SOL Rising

Number 23, November 2000


Canadian Horror Issue
This May Be Your First Encounter With SF Canada
Canadian Frights: Don Hutchison Tells All
Queer Fear: Michael Rowe Talks About His New Book
Nothing But 'Net: Websites Of Interest

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Canadian Horror Issue

Horror encompasses and reflects the common and dreadful fears we all share. Because horror is distinct, it respects our different personal experiences. But what is it that seizes our senses and makes us horror aficionados?

For most of us what we love about horror is the fact that there are so many well-written scary stories out there that dive into powerful characterisation, suspenseful plots, and descriptive settings. Literary horror at its best can be found right here in Canada.

As with anything else, horror is evolving. The newest point in horror is the relatively new sub-genre queer horror; thanks to Michael Rowe, the editor of the Canadian queer horror anthology Queer Fear. This new and amazing anthology was launched successfully last October at the Savage Garden. Fans showed up in support and the contributing authors that were present did signings.

Rod Gudino, the founder and editor of Rue Morgue, was at the launch. Rue Morgue is Canada’s first and only all-horror magazine. Gudino insists that the contributors be Canadian…because Canadians are not easily taken in buy the sensationalism of popular art. Traditionally, journalism has been about assessing art, not just about promoting it and, more than anything else, Canadians understand that. The next issue of Sol Rising will feature an interview with Gudino and Rue Morgue.

The new anthology Queer Fear is dedicated to Don Hutchison. Considered by many to be the father of Canadian horror he was the editor of the famous Canadian anthology Northern Frights.

Thanks to these Kings of Canadian horror we continue to put Canada on the map as a country that seriously knows and loves horror.

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This May Be Your First Encounter With SF Canada

SF Canada is a bilingual association of Canadian writers, artists and other professionals working in the fields of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Speculative fiction.

SF Canada aims to provide a structure for socializing and maintaining links among members throughout Canada, from coast to coast to coast, in both official languages, and to promote the publishing and sale of works created, edited, and published by its members.

Here is the official information. It’s very important information and if you’re clued in enough to be reading SOL Rising it is likely to be useful.

SF Canada exists to foster a sense of community among Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to improve communication between Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to foster the growth of quality writing in Canadian speculative fiction, to lobby on behalf of speculative fiction, and to encourage the translation of Canadian speculative fiction. SF Canada supports positive social action.

SF Canada aims to provide a structure for socializing and maintaining links among members throughout Canada, from coast to coast, in both official languages, and to promote the publishing and sale of works created, edited and published by its members.

There’s more at SF Canada’s website; www.sfcanada.ca

Here is some personal information – or rather what the work of SF Canada has meant to me directly over the last 10 years:

Community - when I first joined the Cecil Street writers group I was very excited to learn about SF Canada, or SWAC as it was known then. Very excited is something of an understatement. It was a lot like the reaction you might get if you just received that long-awaited transmission from an extraterrestrial civilization -- a gigantic YOU ARE NOT ALONE! message from the stars.

Commerce – My earliest fiction sales were through SF Canada’s network of people and information resources. This is still an invaluable professional resource for me.

Criteria – There’s more Canadian SF in print than ever before. Back in the early 1990s when Allan Weiss and I were curating the National Library / Merril Collection exhibition on Canadian SF we quickly learned that SF Canada s members were setting standards of excellence.

So that s what SF Canada has meant to me. Sure there’s some overlap between the official and personal experiences, there should be. If you are an aspiring or an accomplished SF professional then I invite you to join and discover your own meanings.

Hugh A.D. Spencer, President, SF Canada

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Canadian Frights
Don Hutchison Tells All

The Northern Frights anthology series of dark fantasy and horror stories, set in Canada and written mostly by Canadian writers, is acknowledged as being one of the world's best 'such' series. Much of the credit for this acclaimed and award winning series goes to its creator and editor Don Hutchison.

