Author Archive

Tesseracts 18: Wrestling with Gods open for submissions   1 comment

Very proud to announce the new Tesseracts 18 is open for Submissions.  We’ve built a website for it at Tesseracts18.com  Come check out our conversations about faith and science fiction and fantasy.  This anthology is open to Canadian citizens, landed immigrants of Canada, longtime residents and, of course, Canadians living abroad. Yukoners, I hope to see you write a story and submit.

Zeus and Io CorreggioTesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods — Faith in Science Fiction & Fantasy

Well this is an all new topic for Tesseracts!  And possibly a completely new topic for an anthology: a multi-faith, creative faith anthology of science fiction and fantasy.  Who would have thought?

Here’s our thoughts on that kind of anthology:

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Jacob wrestled with an angel in the night, earning him the name “Israel”, which means “struggles with god.”  Buddha wrestled, and the hero of the Mahabarata wrestled too.   Wrestling is a part of faith.  Having a faith can help immensely with struggles in our lives, but we also must struggle against the rules, the boundaries, and the very doctrine at times.  We all wrestle with our cultures and our gods, whether we believe in them or not.  Faith is not passive.  Human progress has relied on brave souls willing to challenge convention through their beliefs.  And faith is not separate from Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Fantastic elements are integral to all major faiths–they have their gods, fantastic creatures, miracles, blessings, power and magic.  We continue that journey into space, possibly encountering worlds with their faiths.  Since our cultures all began with fantasy and struggling with faith, Tesseracts 18 will continue the Science Fiction and Fantasy tradition of wrestling with Faith, without declaring all-out war.

The anthology will include a diverse representation of both real-world religions and faiths of fictional cultures.   Instead of looking to pass historical or cultural judgement, it will feature character-driven stories including faith, doubt, miracles, spiritual journeys, and diversity of opinion within a faith.  It will avoid blanket stereotypes of faith-based cultures.  We’d love to see faith surprise us, and surprise science fiction and fantasy readers.

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Some questions we think naturally come from this:

How does Faith inform a culture, change a culture?  What does it mean to really believe?  What kinds of religions and faiths are out there in the universe?  How does faith play out already through established fantasy cultures?  How can people keep believing, sometimes with very little evidence?  Or is there evidence that is so personal, it is never shown to others?  How does faith effect an individual, a family, a city, a society, a race, a conflict, love?

Starting soon, we’ll start posting conversations about how science fiction and fantasy has dealt with faith and religion in the past—just to be able to talk about where we’ve come from, how those representations challenge the genre or challenge readers and writers.

Mostly we just want to create a conversation about faith in fantasy and science fiction–in all its diversity!  PLEASE join us.  We’ll talk a blue streak with ourselves, but we’d just as soon have as many voices as possible in this conversation.

TO SUBMIT: Borrowed straight from EDGE BOOKS.

SUBMISSION DETAILS:

