Review of C.J. Lavigne's In Veritas

I am not a particularly fast reader, but I did spend an unprecedented amount of time immersed in C.J. Lavigne’s debut novel, In Veritas . It is a story ostensibly about communication in which the major character, named Verity, is pretty much unable to communicate in the usual manner. The crossed-wires in her brain give her a severe case of synesthesia which lock her into her own somewhat non-sensical world and contributed strongly to making her an outcast from a very young age. – with the added complication that people have an impossible time lying in her presence. She escapes from incarceration in a mental health facility with Jacob, a wealthy young man who seems to be somewhere in the autistic spectrum. Having been cheated out of control of his family fortune, he does pretty well on the stipend he receives. Jacob and Verity live together in an affectionate - although emotionally distant and seemingly platonic -  relationship where he switches career paths every five minutes and

Peering Into the Social Black Hole

  I feel like I'm in a sort of a social black hole these days. Most of the people I correspond with don't correspond back. And I have developed this strange power to shut down lively conversations with just one post on a forum or open thread.  I get more and more garrulous as most of my friends go quiet, and it feels like I'm talking to myself in the dark. Laughing nervously.  Maybe it is me, but it's more likely just the times we're living in and the weird psychological space that everyone is in right now. On top of the usual personal and family problems...I feel like all of society is quivering and vulnerable...although I suppose it's always been this way - the heroes go charging around with swords while the masses huddle.  My part time job as a condo concierge gives me a birds-eye view of a large group of modern successful urban 20 and 30 somethings and it's sort of scary. It's pretty much a Bay Street condo but it's also close to the universit

A Review of William Gibson's Agency

  I recently read some reviews on Goodreads saying that  Neuromancer  is badly dated, has thin characters and is written in an unreadable style. I think what grates on me the most is that - to an extent, they are right. When you write near future science fiction, it will, by its nature, date quickly. Style preferences have changed considerably since the early 80s. But none of their observations struck me as particularly fair. They might react quite differently when the future he is addressing is more immediate. As in Agency .

Unleashing my Inner Grotesque

Unleashing My Inner Grotesque I can only speak for one grotesque really, and he is me. If you know me, you may see something of my visage in this: If you don't know me, or you simply think it's a poor likeness, you'll just have to take my word for it, this is a self-portrait. I jumped the gun declaring it done. I haven't finished my patch on the back pocket of his pants, where I'm going to sign it. I was going to do it Monday, but backed away, since my darling Laura has forbidden me from using blowtorches on Mondays because that's the day when I'm drastically resetting my body clock after working two 12 hour weekend overnight shifts. Last time I tried waxing on a Monday I set fire to the wax brush and smeared blackened, melted plastic down the arm of my mini-me. That aspect of me is less grotesque than vaguely pathetic. The black gunk clings but it's easy to get off.  But I have always been aware of my inner grotesquerie. It calls itself self-pity. Self-

The Book After Which Everything is Different

I’ve never called myself a Chuck Palahniuk fan. I’ve been aware of him only since the  Fight Club  movie and have read only  Invisible Monsters  and  Fight Club . I’ve never been to one of his readings, though they seem to be pretty amazing and I’ll probably catch one if I get a chance. While looking him up online, I came upon a piece of his writing advice on Litreactor about avoiding the use of thought verbs. It was genius. It spoke directly to me and my worst tendencies as a writer like no teacher or article has before – and it came to me at exactly the right time. IE: while I’m on the fourth draft of the novel and that level of editing is at its easiest (which is a bit like saying it’s easiest jumping the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle when the sun isn’t directly in your eyes). When I discovered that Palahniuk had written an entire book on writing, it seemed like a good investment, even if all I was doing by buying it was paying him properly for the thought verb essay. I am del

A Musical Journey Through Time

Humans are not the only primates that sing. But the others are silver gibbons, and they warble like very loud birds. So perhaps homo sapiens were the first species to produce actual songs. And what kinds of songs were they? Lullabies? War drums? Using music to sooth or inspire fear in your audience can be more effective than speech. And what better way to play or to share your joy than to sing with someone? I can imagine a tribe of primitive people taking shelter in a cave. A woman singing softly to her crying babe is urged by other members of the tribe to lift her voice – to share her blissful gift with the others. They hum along, perhaps learn the words, maybe change or add some as they add their voices to the chorus, because there is strength and security in numbers. Having thus learned to sing, a man with a strong voice starts singing in a cavern, experimenting with echo. Others join in. The game finds a natural rhythm and structure, filling the space; bonding people together. Harm

Writing a "Fix-Up" Novel

     My upcoming project, The Gallowrat is going to be what is called “a fix-up” novel. This was a technique pioneered by Canadian expatriate science fiction writer A. E. Van Vogt in the 1950s – with his book “The Weapon Shops of Isher.”      Considered one of the stalwarts of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, Van Vogt’s was hugely influential in the field. His story, “Black Destroyer” is considered progenitor of Alien and any of a number of SF movies featuring an interstellar monster that treats the human spaceship it's riding in as its personal hunting grounds.      As a close friend and intellectual sparring partner of fellow writer, L. Ron Hubbard, Van Vogt was pulled into the emerging world of dianetics, before it became scientology. Managing a dianetics centre in the 50s took up so much of his time and energy that his own writing production dwindled.      But being a very smart guy, he recognized the strength of his approach to writing. Van Vogt had an unusual kinetic sty