An ex-documentary filmmaker turned author and editor, Don has published over 100 magazine articles on popular fiction, and is one of the leading authorities on the history of the pulp fiction era. He has published 4 books on pulp magazines, including the definitive work on The Great Pulp Heroes. He is also the founder of Toronto's annual Fantastic Pulps Show and Sale. His knowledge, enthusiasm and expertise have helmed his editing skills so that he, along with some great writers, can produce this wonderful series.

JF: How did you come up with the idea of a dark fantasy/horror anthology with an all-Canadian theme?

DH: Fantastic literature in all its forms has always been a part of my reading diet. When I began the Northern Frights series in 1992 Canadian SF was being taken care of nicely by Tesseracts and On Spec among others. I thought it was about time for Canadian authors to have a specialised ongoing market for visions of a darker muse. Until our series began, such a market did not exist.

JF: What, if any guidelines or restrictions did you give the authors. In addition, how supportive were the writers of this project?

DH: The basic requirement was for stories of dark fantasy written by Canadians and/or set in Canada. I tried not to be more restrictive than that other than to stress writing quality and originality of concept. I've always believed that the classic horror tale is not some kind of junk-food fiction. In my introduction to the first volume I attempted to inspire would-be contributors by mentioning some of the field's finest short-story practitioners: John Collier, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Fritz Leiber, and Richard Matheson among others. I wasn't looking for stories that imitated the work of those authors but simply used their names as a means of announcing standards. Frankly, I believe that the overall quality of the series speaks for the fact that many talented writers accepted that challenge.

JF: Were there any persons or groups that were helpful in getting the series off the ground?

DH: Primarily I have to thank my friend Peter Sellers, editor of the Cold Blood mystery series, who recommended me and my concept to his publisher, Howard Aster at Mosaic Press. Howard responded enthusiastically with a contract for the first volume. From the beginning I wanted the book to be a market for original stories written by Canadians but it was a supposition on my part that there were enough writers out there to fill the book. The person who helped get things moving was Lorna Toolis, Collection Head of the then named Spaced-Out Library. Lorna passed on a list of possible contributors and arranged for me to meet a number of them at one of the library's social functions. The rest, as they say, is history.

JF: Was it any easier for you to get submissions after the first book or two in the series?

DH: I have to believe that Northern Frights was an idea waiting to happen. News about the book spread like wildfire and I was soon deluged by manuscripts. At first it was exciting to read through stacks of submissions, looking for that rare gem that stands out from the crowd. Eventually, however, an editor begins to realise that most submissions will not be good enough for publication or bad enough to be truly entertaining. What makes it all worthwhile is discovering that good story and perhaps working with the author to fine-tune it for publication. I won't go into details about writing hundreds of rejection letters and the dreary task of copy editing because those duties are too painful to recall.

JF: The cover art for the series is excellent. Who is responsible for the art and were they working under any conditions or guidelines?

DH: Foolish or not, publisher Aster allowed me freedom to choose cover art and artists. At the time I felt that too many Canadian anthologies featured covers either plastered with boring type or inserts of public domain art unsuited to the contents. Our first three covers by top illustrator Henry Van Der Linde may have leaned strongly toward werewolves and other leering beasties but they served their purpose. Those paintings suggested that Northern Frights would be an exciting read even if it was Canadian. With the series well established, our fourth book was more design conscious and probably even scarier. My favourite cover image is Dale Sproule's ghostly apparition on volume five. I think that one accurately suggests the tone of the book's content.

JF: The authors have ranged from old pros to current writers, to new writers just starting out. Have there been any 'breakout' stories or authors? If so, name them.

DH: Clearly there isn't enough space for that. The series encouraged so many writers to try their hands at this kind of material. Many of them found that they had a talent for it and have gone on to much success. Among others, we published Gemma Files's first story as well as initial dark fantasy efforts by Nalo Hopkinson, Scoff Mackay, Sally McBride, David Nickle and Michael Rowe. I'm particularly proud of encouraging Robert Charles Wilson to cross some genre borders by, as he put it, mounting a series of stories "with a science fiction engine in a horror story chassis." He wrote his award-winning novella "The Perseids" for us, and that became the genesis of the Toronto fantasies that form his marvellous new book The Perseids And Other Stories.

