Fantastic Toronto

Toronto is a happenin’ place! A list of SF&F stories set in Toronto:

Fantastic Toronto

Someday I’ll have to go through the list and figure out which ones I’ve read.

I liked the thematic lists at the end of the page:

bq. *Vampires*: Nancy Baker, “Cold Sleep,” “Exodus 22:18,” The Night Inside and Blood and Chrysanthemums; Stephanie Bedwell-Grime, The Bleeding Sun; Robert Boyczuk, “Doing Time”; E.L. Chen, “Fin-de-siècle”; all of Tanya Huff’s Blood novels plus seven related stories; Karl Schroeder, “Dawn.”

bq. *Werewolves*: Kelley Armstrong, Bitten and Broken; Don Bassingthwaite, Breathe Deeply, Pomegranates Full and Fine, and As One Dead; Sara Joan Berniker, “My Mother in the Market”; Tanya Huff, Blood Trail.

bq. *Zombies*: Kelley Armstrong, Broken; Tony Burgess, Pontypool Changes Everything.

posted at 7:07 pm on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 in Books, Links | Comments Off on Fantastic Toronto

sf book meme

via “Tanya”: Out of the 50, I’ve read 22, loved 10, hated 2, and never put down any of the ones I started. Not too bad, but could be better, considering my SF&F shelves have over 1000 books. (I’m amused by the set of (mainly older) SF that I’ve read but Tanya hasn’t…)

The Meme:

This is a list of the 50 most significant science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club.

Bold the ones you’ve read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put an asterisk beside the ones you loved.

-*The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien*-
*The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov*
*Dune, Frank Herbert*
*Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein*
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
*Neuromancer, William Gibson*
*Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke* *
*Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick*
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
*Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury*
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
-*The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov*-
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
*Cities in Flight, James Blish* *
*The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett* *
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
*Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey* *
*Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card* *
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
*The Forever War, Joe Haldeman* *
*Gateway, Frederik Pohl* *
*Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling*
*The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams* *
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
*Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke*
*Ringworld, Larry Niven*
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
*Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson* *
*Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner* *
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
*Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein*
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

posted at 10:38 pm on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 in Books, Personal | Comments (2)
  1. Helge Koch says:

    If you haven’t read Dahlgren, I will lend it to you. An incredible read. Samuel Delany is a black English Professor who lived and wrote in Manhatten at one time. The story line is about a collapsed civilization in a place that sounds a lot like New York, and the wanderings and adventures of as young man who is probably not quite right in the head. Delany wrote several other books and some short stories too, but none as good as this. Check him out on Wikipedia. Helge

  2. chk says:

    I have a copy of “Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand”, but I don’t have anything else by Delany. Yes, I’d love to borrow Dhalgren sometime.

    On the other hand, it was your copy of “Cities in Flight” that I read, and you recommended “Gateway” and its sequels to me, so I think we’re doing ok :).

more movies

“Film of the Book: Top 50 movie adaptations revealed”:,,1756384,00.html

I’ve marked the one’s I’ve seen (any version of) and/or read (12 books, 20 movies, including 10 “both”):

1. [BM] 1984
2. [BM] Alice in Wonderland
3. American Psycho
4. [M] Breakfast at Tiffany’s
5. Brighton Rock
6. [BM] Catch 22
7. [BM] Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
8. A Clockwork Orange
9. Close Range (inc Brokeback Mountain)
10. [BM] The Day of the Triffids
11. Devil in a Blue Dress
12. Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption)
13. [BM] Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner)
14. Doctor Zhivago
15. [M] Empire of the Sun
16. [M] The English Patient
17. [M] Fight Club
18. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
19. [M] Get Shorty
20. The Godfather
21. [BM] Goldfinger
22. Goodfellas
23. [M] Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now)
24. [B] The Hound of the Baskervilles
25. [M] Jaws
26. [BM] The Jungle Book
27. A Kestrel for a Knave (aka Kes)
28. LA Confidential
29. Les Liaisons Dangereuses
30. Lolita
31. [B] Lord of the Flies
32. [M] The Maltese Falcon
33. [M] Oliver Twist
34. [BM] One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
35. Orlando
36. The Outsiders
37. Pride and Prejudice
38. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
39. [M] The Railway Children
40. Rebecca
41. The Remains of the Day
42. [M] Schindler’s Ark (aka Schindler’s List)
43. Sin City
44. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
45. The Talented Mr Ripley
46. Tess of the D’Urbervilles
47. Through a Glass Darkly
48. To Kill a Mockingbird
49. Trainspotting
50. The Vanishing
51. [BM] Watership Down

