Dear Syrian refugee:

I imagine you reading this on a borrowed laptop or Smartphone hunched in a bunk in some uncomfortable refugee center in Germany or Holland. Maybe you’re one of those still wandering the roads of Eastern Europe or shivering, wet and storm-tossed on the Mediterranean. I dearly hope you are not still trapped in Syria, struggling to reach the border. Wherever you are, please know that you are in my prayers. I have been thinking about you a lot lately.

I can’t imagine the fear and uncertainty you have been experiencing. I’m sure you feel worn out, angry and perhaps even a little bit ashamed. You have lost your homes, and many of you have lost family members in the carnage you left behind. Perhaps there are those back in Syria who claim you’ve let them down, or even called you a coward opting to run. Please know: I do not think of you that way. I think you’re very brave and resilient. Faced with those who worship death, you chose life. That in itself is an act of great moral courage. By your continued existence, therefore, you shame Da’esh. You are a true hero. And now you are on your way here.

Listen, I think I should warn you that there are some people who are not very happy that you’re coming. Despite our many advancements in science and technology (and comparative social stability) there are still some among us who choose to live in fear and ignorance. There are people in Canada who don’t want you to come here because you are Middle Eastern and they dislike Arabs. Others know very little about Islam except what they read in the news and it frightens them. Still others insist that you are agents of Da’esh, coming to destroy us. These people have been thinking about you, too – mostly about ways to block your coming here. A few have even made threats.

But it doesn’t matter. You’re coming.

You’re coming because in Canada most of us believe we are stronger because of our differences, not in spite of them. We have welcomed refugees from all over the world into our multi-cultural society and many have gone on to become distinguished contributors to Canadian culture – doctors and scientists, artists, lawyers and teachers. One, Michelle Jean, emigrated here from Jamaica to become the Governor General – the Queen’s envoy to Canada, the highest office in the land. Who knows what your contribution will be? Only you can determine that. Here in Canada, there is a place waiting for you – a place that only you can fill.

I hope your journey to us is a safe one. I hope you experience kindness from strangers along the way. And once you arrive, I hope you are welcomed. Ignore any on our shores who greet you unkindly or with disrespect. They do not reflect the true soul of Canada. Because I’ll tell you a secret. Even if Da’esh has hidden its members among you, we still want you to come. Because most Canadians are willing to risk their own lives in order to save someone else’s. This willingness, ingrained in so many by circumstance and great sacrifices in the cause of human freedom, have become part of the national character. And now that the government has promised to settle you among us, you are no less a part of Canada than we, who put a light in the window, and lay an extra plate on the table. We are waiting to welcome you home.



I will be leaving Permuted Press. This was a mutual decision, arrived at amicably and in consultation with the management at Permuted. I want to take this opportunity to thank Michael L. Wilson and his team for the chance to publish my work, make some great professional contacts and have lots of fun in the process. I would gladly do it again.

I am presently in negotiation with other publishers regarding upcoming projects. THE BOOK OF ASHES, coming this December, will be my last book with Permuted.

book of ashes


By popular demand, the story of that time I almost got to write for STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.

On 28 September 1987 I, along with everybody else, was parked in front of a television watching the pilot episode. I was a third year student at the University of Arizona whose enjoyment of the original series in re-run had instilled my ideal of sci-fi television grounded in the work of Harlan Ellison, Charles Beaumont and Norman Spinrad – science fiction greats who had turned their hands to writing STAR TREK scripts which justly became some of the most influential episodes in television history. What excited me about the original TREK was its willingness to discuss Big Ideas on the small screen. And, having been bitten by the writing bug, what excited me about THE NEXT GENERATION was the possibility of contributing to that cultural conversation. I was twenty-one.

Three years as an undergraduate English major had taught me, if nothing else, to do research. I videotaped and watched the pilot twice through, identifying character names from the closing credits, noting changes to the world of the United Federation since the original series and, as the first season progressed, relationships develop between crew members aboard the sleek new Enterprise-D. Having had a few scripts produced for a local community access cable show, I knew the basics of writing a teleplay. I had also read enough literary science fiction to have a sense of its breadth and possibility. I was quite sure the new show would be flooded with unsolicited submissions, so sought to write something that would stand out. That first season, episodes alternated between a half-hour and an hour-long format. I crafted a half-hour tale about an alien being that inadvertently finds itself a stowaway onboard the Enterprise. I framed it as a mystery and used the pairing of Dr. Crusher and security chief Tasha Yar as an opportunity to develop an unlikely friendship between the two women. After a few rewrites I felt I had something good. I held my breath, printed it and mailed my script (“The Shelter”) off to the STAR TREK production offices.

