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Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound “According to Greek Mythology, Mount Parnassus was sacred to Apollo (god of prophecy, music, intellectual pursuits and the arts) and home of the Muses. At the base of the mountain was a fountain named Castalia (a transformed nymph) that could inspire the genius of poetry for anyone who drank her waters or listened to her quiet soothing sounds.

The theme for “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” is speculative fiction inspired by literature, music, art and culture. In selecting stories, editor Mark Leslie’s goal was to capture not only the spirit of what might be found on Mount Parnassus, but to allow it to be released, freed from the mythological Greek mountain and expanded upon in a way that only speculative literature can “unbind” such a theme.

Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” features works by 27 modern day Muses gifted with the ability to take the reader on fantastical journeys: Neil Peart & Kevin J. Anderson, Robert J. Sawyer, Ryan Oakley, Steve Vernon, Hugh A. D. Spencer, Sandra Kasturi, Michael Kelly, Rebecca Senese, Randy McCharles, Chadwick Ginther, Stephen Kotowych, Carolyn Clink, J. J. Steinfeld, David Clink, Robert H. Beer, L. T. Getty, Scott Overton, Sean Costello, Virginia O’Dine, Melissa Yuan-Innes, Derwin Mak, Kimberly Foottit, Matthew Jordan Schmidt, Adria Laycraft, and Jeff Hughes.

Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” is the 17th edition of this popular Canadian anthology. Since its initial publication in 1985, more than 279 Canadian authors, editors, translators and special guests have contributed 541 short stories and poems to the series. Each volume of the Tesseracts series features established as well as emerging authors. Some of Canada’s best known fiction writers have been published within the pages of these volumes – including Margaret Atwood, Susan Swan, and Hugo and Nebula award winning authors William Gibson, Spider Robinson, and Robert J. Sawyer.
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BBB Interview

BBB: Welcome to Bitten by Books. Joining us today is Editor / Master Fountain Dipper Mark Leslie, and several of the authors from “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound”. Mark, can you tell us a bit about your role and what inspired the anthology?

Mark Leslie: I had the honour of reading through the fantastic submissions and trying to piece together the right combination of stories and poems that worked well together to make up “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound”. As for the inspiration for I have always been fascinated by the energy that flows from the creative spirit, the mystical rhythms that artists, musicians, writers, sculptures and other creative types seem to be in tune with – collecting stories that explored concepts that employed that theme was intriguing to me.

BBB: We have a number of the authors joining us today from the anthology. Could you please tell us

- your name
- where you are writing us from today
- name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology
- a brief summary of the story/poem (without spoilers)
- what inspired the work

Stephen Kotowych
Your Location: Toronto, Ontario.
name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Saturn in G Minor”
A brief summary of the work(without spoilers): A young graduate student from McGill seeks out a reclusive composer who lives in orbit of Saturn. There, he helps the composer complete his greatest work, and finds answers to questions that have haunted him his whole life.
What inspired the work?: I read an article in NEW SCIENTIST that said the Cassini probe had detected radio waves being emitted from the rings of Saturn as
micrometeorites collided in space. They said that if you recorded them and played them back at reduced speeds you got perfect tones, like musical notes. My first thought was: “Well, somebody’s got to get out there any play them then!” And Saturn in G Minor was born.

Robert Beer
Your location: Fergus, ON
name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Artistic License”
A brief summary of the work(without spoilers): In a totalitarian state, an effort has been made to eradicate the genes which result in artistic tendencies from the population. A writer of office manuals is accused of writing fiction, and is then exposed to a subculture which protects artistic people. He must choose where he stands on the issue, even as he waits to hear the results of tests which will determine his fate.
What inspired the work?: A lack of respect for the value of art for art’s sake, and the pragmatic impulses of current governments taken to extremes.

Steve Vernon
Your Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears”
A Brief Summary of the Story: A story involving Bigfoot, the ghost of Sam Steele, a ghost-eating demon and the building of the Canadian railroad – all of that, and a Thunderbird, too.
What inspired the work?: One too many late-night pizzas.

Melissa Yuan-Innes
Your location: North Lancaster, Ontario (between Montreal and Ottawa)
name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Burning Beauty”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): A nymph named Dryope transformed into a tree to escape the Greek God of War, Apollo. In the 21th century, is it possible for another young woman to have a different ending?
What inspired the work?: Bullfinch’s Mythology and my husband’s childhood dog, Frisky. Put ‘em in a blender and stir. Wait, don’t.

Michael Kelly
Your location: Pickering, ON
name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Blink”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): A meta-fiction about writing and “point-of-view.”
What inspired the work?: I wanted to write a story where the point-of-view changed very subtly.

Matthew Jordan Schmidt
Your Location: Vancouver, BC
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “Slava the Immortal”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): An immortal king makes an annual request for a new face from among his male citizens, but his age and fatigue have made him weary and dangerous. Who will catch his interest this year?”
What inspired the work?: This story was inspired during a hot yoga class when the image of a beautiful mask flashed through my mind. I thought to myself: I better find out more about this mask and what it means. The first sentence to the story pointed me in the direction of my answer.

Rebecca M. Senese
Your location: Toronto, Ontario
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “The Language of Dance”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): After training for her entire life, Delna finally gets the chance to dance the dance of her life. Will she survive it?
What inspired the work?: I wondered how else could we communicate with aliens if we couldn’t use language.

Ryan Oakley
Your Location: Sacramento
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound” anthology “The Ghost in the Meme”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): Scientists studying language discover it is alive.
What Inspired the Work?: A drug induced feeling of possession.

Scott Overton
Your location: Sudbury, Ontario
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound“Once Upon A Midnight”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): Lennie just can’t get over her breakup with her boyfriend Eddie. But since she works in a laboratory that holds some of the deadliest pathogens known to humankind, she really should be concentrating on her work!
What inspired the work?: A mix of frustration with modern technology and a little Edgar Allan Poe.

J. J. Steinfeld
Your location: Prince Edward Island
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound“Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): Roland, a retired man wanting to give some meaning and purpose to his life through creative writing, struggles with both his imagination and his life in this absurd/surreal/existential exploration of creativity and life and literature. Roland’s life is a tug-of-war between life and art, reality and imagination, and it’s difficult to say who or what wins.
What inspired the work?: A few years ago, I was walking along a lovely PEI beach when I was confronted not by a legendary Island crustacean but a huge beetle the size of a human being. The beetle, blocking my way, said it would let me pass if I promised to write a short story that somehow included a reference to the most famous of all huge beetles, Gregor Samsa, of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” fame. Terrified, shaking in my literary boots, I promised to write a short story when I arrived home. And that piece of fiction eventually was titled “Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles.”

Jeff Hughes
Your location: Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
The Song of Conn is an epic poem involving common strands from older cultures. The Song of Conn follows the mysterious origins of the Sea People and their interactions with the early celts. And, since I love a good invasion scenario, I added in some sci-fi for some fun. Inspirations for this work came from older epics like Beowulf but also the strange reoccurrence of this mysterious group called the sea people through history. As for the sci-fi influence , who doesn’t love some HG Wells?

Kimberly Foottit
Location: Hamilton, Ontario
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound“I’m With the Band”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): Thrill seeking metamorph, John Smith, gets his shot at fronting a popular rock band, with dark consequences.
What inspired the work?: John Smith, the main character, just walked into my head one day and said, “Write something!”

