Edward Willett – Aurora Award finalist!

Paul Raven @ 18-03-2009

marseguro-edward-willettIt’s a proud day for Futurismicone of our blogging team is a finalist for an Aurora Award!

Edward Willett‘s recent novel Marseguro is one of the five finalists for the Long Form English category of the Prix Aurora Awards, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s yearly contest. Edward explains:

The Auroras recognize Canadian science fiction and fantasy artwork, writing, and fan activities. Nominated for and voted on by fans, they’re the Canadian equivalent of the Hugo Awards–or, to put it in movie terms, the Canadian science fiction and fantasy equivalent of, say, the People’s Choice Awards.

In other words, it’s about as big a deal for a Canadian genre author as any national award could be, and I’d like to extend my hearty congratulations to Edward on behalf of the rest of the Futurismic team.

You can see all the nominees for all the categories at the Prix Aurora Awards website, but here’s the Long Form English category list in full:

  • After the Fires – Ursula Pflug [Tightrope Books]
  • Identity Theft And Other Stories – Robert J. Sawyer [Red Deer Press]
  • Impossibilia – Douglas Smith [PS Publishing]
  • Defining Diana – Hayden Trenholm [Bundoran Press]
  • Marseguro – Edward Willett [DAW Books]

Congratulations to one and all! Canadian readers of Futurismic, please consider supporting the Auroras by registering to vote – even if Edward’s book isn’t your choice, your involvement will help ensure that this award (and others like it) continues to recognise the hard work of genre authors the world over.

[ Full disclosure: I am a contractor to PS Publishing. ]


Never mind Darwin: hockey players as religious icons

Edward Willett @ 13-02-2009

Rocket Richard Paul’s recent post on Darwin as a religious icon made me think of this story (Via PhysOrg):

Since January 2009, Olivier Bauer has pioneered the world’s first course examining the link between hockey and religion. As a professor at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Theology, he also just compiled and coauthored a textbook examining the Canadiens as a religion, “La religion du Canadien de Montreal” (Fides, 2009)…

In English, the Montreal Canadiens are referred to as the Habs, but in French the legendary hockey team is often known as the Sainte-Flanelle (the Holy Flannel). The nickname of its new young goaltender Carey Price is Jesus Price and he is thought to be the savior of the team.

Canadiens fans also talk about the ghosts of the old Montreal Forum. French-Canadian broadcaster Ron Fournier is the prophet and his listeners are disciples. All these religious connotations intrigued Bauer.

“If the Habs are a religion should we fight it because it’s a form of adulation?” asks Bauer. “Or should we use it to highlight that certain values transmitted by the Habs can correspond to Christian values?”

Of course, this is a little different from setting up someone like Darwin as a quasi-religious figure: Bauer is connecting adulation of a hockey team directly with the fact that Quebec is historically predominantly Catholic–not hockey as a new religion, but hockey infiltrating an existing religion.

Apparently Bauer isn’t the only researcher who has looked at the links between the adulation of sports teams and religion: others have studied baseball in the U.S. and soccer in South America and Europe. But Bauer thinks the passion for the Montreal Canadiens is particularly intense, with people visiting the Saint Joseph’s Oratory to pray on game days.

Then there’s this:

Bauer’s course is being taught in three parts with the help of invited Swiss Professor Denis Müller, an ethicist and theologian specialized in soccer. The first part of the course addressed relics. For instance, some people believe to have been cured from disease after touching the jersey of Hall of Famer Maurice Richard.

Personally, I think you’d be more likely to get a disease by touching an old hockey jersey, but then, as a Canadian with almost no interest in hockey, I’m unquestionably an infidel.

(Image: Statue of Maurice “Rocket” Richard in Gatineau, Quebec, via Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags] sports,hockey,religion,Canada[/tags]


16 year old’s science project finds microbe that digests plastic bags

Tomas Martin @ 28-05-2008

Plastic is a major environmental hazard

Plastic, and in particular plastic grocery bags, are a big environmental problem because of the huge time taken to degrade in the environment. A collection of plastic the size of a large country is currently floating in the gyres of the Pacific Ocean. Some plastic waste takes 1000 years to be broken down by nature.

Daniel Hurd, a 16 year old high school student from Canada, did a science project on microbes and isolated the bacteria that digests the plastic found in grocery bags and other packaging. By concentrating the solution, he found he was able to break down the plastic by up to 40% in just a week. In addition to winning plenty of local and national prizes, Daniel plans to develop his discovery to help get rid of the nasty disposable plastics problem… and ferment some freaky plastic beer in the process!

[via Daily Kos, picture by Phil Dowsing]