A Diary in the Age of Water by Nina Munteanu

In June 2020, SF Canada member Nina Munteanu released her fourteenth book, cli-fi eco-novel A Diary in the Age of Water (Inanna Publications).

A Diary in the Age of Water follows the climate-induced journey of Earth and humanity through four generations of women, each with a unique relationship to water.

Centuries from now, in a dying boreal forest in what used to be northern Canada, Kyo, a young acolyte called to service in the Exodus, yearns for Earth’s past—the Age of Water, before the “Water Twins” destroyed humanity. Looking for answers and plagued by vivid dreams of this holocaust, Kyo discovers the diary of Lynna, a limnologist from a time just prior to the destruction. The diary spans a 20-year period in the mid-20th century and describes a planet in the grip of severe water scarcity. Lynna, in her work for a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water, witnesses and records the disturbing events that will soon lead to humanity’s demise.

“Evoking Ursula LeGuin’s unflinching humane and moral authority, Nina Munteanu takes us into the lives of four generations of women and their battles against a global giant that controls and manipulates Earth’s water. In a diary that entwines acute scientific observation with poignant personal reflection, Lynna’s story unfolds incrementally, like climate change itself. Particularly harrowing are the neighbourhood water betrayals, along with Lynna’s deliberately dehydrated appearance meant to deflect attention from her own clandestine water collection.”—LYNN HUTCHINSON LEE, multimedia artist, author, and playwright

 

“Lyrical and dystopian, ‘A Diary in the Age of Water’ is as much an ode to water as it is a cautionary tale about the dire implications of climate change.”—FOREWORD CLARION 5-STAR REVIEW

 

“In poetic prose with sober factual basis, Munteanu transmutes a harrowing dystopia into a transcendentalist origin myth. An original cautionary tale that combines a family drama with an environmental treatise.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS

 

“An exceptional and thought-provoking dystopian fiction.”—LITERARY TITAN

 

’A Diary’ is a brilliant story…Munteanu writes with fresh, stimulating style.”
—CRAIG H. BOWLSBY, author of The Knights of Winter

 

“The story like water itself fills you, moves you, hypnotizes you, and eventually, totally engulfs you.”—GOODREADS REVIEW

 

“Thoroughly researched and cleverly executed, A Diary in the Age of Water is a must-read, especially for those who are longing for nature, and touch, while fearing both.”

—CARAMOYNES, Amazon Review

Nina Munteanu is a Canadian ecologist / limnologist and award-winning novelist and short story writer. She is co-editor of Europa SF and currently teaches writing courses at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. Nina has coached writers to publication for several decades using her Alien Guidebook Series writing guides.  Nina’s non-fiction book “Water Is…” by Pixl Press was selected by Margaret Atwood in the New York Times ‘Year in Reading’ and was chosen as the 2017 Summer Read by Water Canada.

Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for the latest on her books, short stories and essays. For more about Nina’s coaching and writing workshops, visit www.ninamunteanu.me. You can also find Nina on Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.

A Diary in the Age of Water can be purchased through Amazon,Chapters-Indigo,Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Inanna Publications.

 

Congratulations to 2020 Sunburst Award Winners!

The Sunburst Award Society announced this year’s winners on August 31, 2020.

Our heartiest congratulations go out to Silvia Moreno-Garcia, on winning the Adult Award for Gods of Jade and Shadow, to Allison Mills, winner of the Young Adult Award for The Ghost Collector, and to Rebecca Campbell, winner of the Short Story Award for “The Fourth Trimester is the Strangest” published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Additional applause goes to all the shortlisted and longlisted authors, including SF Canada member Edward Willett who was longlisted for his YA novel Master of the World.

The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award which recognizes exceptional writing in three categories: adult, young adult and short story. The awards are presented each fall to the best Canadian speculative fiction novel, book-length collection, or short story published any time during the previous calendar year.

Derek Newman-Stille Interviews Cait Gordon

Today we have another inspiring interview from Derek Newman-Stille. They spoke with fellow SF Canada member Cait Gordon to talk about disability activism, what it means to be a Spoonie, and the healing power of humour.

Keep reading to hear about Cait’s community-building journey and the path to publishing powerful stories with disabled protagonists.

 

Interview with Cait Gordon About Advocating for Disabled Writers

By Derek Newman-Stille

 

Derek: It’s great to talk to you again Cait! To start out our interview, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Cait: Thanks for having me! I often start by saying I’m a disabled autistic humorist whose favourite writing vehicle is space opera. I’m also a feisty disability advocate who loves cake,and boosting the written word of Spoonie writers.

