Really thrilled that Speculating Canada reviewed my short story, “One Nation Under Gods” which appeared in Tesseracts 14. It’s hard to get short fiction reviews and they are so valuable. The SF/F/H community should hold tight and nurture as many reviewers as we can. With a growing market of books, the discerning reader looks to reviews to help choose what to read. And reviewers who choose short fiction, new authors, and anthologies help support beginning writers who are starting their careers, hoping that someone notices. So we can’t fete reviewers enough–we need them, we love them, we should be very kind to them.
I’d say this for any thoughtful reviewer, even if Derek had NOT liked my work. It’s the way he liked my work that makes me happy.
Speculating Canada has a really great aim:
This site has been created in response to the overwhelming number of people who are surprised that Canadian literature includes the fantastic. Canadian SF, fantasy, and horror have been cast into a literary ghetto under the power structure of CanLit, and cast as either inferior literatures, or literatures that are not ‘of here’, i.e. from abroad. Yet, Canadian speculative fiction has a long history in Canada and engages with ideas of Canadian identity, belonging, and concepts of nationhood, place and space (both ‘the final frontier’ type, and the geographical).
Realist fiction is often seen as the only ‘truly’ Canadian fiction, but even realist fiction speculates, postulates and creates a fantastic idea, just one that is based more closely on the normative world around us than most SF authors are inclined to do.
Canadian SF allows for the engagement with ideas such as What is Canada? What does belonging mean? What is the nature of ‘human’? Why are things the way they are? How do we change things? Can things change?
The appeal of Canadian SF is not just regional, but has implications for a wider audience. Canadians, long un/comfortable with our identity as a hybrid of the American and English, Francophones and Anglophones, Aboriginal and settlers, and the multicultural mix that is embedded in our philosophy, means that we are comfortable with questions of identity and the exploration of our place, ideas that naturally lend themselves to science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We live in a world that is unsure of itself, and uncomfortable with ideas of belonging, and Canadian SF plays with ideas of belonging, disrupts the normal (or what has come to be seen as normal) and allows for a new way of experiencing the world.
As for the review–well, I’ll let you read most of it as his site, but here’s a nice chunk:
Val Grimm, over at the Portal, gave me a good review for my short story, “One Nation Under Gods”! Thanks, Val. I’m always thrilled that there are people who will review short fiction, and anthologies. Thank you, Val! Val reviews the whole anthology, Tesseracts 14, story by story. Here is his review of mine:
The author of “One Nation Under Gods”, Jerome Stueart, emigrated to Yukon from the States in 2007, and his former citizenship is evident in the themes and content of his story. I’m not biased in its favor because of my nationality, nor simply because its dark vision seems in concord with my fears. This story succeeds, in my eyes, because of his detailed worldbuilding, the realistic relationship between the narrator and his sister, and his cultivation of genuine menace, an evocation of the way people can be treated as things. In the world of this story (which in outlook and some tropes puts me a bit in mind of Steve Darnall and Alex Ross’ 1997 comic Uncle Sam) concepts like Freedom and Patriot are incarnate as deities, administered by priests and priestesses, and the Statue of Liberty herself is known to walk abroad. The history of the gods is the history of the country, and its people are required to memorize that catechism or pay with their lives in particularly grotesque ways; if a child fails the standardized test which is a mandated rite of passage, he or she is transformed into a public object, anything from a soda shop to a garbage can. Stueart skillfully incorporates the conflict between individuality and vested religious and political powers; the way those powers can intertwine and what that merging means; the clash between idealism or perception cultivated through propaganda and reality, between history as the study of people in power versus the study of the people’s past; and the transformation of people into instruments, people into numbers.—Val Grimm at the Portal.
My story, “One Nation Under Gods,” was selected to be part of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology, Tesseracts 14, edited by Brett Savory and John Robert Colombo, due out in September 2010. The Tesseracts series is devoted to Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy and Horror, and has had, as you might have guessed, 14 other volumes (a Tesseracts Q was for Quebec, and the requisite 1-13 which came before).
You might have caught me reading a portion of this at the Yukon Writers Festival a couple of years back. It involves two kids and a history test, and a complete restructuring of the United States based on values Americans, like me, hold sacred: patriotism, freedom, the just war, independence, religion. I just personified them a bit. I’m very pleased it found a home. I’m now going to start work on the novel version of this story.
The picture on the left is the construction of the Statue of Liberty, a figure which looms large on the landscape at the beginning of my story. And as I was now an immigrant to Canada, the Statue of Liberty loomed large on my new immigrant’s mind…what a dramatic beginning to a new life for those coming to America. For me, I saw her on my way out. On my drive from Texas to the Yukon, I parked my red truck in Calgary for one month, flew to Vermont to be part of a writer’s colony, and in that time, snuck down to see her. Like some mistress I was breaking up with.
How do you explain to her that you are leaving?
I put her in my story, though, and so in this way, she haunts me.