Wednesday 31 August 2011

Science Fiction and Fantasy Events in Toronto, September 2011

These events are from the science fiction & fantasy calendar I run.  If you have an event that's not listed, email me ( and I'll put it on the calendar and add it here.  While I try to get the details correct, always check the links to confirm event information. I'll be updating this post as I learn of more events.

Thursday September 1

Dr Who Information Network (DWIN) Pub Night

There is a regular Doctor Who Tavern/Pub gathering in Toronto on the first Thursday of each month
Where: Paupers Pub, 539 Bloor Street West (near Bathurst). We meet up at the back near the dartboards.
When: People usually start to arrive around 8:00pm.

Friday September 2

Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox Presents:
Otherwordly: The Art of Canadian Costume Design
Where:Reitman Square on the north-west corner of King and John Streets (350 King Street West)
When: September 2 - March 2012, hours
Cost: free

Free exhibition focuses on the work of Canadian costume designers in celebrated fantasy, science fiction and horror films; presented in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Film and Television Costume Arts and Design and complemented with special guests.

The Infinite Kung-Fu Launch Party Graphic novel launch and live music/film event featuring Hop-Fu.
Admission: $5 or free w/ book purchase
Where: Revival, 783 College, Toronto, 416-535-7888
When: 9 pm

Saturday September 10

Friends of the Merril Collection Annual SF/Anime Flea Market
Where: Beeton Auditorium at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street
When: 10 am - 4 pm
Admission: Free
It's time once again for the Friends of the Merril annual SF / Anime Flea Market, one-stop shopping for all of your genre needs. We'll have books, DVDs, games, costume supplies,collectibles, and more avaialble at bargain basement prices.

Sunday September 11

Phineas Phlensing’s Monthly Steampunk Pub Social
Where: Rover’s Pub on Bloor Street West, west of Bathurst across the street from Honest Ed’s.
When: Festivities start at around 1PM.
Costume optional.
(via Lloyd & Yvonne Penney's event email)

Wednesday September 14

Fantastical Fiction Readings by speculative fiction authors Guy Gavriel Kay, Douglas Smith, Hayden Trenholm, Holly Bennett, Erin Bow, Paul Glennon and Robert Paul Weston.
Admission: $10, stu free
Where: , Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, 416-973-4000,
When: 7:30 pm

Authors at Harbourfront Centre:
Paul Glennon, Bookweirder (juvenile fiction)
Where: The Brigantine Room 235 Queens Quay West
When: 7:30 pm
Cost: $10, free for members/students with ID/youth 25 and younger
Chiraroscuro Reading Series Presents: A Chill in the Air
Where: Augusta House, 152 Augusta Avenue
When: 8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Join the Chiaroscuro Reading Series for a night of deliciously chilling stories featuring Katherine Govier, Helen Marshall and Mark Sedore.

Chemists have Solutions
Where: Toronto Reference Library, Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium
When: 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Join Professor Robert H. Morris, Chair of the Chemistry department at the University of Toronto, in celebrating the International Year of Chemistry. Pivotal moments in research, the role of chemistry in everyday life, and the future of chemistry with examples of current research at the U.of T. will be discussed.

Saturday September 17

Book Launch
Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales
Where: Bakka-Phoenix Books (84 Harbord Street, just west of Spadina)
When: 3-6 p.m
More info
Sunday September 18

Space-Time Continnum meeting
Where: Bakka Phoenix Books, 84 Harbord Street
When: 1 PM
Discussion topic: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wednesday September 21

Toronto Public Library Author Talks
Eoin Colfer
When: 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Where: Toronto Reference Library The Appel Salon
Cost: free, but ticket required (details below)

Irish author Eoin Colfer, best known for his Artemis Fowl series for young readers, discusses his much-anticipated adult crime-fiction debut Plugged.

Colfer's novels have often been compared to the works of J.K. Rowling. In 2008, he was commissioned to write the sixth instalment of the popular Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, And Another Thing. His other works include the New York Times bestseller Airman.