posted at 11:06 am on Friday, April 28, 2006 in Books, Movies, Personal | Comments Off on more movies

book tracking

“Holly Lisle”: has three new books out, and I missed them all because all of my usual book tracking sources stopped tracking new books at the same time! I happened to visit her website the other day and discovered this. Now I have to go track down all of the other authors I like and double-check that I haven’t missed anything else…

posted at 11:48 am on Sunday, June 19, 2005 in Books, Personal | Comments Off on book tracking


Of course, since I drive to work now, I don’t have commute-time for reading anymore, so I should really get off the computer and go read one of those books I just bought. But Firestarter: Rekindled is on in two hours :-)

posted at 8:06 pm on Friday, July 23, 2004 in Books, General, Personal | Comments Off on Time

Small Book Stores…

On the way home the other night I stopped at the huge Chapters big-box bookstore at Bayview Village. Sadly, they only had _one_ of the many books I was looking for. This wasn’t obscure stuff, either; it was all recent mass-market SF&F paperbacks. I was quite surprised; the store’s SF&F section alone is larger than some small mall bookstores. Naturally, the computer said that all but one of the books were available at four _other_ big box stores. But I was _in_ Bayview Village…

So today on the way back from Lenscrafters (Charlotte whacked me in the glasses earlier this week, bending them), I stopped into the small Coles store in Fairview Mall. They had all of the books I was looking for (except the Diane Duane ones), and three more besides that I didn’t know I was looking for. This in an SF&F section about one-tenth the size of the one in Bayview Village!

Sure, I could order this stuff online. However, with the cheaper selections I get no discount at, a 5% discount at, and a 10% discount in store, so I like to get stuff in store when I can.

posted at 8:05 pm on Friday, July 23, 2004 in Books | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says: can do in-store availability checks.

  2. Harald says:

    Ya, that’s where I generated my list from. Nowadays the in-store computers just refer you to the website, with a little (easy to miss) counter in the upper right telling you how many copies are in the local store…

Recommended Reading

I find it depressing that I own one, and have read none, of the Locus Online: 2003 Recommended Reading list.

(Paladin of Souls, since you asked).

posted at 11:16 pm on Tuesday, February 03, 2004 in Books | Comments Off on Recommended Reading


Well, we broke last year’s record of $400. Our family just spend $600 at the annual school fundraiser at Chapters. Of course, $200 (before discounts) of it was the new Far Side collection :-)

I would have spent more, but they didn’t have some of the books on my “wish list”: in stock, the bums…

posted at 10:49 pm on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 in Books | Comments (2)
  1. Jeff K says:

    Hm, has it for ~ $110 CDN
    (ISBN: 0740721135)

  2. Harald says:

    Apparently there’s a $25 (list) premium for buying in Canada, probably because the exchange rate has dropped so much recently. Anyway, I still got it for 40% off, I didn’t have to pay shipping, and it _was_ for a fundraiser…

Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

I’m on my third copy of _All the Myriad Ways_, because I lent the first two to people who didn’t give them back. It’s one of my favourites, in part because of “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”: The story is now available online legally; go check it out.

posted at 7:10 pm on Monday, November 17, 2003 in Books | Comments Off on Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex

More book banning

I’m only blogging “this book ban article”: because of “Les Orchard’s comment”: :

bq. …because Huxley’s Brave New World might cause “inappropriate sexual arousal of young teens.” Have these people not lived with teens long? An oddly shaped cardboard box will cause sexual arousal in young teens.

I laughed…

posted at 1:28 pm on Friday, September 26, 2003 in Books | Comments Off on More book banning

Banned Books Week

Next week is “Banned Books Week”: again; the annual event that “celebrates the freedom to read and reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.”