JF: As a result of your creating and editing this series you have become known as Canada's leading horror anthologist, and are held in world-wide esteem by the horror community. Did you ever imagine this might happen, and how has it effected your life?

DH: Life is unpredictable and on top of that you seldom get to write your own epitaph. I was introduced at a party recently as "Canada's King of Horror." Assuming they weren't talking about my appearance, I accepted the accolade as a badge of accomplishment. Northern Frights has been a lot of work but the rewards have been many, chief among them the number of friendships fostered and the positive feedback from so many sources. In addition to two Aurora Awards and numerous rave reviews, the series has garnered international recognition with three World Fantasy Award nominations. Did I imagine this would happen? Not really. Was it all worthwhile? You bet.

Jamie Fraser, Vice Chair

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Queer Fear
Michael Rowe Talks About His New Book

 

Recently, I caught up with Michael Rowe. Queer Fear, his third gay-themed horror anthology, and fifth published book, was released worldwide last month, just before Halloween. Like many writers, and anthology editors, the reading public doesn't know a great deal about him personally. Here is what Michael has to say..

MR: I was born into a diplomatic family in Ottawa in 1962, which meant that my life would be spent travelling and living abroad a great deal, which meant long periods alone. I think that If any one fact contributed to my becoming a writer, it was that we moved so often that a series of internal dialogues were always occurring in me. Making new friends and learning a new language was a frequent occurrence in our lives as kids. My mother, who died this year, was a great believer in the power of literature and reading, so a lot of the alone time was spent reading. In 1973, my father was posted to the United Nations in Geneva, and we moved into this huge rambling old house on a hill--very old, very gothic. It was reputed to be haunted, though I’m not convinced I ever saw anything. In any case, Mom ordered crates of British books from England, and there were a lot of ghost and horror stories. Reading them in that house made a huge impression. My favorite babysitter, Nancy Moss, who later became like a sister to me--and still is--introduced me to the gothic novels of Marilyn Ross, who wrote the novels based upon the Dark Shadows television series. I read Salem’s Lot in that house during a lightning storm. Believe me, it brought the book to life. Vividly!

KCH: Did you begin writing at that time?

MR: I wrote a lot of poetry in those days. Very adolescent and very romantic. My first professional publication was in the December 1977 issue of TEEN magazine--I was at boarding school in Manitoba, and it caused a bit of a stir. I went to a very macho school, and a lot of people there couldn't decided if they were pleased that a student had published something in a magazine, or whether they were horrified that it was in a teenage girl’s fashion magazine. I was in seventh heaven, so there was no conflict for me. And all the while, I kept reading horror fiction.

KCH: How do you feel about genre fiction?

MR: It depends on the genre. Look, as a gay man and a gay writer and editor, I have to acknowledge that anything about me or other gay people is going to be automatically slotted as genre fiction, in spite of its literary merit. My mentor, John Preston, was a great writer. He wrote essays and edited anthologies, but he was most famous for his pornography--he refused to call it erotica. He also refused to acknowledge genres. Writing, to him, was either good writing or bad writing. I have to agree with him, and I’ve tried to cleave to that standard. I’ve written erotica, I’ve written horror, I’ve written essays and journalism on a variety of topics--all published, by the way. My only question is whether or not I’ll change when I see it in print because I’ve been sloppy in some way. I never ask myself if I’ll be slotted into a genre. I assume I will be. I know too many fine writers working in the horror genre to look at it disparagingly. I d love to be able to write as well as these people.

KCH: Are you thinking about anyone in particular?