Adria Laycraft
Your location: Calgary, Alberta
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound“Old Soul”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): A young girl sees ‘shimmer people’ that no one else can see, and is devastated by her mother’s insistence they are just figments of her imagination.
What inspired the work?: A book by Tobin Hart entitled, The Secret Spiritual World of Children.

Hugh A.D. Spencer
Your location: Toronto by way of Saskatoon
Name of your story/poem in the “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound“ “Cult Stories”
A brief summary of the work (without spoilers): When an anthropologist is contracted to study a mysterious and apparently dangerous new age religion he relives the end of a love affair with his Trekker girlfriend. Matters are complicated by the possibility that his old girlfriend is handling the investigation for CSIS and the fact that the religious group are either building a spacecraft or a nuclear weapon.
What inspired the work?: My academic research into the origins of modern religions in science fiction fandom and my amazement at the enduring cultural impact of Star Trek. The story is also a story to a radio mini-series I wrote called Amazing Struggles, Astonishing Failures and Disappointing Success — which was broadcast on NPR’s Satellite network in 2004.

BBB: Thanks for joining us everyone!

Mark Leslie: Thanks Rachel for having us today…
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The Questions

Questions for Authors:
(please answer with an @name in front of question you are answering, for example, @markleslie)

Mark Leslie: A question for the authors to answer: What inspired the particular story/poem that you wrote?
Stephen Kotowych:The theme of the anthology was on art, music, and literature in SF. Did you draw on existing interests in another branch of the arts to
inspire your story? What other kinds of art (besides the written word) do you create, if any?
Robert Beer: A question for the authors to answer: What does it mean to be published in a Canadian anthology as opposed to a foreign one?
Melissa Yuan-Innes:A question for the authors to answer: What are you working on now?
Michael Kelly: A question for the authors to answer: What is your favourite piece of art.
Matthew Jordan Schmidt: Question for the authors: How does a story come to you? Do you receive a sentence, an image, a character? What’s your creative kindling?
Ryan Oakley: How much control do you feel you exercise over your own work?
Scott Overton: Do you anchor your stories in character or in plot?
J. J. Steinfeld: If you had the time-travelling chance, would you rather have coffee and conversation with Samuel Beckett or Franz Kafka (my favourite two non-Canadian authors not included in Tesseracts Sixteen but who do manage to sneak into “Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles”). Okay, make it Canadian beer and conversation.
Jeff Hughes: Your work, does the culture shape your characters or do the characters shape the culture?
Kimberly Foottit: What motivates you to write?
Adria Laycraft: Does your muse resemble anything you saw in these stories?
Hugh A.D. Spencer: Should SF be a means of escaping reality or confronting it?

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Questions for Readers:
(please answer with an @name in front of question you are answering, for example, @markleslie)

Mark Leslie: If you are a writer, did any of the pieces within T16 spark inspiration in you to write something? If so, what was that?
Stephen Kotowych: Has a work of fiction ever inspired you to paint? To write a song? Has another branch of the arts ever made you sit down and write a story?
Robert Beer: Do you see a difference in writing by Canadian authors, and if so, is it valuable to have it supported at home?
Melissa Yuan-Innes: What did you dress up as for Hallowe’en? If you didn’t dress up, what was your best costume ever?
Michael Kelly: Same question – What is your favourite piece of art.
Matthew Jordan Schmidt: As a reader, do you have a preference for short stories of a particular length?
Ryan Oakley: Do you prefer fantastic or science fictional treatments of art?
Scott Overton: Speculative fiction seems to have trended away from hard SF. Do you see that trend continuing, or swinging back the other way?
J. J. Steinfeld: If confronted by a huge talking beetle in your home town, and ordered to be creative (or else), what would you write?
Jeff Hughes: What do you prefer as a reader- cultural references for a character’s actions, or a strong character who’s actions are free of any cultural influence?
Kimberly Foottit: Why do you read speculative/sci fi/fantasy fiction?
Adria Laycraft: Why does learning an artist’s source of inspiration fascinate people?
Hugh A.D. Spencer: What was your “peak” SF experience?

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191 comments

  1. A question for the authors: “Do you have a Muse? A particular form of art…an activity…a place…even a person…that provides constant inspiration for your writing? Of course, maybe you have more than one…”

    • My wife, my daughter, and of course, nacho cheese.

    • I have no muse, as such. But I find that taking my dog for a walk out in open fields and hills clears my mind and lets me find solutions to story problems and the best path for a story to take. My actual story ideas often come from dreams–so writers should keep a notepad or recorder beside the bed!

    • Large boxes of very cheap red wine and loud orchestral music (or electronica) on my ancient Technics stereo.

    • Being unsure of where the ideas come from, I prefer to act as if I have one. I try to treat it with respect by being true to the work out of fear that it can detect fakes and will revoke their privileges.

    • My nine-year-old is a constant source of inspiration for me. We often share these philosophical conversations that will lead my mind in a whole new direction.

    • My bill collector. There’s nothing quite so inspirational as a past due mortgage payment. Some of you folks might cringe – but I approach my writing like a job that needs done. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what I do or I would find something else to do – but my muse looks suspiciously like every foreman in every factory that I have ever worked at in my entire lifetime.

  2. Thanks to Janice & Bitten by Books for the welcome!
    @StephenKotowych, I find inspiration in all forms of art. Visual art, fashion, cooking/baking, music, sculpture, dance…I also love hanging around with artists and buying directly from them. I sing and act, have danced a little, draw primitively, and when I have time, I bake with my kids. How about yourself(ves)?

    • I’m the other Steve, actually.

      In addition to being a writer I am also an oral tradition storyteller – and I find great joy and inspiration in holding an entire classroom and/or audience spellbound with one of my yarns. I’m not one of these dudes who sits on a rocking chair and whispers intently to his audience – I like to jump up and down and move around and howl out loud if the story demands it.

      So that is my other art – part acting, part stand-up comedy, part improv and part oration.

      I have written several stories based upon paintings and carvings in the past – but it isn’t something that I go out of my way to seek out.

  3. Hey, I think I inadvertently answered @JRVoyt as well. I don’t have a concrete Muse in mind, but I believe in Julia Cameron’s artist dates. I love to escape to Montreal and immerse myself in art and food and sometimes yoga. My children are both draining and inspiring. :) Oh, and naps! I love naps and reading. Right now, I’ve got Game of Thrones.

  4. Q @ Authors: When we look at science fiction today, every story has a grain of truth behind it. In your personal works, what story was most driven by your personal past?

    • I can narrow it down to two:

      1. Cult Stories – in Tess 16 which draws a lot on my experience as a graduate student in the anthropology department at McMaster University. By coincidence I am teaching there this year. A real time-warp experience.

      2. (Coping with) Norm Deviation – Tess 11 which based on the best summers I ever had. IN 1972 some friends of mine and I were using home movie equipment to make SF “epics”. Sort of like that Spielberg movie Super 8 that came a few years later — but I like my story better.

    • I’d have to say that the story that was drawn most deeply from my own personal experience was my YA novel SINKING DEEPER – OR MY QUESTIONABLE (SOMETIMES HEROIC) DECISION TO INVENT A SEA MONSTER.(2011 Nimbus Publishing). The story of Roland and his Granddad Angus was drawn out of a very deep well somewhere west of my heart and two or three degrees east of my soul.