Derek: As a fellow disabled person, I know how much advocacy you do and how essential it is that we have disabled advocacy. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved in disabled activism?

Cait: Certainly!

When I wrote my first book, Life in the ’Cosm, I was #DisabledAndAlone. I didn’t have a community of fellow disabled folks, and was scared. Primarily because I was submerged in ableist narratives that taught me disability was bad and I was terrified of ending up in a wheelchair because my mobility was so impaired.

So, I decided to start a “writing exercise” just for myself. I was totally flying by the seat of my pants, and along in chapter three comes this character named Noola. She was an explosion of colour who uses skates as mobility devices. At the time, I couldn’t walk or stand much at all, but Noola became my community. She taught me to be myself and thrive. Then I met other disabled people in Canadian Spec Fiction, and whoa…I wanted to commune with them. I created the Spoonie Authors Network a month after ’Cosm was published. This led to me wanting to dedicate a lot of my energy to boosting other Spoonie creatives.

Derek: Can you tell us a little bit about the term Spoonie and why it felt like the perfect term for you and your identity?

Cait: Sure! Christine Miserandino was trying to explain to her abled friends what it feels like to expend energy as a person who manages chronic fatigue. She used spoons as tasks in a day. So, getting up used one spoon. Getting dressed, a spoon. Washing your hair, another spoon. Many abled people don’t realize how draining routine tasks are to folks like me. So, this way of explaining is called Spoon Theory, and those who manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions use the nickname Spoonie. It’s also common for use to say “I’m out of spoons today.” It means we just have no more energy to give. As an autistic person, I might also say, “I’ve no brain spoons,” meaning, I need to rest because I cannot process anything else for the day.

I just love the term for myself and there are still a lot of people who use it as well!

Derek: You do a lot of amazing Spoonie/Disabled advocacy along with other disabled writers at the Spoonie Authors Network. Can you tell us a bit about how that network began and what you are up to currently with it?

Cait: I went to my first writers conference in Sep 2016, Can*Con, with my BFF Talia C. Johnson. Life in the ’Cosm made its debut at the Renaissance vendor table. I’m still so embarrassed I tried to sell you a copy like I was a used-car salesman from a 70s TV series or something. But hey, we’re here! Anyway, at that time I used a cane to walk. And I noticed canes, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and thought, “Whoa, these are one the disabilities I can perceive. There must be a lot of writers with ‘invisible’ disabilities, too!” And as a newly-published, disabled author, I wanted to build a community. So, in Nov 16, I built the website for the Spoonie Authors Network, thinking myself and maybe one other friend would be contributors. I think we now have over 20. Authors just writing about their experiences as creatives while managing spoons. This year, I have Canadian fantasy author Dianna Gunn running the Spoonie Authors Podcast, so that’s also been exciting. But in 2017, I had a longing to amass stories into an anthology, written solely by disabled authors. I blurted out the idea to Nathan Frechette from Renaissance one day at an event, just thinking out loud, and he said, “Renaissance will publish it!” Um, what? I never did this before and WHAT ARE YOU DOING, NATE?! But he’s an amazing person, and he saw something in me I couldn’t in myself. It was his suggestion to co-edit with Talia, and now you know I’m speaking about Nothing Without Us, a 2020 Prix Aurora Award finalist for Best Related Work. The idea came to me after I went into disabled culture. It’s been a real blessing.

My field of advocacy is about books and stories. I just want to have more own-voices representation out there. We are the heroes, not the sidekicks!

Derek: This is a big question, but when did you first encounter a story that featured a character you can identify with, particularly a disabled character?

Cait: Life in the ’Cosm? I’m not being cheeky, either. My first novel isn’t perfect, but Noola had a neuropathy that varied in severity from day to day. One abled beta reader couldn’t understand how Noola could do one thing one day and be too sore the next. But that was my life back then. The first disabled protagonist I ever read was in Madona Skaff’s Journey of a Thousand Steps” I love that book so much and it was the only one I’d known at the time that starred a disabled character. One of the reasons I wanted to do Nothing Without Us was so I could know more authors and more stories. At panels, I’d say I only knew one book, and that was just wrong.

Derek: That says a lot about the under-representation of disability, doesn’t it? What could you say about the need for more disability representation… and perhaps more importantly GOOD disability representation that isn’t just tropes?