MR: Stephen King and Peter Straub are obvious. Robert McCammon’s work has moved me to tears, as has the work of Michael Marano, who published a novel a few years back called Dawn Song. That novel, to me, stands as a perfect illustration of the incredible power of horror fiction as literature. And of course, I am currently completely enamored of the work of Douglas Clegg, and in awe of the seriousness with which he treats his writing. He is, I believe, the heir apparent to King, Straub, and Barker. Both Doug and Michael are in Queer Fear, which is an honour for both me, as an editor, and all our readers. We were privileged to publish a few new writers in this book. Two of them in particular—C. Mark Umland and T.L. Bryers--have wonderful careers ahead of them if they stick with it. Mark’s story blew me away when I read it the first time, and in fact it was the final impetus that drove me to seek a publisher for Queer Fear.

KCH.- Tell me about Queer Fear. How hard was it to publish gay horror as a specific subgenre?

MR: In 1997, Thomas S. Roche and I edited an anthology of gay vampire stories called Sons Of Darkness, followed the next year by a sequel, Brothers Of The Night. Both books were published by Cleis Press in San Francisco, who also published Pam Keesey's excellent collection of lesbian vampire stories, Daughters Of Darkness. Thomas and I figured that vampire fiction would be a good forum to explore gay-themed horror, and Sons Of Darkness was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. I had wanted to do a general gay horror anthology for years, and when I approached Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver, they were very enthusiastic. For me, that was wonderful. Firstly, I wanted to work with a Canadian publisher, and secondly I wanted to work with a quality literary press this time. Arsenal is one of the hottest Canadian literary presses in Canada, and everyone there is very hip, so this was the perfect forum for my book. As to whether or not it’s hard to publish gay horror, I think that the horror field has been pretty heterosexually-driven for years.

KCH: For instance?

MR: You know, male antagonist, female victim. Even vampire fiction has gotten awfully drippy and romance-driven. There’s way too much overblown purple prose about unhappy women waiting for their leather-clad dark lover in smoky Goth nightclubs. A lot of it reads like warmed-over Harlequin Romances, and has nothing to do with horror fiction. The readers for powerful, scary, gay-themed horror fiction are there, however. As in any other genre, gay people have been waiting for years to see themselves accurately reflected in stories without being the freak element. I was lucky to find a publisher with enough guts to do it up properly. Poppy Z. Brite has said some wonderful things about Queer Fear, as has Kathe Koja, so we’re hitting all the right notes so far. Its also interesting to me that I’ve worked with a number of brilliant horror writers who are straight, and who have written wonderful stories to me. I’m only half-kidding when I say that a significant number of straight men will do anything to avoid writing about the act, so we get these lush, rich, layered stories from them. I love those guys. [laughs]

KCH: Traditionally, much of gay and lesbian literature has been very erotically identified. Porn, even. Where do you see the genre heading?

MR: I think that, as gay and lesbian writers continue to publish mainstream-inflected literature, those distinctions are going to continue to fade away. Bear in mind that a large segment of the population will always view anything featuring gay and lesbian characters as necessarily pornographic, which is bullshit, and not our problem. It’s theirs. With editing Queer Fear and the vampire anthologies, I can't tell you the difficulty I’ve had explaining to people that these were not pornographic stories, and if anyone was looking to flog the bishop over them, they were in for a disappointment. Which is not to say that some of them aren’t very sexy, which is fabulous. And don't get me wrong--I'm a huge fan of well-written porn. My first book, Writing Below The Belt, was a defense of pornography as a valid genre. I just think it’s sloppy scholarship to assume that gay-inflected writing in any genre is pornography just because of the acts it describes. It demeans gay writing in general, and it invalidates some of the truly wonderful pornography out there.

KCH: Can gay or lesbian horror make it as a market in itself?

MR: We’ll see. I hope so, obviously. What I can say is that the stories in Queer Fear are absolutely first-rate horror stories. They just happen to feature gay characters. In the end run, it’s always up to the readers. But in terms of merit, it's all there.

KCH.: Do you like or dislike being labeled as a horror writer? A gay writer?