  5. @Melissa – I quite liked your response about where you find inspiration
    @JRVogt – If I can also answer (as an author), I think the Muse exists in everything around us; as a writer I draw inspiration from virtually every experience, every thing I see, do, touch, feel and hear.
    @Dave – I think that almost every single story I write is driven by at least a small personal element, so I’m tempted to say the latest one I’m working on. However, I’d have to say for me, there’s an unpublished novel I have which I wrote in an attempt to deal with my fear of losing my father. (Until I had a child, that was my biggest fear – now, losing my son is my biggest fear) That novel was most driven by my past, and the lessons my hero learned in the novel are actually things I am still learning myself.

  6. @Dave, thanks for the timely question. My knee jerk reaction was, My science fiction doesn’t reflect my personal past. I’m not a bonobo-human hybrid (“Growing up Sam”), a Shaolin monk in space (“Iron Monk”), or a 90-year-old grandmother playing Othello (“These Delicate Creature”), although they all reflect my emotional truth. Then I remembered that I recently wrote a story called “You, Robot” about robots in medicine, and that I needed to submit it to an anthology. Turns out the deadline is tomorrow. So, thanks!

  7. * Waves to all that are here today * Welcome!!

    What advice would each of you give to a newbie starting in? Any tricks you would give, etc?

    • If I can add to Mark’s advice to new writers:
      - take every opportunity you can to learn the craft. Take workshops and courses, and maybe best of all, get to know writers whose work you respect and see what you can learn from them. In SF you can meet writers by going to conventions.
      - carefully consider every bit of feedback you get. The best rejection letters are the ones that tell you why the editor didn’t take your story. Value those.
      -as Mark said, write as much as you can, every day if at all possible. It’s hard when you have another job, but I really think you have to write a lot of words before you get the hang of using them right. And, unfortunately, even the most brilliant story idea will fail if you don’t get it across well.

      • Definitely write every day.

        Even if it’s only 100 words of fiction scribbled in a journal right before you go to sleep.

        Sometimes I have the most fun when I write these 100+ word “throw-aways” whose sole purpose is to write for entertainment and to keep my skills sharp.

    • Avoid selecting content and style that you think will work in “a market”. Write about something you are passionate about, it’s very hard and sometimes demoralizing, work — so you need to find some personal meaning in all this effort.

    • Off the top of my head . . .

      Learn to listen.

      Don’t concern yourself with trends or the market.

      Stimulating conversation might be as important as solitude.

      Try to stay off the hard dope.

      Be a fan of no one and a student of everyone.

      There are no tricks and no shortcuts. Just simple rules rigorously applied.

      Write for reasons other than publication.

      Prefer the act of writing to acting like a Writer.

      • Publication is far from my mind. To be honest I write just to get the ideas, scenes that play out like a movie out of the head. The way I see it… If someone enjoyed themselves for a space of time while reading what I wrote that is enough.

        People have been asking me to consider publication but I just don’t see myself that ready.

    • Don’t ever assume that you know all there is to know about writing. Never buy into your own P.R. I’ve been writing since the mid-80′s and I’m still figuring this game out. Your writing voice should be in a state of perpetual evolution – there is always something a little more to learn about this craft.

      Remember – at the end of the day what we are creating isn’t anything more personal and/or precious than a bunch of word strung together in an artistic fashion. Don’t put on airs and pretend that your words are anything than the combination of vowels, consonants and syllables that they really are. We’re just making stuff up – it isn’t a gift, it’s a craft that we work at.

      • More like the opposite for me. I really do not think my writing is good but I still work on it, still strive to do the best I can.

    • Hi, Raonaid. I attended Viable Paradise, a week-long workshop on Martha’s Vinyard, which is run, sort of, by Tor Books. Just being around other aspiring writers and established ones gave me a lot of confidence that my writing wasn’t so bad, after all. Joining a critique circle, online if there isn’t one in your area, is helpful. OnSpec always does a good job of critiquing stories you submit. Anything that gets you in contact with other writers is helpful.

    • Have fun, save often, and take risks: for every Delete button, there’s an Undo.

      • Oh I have learned my lesson about saving often. Usually when I feel a piece is taking off beautifully, happy with it, my file closes from losing electric to a breaker going. Upsets me. So I learned to save often even naming the document “writing attempt” LOL.

        Even been victim to my file being corrupted..

  8. First, a question to all of you: Did you see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus? (The name of the book triggered this question, lol) I ask because I have a hard time grasping what, exactly, makes something speculative fiction. Would that be considered speculative fiction or straight sci-fi?

    @Stephen Kotowych: Has a work of fiction ever inspired you to paint? To write a song? Has another branch of the arts ever made you sit down and write a story? Music is a HUGE inspiration for my writing. I’ve had to pull the car over because a song has triggered a scene to develop in my head!

    @Melissa Yuan-Innes: What did you dress up as for Hallowe’en? If you didn’t dress up, what was your best costume ever? This year, I was a vampire mom, lol. Didn’t have much time to dress up. A few years ago, though, I was Red Riding Hood after dealing with the Big Bad Wolf. :) I had a torn up costume and blood everywhere. It was by far my favorite costume ever.

    @J. J. Steinfeld: If confronted by a huge talking beetle in your home town, and ordered to be creative (or else), what would you write? A story about a giant foot that scoured the earth in search of huge talking beetles. :)

  9. @Raonaid — * big wave right back atcha *
    I’d offer three bits of advice to a newbee author:
    1) Read regularly. As much as you can.
    2) Write every day. You will learn something new every time you write something new. So keep at it.
    3) Practice, Persistence and Patience are very important

    @Jackie – I plan on seeing the movie. Thanks for the suggestion. :) I often use the term speculative to be a broader more encompassing phrase that would include sci-fi, include fantasy, and include fiction that goes just beyond what we could consider normal or every-day.

    • @Mark Leslie

      1) Read regularly. As much as you can.
      2) Write every day. You will learn something new every time you write something new. So keep at it.
      3) Practice, Persistence and Patience are very important

      Oh I do enough of the first! And I try to do the second as much as three boys will let me.. And I think I have the persistence, I’ve been writing off and on for ten years.. Thanks for the advice!

      • You’ve already been writing for 10 years? You’re a veteran! It looks like you already have what it takes. Keep at it and don’t give up. I quite love Ryan’s advice as well. :)

        • Yeah – ten years…
          But in no way am I professional nor did I get anything published. But I feel like I have come along since then. I was tad awful with grammar and stuff.

          • As writers we are all constantly learning and getting better each time we commit words to the page. Don’t despair just because you haven’t published yet. I still get tons of rejections (I average about 13 rejections for every acceptance) – that’s where persistence helps.

  10. Melissa Yuan-Innes: What did you dress up as for Hallowe’en? If you didn’t dress up, what was your best costume ever?
    I didn’t dress up this year but best costume ever was when I was 9 months pregnant with my son, I worked for a Goodyear Dealer, I went as the Goodyear Blimp.

    • I’d love to do a lot more dressing up but I haven’t done a serious Halloween costume since I was twelve and my mom made me a deer-stalker hat and cloak and I was Sherlock Holmes. That was pretty amazing but the best one she made for me was when she dyed some long-johns bright red and used it to make me into the Silver Age Flash. I was the coolest grade-oner at Sutherland Public School that year!

    • Good one. See, I think we should give +5 for pictures, and +10 for you (one for you and one for the baby). When I was 36 weeks or whatever, I just did tribal tattoos on my face. I did look bizarre.

