Monday, November 15, 2010

North to Toronto!


I realize how tedious this is for you to hear, but -- I'm on the road again!  Only, this time I'm going to Toronto, the City of Peace and a terrific place to visit.  So much so that that I'm flying out there several days early for my SFContario guest of honor gig just so I can spend some time enjoying the city.  I'm planning on having a terrific time.

SFContario premieres this weekend, November 19-21st, and its list of participants includes such stellar Canadian SF writers as Peter WattsJo WaltonRobert J. SawyerKarl Schroeder . . . and I'd better stop there before the list becomes long enough that those I leave off feel offended.

Thinking about the above writers -- and specific others who won't be in attendance -- it struck me that the long project to create a distinctly Canadian science fiction is beginning to bear fruit.  Not that I could map out its distinctions for you, and granted that Jo Walton is an immigrant, and okay yes it's an extremely varied set of writers and fictions.  But it's easy to think of Jo, Rob, Karl and (since I've never met him) Mr. Watts as being engaged on a common enterprise congruent with but distinct from that which we practice in the States.

I could be wrong, of course.  It might be simply that I know these folks all know one another and trade ideas and influences.  But I think that something positive is coalescing up in the North.

And the rather disappointing answer to my Friday teaser is . . .

There were a couple of responses to my Friday blog guessing as to why the stairs to my office are named the Dragon Staircase, and they were so much more interesting than the truth, that I'm rather sorry I brought it up.

But a promise is a promise, so . . .

When Marianne bought the house, two years before we were married, it was a fixer-upper.  In our early years together, we replaced the ceiling in what is now my office (and, ripping out drywall, discovered the remains of a brick chimney), sledge-hammered the base of the shower in the downstairs bath and ripped out the rusted shower walls (a rumpled girlie magazine fell out from behind it), and steamed off five layers of wallpaper, each one uglier than the one before, so we could repaint the walls, and . . .  Well, the list goes on and on.  We made what felt like hundreds of repairs.

These included hiring carpenters to replace the stair treads.  We left the traditional handful of coins inside the stairs and then I drew a small dragon on the bottom tread.  It was meant as a kind of sign or pledge or even prayer that our lives would not be conventional ones,

And, God knows, we have kept that promise.



Tom Lawrence said...

I must ask. Why is it traditional to place a handful of coins inside the stairs?

Zvi said...

Hi Michael! Looking forward to SFContario...

What are you checking out in Toronto? Any suggestions needed?

One, unsolicited: the renovated Art Gallery of Ontario (Gehry designed) which is quite lovely and well worth seeing if you're an art-lover.

JJM said...

A good decade or more after we graduated from college, I chanced to meet up with a recent graduate who had lived in my old dorm room and heard the story that there was a rumour, just a rumour mind you, that the wall had once had a dragon on it.

A set of previous occupants had requested that room specifically (so the story went) because of the dragon but, after a while, realized it wasn't meant to be their dragon, and the wall was re-painted, although there was a noticeable bump where the jewelled eye had been. Eventually, even that was removed, and thus the last bit of corroborative evidence was gone.

My informant was utterly and completely amazed when I told the tale of Scatha of the Flowers and the soon-to-be famous author who had drawn her on our wall ... How I wish I'd had the photograph with me to show!

I'm glad to see such a familiar silhouette on your stairs, Michael. You have improved your art ... :)

Michael Swanwick said...

Ahh, Scatha! She was always my favorite.

My artwork has indeed improved. But not to the point, alas, that I can do anything with it. I've never had fantasies of being a serious visual artists. But sometimes I do think wistfully how nice it would be if I were half as good a watercolorist as was Queen Victoria.

Michael Swanwick said...

Oh and, Tom, I've answered your question in Thursday's blog.