Monthly Archives: May 2013

WANA Friday: If You Could Travel Anywhere…

Here’s the next installment of WANA Friday, in which several writers post on a common topic. The posts are meant to be short and sweet, so you can go blog-hopping and read everyone’s takes on the subject.

This week’s subject:

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

As you may have noticed, I like travelling. I’ve just finished an amazing trip through Malaysia, Thailand, India, and Nepal. In previous years, I’ve travelled through Norway, Denmark, Ireland, England, France (briefly), and a good chunk of my own country, Canada.

So where do I still dream of going?

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5 Tips for Packing Light

I’ve been travelling (again) and watching my less-experienced travelling companions struggling with all their stuff. Meanwhile, thanks to my recent three-month trip, I was able to get everything into carry-on for the first time ever.

So here are some tips for packing light…

1. You need less stuff than you think you do. I can almost guarantee that you won’t even miss what you didn’t bring. Don’t think “what if”, think LIGHT. And I promise other people won’t pay that much attention to what you’re wearing, so repeating outfits is just fine.

2. You can buy more along the way. You don’t need to pack big bottles of toiletries or all the snacks you’ll need for weeks — just buy them as you go. Bring only enough to get you through the first few days to a week. (Do your research, though. For example, sunscreen and tampons may be hard to find in Asia. Toilet paper, though, is widely available, even though it’s not used by locals. If you’re travelling in your own continent, you really don’t need to bring this stuff from home!)

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Star Trek Into Darkness Analysis

Star Trek Into Darkness posterSo. Have you all seen Star Trek Into Darkness, the new Star Trek movie?

Then let’s talk about it. Please note: this is not a review, it’s an analysis. There will be spoilers (I’ll post a warning where they start)! And, er, it got a bit long. Apparently I have many thoughts….

Star Trek: The First Reboot

I had very mixed feelings about the first reboot film. I understand that the producers wanted to make Star Trek more appealing to a younger crowd, less bogged down in its own history. Having recently rewatched several of the older films, much as I love them, I can see why they felt it was necessary. If you weren’t already a fan, you’d be lost.

But they ended up making a film that, to me, felt like a generic science fiction flick. There was none of the “sense of wonder”, the delight in science, the “infinite diversity in infinite combination”, that was such a central part of the TV versions of Star Trek. The films were always more action-y than the episodes, but the best of them always had something science-y to make you feel awe – the Genesis project, the whales, saving humanity’s first contact with the Vulcans. The movie didn’t have any of that (Red Matter notwithstanding).

As well, I couldn’t get over seeing the new actors in the familiar parts. It felt like a tribute band. No matter how well they performed (and they did a good job, especially Spock), I couldn’t suspend my disbelief – I never forgot that I was watching actors. Funny, since I was perfectly happy to accept Red Matter and exploding planets and even time travel and universe rebooting, but there you have it.

So I approached the sequel with trepidation. But I went, because it was still Star Trek.

Star Trek Into Darkness: A Quick Review

In general, I was pleasantly surprised. The sequel felt more like a Star Trek movie to me than the first one did. I’m not sure exactly why, because “sense of wonder” was still pretty much absent. Maybe the actors were getting more comfortable in the roles; the character arcs were moving a little closer to the older versions we know so well (more about that later!); we didn’t have to spend half the movie getting all the crew members into place.

But. Most of the things I didn’t like about the first one cropped up again in the sequel, and that’s what I’m going to talk about next…

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The Many Faces of Bangkok

My series of travel tales continues with Part 1 of our experiences in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. I’m jumping around a bit in terms of chronology: today I’m talking about my contradictory impressions of the city. Look for Part 2 (temples!) in two weeks…

A typical street scene outside the Grand Palace in central Bangkok

A typical street scene outside the Grand Palace in central Bangkok

After the obligatory beach vacation on Koh Samui, we rounded out our visit to Thailand by finally braving the metropolis of Bangkok. We’d heard that it was intense and that the driving was crazy (this from Malaysians), so we’d decided to leave it for last, after we’d acclimatized to the country.

Good decision — but we were still unprepared. Especially since we were coming from the quiet, laid-back beach, Bangkok hit us like a ton of bricks. The heat and humidity, the busy-ness, the traffic (and we thought Chiang Mai was bad!), the distinctive growl of the tuk-tuk engines, shanty homes crammed into odd places next to modern towers.

