Oct 31, 2011

Book Review–Voodoo Eyes by Nick Stone

Voodoo Eyes. by Nick Stone is the third Max Mingus novel.  While the story ties in with the previous two books this one worked really well as a standalone.

Miami Noir
I have seen Voodoo Eyes advertised as a thriller - it certainly has some thriller pacing but I really enjoyed the “Miami Noir” feel that the book had about it.  No doubt Max Mingus’ role is a private eye shaped the tone of the novel in this regard.

There’s something about setting the novel in Miami, with the heat and humidity, the natural fetid decomposition that occurs in a tropical locale mirrored by human corruption and decay we see in popular culture depictions(I’m thinking Dexter here). Indeed a central theme of the book is corruption an both a personal and organisational level.

Upping the ante
While Voodoo Eyes begins as Miami Noir, Stone is able to direct the story toward standard high stakes thriller territory by shifting the action to Cuba where our protagonist Max crosses paths, with Cuban secret service, retired Black Panther activists, Drug Cartels and the Department of Homeland Security.   Stone does an excellent job of putting Mingus in harms way continually and upping the ante.

Not an entirely smooth transition
Initially I found the “hardboiled” descriptions a little long for a thriller.  The text was evocative and certainly grounded the reader but I felt tighter writing would have delivered the same effect without the loss of pace I experienced. This was a small hurdle though (possibly just a quirk of Stone’s style) and by the time I had settled into the meat of the novel it annoyed me less.

If you like the look and feel of Dexter, the grittiness and double dealing in films like The Departed you’ll find Nick Stone an enjoyable read.

This book was provided to me by the publisher.

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Oct 30, 2011

And dreams of a fantastic holiday get strangled by a spiteful leprechaun

kangarooIs calling Alan Joyce a leprechaun racist? Does the fact that I have Irish ancestry make it ok?

Whatever the case I sit here, nursing another severe stress induced headache trying to clear the backlog of review posts.

But I am entranced by Latika Bourke’s tweets from the “Fair Work Emergency get planes in the air at all costs meeting”.

Will I fly?  No idea at this stage and Qantas’ information on cancelling flights and rebooking with another airline at no cost is a little confusing.  Not sure if I have to wait for them to cancel before I can switch to another carrier(by which time they will be full) or I can do so now and risk losing money?

Qantas aside at being sh*t at employee management, seem to be sh*t at customer service and clarity as well.

I suppose at least it’s only a holiday my first visit with my nephew and a meeting with some good folks, oh and my first Supanova.  All of which could be rescheduled, I don’t mind waiting another 6 months for holidays- (that was sarcasm).

Things can always get worse

It could be worse - three Australians were killed in Afghanistan today and two kids in a road accident just down the road from me.

But there’s not much I can do, so to pass the time I shall be listening to the latest edition of Galactic Suburbia, down one team member who is in San Diego at world Fantasy.

It was either that or think up juvenile limericks about Alan Joyce.

Here are the women of Galactic Suburbia doing what they do best in Episode 

Or you can download them here

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Oct 28, 2011

Sherlock Holmes - A game of Shadows

I rather like Sherlock Holmes.  Have done so since I read Hound of the Baskervilles as a wee lad.  I also like Robert Downey Jnr.’s version as well.  They look like the ham things up a bit more in A Game of Shadows, here’s hoping that they don’t play it too tongue in cheek.

So do you have a favourite Holmes?  Do you like the modern Sherlock? Have you got a favourite story?

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Oct 27, 2011

Heads Up–Anywhere but Earth–New Tales of Outer Space (Ed.) Keith Stevenson

abe-cover-200x300Just out from Coeur De Lion Publishing, Anywhere but Earth is an anthology of science fiction tales set anywhere but earth.  It’s got Trent Jamieson’s seal of approval but even without the Deathworks maestros imprimatur the list of contributors tells you it’s going to be worthwhile.

Let’s see, picking out just the people I have read before

Cat Sparks, Margo Lanagan, Simon Petrie, Lee Battersby , Alan Baxter, Richard Harland, Robert N Stephenson, Robert Hood, Patty Jansen, Jason Fischer, Kim Westwood,Sean McMullen, Jason Nahrung

You can get it in paperback or ebook (multiple formats).

Checkout their website here.

I like the decidedly retro cover too.