Once again, “Harry Potter tops the list of most challenged books”: That’s four years in a row! Sadly, I have not made _any_ improvments in my score on the top 100 banned books list since last year when I mentioned it (other than keeping up with the Potters, of course). Maybe I’ll try to get through some of this year’s top 10:

* Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, for its focus on wizardry and magic.
* Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, for being sexually explicit, using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
* “The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier (the “Most Challenged” book of 1998), for using offensive language and being unsuited to age group.
* “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, for sexual content, racism, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.
* “Taming the Star Runner” by S.E. Hinton, for offensive language.
* “Captain Underpants” by Dav Pilkey, for insensitivity and being unsuited to age group, as well as encouraging children to disobey authority.
* “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, for racism, insensitivity and offensive language.
* “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson, for offensive language, sexual content and Occult/Satanism.
* “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor, for insensitivity, racism and offensive language.
* “Julie of the Wolves” by Julie Craighead George, for sexual content, offensive language, violence and being unsuited to age group.

Oh wait! I’ve read the Captain Underpants books, thanks to my seven year old. At this point, I’m happy to encourage him to read even if it requires doses of Booger Boy and Hairy Potty…

(That ALA press release URL is ugly; if it stops working, you can get there via )

posted at 5:14 pm on Thursday, September 11, 2003 in Books | Comments (1)
  1. Jeff K says:

    I’m surprised there aren’t many challenges based on legal grounds such as defamation, trade secrets, historical inaccuracies, copyright violations etc. Most of the challenges are by parents through schools or school libraries. Truly pathetic. …or telling.

SF Recommended Authors

A continuation of the “SF is not dead”: meme…

I went and looked at my book list, and yes, I have been buying and reading more SF than fantasy these days, and it _is_ because there’s more of it being written these days. Like so many things in the publishing industry, it’s a computer-generated feedback loop. If publishers _print_ more fantasy, then readers will _buy_ more fantasy, at which point the pretty spreadsheets will say “fantasy sells!” and the cycle continues.

(The same phenomenon on the retail side kills mid-list authors. Book stores order books based on an author’s previous sales record, but they don’t seem to track sell-outs and special orders, so over time, an author sells fewer books not because they are less popular, but because the book stores’ automated order systems don’t order as many books. See what happens when you remove human intelligence from the loop?)

But I digress…

There is still good SF being written. Here I present, in no particular order, a list of current SF authors that I recommend reading. Some of these authors have “fantasy” novels too, but they’re usually just as good as the science fiction.

* “John Barnes”:
* “Lois McMaster Bujold”:
* “James Alan Gardner”:
* “Steven Gould”:
* “Robert J. Sawyer”:
* “Melissa Scott”:
* “Allen Steele”:
* “Peter Watts”:
* “Connie Willis”:

And yes, Spider Robinson is absent from this list. He wrote a bunch of really good books in the 80s, and he hasn’t done anything except regurgitate Calahan’s since. Defining Calahan’s as science fiction is a stretch, IMO.

But where is Larry Niven these days? <grin>

posted at 9:23 am on Thursday, September 11, 2003 in Books | Comments (1)
  1. Paul says:

    Larry Niven, alas, is reissuing his old books, and last I understand, was writing another “Burning” Fantasy novel with Pournelle.

Wither Science Fiction?

Spider Robinson has “a rant in today’s Globe and Mail”: about the dismal state of science fiction. The question:

bq. Why are our imaginations retreating from science and space, and into fantasy?

I think there are several reasons:

* Science Fiction isn’t fantastic anymore.
* Good stories are about _people_, not technology.
* Most of the interesting ideas have been used.
* pessimism and disillusionment.
* The distinction between “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” has been blurring.

Good science fiction is about creating a fantastic setting (Moon colonies, space empires, unusual environments, etc.), and then writing about how people coped with, and adpated to, scenarios in those environments. Many of those stories have been done already. The relatively small leaps in tech that used to be interesting aren’t so fantastic anymore; we’re absorbing so many radical changes in our real lives, and are often unhappy about them. Modern life is about recessions, and megacorporations controlling our lives, and war in the middle east; we’re not dreaming nearly as much as we did in the heyday of Science Fiction.

