Important to me that I add a content warning for this essay, not for my own language but for quotations I had to use from the texts I am discussing. This essay is concerned with queerness and class conflict, but also with blackface, racial passing, and xenophobia. Please note that this essay is a contribution to these discussions, not a final or expert word. These works were written in a world oppressed by white supremacy, and are products of their time. I have done my best to treat them with sensitivity, but I am human. Please feel free to reach out if you have thoughts on my work here.
In other news, the Aurora Awards!
If your a voting member, or would like to become one at https://prixaurorawards.ca/ please consider “What We See in the Smoke” among your nominations for the novel category. It’s really easy to find, just scroll down! My book is at the very bottom of the list
I am honored that my work is eligible alongside such an illustrious list of names
The rush of work that’s been flowing from me is going to slow down for a little while as I head into the final stretch of my Masters Degree at Ryerson University, but keep an eye out for more work from me this spring!
You can read my essay Queering the Cyborg: How the Hybrid Body can Set us Free in Strange Horizons today!
focusing the figure of the cyborg in Post Humanist and Queer theory, this paper is is the basis for my upcoming MA thesis and features the (recently nominated for the Bradbury award) novella “This Is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone as well as Alan Moore’s” Saga of the Swamp Thing” and Ted Chiang’s classic “Story of Your Life”
I’m sitting on a bus, my nose pressed to the window. Outside, Ontario morphs into Quebec. It has been about a month since my last update. Of course, in the 21st century, one month feels equivalent to about 80 years. I’m writing this on a Thursday and setting it on an automatic timer, so that it will post in the future, on Friday, because WordPress is good like that. So this post is a tiny form of time travel.
I’m getting to Montreal, where I’ll present my paper “Queering the Cyborg: How Hybrid Bodies set us Free” at McGill University’s English Graduate Conference: Excavations. This is my first time formally presenting at a conference. The paper focuses on Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s 2019 novel This is How You Lose the Time War. Swamp Thing and Robocop also feature. It’ll be a good time.
But for those of you (most of you) that won’t be sitting in my audience this weekend, I’m also leaving a decent amount of work behind me from this past week in various genres.
My second essay for Empty Mirror is out Friday morning: “Exit West: Freedom in The Digital Cityfocused on the 2017 novel by Mohsin Hamid. My paper, like the novel, is focused on issues of migration and refugee rights and the ways that nations seek to dehumanize those that would only ask to be let in.
You can check out my very belated review of HBO’s Watchmen that was published at The Nerd Daily on Monday morning: Watchmen: You See What You Want to See. This was one of two unauthorized sequels to the seminal graphic novel that dropped in late 2019, that had some interesting things to say about reparations, trauma, and nostalgia (and hopefully you find what I had to say about what the show had to say good too)
Finally, On Monday evening, the fabulous Temz Review released its 10th issue, and within you can find my short story Hard-Light Bodies. Described as lyrical and melancholy science fiction, this is my first published work (of fiction) focused on mobility and the body. In it, a holographic projection watches, as the buildings which cast its lights morphs from a place of freedom to a place of detention. Please read and enjoy, and also check out the rest of the issue! This is a journal I have long admired, and I am in excellent company.
In the coming months, I’ll be excited to share more essays and fiction. I feel really fortunate this year to have so much work out in such a short time. It is good to be a part of the world
If you are at all moved by my essay or story this month, please check out No One is Illegal – Toronto, a grassroots migrant justice organization fighting to end immigration detention here in Ontario: https://toronto.nooneisillegal.org.
The bus is stuttering to a halt. I’ll go stumble out into the pale sun, reaching desperately for coffee and directions. If I walk for long enough, the feeling will return to my legs. If I walk for long enough, I’ll hopefully find more to say.
Welcome to my first blog post set after the events of Blade Runner, but still (thankfully) before the opening of Blade Runner 2049! Welcome to 2020!
2019 was a year of big things for me, and I wanted to take a moment to stop and reflect and give thanks. In between finishing my undergrad at UofT and heading off to my MA at Ryerson University, my fix-up novel of science fiction What We See in the Smoke journeyed out into the world, courtesy of Crowsnest Books.
I am grateful to every venue that hosted me and the places I got to take my strange little work in the fall, such as the Toronto SFF panel in September, Nerd Nite Toronto, Glaad Day Bookstore, and so many others. I’m thrilled the book has been so well received, and I encourage all of you to go and peruse some of the reviews it has received both here and on Goodreads. I’m also really grateful at how widely accessible to the book has become, and if you haven’t been able to pick up a copy (because like 2019 was a whole trip and we are all tired), I’ve done my best to compile a list of all the places you can nab it in print or ebook format Right Here!
So… What’s happening for 2020? Well, yes I have a new work in progress, and I am making progress damn it, and I’m very excited about it, but it won’t be ready to see the light of day for a long time, and that’s all I can really say about that right now.
But! I am up to other stuff too! You can still submit prose to me over at Terse Journaland poetry over at The White Wall Review – and you can also check out the fantastic work available from both journals’ websites.
You can also read my recently published essays: Queer Time Machines: Hauntologies of Literature and Allen Ginsberg: Howl for the queer and disabled Americans in Terse Journal and Empty Mirror Books, respectively. So far, 2020 is shaping up to be a year of Non-Fiction for me, and you can look forward to another essay in Empty Mirror on Mohsin Hamid’s beautiful 2017 novel Exit West next month. I hope to be putting out more non-fiction focused on contemporary works I love throughout the year. Writing (as I once overheard someone exclaiming at a Coach House Books party) is not about finding an audience, but entering a community, and I hope to contribute to some meaningful discussions and highlight the fantastic work being done by those in that community around me.
