Monday, March 23, 2020

Invaders From Planet 3 - Ep 38 - Naomi Novik

Author Naomi Novik joins us for the season 4 finale of Invaders From Planet 3!

Naomi tells us how her love of fantasy and science fiction was born when her mother read Polish fairy tales to her, such as Agnieszka "Piece of the Sky". At the same time, her parents were reading the Disney picture book version of Peter Pan to her, along with Tolkien's The Hobbit, and other works. She tells us how the Polish stories helped create a bond between her and her mother's past, and how her love of Disney's version of Peter Pan got her started down the road to creating her own stories... or, at least commissioning them at that point.

We also talk about the evolution of Naomi's relationship with fan fiction, from reading it in university, to her early days as a writer when she began creating it, to her eventual decision that it was too constraining for a story she wanted to tell: the story of Lawrence and the dragon Temeraire in her breakout Temeraire series of novels. And she talks about how, even after building a career around her own unique stories, she still enjoys writing fanfic.

Naomi also tells us about feeling liberated when the Temeraire series came to an end. And she discusses the importance of having control over a story's ending, right from the start.

Our conversation took place in the impromptu studio of bloginhood in the Dublin convention centre last summer at Worldcon.

To learn more about Naomi and her stories, visit her website:

To listen to Invaders From Planet 3, or to subscribe, visit Libsyn, iTunes, or your other favourite podcatching service. Be sure to rate and review us while you're there!

Let the Invasion begin!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Invaders From Planet 3 - Ep 37 - Dublin Worldcon Voice of the Fans 3

Just in time for St. Patrick's Day, it's this season's third and final Voice of the Fans episode, recorded at the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin, Ireland!

The quartet of commentators in this episode includes:

Author Daniel Bensen

Reviewer Carien Ubink

Academic and author Dr. Tiffani Angus

And aspiring writer and Glasgow Worldcon bid volunteer Robin Duncan

Stay tuned for more regular-length interviews with authors, editors, artists, performers and others involved in science fiction, fantasy, comics, and all points in between.

To listen to Invaders From Planet 3, or to subscribe, visit Libsyn, iTunes, or your other favourite podcatching service. Be sure to rate and review us while you're there!

Let the Invasion begin!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Invaders From Planet 3 - Ep 36 - Walter Jon Williams

Author Walter Jon Williams joins us in this episode! We talk about his first loves in science fiction, including Heinlein's Have Spacesuit — Will Travel and John Schealer's Zip-Zip Goes to Venus. And Walter tells us about his evolution as a writer: from feeling the compulsion to write at age 3, to getting a rejection letter from the editor of The New Yorker, to writing historical fiction novels, to getting into sf. He also reflects on the nature of his compulsion to write, including finding a balance between the business needs of writing and the compulsion, and eventually watching the compulsion die.

We also talk about the universe of science fiction publishing, and the change from the days of limited selection to today's huge output of stories, and the challenges of maintaining a sense of what the community is talking about. We discuss Walter's time in the spotlight in the 1980s when his cyberpunk novel Hardwired garnered love and hate. And he shares the story of his involvement in the Wild Cards mosaic superhero novels, including his coining of "toaster" as a derogatory term for androids.

And Walter shares some details from his two newest novels, Quillifer the Knight (published in late 2019), and the latest, as-yet-untitled Praxis novel, due later this year.

Our conversation took place in the impromptu studio of bloginhood in the Dublin convention centre last summer at Worldcon 2019.

To learn more about Walter and his novels, visit his website:

To listen to Invaders From Planet 3, or to subscribe, visit Libsyn, iTunes, or your other favourite podcatching service. Be sure to rate and review us while you're there!

Let the Invasion begin!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Invaders From Planet 3 - Ep 35 - Diane Walton

On Spec Magazine Managing Editor and Sunburst Award Board of Directors Chairperson Diane Walton joins us for this episode. She talks about her first love in science fiction, Andre Norton's novel The Stars Are Ours!, and reading everything in the genre she could get her hands on, including the works of Clifford Simak and James Blish.

Diane also shares the story of how an Alberta writers' group gave rise to On Spec Magazine (one of Canada's major speculative fiction magazines), and how she eventually ended up in the Editor's chair. She tells us about the challenges of finding funding for the publication, navigating a publishing universe where print and electronic versions of the magazine are available, what this means in terms of garnering a global readership, what it's like running the operation off the side of her desk, and the kinds of stories that get her excited.

