Great News and Graphic Content

We’ll get to an upcoming nerd event in a second, but first I wanted to share something.  I posted a little while back about Spider Robinson’s daughter Terri Luanna and her fight against cancer.  Last week Spider took the time to drop by the site and pass on some great news:

Since you were kind enough to mention my daughter Terri da Silva’s breast cancer here, I wanted you to be among the first to hear the good news we got today. After her first round of chemo, her oncologist reports that all the metastases, the tumours in her lymph nodes and leg bones, ARE GONE, and that the original tumours in her breast have all shrunk by at least 50%, and the largest one shrank by more than 75%. She is still, and will always be, a Stage 4 cancer patient…but for the moment, she has kicked cancer’s ass. She will not, after all, need mastectomy or radiation, just a lifetime of very careful chemo. She and her husband attribute all this change (which stunned her doctors) to her positive attitude and lifestyle: to saying “Yes” rather than “No” as you say above. See her splendid blog for details. Thank you very much for helping to bring attention to Terri and her blog: I’m quite sure it helped. And thanks to all who took a moment to throw Terri a prayer or a few bucks for her huge medical bills.
Shared pain is lessened; shared joy is increased. Please share my joy!

I am truly happy to share this joy!  I’ll add my meagre thanks to anyone reading this blog that took the time to donate or send good wishes.  You guys and dolls are the best!

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On that happy note, let’s look at the one and only nerd event on my radar.  Despite the weather’s attempt to force snow on us, it is way too beautiful out there to miss out on this….

Graphic Content: Ghost World

 The latest and greatest in the Graphic Content series at The Metro!  Starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson, Ghost World is one of the most highly regarded comic book movies ever made.  Screening is this Tuesday, April 17th at 9pm.  Looking at the Metro site this looks to be the last film in the current series, so I’ll be keen to see what the next series holds for us.  Update: There is a Graphic Content for both May and June, and then they take a break, starting the second series in September.  In the meantime, come check out a great movie with great people!

…and that’s it for now.  If there is a nerdy event happening that you aren’t telling me about, shame on you!  Let me know so I can let other folks know.  In general, if you are a comic book nerd you should keep your eyes open for Free Comic Book Day, coming up on May 5 (yes, the day after The Avengers opens).  I know for sure that Wizard’s Comics & Collectibles and Happy Harbor have events planned for FCBD, and I suspect other comic shops might as well.  So nose around…

That’s it for now.  Join me tomorrow for a bit of geek fitness wisdom.  Because spring is a good time to work on that “Dorito spread”…

Spider Robinson Needs Our Help

While many writers have given me ideas and inspiration, there are only a few authors that have shaped the way I think to any significant degree.  Spider Robinson is one of those authors.  Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon had the effect of jump-starting my emotional intelligence, and starting me to think about compassion in its many forms.  That development continued through the rest of the Callahan series, and as I branched out into his other non-Callahan works, like The Free Lunch, the Lifehouse Trilogy and the Stardance Trilogy (co-written with his wife Jeanne, now sadly gone from us).

I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that at their heart every Spider Robinson book is about compassion.  Often between and for specific characters, but just as often for the whole damn smelly, noisy human race.  They carry in them the idea that it is possible to nurture and also be strong, that there is no weakness in caring; indeed, there is a profound fortitude to be found in loving.

As flawed as I am I would not be even half that man without the Spider Robinson’s words.  His work has reached me and helped me at some of the darkest points in my life, and I don’t have the words to describe what that means to me.  There are simply some debts that can never be repayed in full.  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.

Simply put, Spider Robinson needs our help.  As I mentioned earlier, Spider’s wife Jeanne passed away in 2010, after fighting cancer to a draw.  Now, their only daughter Terri Luanna, has also been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.  She is undergoing treatment and the odds, while not the desirable 100%, are good.  But she and her family could still use help, because of the myriad costs associated with the treatment and just…life.

If you have ever read and enjoyed a Spider Robinson novel, please donate what you can to help Terri Luanna.  If his work has in any way touched your life the way it has mine, please help.  Even if you’ve never read his work (and you should), trust me when I say that he is one of the most decent men among us and deserves our help and support.  Give what you can, because even the small amounts add up over time.  And even if you are totally skint and can’t donate take a moment to hit “Like” on her Facebook page and help get the word out on Facebook and Twitter.

And I highly recommend taking the time to read Terri Luanna’s blog, Graceful Woman Warrior.  It is funny and well-written and touching by turns, and well worth the time spent.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

Update:  Jan Schroeder has begun the Graceful Woman Warrior auction on eBay in support of this cause.  There are some wonderful items up for auction so please take a moment to check them out and spread the word.

Random Acts of Publicity: On Spec Magazine

Although this is the 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, this is my first time taking part in any way.  The yearly event was started as a way to make promoting a friend’s book (or just your favourite book) fun and interesting.  And I sort of dig (yes, I said “dig”; don’t harsh my mellow, man) personal forms of marketing like this.  Quick show of hands: how many of you have read a book strictly because of an ad for that book? And how many of you have read a book on a friend’s recommendation? Exactly.  So I couldn’t pass up a chance to take part in something like this; I love books, I have friends, and I even have friends who write books (which I love).

