This year the SpecFic Colloquium has changed location once again. It’s moved from Hart House, to The Gladstone, to The Round & this year was held at Innis Town Hall on the UoT campus. A short walk from St. George station it was easy to get to for us TTCers. the lecture hall was perfect for the presentations. But the corridor was very tight with the various book tables set along the windows.
As usual, once I’ve taken my coat off & am settled into my seat, I go through the Colloquium loot bag. This year’s was as good as last last years. In it were books to retail value just under $160.00: Kathleen McConnell: Pain, Porn & Complicity: Women Heroes from Pygmalion to Twilight; Justin Cronin: The Passage; Diane Keating: The Crying Out; Nancy Kilpatrick ed: Expiration Date; Derek McCormick: The Haunted Hillbilly; Nathanial G. Moore: Wrong Bar; Peter Orullian: Trial of Intentions (a whopping 720 pages); Joe Rosenblatt: Snake City.
First presenter A.M. Dellamonica spoke on terraforming eco-fantasy – which in films & films often gives us gritty, overcast, polluted worlds that are like urban dust bowls as opposed to ones in which environmental issues are dealt productively. She’d liked to see more writing in which solutions are possible even if they aren’t ones that return us to a green paradise. It’s not as if an optimistic possibility is less realistic than the apocalyptic dystopian angst that is usually depicted.
She was followed by Peter Chiykowski with “How to punch like a three-armed mutant” – which was not about writing realistic physical fight scenes but about using narrative to throw the reader off balance. The audience loved his slide of Twilight fans’ comments on Bram Stoker’s Dracula: boring, difficult & clumsily written. After a stretch break, Michael Rowe spoke on “21st Century Ghosts” – supernatural fiction in the face of technological instant access to information. Disabling tech to make protagonists more vulnerable becomes cliche fast. ‘My battery is low, the web is down etc.’ Also how do writers create fear in the face of real horrors. What is scarier than the threat of Donald Trump? I love Michael notion that we are our own haunted houses.
He was followed by Peter Watts on “ScArt” – he talked about the interface of art and science. I’ve heard Peter at past Colloquium’s & enjoy his articulate, funny & sexually charged p.o.v. I enjoyed the story of how an artist using plexiglass developed a form of the glass for his art that was better than that then used in science & this changed the scope & nature of underwater exploration.Lunch break let me loose on campus for a sunny thirty minutes. Took a few pics, enjoyed a band rehearsal and UoT eye-candy texting furiously on cellphones. Back from lunch I had time to swap out a few of my loot bag books, ones that I’d ready read. I’m still waiting for the loot bag with a single flash drive that holds a dozen books.
The afternoon kicked off with Andrew Pyper’s “What’s in the Trunk”’ a talk about plot, p.o.v & narrative impetus. His story within a story, very Twilight Zone, about the noise in a car trunk that when opened turned out to be the driver, the self – made me wonder abut the p.o.v of the self in the trunk? Does knowing what Rosebud (from Citizen Kane) is, solve the mystery of Kane? It is not a clue but a lens. He also talks about superheroes: which is the real identity – Superman or Clark Kent?
The day wrapped with keynote presenter Margaret Atwood’s walk though her past & the influence of pulp fiction on her creativity. Despite her success in SciFi her publisher still asks when she’s going to write another ‘real’ novel. This need to hold ‘real’ fiction above genre fiction was mentioned by other presenters. It was as if the emotional resonance of SpecFic wasn’t as authentic as that of literary fiction.
A thoroughly satisfying day that I was sorry to see come to an end but yet was glad to get home from. Innis proved to be a good spot for the day. Sandra Kasturi and Angela Keeley gave us a well organized, smoothy ran event once again. Washrooms, for me, easy to find & ultra modern too. A fine loot bag & the promise of Cory Doctorow next year resonated with me.
my superhero alter ego:-)
he had a shitty attitude
everyone knew that
even passing in the the street
strangers knew he had a shitty attitude
and he didn’t give a shit
if they didn’t like his shitty attitude
they could eat shit and die
for all he cared
for all they cared he was dead
he knew that
by the way they glanced so quickly
looking a way in dismay
acting as if he wasn’t even there
as if they could see though shit
they didn’t know jack shit
that much he knew
and so he didn’t care
if they shit in their shoes when he was near them
he chuckled at the thought
that he could loosen the bowels of any one
Shitman would be his super hero name
is it a bird
is a plane
no it’s Shitman
and they would crap their pants
that would fix all those mucky muck politicians
if he went to a big important speech
stood in front of them
as they spouted their bullshit to the nation
and glanced down at him
and shit their pants
right there on stage
he could see the look on the president
the prime minister the queen
as they found themselves in front of the world
all those cameras microphones reporters
unable to hold it in another minute
that panic as sphincter muscles relaxed
and they crapped their pants
as the smell was recognized
what a laugh that would be
as everyone pretended there was no shit
acted as if the mucky muck had not
just dumped a load in his pants
right their in front of everyone
as he waddled off stage
with that shit my pants walk
crap oozing down into his shoes
that would be so sweet
yea for Shitman
My past Colloquium posts:
2015: Up SpecFic Alleys http://wp.me/p1RtxU-173
2014: Colloquium in the Round http://wp.me/p1RtxU-EW
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet