Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover County Heirlooms

Summer Eats: Kohlrabi Slaw, from COUNTY HEIRLOOMS

By Natalie Wollenberg and Leigh Nash

"I’ve always been impressed that seeds will produce all the food you need to live. It’s miraculous."

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Book Cover Cedar and Salt

3 Great Recipes from the 2020 Taste Canada Awards Shortlist

By Kerry Clare

Foodies, take note! Great recipes from celebrated cookbooks.

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Book Cover On Nostalgia

Launchpad: On Nostalgia, by David Berry

By Kerry Clare

"Berry’s subject is a wide-ranging one, but he pulls off the impressive feat of covering plenty of ground in a concise …

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Literatures, Communities and Learnings

Literatures, Communities, and Learning

By Kerry Clare

9 conversations with Indigenous writers about the relationship between Indigenous literatures and learning, and how thei …

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The Chat with Faye Guenther

The Chat with Faye Guenther

By Trevor Corkum

Swimmers in Winter (Invisible Publishing) is Faye Guenther’s debut collection of short fiction. These six stories expl …

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Book Cover Little Secrets

Summer Reading Starts Here

By Kerry Clare

Summer is not cancelled, and summer reading isn't either. We've got thrillers, epics, drama, historical fiction, and so …

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Cover Summer Feet

Picture Book Sneak Peek: Summer Feet, by Sheree Fitch and Carolyn Fisher

By Kerry Clare

Summer starts HERE with this glorious celebration of childhood...and filthy feet.

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Book Cover Mr. Frank

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Texts on Textiles

By Julie Booker

Exploring the art of sewing? Here are some tales to comfort and inspire.

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COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

COVID–19 Teacher Diary: Pondering the “What If” with Shari Green & Caroline Pignat

By Erika MacNeil

During this time of self-isolation and social distancing, books can sometimes be our only companions as the days stretch …

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Book Cover Good Mothers Don't

Launchpad: Good Mothers Don't, by Laura Best

By Kerry Clare

"An unlikely page turner replete with hushed surprises, unexpected crescendos, endless love and boundless vitality."

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No Solitudes: Leah Bobet on CanLit's genre-bilingualism

book cover above

Dateline, 2008: I'm in my pajamas on a Wednesday night, wrestling with the first draft of the weirdest little novel I've ever tried to write. I tab over to the AOL chatroom where some of my best friends and workshop buddies hang out so we can write together, despite living in entirely different cities, and announce: "358 words of unsaleable book, 358 words of the boooook!"

Austin-based novelist Amanda Downum, then working on the first of a trilogy of second-world fantasy mysteries set in a world that's more Micronesia than medieval Europe, promptly chimes in with "I bet mine's more unsaleable than yours."

--and then we set up a poll on my blog and made them fight (the only rational response!), and got a hell of a laugh out of the whole thing, but that's not really the point. Both those books are now our debut novels: Amanda's The Drowning City made an award shortlist, and the sequel made a few more. My Above is coming out from Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic in March. The point is why we were so convinced, no matter that we loved them and were going to finish them anyway, that those books wouldn't sell. We were both taking some serious leaps with the genres we wrote in, and in my case, you couldn't even say what genre I was writing in. It was a novel that was sin …

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Why You’re Not Reading Science Fiction and Why You Should

Author photo Kris

Kristene Perron, a science fiction author and contributor to Warpworld SF adventure series, breaks down a few myths about the genre and explains why it's both accessible and important. She also provides a list of five authors to try out for readers new to the genre.

*****

“I don’t usually read science fiction but I loved this book!” I am not the only genre author who has heard a version of this statement about their work. I stumble across it often while scanning reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It is a sentiment that delights and puzzles me. Delights me for what, as an author of science fiction, should be obvious reasons. Puzzles me because why, if you are a reader, a reader of fiction, would you not read science fiction?  

In my hunt for an answer, a handful of themes appear consistently. Foremost, perhaps, is the “science fiction is not literature” argument. To which I say, twaddle. If you have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, or more recently, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, you have read great literature that also happens to be science fiction. If that surprises you, the fault lies in the shelving of such works in General, Literary, or Classic Fiction and not in the genre from which they we …

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Lady of Mazes: Jo Walton on What Makes Karl Schroeder's Book So Great

What Makes This Book So Great

As any reader of Jo Walton's Among Others might guess, Walton is both an inveterate reader of SF and fantasy, and a chronic re-reader of books. In 2008, then-new science-fiction mega-site Tor.com asked Walton to blog regularly about her re-reading—about all kinds of older fantasy and SF, ranging from acknowledged classics, to guilty pleasures, to forgotten oddities and gems. These posts have consistently been among the most popular features of Tor.com. Now this volume presents a selection of the best of them, ranging from short essays to long reassessments of some of the field's most ambitious series.

We are excited to feature her piece on Lady of Mazes by Canadian SF writer Karl Schroeder. Schroeder's latest novel is Lockstep, which was just released last month.

*****

Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes is one of the best pure SF novels of recent years. I read it in 2005 when it came out and was surprised it got so little attention. It seemed to me to be one of those books everyone would be talking about. I’ve just read it for the second time, and it holds up as well as ever. What a good book!

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Kristi Charish: Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Book Cover Owl and the Japanese CIrcus

Kristi Charish's debut novel is Owl and the Japanese Circus, about the kick-ass world of Owl, a modern-day "Indiana Jane" who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. The book draws on Charish's own background in science and archeology, and joins a fine tradition of Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing. In this recommended reading list, Charish tells us more about that tradition, and how she has been inspired by it. 

*****

As I’m an urban fantasy author, I thought it’d be appropriate to come up with a mix of Canadian authors I consider essential reads. I’ll be the first to admit it’s an eclectic list—a couple speculative fiction literary greats alongside adventure and urban fantasy authors, and a few who toe the line somewhere in between. That said, they all do have one thing in common. They’ve heavily influenced the Canadian Sci-Fi/Fantasy landscape and this (very) new author’s own writing.

Book Cover Flash Forward

Robert J Sawyer

With 21 novels, a Nebula Award, Hugo Award, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, (one of only 7 sci-fi authors in the world to win a …

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Farley Mowat, Comics, SciFi and Manitoba

Book Cover the Case of Windy Lake

Michael Hutchinson launches his middle grade Mighty Muskrats Mystery series with The Case of Windy Lake, the story of four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. When a visiting archeologist goes missing, the cousins decide to solve the mystery of his disappearance... In this recommended reading list, Hutchinson shares other titles that have inspired him as a writer—and as a reader too. 

*****

Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat

My Dad may have read a little too much Farley Mowat and was always someone who wanted to get off the grid. We didn’t get to watch TV much and it was always just fuzzy CBC when we did. We read a lot! Farley Mowat’s books were a family favorite and books such as Lost in the Barrens and Curse of the Viking Grave were some of the first books I read. They also introduced me to the idea of books being the foundation for television or movies. I really enjoyed the book Never Cry Wolf and the movie that followed.

*

It Happened in Canada, by Gordon Johnston

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