Monday, November 21, 2011

Award Season!

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2011 Aurora Award ceremonies at SFContario in Toronto. Months ago, I was thrilled to learn that I had been nominated in the newly initiated Poetry Category for my poem "Waiting for the Harrowing" published by as well as with Sandra Kasturi in the Fan Organizational Category for our work putting together the Toronto SpecFic Colloquium. The ceremony was well-attended, with an excellent introduction by Toastmaster Karl Schroeder on the importance of community, particularly for writers, as he reflected on growing up isolated from other science fiction writers in Manitoba until he discovered that several well-known authors got their start in his hometown.

 In award you could poke your eye out with...

Community is very important to me: when Sandra and I put together the first Toronto Specfic Colloquium, our motto was that the first rule of Canadian speculative fiction is that we don't talk about Canadian speculative fiction. Which is a bit facetious and tongue-in-cheek, of course. But we don't always. Or when we do talk about it, we talk about it as a series of exceptions to the rule (the likes of Robert J. Sawyer and Guy Gavriel Kay come to mind, the big guns who made internationally) or as a kind of endangered species that has to be protected. Or fed crackers in a zoo. Or we fight over whether Canadian speculative fiction matters outside of grant applications. Or stories about aliens playing hockey. Sandra and I wanted the 2010 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium to be a forum for ideas; we wanted it to do something different from the typical fan convention. We wanted a conversation, we wanted people talking to each other, we wanted people talking about it what it is we are all trying to do. And we wanted that to be the way we talked about what Canadian speculative fiction is--because, ultimately, it's about what we are doing right now, together, through institutions like the Aurora Awards and the Sunburst Awards, through anthologies like Tesseracts and magazines like OnSpec and Ideomancer.

Sandra and I worked stupidly hard on the Colloquium. Neither of us had run an event like that before and we started thinking it would be quite easy, only to discover that fan organizations work on the iceberg principle: the results you see account for about 5% of the work that went into making it happen. And we had some fantastic people helping us, a ragtag group we assembled as we went: Laura Marshall, Clare Marshall, Sam Beiko jump to mind. And we had some truly fantastic authors who kind of got what we wanted to do and ran with it, blowing our minds again and again: Julie Czerneda, Tony Burgess, Karl Schroeder, David Nickle, Claude Lalumiere, Gemma Files, Michael Rowe, Bob Boyczuk, Kelley Armstrong, Peter Watts and Guy Gavriel Kay. Go look at the videos, seriously!

And so Sandra and I were delighted to win in that category! Truly delighted! I believe Sandra spent the first thirty seconds swearing in surprised--we had both figured we were the underdogs for the category.

Sandra and I duel with our new awards!

And then I was equally delighted when Carolyn Clink took the Poetry Award. You might think that's just me being gracious. It would have been nice to win. Of course, it would have. But at the same time it was so genuinely lovely to see Carolyn recognized for her brilliant poem that I didn't mind so much. And she had the longest applause at the ceremony. It's nice when you see these things going to the right people. Even if that person isn't you. (Go read her poem if you haven't already--it's great stuff!)

So thanks to everyone who voted for us. Thanks to everyone who helped make the event possible.  And congratulations to the other winners--a particular shout-out to Erik Mohr who took the Best Artist award because, well, he rocks. Seriously.

Good night all, I'm off to harpoon some baby seals...