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Book Hunting at the Raven’s Parlour


storeimage-RavensParlourStoreYesterday was spent driving around the top of the Barossa valley (no wine purchases unfortunately).  It struck me that the Barossa (Kapunda, Tanunda and Greenock) was really beginning to look like Adelaide, losing some of its regional/country flavour.

This has its benefits though a I suppose.  My other half found a music shop that actually sold more than keyboards and acoustic guitars.  She managed to spend the whole time we were in Tanunda playing on a grand piano that costs more than a small car.

But of course you are here to read about book hunting.  I managed to find The Ravens Parlour a very nicely presented shop combining a small second hand collection with new stock.

Now I find that your bookshops can tend to fall into two categories and this can depend on the type of people running them.  Typical of franchise stores(I know of some that buck this trend) you will have a shop that sells all the latest reality TV rubbish, celebrity biographies. A shop that sees books as more of a designer element and hose staff seem only interested in moving stock.

Then you have shops like The Ravens Parlour which takes time and effort and curates their stock.  Despite being confined by space and probably profit margin The Ravens Parlour actually manages to have a diverse collection of books.

Although their science fiction and fantasy section was only one book case I was able to find a wide selection of books.  I saw Tansy Rayner Roberts’ The Shattered city for the first time in print format.  A couple of Yellow hardbacks from the New Gollanz releases and many more that fall outside the best seller list.

The service was good despite the owner having to ferret out an invoice from a delivery.  We talked a bit about the book business, about libraries.  The experience was a pleasant one – which no doubt fed into my purchasing of the Vintage Edition of Maragaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale.

Pro tip for Booksellers – Try and get to know your customers, take an interest in them as a person –its the only thing you have over online shops. Every time a staff member has take the time to chat I have bought a book from the shop

I heartily recommend The Ravens Parlour, excellent service and a diverse selection despite the size of the shop.

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Oct 23, 2011

Galactic Chat with Ian Irvine

VengeanceTaintedRealm1_medFriday just past I had the wonderful experience of sitting down to talk with Australian and best selling international author Ian Irvine(he in NSW and I in SA).

Ian’s a veteran of 27 novels, including his own very original fantasy cycle, a range of children’s fantasy and three eco thrillers.

There are a number of topics covered, from the imminent release of his latest book Vengeance, to the monopolisation of the book market by Amazon, to changes to the Australian speculative fiction scene.


You can grab the interview from Galactic Chat or stream through the player below(it’s around 35 minutes):


Note:  Unbeknownst to me, there was a recording glitch that occurred about 5 minutes into the interview.  Thankfully it only effected my end of the conversation and I was able to edit in my questions in post production.  You miss out on my seamless segues but you get Ian’s answers, which if truth be told,is what you are here for .

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Book Review–Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong is the 12th novel set in the Women of the Otherworld series. 

Now despite being an international best seller, I had not come across any of Armstrong’s work before, which perhaps owes more to my geographic isolation than anything else.

Judging a book by its cover
Perusing the series covers on Kelley’s website I perceive two distinct groups being targeted by Armstrong’s publishers – readers of Twilight who have matured and the paranormal romance segment.

The cover above, however, says Urban/Paranormal Fantasy to me and I find it better captures the tone of the book and I suspect the series. Spell Bound is distinctly romance ‘lite’. While there is romance in the book, there’s no more than you’ll find in say, Barry Eisler’s John Rain novels.  The major difference being of course that the protagonist is female - do we have romance in thriller novels or is that labelled “sexual tension”.

The Story
Spell Bound as mentioned is the 12th book in a series and while this book is rather self contained I do get the sense that previous actions and characters are referenced adding another layer or dimension for long time fans.

Essentially our protagonist, Savannah Levine, has lost her spell casting abilities just as she becomes hunted by a rather inept witch hunter.  This plot thread adds some dramatic tension while Armstrong hints at a larger conspiracy - Supernaturals who are organising to expose their own existence  to the mundane world.

Who has taken Savannah’s powers? We are not sure.  But it forces her both to grow up a little and to realise that she has been using her powers just to coast along.  There’s some angst on the part of Savannah over whether or not she can realise her romantic notions about the male support character Adam but this amounts to about 2 pages worth overall.

