Mar 28, 2014

Galactic Chat 44 with Dr Ben Peek

Fresh up today, I interview Dr Ben Peek:

This week we bring you an extended chat between Sean and Dr Ben Peek.  They talk briefly about his big news, the forthcoming fantasy trilogy beginning with The Godless (TOR UK), and how much a departure it is from his well known short works. 

They also talk about his highly acclaimed collection of short stories, Dead Americans and Other Storiesfrom ChiZine Publications.  Other topics include criticism of works in small communities, racism, and the effect of social media on discourse.

He is of course well known in Australia for his works most recently published through Twelfth Planet Press.

Note:  This podcast was recorded a day or so after the "Twitterstorm" (which in itself is a problematic term) since then there has been some interesting commentary on how events unfolded that do shed light on how early the scene begins to reset history or frame events.  Please consider reading The media spin machine at full power or This is totally not what happened | Cora Buhlert.

If you are a fan of Facebook we also have a worldwide giveaway running on our page for Jonathan Strahan's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 8.


You can play below or download here.



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Book Review – The Butcher’s Window by Carmel Williams


The Butcher’s Window is the third Picaro Press work I have read and it continues a run of accessible, enjoyable poetry collections. I was privileged to have read a very early form of this collection, having known and worked with the poet before.  Compared to those previously reviewed collections, Little Bit Long Time, and Nothing Here Needs Fixing, The Butcher’s Window comes in at almost double the size, some 80 odd pages.

It’s also a debut collection, though it feels like the work of a poet who has been at the game much longer than that would indicate.  Indeed nicely structured in four chapters or sections it carries a narrative, partly autobiographical.  There’s also a definite impression that Picaro is giving the reader value for money.  In terms of pure page count you are getting almost two collection worth’s here but more than that you are getting a full work, a solid chapter of a person’s existence. 

Like Eckermann’s Little Bit Long Time there’s an affinity with the work stemming from a shared experience of place in a lot of the poems.  A fair amount of this collection was written in Alice Springs and there are some iconic landmarks (Anzac Hill, Bradshaw Drive) that will act as touchstones or points of reference for readers who have an experience of the town.

Beyond any personal friendship I may have with the poet, there is a joy, almost a comfort, even when the poems describe events that aren’t comforting as in Red Car,

Ever body that cradles a womb

down Bradshaw Drive, heard that scream

It was a little death, a rough shove into that special groove

into which you were born

A comfort that you are experiencing poetry and a poet that is close to you. You can appreciate poetry for language and its technical proficiency but I find those poems that tap into your experience constitute another layer of immersion and enjoyment. 

If I can hurl an accusation at some of today’s poetry, it is that it’s distanced, requiring refined knowledge and understanding to fully appreciate.  Not so with the work I have read from Picaro and not so for William’s collection here. William’s doesn’t let technique, form or avant-guarde experimentation interfere with what she does, with the message or story she is telling.

An advantage of knowing the poet, is of course that I know, rather than have to surmise or guess, that these poems are at times brutally raw and honest.  There’s skill in Williams poetry but no sneaky poetic artifice, no careful manipulation of the readers emotions.  That skill is evident in taking the intensely personal and making it accessible for a wider audience.  Nowhere is this more evident than in On being a woman and other mass generalisations written for a daughter on the verge of becoming a woman:


You crept up

like a thief

stole the child we loved


Reeling we watch

this birth of separateness

and remember


Your body is a sacred place

take time to know it

But you won’t understand


Unless its taken away, given away

and you have to go through hell

to get it back

While a lot of her poetry is intensely personal, there’s a breadth of technique on display, an indication of a practised poet with a firm voice that has the facility to choose form to suit the subject matter.

When Williams does experiment, the form suits the subject and for me this is most clear in an early poem titled Reverberations ( a poem for three voices).  Three distinct contradictory and uncomplimentary voices are written at the poet, creating a sense in the reader of reverberating, echoing negative commentary on the poets action, inaction or unwilling participation.

Julia Wakefield reviewed The Butcher’s Window at Rocheford Street Review and she talks at length about the narrative of the work and suggests that while it’s not a verse novel there is a story and a growth or transformation of character experienced through the text, there’s a resolution with some of the themes in the work.

For me it’s a personal pleasure to see William’s work in print and there’s a closeness to the events and place that some readers may not be able to experience but I don’t think that’s going to be any barrier to your enjoyment.  Like Wakefield above I think you will enjoy/appreciate the “character” of the poet and her journey.