    • This anthology will include as diverse a representation of both real-world religions and faiths of fictional cultures as possible. Stories should not be looking to pass historical or cultural judgment, instead they should feature character-driven plots that include faith, doubt, miracles, spiritual journeys, and diversity of opinion within a faith.  Please avoid blanket stereotypes of faith-based cultures.  The editors want to “see faith surprise us”, as well as “surprise science fiction and fantasy readers”.
    • The Tesseracts Eighteen anthology will reflect as broad a spectrum of stories as possible; highlighting unique styles and manners.
    • Submissions must be speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, dark fantasy, magic realism, slipstream, supernatural horror, weird tales, alternate history, space opera, planetary adventure, surrealism, superheroes, mythic fantasy, etc.
    • Submissions may be either short fiction or poetry.
    • The maximum length for stories is 5,000 words, with shorter works preferred.
    • The Tesseracts anthology series is only open to submissions from Canadians, landed immigrants living in Canada, longtime residents of Canada, and Canadian expatriates living abroad.
    • Canadian authors who write in languages other than English are welcome to submit an English translation of their work, provided it otherwise falls within the parameters of this anthology. Translation into English is the sole responsibility of the author. Please supply details of original publication for any submission that originally appeared in a language other than English.
    • Deadline: December 31, 2013 (midnight).
    • Do not query before submitting.
    • Email submissions to: tesseracts18@edgewebsite.com
    • Emails MUST contain the word “submission” in the subject line, or they will be deleted automatically by the server. Please also include the story title in the subject line.
    • Submissions MUST come in an attachment: only .RTF and/or .DOC formats are acceptable.
    • Emails MUST contain a cover letter in the body of the email; for security reasons, email attachments with no cover letter will be deleted unread and unanswered.
    • Cover letter: include your name, the title of your story, your full contact information (address, phone, email), and a brief bio. If you do not live in the place where you were born, please also include your place of birth.
    • Do not describe or summarize the story.
    • If your address is not within Canada, please indicate in the cover letter your status vis-à-vis Canada.
    • Reprints (stories having previously appeared in English in any format, print or electronic, including but not limited to any form of web publication) can be considered but will be a hard sell; reprints must come from a source not easily available in Canada. If your submission is a reprint, please supply full publication history of the story. If your story appeared previously, including but not limited to anywhere on the web, and you do not disclose this information to the editor upon submission, you will be disqualified from consideration.
    • Submission format: no strange formatting, colour fonts, changing fonts, borders, backgrounds, etc. Leave italics in italics, NOT underlined. Put your full contact information on the first page (name, address, email address, phone). No headers, no footers, no page numbering. DO NOT leave a blank line between paragraphs. Indent paragraphs. ALWAYS put a # to indicate scene breaks (a blank line is NOT enough).
    • ALWAYS include your full contact information (name/address/email/phone number) on the first page of the attached submission.
    • Payment for short poetry is $20.00. Payment for short stories is prorated as follows: $50 for stories up to 1,500 words, rising to a maximum of $150 for stories up to 5,000 words (longer stories are paid a slightly higher fee, but in order to exceed the word length limit of 5,000 words, the editors must judge a story to be of surpassing excellence.)
    • Rights: for original fiction, first World English publication, with a two-month exclusive from publication date; for all, non-exclusive anthology rights; all other rights remain with the author.
    • Spelling: please use Canadian spelling, as per the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
    • Response time: initial responses (no / rewrite request / hold for further consideration) will be prompt, usually within fifteen days. Please query if you’ve not heard back within 30 days. Final responses no later than 15 February 2014.
    • Submit only one story or poem. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.
    • Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted.
 

*Image is Jupiter and Io by Antonio Allegri da Correggio (c. 1530)

Bullying the Met Opera is not a way to treat a gay ally   21 comments

 

Most Americans already agree that the new law banning gay expression and propaganda by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is draconian, oppressive, discriminatory and against the human rights of the LGBT community.  The United Nations yesterday (August 19) issued a statement to Russia and Moldova to repeal those laws. Leaders of countries, including Pres. Obama, have made strong statements against those laws.  Countless individuals have taken stands.

 

Which brings me to the MET Opera, and the current controversy over a petition that is trying to force the MET to turn their production of Eugene Onegin into a political statement for gay rights.  The gist of the argument is that:

a. Tchaikovsky is a Russian composer–a gay one–and Eugene Onegin is a Russian story

b.  Anna Netrebko (soprano) and Valery Gergiev (conductor) are Russians who have vocally supported Putin in the past.  Let’s make them prove their loyalty.

c.  The oppressive law from Putin needs a huge American venue to vocalize our anger at Russia.  The Met looks dandy.

Some have already pointed out that the MET is not a battleground for arguing a composer’s beliefs and opinions.  Who would perform Wagner if his beliefs were paramount to enjoying the music?

Just because a) Tchaikovsky is a gay Russian composer doesn’t mean the MET has to take a political stand.  The nature of Art is that it is in itself a political stand.  Let Eugene Onegin speak for itself.  It’s a powerful work.  Onegin’s disrespect for a whole group of people makes him pass up true love and end up alone.  That speaks volumes.

The petition names the conductor, Gergiev, and the diva soprano, Netrebko, as “supporters in the past of Mr. Putin”.  In the past, I have been a supporter of US policy.  Does that make me a supporter of Bush?  Or current laws produced by Congress?  No.  Does that make me like everything that Obama does?  I can’t go to Canada and tell them that I agree with how Obama is treating Canada economically.  Netrebko, the soprano, has voiced her LGBT support (prompted by the threat of LGBT backlash!).  Are we requiring a show of loyalty to gays?  Prove to us, we seem to say, that you support gays by denouncing Putin and dedicating your performance to LGBT people.  That’s like asking Obama to wear a flagpin to PROVE he’s patriotic and that he loves America.  Why can’t he just say he loves America?  Because some people want him to bow to pressure.  It was silly then; it’s silly now.  Punishing Netrebko and Gergiev based on PAST support of Putin–when they have said nothing in support of those current anti-gay laws–is wrong.  It’s bullying.

The Met Opera c) is not a handy vehicle for your political expression.  It can be a vehicle for political expression by the director of the Opera being produced, or by the MET itself, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s their choice to show support, not our choice.  If it’s forced, it’s not real.  Further: The Art itself is powerful.  Adding statements to the art diminishes the art.

