Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.


Lynda speaks to publishing class March 26, 2012

On the morning of Monday, March 26th, 2012, Lynda spoke to Dr. Rowland Lorimer's publishing class at SFU Harbor Centre about the engagement of writers, artists and others in the Okal Rel Universe and the publishing model that embraces a growing and diversifying collection of collaborators.
Rowland Lorimer's publishing class guest speaker March 26, 2012

Lynda Williams speaks at Rowland Lorimer's class March 26, 2012


Okal Rel Contributors #4: Stephanie Johanson

Okal Rel Contributors: A series of profiles celebrating the people who've contributed creatively to the Okal Rel Universe.

Stephanie painting

Stephanie Johanson has been doing her art for over thirty years. Unfortunately, life has been getting in the way. Lately other projects and considerations have kept her from her painting and soapstone carving, but she certainly couldn't say no to the chance of doing the cover for the next Okal Rel anthology, Opus 6.

Stephanie's painting style is usually realism with a hint of fantasy. She often prefers painting landscapes with the fantasy elements visible, but not obtrusive. Stephanie's soapstone carving style is organic with polished curves. Examples of her work can be viewed on the Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine website at Stephanie is the art director, assistant editor, and co-owner of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, publishing since 2003. She is proud of the fact that some people have called her a “science fiction activist,” referring to her strong desire to encourage others to enjoy the genre.

Stephanie's first introduction to the Okal Rel universe was when she was given a copy of Throne Price at the science fiction convention Con-Version, held in Calgary. She was almost given two copies, with the enthusiastic hope that she would review the novel for Neo-opsis magazine. Her original review was published in Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine issue 3, and can be found online. Stephanie has since reviewed several of the Okal Rel novels and anthologies, and the reviews can be read on the Neo-opsis reviews page. Stephanie is an avid fan of the Okal Rel Universe stories, and always tries to make time in her reading schedule to slip between the pages, and tag along with the characters in the latest Okal Rel adventures.

Cave (2004)

"Cave" 2004 acrylic painting by Stephanie Ann Johanson


Okal Rel Contributors #3: Richard Bartrop

Okal Rel Contributors: A series of profiles celebrating the people who've contributed creatively to the Okal Rel Universe.

Sketch by Richard Bartrop

Richard Bartrop got involved in the Okal Rel Universe when a friend mentioned that Lynda was looking for artists for a project. He contacted her, they got to talking, and the rest, as they say, is history. He has been involved with Opus 3 through 5 so far, supplying interior art for all three, as well as cover art for Opus 3. He also created cover art for the Okal Rel Legacy Novellas Mekan’stan and Horth in Killing Reach. Next up is interior art for the upcoming Okal Rel Anthology, Opus 6 (cover by Stephanie Ann Johanson).

When Richard receives each story for an anthology, he starts with deciding which scene to illustrate:

“I like to read through the story a couple of times to get a feel for the characters, and the world they live in. I also try to look for a scene that sums up what the story is about, while not spoiling any important plot points.

“I still like to use pencil and paper for working out the image. I keep the sketches fairly loose at first, trying to get a nice flow to the piece rather than sweating details. The interior illustrations for the Opus series keep this sketchy feel, though for the covers, I feed the sketch into the scanner, then work it up in Photoshop.”

Richard has done some illustrations for other books and magazines over the years. This past year, he did a pair of covers for Copperwood Press, for a revival of the “Ace Double” concept. As for personal projects, he’s been working on the script for a graphic novel.

The upcoming Opus 6 anthology is currently in its writing stages, so Richard hasn’t received any stories yet, but he says, “I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.”

Sketch by Richard Bartrop

Okal Rel Contributors #2: Paula Johanson

Okal Rel Contributors: A series of profiles celebrating the people who've contributed creatively to the Okal Rel Universe.

Paula Johanson

Photo credit: Lila Kladreau of Froghaven Photography

Paula Johanson has been writing since finishing her BA in writing. While she’s had a few science fiction stories published, and one fantasy novel from Bundoran Press (Tower in the Crooked Wood, 2010), the majority of her published work is nonfiction books on science, health, and literature for education presses distributing to school libraries. Her favourite editing project so far was co-editing the anthology Tesseracts 7 with Jean-Louis Trudel, but since then she’s edited some memoirs and history books for a couple of publishers. She’s written in a number of genres, from poetry to radio commentaries, and she teaches writing workshops.

Paula is the editor of the upcoming Opus 6 anthology (Absolute Xpress), a collection of Okal Rel short stories written by guest authors. Because of the nature of the shared universe, origin author Lynda Williams remains involved as a continuity editor. “The process,” says Paula, “reminds me of the Merovingen Nights series more than Star Trek fanzine writing. It's great to have Lynda in the loop. Everyone involved in the Opus anthologies can be confident we're working on canonical material, rather than going off on a tangent.”


