Ad Astra 2015 Programming Schedule

This is my programming schedule for this year’s Ad Astra, Toronto’s premier SF and fantasy convention, April 10–12 at the Sheraton Parkway North Toronto Hotel.  Please note the schedule is subject to change.  I will be posting updates and corrections as required.


The Big Birds are Flying:  The State of Aviation Today

Time:  7:00pm — 8:00pm

Room: Aurora

Panelist:  David Stephenson, Eric Choi

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s a Helicarrier?  Where are we at with aviation and where are we going?  Hear some pros discuss the possible, the impossible and the why not .

Predicting the Future:  How Wrong Are We Going To Be?

Time:  9:00pm — 10:00pm

Room:  Richmond B

Panelists:  David Stephenson, Matthew Johnson, Neil Jamieson-Williams, Eric Choi

Welcome to “Where’s my hovercar?” the panel.  Discuss the history of predictions that have failed the test of time and make predictions for the predictions in current SF!


SFWA General Meeting

Time:  10:00am — 11:00am

Room:  Richmond B

Panelists:  Derek Künsken, Julie Czerneda, Matthew Johnson, Eric Choi

SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres that informs, supports, promotes, defends and advocates for its members.  In this panel for writers who are interested in learning more about SFWA, four longtime members will talk about their experiences with SFWA and what it does for them, as well as answering audience questions and providing information about the new qualifications standards for self-published and small-press authors.

Space Battles:  Lens Flares and Camera Shakes

Time:  11:00am — 12:00pm

Room:  Buttonville

Panellists: KW Ramsey, Neil Jamieson-Williams, Eric Choi

Space battles have generally been in one of two camps:  World War II naval engagements or World War I ace pilot dogfights.  Where can we go from here to realize what actual space combat will be like without inserting our silly terracentric prejudices into the mix?

Readings:  Madeline Ashby & Eric Choi

Time:  12:00pm — 1:00pm

Room:  Event Suite

Panelists:  Madeline Ashby, Eric Choi

Commercial Space Flight:  40% Off! Book Your Seats Today!

Time:  1:00pm — 2:00pm

Room:  Aurora

Panelists:  David Stephenson, Gillian Clinton, Eric Choi

Virgin Galactic is taking reservations today!  Sort of.  Commercial spaceflight is at our doorstep.  How much would you pay to take a trip into the cold black void?

Hollywood is Running Out Of Ideas

Time:  2:00pm — 3:00pm

Room:  Markham A

Panelists:  Denis McGrath, Marcy Italiano, Eric Choi

Just like it says on the tin.  Come and have a jovial discussion about the sad state of Hollywood and share your favourite alternative media companies or one-offs.

More Great Reviews for Carbide Tipped Pens

Carbide Tipped Pens continues to garner positive reviews.

Nancy Hightower in the Washington Post says:  “The strongest stories, by Liu Cixin, Aliette de Bodard and David DeGraff, explore a dynamic interplay between human psychology and technological advancement while also delivering thrilling plots.”

Alex Good in the Toronto Star writes:  “As the stories in this new collection, edited by Choi and SF master Ben Bova, indicate, hard SF can go down many different roads.  And the point is never just the science and engineering itself, but rather what people do with it, or what it does to them.”

The book is also a Bakka Phoenix recommendation.

Carbide Tipped Pens Launch — Thank You!


A big THANK YOU to many people for a terrific launch of Carbide Tipped Pens:  Lorna Toolis, Annette Mocek, Donald Simmons and the Friends of the Merril Collection volunteers;  the Toronto Public Library;  Chris Szego of Bakka-Phoenix BooksKate Story and David DeGraff who made long journeys to be here so that they could share their wonderful stories;  and of course, everyone who came out to share the evening with us.  Thank you!

Ben Bova was not able to join us in person, however, I would like to share his prepared opening remarks:

To me, hard science fiction is the most exciting and mind-expanding field of writing. At its best, hard science fiction takes the reader to places no human eyes have yet seen — but someday we will reach those alien scenes and meet the strange and wonderful creatures who dwell there. Good fiction tests the human heart in a steaming crucible. Hard science fiction allows writers to make the crucible hotter, and test the human heart in new and fascinating ways — all while playing true to the known facts of the Universe. From the far future to the distant past, from here on Earth to the farthest galaxy, hard science fiction shows the Universe and the humans who inhabit it as they are, and as they will be. The stories in Carbide Tipped Pens are all excellent examples of this demanding, enthralling and enriching field.”