    • This Halloween I was standing in front of an audience of about 125 people, telling ghost stories. I had me a blast. The costume I wore was a suit coat and a dress shirt. That’s right – I was dressed as an author. When you consider that I do most of my writing work in my boxer briefs, I figure a suit coat was quite the costume.

  11. What movie and/or book that you were looking forward to this year, surprised or satisfied you the most?

    • Lisa,
      I thought the movie Cloud Atlas was pretty awesome. I love the book but I didn’t believe it was filmable because it tells six very different stories in six distinct genres, from a shipboard journal to a pulp detective story to a post-apocalyptic Sci-Fi yarn. But the link is the concept of continuation of the soul, and the movie producers actually handled it really well. I think it might be beyond the attention span of most movie audiences, but SF fans should like it.
      Oh, and read the book!

    • The Avengers blew me away.

      The Expendables 2 likewise rocked my world.

      I’m waiting impatiently for The Hobbit and still kind of hanker to catch the new Red Dawn.

      I’m not artistic in my movie tastes. I like a lot of testosterone and some gunplay, if you please.

    • My slightly warped sense of humour always makes me look forward to the next Christopher Moore book. This year it was Sacre Bleu, which took place in Paris during the days of the great painters like Van Gogh (who dies at the beginning). Not being much of an art student, I learned a lot and laughed a ton.

    • I can’t believe I’m saying this but Battleship. Wait, wait, wait, hold on. The obvious criticisms aside, they tried something new: a flawed alien invader, not the usual uber predator that never makes a mistake. Interesting.

      Plus Cabin in the Woods– that final act, just magnificent. In Whedon we trust.

      • Battleship was a highly enjoyable movie. It would have been excellent had Gambit not been in the lead role. I can’t stand that kid.

        CABIN IN THE WOODS!!! “Tequila! Tequila is my lady!”

    • I sent away for Caitlin Kiernan’s Five Chambered Heart not knowing what to expect. Enjoyed the book, and I hope to read it again after a few months. Not for everyone, but I love the style and atmosphere.

  12. Have you read The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi?

  13. Is writing your “day job”? If not, what do you do when you’re not cranking out awesome new works of fiction?

    • There’s lots of writing in my day job but very little of it is fiction (at least as a consultant I hope not). I do a lot of work planning for museums and exhibitions and that’s allowed me to travel to a many different countries and that inspires and informs a lot of the science fiction as well.

    • Since August, I write full time but have a hard time considering it a job.

      Before that I was a bartender, a server, a dishwasher, line-cook, worked in a potato factory . . . You get the drift.

      Outside of reading, my hobbies include watching baseball, smoking in the kitchen and complaining on the Internet.

    • I don’t make nearly enough money as a writer to live off my earnings. I work full-time. (And of course, carve out chunks of time for writing and editing)

      Fortunately, my job is 100% aligned with my passions – I am Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Kobo (www.kobo.com) – which is an international eBook retailer with a head office in Canada. Yes, part of my job is that I get to work with authors every day. Sweet.

    • I work a day job in a cubicle rat maze.

      Fortunately, I enjoy the work I do.

      Someday I hope to make enough from my writing to pay my bills – but so far I’m still punching the timeclock.

    • I work as a morning radio show host. The downside is lack of sleep, so staying focused during my evening writing sessions is tough. The upside is that it’s good practice absorbing information and spitting it back out in an entertaining and accessible form for regular folks.

  14. @authors… Is it challenging writing an anthology to make the stories so short? Ever write an anthology that took off into a larger world?

    • It can be very challenging, but also very rewarding as well. You are only given so much white space to work with, so everything has to be clean, crisp, and clear.

      As for the larger world question, I look at short stories as horses chomping at the bit to be full length novels. Previous commitments keep them reigned in as short stories, but someday, hopefully, they can be let loose and become the fully realized stories they want to be.

      • I agree with Jeff that a good story with meaningful characters and situations can have a life of its own and go on forever. I most often write stories that are too long for most magazines or anthologies and have to cut them substantially before they’re accepted by an editor.

    • Short fiction is extremely difficult. For me, at least. It’s such a drastically different form than a novel.

      But the two forms can sometimes communicate. A short story can leave the author wanting to explore further and turn into a longer work and a novel can sometimes be successfully broken up into shorter pieces.

      I usually start with just a sentence or an image and progress from there — letting the work find its own length.

    • It’s agony for me. The novella is the ideal form for SF (ala The Time Machine and Against the Fall of Night) but nobody wants to publish them any more!

    • We are wordsmiths.

      As such, we better know how to use them.

      We better know how to boil a story down to a nut – and plant it.

  15. Robert L. Stubbs Jr.

    Can art still be commercial meaning its made to be sold to consumers without the people losing the artistic vision that inspires them to start with ?

    • Yes, sometimes anyway. Here’s a good book for you to check out:

      http://books.google.ca/books/about/Popular_Culture_High_Culture.html?id=n1kCceDxq6UC&redir_esc=y

      Now mind you, not every creative work has to have a commercial aspect to it either…

    • I’m not sure that I understand your question.

      If you’re asking whether or not things made for money can be considered art, I’d say that money can act as a restrictive force. This isn’t always bad. Art often functions best when it has some restrictions. While I’d prefer those restraints to be artistic –concerned with the medium, the tools and issues of craft– rather than economic, there’s probably no innate reason why writing for money would be a betrayal of an artistic vision. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t or can’t be but just to say it is not necessarily so.

      If you’re asking whether a person has to sell out to be published, that has not been my experience. As with most things, it’s always helpful if you’re willing to walk away.

      If you plan on selling out your vision, don’t start from that position. At least wait until there’s money on the table. Otherwise you’re not even selling out. (It’s called SELLING out for a reason.)

    • As I mentioned before, I approach my writing like a job.

      When I’m at work, I don’t tell my cubicle overlord that “I can’t cubicalize… – (which is what us cubicle rat-minions do in our cubicle hell) – …because I’m not in the mood.”

      My writing is the same way. I light a fire under a butt and wait for the hemorrhoids to begin to smolder. Creativity follows quickly afterwards.

  16. Don’t know if Ryan Oakley’s checking it yet or not, but I just have to say I frakking loved Ghost in the Meme!

  17. Question for all the authors: is art a commodity like, say, a flat-screen TV, or is it something else entirely?

    • I think you’ve hit on a big problem for writers today. Our written works are sold like any other commodity–they have to be, because publishing is a business. But I don’t know any writer who’s only goal when writing a story or a book is that it sells. We want the story to say something important, to have an impact on the reader, and to be of lasting value. That’s where it becomes art instead of just a commodity, and hopefully enriches our world in some way.

      • Yes – I imagine that most of us – no matter how disenchanted – still believe in the world-enriching effect of art. And even if it’s truly not so, is it smart to believe otherwise? Do people really want to live in a world were art has no more significance than a pair of factory-made toe-nail clippers? Do people understand all the implications of a world so utterly committed to materialism? Not sure, but I’m hoping I never find out.

        • I am so inspired by art pretty much every day.

          A car ride is never the same without great tunes.

          Artwork covers every wall of my house.

          Not a day goes by that I don’t read something.

          And there’s no better way to celebrate than a 30 second dance party.

    • When it’s made, while it’s being made, I think it’s different. It’s a process and it’s hard to sell a process. Same when it’s being experienced.Of course, not everyone who buys it experiences it and not everything sold as art is.

      Those considerations probably relate to each other.

      When it’s a commodity it’s perhaps a bit different than a tv because its value may be performative. Its primary purpose may be as semiotic used in the expression of (or even the construction of) an identity. Put simply, a prop.

