Archive for the 'Pop Culture' Category

Schedule for Limestone Genre Expo 2017

Here’s my schedule for the Limestone Genre Expo, a multi-genre convention taking place June 3 – 4 in Kingston, Ontario. This is a new and growing convention that I hope you’ll check out if you’re in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto or upstate New York.

One highlight is a workshop on Saturday about how to build tension in your stories. I’ll also be doing a reading from The Sum Of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound, a great new anthology about the burdens caregivers must bear. My story, “Good-by Is That Time Between Now and Forever”, is about how do we care for the elderly and terminally ill in a world where the dead never stay dead.

Saturday

  • 10:00 – 11:00: A Bleak Future: Post-Apocalyptic And Dystopian Fiction (Room 1020)
  • 1:00 – 2:00: True Crime Leads to Crime Fiction (Room 1020)
  • 2:00 – 3:00: Why We Need Tales of Vampires, Werewolves and Ghosts (Room 1020)
  • 3:00 – 5:00: Workshop – Keeping Readers on the Edge of Their Seats (Room 1040)

Sunday

  • 11:00 –12:00: Oh the Horror! (Room 1010)
  • 3:00 – 4:00: Reading – “Good-by Is That Time Between Now and Forever” from The Sum Of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound (Room 1030)
  • 4:00 – 5:00: Historical Fantasy: Facts vs Imagination (Room 1010)

Schedule for Ad Astra 2017

Here’s my schedule for Ad Astra 2017, a sci-fi/horror/fantasy convention happening this weekend in Richmond Hill, Ontario (just outside Toronto). Some good horror programming on here!

I will also be doing a reading, but the timing for that is TBD.

Friday

7:00 – 7:30: READING
Markham B
I’ll be reading my historical science fiction story “A Shame That Binds Our Hearts, Binds Our Fate,” which appeared in On Spec, Issue #102 and placed 2nd in the Friends of the Merril short story contest. Stick around for Matthew Bin at 7:30. His novel Brendan’s Way (Bundoran Press) is launching Saturday at 9:00).

9:00 – 10:00: REVISITING JOHN CARPENTER
Richmond B
John Carpenter’s films have always had an audience in fandom, but recent years have seen a critical reappraisal of his work. In the words of Guillermo del Toro: “Carpenter creates masterpiece after masterpiece and they are often ignored.” Films like Halloween and The Thing are definitive horror films, but are they more relevant to cinema as a whole than previously thought? What other works of Carpenter deserve a closer viewing? (with James Bambury, Beverly Bambury, David Clink, Adam Shaftoe-Durrant)

Saturday

11:00 – 12:00: UNSETTLING THE READER AND CREATING FEAR IN HORROR
Richmond A
Works of horror necessarily disturb their readers with feelings of unease, revulsion, and fear. Easy to say, hard to do. What do horror authors do to create the negative emotions their readers are seeking? (with Derek Künsken, Jon Oliver, Alexandra Renwick)

6:00 – 7:00: UNSETTLING THE READER AND CREATING FEAR IN HORROR
Aurora

Publishers describe novels as a “supernatural thriller” or “novel of terror”, but is no one saying “horror” anymore?  Did the 80s heyday, and eventual burn-out, of horror novels ruin the term? Or maybe the onslaught of remakes of 80s horror film? Why aren’t we saying “horror” anymore? (with Anne Bishop, Beverly Bambury, Dean Italiano, Jen Frankel)

Sunday

2:00 – 3:00: FANTASY FROM TRILOGIES TO TELEVISION SERIES
Oakridges

Fantasy in the 1970’s and earlier was usually a stand alone book or a trilogy at the most.  Now it’s a megaseries of books often with a movie or television tie-in.  Once the little sibling of science fiction fantasy now dwarfs its sibling.  How did this happen? (with Jeff Beeler, Brandon Draga, Nicholas Eames, A.A. Jankiewicz)

Why you should dontate to 49th Parallels from Bundoran Press

Below, I’m going to encourage you to support Bundoran Press’ Indigogo campaign for 49th Parallels—their latest anthology of science fiction.

But I’ll start by saying: I don’t think crowdfunding is a stable or reliable business model for publishers. There comes a point where readers say: “Why do I need to pay for something that you, as a business, should have the money to produce?”