I found Savannah’s thoughts focus on romance far less annoying and more “realistic” than say Sookie Stackhouse’s. There’s a little romance, quite a bit more action and a resolution that keeps us

Being a well done first person narrative it was very easy to immerse myself in the world. I was reminded somewhat of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, if not in tone, in the world construction. There’s no sparkly vampires here and werewolves have distinctly savage edge to their personality and organisation. There’s death and dismemberment.  I also found the pacing smooth and the investigation, the mystery to be solved drew me in.

Being somewhat of a big S skeptic in relation to paranormal claims I also enjoyed the rundown Savannah gave on show Psychics, their tricks and methods etc.

The resolution.  There’s a bit of romantic resolution at the end of the novel but if you want to find out the answer to who’s behind the conspiracy to expose Supernaturals you’ll have to get the next book.
That being said it was an enjoyable read so I wouldn’t find another dip into Armstrong's universe unpleasant.

If you like the Dresden books by Jim Butcher, this has a very similar feel to it.  Better in my opinion than Sookie Stackhouse series by Harris and more inline with Buffy culture.
This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost.

Want to listen to my interview with Kelley?

I conducted a phone interview with Kelley when she visited Australia recently, you can download it from the Galactic Chat podcast here.

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Oct 22, 2011

Max Barry Signing at Embiggen Books

machineman_lrMax Barry, author of Machine Man, will be doing a book reading/signing at Embiggen Books in Melbourne next Saturday. 

Specific Details

Max will begin reading from his book at Embiggen Books at 3.00pm Saturday October 29th.

Please RSVP: (03) 9662 2062 or on events (at) embiggenbooks (dot) com or visit them at let them

What’s it about?

When Charles Neumann loses a leg in an industrial accident, it's not a tragedy. It's an opportunity. As a scientist, Charlie always thought his body could be better. His employer, military contractor Better Future, has the resources he needs to explore a few ideas. So he begins to build parts. Better parts.

Charlie's prosthetist, Lola, is impressed by his artificial limbs. But some see him as a madman. Others, a product. Or even a weapon. Existing at the intersection between mind and body, in the dawn of the age of pervasive technology, Machine Man is a gruesomely funny tale about one man's quest for the ultimate in self-improvement.

Warren and Kirsty who run Embiggen are supporters of speculative fiction, science and reason.  Their shop as recently flooded due to a fault in the building above them.  I am sure they would appreciate some foot traffic, even if you can’t make it on the Saturday.

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The Book Show on Aurealis going digital

aurealis 45We, with our finger on the pulse have known about this for awhile but it’s good to see the national broadcaster, well broadcasting the news too. 

Below is a link to the Book Show Segment on Aurealis Magazine going free and digital.


And while your at it why not download issue #45 tis free after all

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Dreaming Again–Quality Aussie Short Fiction

dreaming2I managed to borrow Dreaming Again Edited by Jack Dann through interlibrary loan. 

I probably won’t get through all the stories before I have to return it but just wanted to say that I am somewhat blown away by the collection.  I have just been randomly dipping into stories before I go to bed of a night and I can’t say I have come across a story that I have felt “Meh!” about.

The collection was published in 2008 and was  a follow up to the earlier (and now hard to find) Dreaming Down Under duology that received critical acclaim.

I will be hunting for the book in Brisbane when I travel up for Supanova, so if any readers know of good second hand stores in Brisbane that specialise in Speculative fiction, let me know.

(Edit: As I was checking out the amazon links for the books mentioned above I noticed that Amazon have slashed the price on Dreaming Again – picked it up for $13.00 Aud delivered – click here to purchase)

Stories read so far:

Nightship by Kim Westwood – On the recommendation of Ian Mond from Writer and the Critic.  A bleak future Australia, with some interesting twists on culture and gender. 

The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga by Peter M. Ball – Gothic horror meets Pirates of the Caribbean.  While I am a fan of Peter’s Twelfth Planet Press releases, the writing in this short blew me out of the water.

The Jacaranda Wife by Angela Slatter - An Australian fairy tale.  It’s Australian colonial with echoes of the myths and legends of the old country.

Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn by Jason Nahrung – Brilliant hunting story that mixes very Australian tradition of Commissions to eradicate certain feral species with vampires.

The Fifth Star in the Southern Cross by Margo Lanagan – Just started this one and like most Lanagan short stories, it’s disturbing me (but in a good way).

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Oct 18, 2011

Book Release Above/Below (epub)

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg (1)The crew at Twelfth Planet Press continues to impress with their commitment to speculative fiction and Australian speculative fiction in particular. 