      I assume the person who displays a Marcel Duchamp is trying to say something different about themselves than the person who hangs a Norman Rockwell.

      So it performs some of the functions of a commodity but has the added and pronounced danger of turning the owner into one themselves.

      Can a flatscreen tv do that? Possibly. But the owner is more likely to express their personality through the art, that is the shows they like (a form of social capital?) than the the actual device.

      Might be because mass produced items are more or less all the same while art can differ radically.

      (Hope that makes sense. Still waking up here.)

      • Oh yeah – makes sense. For me, I’m just getting tired of people advancing the notion of “art is a commodity” as being a self-evident truth, just so the rest of what they have to say about art (ie: how it should be valued) fits with their overall supply-side understanding of the world. It’s tautological that if art is a commodity, it should be valued by the market, and that if you can make infinite perfect copies of art, the market value trends to zero…but all that rests upon an assumption that hasn’t been proven to my satisfaction yet.

    • For me this question involves my need to abandon my ego at the door. I see myself as a tradesman building products for the market. I approach it as artistically as I can – and then I crank up the assembly line and do my best to turn out some workable words.

      When I write for ANY publisher I remind myself that at the end of the day this publisher wants something that he can stick on a bookshelf and sell! He doesn’t want a work of artistic angst – he wants something to take to market.

      I try to be artistic, in between the dollar signs.

    • You can write for years and not sell anything. Maybe you’ll be discovered after you’re gone, like lots of famous artists, but that’s not so likely with the written word. So, I guess my point is that you have to sell in order to affect anyone. It seems somewhat mercenary, but if you don’t sell your work it’s difficult to consider yourself a writer. Or, at least, try to sell it. I sometimes fall into spells where I write but don’t send anything out, and I have to kick myself once in a while.

  18. Hey there. Thank you to both authors and guests who are posting this link on their blogs. We have some great questions both by guests posting, and authors posting questions in the blog post above.

  19. @Robert Beers – Cdn voice/worth supporting. I get the impression that literary standards and post-structuralist awareness are fairly prevalent in Canadian fiction, though I might not be able to sort out Cdn stories from non-Cdn in a blind taste test. But I think the physical references are important – think of the effect on the imagination of a young kid in New York, reading about Spiderman swinging down a street he KNOWS exists in the real world; can see in his mind when he reads the reference. I think there’s something valuable to doing that in Calgary, or Victoria, or other Cdn locales. Is it worth supporting? Depends on what you think the role of art is in society. If it’s a pure commodity, then no: you let the market value it. If you believe that art has a role to play in improving people in some way, making them better citizens, who then vote for better policies…then yes: there is a duty to make sure fine art is supported, until such time as the average citizen is refined enough to prefer Shakespeare to lingerie football. Reality TV and lingerie football can take care of themselves, but because they are consumer driven entertainment commodities, they don’t – by definition – elevate the citizen. Or so the theory goes.

  20. Stephen Kotowych: Has a work of fiction ever inspired you to paint? To write a song? Has another branch of the arts ever made you sit down and write a story?

    Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. Think it was one of the Arrows books. I itched to draw the scene. I’m a mediocre artist. So I never let in to the urge.

    However, I have had a song (Burning Times by Inkkubus Sukkubus) inspire a story. It’s one I have on the backburner to figure out more.

  21. Melissa Yuan-Innes: What did you dress up as for Hallowe’en? If you didn’t dress up, what was your best costume ever?

    Past couple years I never really dressed up… But in the past there has been two costumes that I really liked. Since I am a dark elf / drow addict I attempted a drow. Closed minded peeps thought I was a witch. I had the white wig, pointed ears painted black, black dress, painted my body black Couple years ago I dressed up at Simi from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books.

  22. J. J. Steinfeld: If confronted by a huge talking beetle in your home town, and ordered to be creative (or else), what would you write?

    Um what I am currently working on I guess. I’ve been really good working on one of many projects I have started. I have 88 K words on it.

    • I would write whatever I thought would make the Giant Beetle happy!

      Seriously I would start by writing anything, or by creating an illustration (my other expressive outlet). Smaller creative tasks often get the larger flow going.

  23. @Melissa Yuan-Innes: best halloween get-up: I have in my possession, a high-quality latex skeleton mask that is too scary for an unprepared human being to handle. Used to take it to work on Oct.31; slip it on; stare at someone until they noticed, then be ready to dial 911 if a coronary resulted. Absolutely horrific; should probably be criminal for private citizens to own.

  24. Robert Beer: A question for the authors to answer: What does it mean to be published in a Canadian anthology as opposed to a foreign one?

    I think Canadian writers are second-to-none these days, and I’ve always felt the Tesseracts series set the standard for Canadian SF so I couldn’t be happier about being a part of it and published in the company of such great writers.
    Each anthology has a personality all its own, and its quality and impact always come back to the level of writing rather than a question of nationality. What makes it special for me is having your story published alongside other stories you love and writers you admire. Thanks to Mark Leslie for the privilege.

    • I’ve been a regional writer for quite a few years. I’ve released seven books – including four ghost story collections, one murder tale collection, one children’s picture book, and one young adult novel – through Nimbus Publishing. These books are sold across Canada. I’ve always made most of my royalties from Canadian readers. So I definitely celebrate ANY opportunity to see my words in a Canadian anthology.

  25. Matthew Jordan Schmidt: As a reader, do you have a preference for short stories of a particular length?

    Short stories are good testers to see if I would like an author’s writing style and voice… But I prefer a novel length story than short stories. The smaller ones go quick and leaves me wanting.

  26. Jeff Hughes: What do you prefer as a reader- cultural references for a character’s actions, or a strong character who’s actions are free of any cultural influence?

    Strong character who’s actions are free of any cultural influence

    • I don’t think you can have one without the other. People exist within the context of culture in much the same way that fish live in water. Can’t have good characters without some kind of credible context. Of course, I’m an anthropologist…

  27. Kimberly Foottit: Why do you read speculative/sci fi/fantasy fiction?

    Not really into sci-fi – that is the hubby’s genre – but I love fantasy (high fantasy like David Eddings, Elaine Cunningham, RA Salvatore, Jennifer Roberson, etc). The why.. I guess I enjoy that it takes place in another world, SO different from this one. Magic is common and the creatuers are different.

  28. @scott Overton (will SF make a comeback). I think the social and cosmological effects of the Web are so fascinating to speculate about, that more people will start writing science fiction. If not “hard” sci-fi, they’ll definitely be using more sci-fi tropes and settings. That’s my gut though, and my gut is hysterically unreliable.

  29. Adria Laycraft: Why does learning an artist’s source of inspiration fascinate people?

    Had a reply earlier but helping with kids homework the words just flitted away. I think it helps a person get into the creator/artist’s mindframe, what the basis for the idea came from. To understand.

    • Personally, I love wathcing shows that reveal how an idea came together, whether a new innovation, a science breakthrough, or a movie production. Of course it’s much harder to have an interesting show about how a writer gets his/her inspiration. Maybe that’s why the T16 theme facinated me so much.

    • People see us writers as being magicians with some sort of amazing secret. They figure that if they watch us long enough that some of that secret will rub off on them and they’ll suddenly and magically turn into the next Stephen King.