Cait: I mentioned in a group chat once that I really wanted more disabled characters in stories and someone mentioned a list of tropey, problematic characters from the superhero world. I know they weren’t being mean-spirited either. Many abled people don’t understand how badly we’re written. Dianna Gunn asked everyone she interviewed on Season 1 of the Spoonie Authors Podcast about what’s we’d like to see with regards to representation and so many Spoonies said we need MORE characters written by us. And they should be performed by us as well. As an autistic person, I’m weary about this one type of representation: usually a man, usually a savant, and this notion that he cannot experience empathy. *shudder* Heck, I’m so empathetic, I fret over my little tree and sing the Spiderman song to my spider plants to make them grow. There’s not only one way to be disabled or autistic or Deaf or experience mental illness. I sometimes wonder if we don’t see ourselves in books and media because producers and publishers don’t believe our experiences. So, our own-voices are never shared. Again, this was why Nothing Without Us was so important to Talia and me. We only accepted stories where the disabled person was the main character.

We wanted the authors to be disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and those who managed mental illness.

Derek: Nothing Without Us is such a powerful collection of stories. What is some of the feedback you’ve received from the disabled community?

Cait: The first feedback we got before the anthology was published was, “When are you doing the next one?” And Talia and I were so out of spoons, we were like, “Can we have a sleep for a few months, please?” But there was so much excitement for this anthology and the feedback from the community has been wonderful. I think the fact that the protagonists identified as disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, mentally ill really impacted readers in a positive way. The stories took turns that I know many abled people might not have expected but the disabled folks were like, “YES! WHOOT!” One thing I really want to underscore because I don’t think it’s well known is how funny the disabled/Deaf/neurodiverse culture is. And there’s snark woven into several stories of Nothing Without Us. I loved that because it’s so reflective of the community. When I entered Disabled culture, the first thing I found was I was laughing with abandon. Such clever humour, and often dealing with ableism. Jennifer Lee Rossman has a tweet that went viral. Someone was saying disabled parking should only be for a few hours because why should disabled people need to go out after a certain hour. And Jennifer replied, “We’re disabled, we’re not werewolves.” I laughed so hard at that. So, I guess I also want abled folks to know that we’re funny. It’s okay to laugh with us.

Derek: Do you feel like there is a disabled style of writing and what are some of the things that you see in writing from our disabled community?

Cait: I personally have witnessed a richness in storytelling. Really creative work that even allows for world-building in the limited word count of a short story. And my favourite thing is that the characters just “are.”  And whether the stories are paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, and reality fiction, there’s a painting and sculpting of the world their in. Talia and I were drawn right into the 22 stories we chose. The authors were unapologetic in their storytelling as well. No meandering around the disability or mental illness or whatnot. Also, Raymond Luczak even called out gatekeeping in the Deaf community in Mafia Butterfly. That happens, too. So, I loved the honesty of the writers in crafting their stories. And I must say, I loved your snarkier-than-snarky main character in Charity™. Golden way to end the anthology, too.

Derek: You brought up humour and I know that you often identify as a humourist writer too. Can you tell us a little bit about humour and the need for a good laugh while we read cool Speculative Fiction?

Cait: I just can’t imagine life without humour in it. I was going to say we’d be robots, but I also make my bots funny as well. Humour is life for me. It takes us to a place that we often need to go because life can be trying at times. In 2018, I was having some of the worst panic attacks and palpitations of my existence. Scary stuff, Holtor monitors worn, cardiologist seen. Yet, I was also writing The Stealth Lovers then, and these are fan favourites Commanders Xaxall “Xax” Knightly and Vivoxx “Viv” Tirowen. Well, writing Xax is like taking off my filters and putting my foot on the gas. I think he’s a little blurty from being neurodiverse—no idea where I came up with that, cough—and he’s got extra helpings of sass. So, I found myself settling down from a massive anxiety spell by writing the book. Then I was amazed how funny the pages turned out. I didn’t even know how I did that when just before my heart had been racing from panic. But for me, reaching beyond the pain of mental illness and PTSD and into that fun, absurdist place was my personal tonic. If you read The Stealth Lovers, you’d have no idea the author was nearly tormented with anxiety. That’s the magic of finding your sense of humour even in the worst circumstances.

And I think we all could use a good laugh. Let’s face it.

So, why not in spec fiction, too?

I was just discussing this topic on a humour panel at When Words Collide, moderated by Ira Nayman. We authors collectively agreed that humour adds to the worldbuilding.

Derek: Absolutely, it does! Speaking of worldbuilding, can you talk a little about the appeal of Space Opera. What appealed to you about it and what got you writing it?

