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2015 Locus Awards

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 05:57

The winners of the 2015 Locus Awards have been announced. The Best Novel award for SF went to Ann Leckie for Ancillary Sward and the Best Novel award for fantasy went to Katherine Addison for The Goblin Emperor. Both of these are also Hugo nominees. These are the novel nominees and winners.


A slight hiatus

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 18:43

Yes, I’m still here. Just busy. Nothing bad, but I just don’t have the cycles to devote to this blog right now. Expect few, if any, posts until the end of the month.


Running DOS word processors under Windows

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 05:51

If you’re of a certain age, your first word processor may have been WordStar, Microsoft Word, or WordPerfect running under DOS. While these programs lack the bells and whistles of modern word processors like Microsoft Word, they have a lot fewer distractions and are perfectly adequate for writing fiction. SF author Robert J. Sawyer still uses   WordStar to write his books (he just finished his 23rd novel), and has updated his instructions for running WordStar under current versions of Windows. You ahould be able easily adapt the instruct (more)

Is the Harper government the worst ever

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 05:32

If you ask me, I would have to say that the Harper government is the worst in Canadian history. I’m not the only one who thinks so – for evidence see this two-part article by Bruce Livesey.

In fact, unlike his predecessors, Harper has seemed Teflon-like in respect to how corruption scandals have clung to him. Even the trial of Senator Mike Duffy has not dented his veneer to any great extent – although this may soon change.

Yet corruption is among the lita (more)

Stream new Richard Thompson album

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 05:35

Richard Thompson has a new album, Still, coming out soon and NPR is streaming it for the next couple of weeks. The album was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and if the couple of tracks I’ve heard so far are any indication, it should be a great followup to his last album, Electric.


2014 Nebula Award winners

Mon, 06/08/2015 - 18:57

The winners of the 2014 Nebula Awards have been announced by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Here are the main fiction winners.

Best Novel

Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)

Best Novella

Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl (more)

A good Excel site

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 05:03

I am not anywhere being an Excel power user. I do use Excel – it’s almost impossible to avoid it, but I haven’t done anything serious with spreadsheets in more than 20 years. So I was glad to find, a site with the tag line “Become awesome in Excel”.  The site contains many tips, tools, resources, and tutorials, as well as a user forum. This one is going into my bookmarks at work and at home.


An appreciation of Jay Lake

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 19:50

I just finished reading the late Jay Lake’s “Rock of Ages” in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction, 31st edition. I was blown away. It’s only the third story that I’ve read by Lake as far as I can recall. I liked both of the other ones I read quite a bit, especially “The Stars Do Not Lie”, but “Rock of Ages” was amazing. It’s one of those “so that’s why I read this stuff” stories. I’m immensely saddened knowing that there won’t be a (more)

Adobe announces FrameMaker (2015 Release)

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 05:11

Abandoning the (presumably unlucky) number 13, Adobe has announced FrameMaker (2015 Release). The major feature being touted on their website seems to be support for bi-directional languages, but there are several smaller and useful new additions. For me, the key one is improved Word import, with a dialog to map Word styles to FrameMaker and the ability to save settings for future use. If they’d added a corresponding export function, I’d be on the phone to their order department right now.

Structured FrameMaker u (more)

Interview with John Scalzi

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 05:20

SF author John Scalzi has been in the news recently, largely as a result of signing a multi-million dollar book deal with Tor Books that will cover 13 books over the next decade.  It’s a good thing for him, for Tor, and for the SF field in general. He talks about it, and other things, in this interview in the Washington Post.

You brought in (more)

Why the Hydro One sale is a bad deal

Mon, 06/01/2015 - 05:13

The Ontario government wants to sell off part of Hydro One to raise money to bring down the deficit. Hydro One is worth somewhere north of 20 billion dollars. So why is the government selling it for three quarters of what it’s worth? The Globe and Mail takes a closer  look.