But what have you done for me lately, Met Opera?  What the MET already does for LGBT people:

The Metropolitan Opera gives LGBT people the opportunity that Russia never gave Tchaikovsky: the ability to be an out performer, an out stagehand, an out composer, costume designer, etc.  It gives LGBT people jobs and freedom of expression.  Russia still DOES NOT offer this.

The MET has performed operas with gay themes:  Billy Budd for example.  Sure, I’d love it if directors substituted men in women’s roles to shake things up a bit (as easily as those who direct Shakespeare do), but composers have written for ranges, not genders, specifically.  Music must sound harmonic and beautiful.  You just can’t have, usually, a man replacing a woman in a role.  However, the opera does often cast women in male roles that sometimes require higher vocal ranges–and so, onstage, one gets to see what looks like a lesbian romance (see Anna Bolena, for example, where the man in love with Anna Bolena is played by a woman, and Mozart’s Clemenza di Tito, and multiple other operas I have seen).

At the MET, they would have no problem staging and performing a well-written opera WITH gay themes.  Write a Billy Budd.  Write a lyrical, thoughtful version of the AIDS crisis, or of Fred Phelps, or Greg Louganis, or Ellen…. the MET might produce it on its artistic merits.  Try that in Moscow.

They are already a gay ally.  Forcing them to dedicate the night to gays in Russia, or turning over proceeds, or making Netrebko and Gergiev meet and greet with LGBT people to prove loyalty is too much.  It’s like saying, I don’t believe GLAAD cared enough for Katrina victims.  I’m going to require them to turn over proceeds of GLAAD events, verbally show support, help out in the clean-up of Katrina, etc.  Or maybe I should start requiring all American opera singers to denounce the oppressive economic foreign trade policies of Obama whenever they perform in an international venue.  Will that be enough?  Are performers required to make political statements before every performance?  No, they are required to be artists and to be damn good at what they do, not appease the morals of majorities or minorities in the causes they have.  I’m happy if Sting says something in support of a cause I care about, but I won’t stop buying Sting’s CDs if he doesn’t verbally say something I want to hear.  I want to hear him sing.  I want to hear Anna Netrebko sing.

Bullying

I find the current culture of celebrity/organizational bullying (especially by the LGBT community) to be unacceptable.  We have far more effective means at our disposal besides bullying.  We have targeted a Latvian producer of vodka, Stoli–whose CEO is a gay ally–to dump in protest of Russia.  This neither hurts Russia, nor does it hurt an anti-gay supporter.  It hurts an ally.  The argument that this raises the issue in the consciousness of your average person is unproven.  No one can say that the dumping of Stoli is solely responsible for raising awareness of the anti-gay Russian policies.  The news has reported on this quite a bit.  And they got it from Twitter or from their reporters or from other sources.  They didn’t have to watch someone dump Stoli to suddenly become a capable reporter.  It’s a argument fallacy to say that one thing causes another if there is no direct proof.  (see post hoc ergo proctor hoc in any English textbook)  A graph of awareness is not proof of direct cause.  Anymore than I could say that Dan Savage’s tweets alone caused the awareness to shift.

Yes, I know it’s a petition, not a law requiring compliance.  But there’s been talk of booing the performance, of holding the MET accountable, of withdrawing support, and right now creating a lot of bad media about the MET.  Asking me to help is one thing: berating me when I say no is not.

As a gay man, I appreciate vocal support.  I do not require it from every person who comes on TV, every ad, every organization.  Sometimes, organizations show support by BEING supportive.  Not by wearing a rainbow pin.  Opera has given us music, story, relationships, history, comfort, excitement, Art in the highest form, allowed LGBT artists to be themselves (in this country, definitely)–it has done more to transform LGBT lives for hundreds of years than one gala night of verbalized, forced support could ever do.  And if the MET is forced to comply with the oppressive tactics of some in the LGBT community, then our community will become the dictatorship, limiting freedom of expression, and forcing compliance and obedience in everyone around us.  If we become those who judge others based on whether they promote and shout out their support of us, then we have proven that we are a fragile community, reliant on fear and intimidation to get our way, always insecure even inside of a country that is on a steady march to full equality.  We will have proven that Bush adage: “If you are not with us, you are against us.”  That brought us a war.  In that moment we force idelogical obedience, we become the Putins.

Posted August 20, 2013 by jstueart in Mishmash

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Jerome in the Yukon Writers Festival   Leave a comment

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A really nice article by Dan Davidson appeared in the Whitehorse Star on Friday, April 19. Alistair Maitland did the photo. I appreciate them both. I think this Festival will be a lot of fun. It’s always good to get to teach Yukon high school students as part of the Young Authors Conference as well.