Although previously available through smashwords as a title, Above Below has been remastered and rereleased for purchase through their online store as well as other outlets like Wizard’s Tower Books. 

For a good review of the book please checkout the Goodreads entry and  Cheryl’s Morgan has some nice things to say about Above Below TPP at  Cheryl's Mewsings

To purchase Above Below you can go:

Here for the Paperback

Here for the Epub version (mobi coming soon)
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A babble of Podcasts–Galactic Suburbia 44 and Coode Street 71


The time’s come round again – this fortnight on Galactic Suburbia  Alex is back from holidays and wise women of the Galactic Suburbs discuss the recent furore around Tara Moss’ post on Shekilda and question whether Wonder woman really needs a father.

You can stream it live from the player below or download here


The Coode Street Podcast no 71 featuring Ursula K LeGuin

Yes, you read that correctly, Gary and Jonathan have managed to get Ursula LeGuin to appear on the show to talk about Margaret Atwood’s new book In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination.

You can stream it live from the player below or download here.



Oct 16, 2011

Book Review–The Secret Signal (Hal Junior Book 1) by Simon Haynes

The Secret Signal is the first book in the Hal Junior series from Perth based Australian author Simon Haynes.
Simon’s more well known for his adult fiction, the Hal Spacejock science fiction comedy series that earned him a comparison to Terry Pratchett.

While reading The Secret Signal I was trying to think back to the sort of science fiction I read in my middle primary years, to find some a touchstone or point of reference for myself, to give the book a review from a straight reader point of view without my teacher or librarian hat on. 

That might have been a futile task considering how long ago that was.

In the distant past 
But I do have fond memories of The First Travel Guide to the Moon which seemed to me to be on the borderline between speculative fiction and futurist extrapolation. The connection between that and Hal Junior is the description of what it is/might be like living off planet. With the added benefit that Haynes gives us a little bit more high stakes adventure.

Real science plus space adventure
Simon Haynes has done a really good job of describing life living on a space station and including scientific facts as part of that description i.e. a spaceships manoeuvring jets firing but the viewer not being able to hear but rather feel the vibrations.

Being a children's book we don’t have complex relationships or down and dirty fight scenes, but we do have action aplenty.  Haynes gives us a proto-larakin (because Australian’s will live in space too) in Hal Junior, the kid that has the potential to get up to mischief and often does, & believably named nerdy sidekick in “Stinky” Binn.

The action scenes are all non violent to my recollection and prove that if you have sufficient skill as a writer you can write engaging, action packed children’s fiction that’s enjoyable by adults as well.

Are there girls in Space?
The story is a bit “girl” lite (there are no female child characters of consequence) but Hal’s mum is chief scientist, while his dad works in maintenance and another sympathetic adult is also a female trainee technician. I am hoping that in the next couple of Hal Junior books we might see the introduction of a female sidekick character alongside Hal.

Production values
Before I forget, the production of the Hal Junior paperback is top quality as well. The cover  is by Dion Hammill it’s age appropriate and conveys a sense of movement and action.

The interior artwork by the author himself, is naff (and deliberately so) and somewhat tongue in cheek(I really enjoyed the running joke).

What sets it out from the rest
What I think marks this out as top quality children's fiction is that it gives the child protagonist agency.  It manages suspense and pacey action without resort to cliche or violence and it has a firm basis in science (enough to fool this armchair science supporter anyway). Despite being a book intended for children I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Adventure, science and entertainment in one nice little packet. I’ll be donating my review copy to my local library.

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eBook Review–Creeping in Reptile Flesh by Robert Hood

Creeping in Reptile Flesh is a collection of 15 stories by a Robert Hood, dubbed as “Australia’s Master of the Macabre”. 
I have a little confession to make - prior to getting this review copy I really didn’t know who Robert Hood was.

Which I hope means that my review of it isn’t affected by any sort of in-group bias( the in-group being the Australian SpecFic community which I participate in /support) rather than just underlining my ignorance.

Given the digital treatment
The collection was originally published in 2008 by Altair-Australia and has been reprinted/reissued by Morrigan Books as of July 2011 in digital form.
The collection, when it was first released, made available a number of stories that were hard to find after their initial publication run in overseas magazines.  Now with the eBook age finally upon us Robert has his work preserved for posterity or at least until our advanced civilisation is wiped out by an EMP.

