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One of them is Jim Munro, Maestro of the Microbudget, who originally made a name for himself by a) going the self-publishing route a solid decade before it was fashionable, and b) doing so not out of necessity but out of principle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

Photo stolen from Helen Marshall's site. She can sue me.

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.)

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Tuesday August 14 2012at 10:08 am , filed under ink on art, public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

13 Responses to “Pimppourri”

  1. […] No Moods, Ads or Cutesy Fucking Icons (Re-reloaded) » Pimppourri […]

  2. Congratulations on the award.

    As far as I remember Tony has a paying job, and manages the podcast and everything that goes with it in his spare time. The books and lectures are partially intended to get funds to keep everything running.
    The trick seems to be a collection of brilliant volunteers, and a talent to convince them to do ‘just one more thing’. The quality of the narrators he gets is amazing, some of the best I have encountered. And he is always willing to try new things.
    An amazing guy, a really good podcast. and I am glad I found it. Now I just have to try the other ones as well.

  3. Minor point – it’s Starship Sofa (as the actual link shows), not Starfish Sofa. Though I can see why typing Starfish would be natural for you.

  4. Congrats!

    “Most Inappropriate Physical Contact”… They made an award just for Ed Greenwood? 😉

  5. Ell:
    Minor point – it’s Starship Sofa (as the actual link shows), not Starfish Sofa. Though I can see why typing Starfish would be natural for you.

    Yikes. Talk about the subconscious running the show.

    Fixed it. Thanks.

  6. The 5 minute SF thing sounds like a lot of fun. I’d love to participate but unfortunately, I have no skill in directing, filming, film production, or acting, or pretty much anything else that might help except perhaps writing, I don’t know anybody who is skilled at these other things, am unsocially skilled enough that I wouldn’t want to be randomly assigned to a group of strangers, and, for that matter, it’s on the same weekend as Canadian Fan Expo which I’d be busy with. But it does sound like a lot of fun. Maybe in some parallel universe some alternate me is going to enjoy that!

    If you’re writing some of the dialog, I recommend you make it something that suggests something that would be hard as hell to film. Maybe something underwater or in zero gravity. Screw that team that is randomly assigned to you! Make them work for their prize!

    And congrats on the award!

  7. I suspected as much, but this confirms it: Toronto is a tall ship sailing into the next century, the most perfect city in the Western Hemisphere.


  8. Ah Peter, you should have left “Starfish Sofa”, it’s amusing to have our snafus, boo boos, weird phrases and brain farts. It makes being human so much more interesting… 🙂

  9. Hljóðlegur:
    I suspected as much, but this confirms it:Toronto is a tall ship sailing into the next century, the most perfect city in the Western Hemisphere.

    Indeed. Toronto is a great city. Even though the last time I was there I was, goodness, eight years old. Long ago…and oh so far away…

  10. Peter, thanks so much for the District of Wonders link!

    It’s about time that Radio Crime Theater replaced Crazy Radio. If Radio Crime Theater — with actual good storytelling — can be got only over internet, that’s fine with me. It’s about time to tune out from the Crazy Radio… and anyway, who wants to listen to 15 FM and 25 AM channels of Rush Limbaugh and clones. Good writing used to be all over radio. Nice to see/hear the fine format of the old detective dramas resurrected. Again, thanks for pointing this out to us.

  11. Minor off-topic thingy…

    Since Peter has a new book coming out soonish, figured I’d start the process of re-reading Blindsight. Since paper version is currently out of hand, using the PDF. On my device (a mobile) page two, that is the alternate back cover with the reviews on it, does not seem to come into focus. The words seem blurry at any zoom level. Can someone with a PC or Mac confirm if it’s just my mobile PDF reader or the file itself? If the latter, might be nice to fix if possible.

    As you were.

  12. @Whoever re: Blindsight pdf
    Works just fine for me. (Linux laptop, reading with Okular).

    Dammit. Shouldn’t have done that. It’s late here, and I’m already on page four…

  13. Off-Topic: a neo-human illustration competition:


    The bad news: illos of robots with guns will be rejected.