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All stories relating to fantasy

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Canadian booksellers pick top science fiction and fantasy books of 2012

Q&Q contacted independent booksellers across Canada to get their picks for the top science fiction and fantasy titles of 2012.

Chris Szego, manager of Toronto’s BakkaPhoenix Books, says sci-fi and fantasy are becoming mainstream genres. She speculates the appeal is a byproduct of big-budget film franchises such as Harry Potter, Batman, and Lord of the Rings.

Over the past year, Walter Bruce Sinclair, co-owner of Vancouver’s White Dwarf Books, has observed the waning of Twilight-style fiction. “There has been a glut of paranormal romance and zombie novels, which have crowded out other genres,” he says. “This seems to be running its course, and we’re starting to see a resurgence of hard science fiction.”

Click on the thumbnails below to read more about the year’s biggest books.

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This weekend in Canadian literary events: Aug. 10-12

Lit lovers who spent the long weekend in cottage country needn’t fear they’ve missed out. There’s plenty of bookish happenings across the country this weekend, like these ones selected from Q&Q’s events calendar:

The Fish Quill Poetry Boat Tour gets underway Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. at the Tranzac Club in Toronto. Tonight’s kick-off will be the first of 10 stops on the canoe tour, which sees a group of Canadian poets and musicians paddling from Elora to Chiefswood on Six Nations of the Grand River territory, performing in various venues along the way.

Albertans still have time to register for this weekend’s When Words Collide festival, which takes place from Aug. 10–12 in Calgary, and includes readings and talks by Anthony Bidulka, Kelley Armstrong, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Adrienne Kerr, and Vanessa Cardui.

Authors at the Harbourfront Centre pairs with Planet IndigenUS for a reading and discussion featuring Thomas King, Drew Hayden Taylor, and Brian Wright-McLeod. The free event takes place Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

The nominees for the Evelyn Richardson Award for Non-fiction will be gathering for a reading and discussion at the Osprey Arts Centre in Shelburne, Nova Scotia. The free event kicks off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 11, and boasts Chris Benjamin, Ray MacLeod and Harry Thurston. They will be joined by a live saw-whet owl from animal rehab facility Hope for Wildlife. (Should be a hoot!)

Fantasy enthusiasts hailing from Orillia, Ontario may want to check out Here Be Dragons, part of the photography exhibit Look. Magic! at the Leacock Museum. The Aug. 11 event starts at 8 p.m., and writers Julie Czerneda, Adrienne Kress, Anne Bishop and Mark Leslie will be in attendance.

If gritty crime stories are more your thing, check out the Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival, which takes place on Aug. 11 in Wolfe Island, Ontario. The Ladies Killing Circle, D.J. McIntosh, John Moss, Y.S. Lee, and Thomas Rendell Curran are set to appear.  Full-day passes are $65.

The annual Winterset in Summer Festival starts up Aug. 10 and runs until Aug. 12. Events for the Peril at the Sea–themed festival will take place at various locales across Eastport, Newfoundland. This year’s lineup includes Daniel Allen Butler, Paul Butler, Simon Winchester, Nancy Earle, Bernice Morgan, Bert Riggs, Danielle Devereaux, Jamie Fitzpatrick, and Bob Hallett, as well as 2012 Winterset Award finalists Mark Callanan, Don McKay, and Edward Riche. Tickets start at $15.

Q&Q’s events calendar has even more listings for this weekend’s readings, poetry shows, book signings, and festivals.

Want to add an event to Q&Q’s calendar? Send your literary event listings to Quill & Quire. Please include the event name, date, time, location, cost, and a brief description.

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Book links roundup: Sony launches browser-based e-bookstore, Justice League film back on, and more

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Canadian literary event roundup: Feb. 24-March 1

Freedom to Read Week kicks off Feb. 26. For a complete list of national events, visit the program’s website.

Here’s a sample of other literary events happening across the country:

  • Galiano Literary Festival presents a weekend of readings and workshops with Kit Pearson, Audrey Thomas, Grant Lawrence, Gary Geddes, and others, Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa, Galiano Island, B.C. (Feb. 24–26)
  • Dr. Shelagh Robinson invites parents and children to read reversed text with Mirror Read Books, Babar Books, Montreal (Feb. 24, 2 p.m., free)
  • Jo Walton reads from her fantasy novel, Among Others, Bakka Phoenix Books, Toronto (Feb. 25, 3 p.m., free)
  • Calinda B reads from her erotic paranormal romance, A Wicked Awakening, Caffe Misto, Victoria (Feb. 25, 3:30 p.m., free)
  • Ontario Poetry Society presents For the Love of Poetry Festival with member readings, Rivoli, Toronto (Feb. 26, 12 p.m., free)
  • Douglas Gibson presents his one-man show, Stories About Storytellers, Lower Ossington Theatre, Toronto (Feb. 26, 3 p.m., $25)
  • Readings by Charlotte Gill, Robert Hough, and Kim Thúy, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto (Feb. 29, 7:30 p.m., $10)
  • Iain Baxter& book and catalogue launch for Iain Baxter&: Works 1958–2011, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (Feb. 29, 6 p.m., free)
  • Peggy Blair launches her novel The Beggar’s Opera, Mambo Lounge, Toronto (Feb. 29, 6 p.m., free)
  • World Literacy Canada presents readings by Randy Boyagoda, David M. Malone, and Syeda Nuzhat Siddiqui, Park Hyatt, Toronto (Feb. 29. 6:30 p.m., $60)
  • Donna and Bridgitte Morrissey launch their picture book Cross Katie Kross, George Wright House, Halifax (March 1, 6:30 p.m., free, email RSVP)

