Dorsey, Candas Jane 1952-
DORSEY, Candas Jane 1952-
PERSONAL: Born November 16, 1952, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Education: University of Alberta, B.A. (with distinction), 1975; University of Calgary, B.S.W., 1979.
ADDRESSES: Home—Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Office—c/o Wooden Door & Associates, 330 Birks Building, 10113-104 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 1A1, Canada; fax: 780-448-0640. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Edmonton Bullet, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, editor and manager, 1983-88; River Books and Tesseract Books, editor, 1992—; Wooden Door and Associates (communications consulting), partner, 1992—. Social worker and child care worker, 1973-79; Alberta Social Services and Community Health Public Communications, Public Affairs Officer III, 1984-85.
MEMBER: Writers Guild of Alberta, Speculative Writers Association of Canada, Writers' Union of Canada, Periodical Writers' Association of Canada, Editors' Association of Canada.
AWARDS, HONORS: Pulp Press International Three-Day Novel Competition, first prize (with Nora Abercrombie), 1987, for Hardwired Angel; City of Edmonton Arts Award, 1988; Aurora Award for Canadian science fiction and fantasy, for best shortform work in English, 1989, for Sleeping in a Box; Crawford, Aurora, and James Tiptree Jr., awards, and runner-up, Georges Bugnet Award, all 1989, all for Black Wine; Howard O'Hagan Award, 2001, for Vanilla and Other Stories; Spectrum and Sunburst awards shortlist, both 2002, both for A Paradigm of Earth.
This Is for You, Blewointmentpress (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1973.
Orion Rising, Blewointmentpress (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1974.
Results of the Ring Toss, Blewointmentpress (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1976.
Leaving Marks, River Books (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1992.
(With Nora Abercrombie) Hardwired Angel, Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1987.
(With Roger Deegan) Dark Earth Dreams, 1995. Black Wine, Tor (New York, NY), 1997.
A Paradigm of Earth, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.
Machine Sex and Other Stories, Tesseract Books (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1988.
(Editor, with Gerry Truscott) Tesseracts Three: Canadian Science Fiction, Tesseract Books (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1990.
Vanilla, and Other Stories, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 2000.
(Editor, with John Clute) Tesseracts Eight, Tesseract Books (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1999.
Dark Earth Dreams (audio recording), Tesseract Books (Calgary, Alberta, Canada), 1994.
Contributor of short fiction to books, including Getting Here, edited by Rudy Weibe, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1977; Tesseracts, 1985; Tesseracts Two, 1987; Tesseracts Four, 1994; Tesser-acts Five, 1996; Tesseracts Six, 1997; Tesseracts Seven, 1998; Tesseracts Eight, 1999; Norton Book of Science Fiction; and Penguin Book of Fantasy by Women.
SIDELIGHTS: Candas Jane Dorsey belongs to a generation of Canadian science-fiction writers whose works feature feminist and cyberpunk stylization. Besides writing several volumes of poetry and four novels, Dorsey has penned Machine Sex and Other Stories. This collection of thirteen short stories is notable for its distinctively feminist perspective on several science-fiction and fantasy tropes. Quill & Quire contributor Greg Boyd detected the influence of Canadian geography in Dorsey's writing, remarking that "the best of her fictions are emotionally grounded in the Alberta landscape: its pure blue arch of sky is too expansive to enclose the imaginative spirit."
Unlike typical science fiction, Dorsey's stories primarily focus on human reactions and descriptions of her characters' feelings, using inner dialogue as a device. "Dorsey is at her best when dealing with the psychology of her character rather than an endless description of technical wizardry," explained Henry Leperlier in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers. Paul Kershaw, writing in the Detroit Free Press, admired the "clear, thought-provoking message" of Dorsey's Black Wine. Faren Miller of Locus wrote of Dorsey's potential, calling her "a new writer to keep an eye on."
In A Paradigm of Earth an alien visitor, called Blue, chooses to remain with Morgan Shelby, the one human it feels close to. This places Blue into a household of people who tread the thin line between being undesirables and being outlaws, in an increasingly conservative twenty-first-century society. In such an atmosphere, Blue is being exposed to the very segment of the populace that those in power want to crush. All through the book, wrote Donna Scanlon in Rambles online, "Morgan must reflect on and reevaluate everything she believes as she struggles to answer Blue's numerous questions honestly and help Blue make sense of the world it is trying to absorb. … In turn, she is free to open up to the gifts Blue has to offer as well." Library Journal reviewer Jackie Cassada called A Paradigm of Earth a "tale of growth and discovery," and suggested that through this work, Dorsey "pays tribute to … Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and the philosophical novels of Theodore Sturgeon."
Candas Jane Dorsey contributed the following autobiographical essay to CA:
MY LIFE AND HARD TIMES
It would be easier to write an autobiography if everyone else in my life had already died. I could just make it up, and a fascinating fiction it could be: running away to the circus for a start, sailing singlehandedly around the world like that, travelling the Silk Road and trekking the Great Wall, having secret affairs with royalty, recreating Tscheffly's Ride—but ah, it would be untrue. The truth? It takes so many forms, and involves so many other people's lives and times. This may be why people wait until they have outlived their families and their peers, and have only descendants to embarrass, who are probably already used to it.
For me, lastborn of three in a talented family, I am used to a certain amount of revision of my memories, as everyone in the family got a crack at writing history before I got there: this has made me the strangest combination of biddable and horribly stubborn, and dedicated to the story as it really happened (says I).
My decision that writing was my art form came in part from that same combination. I felt my sister and brother had colonised music and art, and I felt writing could be my place alone. Biddably, I vacated the other fields, but then embraced writing with a stubbornness I didn't recognise until it was pointed out to me decades later, by a friend who has known my family since I was a young teenager, that I was remarkably single-minded.
There is a joy in shaping a poem or a story, in creating a mood, in making a place and the people who live there, in rendering a dream incarnate, and it is akin to but much more intense than the joy a reader feels as co-creator of an image or a narrative. There is a joy too in leading a reader into the co-creation one desires, and if it is an impure joy, nevertheless it can still not be denied. So perhaps my choice was not so capricious as all that—for would I have embraced writing if I had not already loved reading, and if I were not already earning my pitiful keep as a teacher's pet by performing literary legerdemain to the limits of my elementary-school ability? I wonder. Certainly, I would have had to do something to contain my restless mind.