As the last word (for now) about my previous novel, I’m really excited to tell you all that What We See in the Smoke is eligible for The Aurora: Canada’s annual English-language Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards. If you are a member of the CSFFA (Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association) or are thinking of joining (do it!) and you liked my weird little book, please consider me.
That’s all from me, folks! You’ll hear from me again soon. I promise to put another post out into the world before our timeline catches up to the Blade Runner Sequel!
I will be giving a talk about the Cyborg, a figure that has dominated the focus of my writing –both my academic and creative efforts – since the competition of What We See in the Smoke!
The Cyborg as a figure in popular culture – the body in a literal state of “human/machine symbiosis” (Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman 112) – is often conceived as a monstrous figure, as a figure of otherness, a being whose status as a hybrid has made them less than human, less deserving of humanity, and placed “outside the jurisdiction” (Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer 82) of the laws and social norms of civil society. However, I will argue that the literary Cyborg and their other fellow hybrids do not have to be read as sub-human Other, but rather may be viewed as a method for queer and other non-socio-normative bodies to break free from the constraints of the systems and norms that would have previously held them prisoner.
As I have stated in other social media (though I forgot to do so here), though, I was scheduled to speak at the Runnymede Branch of the Toronto Public library this evening on October 30th. Two weeks ago I cancelled this event.
I cannot in good conscience work with the TPL in the light of it’s hosting of hate speech on October 29th, and further more I want to condemn both the TPL and police’s horrible treatment of protestors.
The fact that the library had laid the works of trans authors out on the front table, and was publically congratulating Gwen Benaway for receiving the Governer General Award while literally keeping them trapped inside said branch for protesting an event that denied their existence is disgusting.
My novel features queer, trans, and genderqueer characters, and, I hope, a call for a non-passive resistance to oppression. For me to support the library in light of this sha, e would be an invalidation of the characters I have portrayed, and a betrayal of the friends the actions of the TPL have hurt. While I was unable to attend the protest, my heart and mind are with those who did.
Fall is coming up fast! So grab your best comfy scarf and pumpkin related beverage, and join me for some of the coolest literary events of the season!
SFF Panel on September 28th!
First, this Saturday from 2-4pm, join authors James Bow, Mari Ramsawakh, Shawn Micallef, JM Frey, K.T. Bryski, Phoebe Barton, and me in Auditorium in the lower level of the Lillian H. Smith Library for the our panel: Toronto as a Science Fiction and Fantasy Setting!!!
I couldn’t be more excited to be apart of this panel, which promises to be a really fascinating conversation. Books will be for sale from Bakka Phoenix Bookstore
A Conversation with Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian
I, along with my fellow students from the Ryerson University Literatures of Modernity MA will be interviewing the author of No Friend but the Mountain (and his translator) in 2 weeks. This event is free and open to all.
Please consider coming, this is going to be a very rare and excellent opportunity to learn! I will be co-moderating the interview with another student.
This project, run by Professor Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, is creating a resource for scholars (and everyone else) to gain access to the early arts and literary magazines of the 1890s, first and foremost of which was titled The Yellow Book, hence the project title.
I will be spending a semester helping to digitize The Dial: a very eclectic journal published only five times between 1889-1897.
If you like little magazines the way I do, then please come and scour through the website to see the current digital editions and scholarly information that’s put up on the site so far.
I’ve been thinking about time travel a lot lately.
Not really because there’s any point I’d like to go back or forwards too especially. Recently I experienced jet lag from travel and came to the conclusion that the fourth dimension must have a sense of humour. Time plays tricks on us. We play tricks on time, too, though. Writing is time travel. Writing is forever trapped in the present tense.
This is a terrible segue, but what I’m trying to say is, summer 2019 is about to end! A lot happened in the last few months, and I have done a terrible job of keeping this website up to date, so here we go.
My book baby What We See in the Smoke has had an incredible first few months of life. You can check out some of its reviews here. I’ve also had my first few chances to try out live events, including a sort of party at the Station Bar and Kitchen, where the artist Stephan “Sven” Goslinski created this sketch from my reading of the book:
I’ve also had the great opportunity to be a guest on Howl.FM, where I was interviewed by the fantastic Valentino Assenza.
I’m sure there will be more to do leading up to its publication, but right now I’m taking a moment to be happy and proud of the book and its wonderful contributors. Hopefully, you all check it out in the coming year and gain some insights into one of my favourite Canadian poets.
I also got to write a blog post on one of my favourite Canadian writers on the blog of one of my favourite Canadian journals for you to check out here: LARISSA LAI’S “RACHEL” AND CYBORG IDENTITY I’m looking forward to this coming season, where I’ll be appearing on several panels (more on that soon, since they deserve their own post), and readings!
Finally, I’m happy to say that I’m somewhere between ankle and knee-deep on a new novel-length project, though it would be wrong to say anything about it other than that its nuts. All this, and also getting ready to start my MA at Ryerson University!
A final note to say, over the summer, one of my greatest pleasures has been getting to know other Toronto authors. So, if you’ve bumped into me, read my book, or I’ve ever tweeted fan mail at you, please get in touch! You are all my favourite.