If you like honest poetry that’s bedded down in human experience, if you like hearing/reading a strong voice then (with personal bias noted) I heartily recommend The Butcher’s Window. 


This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014.  Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women.awwbadge_2014






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Mar 23, 2014

Giveaway – The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 8

BEST SFF 8Adventures of a Bookonaut and Rebellion Publishing(Solaris) are proud to offer 1 paperback copy in a random draw of Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 8.

What’s so great about this collection?

The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multiple award winning editor Jonathan Strahan. This highly popular series now reaches volume eight and will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents, including: Neil Gaiman and Joe Abercrombie.

With this volume the series comes to a new home at Solaris, publishers of Jonathan Strahan's award-winning original Inifinties SF anthologies and the and Fearsome fantasy anthologies.


Ok so how do I enter and is this one of those country specific giveaway’s?

First up, the giveaway is world wide, so my readers in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines are welcome to participate as well.

To enter you just need to fill in a Google form from the link below.  All I require at this stage is a name/ pseudonym that you use online and a method of contact (twitter handle or email).  Only the winner will be required to forward on additional details for postage(ie Rebellion will need phone numbers for addresses outside UK and US, or where you use a PO Box address).

The competition runs from 23 March until midnight Australian Eastern Standard Time 20 April. 

You can enter once only  and the winner will be randomly drawn.



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Mar 22, 2014

eBook Review – The Canals of Anguilar / Legacy (Review of Australian Fiction Vol. 5- Issue 5)

canalsThe Review of Australian fiction produces two stories every fortnight, introducing emerging and experienced Australian authors to a wider readership.  Each issue is edited/curated by a guest editor.  In this issue we have Kate Eltham, Director of the Brisbane Writer’s Festival.  Kate is reasonably well known in Queensland and in Speculative Fiction and she’s drawn on those communities to give us Western Australian speculative fiction author Lee Battersby and talented Queensland newcomer Amanda O’Callaghan.

Lee is a well known aficionado of the macabre and lives up to form in The Canals of Anguilar. A world/dimension hopping tale of cowards on the run.  I read this story shortly before going to sleep – not advisable.  It’s not particularly horrific in content but Battersby does manage to deliver presence of understated creeping dread.

And this tone is where these two stories mesh quite well.  O’Callaghan in her realist piece Legacy, manages to paint an ordinary picture of idyllic seaside England and underline it with, if not creeping dread, a certain weighty sadness.

The Canals of Anguilar as an introduction to non-speculative fiction readers is a good choice.  There’s some grounding in the real world before we make our way across worlds or dimensions and how this is done is mostly hand waved in folk tale like fashion.There’s no need to have a significant reading in the classics of the genre. The dread Battersby conjures up translates across all genres.

For readers who don’t generally read realistic or literary fiction I think O’Callaghan does a good job of revealing subtle horror in the everyday ( I shall say no more).

I am happy to have read another Battersby tale ( he hasn’t disappointed me yet) and am keen to read some more of O’Callaghan’s work. So a successful pairing to my reckoning.

You can subscribe to the review of Australian fiction here.

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Mar 16, 2014

The people like Cranky Ladies

The Cranky Ladies of History project being run by Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts has achieved 100% funding. This means that Arts Tasmania will kick in another $2000 dollars as part of the new Crowbar grant.

There’s still 15 odd days to go and you can still support this project





Here are some of the folks who will be submitting work to the collection:


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eBook Review – Talus and the Frozen King

TALUS AND THE FROZEN KINGThe tagline reads Introducing the worlds first detective.  If you have ever wondered what Sherlock Holmes crossed with the Neolithic era might be like Talus and the Frozen King will give you a reasonable idea. 

The reader is introduced to two travelling companions on their way north following the Aurora Borealis in the hope that it will lead them to the place where all the worlds meet and one of the characters will be given one last time to talk to his dead wife. On the way they come across a settlement and hear the voices of people wailing.  Never one to overlook a mystery Talus and Bran (who is having second thoughts about their journey) make their way towards the village where they find that a King has been murdered.  Talus and Bran, are the only ones who can unearth the killer, but first they have to disperse the fog of suspicion that crowds around all strangers in this cold and isolated village.