I was born in 1952 in the old Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I have a picture of that red-brick-and-sandstone period piece, which has since given way first to fifties yellow brick pavillions and latterly to a sprawl of corridors and atria in the modern style. My uncle was an ob/gyn and he and his colleague who delivered me were also friends of my mother's from her nursing school days in the late thirties. They talked her into experimental procedures, ate her hospital desserts, and generally made my birth part of an ongoing dialogue.
I was, as they say, a sickly child. What that means in my case is that one evening when I was about five months old, I began projectile vomiting, and my mother, an ex-nurse now, recognised it as a serious symptom and insisted I be hustled to hospital, where I was discovered to have spinal meningitis. In 1953 this was a serious disease from which a child had about a fifty/fifty chance of emerging alive, let alone without brain damage and other disabilities. The effect it had on me was to render my childhood health fragile, although I will never know how fragile, as I lived in a house with two parents who smoked heavily, and was overprotected enough that I never developed the sturdiness needed for athletics. Which came first, the chicken, the egg—or the book which the chicken read because she wasn't allowed to cross the road alone?
My first memory is apparently of being carried home from hospital in my mother's arms when I was about nine months old. My mother tells the story of how, though I knew she was familiar, I was troubled and upset until she put on a white blouse like the nurses wore, after which I settled down. But what I remember is being held, looking up, while the sunlight flickered in light and dark strobing through the girders of the High Level Bridge as my father drove southward across it toward home. I've always loved that bridge.
I loved that car too. It was a 1949 Morris Minor convertible, and later, when I was old enough to wear what the Americans call dungarees, play games with the neighbourhood kids wearing a cowboy hat and a pearl-handled cap gun in a holster, and start paying attention to how things worked, I helped my dad tinker in its innards. It was dun-coloured and had a duncoloured canvas top which wore out. My dad got some hot pink plastic seat covering material secondhand from his workplace, and sewed a replacement on my mother's Singer sewing machine. (She later made him paint it white out of some fear that its similarity to the seat covers of city buses would be noticed.) The frame wore out too. The floor mats were gone and the chassis had perfectly round drain holes about an inch and a half across through which one could watch the duncoloured roadway blur past. The signal levers (not lights) rusted into their sockets, so my father gave hand signals.
I always thought I'd love to drive the car but when I was in high school my dad sold it to a kid down the road. I was heartbroken. He said, "If you had it, you'd want to drive it, and it's not safe." "But you sold it to that guy! What if he drives it and it's not safe?" "He will never drive it. He'll take it apart and tinker with it in his driveway"—and indeed, I never saw the Brave Little Morris (which was actually the name of the car's shadow, not the car, but that's another story) on the road again.
By then my dad, whose loves were my mother, music, reading, and cars, had gone on to own two 1961 Panhard Dynas, a Renault 1600, a Renault Estafette, a Rambler American, and a Volkswagen panel van—not all at once, but not completely serially either—and I had learned a good deal about auto mechanics, woodworking, and generic tinkering of all kinds, when I wasn't curled up in the cool basement away from the migraine-inducing sun, reading a book.
Apparently I was copying my family and reading from a very early age. There is a story that when I was twoand-a-half or three, while everyone else was reading, I was puzzling through A Tale of Two Cities, which was in a little red-covered edition small enough for me to hold, finding "the" and "and" and then bursting with excitement because I had found "mother." I remember that I could read before I went to school, and in grade one some of the other kids accused me of cheating. Even at five years old I knew that was stupid, that one could either read or not, but this was taking place during the rest of my induction into the rough love of one's peers, and it was my first experience with the "we cut our tall poppies down" experience. I duly pretended to make a mistake now and again in Dick and Jane, and had no more trouble of that sort that year, that I remember. On the last day of school, my family was moving, and my sister Jaclyn, nine years older than me and always my friend and ally, ran with me across the field to the school to say goodbye to my class—among them a boy with whom I'd become friends despite the teasing of the other kids, and whom I'd miss a great deal, but only ever see once more, an accidental meeting in Johnstone Walker's department store the next year, in which I was heartbroken to realise we had nothing to say to each other. This was 1958. Children of six did not "play with the telephone," nor were we considered to have attachments that could not be replaced in a new neighbourhood. This was my introduction to loneliness, but I was to be no stranger to that state all through my school years.
This was also in an era of education when a child who learned quickly was simply told to sit quietly after she had finished her work until the other children were done. Tall poppies weren't always cut, they were sometimes just smothered by setting the glass ceiling too low. I remember in one class in grade three, we were only allowed to complete two pages per day in the workbook, and were punished if we worked ahead. I spent a lot of time sitting quietly. If I were to wish anything for my childhood self (besides to be educated these days in some of the modern, challenging, nurturing schools I've visited as a writer!) it would be that I had not been so good. My only errors were of omission and accidental commission. I was never naughty on purpose, and hardly ever by accident. I was mouthy and needy and acted the know-it-all, since that seemed to get me attention, but despite the sadistic grade five music teacher who gave me the strap because he couldn't make me cry, I was painfully law-abiding even when the law was an ass.
My father was a gifted musician, avid reader, and aeronautical engineer whose careers were interrupted by the war. After the war he worked for A.V. Roe at the time of the development of the Avro Arrow, quitting in disgust when the company fired the brilliant engineer whose project the Arrow was. His work as an engineering technologist for the local transit system from just after my birth until his retirement did not define him, and it always annoyed me when people said, "What does your father do?" His job had its interests, but was mainly what provided for his family, and his other interests were much more defining: his extensive reading included science fiction and fantasy works he shared with me, awakening my spirit of exploration and enquiry; his barbershop singing and piano music filled our house and included working with my sister and brother and their musical colleagues during the folk music boom of the '60s; his cars I've talked about. He did have a chance to exercise his creativity at work, however: he was a pioneer in the use of fibreglas and in addition to using the technology at his job, he was loaned out to other projects: he helped design the fibreglas forestry lookout tower cupolas which spotted the province, and he worked with the local zoo on fancifully-shaped lampshades of fiberglas to support its Storyland theme. We still have a little film taken when he adapted a Renault Estafette to steer at both axles as a test of whether buses could do the same: he drove me to the dentist in it, slipping neatly sideways into a parking spot to the amazement of watchers on the sidewalk, and thrilled my heart with possibility. He died in 1997 at the age of eightytwo, still eager for life and barely missing his target of seeing in the (real) millennium, January 1, 2001.
