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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

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     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

The Avenging Glory Name Game

  I’ve been talking a lot lately about the influence of popular culture (especially music) on the Avenging Glory diptych. For two thirds of the diptych, the title character, Glory,   is only able to speak in song (and advertising slogans). This is explained here. I wanted to use popular songs as the source for her dialogue, but the need to avoid copyright infringement resulted in my having to rewrite all the lyrics. I did my best to make sure those lyrics were reminiscent enough about the songs that inspired them that readers would be able to identify them. In a few cases, it should be easy. But mostly, it will be hard, but FUN – at least for anybody with a musical trivia bent who is tired of Sudoku and Crossword puzzles. Sort of musical acrostics – but without the strict conventions and the hidden quote at the end. To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I came up with a promo idea…a sort of singing review of my book. It’s a rave review (of course!) The first person to te

The Hazards of Homage

On Saturday, May 15th I will be a guest on Ahkil Chawli’s Majestic Mutt podcast in which successful individuals with atypical backgrounds show why everyone is a Majestic Mutt. Recent guests have included Canadian Astronaut Dr. Dave Williams, accountant and comedian Neha Kohli, and physician/Wellness Coach Dr. Mashall Khan, I was thinking about talking points for the show and realised that there is a HUGE aspect of my work in progress – which is the second half of the diptych that began with my novel, The Human Template – that I have yet to publicly broach. On the surface, it very much goes against the grain of public opinion. Writers, more so than most in the art world, have long been obsessed with plagiarism and the laws that protect us from the spectre of having our work stolen: copyright laws. Certainly, computers and the changing way we read – or enjoy any kind of entertainment – has shifted dramatically over the past 25 years. It is easier than ever for unscrupulous people

Paracusia

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I have always heard the voices in nature; the babble of running water and the rustle of wind through trees; sounds taking on the cadences of conversation, to the point where I can picture the speakers and almost make out words. As I’ve grown older, even the constant low hum of fans and large appliances sounds like people milling around in the distance. I frequently hear far-away games of basketball, sometimes overlaid with sportscasters’ voices.  Sometimes the voices of women cloak themselves under the patter of raindrops or whistle of tinnitus, only to come whispering like bashful angels or sneaky succubi as I drift toward sleep. As I get older, some of the voices are sounding more purposeful and strident, like persistent telemarketers trying and almost convincing me to buy an unknown bill of goods. I hear snatches of music in the walls and the halls, in basements and in shower stalls. Shadows lurk around me, outside my skin, but still umbilically attached. Articles and definitions on