A Definitive Collection?
Robert thankfully, is still with us.  There is a common wisdom that suggests that there’s a right time that a collection should be put out – writers are supposed to get better with time and experience and well, putting out a collection of works too early in one’s career could be damaging. Too early and you risk turning readers off I suppose.

But not having followed Rob’s career at all its really hard for me to judge.  What I can say is that Creeping in Reptile Flesh is consistently good.  There’s consistent tone and quality in the writing mixed with enough variation to make it an enjoyable and refreshing read.

So is it the definitive Robert Hood collection?  No, but it’s a fine snapshot of a good writer’s career(and I’d like to think Robert’s going to be around a little longer).

My picks
The Collection was a finalist in the 2009 Aurealis & Ditmar Awards, the title story  was also a finalist in the best Novella category for the 2009 Ditmar Awards.  That being said my favourites were to be found further  in the work.

They are:

Getting rid of mother, which I found to be charmingly disturbing.  A couple who can’t seem to look after themselves buy a house that comes with its own escapee from a nursing home.  The poor old …well I should let you read it for yourself.

Heartless definitely fell on the weird end of the horror spectrum.  Though this is one tory that features a bit of gore, there was a sort of Dexter-ish glee in in the outcome .  A sense of justice achieved though by rather less than ok means.

Rotten times – decay and corruption in modern times taken to a literal end.  I like this story for its non lineal arrangement as well.

And while all of the antagonists in the above shorts meet the deserved ends, as with all good horror there’s a lingering unease felt by the survivors (If there are any) and the reader.

I’d recommend it even if you are not that big on horror.  It tends more towards the weird than than the gory.  If you are a horror fan, well I’d hope you’d already have it, but then there's a lot of good reading out there.

(Note: You can now purchase a hard copy from Booktopia.)

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Book Release - Fire & Ice (Icefire Trilogy eBook) by Patty Jansen

hearts1Patty Jansen is one of those authors who I am happy to read regardless of what she writes.

She’s an excellent science fiction author who manages to weave great character relationships with pacey storytelling and accurate science.

I have reviewed her shorter science fiction works here and a recent foray into fantasy shorts here. 

The Icefire Trilogy is her first fantasy work in the long form Fire & Ice is the first book in the trilogy.

So take a look, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Goodreads giveaway for The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2010 by Liz Grzyb

years-best-fantasy-and-horror-v1-slideOnly just noticed this giveaway on Goodreads.  As the title suggests this tome features the best Australian Fantasy & Horror Shorts published in 2010(not necessarily just Aussie authors). 

It comes in at just shy of 500 pages.  I have included the list of stories and authors from the publishers webpage below.

Click here if you is to enter the competition or here if you would like to purchase it outright.


The list of contributors is impressive:

  • RJ Astruc: "Johnny and Babushka"
  • Peter M Ball: "L'esprit de L'escalier"
  • Alan Baxter: "The King's Accord"
  • Jenny Blackford: "Mirror"
  • Gitte Christensen: "A Sweet Story"
  • Matthew Chrulew: "Schubert By Candlelight"
  • Bill Congreve: "Ghia Likes Food"
  • Rjurik Davidson: "Lovers In Caeli-Amur"
  • Felicity Dowker: "After the Jump"
  • Dale Elvy: "Night Shift"
  • Jason Fischer: "The School Bus"
  • Dirk Flinthart: "Walker"
  • Bob Franklin: "Children's Story"
  • Christopher Green: "Where We Go To Be Made Lighter"
  • Paul Haines: "High Tide At Hot Water Beach"
  • L.L. Hannett: "Soil From My Fingers"
  • Stephen Irwin: "Hive"
  • Gary Kemble: "Feast Or Famine"
  • Pete Kempshall: "Brave Face"
  • Tessa Kum: "Acception"
  • Martin Livings: "Home"
  • Maxine McArthur: "A Pearling Tale"
  • Kirstyn McDermott: "She Said"
  • Andrew McKiernan: "The Memory Of Water"
  • Ben Peek: "White Crocodile Jazz"
  • Simon Petrie: "Dark Rendezvous"
  • Lezli Robyn: "Anne-droid of Green Gables"
  • Angela Rega: "Slow Cookin' "
  • Angela Slatter: "The Bone Mother"
  • Angela Slatter & LL Hannett: "The February Dragon"
  • Grant Stone: "Wood"
  • Kaaron Warren: "That Girl"
  • Janeen Webb: "Manifest Destiny"

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Oct 14, 2011

Guest Post - Jeremy Robinson’s Great Kindle Giveaway and Blog Tour


1 3/16 6x9Welcome to Jeremy Robinson’s Great Kindle Giveaway and Blog Tour.