Note: Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are required for admission to all Appel Salon events. Tickets are free, and are available online, at, sstarting four weeks before the event, unless otherwise noted.

As most Appel Salon events are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a full program, your free reservation may not guarantee admission. Unclaimed reservations will be released to standby customers ten minutes prior to the start of the program. We recommend that you arrive early.

Sunday September 25

Word on the Street, National Book and Magazine Festival
Where: Queen's Park
When: 11am - 6pm
Authors in attendance include: Robert J. Sawyer, Kelley Armstrong, Kenneth Oppel

Tuesday September 27

Toronto Public Library Author Talks
The Medieval Muslim World's Forgotten Contributions to Science 
When: 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

During the eighth and ninth centuries, while Europe was locked in the Dark Ages, Muslim civilization was at its zenith. Were it not for the scientists and thinkers of the medieval Islamic world, the modern world would not have algebra, modern medicine, astronomy and much else. Presented by Dr. Aliya Khan, Professor of Clinical Medicine, McMaster University.

Wednesday September 28

Author Reading
Erin Morgenstern
Where: 27 Dudurn St. North (One Block North of King St.)  HAMILTON
When: 7 pm
Cost: $3

Friday September 30

Toronto Cartoonists Workshop: Industry Night Presents DC New 52: Francis Manapul (Flash #1)
Where: 587A College (at Clinton)
When: 7 - 11 pm
Admission: Pay what you can (suggested $4)
- gallery exhibition and art sale
- proceeds from admission go to the Joe Shuster Awards

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Fan Expo Canada part 6: Web Comics

Last but not least, comics that were advertised at Fan Expo.

Let's start with The Heroes of the World.

It's been 50 years since the Fraternity of Insidious Soldiers of Terror were driven into the shadows.  The F.I.S.T. was an unstoppable force until the heroes of the Unified Taskforce Elite fought back and defeated them.  The defenders of U.N.I.T.E. now monitor the peace of the world and protect the innocent with a new array of international heroes and allies.  U.N.I.T.E.'s greatest ally comes in the form of an energetic, vibrant hero-in-training, OREH GAIA!  He battles against the evil villains of the F.I.S.T. regime, as one of the U.N.I.T.E. defenders.  The earth's resources are being systematically destroyed across the glove, and the true motives of the F.I.S.T. are shrouded in mystery.
Post Script is an online comic strip about "the ever after of fairy tales".
Fall On Me is "a webcomic about love, videogames and tea."
SillWill Press has a comic trilogy coming out called The Sorcerer's Children.

And last comes a traditional comic (as opposed to a web comic), Blue Estate.

BLUE ESTATE is a supercool new title from Viktor Kalvachev and Image Comics ON SALE APRIL 6, 2011!

BLUE ESTATE is a high-octane adrenalin shot of comic violence, violent comedy, tangled alliances,
mistaken identities, desperate heroes,ruthless villains & MAXIMUM FIREPOWER!!!

BLUE ESTATE it's a state of mind

And if you've got enough comics to read and you want to listen to interviews with comic book creators and discussions about what's happening with comics today, then check out Comic Geek Speak, "a FREE daily conversation about all things comic related".

Fan Expo Canada part 5: Webseries

Several booths were at the con advertising their webseries and comic strips (I was going to add comics to this post but it got too long, so they'll get their own post later today).  Looking for more entertainment?  Check out some of the following:

Riese: Kingdom Falling premieres the steampunk digital series Riese: Kingdom Falling, winner of Streamy Awards for Best Cinematography and nominee for Best Sound Design and Art Direction. The series was created by Ryan Copple and Kaleena Kiff and produced by Galen Fletcher and Nicholas Humphries.