MR: I m always flattered to be labeled a horror writer, since so much of my horror writing has been non-fiction cultural criticism and reviews. My short horror fiction seems to have been well received, and that’s wonderful. I owe that to Don Hutchison, who edits the Northern Frights series of anthologies, and who bought my first horror story. Don is one of the great heroes of horror writing in Canada. The fact that horror fiction exists in Canada at all is 100% due to him and his work. As to being labeled a gay writer, I love it! Bring it on! I LOVE being a gay man -- I love almost everything about men -- the way they look, move, think, taste, smell, act--and I treasure the gifts that my outsider perspective has brought to my work. I didn't always write gay-themed stuff, remember. My earliest journalism was for city magazines. It was a relief to begin to write from a gay perspective. It all gets back to honesty. If you’re an honest writer, you pull something precious out of yourself and put it on paper. The more honest the work, the closer it is to the universality of the human experience, and readers--both gay and straight--respond to that.

KCH: What is your general philosophy of horror? Say the most important aspect? Do you think horror is easily defined?

MR: It's getting harder and harder to define it, as boundaries continue to expand and grow. Since my own particular tastes run to high quality literary horror, I'm always going to appreciate gorgeous language and atmosphere. Though I'm not particularly impressed with gore, it has its place when used with style and discretion. Gemma Files, who is in the book, won the International Horror Guild Award last year with a story in Northern Frights 5 which is one of the most disturbing stories I’ve ever read. Its brilliant, and I don't mind being disturbed when the payoff is that kind of brilliance.

KCH: Why do you think people like horror? What do you think scares people?

MR: I think that people have always loved horror because it’s transportative. It moves them out of a real of safety and relative non-feeling, and forces them to deal with the idea that there’s a bad thing out there, and it's coming for them, and the people they care about. Also, like erotica, it deals with passion. Erotica can provide fantasies that won't necessarily break up your marriage or your relationship, and horror allows you to feel a frisson that feels like terror, but really isn’t. You can close the book and you're still safe, but you can explore what it might feel like to not be so safe. Different things scare different people, but we’ve all been genetically coded to need light, and the company of other like ourselves, to feel really safe. Anything that taps into those primal fears is going to elicit a visceral response.

KCH: Do you have a favorite example of that?

MR: Absolutely. Look at Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sure, its about witches and the Devil, but it’s also about the vast, dark New England forest full of wild animals and heathen savages, which must have been terrifying to 17th century Puritans at a time when the only light in their world came from candles, oil lamps, and the sun. Anyone who’s ever been to the country, or a cottage, knows how dark it gets when the sun goes down.

KCH: Have you ever scared yourself while writing?

MR: Yes, I have. I wrote "Wild Things Live There," during the summer session at Harvard. I was taking a course in horror writing taught by Kathryn Cramer, an anthology editor. The story, set in Milton, Ontario, features an old woman who isn't what she seems to be, and a young boy who discovers her secret. I wrote late into the night, and at about 2:00 AM a buddy of mine knocked on the door of my dorm to see if I wanted to get something to eat. I screamed! Really. It was so embarrassing. That story appeared in Northern Frights 3, and was optioned for the movies, so I do believe what James M. Cain said, that if your writing doesn’t keep you up at night, it won't keep anyone else up either.

KCH: Where do you see the horror genre going in the future?

MR: I think that a new generation of horror writers is going to rise up--led by Douglas Clegg and writers like him--and they are going to reclaim the literary territory that was so badly violated and damaged by the hack writing that buried the horror field in the 1980s. Much of the credit for this renaissance is due to editors like Leisure Books' Don D'Auria, who has almost single handedly revived the mass-market horror paperback original, and the smaller, specialty presses like Cemetery Dance and Subterranean Press.

KCH: Canadian horror, I believe has much potential Do you see a comparison to the USA and/or UK markets? Where is the success to be had?