Cait: As a little kid, I adored Star Trek and Star Wars. I’ve always been fascinated with space travel, and love the notion of people being relatable, even galaxies away. Space opera just feels natural to me. I want all the colours of the rainbow in my characters. I don’t often write human-type characters but aliens with scales, snouts, several arms, and so on. In my latest WIP, Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space, I have more human-like types. But yeah, I just love the fantastical merged with the scientific, and strong character-driven stories. That really appeals to me whether I’m writing or reading it. Also, I think humour and space opera go really well together. But I must say even though I’m a humorist, I’m not one-dimensional. My stories and books often tackle serious themes as well. I sometimes feel I tell a story like an Irish person, I’ll make you cry, then laugh in the next paragraph.

Derek:What are some of the current… and perhaps even NEXT projects you are working on?

Cait: I’ve just sent a disabled sea-folk fantasy short story to a sensitivity editor. I’m hoping to submit that. And I have a sequel to Life in the ’Cosm in the works as well. But I’m really enjoying writing Iris and the Crew Tear Through Space. It’s a space opera adventures series with a disabled crew who live in such an accommodating world, they don’t even understand the word disabled as applied to people. I’m having so much fun and have fallen in love with these characters. My progress is slowed while I’m recovering from a shoulder injury, but the ideas are booming!

Derek: there anything further that you would like to chat about or anything I have missed that you want our readers to know about?

Cait: One thing I’d like to say is that I cringe whenever anyone says “differently abled.” Can we put that expression in the blender? Now, I understand that sometimes abled folks are taught this is correct, but in fact, it can negate our identities. So, it’s fine to say disabled, and if the person identifies using another term, just thank them, use their term, and carry on.

Derek: Yes please!! I can’t stand that term either. It doesn’t come from our community – it comes from abled folks.

Cait: Oh, and Barbies and cosplay are cool. Cosplaying Barbies, even cooler.

Derek: That’s right! I meant to ask you about Barbies and cosplay, especially since I saw your amazing Cosplay Barbies! Can you tell us a little bit about your collection of Barbies to start off?

Cait:I can’t remember if it was my 47th birthday. But I saw a Uhura Barbie. I thought she looked so great, so I bought her. And I had no idea that was the gateway to collecting for me. I often find myself housebound because of my mobility and the suburban location where I live. So collecting Barbies is like seeing people all around me, living their best life. I even have Barbies with physical disabilities. And on one of my Barbies, I put the neurodiversity pride symbol.

Then I started getting into collecting women who were superheroes. That was fun. But I had read the rat queen’s comic and fell in love with Hannah. But where was I going to buy a Hannah Barbie? So, I had a notion to buy a Barbie and cosplay her as Hannah the sweary elf wizard. That was such a blast that I decided to do one for Harley Quinn. I like to cosplay as well, but cosplaying my Barbies was a whole new level of fun.

Derek: Thank you for an absolutely amazing and brilliant interview! I really appreciate your time and work.I am really honoured that we were able to chat today and thank you for all of your insights.

 

Cait Gordon is a humorist and disability advocate who writes speculative fiction that celebrates the reality of diversity. She is the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. Her short stories have appeared in Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland  (Ed. Colleen Anderson, Exile Editions), We Shall Be Monsters (Ed. Derek Newman-Stille, Renaissance), and Space Opera Libretti (Eds. McNett and Rossman). Cait also founded The Spoonie Authors Network and joined Talia C. Johnson to co-edit Nothing Without Us, a collection of 22 stories whose authors and protagonists identify as disabled, Deaf, neurodiverse, and/or they manage mental illness. You can connect with Cait at spoonieauthorsnetwork.blog, caitgordon.com, or on Twitter (@CaitGAuthor).

Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD (They/Them) is a Disabled, Queer, Nonbinary activist, author, artist, academic, and editor. They edited the anthologies Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile) and We Shall Be Monsters (Renaissance Press) and are the 8 time Prix Aurora Award-winning creator of the digital humanities hub Speculating Canada. Derek has published in fora such as Uncanny Magazine, The Playground of Lost Toys, Quill & Quire, Fireside Magazine, Diamond Book Shelf, The Town Crier, Exile Quarterly, and Nothing Without Us. Derek’s art work has been published in fora such as Feminist Space Camp, Lackington’s, Postscripts to Darkness, and Aging Activisms.

Orthicon by David Perlmutter

SF Canada member David Perlmutter has just released his debut novel, Orthicon. The story draws on David’s many years of studying animation and cartoons.

This sci-fi/fantasy world is based on the idea of cartoon characters being real living people. Orthicon’s plot follows their exile from Earth into space, carried out by the US government. We see the creation, rise, and fall of the Cartoon Character Colony of Orthicon (CCCO) located on the planet of the same name.