And we learn about how the Sunburst Award (Canada's juried award for literature of the fantastic) ignited. Diane talks about what's involved in running the award, and why Canada even needs two awards for speculative fiction. Lastly, she reflects on how Canada's sf&f scene has changed over the years.

Our conversation took place in the impromptu bloginhood studio in the Dublin convention centre at the 2019 Worldcon last summer.

Find out more about On Spec Magazine on its website:

And you can discover which novels and short stories have won the Sunburst Award on its page:

To listen to Invaders From Planet 3, or to subscribe, visit Libsyn, iTunes, or your other favourite podcatching service. Be sure to rate and review us while you're there!

Let the Invasion begin!

*Note: In the interests of disclosure, at the time of this interview, and as of the time of the posting of this episode, I have served as a member of the Sunburst Award board of directors. This in no way influenced my line of questioning during the interview, or the editing of this episode.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Farewell to Mike Resnick

Another of the giants has passed. The new year has started with a sad note for the science fiction community: a few days ago, Laura Resnick announced her father, legendary author Mike Resnick, died after a battle with cancer (and the family is still raising money through GoFundMe to pay for medical expenses, so consider following this link and helping out).

Resnick was one of those voices in the genre that was around as long as I can recall. I can't remember my first encounter with his work, but it might have been his short story "Balance" in the 1989 anthology Foundation's Friends — Stories in Honor of Isaac Asimov, edited by Martin H Greenberg. I enjoyed his Old West science fiction novel The Doctor and the Kid, about Doc Holliday, but my favourite was Resnick's contribution to George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois' Old Mars anthology, "In the Tombs of the Martian Kings".

But to really do him justice, we need to hear from a serious fan of Resnick's work. That's why I've brought in my friend Geordie Howe (a guest on one of the first Invaders From Planet 3 "Voice of the Fans" episodes, and the stringer photographer) to write the following editorial on what Mike Resnick meant to him:


Mike Resnick, who, at his zenith, was one of the most popular figures in the science fiction fan and pro community, died January 9. He was nominated for the Hugo Award 37 times, winning 5, and 11 Nebula nominations, with 1 win. He was a Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 in 2012.

His daughter, Laura Resnick, announced his passing in an update to the GoFundMe created for his medical expenses.

For me, he was one of my favourite SF authors. He was a writer, editor, anthologist, and always a fan. 

I first remember encountering his writing in his series on the space brothel, the Velvet Comet, including Eros Ascending (1984), Eros At Zenith (1984), Eros Descending (1985) and Eros At Nadir (1986), some of which were first published by the small press, Phantasia Press.

I came to his non-fiction writings as a subscriber to the SF fanzine, Lan’s Lantern, where Mike’s travel stories were always a highlight.

Then there was his Lucifer Jones series, those about Santiago, his award-winning Kirinyaga series, the Widowmaker series, several other series, and a long list of novels, including Ivory (1988) — a spin on Richard F. Burton — and many others.

Then there was his non-fiction. Again, many, many books, but particular to me are Stalking the Wild Resnick (1991), Unauthorized Autobiographies (1981), Through Darkest Resnick with Gun and Camera (1990), Once a Fan…(2002), …Always a Fan (2009), Resnick Abroad (2012), Resnick on the Loose (2012) and The Business of Science Fiction with Barry N. Malzberg (some of their writing created a bit of sf controversy – but that seems to be standard in today’s social media).

He also edited dozens of anthologies, giving a boost to many, many new writers. There is a lot out there. Check out to see what I mean.

I have numerous stories about encountering Mike. Here are a few:

He was guest of honor at Chicon 7 in Chicago in 2012. My wife, Marianne, and I were there and having dinner in the hotel restaurant the night before the con started. Mike came into the restaurant and did not notice the step drop down to the eating area. I saw what was about to happen and as Mike stumbled, I managed to grab him and support him before he would have completely fallen down. We had a good laugh at that incident with him telling me that it would have been interesting for the con if he had broken something. Later in the con, he presented a slide show entitled “Resnick Family Photos” where he asked the audience to guess the people in the shots. I was getting quite a few when he told me jokingly that I couldn’t play anymore.

