BEACH BOT BAILOUT
On Vancouver Island, robots gather sea glass at the shore for entrepreneurs who 3D print settings for the finds and sell jewelry online.
People on the beach toast the bots, appreciating their bonus litter removal. Puppies play and kids caboodle on vacation beside the machines.
Robots rake shells into piles under users' docks. Fake owls perch on their heads at night. Resting, they sleep covered in barnacles.
Coelacanths become reanimated through a smartphone app. The beach writhes with new old life. People realize their mistake. Can tech help?
Beach bots collect coelacanths along with sea glass and litter. They fight the new scourge, to save the ecosystem. They ask nothing from us.
Grateful, people invite bots to join them on the beach, relaxing in the sun. Without automated harvests, sea glass jewelry becomes precious.
HANDMADE SEA GLASS JEWELLERY COMMISSIONED BY S. KAY
PHOTO: GWEN ROSSMILLER
1. Alright - to start, can you introduce yourself to us using metaphors?
Stronger than diamonds, hummingbird-delicate, as loving as a bouquet of puppies, with the determination of a bear hunting berries, and a reasonably robotic creative writing discipline,
2. What does the sea mean to and do for you?
I live with a view of the ocean in Vancouver, BC, and often write outside on my deck, immersed in a marine environment. When my eyes are not on the screen, I'm taking in the sparkling waves, the diving seals, the flying birds, or the passing boats. It's super relaxing to sit and watch sea life bob along. A recent study showed that being immersed in "blue space" of water is similar to green space with trees, it's good for mental health. Often when my mind is drifting, that's when I will be inspired, either by something I see in the vista or an idea will occur to me. It's a great way to write.
PHOTO: S. KAY
3. What are some of your creative outlets? How did you find them (or how did they find you)?
Aside from writing fiction, I make jewelry, crochet, and have created a variety of interdisciplinary projects over the years. I learned arts and crafts skills when I was a child, from my mum, Brownies, and school, and then as an adult I apprenticed for two years as a silversmith. But I moved on to other work. I also created some DIY pieces like an audio collage installation in a group show, and freeform crochet soft sculptures and hats.
One of my favourite projects was a collaboration with photographer Gwen Rossmiller in which we paired my tweet-sized tales with her art photos, using my jewelry design, in mini book necklaces.
PHOTOS: GWEN ROSSMILLER
Creative projects find me when I get inspired by opportunities (like unusual calls for submissions), or materials or people or culture. They're often conceptual. My fiction tends to be conceptual, too.
4. Much of your writing explores the future. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I'm a fan of robotics, especially interested in robopsychology, the exploration of human-robot interaction. I like to write near-future tiny tales that imagine those relationships. Often they explore foibles, amusing misadventures as we struggle to adapt to new technology. My first book, "Reliant" (tNY.Press Books, 2015), is an apocalypse in tweets, a look at a society before, during and after the end. It blends humour with doom. But although it's a favourite, I don't only write speculative fiction, I do write other things as well.
6. You have a new book, "Lost in the Land of Bears," coming out this summer. How did it come to be, what's it all about, and where can we look for it when it's out?
It began as a disparate group of tweets loosely based around building a story inspired by the forest and ocean near where I live. As I collected them, I combined elements and added new ones until I came up with a cross-genre adventure tale-in-tweets about an LGBTQ couple who travel to Canada and become lost in the forest, encountering quirky creatures and machines in their search for a way back to a futuristic resort. It's being published by Reality Hands this July in three editions: an ebook, a print on demand version, and a handmade limited edition art book with a faux fur cover. It'll be available online directly from RealityHands.com, and other book retailers TBD. Follow me on Twitter at @blueberrio for news.
7. I like to wrap up interviews pretty open-ended. Is there anything on your mind right now? Any opinions or causes we can help you share? Any recent experiences that are still resonating with you? Any advice for other artists?
Right now it's June, Pride Month, and as a queer writer I'm also conscious of the Orlando tragedy. I'm Canadian, so I don't have the power to vote for American gun control. But as a writer with global readers, I do have the power to influence culture in a positive way, with QUILTBAG characters and modern language. I often choose to make my characters queer, or gender-neutral so the reader can project their own identity onto a protagonist. I'm mindful of representation, and don't recommend all writers suddenly make all their characters queer. But do be respectful, with inclusion and diversity. And everyone can use gender-sensitive language.
Finally, since it's summer, it's a chance to be outdoors in blue space. Instead of writing at the usual café, get a drink to go and take your device to a park with a waterfront view. See if it soothes and inspires you.
PHOTO: S. KAY