A bit of place-holding pimpage, which is all I have time for while I beaver away on things I cannot talk about. On behalf of folks doing things they can talk about..
Do It Yourself Moviemaking
One of them is Jim Munro, Maestro of the Microbudget, who originally made a name for himself by a) going the self-publishing route a solid decade before it was fashionable, and b) doing so not out of necessity but out of principle (he walked away from HarperCollins). Since then he’s done everything from graphic novels to video games to movies; he’s done it all on budgets that make shoestrings look like high-tension power cables; and he’s raked in a shitload of awards in the process. He’s billing his latest crazy project as Toronto’s First Ever Lo-Fi Sci-Fi 48-Hour Film Challenge: said challenge being, build a 5-minute SF movie from scratch, in 48 hours.
Define “scratch”, you say. “Scratch” includes a physical prop or two; soundtrack music donated to the cause by local indie artists; and a few words of inspirational dialog provided by the likes of Cory Doctorow, Charlie Stross, and myself. Basically, you show up on August 24 and take possession of a grab bag containing these resources, randomly assigned (which means that no, if you get stuck with dialog you don’t like, you don’t get to go back and trade it in for Charlie’s lines). You make a movie over the weekend; it gets screened at the Monarch Pub on Monday.
I myself would have no idea how to make even a 5-minute short under those constraints, but I can’t wait to see how others rise to the challenge; I wouldn’t miss those screenings even if they weren’t happening in a pub. So if you’re local, and cinematically inclined, you have until the 21rst to sign up.
I have until the day before to write some dialog.
Hear It Yourself Genre
Jim Munro is a friend of mine. I’d like to say the same about Tony Smith, although he and I have never met face to face: separated by an ocean and several time zones, the closest we’ve ever come to actually hanging out is when I watched him toss back a scotch in his pajamas, over Skype. But we hang out in a virtual way: he’s showcased my stuff all over his Starship Sofa podcast, brought me on board for interviews and lectures, proven to be a staunch advocate of the genre in general and my own sparse contributions to it in particular. On a purely egocentric level I have to say: Not bad, for a guy who doesn’t even like Blindsight.
But from a more third-person perspective, I have to add that I’m amazed at how high this dude has risen from his humble beginnings back in 2006. His was the first podcast ever to be nominated for a Hugo (which it won). He puts out anthologies jam-packed with Big Names. He produces online workshops and lectures — and as far as I can tell, he does it all in his pajamas from his basement. I have no idea how he funds all this; the prices he charges for workshops and books can’t do much more than cover his expenses, and the podcasts are free. (Although he doesn’t call them “podcasts” any more. He calls them an “audio magazine”. Evidently the power has gone to his head).
Now, Tony Smith has outgrown science fiction itself. He has spilled out into horror, and crime, and lurid classic pulp-adventure — and to contain all that extra ambition, he’s conjured up an online network called District of Wonders. Districts would be a better descriptor: it contains four separate provinces, peopled by folks performing stories in each genre. (Let me emphasize, we’re not talking squeaky-voiced nasal fan-boys here; Nicholas Camm, the actor Tony recruited for “Malak“, blew me away with his delivery. I can no longer read that story without hearing his voice in my head, just as I can no longer read “The Things” without hearing Kate Baker.)
And at least one of the wonders is that the whole damn District continues to be free. Check it out.
Cut Yourself on Ridiculously Pointy Trophies
So back in Calgary (the city of my birth, as it happens) they handed out the Auroras last weekend. If you go way, way down the list — down past Best Filk and Best Room Party and Most Inappropriate Physical Contact — you’ll find something called “Best Fan — Other”, with my name beside it. I won for “Reality: The Ultimate Mythology“, the talk I gave at last year’s SpecFic Colloquium, despite the embarrassing fact that I couldn’t get the slides to work during the first five minutes.
I wasn’t expecting to win; I’m not really an active part of the local community, not to mention that this is one of those pay-to-vote things. The fact that I did win means that a significant number of you forked over ten dollars to join something called the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. I thank you. I look forward to meeting up with Deb Yeung in the near future, to collect the lethal little multibladed artefact (hopefully over beers).
As someone who’s been nominated for awards far more often than actually winning them, I gotta say winning is better (and may I take this opportunity to extend condolences to Brenda/noen, who seemed to take such personal offense at R:TUM for some reason.) Still. It’s worth remembering that a few years back, someone got onto the Aurora final ballot by handing out nomination forms to their Creative Writing students and urging them to vote for their teacher. So delightful as this win is, it’s best not to take these things too seriously.
(Which is not to cast any aspersions on the literary merits of specific works that got nommed, I hasten to add. In fact, the biggest problem I’d have had with this year’s ballot is that there were too many deserving titles for an easy choice. Even I would have had a hell of a time calling a favorite, and Caitlin was one of the finalists.)