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How I Lost the Weight

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I used to think that I would open this post with bikini shots. You know the ones: flabby and pale and lumpy on one side, tight and tanned and toned on the other. But that would require someone to photograph me in a bikini, or a bathing suit, or my underwear, or nude, or what have you. And that requires a degree of confidence I’ve rarely possessed.

I didn’t lose my sense of self-love after gaining weight. That would imply that I’d had some to lose, in the first place. (Pride? Sure. Self-respect? Definitely. Love? Pass.) When I was a size 2 and 98 pounds in high school, I felt my body was plain and uncompelling. When I was a size 16 and 174 pounds at age 31, I felt my body was still plain, but now objectively worthless in society. How other people felt about my body was different; I got laid at both weights, and at all weights in between. I’ve never understood their perspective. I’ve always felt they were being charitable. The only thing that changed between weights was my experience of physical pain. It was this that convinced me to make a change.

Between September 2014 and September 2015, I lost forty pounds. It didn’t make me ready to get naked on camera. It didn’t make me feel much more desirable. But it did make me feel better living my everyday life.

Here’s how I did it.

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“Be Seeing You” up at Motherboard

Hey, would you be interested in reading a chapter from my forthcoming Tor Books novel Company Town? If so, you’re in luck, because VICE’s tech and SF blog Motherboard has posted it for your holiday reading pleasure. “Be Seeing You” is also part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pwning Tomorrow anthology, which features stories from (among others) Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, Kameron Hurley, Ramez Naam, Charlie Jane Anders, and Annalee Newitz. In other words, I’m really lucky that the folks at Motherboard chose to feature my story!

Company Town is the story of Go Jung-hwa, a bodyguard for the United Sex Workers of Canada who gets hired to watch over the heir to the Lynch energy empire when the company buys the oil platform around which her city floats. This chapter takes place shortly after that hiring, when Hwa is wrestling with the realities of working for her new corporate overlords. It’s actually one of my favourite chapters, because it really feels (to me) like a near-future episode of Veronica Mars.

So check it out:

“How did you know my order?” Hwa asked.

Síofra rolled his neck. It crunched. He was avoiding the answer. Hwa already suspected what he would say. “I see the purchases you make with the corporate currency.”

She scowled. “I don’t always have the eggs baked in avocado, you know. Sometimes I have green juice.”

“Not since the cucumbers went out of season.”

Hwa stared. Síofra cocked his head. “You’re stalking me.”

“I’m not stalking you. This is just how Lynch does things. We know what all our people buy in the canteen at lunch, because they use our watches to do it. It helps us know what food to buy. That way everyone can have their favourite thing. The schools here do the same thing-it informs the farm floors what to grow. This is no different.”

Hwa sighed. “I miss being union.”

I’m also pretty pleased that Company Town has found its way onto two “Most Anticipated of 2016” lists, at Barnes & Noble and editor Jonathan Strahan’s blog. (Someone told me they also saw it mentioned in a list at Locus Magazine, but so far I haven’t been able to find a link to it. If you saw it, let me know!) It’s a lovely Christmas present, and I couldn’t be happier.

New fiction!

Due to a quirk of deadlines and contracts, I have four new pieces of fiction out this month. Here they are:

  • “A Stopped Clock” in The Atlantic Council’s War Stories from the Future. This is about smart cities and the future of urban warfare, as narrated by a middle-aged street vendor in Korea with an unspoken crush on her co-worker. This story will also appear in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best 33, which is very flattering.
  • “Be Seeing You” in Pwning Tomorrow: Stories from the Electronic Frontier, recently published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as part of their 25th anniversary celebration. I was beyond proud to be asked to participate in this, because the EFF does great work. For this anthology (which has a fucking killer table of contents, including Doctorow and Sterling and Hurley and Naam and Anders and Newitz and  probably everyone else you like) wrote a story set in the universe of my forthcoming novel Company Town, out next year from Tor. I liked the story so much I ended up including it as a chapter in the book. It’s sort of like Veronica Mars meets The Terminator meets High Rise.  (I also released another chapter in the Upgraded anthology, if you’re curious.)
  • “Memento Mori” in Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathan Strahan for Simon & Schuster. This is a cyberpunk fairy tale influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Also there is a poly marriage in it. Jonathan has done such great work with the Infinity anthologies; I was really pleased to be asked.
  • “Thieving Magpie” in After the Fall, edited by Jaym Gates for Posthuman Studios. Jaym pitched me this story by asking if I’d ever played Eclipse Phase, and although I hadn’t, I was intrigued enough by its world that I said yes. Then I got the game manual, and holy shit. I was really intimidated. That world was so rich and so fleshed-out (literally!), I wasn’t sure there was anything I could possibly add to it. But that intimidation really pushed me to my creative limits. I can say without a doubt that “Thieving Magpie” is the weirdest story I wrote all year.