MR: I co-wrote an essay about this once called "Anne Of Green Gables Has Risen From The Grave," about why Canadians, in general, ought to avoid making horror movies. As a people--and this is a huge generalization, though not without precedent--we have traditionally been very uncomfortable with genre material. For some reason, sci-fi seems to be exempt from this prejudice, probably because it is perceived as intellectual, whereas horror is always seen as visceral, and even a little unkempt and lowbrow. I think Canadians will go nuts about orphans in the Maritimes--or really, orphans anywhere, we're very big on orphans--or trappers in the bush, or social workers, or life in remote northern towns. These are worthy subjects for serious drama, but when it comes to monsters and witches, or God forbid, sex, we're wound as tightly as Marilla Cuthbert’s hair bun. Before Don Hutchison launched the first Northern Frights, there was nothing in Canada that really smacked of horror literature. I mean, the Northern Frights series has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award almost every year, but the books have by and large been ignored by the media. If this was the United States, Don Hutchison would be famous. The British have a long history of quality supernatural fiction, and, of course, since they are the mother country, they don't have that self-conscious colonial mentality that plagues Canadians so ruthlessly. Once again, it s the young writers who are going to save us from this snobbish torpor, because they aren’t going to buy this beavers and loons mentality without questioning it. I think that there is a vast untapped gothic consciousness in the Canadian psyche, but it’s never going to work as horror fiction until we get to the point of taking it as seriously as any other sub-genre of CanLit.

KCH: Have you ever been censored with your work? I understand a lot of writers in the field have complaints about censorship within the publishing world when it comes to horror

MR: No, I haven't. I was censored once in a mainstream magazine article about gay teenagers that was dropped by the magazine because the article was too gay, whatever that means. My book, Writing Below The Belt has been held by Canada Customs coming into Canada, but it got here. I’m luckier than some of my colleagues whose work suffered at the hands of ham-fisted Customs officials who continue to make a career of tormenting Little Sisters bookstore in Vancouver by seizing boxes of books and magazines.

KCH: What do you enjoying reading? More specifically in fiction, the short story or novel?

MR: I read a lot of biographies, and a lot of other nonfiction. In terms of fiction, I read pretty widely I never miss certain authors new books. In horror, Douglas Clegg, Michael Marano, Jonathan Aycliffe, Elizabeth Hand. I read all of my friends books, which might be uncomfortable if they weren’t such good writers. I read tons of magazines. I’m a media junkie, which I understand is endemic in journalism. There's a journal out of BC called All Hallows. It s quality English-style ghost stories, and I love it.

KCH: Have you always known you were a writer? Prior to writing what did you do?

MR: It's always funny to tell people this, especially at this point in my life, but I was a model, though that was hundreds of pounds ago [laughs]. I went to Paris to an agency called Universal right after high school, and then moved to Toronto with the intention of pursuing it here. My family wasn’t delighted by my career choice. But I came to my own conclusions about the modeling industry at a very early age. Modeling is pretty passive, and I’ve never liked being at someone else’s beck and call. I was writing short stories in Paris when I was there, and I retired from modeling once and for all at 20 when I started at the University of Toronto. I celebrated by writing my first published magazine article in 1982, during my first year.

KCH: Is that the point from which you date the beginning of your writing career?

MR: Yes, I think so. I published a lot of articles in sports magazines, and I did a lot of profiles of sports and entertainment figures. In 1987, I joined Fangoria magazine and started writing about horror films. I started publishing short fiction and essays in reviews and anthologies in the early 90s. My first book, Writing Below The Belt was published in 1995. The vampire anthologies came later, then in 1999, I published Looking For Brothers, a collection of my gay-themed essays and journalism.

KCH: Are there any people, books, art, or films that have particularly influenced your writing?

MR: So many writers have influenced my style, writers whose work means a lot to me, but I’d have to say that my late mentor, John Preston, remains a standard that I continuously strive to attain, especially inasmuch as he was a documentarian. I feel as though my fiction writing has been influenced by some great writers whose names I’d be uncomfortable mentioning in relation to my work--they re too awe-inspiring. I’ve been deeply influenced by the literary sensibilities of people like Peter Straub. And because I m a maximalist, I really love the incredible southern lushness of writers like Tennessee Williams, Pat Conroy, Anne Rice, and Truman Capote.

KCH: Do you have any goals beyond writing?