My mother is equally brilliant and creative, channelling her natural ambition into homemaking and leisure pursuits (like organising international philatelic exhibitions!) until I was in high school, when she began a career in historical research which culminated in a position as geographical names officer for our province, creating a programme which was envied and copied by other jurisdictions. After retirement she served on the Historic Sites Board and the Canadian Permanent Committee on the Study of Names, editing the latter's comprehensive inventory of natural feature names for Canada. Her sizeable collection of historical reference books and local and regional history material has been acquired by the University of Calgary Library. An avid reader with an eidetic memory, she encouraged memory and imagination in all of us, those invaluable qualities which enrich the individual but which (as Brian Fawcett identifies in Cambodia: a book for people who find television too slow) are also essential to the grassroots of cultural foundation and maintenance. Interested in everything around her, she also passed on to us the value of sharp attention, clever analysis, and good manners. In retirement she returned to her first love, visual art, taking up watercolour landscape painting from her vast image memory. At eighty-seven visual impairment has limited her reading and painting, but she continues to be a significant resource for savvy researchers, and her work has been recognised with life achievement awards.
My sister Jaclyn was a serious and philosophical Old Soul from an early age. Nine years less two days older than me, she adored me from my birth, she told me once, and as I grew up sharing a room and a double bed with her, that was a good thing, as it allowed her to be patient with a clingy little waif who consistently rolled, skipped, and cuddled into her personal space, wanting her to play with me. She did, playing the piano and teaching me folk songs, singing the harmonies in her alto to my piping soprano. Not as musically talented as my father or siblings, I couldn't learn harmony lines, and sang melody all through Intermediate Girls' Choir and, when I sing, to this day. Jaclyn combined a career as an editor with B. C. Hansard with a sizeable list of other interests, from music and art-making to precision carpentry in the Japanese style, and was a cofounder of the Whale Society of Alberta, the only landlocked whale preservation society at the time of its founding in the 1980s. After she retrained as a massage therapist in her forties, she was instrumental in helping create, and then coedited, a unified magazine for massage practitioners in her province. My sister was my belovéd ally and friend until her death in late 1997 from metastatic breast cancer.
Although technically it belongs now to my brother, I have that piano in the music room of my house. It is a Steinway upright grand with an oak case in mission style. It was bought by my father's father the year my father was born, and I remember when I was small enough to sit under the keyboard at the bass end, listening to my father play Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C Sharp Minor ("The Bells of Moscow"), loving those preliminary deep bass chords. My father sang bass, and to this day alto and bass are my favourite parts. (My life partner is a bass-baritone.) A few years ago I took music lessons until I went from being a non-piano player to someone who plays badly, and found the repetitive, wordless practicing a great relief from the ambiguous requirements of creativity.
My father was smart and musical and a not-too-patient teacher, so I absorbed the music by osmosis or by my sister's side, but never with the sponge-like facility of my musical-genius brother Michael, who can play pretty much any instrument, and has had a career as a performer of what a jamming buddy called "white urban folk-rock blues." Michael, almost eight years older than me, drew and painted, played music—and teased me and provoked me. I adored him anyway, despite the cognitive dissonance—laughing at how funny he was and crying with frustration at never getting the best joke. His quicksilver genius was an inspiration to me to test the limits of my own, as he never settles for less than the best take. He has toured across North America, playing with and gaining the respect of blues and folk music greats, and with various groups and with his partner of many years, Leah Main, he has recorded a couple of CDs—and in addition, the family has the informal collection of tapes of performances, recording sessions, and jams. He is also a talented visual artist: in his case holographer, painter, photographer and master model-maker. He lives in a small town in British Columbia where he has been involved in activities as diverse as helping run the local gallery/performance space and serving on the town council as a councillor and as mayor.
So I am the youngest of a small tribe of creative, intelligent, curious, interested people. As well as being an interesting bunch, setting the bar high for intellectual achievement and ambition, my family has been a gift to me as a creator. There was never any question that imagination and memory, creativity and self-expression, were to be followed and paid attention to. (My two nieces follow the family pattern too: one is a dancer, the other a film editor.)
A sickly childhood is almost a cliché of the writer's life, as is being an outsider at school, as is more familiarity with adults than with peers. To get the point across I don't even need to dwell upon those poignant tear-jerk images of the plain little migraine sufferer in the page-boy haircut, languishing in the shadows. By high school I'd formed a defence against what Scott Peck calls the inevitable humiliations of childhood, and that defence was creative achievement. I wrote poetry and stories, I wrote plays, I staged plays in drama class and was instrumental in writing, directing, and coordinating a schoolwide student production. I rewrote the second act of the (existing and clumsy) stage adaptation of Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz when it was the school play, and was assistant director of the production. I helped start a school newspaper. I was on the Reach for the Top (a Q&A student achievement TV show) team, though I remember the episode more because a friend brought a colour TV from his dad's TV store on which to watch it, then took me out on a date afterward, one of my few dates in high school. I was a head-of-state in some sort of model world politics game. I wrote the first student-authored play to ever be produced in the provincial one-act play festival. And so on. Coming of age as I did in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had my brother's example as a free spirit, my sister's gentle philosophy, my parents' strong messages, and the ideology of the time—the importance of peace, love, individual ethical decisions, the emphasis on questioning everything, the formation of feminist and queer consciousness, and the belief in individual responsibility for acting toward social justice—to thank for the formation of some of the ideals which still drive me—and, by inference, my writing—today. Not that at the time I knew anything more than that I would survive, and that I wanted—what? It didn't matter. To have something, to do something, to be someone, to care about something. It is not useful to be a youth and want too much.
Eventually, as I knew I would—a knowledge which sustained me through adolescence—I graduated from high school, and from childhood, with a sigh of relief and a feeling of liberation.*
At the University of Alberta I began by studying drama, continuing my high school interest in performance. But I didn't have the combination of ego and abandon necessary to subsume oneself in a rôle, so I became more interested in theatre design, stage management, direction, and production. Since tenth grade I'd been a student in the theatre school of the local flagship theatre, The Citadel (so yclept because it occupied a downtown brick building of great charm and historic value which had once been a Salvation Army Citadel), and by university I was in their Professional Theatre Training Programme, working on a production in which my fellow Citadel students had bit parts, and loving everything (except lighting, because of my phobic fear of heights!). Although I was not in the B.F.A. programme, but only the B.A. stream, I was the only one in my university drama classes working in professional theatre.
