fiction kind of wraps around on itself; when your technology becomes indistinguishable from magic, suddenly you’ve entered a world of nanotechnological fantasy. “The Bees Her Heart, the Hive Her Belly” echoes these sentiments. Benjanun Sriduangkaew, a nominee for this year’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, plays in a world where technology has advanced to a point that…