Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dying with Dignity

Anna Davour, a Post-doc out of Queen's, has been hitting up various sf authors for informal bloggable interviews. This week was my moment in the sun. I say some nice things about the Sarah Connor Chronicles, and repeat my usual grumbling about Firefly.

And if you're not satisfied with mere wordage— if any of you feel the need to encounter me face-to-face, if only to see for yourselves whether my headphones are surgically attached— it looks like I'll be emerging from my hole to participate in something called the "Canada Council Heritage Series of Speculative Fiction", being hosted by the Toronto Public Library over the next few weeks. I'm not entirely sure what the whole program consists of (the TPL's website is mum on the subject so far, and my contract is evidently in the mail), but I'm going to be showing up on two occasions: the official kick-off on April 21, and a somewhat darker event on the 24th.

Here is what I know: the kick-off is a group affair involving fellow skifscribes Karl Schroeder and Michael Skeet, and probably someone else TBA James Alan Gardner. It's happening at The Lillian H. Smith branch ( 239 College St. Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1R5) between 7:00 and 9:30pm. I was asked to suggest a possible theme, with the caveat that there had to be some kind of Canadian angle; I suggested "Embracing Apocalypse: How Canadian SF Can Help Us Die with Dignity", and was gently told that no such title would ever be allowed on a TPL poster. As of this writing the title has been changed to "Embracing the Future: How Canadian SF Can Help Us Embrace the Future".

Yeah, I know. It sucks like Cygnus. I disown it utterly. But at the very least it'll give me something to complain about right off the bat. Could be an effective icebreaker, assuming I don't care if these guys ever invite me back again.

The second event is All Me, and is being held from 7:00-8:15pm at The Beaches branch (that's 2161 Queen St. E. Toronto, Ont. M4L 1J1). I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing there. It was originally suggested that I give a live performance of the Vampire Domestication talk, but I don't know how well something like that would go over with a non-sf audience. I've only delivered it twice live, both at cons, and while it killed both times the con-goer sensibility isn't entirely conventional. I'm not particularly concerned about whether a more mainstream audience would be offended, mind you; I just don't know if they'd get it. So maybe I should just do a more conventional reading— a short story, maybe an excerpt from a novel-in-progress. Assuming my stories aren't to even more peculiar tastes than the talk would be.

Any suggestions? Reading or talk? If reading, any suggestions as to content? Help me out here.

Update 11/4/08: The event is now listed at the TPL website. They are hosting a lot of events for this thing. And I notice that they've explicitly stated that I'll not only be reading, but reading from Blindsight. Which is not something I've actually decided yet, so for the time being let's just act as though someone jumped the gun, and continue on with the whole what-should-Peter-do thread. (OTOH, they are the ones writing the cheque, so if it turns out that they do strongly desire a Blindsight reading, that's what they get.)



Blogger Carl said...

I'm sure Mayfly would be a great icebreaker too. ;)

April 10, 2008 12:31 PM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Have no fear! I imagine a general audience would get the vampire talk - they wouldn't get some of the labcoat humor, but most folks are well-steeped in the ideas of mad scientists and vampires, and, if they're office workers, the horrors of the PowerPoint presentation.

It's broad enough in what it suggests for them to get the basic impact. If you're worried they won't get it, cut some of the technical scientific stuff a bit. If you can dress the part, even better, since this is practically performance art.

I think, given the popularity of vampires in the culture at large, they'll eat this up.

April 10, 2008 2:45 PM  
Blogger John Henning said...

If you can freak the holy hell out of the audience, then do it, man!

"Autism may lead to vampirism?!! What the hell is this sh**!"

April 10, 2008 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Mary said...

Selfishly, I'm going to vote for the vampire talk, too. I'd leave the safety of the west end to actually experience that one live in *sudden flash of vertigo* the Beaches.

But I would think a fair number of the audience would be familiar enough with the concepts to get most of it. And think of those walking by the room and getting just bits of it -- yeah, that would be a great potential freakout.

April 10, 2008 5:04 PM  
Blogger D said...

I think the vampire talk would be awesome, but I have no place to comment, as I'll be rearranging starfish of my own in Belize that week.
And it's in my end of town, too. I'm so disappointed. I'd love to see you make unsuspecting heads explode. I'd agree with bec's comment -- don an actual labcoat and they may unpack their collective sense of humour.

April 10, 2008 10:24 PM  
Blogger Michael F Bergmann said...

I'll add another vote to the vampire talk. Personally, I'd love to hear it live. And if the audience in the Beaches doesn't get it, well, they can roll their strollers over to their one-of-ten local Starbucks and drown their realities in lattes.

April 11, 2008 4:26 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Which event would you recommend attending to get the most Peter Watts bang for the proverbial buck?

On the one hand, while the time would be shared amongst three authors, the kickoff event seems like it would offer more original material. On the other hand, while the vampire talk/blindsight are more familiar material, the time's all Watts.

Due to travel distance and scheduling I can potentially only make it to one of these.

April 11, 2008 10:45 AM  
OpenID Branko Collin said...

"I just don't know if they'd get it."

Perhaps I didn't get it, but I always figured the Vampire Domestication talk was a parody of a scientific talk, and was not just limited to a scifi audience. What's more, there are probably people who recognize a scientific talk even if they haven't been to university themselves.

And of course with parodies the rule is the better the parody the less people will get it. What you should be aiming at is that as many people as possible believe it could be true.

April 12, 2008 2:03 PM  

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