Had I not had a crisis of ideology, I'd be in theatre today, happily writing for the stage and doing goodness knows what else to make the magic happen. But this was 1971-72, and hippie idealism would have it that theatre was self-indulgent and that saving the world required sterner measures. (I only heard of social action theatre later, and for some reason the relevance of contemporary "street theatre" didn't take, though I'm not sure why!) I quit university after second year, quit theatre, and began to work in social agencies, first as a staff member in crash pads, hostels for the hitch-hiking hordes who in the summer of 1972 were "finding themselves" across the lengths of the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead highways and the breadth of Canada and the United States. Then I became a child care worker in an institution for teenaged girls, and spent four years of dedication, wising up to the nasty underbelly of my culture and how it treats its disadvantaged, especially girls.
Before we leave the university, however, there's one more stream of events to mention. I was actually going to quit a year earlier, but my mother found out that Canadian writer/storyteller/raconteur W. O. Mitchell was coming to teach creative writing at the University of Alberta that fall, and convinced me not to miss out on a chance to study with this icon of CanLit. First, I studied poetry writing with Douglas Barbour one whole heady term, and was introduced not only to poetry but to new, hip, literary, exciting writers of Canadian poetry and speculative literature (bill bissett, bp Nichol, etc. for the former; Samuel Delany, Ursula K. LeGuin, Alfred Bester, Joanna Russ, etc. for the latter).
Doug Barbour is a perennially enthusiastic, perennially young devotee of the Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, pop culture, SF, poetry, and Canadian literature. It always surprises me to realise that he is still some years older than I am: he is one of those fortunate souls who have let their enthusiasms keep them young. In that fall of 1971 he provided me an entry into the wonders of a new, less techno-geek kind of speculative writing than the Asimov/Heinlein/Bradbury that my dad and I used to borrow from the library. He also introduced us all to the new wave of Canadian writing that dated from the mid to late sixties, a literature which respectfully and eagerly included the voices of hippies, women, nonheterosexuals, immigrants, natives, and other marginalised groups. Combining strict exercises in form with encouragement in artistic freedom, Doug opened doors for the hungry creativity of my eighteen-year-old awakening consciousness, and his introduction to contemporary Canadian poets was to lead me to my first publications.
Then came the second term and "Mitchell's Messy Method" of prose writing. W. O. Mitchell was a well-known figure not only in the bookstore but on the lecture stage. Of middle height and build, with an untidy shock of white hair, he wore tweed jackets with turtleneck sweaters under them on the decree of his wife Myrna, because they would best withstand the shower of errant snuff which would escape from his expansively-gesturing pinched-together thumb and forefinger as he told a story. Once I had a student conference with him in his office in old Assiniboia Hall, where the English Department then was quartered, and I had a bad cold. He gave me a pinch of the eucalyptus snuff his son Hugh (I think) had sent him from Australia, and it cleared up half my head, but I was too shy to ask for another, and left feeling lopsided and inspired by his stories and admonishments.
The prairie school of writing which Mitchell exemplified is strongest in its sense of particular place, and for me, deeply devoted to this place where I live—but at that time unaware of the extent of that devotion—it was a drink of cool water for the spirit. Over the years I may have transcended the prairie school's relentless realism, but its love of detailed place and its realistic withholding of closure have become part of my signature style. (Recently, after she approached me with the concept, Judy McCrosky and I edited an anthology of prairie-themed speculative fiction, Land/Space, published by Tesseract Books in 2002, its title an homage to a series of Norman Yates prairie land-and-sky paintings and its theme a love song to the prairie.)
Mitchell had two messages: Write! and Don't Quit!, and he loved and remembered his students. I was not the only young writer to whom Mitchell was a friend, and he remembered us all individually, helped us when he could (though he told me once, chuckling, that he thought his letters of reference were probably the kiss of death with granting institutions!) and always gave us credit for our work and our persistence. Years later, he would hug me and say, "Ya didn't quit!" and I was deeply honoured, over twenty years later when I was president of the Writers Guild of Alberta, to present to him our first Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement—another small way for the writing community to thank him for the inspiration of his decades of writing and teaching.
But this is 1972 I'm talking about, and I was finally writing short stories and poems with the beginnings of a real voice, thanks to the encouragement of these two fine people. Now I teach writing myself, and I tell my students that what we provide each other, this bucket brigade of teachers and students, is "en-courage-ment." I want my students to love writing, not me; I want them to "kill the Buddha" and find their own voices. In venues as diverse as university extension departments, community colleges, summer writing schools at home and abroad, and Clarion West SF Workshop, I've told my students to trust themselves above all to determine their own writing process. Yet these two teachers, who encouraged my love of literature, words, and story in that year, were also my friends and mentors, and I will remember their personal kindness all my life. Perhaps, without fostering any cult of personality, I will be able to free and inspire a few writing students myself, and pass the torch.
That year of 1971-72 was golden: I was living on my own for the first time; I was writing; my first poetry was published in a Real Book (39 Below, an anthology of Edmonton poets published by Treefrog Press); I fell in love for the first time; I was also taking playwriting from Ben Tarver and a play I wrote, Suppose We Say I Had No Other Choice and Let It Go at That, won the Provincial Playwriting Competition and the Edmonton Journal Literary Competition and was broadcast on CKUA radio. I took the prize money and, in the fall of 1972, buoyed up by the example of my crash-pad summer, I went on my own "archetypal voyage," travelling around Canada and the United States on a total budget of $550, coming home on the transcontinental railway in time for Christmas.
It was a cold winter, Orion stood high in the sky as I walked home across the squeaky fine crystalline snow that falls in extreme cold. I rented a little house that had once been an illicit-drug factory, called the police to help dispose of the explosives left in the basement, my mom and I scrubbed the wood and congoleum floors clean, and I painted my study an egg-yolk yellow. I worked in a bookstore and when I got laid off for being too knowledgeable about books to suit the manager, I bought an Autoharp, wrote songs, performed at a folk club, started living with a photographer, and started looking for a way to save the world.
The photographer was Peter Linden Sutherland, and actually he became a photographer after we met, about the same time I was "becoming a writer"—that is, realising I did indeed consider myself a real writer. We discovered a lot about our artistic selves while we were working out which of the social experiments of the early seventies would be our lifestyle. His photographs adorn the cover of my first (chap)book of poetry, this is for you, published by bill bissett's blewointmentpress in Vancouver in 1973. Our twelveyear friendship saw considerable development for both of us, and eventually we parted amicably, sharing custody of our golden retriever, Whizaroo, for another year, and living separately in the same housing co-op.