I’ll also say that I have supported and appeared in anthologies that have benefited from crowdfunding.

And here’s why.

First, the publishing business is becoming more and more challenging. Sometimes there needs to be a show of support from fans before publishers will take a leap of faith and publish. Also, short story collections and anthologies do not sell as well as novels.

And yet, it’s short story collections that provide readers a better option. Novels and collections by a single author are all or nothing. An anthology, especially a themed anthology, offers you many voices—a few of them are bound to resonate with you and make you believe your money was well spent.

This is where the Indiegogo campaign for 49th Parallels comes in. Bundoran has produced award-winning anthologies around thought-provoking ideas like life extension through technology, life on Earth 50 years after contact with aliens, and the effects of resource scarcity. 49th Parallels will examine how the world would be changed if Canada had been different sometime in the past. Think about it: Often, alternate timeline fiction has revolved around major powers. But Canada, a soft power, has influenced the world on many levels, but levels that don’t often make it into mainstream history.

49th Parallels will happen with or without the Indiegogo campaign’s success. What the campaign does is increase the rates Bundoran will pay for stories. Higher rates will attract the interest of leading science fiction authors who their livings from their writing. Do you want to see these leading voices sharing their visions of a future where Canada’s role in world events had a major impact? That is what donations will lead to: sharp minds, big ideas and amazing stories.

This campaign is not asking you to take a financial risk that business will not, but to attract the amazing stories we all hope to find in science fiction. I hope you will consider supporting it.

My Can-Con 2016 Schedule

 

The schedule for Can-Con 2016 has been posted and it’s amazing. There is everything here for fans of science fiction, horror and fantasy. Plus science panels, pitch sessions, agent sessions, and more. Please take a look at the panel descriptions.

If you’ve never been to a convention but have thought about it, but felt it might be too much for you, please read my post about why conventions are safe spaces for the shy or introverted. If you feel this way, please check out Can-Con. Registration information is online. It will make you feel at home and introduce you to an entire community you didn’t know was out there.

For me, I will be busy! Here’s my schedule, subject to last-minute changes.

Friday

7:00 – 8:00: So This Is Your First Con!
Zenith Room
I’ll be joining Lisa Toohey, Ryan McFadden, and Brandon Crilly (m). I will try to bring some humour and sage wisdom to this panel.

9:00 – whenever: Bundoran Press party
Tavern ConSuite
I’ll be reading from my story “Innocence Prolonged, And Overcome” from the new anthology Lazarus Risen. What happens in a town where everyone will live forever? Well, it’s not good. Nope, not good at all.

Saturday

11:00 – 12:00: Reading from But It’s Not The End And Other Lies
Guildhall ConSuite
Join me doing a reading from my upcoming collection But It’s Not The End And Other Lies (ChiZine Publications) about what makes us human and what makes us monsters. Joining me in this time slot is fellow CZP author Ian Rogers reading from Every House is Haunted and ‘Nathan Burgoine reading from Triad Blood.

5:00 – 6:00: Can The Exorcist Work in the Modern World?
Twilight Room

I’ll be moderating a panel with Timothy Carter, Madeline Ashby, Mike Rimar and Ranylt Richildis. Since The Exorcist works on the idea that the Devil is real, that must mean God is real. And Jesus. And the Bible. In a secular world, does being scared by The Exorcist mean we must accept Christianity? We’ll discuss.

9:00 – whenever: ChiZine Publications party
Tavern ConSuite
This is the party to be at. Meet the leading voices in horror and dark fiction. And there will be booze.

Sunday

12:00 – 1:00: Not All Antagonists Are Created Equal
Sunset Room

I’ll be moderating a panel with Julie Czerneda, Erik Scott de Bie, Gregory A. Wilson and Nina Munteanu where I propose there are three types of antogonist—villains, monsters and forces of nature. We’ll slug it out, talking to both fellow authors and fans. Bring ideas about your favourite antagonist.

1:00 – 2:00: Horror is Domestic
Sunset Room
I’ll be with Suzanne Church, Sean Moreland, Ryan McFadden and Sandra Kasturi. This is an important concept in horror—horror is some external, corrupting force invading the family unit. Is this essential or is it bullshit? We’ll figure it out.

Conventions as “safe spaces” for the shy and introverted

can-con

Can-Con 2016, Ottawa speculative fiction convention, is coming up in a few weeks. It’s taking place September 9 – 11, 2016 at the Novotel in downtown Ottawa.