Then, in Kansas City in 2016, I was talking to Mike in one of the [Worldcon] convention corridors and Robert Silverberg came up to us to ask directions. Mike went to respond but Silverberg cut him off, stating he had no faith in Mike’s sense of direction and trusted me. However, as it turned out, neither of us knew where the room was that Silverberg needed to be in.

At one kaffeeklatsch at an LA Worldcon, I asked Mike how he managed to write so much. He replied that if you wrote one page a day (as way of example), in a year you’d have a novel. Just write a little each and every day.

Over the years I managed to get Mike to sign most, but not all, of my books by him and attended numerous readings. He had this wonderful old-school habit of reading from paper copies and when the reading was over would give these stories out to audience members. Proudly, I have two of those paper copies in my collection.

His presence (and his wife Carol) have been absent for the last few Worldcons (due to his health) and he was sadly missed. There was then always the potential that I’d meet up with him again at some sf con. Now that is not to be. He will be missed.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Best Books of 2019

In the final hours of the decade, it's dawned on me that I haven't posted any book reviews in a while. I make no apologies for this. Between, travel (Worldcon!), going back to school (like that great sage of yore, Rodney Dangerfield), grief (the unexpected death of my four-year-old cat, Ripley, while in the vet's recovery room after a routine teeth-cleaning procedure) and other happenings in life, I just haven't had the time. But, with a few moments before I head out to celebrate the New Year, I thought I'd highlight my favourite science fiction and fantasy reads of the past year (though, admittedly, not all of them were published in 2019). There were other sf books I enjoyed, but these are the ones that stand out in memory, and they're the ones I'm consistently recommending to others. They are:

They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded by James Alan Gardner
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
Blackfish City by Sam Miller
America City by Chris Beckett

Warning: Spoilers Ahead (though, let's face it, if you're reading this anytime in the next day or so, you're probably on the bring of being sloshed while yowling Auld Lang Syne, or it's the morning after and you're completely hung over, so chances are, you won't remember the spoilers anyway).


They Promised Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded by James Alan Gardner

In James Alan Gardner's first book of his Dark vs Spark series, All Those Explosions Were Someone Else's Fault, we were introduced to a world where vampires, werewolves, demons and other supernatural forces of evil were in control of the world's governmental, financial and cultural elite with their promise of power and eternal life, while superheroes (and occasionally mad geniuses) had risen to fight them. A group of four University of Waterloo roommates (including the story's focal point protagonist, Kim, a gender-fluid student who gains the power of near-indestructibility and the ability to shrink) is thrust into this conflict when they stumble across a scientific experiment gone awry, which gives them superpowers. Mayhem ensues. Good triumphs. Sort of.

Now, in book two, They Told Me the Gun Wasn't Loaded, the struggle continues, with the focus changing to another of the friends, Jools, a jock with what's possibly early-stage alcoholism who becomes peak human. Essentially, she's the best at everything a normal human could do. Instant Captain America-level mastery of every physical ability in any situation that arises, along with genius-level intellect and complete knowledge of every subject. Like the others, Jools is still coming to grips with her new abilities and their effects on her life when fighting and intrigue involving the forces of darkness leads her to the appropriately-named Transylvania Club (an actual venue in Waterloo) where she's kidnapped by a band of Robin Hood-themed superheroes gone rogue. While fending-off the sexual harassment of the team's leader, Jools has to not only figure out how to escape, but also come to grips with her identity and her right to choose who she is and what she'll become.

TTMTGWL is a worthy follow-up to ATEWSEF, and one hell of a read. Gardner knows how to put together a big, loud, fun mashup adventure while writing three-dimensional, believable characters and stakes that matter personally as well as holding the fate of the world in the balance. It's also a fast read, and one that burns brightly enough that it sticks out in my memory months later. I can't wait to read the next instalment in the series.


A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay

A Brightness Long Ago is another moment in time from Guy Gavriel Kay's fantasy world inspired by real history. It's a world with two moons, a little, fading magic, the occasional ghost or other supernatural creature, but otherwise a close resemblance to our own Medieval and Renaissance past. Here, we have the reminiscence of a nobleman from an analogue of Venice, who recounts his rise from being a nobody of common birth who lucked into a good education, and who, by happenstance, repeatedly finds himself caught up in the struggles between his world's version of the jostling Italian city states and their merchant and mercenary princes. One night, he finds himself in proximity to an assassination, and by helping the killer escape, he meets the love of his life: a noblewoman who he can never openly romance. The story takes us to palaces and taverns, staging grounds for sieges, and pivots around a high-stakes (and potentially lethal) horse race. In the end, our protagonist, now one of the movers-and-shakers of his world, reflects on what matters the most.