“This is Orthicon,” he said. “A sub-orbital lunar projectile located approximately twenty-five million lightyears from Earth. The U.S. government discovered it during the Apollo missions in the 1970s, but we had to keep it a secret from the rest of the world, lest Russia found out about it, for obvious reasons. We have spent approximately thirty years terraforming…”

This was a new term to me, so I asked what it meant.

“Haven’t you read any science fiction?”

“I have never been much of a reader, sir,” I said.

“Well, all you need to know is that it means to make an alien planet look and feel as much like Earth as possible, and therefore, allow Earth people to settle and colonize the planet’s territory!”

These cartoon characters, creatures of ink and paint, may have been created by human minds, but they are remarkably lucid and intelligent. Are they threats to their human creators? Or simply discarded commodities?

David Perlmutter is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His published works include the non-fiction books America ‘Toons In: A History Of Television Animation (McFarland and Co.) and The Encyclopedia Of American Animated Television Shows (Rowman and Littlefield); as well as a number of speculative fiction collections and novellas, including Orthicon (September 2020). His short stories can be read on Curious Fictions and Medium, and his essays on Vocal.

Connect with David on Twitter or Facebook.

Order your copy of Orthicon via Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Draft2Digital.

Daughter of Earth & Fire, The Fledgling by Sandra A Hunter

SF Canada member Sandra A Hunter recently released Book 1 in her new Dragon Heir series. Daughter of Earth & Fire, The Fledgling is an urban fantasy novel.

Daughter of Earth & Fire follows protagonist Jayda along with a group of human/dragon shifters who work as flight instructors. They are swept up in a hidden climate war with the future of our planet at stake.

A genetic marker, carried in Jayda’s bloodline for two millennia, catches the attention of the ruling Black Dragons, who in their human guise, operate a flight school at North Fraser Airport. The Dragons learn, however, that Jayda is beloved of the Earth Mother Elemental, and She too has plans for the young woman…

 

Suddenly thrust into the Dragons’ world, Jayda learns that a realm of magic underlies everything she’d previously taken for reality—especially the ancient and ongoing war against the Naga Serpents, a war that must be conducted without humankind’s awareness…

“This book is a great beginning to a new series. The characters and storyline are well developed and easily draw the reader into the story’s world. A fun read that will leave you wanting more of the characters and the stories that are waiting to be told.” – Amazon reviewer

Sandra A Hunter has always lived at the edges of ocean and forest in the Pacific Northwest, so it came naturally to have a sentient forest as a major character in her Elanraigh series (YA/Adult High Fantasy) beginning with The Guardian Forest (published 2019) and its sequel A Scourge of Shadows (coming 2020).

She won the Dante Rossetti Award in 2014 for Elanraigh: The Vow. Sandra’s short story “And the Coyotes Sang” won Spinetingler’s Dark Fiction Writing Competition. Sandra has been published by Caliburn Press, On Spec, Gaslight, Lynx, and Women & Recovery.

Learn more about Sandra and explore her other titles at sandraahunter.com.

Order your copy of Daughter of Earth & Fire, The Fledgling via Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.

 

Crystal Cloud by Claudiu Murgan

SF Canada member Claudiu Murgan is launching the sequel to his novel Water Entanglement, a spiritually-inspired futuristic tale revolving around the nature of water.

Crystal Cloud is an eco-fiction story that continues the exploration of water’s ability to heal us when treated with reverence – or hurt us when treated with ignorance.

Water was always on our side—we were the ones who strayed! After the initial shock of the world’s water awakening, humanity comes together to put measures in place to ease adverse climate changes. Cherry Mortinger, the limnologist behind Hayyin’s enigmatic identity, works on creating a universal language for water…

Learn more about Crystal Cloud at an online launch tonight at 7pm EST via live stream on YouTube and Facebook.

“A unique writer voice, a refreshing storyline, and a future that we may all see before too long! Tension, pace, and real-life issues make this a novel to read. Wow, what a story!” – Jonas Saul, author of the Sarah Roberts Series

Claudiu Murgan was born in Romania and has called Canada home since 1997. He is a graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest and during his university years he was involved in the Romanian fandom, writing and organizing local events. He also participated at Science-Fiction conventions in both Europe and North America, meeting contemporary writers with the utmost impact on this genre.

He received several awards for his short stories and novellas that were published in SF Journal and Science & Technology Magazine. Claudiu was a member of the Friends of the Merril Collection in Toronto, organizing the first Science-Fiction art show in the association’s history.

Learn more about Claudiu and explore his other titles at claudiumurgan.com.

Order your copy of Crystal Cloud at Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iBooks.