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Call for Submissions at Turtleduck Press

Last week I told you about a call for submissions from Turtleduck Press, and promised to tell you a little more later. Well, later is today!

Turtleduck Press logo

Turtleduck Press began almost three years ago, when several writers (including yours truly) decided to band together and pool our strengths to start a science fiction and fantasy press. We knew we wanted to operate like a traditional publisher in that everything we published had to be:

  • approved by one or more members
  • edited by an experienced editor (that would be me — editing is how I make my living)
  • formatted and designed to look professional
  • advertised on our website and everywhere else we could get the word out

…so we’d be publishing works of quality and also look professional — both good ways to attract (and keep!) readers.

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WANA Friday: Music I Love

I’m excited to be starting a new series of Friday posts as part of a writers’ community I’m in, WANA (We Are Not Alone). We’ll all be posting on a common topic on Fridays, and sharing links to all the participants’ posts so you can go blog-hopping and read the different takes on the same topic.

This week’s WANA Friday topic is a favourite or inspiring work of art — a painting, a piece of music, and so on.

Here’s one of mine:

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Announcement and Three Things I Love About Norway

First of all, I am thrilled to announce that Turtleduck Press, the indie co-op press I’m a part of, is opening to new members as of today. We’re looking for novel submissions from science fiction and fantasy writers. I’ll be talking more about this on Monday, but in the meantime, to learn more, check out the announcement at Turtleduck Press!

Second, a bit of trivia for you. Norway is my ancestral home — three of my grandparents were born there — and I was lucky enough to visit in 2001.

This Friday is the Seventeenth of May, the Norwegian equivalent of Independence Day or Canada Day. It originally commemorated the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814, although Norway didn’t achieve independence (from its union with Sweden) until nearly a century later, in 1905.

As a holiday, the Seventeenth of May, or Syttende Mai in Norwegian, has become a day to celebrate the country, mainly with flags and children’s parades and the singing of the anthem — “Ja, vi elsker dette landet”, or “Yes, We Love This Country”.

So in honour of Syttende Mai, here are three things I love about Norway:

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My Mother, the Book Enabler

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!

Right now, I’m on vacation, getting to spend Mother’s Day with my mom for the first time in many years. So in her honour, we’re talking about mothers and reading.

Both my parents valued reading — it was my father who told us bedtime stories about Middle Earth. But it was my mother who took us to the library and let us lug home literally as many books as we could carry (and a determined preteen bookworm can heft a lot of books, even if she doesn’t look that strong!). And it was she who hunted down her childhood favourites to share with me and my siblings.

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The Amazing Temples of Chiang Mai, Thailand

Roof-line of Wat Prathat Doi Suthep

Roof-line of Wat Prathat Doi Suthep

Quick note: This week I’m over at Turtleduck Press, talking about my latest “ooh, shiny!” obsession — gardening.

It’s time for another installment of travel tales from my trip through Asia. In this episode, we’re still in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Chiang Mai is famous for more than the adventure tourism I mentioned last time. It’s also known for its temples, or wats….

Wat Prathat Doi SutheP

Detail of the naga (serpents) guarding the long flight of stairs up to the temple

Detail of the naga (serpents) guarding the long flight of stairs up to the temple

Early in our stay, we took a group tour up Doi Suthep, a mountain next to the city. The main attraction of the mountain is the temple it hosts, Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. There’s a legend about its founding — involving a white elephant (sacred in Thailand) and a relic of Buddha — which you can read on Wikipedia.

This temple was our first experience with Thai religious architecture and Buddhism as practised in Thailand. I’d seen pictures, of course, but the sheer lavishness of the decoration was amazing in person. I wandered around in a daze snapping photos of everything, drunk on the beauty and worldbuilding potential.

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Summer Movie Preview

It’s summer blockbuster time! As a moviegoer, I’m always on the lookout for smart SF&F films, where character development and action are well balanced, and CGI doesn’t stand in for plot. But these can be few and far between. Here are some that I think might make the cut…

Iron Man 3

Okay, I know this is out now, but I haven’t seen it yet. I saw The Avengers, but skipped Iron Man 2 because one movie starring a full-of-himself billionaire was enough — he worked much better for me in an ensemble cast. But from the trailers, this installment features a fallen Tony Stark who’s struggling to find his feet again. That’s a story I can get on board with. Add in the superhero setting and the wisecracks, and I’m there.

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