Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Science Fiction Slapshots

Finally coming to rest on the couch Monday night after hopping around the living room in the hometeam-just-got-a-big-win-in-the-playoffs-ecstacy, I got to thinking about science fiction stories.
Strange, I know. There’s little apparent connection between the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars in game 7 of their first round Stanley Cup playoff series (my hats off to fans in Texas, though – as much as I want Trevor Lindon and what’s affectionately been called in some quarters of the Lower Mainland “half of Finland’s Olympic hockey team” to take the cup, the Stars played one hell of a series and in some games deserved to win a lot more than our inconsistent Canucks did) and speculative fiction. I admit, it’s quite a leap. But for someone who’s passion is first and foremost sci-fi, and the national pastime of the True North a distant third (after good food), that leap is natural.
Flushed with a hockey-high, I got to thinking about how many Canadian SF authors practice their stickhandling with The Game, and while it’s not a theme you see in every story in every magazine or anthology, hockey does get mentioned once in a while.
The one that comes most readily to mind is Phil “The Mallet” Voyd’s heartfelt, funny and intense “Jonny B” (from On Spec’s Winter 2000 edition). It’s a first-person yarn of a regular guy who excels at one thing: Shinny – pick-up games on local outdoor rinks, Armed with his Edmonton Oilers Gretzky jersey, our hero finds himself facing-off against more than just the neighbours out for a little winter fun or an ex-minor-leaguer or NHLer remembering his glory days. No, this time it’s the devil himself, and it’ll be a frosty day in hell before he lets a weekend warrior get the best of him, unless our hero can make him lose his cool.
Another story worth checking out, also concerning the fascination denizens of other planes might have with a sheet of ice, a stick and a puck, is Marissa K. Lingen’s “Carter Hull Recovers the Puck” from On Spec’s Spring 2006 edition.
I could probably rattle a few more off the roster, but it’s getting late and tomorrow’s Game 1 of the Canucks second round series against the Anaheim Ducks. Who knows, if you listen really hard, you might hear, over the roar of the crowd, over the crunch of players against the boards, over the slap of a stick against the puck, the sound of a writer out there putting pen to paper as the game gives rise to new legends.

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