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Jim C. Hines strikes a pose for women on fantasy book covers

U.S. fantasy writer Jim C. Hines is a brave man.

The author recently posed as the sword-wielding heroine from his novel The Stepsister Scheme. Inspired by the result, Hines posed for several more photos modelled after the covers of best-selling urban fantasy novels. The results – and Hines’ point – speak for themselves (warning: shirtless man).

For a comical take on gender stereotypes and superheros, also check out Kate Beaton’s Sexy Batman and her surly Wonder Woman.

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Book links round-up: social media and the slush pile, e-book charts take off, and more

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Lesley Livingston makes up worlds and words at the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

The Toronto SpecFic Colloquium, a day-long event of “lectures which consider the importance of the stories that define humanity in the present age from the aliens hiding among us to the gates of hell ripping open in our backyards,” lands on Oct. 15.

This year’s theme is “Modern Mythologies,” and appropriately, YA fantasy novelist and “self-­professed history and mythology nerd” Lesley Livingston will be speaking on “Making up Worlds…and Words.” In the October issue of Q&Q, Livingston discusses her career and new novel, Once Every Never.

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Choosing your own adventure, digitally

On the CBC Arts site, Sarah Liss writes about a new startup from a B.C. software developer. Protagonize, she explains, is “an online community devoted to the creation of ‘addventures,’ round-robin-style fiction in which users create and develop interactive stories.” It launched late in December, and so far, writes Liss, most users are creating stories in the Internet-friendly fantasy, sci-fi, and horror genres.

However, this probably doesn’t represent the future of writing or anything. Creator Nick Bouton says, “Fun is the entire aim of the site,” while Liss describes it as “more of a Facebook-style community-interaction hub than a locus for creative development.”

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Death of God good for books, bad for Hollywood

New York magazine’s culture blog points out how Phillip Pullman is distancing himself from his image as a God-despising, atheism-peddling iconoclast in the run-up to the release of Hollywood’s mega-budget adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first title in Pullman’s His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy.

On the Today show on Friday, Pullman denied to Al Roker that his books are anti-religious. “As for the atheism,” he adds, “it doesn’t matter to me whether people believe in God or not, so I’m not promoting anything of that sort,” he wrote…. But what did the author have to say on the issue six years ago, when asked by the Washington Post what famously Christian author C.S. Lewis would think of his books?

“I’m trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief,” says Pullman. “Mr. Lewis would think I was doing the Devil’s work.”

And what did he tell the Sydney Morning Herald in 2003?

“I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people – mainly from America’s Bible Belt – who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”

Yes, well clearly a movie about God-killing (particularly, Christian God-killing) is not going to appeal to Bible Belt America. But what New York fails to point out is that the maverick author’s hell-raising generated plenty of positive press before Hollywood came a-knocking – for example, see this New Yorker profile that casts Pullman as the real deal in children’s lit (his “ideal reader is a precocious fifteen-year-old who long ago came to find the Harry Potter books intellectually thin,” writes Laura Miller) or Michael Chabon’s omnibus review of the His Dark Materials trilogy in The New York Review of Books – in which it was precisely Pulllman’s “secularism” that endeared him to literary critics.

The question, then, is when did Pullman strike a deal with the devil?: During the creative genesis of His Dark Materials, which some critics have dubbed “atheism for kids”?; Or when a promised Hollwood payoff led Pullman to temper his tongue?

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Seeking the next J.K. Rowling

In the middle of the holiday book-buying season, it seems that just about everyone is weighing in on kidlit. On the CBC website, Rachel Giese traces its trajectory from the 1970s and ’80s, when realist writers like Judy Blume and S.E. Hinton scored hits, to the current era, in which the success of J.K. Rowling has ushered in the popularity of YA fantasy novels.

But with just one book left in the Harry Potter series and sales of Rowling’s books starting to wane, publishers are looking for the next big kidlit success. Giese says a likely contender is Kenneth Oppel, whose books reguarly appear on the Q&Q‘s bestseller lists, and she feeds the flames of fandom with a conversation with the author that touches on everything from Oppel’s affection for the bygone eras he portrays in his books to an adolescent passion for video games from which he emerged, with the help of Roald Dahl, into a prolific writing career.

Related links:
Click here for the full story from the CBC Arts website

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Book Pictures

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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