      The thing is we are ALL storytellers at heart. Each and every one of us was born with a deep-seated urge to spin yarns. Anytime you sit down in conversation, sooner or later you’re going to start telling a story. It’ll most likely begin like this – “A funny thing happened yesterday at the office…”

  30. Gotta go, but great work on the chat, and congrats on a fine and thought-provoking anthology!

  31. What is the appeal of writing for an anthology?

    • Good question.

      I don’t know about anyone else here but I didn’t write my story for an anthology. I wrote it, found an anthology that had the right sort of guidelines and submitted it to that.

      The appeal of publishing in an anthology depends on the anthology. The Tesseracts series is sort of a flagship of Canadian SF. It’s a honour to be included in it. When one looks at the people who have been in it before, it’s also an invitation to imposter syndrome and deeply humbling.

      I think the fun part of an anthology is meeting other authors –it’s like living in the same motel as them– and perhaps being exposed to some of their fans as well as fans of the anthology itself.

    • I like anthologies better than mags for the simple fact that people are more likely to keep them. I think they’re more likely to read them, too! This particular antho has a magnificent theme, one that I knew would attract great stories that would inspire others. I’m blessed to be alongside authors I’ve been reading for years in this Table of Contents.

    • I often find some of my wildest inspirations come from my attempts to come up with a story to fit a particular anthology’s guidelines. It’s like a compass bearing into the deep unknown. I follow it and I find something wild and magical.

    • It’s fun to play in someone else’s sandbox for a change.

  32. Hi everyone! It’s wonderful to see so many Canadian authors.
    Adria, I am intrigued with “Old Soul”. What inspired the shimmer people?

    • The shimmer people were inspired by true stories told in Tobin Hart’s ‘The Secret Spiritual World of Children’. If these children are telling us the truth, and we refuse to listen or believe, what affect does that have on them? That’s what drove this story…and of course I took it to extremes for dramatic effect!

  33. Hi Kimberly. I read science fiction mainly for the world-building and the science. It’s interesting to imagine a different world and species.

  34. @Kimberly Foottit: Okay, I have to ask, what is a metamorph? :)

  35. Hello All

    If any of you have a favorite storyworld other than you own, how do you think your characters would fare if dropped in it.

  36. @Robert Beer The biggest difference I notice is the namebrands used. Curious as I am I have to go check them all out. Thanks to Jess Battis I have become a Fleuvog addict. I am currently scraping for a pair of Velazquez boots.

  37. Let me say that my wife and I are avid sf/fantasy readers and we have enjoyed each Tesseracts we have read. Very innovative and atypical stuff throughout. Defies easy classification, making for the kind of journey a reading addict can really savor. I certainly spread the word wherever I can, and hope to be curled up to Tesseracts 57 some day.

    Doing the cover art for this anthology was a real treat, and ended up being one of my favorite assignments of the past few years, owing to the nature of the subject matter (laid out by the inestimable Mr. Hades, who provided remarkable freedom to interpret) and my sense of obligation to adequately represent for the fine authors chosen for inclusion. Three cheers and a hearty huzzah for all of you.

    • Absolutely LOVE the cover…brilliant capture of the concept!

    • Jeff – I have to say you are a national treasure. Your cover art is absolutely brilliant and perfect for this anthology. It’s definitely something I am getting mounted and hung on my den wall. Truly stunning. Great work!

      • I’ll ditto that. I hate covers with smudgy photoshop blurriness. The cover of Tesseracts 16 truly rocked. I can’t wait to see what Edge comes up with for Tesseracts 17 – (of which, I am one of the chosen two editors).

  38. @Kimberly Foottit

    I read it for the creativity of the authors.

  39. @Adria Laycraft

    The source of inspiration is point a and the finished story the end. If point a is known they think maybe they can follow the twist and turns to the end, and know better how the authors brain works. ?

  40. With the new age of computers and the ereaders, self publishing and the ability to be published in any country in the world. Does it make writing in the style you want, easier?

    I have always had books as my doorway to the world and new age of more adult theme in stories and the ability to order from any country and have them within hours.

    • I have always written in the style I wanted. I couldn’t always sell everything I wrote, particularly when the piece I wrote didn’t fit in with the specific needs of a publication. In that way, digital self-publishing has allowed me new opportunities.

      One example is a short story I wrote entitled “Spirits” – about 6000 words it was a bit of a contemporary tale with a “ghost story” feel to it. It wasn’t scary enough to sell to the usual horror markets, and it was too genre to sell to the literary markets. After collecting dozens of incredibly wonderful rejections that read: “Great story – just isn’t X enough for our publication” I decided to self-publish it as an eBook for 99 cents. I figured the story had spent half a dozen years being shopped around and earning me nothing – at least now I’m earning 35 cents every time someone buys the story. That’s the type of opportunity that I think now exists for writers.

    • I started writing with nothing but a pen. Wrote an entire Harlequin Romance – back in the mid-eighties – five drafts of about three hundred pages each.

      (it stunk, by the way).

      Then I graduated to a typewriter, a word processor, an IBM 286 and so on.

      All along the trail of gadgets and gizmos my writing continued to blossom. The spark is always there. Gadgets are handy – but in the end the writer must inject the necessary degree of sweat.

    • Self-publishing removes the need to please an editor, but even when we’re writing for a particular anthology or market I think most of us have to be faithful to our own style (how else can we stand out from the rest?) and the style the story itself requires (which has top priority). Having said that, I’m sure that every writer feels that their style evolves the more they write, regardless of the technology.

  41. @Melissa Yuan-Innes asked What did you dress up as for Hallowe’en? If you didn’t dress up, what was your best costume ever?

    I didn’t dress up this year. But previous years, my favourite costumes have been:

    1) My steampunk costume
    2) The time I made matching bee costumes for me, my then-husband, and our two young children
    3) Back when I taught high school, I once dressed as Axel Rose

  42. My question is for @RebeccaSenese-
    Did you use other methods of communication (besides dance) for the humans and aliens to interact? Any methods you initially thought of and maybe later decided against?

  43. @Michael Kelly asked What is your favourite piece of art?

    I love Shaun Tan’s style, but my favourite right now is a print I have hanging in my house with the inscription, “Sometimes you just don’t know what you are supposed to do…”

    • Thought I’d say hello from Australia, which means I am a little late with replying. The modern artists are great but I still enjoy the artist of the past. Gustav Klimt, William Blake and if you want totally weird Austin Spare. His paintings dealing with atavism are worth a look.

  44. A question for @Stephen Kotowych:

    Did you listen to classical music while you were writing “Saturn in G Minor?”

  45. Do you listen to music to put you into a particular mood to write different characters? If so what kind of music inspires you?

    • I wrote an entire novella while listening to a soundtrack collection of Godzilla movie themes.

      When I write to music I require something without lyrics. If there’s any kind of lyrics I stop writing and I commence listening to the yarn that the singer is attempting to spin.

      • I agree with Steve that I just can’t write while music with lyrics plays in the background. But the soundtrack of the movie Gladiator was a big influence when I was writing a character in one of my novels, and another of my favourites for action scenes is the soundtrack to The Rock–it’s pretty repetitive, but very dramatic.

        • I’m with Steve and Scott on this one. If I have music on while I write (and it’s not often that I do), it’ll be either classical or movie soundtrack or some other instrumental music. Lyrics get in my head and slow down my ability to craft my own words properly.

    • I listen to a lot of music when I write. At varying volumes. But I don’t put anything on to put me in a specific mood. Right now, listening to this:

      Can’t say it has much to do with anything I’m writing at the moment.