The Okal Rel Universe caught Paula’s attention when the first few books were released and she read them. “It’s important to keep up on everything Tesseract/Edge releases!” she says. Okal Rel co-writer, Alison Sinclair, also happens to be a fellow kayaker. When their paddling group is on the water, Paula and Alison have discussed Okal Rel, Alison’s own novels, and some projects Paula has been working on. The discussions have also led to comments both interesting and distressing, such as a sentence that begins by commenting on natural disarticulation (of the floating feet found in the Salish Sea three years ago) and ends by pointing out the weather front howling in out of the south-east.

Kayaking doesn’t just provide an excellent venue for discussion, however. The sport has become a valuable pastime when Paula is not at the editor’s desk: “I've found that taking up kayaking has increased my sense of proprioception and muscle awareness--almost enough to make up for losing my sense of balance when I had a hearing loss. The things I've read about neurology and genetics really help me with this editing project. At least I understand a little of the genetic changes Lynda postulates!”

Opus 6 is currently in its writing stages, so look forward to it as a future release from Absolute Xpress.


Opus 6 Anthology Feature

Okal Rel Legacy Anthologies

Opus 6 is the next anthology in the Okal Rel Legacy series, forthcoming from Absolute XPress at the end of 2012. It is the companion anthology to Part Six of the Okal Rel Saga: Avim's Oath. Opus 6 will feature the writing talents of Sarah Trick, Elizabeth Woods, Patsy Crawford, Randy McCharles, John Preet, and Amanda da Silva.

Opus 6 is currently in its writing stages, but in anticipation of its release, Reality Skimming will be running special Okal Rel Contributors posts featuring some of the people involved in its production. Look forward to these profiles appearing in the next few weeks:

The Opus anthologies are part of the Okal Rel Legacy series, which extends canon for the setting of Lynda Williams’ Okal Rel Saga. Interested authors must work within the scope of canon but can extend existing story lines and define uncharted territory. Lynda acts as integrity editor for the Okal Rel Universe as a whole.

Four remaining anthologies will be published to correspond with Okal Rel Saga installments seven through ten, and interested authors are encouraged to submit proposals. Stories must be set in the Okal Rel Universe and address the theme chosen by the editor for the anthologies (TBA). Payment is $30 per story plus two copies of the finished print product from Absolute XPress. Each story is illustrated with a commissioned sketch. Prospective authors are asked to contact [email protected] with questions.

It is expected that most contributors will have read and enjoyed the series. A great deal of background information can also be found at

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Stimulus/Response: Klout & artists

Lynda WilliamsLynda Williams is the author of the Okal Rel Saga (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and editor of the Okal Rel Legacies series (Absolute Xpress). Part 7 of the Okal Rel Saga, Healer's Sword, arrives in 2012. Lynda's work features moral dilemmas in a character-driven, multi-cultural setting with radically different attitudes to sex and social control surrounding space warfare and bio-science. She also works as Learning Technology Analyst for Simon Fraser University and teaches a introductory web development course at BCIT.


Taken from an exchange on the Broad Universe mailing list, in which Justine Graykin replied to a post by T. W. Fendley (@twfendley on Twitter):

On Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 2:48 PM, T. W. Fendley wrote:

Hi -- Some of you may be puzzled by a Tweet from me about Klout, so I'm attaching a link that explains it. [...] Anyway, this is supposed to be a great way to build your social media presence. Please let me know if you join so I can add you to my network.

Justine Graykin replied:

I went to the Klout site and read as much as I could until MEGO set in. I don't know, this kind of social capitalism makes me a tad uncomfortable. Turns my relationships into commodities. I feel like there's enough of that going on already in the dark underbelly of Facebook and the like that I have no control over. Don't think I want to deliberately go there.

But good luck to anyone else who wants to try this out. Hope it works for you.

(After the below response was already written, Justine also pointed to an article by author John Scalzi, "DeKloutifying," which may be of interest.)


Does “clout” intimidate or aid creative thinkers? Like Justine in the dialogue above, I’m uncomfortable with the business of social capital. Human beings already seem so wired to focus on rankings and ratings that it makes my heart sink knowing there is now a way to reduce someone’s web presence to a number. People will focus on the number as all important, distorting the nature of relationships and the mission of art. (An interesting contrast is the concept of “cold” literature, arising from the work of Gao Xingjian, which focuses on the aesthetic fulfilment of the author in stubborn disregard for one’s klout, however measured. See this article.)

At the same time, I cannot deny desiring clout if that is what it takes to make my own art meaningful. And I need to keep abreast of web trends as best I am able, both as a writer and as an educational technologist. So I joined Klout, and credited T.W. Fendley for it as my influencer. But, increasingly, there is the odd day when I seriously contemplate becoming a recluse if I can’t figure out how to be myself, comfortably, on the web: neither driven by unseemly clout-greed, nor intimidated out of using my voice by those more successful than myself.

But just when I think it is all new, the Okal Rel Universe saves me again by reminding me this is just a new arena in an old war. I have faced this struggle before--when I felt my approach to writing threatened by the greater bragging rights of other authors, and the only way to mimic them forced me against the grain of my values, personality and motivations. Naturally, I wrote a story to wrestle with the problem, which can be summed up in Ann’s admonishment to the young Reetion pilot, Gadar, to “fly for your own reasons!” (see “Going Back Out,” an envoy period story featuring Amel Dem’Vrel).

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