Riese: Kingdom Falling takes place in Eleysia, a dying kingdom where distrust and anxiety have clouded people's minds, causing a regression into primitive ways of thinking. Rituals and mythology have resurged, and the darker side of mankind has begun to reveal itself. Riese, a wanderer, travels across the decaying land with her wolf, Fenrir. Marked as a heretic by religious group The Sect and the new Empress, Riese must evade their assassins and discover their true intentions for Eleysia.

Narrated by Amanda Tapping (Sanctuary), the series stars a cavalcade of talent from the world of popular speculative drama including Christine Chatelain (The Bone Collector); Sharon Taylor (Stargate Universe); Ben Cotton (Harper's Island), Allison Mack (Smallville); Ryan Robbins (Caprica); Patrick Gilmore (Stargate Universe); Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica) and Emilie Ullerup (Sanctuary).
The first season (10 episodes) is up online and they're starting a card battle RPG based on the show. Alas, if you're like me and outside the US, you can't watch this.  :(

A more world friendly webseries is Pretty in Geek, about a group of LARPers. Or will be.  So far, all they have up is a how to video on turning invisible.  Their website states that all 8 episodes will be released this year.
Pretty in Geek is an eight-episode sitcom about a bunch of girls who playing D&D, becoming friends, and all the in-game orc killing you could want. Or at least, the attempted-in-game-orc-killing.

Next up is Heroes of the North, a Canadian superhero team.

Welcome to Heroes of the North, an award winning, unique transmedia experience set in the universe of Canadian superheroes.

The story of the first season is told through 20 live action webisodes, 8 comic books, a diary, video games (coming soon!), characters tech sheets, characters facebook pages, universe related websites, etc.

Each elements contributes a building block to a bigger and better comprehension of the events and actors in the story.

We hope you enjoy your exploration of the Heroes of the North Universe!

Monday 29 August 2011

Fan Expo Canada part 4: Celebrities and Artists

There was quite a line up of celebrities at the show, most of whom I caught a glimpse of at one time or another at the autograph area.  Alas, I didn't get to see Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), though I suspect he was being mobbed by teen girls everywhere he went.

Here are some shots I took:
Anthony Daniels (Star Wars: C3PO)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek: Uhura)
(Star Trek the Next Generation: Deanna Troi)
(A Clockwork Orange: Alex)
Michael Biehn (Aliens: Hicks, Terminator: Kyle Reese)
(Stargate: Daniel)
(Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger)

As for Artist Alley, there were so many fantastic artists on display that instead of doing a post that basically just mentions them by name, I'll be doing more artist spotlight posts in the coming year.

I'm posting this picture because I loved the guys stuff so much I bought the dark Phoenix picture on the top.  Alas, the artist has no website and I'd assumed the print was signed so I didn't ask his name, so I don't know who it is.  It's a shame as he does good work.  (And I'm saying 'he' because there were 2 guys running the booth.  The artist may be a woman though.) 

And this picture was just... interesting.  The eyeball plants reminded me of Labyrinthe.  Their site is Ghoul Friday if you want to see what else they have.

Fan Expo Canada part 3: Steampunk

No recent con is complete without a decent steampunk presence.  There are several great costumes in the round-up in my picasa album.

The Toronto Steampunk Society (the link is to their facebook group) and Steampunk Canada had a really cool booth:

There was also an amazing assortment of steampunk jewelry and memorabilia on sale.
The above jewelry was made by Irina Pertseva at Black Currant Jewelry.

Unfortunately, while I did collect business cards from several booths, the one selling the sextants didn't have a card, so I can't say who made them.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Fan Expo Canada part 2: Odd Booth Merchandise

One of the best parts of fan expo is finding all the truly unique items for sale.
Naturally there were a lot of booths selling Angry Birds plush toys.  This booth had a nice little display for them.  And while I didn't see it, someone got a picture of an Angry Birds board game.  o_O

Then there was this booth of zombie inspired merchandise (I loved the 'Zombies love a Girl with Brains' t-shirts).  Go to to learn more about them.