  46. What is the best part of being in an anthology?

  47. That’s it for me. I worked a full night shift and my wife would really appreciate it if I’d get off this internet and go down and say howdy.

    Thanks for having me here folks.

    Check out my latest work – FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE – available on Kobo for FREE. http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Flash-Virus-Episode-One/book-YDeVCTJbIk2NEp4ccXfybg/page1.html

  48. Ryan Oakley have you ever done a book signing in Redding Ca.sence you don’t live very faraway?

    • I haven’t.

      I just moved to Cali from Toronto in late August and have, so far, enjoyed this beautiful state by locking myself in a room working on another novel. I’ve been to San Francisco a couple of times and am still getting the hang of Sac.

      If you’d like a signed book, I’m pretty easy to find online.

      My blog is here and it has contact info on the About page:

      http://thegrumpyowl.com/

      And there’s always twitter, where I’m fairly active:

      https://twitter.com/thegrumpyowl

  49. Is the concept of “art for art’s sake” a theme of the collection? Is that what some of you were discussing in relation to the question of art as commodity? I noticed that proponents of art for art’s sake were, at one time called Parnassians:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/plekhanov/1912/art/ch01.htm

    Also, if proponents of art for art’s sake are hopelessly at odds with their social environment, as the article claims, could this be because commodities have recently behaved as if they were masterpieces by dead painters, getting more expensive over time, rather than the way commodities should behave in a technologically advancing free market system, which is to get cheaper over time?

    • Certainly some of the stories are about art, like Stephen Kotowych’s “Saturn in G Minor” and, in a way, Robert Beer’s “Artistic License”. But in Rebecca M. Senese’s “The Language Of Dance” the dance in question is a crucial means of communicating with an alien species that doesn’t comprehend other languages as we know them. So that’s art being very practical (though possibly in a way only an SF writer would imagine).
      Other stories are riffs on many other aspects of the arts—quite a wide variety.
      Your point about commodities is interesting. I wonder if it’s because, unlike previous generations, we’re seeing many significant technological changes during the span of one lifetime and have the capacity to become nostalgic over gadgets that might be only ten years old or even less.

    • As for the theme of the collection, Mark, being the editor is better equipped to answer that but it’s also something that the reader has to figure out for themselves. Writers, editors and whatnot only have _real_ input into their themes during the writing of the story. The rest of the time, they’re better left out of it.

      I wouldn’t say I’m a big proponent of art for art’s sake. Art can serve utilitarian purposes (also utilitarian items can be re-contextualized and considered art, dada etc.) and art can have merits outside of itself. What those purposes or merits are remains, happily, an unsettled issue.

      Some interesting thoughts on the matter are here:

      http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2012-11-16-vargasllosa-en.html

      From a personal point of view, I think practically about these things.

      The odds of ever being published are very low. The odds of making a living as any sort of artist are remote. Looked at hourly, it usually pays less than minimum wage. And that’s if you even manage to get paid, which many people –the vast majority– don’t.

      So, if I’m going to spend my time writing, money is an irrational motivation. It gets even worse if I try to write what I think will sell. No one knows what will sell. If even the experts knew what would sell, they would only publish those books. Out of the ones they do publish, once again, the vast majority flop.

      I think it’s a better use of my time to write what I want, how I want and then see if anyone wants to buy or read it. That way, I have still gained some benefit. That is, the simple satisfaction of learning, a job well done and, perhaps, a better understanding of myself and the world I inhabit.

      But, when it comes to selling the book, then it’s best viewed as a commodity and the operation as a business. (At least in the economic system that we currently live under.) Any artist is served by keeping the two realms separate. Art is art. Money is money.

      I wouldn’t even say the selling is a lesser concern but that it’s one that follows from the creation of the art. Without the art, there’s nothing to sell. But who knows what art will sell so why bother thinking about that when you’re making it. Better to think of what _you_ want to say, how you want to say it and all that sorta stuff. What moves you.

      The second part of your question — There’s probably all sorts of reasons all sorts of people are hopelessly at odds with their social environment.

      Reducing that to one group –Parnassians– seems, to me, to ignore the masses of alienated labour and to one factor, commodity prices, seems to ignore an awful lot of economic, social and psychological factors.

      So, I would say, maybe. But I doubt it.

      • I probably should have been more specific in defining what I meant by a commodity, but I was thinking of raw materials, including inputs to the artistic process. At the very top of this page, Mount Parnassus is described as a mountain with a fountain that could be accessed by anyone. I can still remember a time when national park passes were cheap, and I didn’t always take a bottle with me when I hiked our local equivalents of Mount Parnassus. Over the years, water metering has become more and more strict, water has been bottled and sold, and hardly anyone dares to drink straight from a mountain stream anymore, so it seems to me that the symbolism of the Parnassus experience has changed dramatically. Inspiration has become increasingly restricted and expensive, things once widely available virtually for free have been remarketed (perhaps with the help of artists themselves) as finished artistic works for which a premium price must be paid, while wider means of distribution seem to have made some forms of art almost as widely and freely available as water used to be. My utility bills, for instance, now read like the credits of a movie. Electricity used to be just electricity, but now it’s waste, recycling, water, sewage, and electicity, and the bill comes complete with graphics, itemized fees and charges, colourful inserts, and so on. My bill is a multimedia production. Therefore it seems to me as if artists are at odds with the societal grid because art and commodities have essentailly traded places. Art seems to be treated as the raw material used to add apparent value to commodities so that they can be sold for a higher price.

        • “Art seems to be treated as the raw material used to add apparent value to commodities so that they can be sold for a higher price.”

          Reminds me of that dreadful term, “content provider.”

    • In terms of the theme, I wasn’t looking at anything that complicated. I just really wanted to see a group of speculative stories that concerned themselves with the various aspects of art. I am delighted with the variety of specific topics and types of art the authors went with, and I marveled at the incredible tales they told. For me, I’ll be completely honest, it was mostly an emotional thing. I wanted to be moved by the writing, which I was. I also wanted to be made to think by their work, which I was. In which case: success.

      What we ended up with is a truly wonderful collection of writing which does have commercial value. Because publishing is, after all, a business. But it doesn’t mean that a business has to compromise on the prime motivators for great fiction, great stories, great writing.

  50. Hi, Scott Overton joining in again this morning for a couple of hours. Wow, lots of great discussion! Where to jump in??

    • Are we the only people daft enough to return?

      • Daft? Hmm…

        Anyways, good morning Ryan, and Scott. There are a few authors this morning who will be checking in and adding their thoughts. This has been a great discussion. Thanks for being such an active part of it. It takes a fair bit of set up for all of this to come together, and seeing a great author, and guest turn out really makes me happy. So thank you.

      • I suppose it is a workday, Ryan.
        “The Ghost In The Meme”, great story BTW. The kind of SF concept that undermines our sense of security in the world and makes us look twice at everyday stuff we take for granted. One of the things SF is best at.

  51. Welcome to those joining us this morning. Wondering where to jump in? Just pick up on a conversation thread, or choose one of the questions from the blog post above to answer. Author and guest alike, we would love to hear from you.

    Thanks again to Rachel at Bitten by Books for making this online launch event possible.

  52. No problem.

    I thought it shut down last night. Happy to see it’s active.

  53. We will be active until about noon PST… or so:-) The contest closes on Monday at noon.

  54. Just reading the comments … interesting. Alot of my inspiration comes from brainstorming …. bouncing ideas around.

    • Hi, authors from Tesseracts 16. What is the favorite character you have ever developed (in any story), and why?