About three weeks later, rushing out the door on my way to class, I grabbed a stack of mail without bothering to glance through it before jumping into the car. I made the lecture on time and, afterwards, paused on a bench outdoors to smoke a cigarette and rummage through mail. In amongst the bills and junk was a cream-colored envelope addressed to me with the STAR TREK logo in the upper left-hand corner.

They had written back.

I just sat and stared at it for the longest time. It will be a pro forma rejection, I cautioned myself. Established sci-fi and pro TV writers would be vying like sharks for the opportunity to place a script with TREK. What chance did I have? I imagined a Spock-like calculation of infinitesimal odds. Still … this was pretty freakin’ cool! Trying to convince myself I didn’t care, yet determined to treasure my little piece of television history, I opened the envelope carefully and read a short letter from a man named Maurice Hurley. Sadly, the original has been lost, but the gist of it was this:

I liked your script.

Call me.

And there was a phone number.

I almost choked on my Marlboro. “Call me”? Holy shit, I thought. Hollywood, here I come! In that instant, I think I was probably the most hopeful soul on the U of A campus. What were the chances of an opportunity like this coming my way? This could very well be the fulcrum upon which my life turned …

Take it easy, bub, I chided myself. One thing at a time. Breathing deeply and working to control my heartbeat, I found a bank machine and made a withdrawal. I converted twenty dollars to quarters, found a pay phone outside the economics building and, there in the blazing sun surrounded by a milling crowd of university students, dialed the number.

A young woman answered. “STAR TREK production offices,” she said.

“Um, hi. My name is … Jamie Mason. And, uh, somebody named Maurice Hurley wrote and asked me to call -?”

In the background, a man’s voice: “Who is it?”

“A … Jamie Mason?”

“Oh, yeah yeah! Yeah, put him through right away.”

I was shaking. I lit a cigarette.

“Hello, Jamie? Hey, Maurice Hurley here. I’m one of the show’s producers. Thank you for calling!”

“Um, yeah. Actually, thank YOU … For writing, Mr. Hurley …”

He laughed. “Maurice, please. Jamie, your script was excellent. I showed it to Gene. He loved it.”

I was floored. “Gene … Roddenberry?”

“Yeah, him.” Hurley laughed again. “I wanted to talk to you because … Well, I mean it was a great idea. An alien being that shape-shifts into a meteor-like form to travel through space? Neat concept. And I liked what you did with the doctor and Tasha Yar. Some good dialogue there. And I liked how you made their different educational levels a barrier they had to overcome in order to relate to one another. It was clever. Well done, Jamie.”

“Um. Yes. Well … hey, thanks.”

“I wanted to talk to you personally about it. We’re lining up scripts for season two and yours made it. But unfortunately, we can’t use it. I can’t tell you too much right now but, well … the actress who plays one of the two characters you focused on isn’t returning next season.”


“But please! Write another one. Send it along. We’d really love to see something else from you.”

“I … Sure. Thank you.”

“Not at all. We’re opening up the script pool to all comers. We want depth and breadth of ideas because that’s what STAR TREK is all about. We’ve got some great authors pitching us. But we’re also discovering some gems in the slush pile. Like yours. Keep writing. You’ve got a future.”

“I … I will.”

“I have a production meeting to go to, but it was great talking. Keep in touch okay, Jamie?”

“I will,” I promised. And he hung up.

I felt like I was standing atop a skyscraper in a windstorm.

It was the fulcrum on which my life turned, only not in the way I imagined.

Shortly after that phone call, my life would be overtaken by a series of catastrophes. My family would be rocked by successive scandals ending with a grand jury indictment and the arrest, by the FBI, of my mother and father. I would lose everything in the ensuing legal apocalypse, and be forced to start from scratch at a gig selling magazine subscriptions by phone for $4.75 an hour (the minimum wage in Arizona at the time). It would take me years to gain any semblance of financial stability and two marriages, several career changes and a return to Canada before I would start writing again with any regularity. But that phone call with a kind and gracious man on that hot October morning in Arizona remains with me to this day.

I showed it to Gene … He loved it ….

Eight words, and the proudest achievement of my life.

