Well, it's out. The second ever speculative fiction issue of Room Magazine* I'm happy to say that my story "Dreamcatcher" is in there with works by many others. Those whose names are most familiar to me are Patricia Monaghan, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Mary E. Choo, and Candas Jane Dorsey. Editor Fiona Lehn interviewed Ursula LeGuin for the issue - Ursula's thoughts are always interesting - and there is a mini-interview of two authors who appeared in the 1981 SF issue, Eileen Kernaghan and Debbie Notkin. Oh, yes! Scanning the Table of Contents I'm reminded that there is a review of my book Finding Creatures & Other Stories by Bronwen Welch. I will include that in a separate post.
In My Living Room
by Tania Alexis Clarke, 2007
Digital photo manipulation—giclée on canvas, 45.7x34.3cm (18x13.5")
Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin
Sample of Fiction from 32.2
Le Musée de l'impermanence
(The Museum of Impermanence)
by Élisabeth Vonarburg
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Room Volume 32.2
Women have been creating speculative stories for centuries. Long before 1818, when Mary Shelley published what is now hailed as the novel upon which science fiction was founded, women looked to the stars and dreamed of other worlds, shared tales of creatures and spirits they could not see, inexplicable phenomena, and parallel universes. In many ways, Shelley’s Frankenstein merely started the modern ball rolling for women’s speculative works, soon followed as it was by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fantastic story “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1892 and in 1915 by her utopia “Herland”. Men, holding the power of the press, flooded the fantasy and science fiction genres with male-centered works, but in the latter half of the twentieth century, women burst onto the speculative scene in great number:
...True to the speculative tradition, this issue breaks some turf, starting with our commissioned writers, Élisabeth Vonarburg and Candas Jane Dorsey, two of Canada’s premier feminist science fiction writers. Ms. Vonarburg’s “The Museum of Impermanence” appears in its original French and in translation by Room’s Clélie Rich, marking the first time that Room has published a story in both of Canada’s official languages. Meanwhile, Candas Jane Dorsey’s “First Contact” explores the alien via a sexual encounter, going where no Room issue has gone before. In addition, we are thrilled to present a conversation with one of the most accomplished science fiction and fantasy writers of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, in which she shares her thoughts on speculation, writing, and women.
...In 1981, Room magazine (then Room of One’s Own) published an issue dedicated to science fiction and fantasy, edited by Susan Wood. Wood received three submissions each day, significantly more than I, nearly thirty years later, received. Does this mean our need for speculation has decreased? Has speculative literature been subsumed into mainstream literature? Perhaps neither, perhaps some of both; nevertheless, I see a need for literature that pushes beyond the constraints of our reality, our culture, and which creates new realities, different cultures, other worlds—literature that questions and liberates, poses solutions and provides an escape, for women, for the marginalized, the colonized. Kind of sounds like feminism, doesn’t it? And not unlike feminism, speculative literature has always given me a sense of hope and a feeling of belonging. And that’s what Room is all about. To those of you who may be embarking upon your first speculative experience and to those who know your way around the speculative universe, I say, Welcome, be unafraid, this is where you belong.
Tania Alexis Clarke is a Vancouver-based visual artist and owner of Side B Design Studio (www.side-b.ca). Her digital work focuses on photo manipulation. As a painter, she uses various media on canvas such as acrylic paints, ink, linocut, and textiles. Her work often depicts relationships between mechanical and organic elements.
“In 2007 I created a series of photo manipulations using the liquify tool in Photoshop. In My Living Room is the first image in this series. I use pixel information like a painter’s palette to transform bland photographs into energized, dreamlike images. I approach all my work with a meditative process and strive to create impulsive images which tap into my subconscious. I create every piece in one sitting to avoid breaking momentum.”
Candas Jane Dorsey lives in Edmonton and writes speculative fiction, mainstream fiction, and poetry, earning awards such as the Tiptree and Aurora. She has co-edited four collections of speculative fiction, the latest being Land/Space: an Anthology of Prairie Speculative Fiction. Dorsey recently received the prestigious Alberta Centennial Medal for achievements in arts and culture.
As of 2009, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include a volume of poetry, Incredible Good Fortune, and the novel Lavinia.
Vancouver writer, editor, and musician Fiona Lehn has volunteered with Room magazine since 2007. Her first novella, The Assignment of Runner ETI, won third place in the 2008 Writers of the Future international speculative fiction contest. When time allows, she sits on the beach or works on her website www.droidfingers.com.
Élisabeth Vonarburg’s most recent work includes The House of Justice (Book Five of her award-winning Queen of Memory series), and a translation of Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay. She will be the French-speaking Guest of Honour at Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Montreal in August this year.
*(Room Magazine, formerly Room of One's Own), named for Virginia Woolf's essay of the same name. "The title comes from Woolf's conception that, 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction' (page 4). It also refers to any author's need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create art." Wikipedia)