But zombies weren't the only creatures to get a dedicated booth, baby vampires, or Vamplets, got one too!  You could even meet them.  Each plush Vamplet had its own story, like Count Vlad Von Gloom, "So cute but so CRUEL, descended from DRAC, BLOOD is always his favourite snack!"  Here's their website:

Want something for your baby vampire to munch on?  How about a bloody stuffed animal?

And if you want nifty patterned socks or other cute clothes, check out's Crazy Heads line.  I really liked their sushi socks.  :)

Got a baby on board?  They were also selling super cute superhero inspired onesies.

Another surprisingly popular item was exotic contact lenses.  I passed several booths selling them, but this one had a really nice chart of what you could get.

These last two took the cake for bizarre though.  The first are cleavage dragons, sold at the Crosstime Traders booth.
The explanatory note in the doorway reads:
Cleavage Dragons!

Wenches, Vixens, Ladies of the Kingdom!  Have you ever had a Lord hold converstion with you and the entire time he is staring at your bosoms?

Well, here's your chance to have something staring back!

Not just a conversation piece, these little "Defenders of the Realm", will let them know they may not treat upon these grounds.  Naming them is fun too!

And the second is a unique tribute to the recently deceased Jack Layton.  Not sure who the artist is.

Fan Expo Canada part 1: The Con

Like last year, I only had the chance to get downtown for Fan Expo this year, on Saturday.  Unlike last year, the staff knew what was going on and where to direct people.  I still had to wait about an hour before getting into the show, but that's normal.  It was in the roomier South building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and they'd opened some of the side rooms into the main exhibit hall and provided a decent amount of seating.

There were a lot of great costumes.  Here are some of the highlights for me:

If you want to see more, check out my picasa album (which I've just discovered allows me to put a slideshow of the photos on my blog!).

There were several Sucker Punch! Babydolls and a lot of X-Men characters.

Stay tuned for more Fan Expo fun.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Publisher Spotlight: Tu Books

Tu Books is the new science fiction, fantasy and mystery imprint of Lee & Low books, launching this September.  I discovered them via NetGalley when they ok'd my request to review Tankborn by Karen Sandler (which will be posted early September).

About Tu Books:
Fantasy, science fiction, and mystery: these genres draw in young readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Books to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market—and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers. By focusing on diverse settings and characters in fantastic stories, we also open up worlds to all readers.

The word "tu" means "you" in many languages, and in Ainu (the language of Japan's native people), it means "many." Tu Books is dedicated to publishing fantasy, science fiction, and mystery for children and young adults inspired by many cultures from around the world, to reach the "you" in each reader.

The best way to encourage a love of reading is to provide stories that all readers can identify with. Books for children can be both a mirror and a window to other worlds for readers. Tu Books hopes that by publishing books for children that feature multicultural characters and settings and books with worlds inspired by all the many non-Western cultures in the world, we might shine a mirror on you and open a window to many.
Here's an interview with editor Stacy Whitman, explaining why Tu Books uses cultural consultants in order to get accurate depictions of histories and cultures in their books.  You can also follow them on twitter and like their parent company on facebook.

Friday 26 August 2011

New Author Spotlight: T. C. McCarthy

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today's spotlight shines on T. C. McCarthy.

T. C. McCarthy's books include:

  • Germline by T.C. McCarthy (Orbit)

Here's the cover copy for Germline:
Germline (n.) the genetic material contained in a cellular lineage which can be passed to the next generation. Also: secret military program to develop genetically engineered super-soldiers (slang).

War is Oscar Wendell's ticket to greatness. A reporter for The Stars and Stripes, he has the only one way pass to the front lines of a brutal war over natural resources buried underneath the icy, mineral rich mountains of Kazakhstan.

But war is nothing like he expected. Heavily armored soldiers battle genetically engineered troops hundreds of meters below the surface. The genetics-the germline soldiers-are the key to winning this war, but some inventions can't be undone. Some technologies can't be put back in the box.