The parallels between Sherlock Holmes and the two main characters are, I think obvious, and deliberate.  Talus, the book’s Holmes, is a story teller, a bard who doubts the existence of the spirit world, who sees truth in patterns and concrete evidence but who has difficulty with emotions and understanding love.  Bran, the Neolithic Watson, is a disfigured ex-fisherman, with a temper and a good axe-arm.  Talus pieces the clues together and uses Bran to tease out the connections in much the same way Holmes does with Watson.  We even have a criminal mastermind.

Talus and the Frozen King works well enough as a mystery and at keeping the reader guessing with a plethora of possible suspects and some interesting personal relationships. Where it fell down for me was in some of the world building.  Edwards does a good job with the creation of the landscape and the physicality of the setting but a couple of things dropped me out of the flow of reading.

Now Talus and the Frozen King is set in the Neolithic age, aside from physical evidence left by these peoples, there’s not much for a writer to go on, you’re essentially writing fantasy.  I found some of the names in the book jarring, they didn’t seem to ring true to either historical names (which is fair enough, you try finding a neolithic baby name clay tablet) nor any sort of naming/cultural convention set up in the world that’s been created. I felt as if the names were drawn from periods of history much later than the setting ie Talus is a Greek name, Tia an Egyptian queen from the 19th dynasty, Bran, a welsh name from the 12th Century.  There was a chance here I think to create a certain verisimilitude by having names that could be linked to the culture in some way.

How powerful and important are names to a book’s world building? This is highlighted in the name of Lethriel, one of the major characters in  Talus and the Frozen King.  If you dear reader are not automatically thinking of an elven princess you are lucky. Such is the power Tolkien’s pseudohistory/myth on the genre. It is such a seemingly small thing, but I felt there was a missed opportunity to spend a bit more time on the names of characters and how they might connect, support and evoke the setting.  Especially since it looks to be a continuing series.

The second issue I had was with an instance of what felt like klunky back story exposition early on in the book that explains some of Talus’ history.  It’s necessary for a later reveal but I was really conscious that I, the reader, was being told this information for a very important reason.  I like my back story drip fed a little more.

I think what Edwards has tried to do is ambitious, how do you create a Holmesian character in a world where philosophy, science and logic are still in their infancy. How do you create the world’s first detective without it feeling like it’s Holmes and Watson in bear fur. I think the answer lies in exceptional world and character building.  Which in all fairness is perhaps beyond what the author had scope to produce.  You can have a pacey murder mystery set in the Neolithic which is a fun, light read or you can spend 10 years trying to produce something resembling Hild.

The landscape was beautifully evoked but I wasn’t entirely convinced of the Neolithic world the characters inhabited in a cultural sense. I felt Talus and the Frozen King was still a fairly modern Holmesian murder mystery (and a reasonable one at that). So if you like Holmes and Watson-like characters in your murder mysteries and you are tired of the body count in Midsomer, give it a go.

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Bearded Women and Ancillary Justice

Just a plug for the team at Writer and the Critic, in what is one of their best episodes.  You should listen and then buy the books:


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Mar 14, 2014

Galactic Chat Bonus Episode with Tehani Wessely

The bonus podcast featuring Tehani Wessely of Fablecroft is up:

In today's bonus podcast Alex Pierce interviews Tehani Wessely of Fablecroft.  They discuss how Tehani came to be a boutique press publisher and the freedom and restrictions that places on the work.  They talk about some interesting projects in the works ie Dirk Flinthart's and Jo Anderton's novels.  The big excitement is however about the wondrous and slightly terrifying world of crowd funding that Fablecroft has entered into with The Cranky Ladies of History Project.

Tehani can be found on Twitter at @editormum75 the The Cranky Ladies crowdfunding site can be found here.


You can play below or download here.



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Anonymous reviews in Australian Speculative Fiction?

In an upcoming interview with Ben Peek we talk about critical reviewing in both the Speculative Fiction scene and the wider Literature scene in Australia.  I also caught the end of several twitter conversations about this because The Saturday Paper has announced intentions to have anonymous reviews. The Wheeler Centre has an article exploring the issues here.