At that time I first made contact by mail with bill bissett's blewointmentpress, one of the small independent Canadian publishers which had grown up in the mid to late sixties to publish the new wave of often-young, often-hippie, writers. He included poems first in an anthology (th what isint tantrick speshul, 1973?), then published three chapbooks of my poetry through that imprint: this is for you in 1973, orion rising in 1974, and results of the ring toss in 1976.
In the fall of 1973 I got the job as a childcare worker at the treatment centre (it was called Mapleridge). The first week I worked nights and was followed to the door by a cold, hungry grey kitten who became my first cat, yclept Furbl. Soon I had three cats, one a kitten and the other one rescued from a chequered past as the pet of a teenaged drug dealer, and was working on short fiction and poetry. A short story, "Columbus Hits the Shoreline Rag," was published in Getting Here, the first anthology published by a new Canadian literary press, NeWest Press, and I had poems in several anthologies and literary magazines. The first chapbooks were published during this time.*
A couple of years after dropping out of university, in 1974-75, while still working as a child care worker, I returned to study part-time, taking fiction writing from Rudy Wiebe, in a class where eight students, including colleague Aritha van Herk, and Rudy argued our way to further understanding of the creative and storytelling process. Rudy is a tall, bearded man whose affect is the epitome of Mennonite patriarch, but he's mischievous, and a rebel, too, and likes a good scrap as well as any, in the interests of art of course. He helped throw a conference on Canadian fiction that year (January, 1975) and I met the likes of Mavis Gallant (I remember being cut by her sharp tongue in conversation, but fascinated by her writing); Ray Smith (Lord Nelson Tavern), Francis Itani, and many others, and had a chance in that venue to discuss writing with a good selection of the pantheon of CanLit. That summer, 1975, I finished a bachelor of arts degree in English and drama, graduating with distinction.
At the same time my work as a child-care worker provided me with all the world-saving I could possibly want. It was ten years before I really began to write about what I saw and learned in those years between 1973 and 1977. I met a girl whose back was a mass of burn scars because when she was a baby her mother's boyfriend (immediately an ex-boyfriend) fried her in a frying pan. I met an eleven-year-old battered child whose need for love and touch sent her prostituting in exchange for cheap presents and a pregnancy, but who flinched away from expansive gestures; a social worker convinced her abortion was murder and set her up in an apartment, a child with a child, until she beat her child in turn and it was put into custody. I met a little runaway with Attention Deficit Disorder and an autistic brother, a girl we thought just could not concentrate; twenty-five years later when I met her as an adult woman she told of the sexual abuse she was afraid to report, not only in her family but in the very institution where she was supposed to be safe. Two of the staff members with whom I worked were jailed for sexual crimes with kids; the rest of them were dedicated, idealistic people who saved the lives of countless children with their kindness. We couldn't save them all: I was on shift one evening when one of the kids hanged herself, and I found her too late. I met beautiful self-reliant survivors and fragile, misdiagnosed victims. I met sturdy proto-feminists ready to take on any battle in their quest for a better life, and a sly little psychopath who chilled my blood with her cold blue-eyed gaze. I met dedicated parents and abusive and neglectful ones; I met brilliant social workers and child care workers and sneaky, unskilled, destructive ones; I met homophobic, bigoted, hidebound, and misogynist teachers, parents, judges, and workers, and inclusive, accepting, inspiring ones who changed the lives of their charges—and changed my life. One of the senior social workers, Derwyn Whitbread, became a mentor to me in that period, contributing wisdom on so many levels: she's the one who said to me, as I fussed about the bad opinion of someone higher in the pecking order, "Would you want Hitler to approve of you?" Another social worker, Joanne Beirnes Sydiaha, became a visual artist in Saskatoon, and a friend, and we are still cross-fertilising each other's work.
How do you summarise a coming of age that teaches ambiguity and idealism, makes you question everything? Valuable, yes, but it also created a well of anger, enraged advocacy, and sadness which is with me to this day, and which eventually has informed many of the most savage moments of my writing. My novel Black Wine and many of my short stories (including the often-anthologised "(Learning about) Machine Sex," and "The Prairie Warriors," "Mapping" and others) drew some of their characters, subject matter, and fiery, furious edge from the anger and passion for change which I acquired during those four years' work at Mapleridge.
When I returned to university to take a bachelor of social work degree from the University of Calgary at Edmonton (graduating in 1979), I was still being driven by that fire. By the time I eventually realised that my goal as a social worker was to travel back in time and make some of the outcomes at Mapleridge different, I had the degree and was pondering what to do next. I became a freelance writer and although I kept my registration as a social worker active until 2001, and constantly have used my community development training in the arts and cultural community, I have never worked directly in the social work profession again. This doesn't trouble me. I have integrated the training into my life and work (no learning is wasted, and one of my teachers, Gayle Gilchrist-James, claimed that a social worker is a social worker for life, just in different venues) and I am saving the world in other ways.
I'm a Canadian. We think of ourselves as nice. And I was taught by my parents to be nice. But "nice" is not always an appropriate response to abuse, injustice, violence, and all those forms of evil, and the next five or ten years of my writing were full of an effort to free myself from the Tyranny of Niceness. To see, to witness, leads to the need to bear witness. The need to make a statement, make that statement make a difference. Raised one generation away from forbidding Scots Presbyterianism, in a general climate where tall poppies get the chop, it was hard to believe that making art was the best way to make a difference. The child care work, gaining my social work degree, doing my volunteer work and arts advocacy, has been about making a difference. But in my middle years, I see more clearly than ever that making art can sometimes make the biggest difference.
Not that I haven't enjoyed the last twenty-three plus years of public service in the arts. During that time I've helped start and run an arts newsmagazine (the Edmonton Bullet) and a book publishing company (The Books Collective—and its imprints River Books, Slipstream Books, and Tesseract Books—in which I have been a principal for the last eleven years), helped establish and strengthen the Writers Guild of Alberta and set up its retreats programme, worked in various arts and community advocacy groups, and served on the board of the housing co-op where I lived for over seventeen of those years.