Carbide Tipped Pens is available now in hardcover (Amazon, !ndigo, Barnes & Noble), ebook (Amazon, !ndigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play) and audio book (Downpour, Audible, Overdrive).

Carbide Tipped Pens Now Available; Reviewed on

Carbide Tipped Pens

Carbide Tipped Pens, the new hard SF anthology from Tor co-edited by Ben Bova and me featuring seventeen stories by today’s top authors, is now available in hardcover (Amazon, !ndigo, Barnes & Noble) and ebook (Amazon, !ndigo, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play).

Coinciding with the book’s release, has posted its review.  Kudos to Daniel H. Wilson, Nancy Fulda, Dirk Strasser, Leah Petersen, Gabrielle Harbowy and David DeGraff.

If you’re looking for an SF anthology to purchase this season, I heartily recommend Carbide Tipped Pens.”


Library Journal Review of Carbide Tipped Pens

Library Journal has a review of Carbide Tipped Pens.  Kudos to Doug Beason, Leah Petersen, Gabrielle Harbowy, Greg Benford, David DeGraff and Aliette de Bodard.  The book will be available starting next week.

Compiled by Bova, a six-time Hugo Award winner, and Choi, a rising star of the short form, these 17 stories...are considered ‘hard’ SF.  As Choi explains in his introduction, hard SF is the ‘literature of change’, interested in the effects of science and technology on society, while still telling human stories.  This is a solid anthology, with only a few missteps;  some of the best selections include Doug Beason’s ‘Thunderwell’, a tense tale of efforts to save a human mission to Mars;  ‘Skin Deep’ by Leah Petersen and Gabrielle Harbowy, about a lawyer who confronts a company that makes medical tattoos;  and David DeGraff’s ‘SIREN of Titan’ in which an artificially intelligent rover on the surface of Saturn’s Titan moon decides to go off-mission and explore, much to the consternation of her handlers back on Earth.  Verdict:  A pleasing sampling of stories, all showing the range found even within a subgenre like hard SF.  Well-known novelists such as Gregory Benford appear alongside Aliette de Bodard and other top writers of the short form, plus some talented newcomers are featured.”

- Library  Journal

Túshūguăn” and Author Spotlight in Ricepaper

My new short story “Túshūguăn”, set in a post-apocalyptic Vancouver, appears in Ricepaper magazine’s special Speculative Fiction edition (Issue 19.3, Fall 2014) which was guest co-edited by Derwin Mak and JF Garrard.  This special issue also features stories by John Matsui, Tony Pi, JF Garrard and Melissa Yuan-Innes, with cover art by K-Koji.Ricepaper CoverEach issue of Ricepaper also has a department called “Author Spotlight”, which asks some random questions to the issue’s contributing authors.  Here are my answers:

My favourite horror movie is Shaun of the Dead, because humor always goes well with horror. As a writer, I greatly admire the cohesiveness, depth and intelligence of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s script. There is not a single scene that is wasted nor a single line of dialogue that does not have meaning in that film.

I first became interested in science fiction, fantasy, or horror when I saw the Star Trek original series episode “Devil in the Dark” when I was about eight years old. It scared the hell out of me, but something made me keep turning back to the TV to watch more. I try to avoid wearing red shirts.

My pet peeve in science fiction, fantasy, or horror is when they are all lumped together, for example, on bookstore shelves. Come on people, they are completely different genres!

My favorite spaceship captain is former NASA astronaut John Young. He piloted the first Gemini mission in 1965 (on which he smuggled aboard a corned beef sandwich), commanded Gemini 10 in 1966 and orbited the Moon on Apollo 10 in 1969 before going on to command three more historic space missions: Apollo 16 in 1972, the first Space Shuttle flight in 1981, and the first Spacelab mission in 1983. Young had the longest career of any NASA astronaut (over 40 years) and is the only astronaut to have piloted or commanded four different types of spacecraft.

The book I’m reading now is The Chinese in America by Iris Chang. Thread of the Silkworm, her definitive biography of Chinese rocket scientist Tsien Hsue-Shen, was a crucial source of research for my alternate history story “The Son of Heaven” in the anthology The Dragon and the Stars. Chang’s tragic death by suicide only a year after the publication of The Chinese in America, at the age of 36, robbed us of an important and eloquent voice.

If I had to chose another place to live, it would be not a place, but a time. Some years before his death, the English engineer and mathematician Charles Babbage reportedly told a friend that he would gladly give up whatever time he had left, if only he could be allowed to live for three days, five centuries in the future.