Go boldly.



Can you feel it? Something is different in the national mood, as if the air is lighter. Perhaps the end of a long (by Canadian standards) political campaign. Or perhaps the removal of a prime minister so universally reviled as to defy comparison to almost anyone else in Canadian history. The election is over. I’m proud of my party, despite our diminished fortunes, and remain loyal to Tom Mulcair, who ran a great campaign. But campaigns end and party loyalty is superseded by something higher.

We have a new Prime Minister.

I was pleasantly surprised Tuesday morning to tune into social media and see Justin Trudeau (excuse me – Prime Minister Trudeau) at the Jarry metro station, where I’ve switched cars a hundred times, taking selfies with Papineau constituents. (The number of dark faces and niqabs in that crowd was not lost on me – nor anyone else, I’m sure.) I laughed out loud, because all of his boyish, goofy charm seemed suddenly recast as personable grace, a real willingness to descend from Olympus to engage and that uncanny ability to bond with the nation via the trademark Trudeau charisma.

Trudeau’s feel for public relations is pitch perfect. It’s early days yet, but a hopeful sign after a decade of a Prime Minister indifferent to Canada’s longstanding need to feel something of its leaders. We are not a republic, not an autocracy. No layer of bureaucracy, no bulwark of corporate wealth insulates a prime minister from the people – nor should it. Ours is a nation that set people as its priority, and entered the present century fully equipped with the Charter and Constitution to expand the writ of that freedom to as wide a plurality as possible. Canada is governed by individuals. Parties, yes. But a Prime Minister’s temperament and style undoubtedly leaves a mark on the country. And Mr. Trudeau’s is personal, heartfelt and warm.

Mr. Trudeau’s ability to read the country’s need for connection, his immediate (and cost-saving) reduction of the prime minister’s security detail, his willingness to interact both in person and on social media with the citizens of his country reveal a keenly intuitive sense of Canada’s yearning for openness. At his father’s knee Justin Trudeau may have learned, in amidst the punditry and vicious realpoilitik of Seventies Ottawa, that most important lesson: how to sense the shifting needs of a nation and respond in a way that is deeply felt. Fellow Canadians, we may not just be witnessing the most perfect case of the right man at the right time in our nation’s history, but the dawn of a new era governed by a great prime minister.

I want to believe.

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Much ado about writing …

Just received my invitation to the release party for LICENCE EXPIRED, the new anthology of James Bond fiction featuring my story “Daedalus”. Unfortunately the party, like the book’s publisher ChiZine, is in Toronto but it’s the thought that counts. “Daedalus”, set between the events in FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and THUNDERBALL, has Bond journeying to Leichtenstein on personal business. But his vacation is interrupted by an unexpected reunion with Pussy Galore, who convinces Bond to help her take down the rapacious German financier and SMERSH cut-out Von Horgen. ChiZine’s LICENCE EXPIRED drops 17 November.

Permuted is planning an October roll-back of my zombie novel just in time for Halloween. KEZZIE OF BABYLON will be going for just $.99 the last week of October as part of this promotion:


Horror week is coming soon.

Final preparations are underway for the December release of my post-apocalyptic novel THE BOOK OF ASHES (Permuted Press). This will be my second appearance with Permuted and I couldn’t be more pleased. THE BOOK OF ASHES, set on Vancouver Island, explores apocalypses both personal and global …

The Night Plague devastated humanity. Vancouver Island is a feudal wasteland ruled by the Hell’s Angels. In a trailer by the forest, retired school teacher Cory O’Neal composes a history of the plague. But the more he writes, the more his history resembles a confession.

Beautiful, haunted Joanna Ward was the most brilliant and gifted student of Cory’s career. During a troubled year in a dysfunctional private school, they forged a bond that led to accusations of improper conduct and Cory’s departure. But in the intervening decades, Canada has become increasingly rocked by civil unrest. The RCMP suddenly evacuates Cory’s town and a mysterious epidemic explodes from a lab where the adult Joanna works, leaving unsettling questions:

What really happened between her and Cory that final year?
How does the rise of a sinister cult relate to the spreading chaos?
Will the events that ended Cory’s career also end Mankind?

THE BOOK OF ASHES is scheduled for a 15 December release.

Received word from my editor Felicia that ECHO, the first book of my five novel arc, the “Echo Quintet”, is next up on her schedule. This is a re-release (third edition) of a novel first published in 2011 by the now-defunct Drollerie Press. Look for ECHO, which concerns the descedants of a marooned human starship crew struggling to survive on a harsh and inhospitable planet, in May, 2016.

