“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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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?
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!”
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…
Entry Points into the contest will be done using rafflecopter, in order for your book purchase points to count today you must purchase them through the rafflecopter widget and follow the instructions there, NOTE there is a different email to send your receipts to today. The draw will be made Monday, December 3rd, and will be contacted via email.
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?
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?