Housing co-ops are another Canadian thing: started by groups of fishermen in Atlantic Canada in the 1930s, the housing co-operative movement allowed people to band together to build or buy housing and provide income-tested housing charge assistance, with help from the government. Although the programme is now in decline, I suspect—no, I know for sure!—I was not the only working Canadian writer to benefit from the combination of home ownership and group responsibility. It was only last year that I left the mountain ash tree I'd planted in front of my house, and all the benefits and difficulties of living in a little urban village, for the joys and stresses of individual home ownership with my partner of over eleven years, the opera singer, performer, and writer Timothy J. Anderson—a home of course decorated by the obligatory writer's cat Sparrow, and Dextrose, a dog who is really a cat in drag. But I'm getting ahead of the story again …
The 1980s dawned just after I graduated from social work school, and I resolved to take six months for my writing—a six months which stretched to fill the rest of my life so far. I built a freelance writing career on a foundation of magazine articles and communications consulting, government contract work and editing jobs, a bit of educational television writing, and teaching writing classes. Gradually the focus has shifted over a couple of decades, so that now I'm doing more big report-writing jobs, editing, writing media kits for filmmakers, and technical writing for computer help files. Over the years, looking back, a lot of the freelance work fades into a blur, and I'm always surprised when I look back in my files to see how much I've done. A few things stand out. I'm particularly proud of an eleven minute script ("Lucky You") I did for TVOntario's anti-drug-abuse series in the mid 1980s, of a national review I did of children's interactive media in the early 1990s, and of coediting (with Timothy Anderson) the report of the review panel on Alberta's Human Rights Commission in the mid 1990s.
The early 1980s were a time of cultural excitement in Alberta. An arts magazine called Interface had grown from a small dance newsletter into a thick, glossy monthly, and it was providing in-depth coverage of a burgeoning, vibrant arts community. When it folded, a group of us, led by short-story writer Reg Silvester and myself, started a new arts monthly, the Edmonton Bullet, its name a pun on Edmonton's first newspaper, the Edmonton Bulletin. The Bullet never missed an issue in a schedule that was first monthly, then biweekly, then weekly, for ten years, when it was sold to its new competitor, SEE Magazine. Over that time we covered the early work of some internationally known artists: k.d. lang; La La La Human Steps, Jane Siberry, Ronnie Burkett, and many others—and we moved ahead in our own careers. This was also the time of the founding of the Writers Guild of Alberta and my work on its retreats committee—and at those retreats, and in my spare time, as I had all through the 1970s, I wrote poetry and short stories, and began work on a novel which later became my second published novel, A Paradigm of Earth.
My short fiction was being published in small literary magazines, and in 1985 "Johnny Appleseed on the New World" was included in the first Tesseracts anthology, published by Press Porcepic in Victoria, B.C., and edited by Judith Merril. I first met Merril in May that year, but it was at the launch of the book at the Harbourfront Festival in Toronto in the fall of 1985 when we had a chance to begin a friendship which sustained until her death in 1997.
Judy was a crusty, intelligent woman who never suffered fools in any mood, let alone gladly, yet whose kindness and community-building spirit has left a huge legacy. Few who met her will forget her constant encouragement toward excellence, nor her love of reggae music, dancing, cigarettes—and the future. She looked always and hopefully to a future she believed she could help make, and as a friend and mentor to several generations of SF writers she was unequalled. She was born in New York City and was a member of the post-WWII Futurians, founded the Milford writing workshops, edited a series of the most influential anthologies in the speculative writing field, and in 1967 came to Canada, both in protest of the Vietnam War and to teach at the soon-to-be-famous Rochdale College, which became for a brief notorious period a prototype Free University. This dynamic new Canadian soon became involved deeply in developing the Canadian writing community, teaching classes, joining the Writers Union, and mentoring writers. In 1986, following the success of Tesseracts, Judy brought the Milford workshop model to Peterborough, leading the first SFWorkshop Canada Ink for eight professional and semi-professional speculative fiction writers, many of whom have gone on to careers in the field: myself, John Park, Michael Skeet, Ursula Pflug, Wendy Pearson … Judy didn't believe in dependency, however: once founded, SFWorkshop Canada Ink was on its own, and the writers ourselves continued it in various cities for several years while the Canadian SF writing community established itself more solidly.*
In 1988 my speculative fiction short stories were collected in Machine Sex and Other Stories (one of two books officially launching the Tesseract Books imprint of Press Porcepic which had unofficially began in 1985 with the first anthology), a book which receives more attention now that it's almost unavailable than it did when released in 1988. The puzzlement which greeted the stories in the 1970s and early 1980s makes sense now that I've been told I was "ahead of my time": cold comfort for a slow career start. The book was published in a British edition by the Women's Press in 1990, and "Sleeping in a Box," the first story in the collection, won the 1989 Canadian Science-Fiction and Fantasy Award (then called the Caspar, now called the Aurora Award) for best short-form work in English in 1988. The title story "(Learning about) Machine Sex" has been widely anthologised, including in the Norton Anthology of Science Fiction edited by Ursula K. LeGuin and Brian Attebery.
I began that story at SFWorkshop Canada Ink in 1986, but before it was finished, its protagonist appeared in a less literary venue. Returning home from the workshop fired with enthusiasm, I talked my colleague at the Bullet, my friend Nora Abercrombie, into trying the Pulp Press International Three-Day Novel-Writing Competition on the 1986 Labour Day weekend. Still learning how to deal with longer material, I was interested in the idea of a self-administered workshop on novel writing, and the intense Friday-midnight to Monday-midnight weekend proved to be just that. I brought Angel, the disillusioned computer hacker, to the table, and Nora brought a crusty grandfather with a love for fishing and pipe smoking.
Between us, typing on our Kaypro computers back-to-back on my dining room table, we created Hardwired Angel, a speedy feminist potboiler of a novelette which—rather to our surprise—won the competition and was published in 1987. Despite a rather poor cover, it has had good exposure. Now Angel's story (in short story and the novel together) has been optioned for film and I have written the screenplay, discovering as I did what's wrong with the structure of a novel, no matter how winning, that is written without prior planning in three days! Still, this little puff-pastry has a place in my heart (and Nora's too), for in a way it contains the spirit of creative adventure of the eighties.
The end of the 1980s was less brilliant than the first six years. In the fall of 1986 I contracted a serious illness which would blight the next five years of my creative life, robbing me of energy and time. During that time I retired from active work on the Bullet and concentrated on healing and, latterly, on starting to earn a living again once the illness loosed its clutches. I was lucky to have the support of a good friend and roommate, Tiffany Tsang, and, for a few of those years, companion Chris Salayka, both of whom made survival a great deal easier during some very hard years. During this time I continued to have short fiction and poetry published in anthologies, and began work on a nonfiction book (about sex, gender, and popular culture), the gradual accumulation of which still clutters up my desk to this day, waiting to be finished. I recovered fully from the illness in the spring of 1991, and started catching up.