Kaz will change everything, not least Oscar himself. Hooked on a dangerous cocktail of adrenaline and drugs, Oscar doesn't find the war, the war finds him.

If you like this title, you might also like:

  • Embedded by Dan Abnett (Angry Robot)
  • Death's Head by David Gunn (Del Rey)
  • Rebels In Arms by Ben Weaver (Eos)

Thursday 25 August 2011

BBC Comedy - Single White Feline

Single White Female tries to figure out why all her relationships go sour... FAST.  At least she's got a cat to love.  The BBC embedding info mentions that this may not be visible outside the UK (though I'm in Canada and able to watch it).  If you can't see it here, try their site.

I'll have more SF/F related posts again starting tomorrow. Just needed a kitty break.   :)

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Kittywood Studios

I'm a little busy this week so I'm copping out of my regular posts and putting up some awesome kitty videos I found. First up, Kittywood Studios: Cat Videos Incorporated, which I got from pixelspersecond's youtube site.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Book Review: Fail Harder by the Community

Pros: some honestly funny photos, several categories

Cons: photo quality is low, fail icons are distracting, no captions

Several humour websites have started selling physical books from web content.  This is the second 'Fail' book the community has put together.

The difference between a website and a book however, is the expectation of added content.  When Lonely Planet made their Signspotting books (of which the first is funnier than the second - I heaven't read the subsequent ones), they put captions under the photos that 1) made the photos funnier and 2) often pointed out what the error was.

With Fail Harder, some of the photos are out of focus (to be expected when dealing with amateur submissions, but one thinks given the number of photos in their archives, they could have avoided this problem this early in the book deals).  Some of the photos take time to figure out what the 'fail' is, since there's no context for the photo.  And with many of the photos, the word 'fail' is superimposed, which, along with the unexplained fail icons (from the blog?) are distracting, feeling more like a pop up ad you can't get rid of then a helpful image.

While several of the photos are honestly funny and they are nicely categorized, it's not the best web based humour book out there.

The book comes out September 6th.

I've taken screenshots from's 'look inside' feature to illustrate my point above.  The first is from Fail Harder, the second, with amusing caption, is from Signspotting.

For those of you who can't read the caption, it says, "All traffic will be temporarily rerouted through Mecca."

Friday 19 August 2011

New Author Spotlight: Andrew P. Mayer

New Author Spotlight is a series designed to introduce authors with 3 books or less in the different SF/F subgenres.

Today's spotlight shines on Andrew Mayer.

Andrew P. Mayer's books include:

  • The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer (Pyr)

Here's the cover copy for The Falling Machine:
In 1880 women aren’t allowed to vote, much less dress up in a costume and fight crime...

But twenty-year-old socialite Sarah Stanton still dreams of becoming a hero. Her opportunity arrives in tragedy when the leader of the Society of Paragons, New York’s greatest team of gentlemen adventurers, is murdered right before her eyes. To uncover the truth behind the assassination, Sarah joins forces with the amazing mechanical man known as The Automaton. Together they unmask a conspiracy at the heart of the Paragons that reveals the world of heroes and high-society is built on a crumbling foundation of greed and lies. When Sarah comes face to face with the megalomaniacal villain behind the murder, she must discover if she has the courage to sacrifice her life of privilege and save her clockwork friend.

The Falling Machine takes place in a Victorian New York powered by the discovery of Fortified Steam, a substance that allows ordinary men to wield extraordinary abilities, and grant powers that can corrupt gentlemen of great moral strength. The secret behind this amazing substance is something that wicked brutes will gladly kill for and one that Sarah must try and protect, no matter what the cost.

