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Monday, July 19, 2010

Venus Inferno

Originally posted on Champagne Books Blog

Click cover for an Excerpt from Chapter One

Venus Inferno comes out very shortly and I’m very excited by it. It represents a couple of firsts for me and one second.

It is my very first - but probably not my last - novella. I rather enjoyed this shorter format, although at times it was difficult to restrain myself from dropping an element into the story that would come up later. There wasn’t going to be a later so if I wanted to say something, I had to say it now. I also didn’t get the chance to interweave very much social commentary into the story, which I missed more than the chance to expand on the storyline.

It is also the very first story I wrote in the first person, which was very usual. I’m used to the third person and being able to provide different vantage points to allow the reader insight into what is happening. It is also odd using the personal pronoun ‘I’ all the time. One can’t help but to identify with the main character. Admittedly this is an occupational hazard for writers but even more so in this case.

Venus Inferno represents my second published work with Champagne books. Hopefully there will be many more but having a second story accepted and published make it seem all the more real.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about Venus Inferno was that all of the main technology there is real.

Ion drives are real. They are slow compared to chemical rockets but they do exist.

Tellurium is real. It really is one of the nine rarest minerals on earth and it really does fall as snow on Venus.

Thermoelectric Materials are also real. And tellurium - in the form of bismuth telluride and lead telluride - really is a working element of thermoelectric devices.

Who knows? Maybe one day in the future they will be as commonplace as they are in Venus Inferno.

Let’s hope so.

posted by David at 11:59 pm  

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wearing my speaking HAT*

This weekend I spoke to the Humanist Association of Toronto (HAT*) - a very enjoyable experience.

I sold two books and received an honorarium but more importantly I got to speak to some wonderful people about a topic near and dear to my heart - naming writing.

I had prepared some notes as I wasn’t sure of how many people would be there - I wanted to have something on hand in case I was placed behind a podium. As it turned out the gathering was just the right size for a round table forum, so my notes weren’t needed. However the process of preparing them ensured that I was prepared, which was the whole idea anyway.

There were probably somewhere between fifteen and twenty people and most of them stayed the entire time. The meeting was an hour and an half but I was supposed to speak for about forty-five minutes. I really didn’t have any idea what time it was or how long I’d been speaking until I called home from the parking lot and realized that I’d been speaking for close to two hours!

Of course I wasn’t the only one talking, although I did more than my fair share. I spent a substantial amount of time talking about The Gender Divide, and how I came up with the idea for it, and this sparked some very interesting discussion. There were some excellent questions asked and even some ideas that I may try to incorporate into a sequel.

The only sour note was the traffic in Toronto. Bletch. It took me just as much time to travel three city blocks as it did for me to get all the way downtown - and that was including driving through a torrential downpour on the 404 and even taking the notorious DVP (Don Valley Parkway for those of you not familiar with the GTA or the Don Valley Parking-lot as it is better known). I made better time on the way home by taking a different route out of the city, although I did get caught on the DVP this time around.

Despite that I had a really good afternoon and I would just like to say thank you to Tanya Long, the program coordinator for HAT, as well as to HAT, for inviting me. And of course a big thank you to everyone who attended. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

Monday, May 31, 2010

Speaking to the Humanist Association of Toronto

I’ll be speaking to the Humanist Association of Toronto in mid June.

Saturday, June 12
1:30 – 3:00
OISE, 252 Bloor St W, Room 2-213


The talk will be mostly about The Gender Divide but I may discuss other works in progress depending on time and interest.

The event is open to all so if you live in the GTA or are visiting, feel free to drop by.

If you have any questions about Humanism, leave them in the comments section or email me , and I’ll pose them to the group.

Hope to see you there.

posted by David at 6:00 am  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kobo eReader

Originally written for eBookGuru - The Digital Magazine Devoted to eBooks

It’s amazing how fast things are moving in the eReader world. It was only the beginning of this month when I wrote about the possibility of a $150 eReader and now Chapters-Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s own bookstore, is launching a new eReader called the Kobo for $150.

A quick search of the internet lead me to some favorable reviews for the Kobo, notably this one from Engadget, fresh from the CTIA show in Las Vegas.

…the 6-inch E Ink reader is fine hardware in its own right, with quality plastics throughout, a nice patterned rubber back, and a big friendly d-pad for paging through books.

Although the Kobo lacks 3G or even Wi-F, it does have Bluetooth for wirelessly syncing the Kobo with select smartphones, allowing you to update your reading list on the go. The Kobo also has applications for the iPhone, the upcoming iPad, Blackberry, the Palm Pre, and Android phones (speaking of which The Gender Divide is available as an Android app from For-Side.com - I’m not sure if the link provided is the best one so if you have an Android phone and can provide a better link please let me know in the comments section).