Kay is a brilliant writer and ABLO is an exquisitely-crafted story. It didn't make me cry like his previous novel, Children of Earth and Sky, did, but I came pretty close. Just go out and experience this book as soon as you can.


Blackfish City by Sam J Miller

Imagine if William Gibson and Cory Doctorow decided to get together and write a post-climate-disaster ecopunk story, with some ad-hoc family suggestions from Kit Reed, and a dash of Rob Grant & Doug Naylor humour. You'd have something approaching Sam J Miller's Blackfish City, a yarn about a biohacked woman who's psychically linked to an orca who comes to a floating Arctic city with a polar bear in tow, looking to find what's left of her family and exact revenge upon the corporate types who destroyed her people. Throw in a gutter punk courier, a rich kid coming down with what appears to be a collective unconscious-channelling cognitive disease, a washed-up fighter, a city bureaucrat who's trying to hold things together and help her sick mother, warring gangsters and rich guys, and a mysterious, illegal story about the city that its residents can't get enough of, and you're ready to go wading into Miller's future. Just make sure you get yourself a bowl of steaming noodles while you're there.

Miller's absorbing, thoughtful and entertaining story paints a future where humanity is barely treading water in a sea of its own mistakes in painfully real detail. But for all that, humanity is still treading water, and there is hope and meaning to be found, both for society and, most importantly, for the protagonists individually and as a thrown-together family. Definitely worth the read.


America City by Chris Beckett

In America City, Chris Beckett presents an all-too-believable future where, due to climate change and higher sea levels, the US Eastern Seaboard is evermore frequently knocked flat by super hurricanes, the Southwest has become a virtually uninhabitable desert, and Americans are starting to turn on each other. Amidst all of this, a liberally-inclined (at least, initially), British-born communications professional, Holly, is recruited by Senator Slaymaker, a straight-shooting, down-home, right-wing entrepreneur with a military past to help his bid for the US presidency. To set their candidate apart from the rest of the pack, Holly and the rest of Slaymaker's team manufacture from scratch a crisis with Canada. A crisis that develops into a land-grab in Canada's Iqaluit, Northwest, and Yukon territories, eventually the military conquest of most of the great white north. As Slaymaker's fortunes rise and the Old West-style invasion of Canada accelerates, Holly finds herself becoming the type of person she would never have imagined being, and losing more than just her old identity.

As always, Beckett does a masterful job of creating believable characters and situations, set in intricately-detailed worlds. For many readers around the world, America City will be a novel about faustian bargains individuals can make in pursuit of professional success and new challenges, about how people change over time, and about the consequences of environmental collapse. To Canadians like me, this novel reads like a horror story, outlining the all-too-plausible invasion of our country by the US, a nation that already tried — and failed — to do this in 1812, which has had its eyes on our oil, water and other resources for years, and which has its notion of manifest destiny (read continental domination) written into its constitution. As a former communications professional, I read this with an eye to Holly's ability to use storytelling and messaging to manufacture and manage a crisis, and found it entirely believable. Really, the novel itself could be used as a manual to create the pretext for an American invasion. And when seemingly rational Americans like Bill Nye start to casually talk about annexing parts of Canada, this story seems less like science fiction and more like a bleak prophecy.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Ep 34 - Dublin Worldcon Voice of the Fans 2

The Invasion takes us back to Dublin for the second Voice of the Fans episode recorded at the 2019 World Science Fiction Convention!

Joining us to share their stories about their first loves in sf are:

Performer and artist Galina Rin of Death Ingloria

Author D. A. Lascelles

Author Kim ten Tusscher

Author J. Sharpe


Author and narrator R. B. Watkinson

Stay tuned for more regular-length interviews and Voice of the Fans episodes in the weeks ahead.

To listen to Invaders From Planet 3, or to subscribe, visit Libsyn, iTunes, or your other favourite podcatching service. Be sure to rate and review us while you're there!

Let the Invasion begin!