Cold Ground
email Derryl (replace AT with @)

Places to Go:
Derryl's Fotolog
Fictionwise (reprints of some of Derryl's fiction)
Alyx Dellamonica
Boing Boing
Charlie Stross
Jena Snyder
Making Light
Randy Reichardt

~ Friday, October 25, 2002
It's not often I hear from someone who has read one of my stories. I mean, I do, from people I'm already talking to, and they'll mention they've read something and enjoyed it (or not). But to hear from someone out of the blue doesn't happen often, and it's rarer that it is someone I've never met. Such is the life of most writers.

So today in the mail is a hardcover book, Picoverse, by Robert A. Metzger. Bob and I both write columns for the SFWA Bulletin, but we've never met, never communicated, and because my reading time is so limited, I've not had the opportunity to read anything of his. But that last one will change.

When Bob's book came out, he let SFWA members know they could have a copy for free if they wanted. I never wrote, because I don't have the time to read for pleasure right now. But when the book showed up, I thought I was wrong, that I had written, perhaps in my sleep. But the letter he included set me straight, and surprised and pleased me as well. I reproduce it here, believing he and I share the knowledge that sometimes writers could use an egoboo:

"Dear Derryl,

"My publisher was kind enough to send me some additional copies of Picoverse, so rather than let them gather dust on my bookshelf, I thought I should pass them out to those writers whose work I have so enjoyed. Your story The History of Photography, that appeared in Northern Suns, was the perfect piece explaining what happens to us as a technology fades into irrelevancy. I think it could be the template for all such stories. Thanks so much for that wonderful piece."

Well. Knock me down with a feather.
~ Thursday, October 24, 2002
"Scabs on my butt and I'm losing my mind." What a great list.

That one line reminds me of a story. Nothing deep here, as you might have guessed already.

When I was in Grade 10 I was lucky enough to be chosen for the Senior Soccer team. The day before a Junior Band trip to Stettler (woohoo!) we were playing a game and four of us, two from each team, jumped to head the ball. I took an elbow to the throat, and ended up going to the hospital. At first my problem was breathing, but that was OK by the time I got to Emergency, and instead discovered that my neck was mighty sore. The doctor gave me a collar and sent me packing.

Next day was a few hours on the bus, and my neck got worse and worse. I managed to spend the night at the billet's house, and then next morning I was hauled into the local hospital, where the doctor decided that this was pretty serious whiplash and I would have to stay for a few days.

Small town hospitals are not the same as big city ones. My room was in the same ward as everyone else. People were moaning and screaming in pain, some of them sure they were dying, the sounds carrying down the halls and disturbing what little peace I had remaining. My room had a second bed in it, but it was empty, for which I was thankful.

After about an hour, a physiotherapist fetched me to his clinic, where he tortured me with all sorts of devices for another hour or so, then tried to make up for it with five minutes in a hot tub. Done, I returned to my room and saw that some things were on the bed next to mine; obviously I had a roomie now. Back lying in bed, with my collar on, I heard his footsteps first. My roomie was about 19, and had the look of a country hick about him (I don't mean to be derogatory or prejudiced here, but some people do carry that stereotypical look, even if they've spent all their lives in a teeming metropolis).

"How ya doin'?" he asked.

"Fine," said I.

"Whatcha in for?" he asked. Not a rocket surgeon, I'm now thinking.


"Mm." He nodded, obviously realizing that was why I was wearing the collar. And then he told me why he was there. "I've got boils on my butt. Wanna see?"

Keep in mind that I can't turn my head. My mind was trying to force my mouth to scream NO!, but nothing was cooperating. Instead, I watched in helpless horror as he turned around, bent over, and flipped up his gown.

Some of those boils (and let me tell you now, there were many) were as big as quarters. Hell, some porbably had their own area codes. They were huge, they were raw, some had probably recently leaked, and they, along with a moderately hairy pair of cheeks and a gaping anus, were staring me in the face.

Two hours later about a dozen of my band friends came to visit. I made them wait while I changed in the bathroom, then I signed myself out, against doctor's orders (luckily, he'd gone home for the day). The walk back to the billet's was filled with visions of dancing, pus-filled boils dancing before my eyes.

To this day, whenever I drive near or through Stettler, I'm very careful. Wouldn't do to have a car accident and end up in the hospital again.

~ Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Issue VI (the Canadian Writers issue) of Oceans of the Mind will be out soon. This takes you to excerpts of, at the moment, three of the stories: "Living the Quiet Life" by A.M. Dellamonica; "State of Disorder" by Douglas Smith; and "Wasps at the Speed of Sound" by me (currently the title on the page is just "Wasps", but Richard the Editor shall be fixing that as soon as he returns home from a business trip). There's also mention of a story by Mark Rayner, "Hounding Manny", but as of yet no sign of an excerpt there.

First of all, I'm mondo pleased to be in the same publication as Alyx and Doug. I have been before, but this was before I knew who they were. Quite simply, they are two of the best Canadian short SF writers (yeah, I know, like me they're likely working on a novel, but for the moment...) in the biz. Not counting William Gibson, who does novels these days anyhow, I think the only person to outstrip them right now is Cory Doctorow.

Second, I'm happy the story is finally going to see the light of day. This has been a project that reaches back into the depths of time, and it's nice that I didn't have to trunk it. We'll see if anyone besides the editor and my wife buy the idea. Peter Watts has already complained that I don't explain why everything happens and, what's worse, that I don't care. But he says that because he cares.
I've written several times about health care, and often have come down in a position leaning somewhat towards a hybrid of American and Canadian (well, at least I've thought it). But here's an article about gene patents and their effect on women who might be prone to suffer from breast cancer that tips the scales back to north of the 49th.

I understand the need for companies to make some sort of money off their research efforts, I really do. And I know, deep down inside, that taking away their chance to make a profit might cause another company to think twice about such research. But extreme behaviour in the face of a life-threatening condition seems a bit much. The fact that it relates to breast cancer is good though; that's a lobby with power.

On the other hand, why the hell is the BC government the only one in Canada that's caving to this?
~ Sunday, October 20, 2002
I'm sorry I missed this. Today Jo and Aidan were working on his homework, which, for Grade 1, entails reading some words and sentences and spelling a list of ten words. Aidan's going through the sentences, reading slowly and deliberately:

"Sam-is-a-fan. Sam-is-thin."

In the other room, Brennan is playing with Lego. Jo and Aidan hear him say, to himself, "Sam-is-a-butthead."

Now, we've been trying to cure him of this "butthead" habit, and so I'm afraid the mirth and hilarity that followed this have set him back quite a bit.
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