March 2010

Age and Innovation

From the February 2010 Report on Business Magazine
You may have heard rumours that the Mayan calendar forecasts the world will end in 2012. However, the Mayans missed a lesser milestone: In two years' time, fully half of all federal government employees will be eligible for retirement.
Yes, the work force is aging. There will soon be fewer young people entering the work force than there are older people leaving it. The demographic shift has Stanford economist Paul Romer worried. "Young people, I think, tend to be more innovative, more willing to take risks, more willing to do things differently," he said in a recent interview, "and they may be very important, disproportionately important, in this innovation and growth process."
Posted: Monday, Mar. 1, 2010 9:48am

Going to Mecca, or its near equivalent

When I was writing my architecture novel, Story House, I had a small library of images that I used to shape my sense of Packer Gordon, the senior architect in the story. It's no secret that Arthur Erikson was one inspiration, particularly his wooden houses. And especially the beautiful Filberg House.

But Vladimir Ossipoff, the Hawaii based modernist, was another inspiration.

And now, after all these years, I'm finally going to see his work in real life. I'll be in Hawaii for 10 days, mid March, working on a number of stories. But a piece for Western Living (guided so creatively by Charlene Rooke over the past few years) will be about Ossipoff. I'll be touring various buildings of his, including the famous Liljestrand House and the Goodsill House.

Amazing. Thanks Western Living. This is going to seriously rock.

Posted: Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2010 1:09pm

Darwin's Bastards

A collection of speculative fiction written by writers who (mostly) aren't known for their speculative fiction. You might have wondered how Zsuzsi Gartner and D&M's project could possibly work. I'm biased. I have a story in the collection. But I love the results. Great contributions from Adam Lewis Shroeder, Elyse Friedman, Lee Henderson, Sheila Heti, Anosh Irani, lots of others.

A strong dystopian fragrance hangs over these stories. But the stories suggest in total that we've arrived at a particular point in history when it comes to speculation. We're past shiny optimism. But we tend to roll our eyes at romantic depression too. Characters in these stories may hope reflexively, without much obvious justification for doing so. But they do hope, do aspire. They don't despair. Go bastards. 

D&M has published this book, and made a funny video too. I'm really proud to be part of this one.

Posted: Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010 7:44am

Notebooks: The Blue Light Project - A01

A01 is one of the artists I followed around during the writing of my new novel The Blue Light Project. His work impressed me hugely in a number of different ways. The first and most obvious way related simply to how prolific he was. The photo above is from a series called Local Photo Posters. At the time I met him, he estimated he'd put up 200 of these in Vancouver and was plannng 300 more. He has since done a similar series in Toronto, although I don't have pictures of any of those.

Some of these photos are from A01's website, by the way, which you should check out. He's an artist of super-charged intensity and complex idea.

Posted: Friday, Mar. 19, 2010 7:59am

The Wilde Room: Chapter 5

Cillian Foley greeting Jeremy at the door to his den, after Jeremy had been shown down a labyrinth of halls by the Foley house manager. Martine’s father, it was clear even before Jeremy arrived, had serious matters in mind. That much Jeremy gleaned from Martine’s manner in setting up the meeting up in the first place. A seemingly spontaneous idea, although Jeremy realized it had been much more deeply considered. In this case, she’d woken up that morning after the news of Jeremy’s father’s death, and the idea of a summit meeting between the chef and his lords was fully planned in her mind, something necessary before he left and dealt with things back in Canada. But as soon as she said it, her head leaned in close to him, her morning smell reaching him – fabric softener, peppermint, organic fair trade medium roasted Columbian beans – Jeremy knew the idea had gone to sleep with her and taken shape, her mind gently at work as her slender hands lay weightless on the light blue sheets.
Posted: Thursday, Mar. 25, 2010 9:46am