The Festival starts with a big reading at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre Tuesday night at 7pm. The Young Authors Conference is held the next two days after that in FH Collins Library and then we head off Friday to Haines Junction for a reading.

Organizer Sara Davidson has done a great job at gathering diverse writers together. Yukoner Dennis Allen, as well as Drew Hayden Taylor and Carrie Mac and Beverley Brenna.

If you can, come and enjoy the readings with us.

Meet Me In Seattle: the Perfect (First) Date Location   3 comments

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If you’re talking to someone on the Internet, skyping them and getting to know them, seeing if they’d be cool to date, and you live far across the continent from each other, let me suggest that rather than have one of you fly all the way to the other’s house, that you meet in Seattle instead.

Seattle is a great and easy city to explore–and is neutral territory for both of you. You have the freedom to explore, or not, the city around you.  And there’s no pressure to meet friends or relatives on a first date.  And everything is new to both of you (or relatively—one of you may have actually visited Seattle).  We gave ourselves five days.  And this was a good time-frame.

This might work for any couple!  Yukoners are always looking for a nice short trip.  Maybe you’re already a couple and you want to get out and see a new city.  This plan for a Seattle trip will work for you. 

1.  In Seattle’s favour, they created the CityPass (many large cities offer this) consisting of six fun-filled things you can do at your leisure over nine days for one price ($74).  They include the Seattle Aquarium, the Space Needle, the EMP museum (science fiction and rock/roll), the Pacific Science Center (with IMAX), a harbour cruise, and a choice between the zoo or the museum of Flight.  No tickets up front–so no pressure on when you have to go.  You can do them in any order, at any time in nine days.  Don’t feel like walking through the zoo?  Go to the IMAX.  Too foggy for the Needle?  Go to the sci-fi/pop culture museum.  (Was a great exhibit on the black leather jacket in pop culture–as well as Captain Kirk’s command chair.)

2.  Get a hotel next to the majority of these.  Let me suggest the Best Western Executive Inn Plus, next door to the Seattle Center.  The Seattle Center has three of those six places in the CityPass–plus a lot more.  You’d be a block away from The Pacific Science Center, the Needle and the EMP.

3.  Bonus: you’ll be next door to the Chihuly Glass Exhibit, and the IMAX, and the Monorail–your connection to some cool places not IMG_1094far away…

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Back in the Saddle, and the Horse Didn’t Buck   1 comment

IMG_4592Well, it’s been awhile since I pumped out some fiction.  I’ve been working on a longer novella, hit and miss, for ages, based on my own experiences on Long Island in 2004, and on a longer novel full of fun things.   But I just looked at my “written work” section and discovered that I had a good six fiction publications in 2010, but what have I done for you lately?  Not a darn thing sold since 2010–and that means not a darn fiction thing written, really.  I have sold some nice short pieces to GEEZ, and I’m glad.  But for fiction, it’s been awhile.

So, I’m thrilled that I got a story done for the Tesseracts 17 deadline (tonight at midnight).  Sent it off yesterday.  Hope they like it.  But I’m chomping at the bit to get more done.  So, I’ll see if I can’t pull off another story or two in March.  I have a lot of started stories that lost their way….or which got derailed by work or life or both.

I tell you it was GREAT to get back into writing fiction.  I wanted to write stories with werewolves, time travelers, Kings, ghosts–things you just don’t get to see everyday.  And I’ve been reading Graham Greene’s The Quiet American.  If Graham Greene wrote about magical creatures…. anyway, glad I’m back into the swing of things, and hope I can keep this up.

Proud that other Yukoners, including my two minions, Santana and Zeb, also found the deadline for Tess 17 to be an adequate kick-your-butt deadline for writing.  YAY.  Now, let’s see if I can do it without a deadline.

I also purchased an e-book for .99.  I have to say it was great reading.  Good ideas, and helped push me along.  It’s called 2k to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better and Writing More of What You Love, by Rachel Aaron.   One idea of hers, to sketch out a scene before you write it saved me a lot of time.  And made the scene crystallize more.  I’ve always been a huge note-taker–but her ideas were about making those notes more efficient and more usable for the final writing.  Working out scene problems ahead of time–before you sit down–saves time when you sit down.

Anyway, nothing but praise for that book, for Tesseracts 17, and for writing again.  Good to be back in the saddle.