So, we have some numbers to work with: 1) Hydro One earns $749 million. 2) The province pays, on average, a 3.8-per-cent interest rate on its outstanding debt and (more)

Four dead in copy editor gang violence

Sat, 05/30/2015 - 13:41

The ongoing battle between proponents of the AP Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style has taken a deadly turn, the Onion reports:

NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style. “At this time we have reason (more)

So where are they?

Wed, 05/27/2015 - 19:33

Scientists have pretty much ruled out the chance of there being a really advanced alien civilization near us. By really advanced, they mean a Kardaschev Level 3 civilization – one capable of harnessing the energy of an entire galaxy. The search covered 100,000 nearby galaxies and didn’t detect any sign of such a civilization, which could be found by its heat signature. The jury is still out on less advanced civilizations though.

Unable to secure funding fr (more)

The Monarch on sale

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 09:13

The Monarch: A Thriller, a novel by local author, Jack Soren, is on sale on for $2.99. The blurb says: “Fans of thrilling adventures and international suspense will love Jack Soren’s whirlwind debut novel—a tale of two thieves detoured on the road to redemption.”

Normally, I wouldn’t be interested (I like thrillers, but given the number of SF novels I’ve bought but haven’t read yet, I just (more)

A Word 2013 annoyance

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 18:36

I was recently upgraded from Word 2010 to Word 2013 at work and generally, I like it. But I have found one annoying change that I first thought was a bug.

In earlier versions of Word, turning on text boundaries showed you the overall text boundaries for your page – in other words, the area bounded by your margins. This was handy for judging the layout for things like tables that might extend past the margin boundaries.  Now, in Word 2013, the text boundaries show for each paragraph. This is essentially useless information and can be visually distracting to the point where (more)

2015 Aurora Award nominees

Sun, 05/24/2015 - 12:44

The nominees for the 2015 Aurora Awards have been announced. The Aurora Awards are for Canadian science fiction, fantasy, and fan achievement and will be announced at SF Contario 6 in November. The novel category is particularly strong this year – at least three of them would have been legitimate contenders for the Hugo this year had not the Puppies peed in the dish.

We are proud to announce the 2015 Aurora award ballot for work done in 2014 by Canadians. Voting for the awards will begin for members of C (more)

Trailer for Childhood’s End

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 05:17

Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End is one of my favourite books – I’ve read it at least six times and when I taught an SF course years ago, it was the movel I used as an example of 1950s SF. It still holds up and hasn’t dated badly at all. Now SyFy is making it into a three-part mini-series and the first trailer is out. And it looks promising. I am cautiously optimistic, although the comments on the SF Signal site are much less so.

Written (more)

The Hugo Controversy makes the WSJ

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 05:49

Well, the Hugo controversy has hit the big time – it’s come to the notice of the Wall Street Journal.

The success of the Puppies stunned and outraged many authors and fans. They say the Puppies’ claims are nonsense and that their real beef is with science fiction’s move toward greater diversity, with growing prominence in recent years for women, minority and gay authors and an increased focus on social and gender issues. To them, the Puppies’ supporters are carpetbagger (more)

Use gaming peripherals to be more productive

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 18:43

Gizmodo points out that you can use gaming keyboards and mice to increase your productivity with business applications. As well as being more ergonomic than the (typically junky) keyboards/mice found on most business PCs, they come with extra keys, buttons, and software that you can you to automate common tasks.

Here are some of the key advantages I’ve discovered:

  • Dedicated buttons means less finger gymnastics: One of the most annoying things about making custom keybo (more)

Fake plane crash shuts down Yonge Street

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 06:49

Movie and television shoots are a common sight in downtown Toronto, especially during the summer. I almost made it into a scene in Red a few years ago, as I was walking by the Royal York. Occasionally they take over an entire street, as happened this weekend on Yonge Street with the movie, Suicide Squad. I’ll have to see this one, just to see how many of the locations I can identify – although it’s harder than you might think.