So these are the salient points I have teased out of that article and I would like you to comment (if you can*)

Anonymous Reviews


  • no baggage, focus has to be on the written article
  • freedom to say what you feel needs to be said without fear of disproportionate reaction ie payback
  • the scene is small, insular and a real potential exists to cause your career or livelihood damage



  • a reviewer must be prepared to stand behind their words
  • a named reviewer is more likely to offer a respectful review
  • a reviewer as a writer must also be prepared for criticism
  • knowing who a reviewer is allows you to rate their experience/expertise
  • anonymity hides minorities/disadvantaged groups, their critical voice

I think there are good points made in that article from both sides of the debate. 

Is anonymous or pseudonymous reviewing the answer?  I think that you can still call a pseudonym to account, by attacking the work, the critique they have given.  In terms of giving a respectful or well considered review I think that how one’s respectful but less than glowing review is taken is dependant on the author.  I have been privy to seeing authors,(edited because I don’t want people guessing at who – but dear reader, no one you are likely to know) distraught over what I would consider an even handed, even positive review. 

You can also have profiles that list peoples gender, ethnicity, politics, experience without revealing their identity.

So I think the arguments Against can be mitigated against.  You can have a critical dialogue with the reviewer through their work.

My major concern is with the payback or damage to your career or livelihood.  If you are tied into the literature scene, reliant on grants for projects, what you say about certain works has the potential to curtail or end your career.  It can determine the opportunities provided to you, meetings and introductions etc.

To think that people are going to be unbiased if you rigorously pulled apart their novel or the novel of a friend or partner is unrealistic.  And the scene is small. 

So this discussion relates to the Literature scene in Australia and I think the Speculative Fiction scene is even smaller.

So my questions to you dear reader: 

Is their a place for anonymous reviewing in the Australian Speculative Fiction scene? Would it result in a more robust critical environment that would force our authors to push themselves to their limits?

I do wonder if there is a lack of interest and investment in people who are willing to take on the career of a critic, is it something we value enough to provide the money for someone to have a career exclusive as a literary critic?

Do you, if you a reviewer, feel as if your review is subject to self censorship because you know the author?

* its occurred to me that there may be a problem with many of my readers being able to answer this question since they are writers in the SpecFic community.  Feel free to email me anonymously if you would like to put a point forward.

Book Releases - The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. 8 edited by Jonathan Strahan

BEST SFF 8 Just a heads up for those folks not hanging off every word of the Coode Street Podcast where Jonathan may have mentioned (though he’s modest about these things) he had sold The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 8 to the folk at Solaris.

The folks at Solaris are pretty excited too:

The celebrated The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year series comes to the UK – Solaris is proud to be the new home for the latest volume in Jonathan Strahan’s critically-acclaimed SFF anthology series!

and the table of contents is pretty impressive:

The best, most original, and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by the multiple-award-winning editor. This highly popular series is released in the UK for the first time and includes stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents, including Neil Gaiman, Joe Abercrombie, Karin Tidbeck, An Owomoyela, Madeline Ashby, Lavie Tidhar, Charlie Jane Anders, Geoff Ryman, Caitlin R Kiernan and many more.

This is a monster of a collection some 620 pages of fiction from the best in the business.  It features new writers like Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Sofia Samatar and on a casual glance seems to be making a definite attempt at being gender and culturally diverse.

Note: Booktopia have the book available for pre-order (it’s released on the 10th of April) if Australians order before the 16th of this month (Sunday midnight) and enter the coupon code MARCH at checkout you can get free shipping.  Pre-order it here.

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Mar 13, 2014

Night Terrace kicks off

So Night Terrace kick starter is off and running and they look to be doing very well having funded 25% on day one.  Could it be the talent of the writing and production team headed up by John Richards of Outland fame?  Is it the announcement of stars like Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy from Neighbours) as the lead Anastasia Black? Perhaps it’s the groundwork put in by the team that brought you Splendid Chaps?

Ok what is Night Terrace?

Night Terrace is an 8-part audio comedy that follows the adventures of Anastasia Black, played by Neighbours icon Jackie Woodburne (Susan Kennedy). Anastasia is a scientist who used to save the world as part of a secret government organisation but now just wants a quiet retired life in the suburbs. She's understandably miffed, therefore, when her house spontaneously starts travelling in space and time. She'll travel from the ancient past to the distant future, from pre-historic Melbourne to the edges of human understanding. All the while trying to find a way home.

This marks the third production for the successful Splendid Chaps team. As well as their Doctor Who podcast they also created a stage production for the Melbourne Fringe Festival entitled  Songs For Europe: Two Short Plays About Eurovision which played to rave reviews and packed houses (“a snappy script and brilliant actors... an impressively rendered telling of loss, hope, art and spirit.” - Crikey).