Posted February 28, 2013 by jstueart in Mishmash

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How We Write About Faith: New Seminar and Workshop starting Feb 2   1 comment

Buddhist, Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist—we all have a belief system–“faith” in something, a set of beliefs, a god, gods, guiding principles, morality.  It’s hard to express sometimes WHY we believe these things, or HOW they guide us, or how we know they are TRUE.  Sometimes we’ve been hurt by religion, disappointed by faith.  We want to talk about that too.  Maybe we want to pass our beliefs, our experiences down to our kids.  We want to explain it to ourselves, sometimes.  We’d like to keep a record.  But pinning down the inexpressible nature of faith and belief is difficult.
WRITING FAITH SEMINAR AND WORKSHOP
Come join a writing workshop that explores how we talk about faith.  Starting this Saturday, Feb 2, we’ll have a one day seminar/workshop from 10-4 that explores Writing Faith with writing tips, games, exercises, and a few readings that map out the basic writing techniques of writing about Faith.  Then Feb 8-March 22, join us on Fridays from 5-8 (potluck snacks), at the Whitehorse United Church to explore more in depth how others write about their faith and get some good feedback on writings you may write about your faith.  The group is always ecumenical and eclectic and supportive of new writers.  It has been a successful group four times now, three in the Yukon.  We teach mostly memoir, but fiction as well.
We don’t teach theology here; we teach writing.  We are including writings beyond Christian writings this time around—mostly from the Best Spiritual Writing 2013 that just came out.  We aim to be inclusive.  We have readings from Pulitzer prize winning author, Annie Dillard, as well as Anne Lamott, Andre Dubus, E.O. Wilson, Langston Hughes, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ron Hansen, Thich Nhat Hanh, and other writers covering a broad spectrum of spirituality—for techniques.  We play writing games.  We’re kind of like a summer camp for writers.  Only in the winter.
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Posted January 29, 2013 by jstueart in religion, writing, Yukon

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Canada offers a Way to Avoid the “Hockey Cliff”, forms New League   1 comment

"What else can we do? We have an obligation to our Canadian fans, our players. Playing them is the only option," says Mike Gillis GM of the Canucks

“What else can we do? We have an obligation to our Canadian fans, our charities and our players. Playing them is the only option,” says Mike Gillis GM of the Vancouver Canucks

There’s more than one cliff North America approaches and, even as US President Barack Obama hopes to steer clear of the “fiscal cliff,” the NHL is trying to avoid a cliff of their own.  After 107 days of the NHL Lockout, fans are steaming at a lack of hockey in their lives.  Just in time, perhaps, to save everyone, Canada has a plan.

Canadians announced today that their teams are withdrawing from the NHL and immediately forming the Hockey League of Canada.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has budgeted that every major city in Canada will have its own Hockey team if they don’t already have one.  For example, this includes Goose Bay, Iqaluit and Whitehorse.  They are inviting all Canadian hockey players to ditch their American teams and come play on a new league immediately.

“It’s Canada, so players can be assured that they will receive great pensions and healthcare, without having to barter their lives and careers away for that,” Dermott Mulchahy said in a statement to the press this afternoon outside of Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.  After Muchahy spoke, GM Mike Gillis of the Canucks said, “What choice do we have?  We have an obligation to our Canadian fans, our charities, and our players. Playing them is better than not playing them. Playing them is the only option.”  He looked around the room.  “Canadians and hockey fans in general are fed up.”

Players will be chosen in a lottery so that every city has the chance of winning star players.  This completely shakes up any of the teams–but many already believe this will be a good thing.  The new games begin on February 1st.  Mulchahy, as President of the newly formed Hockey League of Canada, believes that fans will be so excited to see hockey happening that they won’t care if it’s called NHL or HLC.  And American cities, still mired in the negotiations for their hockey teams, minus Canadian players who defect and come back home, will probably find themselves watching HLC games and not caring if the NHL ever forms again.

Farm teams in the south, like the Odessa Jackalopes, are being offered the chance to come play major league hockey right away, adding a lot of surprise, and fresh blood, to the game.  “Me and my buddies, we’re already heading north!” said Jamie Gonzalez, one of the best scorers in the Jackalopes.

Whitehorse, Yukon, already knows the name of their team, the Dawson City Nuggets, even though the team will play in Whitehorse.  “It’ll bond our two cities together,” said Whitehorse mayor, Dan Curtis.  “We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

If the NHL does not reach an agreement by midnight January 1st, the HLC goes into effect in Canada.  Canadians are now hoping that the NHL never gets their act together.

“Come home,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement today to Canadian hockey players worldwide.  “Come back home to Canada and play your hearts out.  We’ll tend your goals.”

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