Two notable events of the early nineties, outside my writing, have made life easier and more rewarding. The first was an odd quirk of luck: in 1990 I won a car in a nationwide contest, and despite my liking for the 1965 Volvo station wagon I was driving (better expressed as "nursing along") then, I abandoned it with pleasure to drive the little Honda CRX the Universe sent to make life easier. Then in 1991 I met my current life partner, Timothy Anderson, at a Writers Guild of Alberta meeting. I was vice president of the Guild at that time, and Timothy and I worked together on the strategic planning committee, very soon realising that our paths converged in many other ways, beginning with the personal. We also formed our freelance writing company, together with another partner, Mary Woodbury, who has since retired to devote herself to her career as a writer of books for young people.
Around this time, also, still in pursuit of a theory and practice of novel-writing, I had set aside the ninety pages of A Paradigm of Earth manuscript, looking for "something simpler" to teach myself how to write a full-length text. The Universe hears intentions like that as a challenge to exercise its capacity for Cosmic Jest. I began writing a simple quest novel of a rather shallow young woman in search of the mother who left home when her daughter was seven—and ended up with my first novel, Black Wine.
I knew this book was going to be less than simple the day I found myself typing "There is a madwoman in a cage in the courtyard … ," and indeed, Black Wine became the venue where I first gave full freedom to the voice I spoke of earlier, the voice which howls against injustice in many forms. The struggle to allow darkness to wake and live in the work was huge and worthwhile. I was lucky that the book was well-received, for even had it not been, I need to write like that. Despite what I tell students, in the final analysis one cannot write by structure, only by following the book wherever it goes, finding its truth and honouring that truth. Such slack-wire acrobatics, however, are only possible after a certain amount of traditional tightrope work, so I keep talking to students about internalising the principles of narrative through writing and reading, so that what W. O. Mitchell used to call "the lightning stroke of genius" has receptive, incendiary material in which to ignite a story.
The reality is, however, that the drive to write is mysterious. One tries to explain it often—and can't. As an exercise I ask my writing students to answer the question: "Where is the voice coming from?" It's not an easy question for any writer to answer for themselves. On the one hand, self-report data is notoriously unreliable. We have facile answers, rationalisations, justifications, secrets, self-delusions, and lies. On the other hand, writers spend a certain amount of time in those long dark nights—or tea-times—of the soul looking for practical answers to that question for a practical reason: to get the voice to speak at all. Yet whatever level of self-discovery we undertake, our readers, critics, and the scholars who examine our work find new connexions.
Here are some I believe: The youngest of the family, the invisible unpopular sickly child at school, the child who wanted to be heard, became a writer and teacher. A lonely child became a community-builder and cooperator. A childhood fear of invisibility, a set of limits, and incapabilities, in combination with special ability and a desire for transcendence, is transformed into ambition. And anger: about injustice, about inequality and bigotry and theft of life, about abuses of human rights, about sexism and heterosexism and racism, about individual abuse of children in families and women in relationships: anger becomes a drive to speak out, to witness, to give voice to the stories that the voiceless cannot. But thinking about these higher-level motivations is fatal in front of the page. Instead, one must be open to the insinuating whisper of that mystery voice as it murmurs astonishing, terrifying, wonderful secrets: "There is a madwoman in a cage in the courtyard … ", "He caught it from his father … ", "I do my rounds same as usual … ".
In early 1992 I taught a workshop called "Unblocking" to a group of fellow writers and among our list of the difficulties faced by writers in our region was the difficulty finding appropriate publishers. As a result, most of those in the workshop researched and started a new publishing company as a cooperative. Called The Books Collective, it exists to this day, having in the past ten-plus years used up about 100 ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) on a variety of editions in literary fiction, poetry, drama, contemporary autobiography, children's fiction, art and architecture books, and speculative fiction.
We took on the mantle of Canada's premiere publisher of speculative fiction when, in 1994, in what I often call a fine example of workers taking over the means of production, I headed a group of Canadian writers and editors to buy the publishing imprint which had earlier published my book Machine Sex, and brought it to Edmonton to join The Books Collective. The other imprints of the Collective now are: River Books, Slipstream Books, Dinosaur Soup Books, and Partners in Design Books. (Rowan Books and Hodgepog Books, once part of the Collective, were sold and became independent publishing companies.)
In 1992 River Books published, to little fanfare, Leaving Marks, a book of poetry in which I explored whether the intense private experience of love could be made into art and shared with readers. Since that exploration, I've published less and less poetry as the years go on, though I still write it for my own purposes. I'm no longer comfortable with the idea of poetry being marginalised as a (socially irrelevant, they say) expression of personal truth, and haven't the concentration and time it would take to challenge that sidelining in my own work. Besides, I'm busy with prose at the moment.
In 1994 Tesseract Books published Dark Earth Dreams, a talking book on CD on which I read two short stories ("Black Dog" and "Living in Cities") over soundscapes composed by Canadian classical and film composer Roger Deegan.
The Books Collective publishes new writers with unusual content, style, or stories to tell, and has sought out unusual and minority voices—feminist, immigrant, queer—as well as established writers. The growing publishing company has weathered many storms in the Canadian and international publishing industry, has faced down a censorship challenge, and continues to publish between four and ten titles per year. Travelling to promote our literature, I have been able to attend some of the most fascinating conferences in the world, in Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Greece, and the United States as well as across Canada. It is sometimes a struggle balancing my own creative work, earning a living, and working in the collective, but the rewards have been great, not the least of which is to see Canadian speculative writers, first published in our Tesseract Books editions, take their places on the world stage.
Since its founding in 1985, the Tesseract imprint (owned by Press Porcepic/Beach Holme until 1994) has published a landmark anthology of Canadian SF, a series conceived by Gerry Truscott, with the first collection edited by Judith Merril. Since then, pairs of Canadian SF writers and editors have been chosen to represent, and to choose from, the diversity of the Canadian speculative writing community, including translations from francophone writing as well as a range of anglophone original short fiction and poetry. I've had a story published in each Tesseracts anthology from Tesseract books to date, except for the two I've coedited (Tesseracts3, edited with Gerry Truscott, came out in 1990, years before we bought the company, and with John Clute I coedited Tesseracts8 in 1999).*
By the time Black Wine was published in early 1997, I had already turned my attention back to A Paradigm of Earth and was deep into its construction. That's when I discovered that one doesn't learn how to write a novel, one learns how to write the novel one is writing. Paradigm required of me a whole new way of approaching structure and narrative, more traditional in some ways but also very neo-Trollopian (thus earning me a place in the ephemeral Young Trollopes movement of conversation-and-tea-drinking-centred speculative fiction writers, founded by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman and composed of a number of proud, but not necessarily young, neo-Trollopes!). I myself think it's a gentler novel than Black Wine, though a couple of readers have laughed at me when I say so. Black Wine is about journeys out from under the shadow of evil, and about threads which bind people together. Paradigm is about grief, loss, and love.