What is this about Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform so if the production team don't raise their target amount by the deadline of April 12th no money changes hands, making it risk-free to backers. People can buy a digital download of the entire series or choose deluxe rewards such as an associate producer credit, their name included in the show or even a copy of the first episode on clear 12” vinyl including a message specially recorded just for them.

The series will co-star the Chaps' Ben McKenzie and Petra Elliott alongside Jackie Woodburne as well as guest appearances and cameos from many of Melbourne's best comedians.

Click on the widget below to take you through to their kickstarter page, where you can check out some of the different reward options like getting a line of dialogue in your voice included in an episode.

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Mar 11, 2014

Book Review – The Great Gatsby: A graphic adaptation by Nicki Greenberg

the-great-gatsbyIf you are not a comic book writer or illustrator I’d suggest attending talks where these folk (sometimes one and the same person) talk about their process. In my case it has highlighted some of the ingenuity that my eyes have taken for granted.  I always find that in reading a comic or graphic novel that I am missing, at least consciously, some of the artistry that exists in the image work.

I had the great pleasure of listening to Nicki Greenberg talk about the process of adapting works to the visual form. It was literally eye opening, hearing her talk about choices, obstacles and opportunities for conveying information in the comic/visual genre.

Nicki is quite famous for having sold her first The Digits series, while still in high school. The Great Gatsby adapted from the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic was her labour of love begun and finished before she knew if it was available from a copyright standpoint( it was in Australia and New Zealand). 

Thankfully during the 6 years it took to create, the image (if you’ll excuse the pun) of comics or graphic novels improved and Allen & Unwin stepped in to publish it.

It’s 300 pages in length and slightly squat in its finished form.  The form is deliberate ( something I would not have noticed before) in that it is designed to mimic the dimensions of a photo album.  Each of the panels is bordered in photo edging and the entire book is done in sepia.  Nick Carraway our narrator is piecing together the events covered in the novel by way of constructing a photo album.

There’s some interesting effects that occur here, the reader is watching Carraway as he constructs the very book they are reading/viewing.

Greenberg has a reputation for drawing interesting non-human  depictions of characters and this is evident in the creation of a host of different creatures for the main characters in the book.  Nick Carraway is an unassuming slug, Daisy is a puff headed fluff ball, Gatsby a seahorse, Tom Buchannan a brutish ogre and Jordan Baker a squid, to name a few.  It’s interesting to map these depictions to certain character traits.

I haven’t read the original, but I do feel as though Greenberg has captured the era, and the zeitgeist well. The outrageously rich, the parties, the veneer and the shallowness.  I am now curious to read F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I think The Great Gatsby would work as an excellent gateway into appreciating what can and is being done with graphic novels.  I think fans or the original text will enjoy the visual interpretation and indeed will probably glean more from the adaptation than I would.

Clever and slightly bizarre, it fits the period well and was a pleasure to read.

This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014.  Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women. awwbadge_2014





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Mar 9, 2014

Incoming: The Night Terrace by the evil geniuses behind Splendid Chaps

terrace If you were following all things Whovian for the 50th Anniversary special who would have known about Splendid Chaps.  Well they have decided to launch a sci-fi comedy podcast (edit: its actually a series Sean, that will be available for purchase after the kickstarter) called The Night Terrace.  A kickstarter will be launched in mid march, so keep your eyes open. 

The Night Terrace

Anastasia Black used to save the world for the government, but now she just wants a quiet life. So when her house abruptly starts travelling in time and space she’s understandably miffed. She’s also not exactly thrilled about Eddie Jones, who happened to be on her doorstep at the time and is now her unlikely fellow traveller. University hasn’t prepared Eddie to cope with other worlds or time paradoxes, but he still thinks they’re a step up from selling electricity plans door-to-door.

Together Anastasia and Eddie will face alien invasions, hideous monsters, and a shadowy figure known only as “Sue”. All the while hoping the house will eventually take them home…

Night Terrace is an original science fiction comedy audio series written, produced and performed by the minds behind hit Doctor Who podcast Splendid Chaps. Initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, the first series of eight episodes will also be available to purchase via digital download.

