2018 Rhysling Awards eligibility

I had two poems published in 2017 that are eligible for the 2018 Rhysling Awards, which are awards for speculative poetry. These awards must be nominated by a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (I’m a member, but people can’t nominated their own poems).

Eligible in long-poem category:

Eligible in short-poem category:

Thanks for checking them out!




Recent press: Quick Sip Reviews on my poem ‘Instructions for Astronauts’: ‘strange and haunting’

Thank you to Charles Payseur at Quick Sip Reviews for taking the time to read my work and write about it. Very cool!

Quick snippet “strange and haunting” and “great”!

If you need more, here are some snippets from his review of “Instructions for Astronauts”:

This is a rather strange and haunting poem about humanity fleeing Earth in an attempt to survive, in an attempt to get to a different and better world, one unspoiled by our touch.


There is a strong religious element to the poem, all of the parts preceded by a biblical verse (save two) to set up how those sections read. These are the sections of the believers, of the grand hope for humanity. The renewal, the what-have-you. And I love that the poem sets itself up that way, with everything working and working toward this end, only to pull away at the ending …

He also calls the video “An amazing experience!”

Wow! Read what he wrote here.

Here’s the video



My poem ‘For Your Own Safety’ Nominated for a Pushcart Prize

So here’s a screenshot of something that I just saw today on the SF Poetry website:

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Thank you, Star*Line magazine for the recognition!

I won’t know until much later this year if my poem gets picked.

The poem isn’t available online, but you can buy the edition it is in from http://www.sfpoetry.com/sl/issues/starline39.1.html. And it was inspired by the figure below, a work of art called Refugee Astronaut by the artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE.


Yinka Shonibare, MBE’s “Refugee Astronaut,” 2015, photograph by Michael Janairo

Haiku movie reviews, May 2015

Ex Machina (2015)
A hot bot twists minds
As it takes the Turing test
High-tech interlude

Review: Pre-judging the movie Interstellar



This post is part of Sci-Fi November, which you can read all about here.

I haven’t seen “Interstellar” yet, but I have seen the teaser trailer, the official trailer, TV commercials and some feature stories in the NY Times, so I’ve been given an impression of the film and know it will have moments of sheer transcendental brilliance, and it will be an overlong, bloated slog that will leaving me feeling dissatisfied.

Here’s my Half-Baked Theory on Movies Directed by Christopher Nolan: the shorter the running time the greater the satisfaction.

Case in point: “The Dark Knight” (clocking in at 152 minutes was a thrill ride, until it had to go and not end and follow through with the Harvey Dent / Two Face story). Thus it ranks as one of his least satisfying movies. “The Dark Knight Rises,” which is 13 minutes longer, is proportionally more dissatisfying: so much great spectacle (Hines Ward running as the football field behind him collapses? Wow!) and then so many stupid fist fights – FIST FIGHTS!?!?

Of course, I just came up with that theory off the top of my head, but the lengths of Christopher Nolan’s movies aren’t something that I alone am interested in. Peter Sciretta over that the Slash Film website even created this chart (URL for the chart is here):

Continue reading →

Readercon wrap-up: ‘You don’t look Filipino’

Me, the author, autographing my story in "Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History"

Me, the author, autographing my story in “Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History”

Readercon is awesome. The conference for speculative literature is always worthwhile, as it offers a deep dive into issues and concerns that are at the forefront of literature.

So I got to hear luminaries like Michael Dirda and Peter Straub talk about their development as readers and writers. (Dirda doesn’t have time to reread books; Straub is rereading Iris Murdoch right now.)

I got to hear Samuel Delaney read for a work in progress that is from the point of view from a young Herman Melvill(e), and includes scenes during his life and times in Albany.

I learned a lot about the difficulties of living in space (the weakening of the body in low gravity; the politics of funding); about how authors try to strike a balance between fulfilling and subverting readers’ expectations (though one panelist argued that very little writing is truly subversive); and that some Readercon attendees bring really killer bourbon and are very generous with it, late into the night.

Most of all, though, I met some great people — writer and readers — but people who share my values for the importance of story.

The highlight, though, was the group reading of seven writers whose works are included in the much-praised anthologyLong Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History.”

Even better, was being asked to autograph my story. This is something that I have never done before. With the journals and anthologies in which I have been published before, I never had a chance to attend any of the events related to the release of those publications. Mostly because they were far away: in Japan or on the West Coast; or my day job and life made it too hard for me to be there. Continue reading →

Reading at Readercon

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I’ll be one of the readers reading a story from the anthology “Long Hidden” at Readercon next week’s Friday.

What’s Readercon? It’s a literary conference that focuses on “imaginative” literature. It is like a sci-fi / fantasy conference but without the costumes, games, movies and music. It’s all about writers and writing, and readers and reading.

Review: ‘The Year of the Flood’ of The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

Everything and nothing changes in “The Year of the Flood,” the second book of Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam Trilogy.”

I have to admit, when I first read “Oryx and Crake,” I didn’t know it was going to be part of a trilogy. When I first read “The Year of the Flood,” I thought of it as a “sequel,” not knowing it was the second book in the trilogy.

