April 2nd, 2020

Books Read in March, 2020

As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my March, 2020 reads.

Books Read in March, 2020

Jade City by Fonda Lee

January, 2020 Locus

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Magician King by Lev Grossman (r)

Zorro: The Roleplaying Game by Alan Bahr et. al. ((PDF) (RPG)

Robots vs Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe

Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger

And that was reading that I did in March of this year. This was the poorest month of reading I think I've ever had since I started these blog posts about the books I've read. While there's a good variety of books here to some extent, the poor quantity of reading is due to the fact that I've been ill for most of March, to the point where I couldn't really focus on anything, let alone reading. The books I enjoyed the most were:

Coming Up for Air by Sarah Leipciger - What can I say about this novel? It's written by a Canadian, who lives now in London, England. That's a good start. :) On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toymaker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Ottawa Valley in Canada, where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live. Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life. I haven't read a book in some time that moved me quite like this one did. This is a book about drowning, about needing to breathe yet finding you can’t, and a story of surviving and existing rather than living. It starts with the most stark image of all - a woman who drowns on the banks of the Seine. Little do they know, but so many lives will be affected by this act and this woman, and what happens next in stories told from 1899, through the 1950s and to the present day. What happened next is based on a real story, L’Inconnue de la Seine - the unknown woman of the Seine – a woman who found the need to kill herself in this manner, but who was considered so beautiful in death that the authorities created a death mask modelled on her face. Many years later it went on to become the face for the resuscitation mannequin named Resuscitation. I really can't say much more about this story without giving away a good deal of the plot and spoil it for potential readers. This is a moving and insightful novel, a story about mortality and death never being one that will read or go down easy. However, the water and drowning themes were apt and poetic, in this novel as one could literally drown in it as one reads. I'm glad I read this book near the beginning of March, and went on to read other books, but this one is a powerful novel that I highly recommend.

Robots vs Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe - This is a wonderfully conceived anthology that is not only an epic showdown between the two eponymous entities of the title, but is a showcase of some of the best voices in science fiction and fantasy, respectively. The anthology is permeated with a playful spirit even though many of the stories are quite dark in feel, which is a fitting tribute to both robots and faeries (as I prefer to spell the word). The introduction to the book, written by the editors, is penned as a letter to our future robot or faerie overlords, and each of the authors weighs in on as if they're "team robot" or "team faerie." Naturally, the difficulty with an anthology such as this is that it's going to contain stories that are very much *not* for someone, and that's certainly the case here. The stories vary widely, and I found them ranging from spectacular to "why-was-this-even-included"? While I enjoyed reading all the stories in this book, I have to admit that two stood out for me. "All the Time We've Left to Spend" by Alyssa Wong was, and is on being re-read, heart wrenching. It's also horrible, beautiful and so very, very human. The second stand-out story for me, for completely different reasons, is Catherynne M. Valente's "A Fall Counts Anywhere," which takes her trademark lush mastery of language and infuses it with the zaniest wrestling antics that you can find outside a vintage Ultimate Warrior tirade. Just superb. A third story that I really liked was Lavie Tidhar's "The Buried Giant," which is a memorable and evocative piece and the sort of fiction that I've come to expect from this author. I recommend this anthology, but it is not for everyone's taste.

Overall, I managed to read 5 novels, 1 RPG and RPG product, 1 magazine, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in March. This brings the year total for 2020 to a set of numbers that look like this: 22 books, 10 RPGs and RPG products, 3 magazines, 15 comics, and 1 graphic novel.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. :)

CanGames, 2020 Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Well, I was expecting this to happen at some point soon, and it has.

CanGames, 2020, the local gaming convention here in Ottawa that is held the Victoria Day weekend in May, has been cancelled.

A message to all our friends in the CanGames community

We here at CanGames had been holding out hope that we could host you all at our convention in May, to give everyone something fun to look forward to once the current COVID-19 measures could be relaxed. Unfortunately, as we all know, getting through this situation is taking much longer, and requiring more aggressive measures, than was thought in early days. We have now been told that the Rideau Curling Club will be closed through May.

In the circumstances, we are cancelling CanGames 2020...

Daniel Bouchard, President Cangames

I can't say this comes as a surprise to me, to be honest, as with the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world, it was only going to be a matter of time before this announcement had to be made. However, to be honest, I was expecting this announcement much earlier, and had hoped that the folks from CanGames would try and offer the convention up some time later in the year, much as the folks at Breakout 2020 in Toronto have done. Of course, the difference is that CanGames is being held at the Rideau Curling Club these years, while Breakout is being held at a hotel every year nowadays. Since CanGames isn't willing to move the convention to another venue for all sorts of various reasons (that I'll not discuss here at all), it was inevitable that if the convention were put off for May due to COVID-19, it was going to be cancelled, rather than be postponed. And when it comes right down to it, the folks at ">CanGames have made the right choice (even if that choice was taken out of their hands by the Rideau Curling Club), given the sheer virulence and danger that Coronavirus represents.

As mentioned elsewhere on my blog, I've been quite ill for most of March (as is my penchant for this time of year, I might add). I was planning to run a session of the Coriolis - The Third Horizon RPG, "The Statuette of Zhar Baghra," at CanGames this year, as well as two sessions of the new Zorro: The Roleplaying Game, "The Black Widow" and "The Peril at Lucifer's Bluff". March's illness pretty much de-railed most of the writing work that I was doing on one of the Zorro scenarios and the player characters for the adventure, and to be honest, given the way COVID-19 has spread and continues to ravage the world for the most part, I was considering cancelling going to CanGames this year for the safety of my health.

Now, with CanGames, 2020 called off, I feel a bit sad and somewhat at a loss for what to do. The scenario material is well on the way, though I still have a good deal of work to do on it, but I was looking forward to running both Coriolis - The Third Hoizon and Zorro: The Roleplaying Game at the convention.

Oh, well... we'll see what the future holds, I suppose...