Until the Kickstarter campaign launches, watch this site, follow us on Twitter, watch the Splendid Chaps Facebook page, or sign up to our mailing list via the form to keep up to date with the latest Night Terrace news.   [Source]

For those international readers wondering more about the writing and production team.  John Richards was responsible in a major way for Outand

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Book Review : Fun Home – A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel


I knew of Alison Bechdel from listening to the Galactic Suburbia Podcast, and knew of her particularly from the Bechdel test ( a rough rule of thumb for determining whether or not a creative work is gender biased). So on hearing that she was the headline act at the Comics Can Do Anything stream at Adelaide Writers Week I was determined to go and see her.

One of the best, most professional presenters I have seen in recent times.  If you get the chance to attend a talk by her, regardless of whether you are interested in feminism or QUILTBAG issues or graphic novels, go. You won’t be disappointed.

Fun Home seems to have been the book that really launched Bechdel to the wider world.  Previously she had been famous for her self syndicated comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which ran for some 31 years.  While I certainly enjoyed the humour, the observations and the political commentary in Dykes to Watch Out For I can see why Fun Home reached a wider audience.

For a start it’s a memoir and a somewhat tragic one at that, which explores Bechdel’s life and her relationship with her father.  People always seem drawn to a well articulated rendition of someone else’s misfortune or tragedy. But by and large it’s the choice of image, combined with Bechdel’s voiced over recollection that really made this work stand out for me. There’s a couple of stand out panels where the words and the image leave space for the reader to make connections, making for a subtle but powerful statement/impact on the reader.

There is a forward progression in the narrative but each chapter seems to pursue its own trajectory and as such it’s not a linear tale from early memory to Bechdel’s father’s death.  It seems to me to more like sitting and listening/watching different aspects of the same tale.  Bechdel following one thread of thought and imagery in one chapter and others in following chapters.  In that sense we get a layering, an organic approach, which to my mind is possibly more akin to how our own memory works than the standard chronological recording that might organise your standard memoir

It might have been post festival blues, but reading Fun Home did seem to leave me with a palpable sense of melancholy. That to my mind is a momentous achievement in any text, to engage with the emotions of the reader. 

Fun Home is a tragicomic, there’s sadness but there’s also recognition and love in all its diverse manifestations. 

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Mar 7, 2014

Galactic Chat 42 with Kaaron Warren

David McDonald sits down to chat with the wonderful Kaaron Warren (who’s not as evil and terrifying as her books and stories might lead you to believe)

You can play the interview through the player below or download here.

In this our first show for 2014 David McDonald chats with Kaaron Warren about the early years of her writing, her growing recognition outside of Australia and some of her recent works including The Gate Theory from Cohesion Press and her inclusion in the upcoming Datlow anthology Fearful Symmetries.  

Warren recently visited the Aradale Asylum to hunt ghost stories and deliver a writing workshop while staying overnight. She also talks about some of the strange happenings that occurred.

To see the picture that Kaaron refers to in the interview please checkout our Facebook page.

You can find Kaaron on Twitter   and at her website.


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Mar 6, 2014

Book Review – The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris


Any author who sets out to tackle the Norse mythology in the current climate of Marvel blockbusters has an interesting task on their hands.  Some readers will come to the story knowing only the tales as told through the prism of otherworldly superheros. There will be certain expectations, a certain idea of what makes a good Loki, for example.  Then there are those who draw their experience of Asgard from tradition or folk lore, from the many fantasy interpretations that have come about during the many periods of resurgent interest.  That’s not to say that these groups won’t mingle nor indeed that a single person can’t enjoy both interpretations but there exists in the public conscience some strong ideas.

So what has Harris done with The Gospel of Loki? Well I think she has trod a middle path.  While her Loki lacks the gravitas that drips from Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki, there’s a definite likeable rogue in her Loki, a misunderstood soul - who will tell you as much with a twinkle in his eye.  There is much to like in Harris’ Loki, he feels more honest and real, the other gods are too saccharin for my taste to be likable.  With Loki you know you can never trust him, but you will like having him around.

Oh he’s a bastard for sure, don’t get me wrong.

The Gospel of Loki walks the middle path by having a protagonist with a very modern register but still structuring the work as if it were a folk tale.  The novel is split into a number of books, which are then split into a number of small lessons or chapters each headed with an epigram from Loki’s own sayings, for example :

Lesson Two


One woman; trouble.  Two women - Chaos.