      • Oops. Sorry. I put my question in the wrong place. Sorry Peter.

        What is the favorite character you have ever developed (in any story), and why?

        • It’s a little awkward to talk about favorite characters – because sooner or later a commercial slips in and then it all starts smelling of spam..

          But here goes.

          I’m very fond of the Sasquatch character in my Tesseracts 16 story – as well as the whole concept of the Spiritual Operations Branch and I intend to revisit that universe before too long.

          I’m likewise incredibly pleased with the way that Granddad Angus turned out in my previously-mentioned YA novel SINKING DEEPER.

          Finally, I’d have to definitely say I enjoyed creating Captain Nothing – one of the most bad-assed anti-hero in existence. If you’re curious you can hunt up my e-book NOTHING TO LOSE – on either Kobo or Kindle.

          See…spam. No matter how you slice it!

  55. LOL. I seem to be stuck in the wrong place. Hopefully it will work right this time. What is your favorite character that you have ever written, and why are they so cool.

    • Although I don’t have a story in this particular Tesseracts, I thought I’d jump in and answer this one.

      The character I’ve written who is definitely one of my favourites is Tanker Lazier. (His story and others will be in my upcoming collection from EDGE in 2013.)

      Why Tanker, you might ask? Because he is a complete and utter loser, and even though most everything goes wrong in his life, he’s got a fantastic sense of humour.

    • Tough question, Olga.
      I’ve written about an alien (but humanoid) who passes himself off as a New York City cab driver and has an implanted AI personality who often acts as his conscience. I haven’t placed the story anywhere yet though. A character in the novel I’m currently writing is a symbiote for an alien species that becomes bonded with a human host, with very conflicted results.

    • One of my favourite characters is from a still-unpublished novel A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK. Michael Andrews is a writer who, thanks to the side-effects of his affliction, has actually been successful in breaking into the literary scene – but he now struggles with having to deal with the side-effects of not knowing what he was up to on the nights he is out howling at the moon. I quite enjoyed getting into Michael’s head and trying to feel the conflicting emotions, since he has used his curse to benefit himself, and to help those around him; but it is still a curse to live with and has a negative effect on his ability to have a long-term relationship. That was a lot of fun.

      One of my favourite characters from short fiction Maxwell Bronte, a frustrated writer in my story “Distractions” – when creating his story, which is about a writer who takes the advice from a self-help book a little too far in order to secure himself the time to write, I enjoyed the devolution of his character as he sunk deeper and deeper into his madness, and the manner by which he was able to justify horrific acts. I was able to explore this, and feel story for Maxwell at the same time – something I’m quite proud of.

  56. I first learned about Tesseracts when I read Madeline L’Engles marvelous book A Wrinkle in Time. Are you a fan of her work? I know she too wrote of a totalitarian society that banished freedom. I’m a teacher and we use her book as part of our core curriculum.

  57. @J. J. Steinfeld asked If confronted by a huge talking beetle in your home town, and ordered to be creative (or else), what would you write?

    What else?

    Zombie-beetle errotica! ;)

    • Reminds me of a “Masters of Horror” episode called “Sick Girl” about a giant lesbian cockroach.(Whatever.)

  58. @J. J. Steinfeld asked If confronted by a huge talking beetle in your home town, and ordered to be creative (or else), what would you write?

    I’d have to assume that this beetle was some sort of parasitic telepath and fed upon my thoughts. (Why else would it order me to be creative?) I’d assume it was an alien and therefore under stress.

    Therefore, my writing would be directed at the aim of inducing a sort of psychic rabbit starvation in this creature. (You can starve to death eating an excess of rabbits –when combined with other environmental stress factors– they lack certain nutrients.)

    I’d experiment with various word combinations and literary devices to measure its responses. If these experiments ended in failure, I’d write Twilight. A risky path as that carries a higher incidence of addiction than of repulsion.

    But, desperate times . . .

  59. If you’re still checking in, Adria, I’d like to ask you about your story. Did being a parent play any significant part in how it developed? The important characters are almost exclusively female, so in some ways, the story seems notable for the way in which women who share various aspects of the girl’s existence seem to be chosen or revealed rather than produced by sexual reproduction.

    • Sorry I’m late with this, but I thought I would still answer. Sure, being a parent affects EVERYTHING I do. It’s changed me in ways I could never have expected. My boy inspires me to write stories I’m sure would never have happened otherwise, and read books that further inspire. I read ‘The Secret Spiritual World of Children’ because of the experiences I’ve had with my son, and thus the story grew out of both experiences.

  60. Thanks authors and guests for joining us for the online launch event of “Tesseracts Sixteen: Parnassus Unbound”. The contest will stay open until Monday noon at which time Rafflecopter will pick our winner and their name will be posted here.

    Cheers!

  61. Congratulations Mark and all the authors for a terrific new Tesseracts! I love Greek mythology and artistic base of this antho. Kudos everyone!

  62. Late to the party again. I read over all the interviews above and the stories all sound really good. I really want to read Three Thousand Miles of Cold Iron Tears. One doesn’t find a lot of bigfoot in the written word, at least in the fantasy stuff I’ve been reading lately. I must admit to a fascination with the big guy so I’m def hooked on that one. (and the Thunderbird!) Burning Beauty has caught my eye too, as well as The Language of Dance. I’ll def be checking this one out.

  63. I seem to be writing late all the time. H

  64. I seem to be writing late all the time. Here in Australia it’s 9.16pm December 1. One day ahead or behind, depending how you look at it. Next time I hope I can co-ordinate it better. Good luck to everyone and Merry Christmas.

  65. It is great to see your comments Laurence and Joani, and Nancy. Thanks for dropping by.

  66. This sounds like a fascinating anthology! I was wondering how Mark finds the right flow to choose from all the submissions he must receive!

    Heather F.

    • After reading the top of the page, the authors’ comments on the difficulties in selling work, Mark’s introduction to the book, and so on, I think the anthology is thematically defined by the concept of the artist as muse, someone who inspires others but does not assign meaning to art. I’ve searched the internet for a story of how the nymph on Mount Parnassus came to be transformed into a fountain by Apollo, but haven’t found anything yet. However, the lack of the original story may itself be a commentary on the relationship between artists and totalitarianism. If artists have an infinite choice of subject matter and technique, they can end up producing nothing, so some prompting or lessening of choices can be required to get them started, but how much restriction of choice is necessary to produce good art? Artists have the capacity not only to inspire, but to reinterpret the world around them with a greater degree of emotional senstitivity than most people may possess, and to assign meaning to what they see. If artists promote a system that rewards them only if they consent to the artistic equivalent of selling bottled water, they contribute to the lessening of their own economic and artistic freedom, and the impoverishment of society in general. The consumer of art can contribute to its debasement by purchasing a book with the assumption that one can become a creator merely by buying something. A popular example of this was the Van Gogh colour by numbers book in the movie “Mona Lisa Smile.” It produced an emotional reaction in the art students who viewed it, made them think, and was commercially sold, so it met the basic requirements of artistic success as defined by many people in this discussion. What I think people can gain from the premise of this anthology is the understanding that people may have to understand the full historical extent of mythological oppression before we can create and market art that doesn’t depend upon the stunting of human potential for its emotional impact.

  67. What is your favorite holiday?

  68. @Hugh A.D. Spencer

    Watching the new Star Trek movie in cinema.

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