Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, edited by Sandra Kasturi & Halli Villegas, ChiZine Publications, chizinepub.com, $15.95 US/$18.95 CAD
Canadian Speculative Fiction? Isn’t that all Cybernetic Beavers, Mounties From The Future and Sentient Maple Syrup? In a word, no. For this anthology, editors Sandra Kasturi and Halli Villegas have opened up the genre floodgates and ushered in a tide of science fiction, horror, fantasy, magic realism, new weird, slipstream, steampunk and also poetry. Instead of cybernetic beavers, there are hide-and-seek monsters and mechanical headmasters. There’s also some damn fine writing on display.
In Gemma Files’ story “Signal To Noise,” one of the characters is described as having a “raggedly white- boy meth-cooker beard.” In his story “On The Many Uses of Cedar,” Geoffrey W. Cole pulls off the tricky future tense: “A bolt will fly off the flume and will strike her in the thigh, and her leg will break in two places.”
Only a few of the stories have overtly Canadian content, and as much as I’d love to see a story featuring sentient maple syrup, it was refreshing to read stories that were not trying to satisfy any particular CanCon requirement: (“Quick! Jam some hockey scenes in there! Maybe all the aliens look like Don Cherry! Yes, that’s the ticket!”).
When familiar Canadian place names appeared, they gave me a delightful moment of recognition rather than making me groan at yet another overused Canadian cliché. I wasn’t familiar with some of these authors and would have appreciated some short author bios — but I hear there’s this magical device called “the internet” which I can use to pull up this information, so it’s all good.
Kasturi and Villegas should be commended for casting such a wide net. With a whopping 37 pieces jammed into this anthology, there is surely something for everyone within these pages. (A. G. Pasquella)