Each of these lessons presents a short tale, taken from folklore, and while Loki relates the tale in the first person and in a modern register, the tales themselves are light on, in terms of world building, just like a folktale. There is no attempt to try and explain the god’s magic or Glam outside of its existence, nor how the power of runes work, they just do.

These chapters I think also provide  much needed rest stops from the first person point of view which can be wearing on the reader if you’re not careful.

I think if you like Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, you’ll appreciate Harris’.  Likewise if you have a preference for the traditional over the super heroic you’ll enjoy the many stories drawn together in The Gospel of Loki, to produce a nice cohesive narrative.

It’s eminently readable.


This book was provided by the publisher.

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Mar 2, 2014

Published – The King in Tincture Journal 5

tincture5 The kind folks at Tincture Journal have just released their fifth issue featuring my poem The King along with short stories from Jodi Cleghorn and SG Larner.  Another fan of Japanese form, Ashley Capes, features as well. 

If you are interested in purchasing you can go here.  The Journal is around 280 pages according to my reading software, so it’s great value for money at $8 AUD. 

Tincture are a paying market and DRM free.


You can read the Table of Contents below:

  • Editorial, by Daniel Young
  • Inferior Bedrooms, Part Five, by Meg Henry
  • “Emotional Truth,” said the parrot, by Ashley Borodin
  • The Man Who Is Passing Through, by Michel Ge
  • The Demographic Decides, by David Lumsden
  • The Next Turn in the Maze, by David Lumsden
  • David Lumsden interviewed by Stuart Barnes
  • The Salesman, by Austin DeGroot
  • Something to Carry, by Elen Cox
  • Hoary, by Michele Seminara
  • Pearls Mean Tears, by Gargi Mehra
  • Animals, by Alyson Miller
  • Diary of a Tree-Sitter, by S. G. Larner
  • Strong, by Sarah Taylor-Fergusson
  • The Emilies, by Robin Dunn
  • Entropy, by Fleur Brown-Beeby
  • The Insomniac, by Jameson Rader
  • Break up, by Vanessa Page
  • I’m Afraid of Bad Dreams, by J.C.G. Goelz
  • Humbert, by Cassandra Atherton
  • Nothing New to Begin, by Jodi Cleghorn
  • The Dinner Party, by Kelly Hulin
  • temple, by Ashley Capes
  • The Freezing Reality, by Michael Mohr
  • Question, by Hao Guang Tse
  • Falling, by Shane Mac Donnchaidh
  • The King, by SB Wright
  • Lord of the Manor, by Simon A. Smith
  • Euthasia, by Murdock Grewar
  • Grey Streets, by Ellie Kiosses

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Mar 1, 2014

Cranky Ladies of History Pozible Campaign Launches

The Cranky Ladies of History Pozible campaign is up and running.  It only launched this morning and as of writing this post they have hit 18% of funding.  A cool $1580 on day one.  I haven’t even had time to fund it myself yet.

So what’s the fund for?

I’ll let Tehani, head of Fablecroft Publishing tell you:

Late in 2013, Australian writer and editor Liz Barr blogged about Tsaritsa Sophia Alekseyevna of Russia, dubbing her one of history's great "cranky ladies". Being the editor I am, I immediately thought of several fantastic writers I would love to see write short stories about history's cranky ladies, those women who bucked the trends of their time and took on cultural norms to challenge society's rules and ideas about how women should behave. Within just a few days, I had the project idea fully formed, had brought historian, editor and multi award-winning writer Tansy Rayner Roberts on board as co-editor, and we had begun the process of soliciting authors to submit. The speed at which projects can come into being is perhaps one of the biggest advantages a boutique press like FableCroft Publishing has, and we use it well!

Within weeks, the feedback and response from readers and writers everywhere proved so positive that Tansy and I started looking at ways we could take the project to the full heights it deserves, and we conceived the idea of crowdfunding for the anthology, in order to be able to pay our authors, artists and designer the pro-rates they really deserve.
We have been so fortunate to have an astonishing selection of authors express interest in writing for us, from all over the world. We are a long way from being able to tell you who will eventually make up the final table of contents of the "Cranky Ladies of History" anthology, but we CAN show you the authors who have submitted pitches for stories or accepted our invitation to submit.

I will be posting some external material in support of this project over the coming month.  But if you would like to have a look at the writers they have had pitch to them and the women that might be covered check out the Pozible site here.

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