If you are a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, horror or anything like that, but have never been to (or considered attending) a convention, please give this a try. A bit of my history: When I began writing seriously, I was encouraged to attend Ad Astra in Toronto. I was very hesitant. I am a shy person, very introverted, and a weekend surrounded by strangers seemed overwhelming to me. Like, panic-attack overwhelming.

But I went and was transformed. Here were people like me: shy and thoughtful, but away from the loud-and-boisterous braggarts who dominate just about every public space, we could be ourselves. Was Robotech as good as we remembered, is Star more SF or more fantasy, when does horror go too far? I could talk to people if I wanted to, or be off by myself and no one bothered me. And not just did no one bother me, no one made me think that being on my own was somehow wrong.

A speculative fiction conference is a safe space in a lot of ways. We actively fight sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and racism. But you are also safe to be in your own shell. We’ve all had experiences where sitting and reading our book is viewed as pitiable or even a justification to “save” us from being alone. This does not happen at a speculative fiction conference. And something like Comiccon, even with all its geeky goodness, can be overwhelming with so many people.

SF conventions, like Can-Con, are places to observe and think. It is as contemplative as it is social. You can go to the room parties, read in the bar, or chill out in your room—it’s all OK. If you don’t say one word to anyone else, no one will judge you or think it’s wrong or you’re being a jerk.

If you’re a fan of SF/F/H and feel like no one at work or in your family really gets you, and you have to pretend to be someone else to get by every day, please come. Experience what I did. Make strong friendships even after a life-time of finding it hard to make new friends. We might not all love the same things, or see eye-to-eye on The Force Awakens, but we will respect who you are and what you believe, and welcome you into our community even after so many others have excluded you.

Please come: http://can-con.org/cc/registration/

How Star Wars Episode VIII Begins…

I had a dream last night that Chris Hardwick drove me to the opening of Star Wars Episode VIII. And this is how the movie started:

FADE IN

EXT. AHCH-TO MOUNTAIN SIDE – DAY

REY stands with the SKYWALKER LIGHTSABRE in her hand, offering it to LUKE. She is scared, confused, elated. But the Jedi Master just stares. The tension between them contrasts with the endless beauty of Ahch-To.

REY

Why won’t you say something?

LUKE

You have something… Your nose.

REY

What?!

LUKE

(wiping at his nose to demonstrate)

It’s…

Rey wipes at her nose.

REY

Better?

LUKE

No, the other side.

Rey wipes furiously at her nose with her free hand.

REY

Now?

With the speed of the Force, he crosses the distance between them. He stands before her, the tip of this thumb protruding from between his index and middle finger.

LUKE

Now, I have you nose.

REY

That’s your mechanical hand! My nose is NOT mechanical. What are you doing?!

LUKE

We never got to play these games when you were a child.

We’ll see if I’m right December 15, 2017.

The Five Stages of Luke Skywalker’s Hero’s Journey

Star_Wars_Logo

The first of the Star Wars films, Episode IV presents storytellers with a lot of structures and models worth noting.

Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope may be one of the most perfect examples of the hero’s journey and three act structure. No doubt, Lucas outlined the heck out of the script to ensure it hit every beat, twist and milestone that screenwriting manuals insisted a story should have.

But something I never considered, and think might be an interesting model to follow, is the five distinct phases in Luke’s development. I will call these phases:

  • The Child
  • The Adolescent
  • The Man
  • The Warrior
  • The Hero

In each phase, Luke become more pro-active and gains more power over his fate. What’s more, in every phase there is another male character influencing Luke’s decisions. And the male character from the next phase will be introduced and clash with that phase’s influencing character. This clash forces Luke to broaden his outlook and grow as a character.

What is this important? It provides a model one can use to develop and grow a hero (of either gender) through not just one, but several contrasting mentors.

Luke the Child

Luke begins as a child. He is naïve about the world, plays with toys, whines when he doesn’t get his way, and lies to his Uncle about where he is going. At this phase, Luke’s seeking adventure is contrasted against his Uncle Owen’s pragmatism. Luke being beaten unconscious by Tusken Raiders shows that Luke is unprepared for a larger world of adventure.