And hey, if that’s not enough for you, you can always pre-order my novels Company Town and reV: The Third Machine Dynasty. Or you could pick up Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond, the anthology which my husband David Nickle and I co-edited for ChiZine Publications this year. It came out a month after we were married.

Have I mentioned that I’m a little tired? And that I am already facing new deadlines? And that if you would like me to write a story for you this year, whether for an anthology or publication or as part of a foresight project, you should get in touch nowvia the Contact form up above?

 

 

LICENCE EXPIRED in the Toronto Star

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Oh hey, look! It’s a piece about Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond in The Toronto Star! And you can read it right here!

Gifts That Writers Might Actually Need

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Writers tend to get the same presents every year for holidays, birthdays, and other occasions. Those presents include notebooks, pens, lap desks, and coffee mugs. (Anything that’s in the impulse-buy section of a chain bookstore, really.) And those are good things! But you may have already gifted them last year. If you want to avoid repetition, try picking up things that writers (and the people who live with them) might actually need. These are all things that I already have and use, have used and enjoyed in the past. I’m not getting paid to shill any of this; I’m writing this list because I’ve already recommended these things to friends in passing, and thought I might share more widely as sales emerge.

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LICENCE EXPIRED is now available!

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It’s here! It’s finally here! If you’re in Canada, you can now buy LICENCE EXPIRED: THE UNAUTHORIZED JAMES BOND.

Why only in Canada? Well, copyright is a funny thing. This year, Ian Fleming’s Bond novels entered Canadian public domain, because in Canada, and until the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified, copyright is death-plus-fifty years. In the US and the UK, copyright is death-plus-seventy years, because those countries have powerful media empires with the money to pay very good lobbyists to convince legislators of the importance of an author’s work after her death. (Note: this one reason why it’s important that you make a will, as an artist. Your intellectual property is just as much a part of your estate as your other property, and if you want to bequeath it, you should specify as much. Similarly, you can appoint a literary executor to handle the posthumous publication of your work. So if you want your work to be completely commons-licensed after your death, you can do that!)

So, now that we’re all feeling appropriately morbid, you probably have some questions.

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It is time to repeal Godwin’s Law.

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If you didn’t grow up on the Internet, or you have some sort of Real Job (TM) that keeps you away from the Internet for vast stretches of time during which you actually interact with your fellow human beings, you may be unfamiliar with Godwin’s Law, which states “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.” It’s closely related to Reductio ad Hitlerum, also known as “playing the Hitler card.” (It’s so common that you can actually buy Hitler cards to throw down when a conversation gets heated. I’d Google them for you, except that searching for “Hitler card” actually leads you to a bunch of racist bullshit.)

There’s a time and place to invoke Godwin’s Law. Or at least, there used to be. But lately, I’ve been thinking we should repeal it.

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Reader, I married him.

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On a recent chilly October afternoon, I married my best friend, David Nickle.

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Mammograms are not scary. Everything else is.

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As a result of my family’s long history of cancer, I’m part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program. That means I’m eligible to receive mammograms and breast MRIs on a regular basis starting at an earlier age than most other women in Canada. It also means I’ve just had my first mammogram at the age of thirty-two.

If you’re in your early thirties, and you’re curious about mammograms, I want to tell you that they’re not scary. They don’t even hurt that much. They might, if you’re about to menstruate or just naturally have very sore, tender breasts. But generally, you’ve probably had either an inconsiderate lover who’s inadvertently done worse, or a very considerate lover who’s done exactly as requested, with similar amounts of pain either way. Like your inconsiderate lover, it also only takes about four minutes.

Of course, the pain is not what’s scary. Mostly. What’s scary is what they might find.
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reV: or, the Apocalypse as told by the Devil herself

Oh, hello. Were you curious about what your psychotic grandmother the distributed AI was doing? Well, wonder no longer! Portia is happily causing havoc in America’s airports, using widely-available, mostly-insecure data from wearable technologies, purchasing records, and surveillance networks. You can read more of Portia’s exploits later, especially if you pre-order.

In this scene, Portia is trying to create a news story that she can use as marketing material for her anonymous pro-robot SuperPAC. Which is tough, when you don’t have a body.

 

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  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates. You can buy her novels here. She has written narrative scenarios and science fiction prototypes for organizations like Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, and Tor.com.
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    vN vN (The Machine Dynasty, #1)
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    Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF
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    Tesseracts Eleven: Amazing Canadian Speculative Fiction Tesseracts Eleven: Amazing Canadian Speculative Fiction
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    ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.50)

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    Designing for Interaction: Creating Innovative Applications and Devices (2nd Edition)Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways: To Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients into Your CookingGluten-Free Girl and the ChefPeople Crossing Borders: An Analysis of U.S. Border Protection PoliciesHalf the Day Is NightThe Magicians

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