So all week I am going to post some thoughts on the work of my friends, ranging from novels to RPG books to periodicals.  As a matter of fact, I’m going to start with that last one.  Settle back while I tell you a story about a little periodical called On Spec

When I moved to Edmonton, lo those many moons ago, I took refuge in and got drunk on the many book stores available.  Growing up in Fort McMurray I had one book store, Coles Books, and they had an anemic selection of sci-fi and fantasy at the best of times.  Comparatively the booksellers of Edmonton were a treasure-house of the stories and tales I craved.  Why, the second-hand seller alone kept me…but I digress.

I first came across On Spec in the Smith Books in Southgate Mall.  Of course I had read Asimov’s and other Sf periodicals before.  But it had never occurred to me there might be a Canadian one available.  And not only Canadian, but produced right here in Edmonton, by something called the Copper Pig Writer’s Society (why Copper Pig?  It’s a secret known only to a few…).  Intrigued, I pulled a copy from the shelf, which happened to be the Fall 1994 issue.  It had a snappy little picture of a young boy in a cowboy hat riding a dinosaur (by Tim Hammell), and featured stories by, among others, Spider Robinson (No Renewal) and Charles de Lint (A Tattoo on Her Heart). Given that these were (and still are) two of my favourite Canadian authors, I really had no choice but to pick it up.  And I grabbed a few other quarterly issues just for good measure.

Now, I’d like to say that this led me to faithfully picking up a copy every quarter from then until now.  And I’d like to say that, because it would mean I’d have those issues to re-read.  Alas, it was not to be.  Don’t get me wrong; I loved what I read.  On Spec featured thought-provoking and entertaining short SF fiction, as well as great artwork and interesting non-fiction articles.  Robert Sawyer’s articles on how to write SF fiction are probably some of the best ones out there, for instance, and you could only find them in On Spec.  But life, she is fickle, and truth be told I didn’t have the wherewithal to subscribe like I wanted, and couldn’t always track down a copy around town. (Which still puzzles me to this day. Hey, bookstores and magazine shops: this is a unique Edmonton publication, sort of a no-brainer to carry it, don’t you think?  Support local literary work and all that?)

But I read On Spec every chance I got, and I have never regretted it.  Not only did I get exposed to a plethora of writing talent I might otherwise have missed, but in truth On Spec inspired me.  Seeing that much Canadian talent in one place every issue gave me permission to consider that I too could write something.  And though I have yet to make a foray into fiction writing, On Spec is at least partially responsible for my love of writing non-fiction, like this blog you are reading now.  I can’t honestly be sure I’d be blogging, or working at RPG writing, if it wasn’t for the unintentional nudge that On Spec gave me.

In more recent times, I was lucky enough to meet and become friends with Diane L. Walton, Barb Galler-Smith and others whose names I had only encountered in the pages of On Spec.  Given my love of SF it is quite possible I’d have met these people anyway, but it is unlikely I would have had the same feeling of familiarity upon doing so, had I not first read On Spec for a number of years.  Turns out they are every bit as amazing in person as I thought they would be.  Nice how that works out sometimes, isn’t it?

Even more recently, I’ve become a volunteer editor with the publication, as well as their Twitter gatekeeper (you can and should follow them @OnSpecMagazine, by the way).  And I have to admit, I’m more than a bit honoured to help even a little with a publication I have come to love as a reader.

So if you are looking for a good dose of short SF, On Spec is the publication for you.  That it is a Canadian publication is just icing on an already delicious cake.

What are your thoughts on On Spec?  Comments await you below…

Aurora Awards Update

Those of you that have hung around my blog long enough may remember that I was nominated for an Aurora Award.  For those what missed that, I posted about it back in May.

I bring it up again because voting is now open.  I would encourage you to register, vote and show your support for Canadian SF.  The Aurora Awards is our chance to honour the best our country has in sci-fi/fantasy literature, art and fandom.  It deserves a moment of your time.

A few things about voting: if you aren’t already you will need to become an Aurora member, which is free.  Just fill in the form and you’ll have your membership number straight away, which allows you to vote (It also allows you to nominate people for the 2012 awards, so keep your eye open for that).  Voting can be done online or by mail-in ballot, and the deadline is October 15, 2011.  There is a small fee to cover administration costs ($5.50 if you vote online, $5 if you mail-in), which is a pretty small price to pay in support of Canadian SF.

I hope you will take the time to vote.  The Aurora Awards are an important part of the SF landscape here in Canada, delivering much-deserved recognition to our community.  There are a lot of people on the ballot this year that deserve that recognition.  Plus me. \end self-depreciating humour\

On a personal note, I was chuffed to just get on the ballot for this year.  To have the work that the Festival Committee and I did for Pure Spec recognized like that is an amazing honour.  Winning the Fan Organizational award is not even something I’m contemplating at this point, up against such heavy-weights as Liana K. at FutureCon and Alex von Thorn at SFContario, never mind the Constellation Awards!  Anything is possible, of course, and we could get a whole flock of supporters coming out of the woodwork.

And I will admit, it sure would be sweet to see my name on an Aurora Award.

So tell me what you think.  Aurora Awards, like/dislike?  What do you think about awards in general, or any of the things I’ve talked about?  I’m interested in your comments…