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December 2012

Torontopocalypse! Toronto in Future Fiction

December 20, 2012 | Winona | Comments (0)

As you may have already heard, the world is scheduled to end — or, at the very least, undergo a major transformation — on December 21, 2012. Wondering what you'll see when you look out the window tomorrow? Check out these books that imagine a Toronto transformed in the not-so-distant future:


Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Summary: Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways — farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.


"Paula and Pavel had set up their awning at the corner of Carlton and Sherbourne, next to the shack from which Bruk-Foot Sam sold reconditioned bicycles. Braces of skinned, gutted squirrels were strung up under Paula and Pavel's awning. Ti-Jeanne could smell the rankness of the fresh meat as she walked by. It must have been the morning's kill. The couple had claimed the adjacent Allan Gardens park and its greenhouse, which they farmed. In the winter, Paul and Pavel were the Burn's source of fresh vegetables for those who lacked the resources to import them from outcity. And the overgrown park hid a surprising amount of wild game: pigeons; squirrels; wild dogs and cats for the not too particular." 


Headhunter by Timothy Findley

Summary: Headhunter by Timothy Findley

It all starts when Lilah Kemp — librarian, spiritualist, schizophrenic — inadvertantly lets Kurtz out of page 92 of Heart of Darkness and is unable to get him back in.

While Kurtz is stalking the streets of Toronto, Lilah frantically begins her search for Marlow to help her deal with the literary villain.

Meanwhile, the city is becoming increasingly chaotic and terrifying. The rich and powerful are engaged in a web of depravity, a new and horrifying disease called sturnusemia has swept the city, and severly traumatized children are turning up at the local psychiatric institutes. Kurtz seems to be at the centre of it all.

Lilah, witness to events tearing the very fabric of her society, seeks solace as always in great works of literature and prays for Marlow to find and capture Kurtz — before it's too late.


"On a winter's day, while a blizzard raged through the streets of Toronto, Lilah Kemp inadvertendly set Kurtz free from page 92 of Heart of Darkness. Horror-stricken, she tried to force him back between the covers. The escape took place at the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library, where Lilah Kemp sat reading beside the rock pool. She had not even said come forth, but there Kurtz stood before her, framed by the woven jungle of cotton trees and vines that passed for botanic atmosphere."


Technicolor Ultra Mall by Ryan Oakley

Technicolor Ultra Mall by Ryan OakleySummary:

In the commodified future the consequences of a failing society are brought to bear upon one man’s ambition and his attempt to escape his own socio-economic hell.

The world’s ecosystems have been destroyed by genetic pollution and cities have evolved into mega malls.
Budgie is a knife wielding, brass knuckled young man from the impoverished and brutal red section of Toronto’s T-Dot Center. When his best friend is murdered and Budgie falls in love with the woman responsible, he learns that there’s more to life than drugs, blood or money.
To escape his past he must give up everything and everyone he knows and sell his perceptions to an enigmatic and dangerous gang leader. Fighting for survival and unwittingly involved in a scheme that only he can stop, Budgie must ask himself: Does he want to?
Technicolor Ultra Mall is an ultra-violent science fiction dystopic novel about the value of being human in a completely commodified world.


"As it was, The T-Dot Center was hovering on the edge of acceptable profitability for a top five mall. He couldn't afford a whole division of spooks. The CEOs would get paranoid about trade secrets being stolen and leveraged into a state monopoly. Some would probably leave for friendlier malls, taking their stores and money with them. No. Intelligence services undermined the security they were supposed to create. Rock would have to do. Even if he was a bit thick."


Your Secrets Sleep With Me by Darren O'DonnellYour Secrets Sleep with Me by Darren O'Donnell


Toronto's CN Tower has fallen into the lake. The city is crowded with refugees from the US. Michael and Ruth Racco's dad has, in a rash of road rage, perpetrated the Backhoe Massacre. And, in the middle of it all, little Jimmy Hardcastle has, in the fountain of a suburban mall, walked on water.

As helicopters chop the air over Toronto and a paranoid America slides into fascism, kids from south of the border collide with kids from north of the border and, over lattes, ruminate on new possibilities.

Your Secrets Sleep With Me is a frenetic, ruthlessly hilarious critique of power and politics. Brilliant, absurd, incisive and fun, this caffeinated novel will take you on a doomed search for the place where you end and everything else begins. But you will not be alone. Shhh. Don't worry. Your secrets sleep with us.


"What happens next will be the source for many discussions about the state of the world, the nation, the city, the environment and the populace. The dark purple clouds begin twisting and touching down, a tornado forms, thundering and careening into the city, knocking over its point of pride: the world's tallest free-standing structure, the CN Tower, lifting it and dropping it right into the lake."


The Never Weres by Fiona Smyth

The Never Weres by Fiona SmythSummary:

Three teens become humanity’s only hope for survival.

Late in the next century, the human race is on the verge of extinction. A mysterious virus has resulted in no births in almost a generation. Despite the impending doom, three urban teenagers try to live their lives with hope.

Mia strives to preserve humanity’s compassion through her art and her volunteer work with the “oldies.” Tech-savvy Xian spends her time tinkering with the robots she’s sure will inherit the Earth. Jesse, the son of geneticists, is convinced the future lies with cloning, but society is reeling from the grotesque failures of previous attempts. When the friends stumble upon the 60-year-old mystery of a missing girl, it leads them to the world’s only successful clone — and the key to saving our species.

Excerpt:Excerpt of The Never Weres by Fiona Smyth


Interested in reading more about Toronto's fictional future? Check out this list of novels set in Toronto from 2004 to the future. Do you have other favourites? Add yours in the comments below!


Reading the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2013 Nominees

December 2, 2012 | Winona | Comments (0)

The nominees have been announced for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's class of 2013. This year, for the first time, the public is being invited to cast a vote alongside the music industry insiders who make up the members of the Nominating and Voting Committees. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Holly George-Warren

This is big news for music fans, because critics of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame have argued that the selection and induction process is controlled by music industry bigwigs whose choices reflect personal bias and, in one controversial instance, outright fixing.

Of course, critics have also argued that this year's online fan poll is mostly a symbolic gesture, because the top five acts from the public vote will go on to comprise a "fans' ballot" that will count as just one of the more than 600 ballots that will determine the 2013 inductees.     

Still, if, you know, it's only rock and roll but you like it, then now's the time to pick the five acts you'd like to see inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Polls close on Monday, December 3, 2012. To cast your vote, click here.

Interested in knowing more about the lives and music of the 2013 nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Check out this selection of books by or about some of this year's nominees:


   Le Freak by Nile Rodgers   Child in Time by Ian Gillan   Kicking and Dreaming by Ann and Nancy Wilson   Joan Jett by Todd Oldham

   Kraftwerk Music Non-Stop   The Original Marvelettes   The Brothers by the Neville Brothers   Randy Newman's American Dreams by Kevin Courrier     

   Dr. Dre by Ronin Ro    Don't Rhyme for the Sake of Riddlin by Russell Myrie   Rush and Philosphy by Jim Berti and Durrell Bowman   Ordinary Girl by Donna Summer  



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