If you like this title, you might also like:

  • Soulless by Gail Carriger (Orbit)
  • Agatha H. and the Airship City by Phil Foglio & Kaja Foglio (Night Shade Books)
  • The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer (St. Martin's Press)

Thursday 18 August 2011

Book Review: City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates

Pros: slow paced, intricate plot, disparate stories draw together into tight conclusion, mystery, enough action to retain interest, nifty characters and history, well told

Cons: hard to picture (purposely sparse details)

Tom, a street-nick from the City Below has illegally climbed to the heights of the City of a Hundred Rows, Thaiburley.  There, he witnesses a murder and evades the capture of Kite Guard Tylus.

Tasked with finding the boy, Tylus heads to the lowest level, where trouble is brewing among the street-nicks.  Meanwhile, Tom, trying to return to his home turf, is hunted by numerous things.

The city is intricately designed, from each Row having a separate purpose (one for merchants, one for bakers, etc.), to the limited technology employed by the inhabitants and the alien 'flatheads' (aka: Jeradine) and the caste systems (councillors, Arkademics, swarbs, merchants, street-nicks) and the posturing among the Kite and regular Guards.

Despite the complexity of the city and its players there's no real info dumping.  Characters comment on and think about their world in wholly natural ways.

The story unfolds slowly with a mix of action and exploration - as Tylus goes to the City Below for the first time and as Tom travels down the levels and through territory he's never been to before on his own level.

The characters are interesting and complex, drawing you along during those rare quiet moments.  And when things with the street-nicks begin to get interesting, all the plot lines tie up well - with a few left open for the sequel.

My only complaint - and I use the word loosely - is that, because you only get descriptions via the characters, it's hard to get an overall picture of Thaiburley.  It's huge and carved out of a mountain and I suspect the author left parts of it to the reader's imagination in order to emphasize its strangeness and size. 

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Rolling Bomber Special

I came across this short film a while ago that spoofs Power Rangers.  According to JAPATTACK, it was part of the SMAP short film anthology made from the TV show, SMAP x SMAP.  It was directed by Tetsuya Nakashima.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Pros: one of the best working utopian/dystopian societies I've read, clever, multi-layered

Cons: underdeveloped characters, pacing issues

After the Unification, a computer (Uni) was set up to monitor the world, deciding what jobs people would have, who could have children, when people could travel and more.  Weekly treatments keep everyone docile and happy.  Except for a few incurables.  People like Li RM35M4419, or Chip, as he prefers to be called.

The novel follows Chip from the time he spent with his grandfather, one of the members who created Uni, to the times he frees himself enough from his treatments to know that he actually hates the computer that has run his life since birth and decides to fight it.  His inability to be content with his current situation in life causes problems for himself and those around him.

Despite following his life, Chip's really just a narrator through the world.  He never changes beyond losing and regaining his Uni induced conditioning.  Through his actions and observations we learn more about this future, without really learning more about him.  Aside from his dissatisfaction with his life, his only individual actions are pride and jealousy, especially where Lilac is concerned. 

Every other character remains fairly flat.  Lilac especially makes some surprising decisions given previous events.

The pacing is a bit peculiar as each section jumps a number of years, forcing you to become reacquainted with Chip and his current circumstances.  But, as each segment ramps up Chip's rebellion, it does flow well towards the climax.

The main hallmark of a dystopian society is a lack of freedom - evident here.  But this is the first time I've read a dystopian novel where, rather than be horrified by how the quality of life has gone down, due to repression (as in 1984), excess & conditioning (Brave New World), science/population concerns (The Declaration, Unwind) or fear (Battle Royale), this one flourishes.  It actually sounds like a decent world.  Yes, you don't get to chose where you live or what job you hold or even if you can have kids.  But no one's hungry or homeless or without health care.  Everyone has a job and is considered family.  You're expected to have sex once a week, watch a moderate amount of television and enjoy your free time without being selfish with regards to materials.  It's not perfect, but it's better than some potential futures.  It's a world build on equality that needs no money and is genetically engineering people so physical differences are no longer concerns.  The only dystopian novel I've read that comes close to this is The Giver, which had problems this world doesn't have.

This is a thought provoking book.