Catching Up On More Fiction Reviews

More stuff from the Free Press from this past year, all fiction. It’s been long enough since I’ve done an update I think it’s worth highlighting a couple. In fact, almost all of these titles come from favourite authors of mine (a couple newbies in there as well), but Death’s End, the final book in the trilogy by Cixin Liu (my new favourite foreign-language writer), is a must-read, along with its predecessors. Seriously, one of the all-time best science fiction trilogies, even in translation. You simply cannot skip it.

Also, Kelly Link, if you haven’t read her, do it. She’s so busy as an editor and rarely releases a collection, but she is one of the great short story writers. Get In Trouble meets the high bar set by her earlier work and I very much enjoyed it.

Get In Trouble

Death’s End

Necessity

Last Year

Invisible Planets

The Collapsing Empire

The Last Neanderthal

Origin

Care2 Blog Non-Weekly Roundup (10/08/2017)

I don’t know when exactly I realized I was on hiatus from my Care2 Blogging. As the only on-staff freelancer (that is, without a set number of expected weekly posts), I didn’t technically need to ask for leave if I was uninspired or unavailable to pitch and write any stories in a given week. But I certainly didn’t plan to take a three-year break.

This summer I got back to it, with a couple posts a week. Right now that still seems just about right, though I’ve done the odd threefer. Here is a curated selection of some of my favourite recent pieces:

Wildlife Thrives in Korea’s Demilitarized Zone

Equifax’s Data Breach Is a Nightmare. Their Handling of It Is Worse.

The 5 Weirdest Banned Books

What Have I Been Up To?

I read an interesting study not that long ago on time management for school principals. One of the more interesting, if obvious results, is that you only have so much time in the day. If you’re fully booked and you try to cram in something new, something else will fall by the wayside. It won’t be planned and it won’t be by choice, but you cannot add to a full schedule without losing something, for all your intentions of working just a little bit harder and moving just a little bit faster, we all have our limits.

In my case, I’ve been busy with a number of new roles in my life over the last couple of years:

1) Home renovator: This may not seem like much of an explanation, but I really have poured a metric tonne of time into making this old house as beautiful and functional as it is cozy, and I’ve done the work with great amateurish gusto. It started with tearing down and rebuilding a kitchen entirely from scratch two summers ago, and it just spread from room to room after that. Every vacation, save this past Christmas when my family went to El Salvador, has involved one major or several minor home projects. I pretty much stopped taking major writing contracts starting that summer of 2015, though I may get back on the horse, finally, in the new year.

2) Dad: My son’s impending birth actually provided a motivation as well as a deadline for the new kitchen, which somehow led to the several projects since. I’m on dad duty from the time I get home from work until my two-year-old is down for the night. All my writing has to be done after that, or during nap-time on weekends (if I’m not redoing the bathroom or something, of course).

3) School Principal: I got this job at almost exactly the same time I got the two previous jobs, that same eventful summer. I think I have finally become comfortable (not complacent) in the role, but it’s not a nine-to-five job oftentimes, no matter how much experience you get.

4) Student: This was actually related to role number three, as I took on graduate work in educational administration at night and just finished this past June.

So, after spending most of my time writing school budgets, board reports, research essays, curriculum, and workshop presentations, I am slowly starting to pick up the pace of my public writing again. It’s nice to be back at it.

I haven’t been entirely inactive on that front, and I’ll post some round-ups of my work from the last year or so in the upcoming weeks. But it won’t take long to catch up. I’ve written more academic papers and office emails, by a long shot, than literary reviews, essays, or editorials.  Hopefully there will be some quality where I lack quantity.

Book Review: Second Contacts

So what happens after first contact? Leaving aside War of the Worlds scenarios where one race is completely destroyed, after the initial shock, what’s it like five or fifty years into  a universe where we know we’re not alone? Human history provides several possible outcomes: ranging from genocide to colonization to occupation to friendship and political alliance to the innocuous missionary outposts or even lone, Marco Polo figure.

Each of these come up in Second Contacts at one point of another, but this is a Canadian anthology . . .

Read my full review at AE.

Book Review: Get In Trouble

Link writes magical realism, many-layered tales of complex, fully realized human beings in settings and situations far less constrained to reality than traditional mainstream works. The marriage of literary style and character depth with the surrealist plots and settings traditional to fantasists dates at least as far back as the adjectival German-language writer Franz Kafka.

Read my full review at the Winnipeg Free Press.

Book Review: The Ballad of Danny Wolfe

The Ballad of Danny Wolfe is very much a Prairie story, and understanding Wolfe, IP, and Indigenous street gangs in general means understanding the West, particular Manitoba and Saskatchewan: our small towns, life on “the Rez”, the history of colonialism and residential schools, modern racial tensions, and the unique way these cultural strands all play out in Winnipeg’s core, IP’s birthplace.

Read my full review at the Winnipeg Free Press.