Then Luke meets Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan is the gateway to his next level of development. Clearly, Obi-Wan and Owen do not see eye-to-eye, which puts Luke into conflict. While Obi-Wan’s offer to teach Luke the Force is appealing, Luke’s fear of his uncle causes Luke to decline Obi-Wan’s invitation to adventure. It is only through Owen’s death that Luke the Child is free to grow into Luke the Adolescent and follow Obi-Wan. (Had Luke arrived home and found his aunt and uncle safe, it’s likely he would safe said “So long” to Obi-Wan and never left the Jundland Wastes.)

Luke the Adolescent

Free of his Uncle, Luke seeks adventure with Obi-Wan, who assumes the role of Luke’s influencing character. Stating he’s “Ready for anything” in Mos Eisley, Luke is (again) not up for the challenge and must be saved (again) by Obi-Wan.

While Obi-Wan represents an idealistic vision of a future life, the introduction of Han presents Luke with a realistic, utilitarian and selfish existence.

However, rather than being meek, as Luke had been with his uncle, Luke meets Han’s “But who’s gonna fly it, Kid? You?” quip with anger, not deference. Luke is growing.

And, just as Obi-Wan and Owen were at odds, Han and Obi-Wan argue over the best course of action and make all the decisions at this stage of the story. This leaves Luke as a follower and unable to be pro-active until Obi-Wan goes off to shutdown the tractor beam’s power generator. Before Obi-Wan leaves, he rejects Luke’s offer to go with him and instead instructs him to watch over the droids. In a subtle way, Obi-Wan is telling Luke it is time to stop being a follower.

Seconds after Obi-Wan leaves, Han and Luke get into an argument, showing that Luke the Child, who would have backed down, is no more. Seconds after that, R2-D2 locates Princess Leia and Luke becomes pro-active. Understanding from Obi-Wan that Han is motivated by money, Luke appeals to Han’s greed to go rescue the Princess. Once again, Luke is growing.

He proves himself in getting into the detention level and freeing Princess Leia. Still, Han is the more pro-active of the characters in these scenes.

Luke the Man

While it’s a moment played for laughs, this look unscores that Han has come to respect Luke as an equal.

While Han has been the dominant character with Obi-Wan’s exit, it is Luke who finds a way out of the trash compactor. Once freed, Han treats Luke like a comrade and equal with the line: “If we can just avoid any more female advice, we ought to be able to get out of here.” When Leia lectures him, Han looks to Luke for support—acknowledging him as an equal—and Luke responds with one of the greatest eye rolls in cinematic history.

Luke’s actions have won Han’s approval, validating he is now a man. Han is now the character against which Luke is compared.

Luke continues to grow through getting the princess to the Millennium Falcon and fending off the TIE fighter attack, but in the process witnesses the death of Obi-Wan. As with Owen, the man who held Luke’s future is now gone.

Once free of the Death Star, Han continues to treat Luke like an equal, first through teasing him about Leia and then offering that he should go with Chewbecca and himself: “Why don’t you come with us? You’re pretty good in a fight. I could use you.” This is high praise from Han Solo.

A seemingly simple shot, this shows that Luke and Han are no longer seeing things the same way. Luke is eager to join the idealistic cause to attack the Death Star while Han is dismissive. Luke has grown past Han, so these two men must part ways.

But Luke is on the cusp of becoming a warrior. It is the other rebel pilots, Red Leader especially, against whom Luke is comparing himself. In the pilot briefing, the conflict between Han and the rebellion is seen in a short shot of Han waving dismissively at the plan to attack the Death Star. For Han, it’s suicide; for the rebellion, it is what they must do.

With words of validation from Biggs and Red Leader (in the extended editions), Luke has outgrown the practical and selfish Han Solo to the point where, in their words of parting, Luke is in the more powerful position. Now it is Luke forcing Han to explain himself.

We have come 180 from the first confrontation in Mos Eisley.

Luke the Warrior

With Han gone, Luke finds himself among a group of warriors, accepted as an equal. He survives wave after wave of assault. Finally, with most of Gold and Red squadrons destroyed, Red Leader picks Luke to lead the second attack run. Luke has proven himself a warrior.

The male character against which Luke will be compared in the next phase is Darth Vader, who destroys most of the remaining rebel fighters. Finally, it is not an ally but the antagonist against whom the hero must tangle.

