William Gibson: Grand Master

William Gibson

It’s got a nice ring to it.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to William Gib­son, one of my favourite authors, on the announce­ment that he has been named the lat­est Damon Knight Grand Mas­ter by the Sci­ence Fic­tion Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca.

The Damon Knight Memo­r­i­al Grand Mas­ter Award rec­og­nizes “life­time achieve­ment in sci­ence fic­tion and/or fan­ta­sy.” Gib­son joins the Grand Mas­ter ranks along­side such leg­ends as C. J. Cher­ryh, Peter S. Bea­gle, Ursu­la K. Le Guin, Isaac Asi­mov, Ray Brad­bury, and Joe Halde­man. The award will be pre­sent­ed at the 54th Annu­al Neb­u­la Con­fer­ence and Awards Cer­e­mo­ny in Wood­land Hills, CA, May 16th-19th, 2019.

Via Tor.com, here’s the offi­cial announce­ment.

Head­er pho­to by Nik­ki Tysoe, used under a CC-BY license.

Down in Fraggle Rock

Today I learned that…

Den­nis Lee, Cana­di­an poet, author of child­hood favourite “Alli­ga­tor Pie”, was also the co-founder of the ven­er­a­ble Cana­di­an press House of Anan­si Press (which, even though I’m ill-versed in Can­Lit, I’d heard of).

And he wrote the lyrics to the theme song for Frag­gle Rock.

And he co-wrote the sto­ry for the movie Labyrinth.

[Cita­tion need­ed]

The Themis Files review

Only Human image (from thethemisfiles.com)

Thanks to my local library, I read Syl­vain Neu­v­el’s The Themis Files tril­o­gy:

  • Sleep­ing Giants
  • Wak­ing Gods
  • Only Human

As a young girl, Rose Franklin falls into a hole and dis­cov­ers a giant mechan­i­cal hand. As an adult, she goes to work on what has now been named Themis: a giant robot of alien ori­gin, which, for unknown rea­sons, trav­eled to Earth some­time in the dis­tant past, only to be dis­as­sem­bled and scat­tered around the globe.

Along the way she teams up with a cou­ple of mil­i­tary pilots, a man who claims he’s descend­ed more or less direct­ly from aliens, a rogue geneti­cist, and a mys­te­ri­ous stranger who wields more pow­er than lit­er­al­ly any­one else on Earth.

But no one’s ready for what hap­pens when the robot builders show up. Or what hap­pens when a hand­ful of peo­ple are trans­port­ed to the builders’ home­world.

Turns out an invul­ner­a­ble giant robot can have a pro­found effect on the geopo­lit­i­cal land­scape.


The nov­els are epis­to­lary, told in the form of tran­script­ed inter­views, news broad­casts, per­son­al jour­nals, let­ters, and the like. Syl­vain Neu­v­el is a mas­ter of propul­sive storytelling—I read books 2 and 3 in a cou­ple of days apiece (nor­mal­ly it takes me between a week and a month to read a book), and the sto­ry itself had me laugh­ing more than once. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed the tone of the Mys­te­ri­ous Stranger’s dia­logue, even though he was some­times not a very nice per­son. (There are no short­age of not very nice peo­ple here, and everyone’s flawed, just like the real world.)

The sto­ry exam­ines the con­se­quences of dis­cov­er­ing that, not only are we not alone in the uni­verse, but there exist aliens quite capa­ble of wip­ing out the entire human race with­out break­ing a sweat. How do you fight against a threat like that? And what hap­pens when flawed human beings get access to that tech­nol­o­gy?

Well, you’ll have to read the tril­o­gy to find out. Trust me, it’s worth it.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed, espe­cial­ly if you’re into first-con­tact yarns, sar­don­ic humour, giant robots, or geopol­i­tics. Oh, and lin­guis­tics.

Parallel Prairies

Parallel Prairies cover

Update: The Bran­don launch of Par­al­lel Prairies will hap­pen dur­ing Bran­don University’s Home­com­ing cel­e­bra­tion.

Update: The book now appears on the publisher’s site.

Some­time this fall, my short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie” will appear in Great Plains Pub­li­ca­tions’ new anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies edit­ed by Dar­ren Ridge­ly and Adam Petrash.

My story’s ele­va­tor pitch is “ET, with a retired farmer with demen­tia in the role of Elliott”.

Pre-order from: McNal­ly Robin­son | Amazon.ca

Once I have more details about how & where to order, launch­es, etc, I’ll be sure to post them.

My head’s swimming now

I recent­ly fin­ished my re-read of Gene Wolfe’s Fifth Head of Cer­berus. Feel­ing pret­ty smug, think­ing I’d caught a lot more than I’d picked up on first read­ing it, I Googled fifth head of cerberus analysis, which led me to a pas­sel of arti­cles on Ultan’s Library, includ­ing Prov­ing Veil’s Hypoth­e­sis [warn­ing: many, many spoil­ers] . And… wow.

I had no idea.

I still have no idea.

But I’m glad there’s at least one writer out there as sub­tle, as sneaky, as sly, as Gene Wolfe.

Series: Gene Wolfe

The entire series: The Gold­en Sen­tence; A les­son in a line; Inde­scrib­able; My head’s swim­ming now; The Island of Dr. Death.