MR: None. I am where I am meant to be. I was always a writer--it was just a matter of accepting it and moving ahead, making the best of the gifts God gave me. I can’t DO anything else. I can barely change a fuse [laughs]. I certainly couldn't go back to modelling. Food is currently an altogether too close friend to make any sort of comeback possible [laughs]. Personal goals? To stay married, stay healthy, keep my eyes and ears open, and write down what I see as clearly and honestly as possible. May Sarton said that a writer is an instrument for life to pass thorough so it can be related to others and understood. I believe that.

KCH: What is the greatest reward as a writer?

MR: MY greatest reward as a writer is the very humbling experience of people responding to my work and understanding it. I’ve received some really beautiful letters from all over the world about Looking For Brothers, and I can't tell you how humble that makes me feel. As a journalist, it’s a huge reward to be allowed into people’s lives, and have them trust you to tell their stones. For instance, some years back, a young man--a prostitute--was murdered on Victoria Day. There was a flurry of garish news coverage about it, mostly dwelling on his lifestyle, then nothing. It was unbearable to me that this kid—someone’s son--would die so ignominiously, and that's all anyone would know. I went to his hometown and interviewed his friends and family, then wrote about him. It was my way of ensuring, in some small way, that he would have some cenotaph in the public consciousness besides being a murdered hooker. The privilege isn’t in being written about, the privilege is being allowed to do the writing, and having it move others.

KCH: What advice can you give to young aspiring authors?

MR: Try to believe in yourself, and write from the heart. You have no idea how many people will try to dissuade you from becoming a writer--they'll talk about the low pay, the instability, the small chances of getting published. If those things matter to you, forget it. You’ll likely never make it. If, on the other hand, being a writer is something that you ARE, get any job that will allow you time to write, and keep at it. You’ll know the point at which you become a writer. John Preston always used to tell me publishing rewards persistence. He was right--this isn't acting or singing. You re never too old to write. But respect the craft, and approach it with the seriousness it deserves. There are millions of people in grey suits pouring into the office buildings five days a week. There are only a handful of people who can be writers. It isn't hard to tell who the special ones are.

Congratulations on the new book Michael. We can certainly look forward to reading more of Michael's fiction and hopefully a Queer Fear 2!

His Previous Publications are;
WRITING BELOW THE BELT (1995),
SONS OF DARKNESS (1996),
BROTHERS OF THE NIGHT (1997),
LOOKING FOR BROTHERS (1999), and
QUEER FEAR (2000).

Michael’s been the Canadian correspondent for Fangoria magazine since 1987, and was a 1997 National Magazine Award Finalist for his work in FAB National magazine.

Kate Corkery Hustins, Editor

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Nothing But 'Net
Websites Of Interest

 

No matter whether you're a fan of Jack Vance or not, you've just got to be impressed by what's going on at the Vance Integral Edition (www.vanceintegral.com). The VIE is an international, all-volunteer, non-profit effort to raise the literary profile of a former winner of the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement by publishing his collected works in a matching set of 44 hardcover volumes. The website itself isn't much to look at - mostly text with a few graphics here and there - but it's significant in that it represents an effort that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago. Without the widespread availability of inexpensive computers, and the Internet to link them together, the VIE could not exist. Look around and you'll realize what a group of well organized, highly motivated fans can accomplish. Along with the expected data entry, proof reading and typesetting work, a big part of the effort revolves around what is called textual integrity: the painstaking restoration of all texts to the author's original, unaltered intention. By the way, if you're interested in acquiring the books for yourself, you'd better act soon. A maximum of 600 sets will be printed for sale to subscribers on a first come, first-served basis and many of them have already been spoken for. At this writing, publication is anticipated in late 2001 or early 2002. A final price has yet to be determined.

While the name of the late Richard Powers may not be well known. his artwork certainly is. Anyone who has spent any time at all going through the paperbacks in the science fiction section of their local used bookstore will instantly recognize Powers' surreal alien landscapes, which appeared on the covers of many classic titles published from the 1950's through the 1980's. His often abstract, non-representational art proved that a science fiction paperback would sell even without rocket ships and bug-eyed monsters on the cover. The Powers Compendium, maintained by Sean Rohde at members.home.net/sjrohde is an ambitious work-in-progress. Not only is he trying to list all of Powers' published work, he's also trying to include a reproduction of the cover of every book, including Powers' numerous non-sf works. With his research initially based on a list compiled by Friends of the Merril member John Anderson, Rohde has amassed a catalog of well over 1,000 titles, and currently has images for approximately 740 of the books on his site. The layout is elegant, with easy access to each image by either author or publisher. Browse through the covers of the Ballantine editions published in the mid 1950's and see a golden age of science fiction illustration unfold before your very eyes

One of the problems with attempting to compile a bibliography of a living author is that it's always out-of-date. One of the advantages of publishing on the World Wide Web is that you can update the bibliography - in effect publishing a new edition - as often as need be. One example of such a site is Michael Hutchins' A Michael Bishop Bibliography at: http://www.mindspring.com/~mhhutchins/bishop.htm. The main attraction of this interesting site is the fact that Bishop himself actively contributes, so the bibliography lists a lot of items - such as essays and reviews written for various newspapers - that are often missed. Hutchins is also running excerpts from Bishop's autobiographical Military Brat: A Memoir. Philip Josť Farmer: International Bibliography, located at users.castel.nl/~nuniz01/, is exactly what it says it is. Full publication info is provided on all American and British editions, as well as foreign language editions from a number of countries, including Russia. The listings are extensively illustrated with cover images for many of the books, although it's not always easy tell which cover belongs to which edition. Even the short story listings are illustrated - with magazine and anthology covers. And finally, in this category, I mention (without further comment) Daughter of the Night: An Annotated Tanith Lee Bibliography located at www3.sympatico.ca/jim.pattison, compiled by Paul A. Soanes and myself.

I'm not sure whether The Second Coming Project is science fiction or science fact. In either case, the site's URL says it all: www.clonejesus.com. The site presents a "not-for-profit" plan to clone Jesus Christ and bring about the Second Coming in time for the 2,000th anniversary of His birth. It's all presented absolutely straight-up, so there's no way to tell from looking at the site, whether these people are serious or not. The actual plan sounds like a Michael Crichton plot. They intend to collect an incorrupt cell of Jesus’s blood or body from one of the Holy Relics that are preserved in churches throughout the world, extract its DNA, insert it into an unfertilized human egg, and then implant the egg into the womb of a young virginal woman who has volunteered of her own accord. One question they completely avoid is that of authentication. They fail to explain how they know which of these Holy Relics is genuine. In any event, the birth is to occur on exactly December 25th, 2001. The somewhat sparse site contains background information on both the Second Coming and the science of cloning, including a selection of quotes from The Bible that allegedly predict the cloning of Christ. Science fiction or science fact? I have my opinion, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

Most people think that Buffy The Vampire Slayer must be a pretty silly TV series, but those of us who actually watch it know better. Witty dialogue, interesting characters and some fairly serious subject matter combine to make this one of the best shows on TV right now. There is of course an official site at www.buffyslayer.com, but for a real between-shows Buffy-fix, point your browser at www.buffyguide.com instead. The site bills itself as The Complete Buffy Episode Guide, but it's much more than that. Amongst other things, it includes lots of photos, continually updated news items, lists of upcoming TV appearances by Buffy cast members, and links to over 450(!) other sites of interest. As the name implies, it also has a detailed, up-to-date guide to the series. The guide contains both short and detailed synopses for each episode, but be warned - you could probably watch a good part of the show itself in the time it would take to read one of the detailed entries. As well, there are complete lists of all actors, writers and directors cross-referenced by episode. To keep track of the various story arcs and the constantly evolving cast line-up, the site also maintains a set of Thematic Episode Lists. There are a lot of Buffy sites out there, but this is clearly the center of the online Buffy universe.

Jim Pattison, Member at Large

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