Only weeks after its release in early 1997, Black Wine won the Crawford Award for a best first work of fantasy, and in 1998 it won the Aurora (Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy) Award for best novel and the James Tiptree, Jr., Award, which rewards outstanding speculative works containing commentaries about gender.
In September of 1997 Judith Merril died, and while I was writing a commemorative essay about her, on September 17, 1997, I received the phone call telling me my father had died, gently in his chair. Three months later, on December 24, 1997, my sister Jaclyn died unexpectedly of the cancer she had been battling, in a Victoria hospice with her family at her bedside. Readers who see the dedication of Paradigm think perhaps that I constructed the story to process my own deep and abiding grief. In fact, I had written most of the salient sections of the book long before, some in the 1980s, and the biggest influence on the story caused by my real losses was that I went through the novel later and deleted anything sentimental, knowing intimately now that grief is bleak and brutal and angular.
Grief, a major surgery in 1998, and crises in the Canadian book industry have combined their effects to slow down my writing in the last few years—but as Mitchell noticed, I don't quit! In 2000 NeWest Press of Edmonton published my mainstream and slipstream short fiction in Vanilla and Other Stories, and the novel A Paradigm of Earth was published by Tor in hard-cover in the fall of 2001 and trade paperback in fall 2002. It was shortlisted for the Spectrum Award for gay/lesbian/bisexual themes or content in SF, and for the Sunburst Award, Canada's juried award for literature of the fantastic.
Over the years I've chosen experience and artistic endeavour over money, but although in money I have little, I do not lack. Over the years I've been fortunate in more ways than I've been troubled by fate. Good friends and lovers have enriched my life and I have been surrounded by a community of artists and their art: the creative cross-fertilisation with writers, visual artists, and performers has been a powerful source of strength. I'm proud of my family and friends and honoured to be part of their lives. They have helped me through hard times and helped me enjoy my triumphs. I live in a country where freedom of speech and living style have made it possible to choose an alternative way of living and to safely advocate for human rights and inclusiveness. I live in a culturally various city, and have been fortunate that many close friends from around the world have broadened my perspectives and shared their stories and their warmth. Because of those friends I have been able to meet the world during my travels with a combination of writerly observation and interpersonal participation. I haven't yet been afraid of any culture or a street in any city, and the world has rewarded my eagerness with opportunities to participate in a wealth of experience.
I continue to write short fiction, essays, and reviews, and I continue to work as a freelance writer, most recently writing Help files in HTML for a major software manufacturer and participating in a project to publish material for learning-disabled teens. I continue to edit and publish Canadian writing through my work as publisher of The Books Collective. In summer 2003 Tesseract Books was sold to Edge Publishing, but I continue to be involved as an editor. I continue to teach writing classes for two colleges and the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension. Publishing and teaching are satisfying work, helping other writers to find their voices and have them heard. But my main dedication is to my own writing.
I don't consciously set out to write about gender, sexuality, heterosexism, sexism, racism, or any of the other social issues I've been lauded for or accused of championing. I don't think, as a writer, one can avoid taking a position as one writes. Even the most cynical and formulaic pulp writer gives a message, even if that be subliminal scorn. In contrast, writers who care about the story, and who are driven to write as to breathe, discover their messages when the writing is done and they reread it. I think it was Robert McKee who said, "Theme is the writerly perspective on the significance of the story." I interpret that to my writing students by saying: "Write what you are passionate about. It's the only thing that will have the energy to get you through all the hard work. Your passions will come through as theme." And so they do.
As I write this, in early 2003, I have a small novel I call "a postmodern mystery" in the works, and another book of short fiction is ready for publication. I am interested in writing for young people, and for the screen, and I have a nonfiction book project in progress. I am a slow writer, not the fashion in the book industry, but I manage to accomplish a fair amount by this method: I like to have several projects going at once, working on them in turn as the spirit moves me.
Most compelling at present, several of the stories in Vanilla have a particular voice which is still whispering to me. That voice is continuing to speak in a novel in progress called Freak Show. The title and voice have been with me for many years, but the story is slowly emerging as I write—yet another novel process to learn. I imagine it will not be the last.
Whether the voice is a Muse or just the unquiet murmurs of my subconscious, I don't care. I want to do all I can to listen, and hope to be transcribing its whisperings for the rest of my life.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls, editors, Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 251: Canadian Fantasy and Science-Fiction Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991, pp. 216-217.
Booklist, October 1, 2001, Regina Schroeder, review of A Paradigm of Earth, p. 305.
Books in Canada, May, 1989, p. 5; October, 1997, review of Black Wine, p. 38.
Canadian Forum, May, 2000, Bert Archer, "The End of Gay (and the Death of Heterosexuality)," pp. 43-45.
Detroit Free Press, March 5, 1997, Paul Kershaw, review of Black Wine, p. 3D.
Lambda Book Report, November, 1997, Deborah Peifer, review of Black Wine, p. 43.
Library Journal, October 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of A Paradigm of Earth, p. 113.
Locus, April, 1989, Faren Miller, review of Black Wine, p. 44.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August, 1997, Elizabeth Hand, review of Black Wine, pp. 24-29.
Quill & Quire, January, 1989, Greg Boyd, review of Machine Sex and Other Stories, p. 26.
Rapport, January, 1997, review of Black Wine, p. 13.
Crystalline Sphere Publishing Web site,http://home.golden.net/ (July 26, 2000), James Schellenberg and David M. Switzer, interview with Candas Jane Dorsey.
Rambles,http://www.rambles.net/ (January 26, 2002), Donna Scanlon, review of A Paradigm of Earth.
SFCanada,http://www.sfcanada.ca/members/ (March 10, 2002), "Writings of Candas Jane Dorsey."
Writers Union of Canada Web site,http://www.writersunion.ca/ (March 10, 2002), "Candas Jane Dorsey."
Young Alberta Book Society Web site,http://www.yabs.ab.ca/ (March 10, 2002), "Candas Jane Dorsey."