The Kobo has a lot of nice features that make it attractive as an eReader:

  • Price - $150
  • Comes loaded with 100 free eBooks
  • A quilted back for a ‘comfortable, enjoyable reading experience’
  • Minimal but responsive and intuitive navigation options
  • 1GB memory, enough for 1,000 eBooks
  • Expandable memory via SD Car

There are a number of other features, including some interesting navigation options. Visit the Kobo eReader home page for more information, including a comparison to the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Nook.

Although the Kobo can’t compete with the Kindle store yet in terms of books, it does have the advantage of having a retail presence in Canada (via Chapters-Indigo) and the US (via Borders), as well as a strong international presence (check out this posting from iReader Review comparing the Kobo to the Kindle.

However the most interesting thing about the Kobo is its aspiration to be more than an eReader. eBooks downloaded from the Kobobooks website can be read on many of the Sony Readers, the Nook, the COOL-ER, and several other platforms using Adobe Digital Editions. This article in Digital Trends states that

Kobo envisions a broad ecosystem of devices and applications, and users will be able to sync their purchases and reading via their Kobo account across all of them.

It will be interesting to see how this new entrant to the market - and it’s approach - impacts the market. Certainly Kobo is going out of their way to make it easy for people to read books they’ve purchased on any device. As stated on the Kobo website

We are a device-neutral platform. Finished reading on your eReader? Using a Kobo app on your smart­phone, desktop, or tablet. Your eBooks and even your bookmarks follow you so you’ll never lose your place.

This is definitely the direction that eBooks should be taking.


Right after I posted this I came across 2 more stories on the Kobo.

Wired Magazine - $150 Kobo eReader: The Real Kindle Killer

The real Kindle-killer will be a cheap e-reader, and it just arrived: The $150 Kobo eReader.

What we really like about the eReader is the interface. The chapter lists are big and clear, the main “I’m Reading” page gives a newspaper front-page-like overview of the newspapers and books you’re currently reading, and you can even choose to display you books in an iPad-like bookshelf metaphor. When you power down, it shows the book’s cover instead of those awful Kindle screen-savers.

It looks like a huge threat to the Kindle, and Kobo seems to have trimmed just the right features to get to this low price. Only hands-on testing will tell if it’s as good as it seems, but right now we don’t see much reason to buy Amazon’s locked-down machine.

Gizmodo - Kindle looks pretty nice for $150

 While the Kobo eReader lacks 3G, little else should disappoint. The build is clever, with a quilted, vinyl back and the option to skin the face with a cloth or leather facade.

…the menus just look polished, with touches like leaving the book’s cover on the screen when the device is at rest (a nice feature we see in the Nook) and virtual bookshelves

posted by David at 10:50 am  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Only in Canada, eh? Pity

I’m probably dating myself with this reference but an article in the Globe and Mail today reminded me of this old Red Rose Tea commercial.

The article in question refers to the Canadian habit of removing Canadian references when writing in order to be able to sell books in the United States. One would think that as a science fiction writer I would be somewhat immune to this affliction. However when I wrote The Gender Divide, I struggled with this issue.

Strangely enough it wasn’t so much the location that I struggled with. For most science fiction authors, many of our locations and environments are completely fictional and the reader has to rely on the writer to properly describe it. Ironically when writing The Gender Divide I used an American location (California, outside of LA) but only because that was the location where the idea of writing The Gender Divide came to me and I couldn’t envision it somewhere else.

The changes I did make to The Gender Divide to ‘Americanize’ it were in the areas of spelling and measurement. In retrospect it’s odd how much I worried about such inconsequential issues when there are so many more items that define Canada. Perhaps it took the recent Vancouver Olympics and the not so recent (or over) financial crisis to help me focus on what it really means to be Canadian.

I’ll leave you with this American perspective on Canada (we Canadian’s are normally too modest to do this sort of thing, despite our fierce, albeit restrained, pride in ourselves and our country).

posted by David at 3:51 pm  

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good News

Well, I thought I’d start my first post of the year off with a bit of good news. The Gender Divide has been picked up by Champagne Books with a publication date of May 2009. (more…)

posted by David at 9:30 am  

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Face of Science Fiction in Canada…

I’ve been a member of the bar at Baen and interacted with the people in the Science Fiction community long before The Gender Divide was published. I seldom have the time to visit the bar now, something that I miss. However, I have been fortunate enough to ‘meet’ many new people through the process of becoming a published author.

I’ve never actually met any of these people in person though. Through the magic of the Internet, I’ve been able to correspond with people all over the world. (more…)

posted by David at 11:50 am  

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