I am plunging ahead on my next work in progress: WHITE NIGHT. It’s a detective novel, but one completely unlike any you have ever read before. I’m reluctant to venture into too much detail except to say that my research for WHITE NIGHT has me reading up on nuclear warfare, twins, criminal psychology and the biographies of several early Twentieth Century magicians.

Meanwhile, GAVIN’S WAR continues to sell quite well. Several pieces of short fiction have been short-listed, including my first Lovecraftian effort “Mr Johnson & the Old Ones”, tentatively slated to appear in Martian Migraine Press’s forthcoming antho CTHULHUSATTVA. My work-room continues to be a constant hive of activity.


Gavin’s War

My new post-apocalyptic novella Gavin’s War, set in the Perseid Collapse universe, is now available from Kindleworlds.


He was an old man who lived alone on an island in the channel, culling seal and raptor and sounding the schools of deep ocean cod for research. Nothing changed for him, even after the Foundation (and everyone else, so far as he could tell) was destroyed in the Event. But when a young, pregnant couple comes bearing tales of a Chinese naval vessel scouting the BC coastal islands, Gavin must make the choice whether to remain aloof or embark on a voyage to warn the communities of Canadian survivalists scattered across the islands to prepare for an invasion.


Let’s imagine a new Canada.

Let’s imagine a Canada where a strengthened, inclusive economy builds a bridge to new educational and job opportunities for all Canadians. Imagine what we could do with an invigorated, empowered, inclusive middle class that welcomes First Nations, new Canadians, GLBT folks and those recently freed from poverty. Imagine the hopes and ambitions and creativity of the next generation of Canadians harnessed for the greater good: opening  businesses, inventing cutting-edge technologies and tackling the problems of crime, environmental devastation and social inequality in new and innovative ways. I can imagine a revitalized Canada driven by opportunity and education. I can see a Canada filled with people clamoring to step forward with great ideas and innovative solutions. I can see some of the brightest minds in the world emerging from that kind of Canada.

Let’s imagine a Canada with a renewed focus on environmental protection. Imagine a government that courts scientists and activists instead of punishing them for seeking to protect our lakes and rivers and natural ecosystems. Imagine what a coalition of researchers, conservation experts and scientists could achieve if we funded and encouraged them, then unleashed them on the environmental blight of Fort Mac and the natural disaster that is Harper’s Canada. I can imagine new industries and technologies emerging from that effort. I can imagine a new scientific elite solving environmental problems and providing a beacon of hope for a world struggling with pollution and global warming. I can see that Canada guiding the international community in environmental clean-up and reclamation and leading the way to a newer, more prosperous and greener world.

Let’s imagine a Canada wherein reconciliation with First Nations people assumes its proper place as an urgent national priority. Let’s imagine a government that engages in meaningful, sustained and respectful dialogue with First Nations leadership and actively works to strengthen and raise the profile and authority of First Nations people and governments within our existing federal framework. Let’s imagine that same patience, forethought and imagination which led to the most complex and extensive treaty negotiations in human history here in BC applied nationally: to the task of creating a Canada where First Nations people are celebrated and encouraged to take an active role in setting the national agenda. I can see our revitalized reserves becoming models for indigenous communities worldwide. I can see the languages and songs and cultures of our First Nations assuming an ever-greater share of the tapestry of our national lives. I can imagine Canada setting a new standard for reconciliation with indigenous peoples worldwide and helping to transform our national identity within a framework of true equality and mutual respect. All my relations. Hysh’k’uh!

Let’s imagine a Canada that reclaims its historic role as a peacekeeping nation – a haven of reason and champion of mediation and negotiation around the world. Let’s imagine a Canada where our national priorities mirror our fundamental decency and historic commitment to human rights. I can see that Canada rising to assume a role of leadership within an evolving international community less interested in the vulgar accumulation of wealth than in fairness and sustainability. I can see Canadian values becoming global values and our nation once again becoming a force for good in a troubled world.

That’s the Canada I’m imagining. That’s the Canada I want to pass on to the next generation. Building such a Canada requires courage to see beyond the fear with which the Conservatives and the elite classes seem intent on saddling us. I must admit it has been a winning strategy these past nine years because fear is a powerful thing.

But so is hope.