Luke the Hero

In the trench run, Luke is alone. Most of Red Squadron is gone, Obi-Wan is dead, Han has left and even R2-D2 is disabled. The villain, Darth Vader, has isolated Luke and has the boy in his sights. So what happens?

Luke rises to become a hero in two ways.

The first is the return of Han Solo. While we credit Han for saving Luke, Han would never have returned without Luke’s admonishment. Luke could have just let Han go, but Luke’s appeal to something beyond simple greed is what forces Han to return. In this way, Luke has saved himself.

Freed of pursuers, Luke becomes a hero in a second way. He believes in the Force, opening himself up to the “larger world” Obi-Wan spoke of, and makes the shot that none of the other, more experienced pilots could make.

Luke returns to Yavin IV to find a hero’s welcome.

So what does this mean?

A hero’s journey is a very common but also very tricky story arc to get right. In Episode IV, Lucas used a series of mature, established characters to act as signposts for his hero. Except for Han’s change of heart at the end, none of these mentor characters needed to change, allowing the story to revolve on the character development of only the hero. And since they all played different roles—parent, wizard, hired man, general—their role as mentors did not feel repeated or trite as Luke encountered each one.

If you are telling a hero’s journey, it’s a powerful and useful model to follow.

Why Disney’s Lack of Rey Figures Hurts Boys and Girls

My friend Kari Maaren—author, filker and professor—has a challenge for Disney and the Disney Store: give us more Rey toys.

We have heard this argument, but Kari makes a point I have not yet heard before: It’s not just important for little girls to see themselves in toys, but little boys, too. Kids make up stories using action figures/dolls. (I know I did.) And play in all species is a way to practice skills one will need as an adult.

So a way for little boys to recognize women as equals and have agency is to incorporate them into their play, and therefore their stories, during formative years.

Please give her video a watch and share it!

Documentary: The City that Fun Forgot (?)

I came across this documentary and had to share.

I live in Ottawa, which is Canada’s national capital. Thought a city of almost 1 million people, it lacks a vibrancy or energy that a city this size should have.

This documentary examines how external perceptions (i.e., the residents carrying the blame for actions of government) and governmental culture have shaped Ottawa’s self-identity as well as how others are seeking to change it, even if it means more underground means.

Thank you, David Bowie, for marking a turning point in my life

I was never a big David Bowie fan. I recognize his contribution to music and admire his long a career, I was just never a fan.

With one exception.

Seeing SE7EN in the theatre was a transformative experience and it remains one of my favourite films. I was just out of school and looking for a job to become the adult I had been told my whole life that I needed to become as quickly as possible. But instead of opportunity, I found closed doors, arrogance and hypocrisy in this grown-up world I was supposed to join. I was frustrated, angry and jaded.

And here was this film where the bad guy dies but the good guys lose. Where a pregnant woman is beheaded (offscreen) to make a point. It’s always raining, people bicker more than cooperate and nothing is ever clean. We never know why John Doe does what he does, just that he was twistedly brilliant. And the universe doesn’t give a fuck about any of us.

I walked out realizing the Baby Boomer era of films—where the hero can get shot by a large caliber gun in the climax, but is pain-free and laughing with his buddies five minutes later in the closing comedic beat—was done. (Or, I’d hoped.) This was a movie that matched my pessimistic outlook and opinion of people. I never knew cinema could be like that.

The movie kicked off with a remix of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, a band I had just gotten into a few years earlier. That already put me in the right mood.

But when the credits rolled (downwards, opposite what you’d expect) it was Bowie’s “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” that played. Dark and brooding, it was the perfect song for sitting in stunned silence and trying to contemplate what you had just seen. (And soon after, Bowie would collaborate with Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor for “I’m Afraid of Americans”.)

I realize that over a decades-long career, this song is relatively unimportant, but it is what I will always think of when I think about David Bowie—his voice washing over me, the industrial sound, the realization that being a grown-up would be mostly disappointment, tedium and frustration. That moment was a turning point in my life, and Bowie was its soundtrack. Hearing it still sends chills up my spine.

Thank you, David Bowie.


Upcoming Appearances

CAN-CON – Panelist
Oct. 13 – 15, 2017
Sheraton Hotel
Ottawa, ON

Where Else to Find Me

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Email me at MattMooreWrites@gmail.com


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