In some modern SF, the science or technology is so complicated that half of the book is spent explaining it (instead of advancing the story). Robert Sawyer’s books are a notable exception to this trend, IMO :-). Either that, or a minor technological gimmick becomes a critical plot point.

I’ve found myself reading more fantasy than SF recently. Partly because that’s what is _available_ these days (good SF writers are harder to find, and aren’t writing as much), anad partly because that’s where the good writing and character development are right now. The SF I’ve been reading are people like John Barnes, Steven Gould, Lois McMaster Bujold; people who haven’t forgotten that the science and technology are _backdrops_ for the stories, not the stories themselves…

posted at 3:40 pm on Monday, September 08, 2003 in Books, Personal, Random Thoughts | Comments (2)
  1. Spiders, SF, and more on the subject
    Well, I’ve enjoyed the comments and thoughts on my entry about Spider Robinson’s rant. I am regretful that I missed that Harald had already beaten me to the punch and wanted to respond to Li’s response. I do lump alternate history into the category of …

  2. SF Recommended Authors
    A continuation of the SF is not dead meme… I went and looked at my book list, and yes, I…

Kid’s Books I Really Like

It suddenly hit me today to do this. There are many more books, and I’ll add them as I remember them :-)

* “Manjusha Pawagi, _The Girl Who Hated Books_”:
* “Thomas King, _Coyote Sings To Moon_”:

posted at 3:39 pm on Wednesday, June 04, 2003 in Books | Comments Off on Kid’s Books I Really Like

Changes at BAKKA

After 22 years, John Rose has sold BAKKA Books, the local Toronto Science Fiction and Fantasy bookshop, to Ben Freiman. John writes:

bq. I had a lot of fun in the years I owned the store, but I’ve been behind the counter a long time, and it’s really time for a change. I owned BAKKA for more than twenty-two years. I sold a lot of great books in those years and met a lot of great people, authors, publishers and customers alike. I began to look for someone who could take over the store, to bring a fresh energy, a new attitude and a renewed interest, to keep it going. Ben’s offer came along in the fall and I decided to accept it.

In what _might_ be a timeworn cliche, the name has changed to “Bakka-Phoenix Books”.

Changes are happening already; the store has been re-arranged a bit, and is getting a new paint job. Ominously, while BAKKA has been an Apple-based store for the 17 years I’ve been a customer, there’s a new Wintel box sitting on the counter next to the old cash register &ltgrin&gt.

On a more serious note Chris, Michelle, and Tara will continue at the store, and will probably be even more active in running the place than they were before. That continuity will be very important, and I’m glad to see it.

There’s more! John resisted the Internet for a long time, and with good reason (IMO); running an online catalog and ordering system is a full-time job, and puts one in closer competition with the behemoths and Future Fantasy in Palo Alto made a name for themselves with one of the first online SF&F catalogs, yet they still went under (Granted, they had a crappy physical location). Anyway, the new store will have “a website”: There’s nothing there yet, but I’m told of plans for both “coming soon” and “wishlist” sections, which will make me very happy…

All in all, it sounds like a good thing. I knew John was getting tired, and I’m happy that he found a positive way to move on. I’ve been a loyal customer of the store for 17 years, and so I wish Ben and the staff the best of luck with the new store, and hope it continues to be around for a long time!

posted at 9:43 am on Wednesday, March 26, 2003 in Books, Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Changes at BAKKA

Harry Potter

According to Bloomsbury:

J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to be published on 21st June, 2003 in Britain, the USA, Canada and Australia.

The world’s most anticipated book is over one third longer than the previous book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Oh good, another book to bludgeon children to sleep with…

Update: Don’t get me wrong; I like the Harry Potter books. It’s just that each one seems to be as thick as all of the previous books put together…

posted at 9:22 am on Thursday, January 16, 2003 in Books | Comments (1)
  1. Blatherings says:

    Asian fish, Local Hero, school clubs
    Asian Fish, Local Hero, and school clubs. Blatherpic: 1977 The Bramalea Guardian clipping. Poll question: What clubs were you a member of back in school?