Upon first reading “The Year of the Flood,” I was filled with a desire – often thwarted — to learn what happens next: Where was Atwood going with this post-apocalyptic world? I wanted to know what happened after the end of “Oryx and Crake,” when Snowman (aka Jimmy) sees other living humans for the first time since most of humanity got wiped out by a human-made biological pandemic. That pandemic, caused by the title characters of the first novel, is now referred to as a “flood” in the second book’s title. I wanted to know where Atwood’s world would go after the end of the world.

“The Year of the Flood” is told (for the most part) from the points of view of two women: Toby and Ren. And, like “Oryx and Crake,” much of their stories are told in flashback, covering the years before the “flood,” which thwarted my plot-based desires. However, what stories they had to tell! Toby and Ren’s lives are deep in the pleeblands (as opposed to the compounds), and that space allows for some of the richest flowering of Atwood’s imagined world.

The cult-like group of off-the-grid people who call themselves “God’s Gardeners” is a brilliant creation. The try to live pure vegetarian lives, growing food on a rooftop garden and staying away from the Internet. They have days named for various saints, some named for recognizable figures such as Dian Fossey, Rachel Carson, Karen Silkwood and Sojourner Truth. (A blog lists these saints names here: http://theyearoftheflood.weebly.com/4/post/2010/11/saints.html.)

And they have songs – they are fully recorded with vocals and instruments in the audiobook version – to reflect a belief system in which they predict “a waterless flood.” And that prediction turns out to be true, via the pandemic that wipes out most of humanity, except for many of the members of God’s Gardeners and even some truly evil men known as “Painballers.” That is convicts who have turned into something like soulless gladiators and who survived not only the life-or-death arenas but also the “waterless flood.”

They roam the post-apocalyptic earth ready to wreak havoc on not just other people, but also any docile liobams (a genetic cross between a lion and a lamb – how’s that for a brilliant post-modern biblical allusion) or the more violent (and smarter) pigoons.

In fact, one of the painballers used to work as a manager at a Secret Burger (the secret was that you never knew the source of the meat; cow, or something else?), where he was known to “date” (aka rape) the women who worked there until he got tired of them and they mysteriously disappeared.

Toby worked at that Secret Burger. And soon after Toby caught the manager’s eye, and before she is raped and killed, the God’s Gardeners swoop in and rescue her, led by a man called Adam One, who speaks like a priest.

Toby is my favorite character in the novel. She joins the Gardeners, and even though she never truly believes the quasi-religion and always feels like an outsider, she absorbs many of their lessons and learns how to take care of herself, how to tend to bees (and talk to them), and how to survive as a God’s Gardener. She is a fully realized character whose predicament – before and after the Flood she is hounded by a murderous rapist – only deepens the precariousness of her situation.

Even more heartbreaking for her is that she has real feelings for one of the more mysterious figures of God’s Gardeners, a man named Zeb, who is often gone for long stretches of time on mysterious errands.

Ren, the other point of view character in the novel, is also a fully realized character, but she is much younger (she is actually the daughter of Zeb’s girlfriend) and, like a young person, often comes across as naïve and petulant. Nonetheless, her character allows for a child’s point of view of the God’s Gardeners, such as the mean nicknames they have for their teachers (they called Toby “Dry Witch” because she seemed strict and asexual), and for a young woman’s view of life in the pleeblands, because Ren becomes an exotic trapeze dancer at a sex club called Scales and Tails.

Through Ren and Toby, we get to see the rich diversity of the harsh dystopian pre-flood world that is Atwood’s creation. It is definitely a darkly humorous place to read about, though you would never want to go there.

Well, I take that back. When I reread the first book of the trilogy, “Oryx and Crake,” I found it rather claustrophobic (with its focus on Snowman’s point of view and his limited worldview that was shaped by growing up and working in various Compounds). What I was truly missing, though, were Toby and even Ren and their hard lives in the pleeblands.

Their characters give “The Year of the Flood” an emotional connection, and thus make the reading of it very rewarding – even if its connection to “Oryx and Crake” (the answer to who those other people are that Snowman sees) comes deep into the novel. It’s worth the wait.

Review: Oryx and Crake of The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

oryx_and_crake_1.largeI recently started listening to the audiobook version of MaddAddam but then stopped after the first disc. I had read Oryx and Crake when it first came out 11 or so years ago (as well as The Year of the Flood when it first came out), and I realized I needed a refresher in Margaret Atwood’s trilogy — who was this Snowman again? What was his relationship to other characters?

So I went back to Oryx and Crake, as read by Campbell Scott, which is a rather simple story. A man nicknamed Snowman appears to be the last human in a post-apocalyptic world. He has been left to care for genetically modified humanoid creatures amid a ravaged landscape – no electricity — that has been taken over by other genetically modified creatures that have gone wild: giant and smart pigoons (pigs with human cells), and the friendly and sweet looking dog-like creatures that are actually fierce and killer wolves deep down inside, thus the name wolvogs.

The plot goes something like this: Snowman tells stories to the humanlike creatures, thus giving them a creation story about Oryx and Crake (these are both names of extinct animals taken as nicknames by a brilliant scientist and one-time friend of Snowman’s — that’s Crake — and a woman who is a love interest for both men, Oryx). One day, Snowman (his real name is Jimmy) goes in search of food and then returns to find that other humans may be around. The end. Continue reading →