“Hurray for free Kindles!” you say, but who the hell is Jeremy Robinson?

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the author of eleven mixed genre novels, published in ten languages, including the popular fantasy YA series, THE LAST HUNTER, and the fast-paced Jack Sigler series (also known as Chess Team—not nearly as nerdy as it sounds), PULSE, INSTINCT and THRESHOLD from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press.

callsign-kingI’m the co-author of an expanding series of novellas deemed the Chesspocalypse, which take place in the Chess Team universe. If that doesn’t wet your whistle, I’m also known as Jeremy Bishop, the #1 Amazon.com horror author of THE SENTINEL and the controversial novel, TORMENT.

For more about me, or my books, visit www.jeremyrobinsononline.com.


The Rationale behind the tour

I have watched for years as my fellow authors held online events called blog tours. Some would visit ten blogs. Others, as many as ninety. And every day they would bring something different, waxing eloquent about a multitude of topics.

When I finally decided to have a blog tour of my own, and settled on doing each and every weekday in October, my first thought was, “This will be cool,” which was immediately followed up by, “Holy crap, I can’t think of something interesting to say twenty times in one month!” I can barely think of something worthwhile for my own blog just once a month.

thresholdThe solution is what follows; each blog participating in the tour could ask me ANY three questions. That means, if the subject matter bores you, I’m not to blame!


But fear not. There are other rewards for sloughing through the questions and answers. I’ll be giving away two Kindles to two randomly selected readers who sign up for my newsletter. Details on the giveaway can be found below.


On to the questions

1.  You list Doctor Who as one of your early speculative fiction influences - if given the chance what kind of story would you write for the show?

I like to raise the stakes, often to apocalyptic proportions, and I think I’d do the same for him. Not only would I put everything at risk, but I’d have him fail to save the planet. Cope with an Armageddon-type event that he couldn’t stop. Really darken things up. Of course, he can go back and try to save everything again, but at great personal sacrifice. This is probably more like a standalone Dr. Who movie rather than a single episode, but I like my body counts high…like in the billions. And I’ve never seen a gritty Dr. Who. I think it would be cool. I haven’t watched all the series, so maybe there is something like this, but if given the option, that’s the way I’d go.

hunter-descent2. You are a thriller & horror novelist as well as having a solid background in graphic novels if it was up to you which creative project would you like to see on the silver screen.

Oh man, what a hard question. There are a lot of my books that would really make perfect movies. In fact, some of my first novels are based on screenplays I wrote first. Since I’m attached to many of them equally, I’ll tackle the question from a more analytic point of view, considering budget, audience and sequels.

The Jack Sigler books would all make great summer popcorn movies, but these kinds of movies are pricey and without the right A-list actors are hit or miss.  Both Jeremy Bishop books would make amazing horror movies, that I would love, but their potential income is limited by the horror genre.

So I think I would go with THE LAST HUNTER. Not only would this series be visually amazing, but the appeal is wide (teen and adults). There’s something for everyone—monsters, mystery, action, violent combat, crazy effect, and enough heart to make viewers misty-eyed. It’s also a five book series, which means lots of sequels and continued revenues. The Hunter series are also, I believe, my best books.

sentinel3. The growth of eBooks seems to have been a major boost to your career.  Aside from the basics of writing well, what advice would you offer to emerging authors in terms of legacy versus self publishing?

If you’re going it alone, self-publishing via e-books, the number one thing you can do to improve your odds of success is be professional. Set your standards higher than those of the big publishers. Basically, you want your book to be indistinguishable from the top tier books on the market.

The biggest mistake most self-publishers make is rushing the book. They slap on a homemade cover, have their mother edit and don’t have a marketing plan. Be willing to spend money on covers, editing, formatting, etc, OR spend years and years learning how to do it on your own, professionally. That’s the route I took.

I design my own covers, and e-book formatting, and I’m good enough that other publishers hire me to do these things, too. The point is that while self-publishing is now easy, doing it right is still hard. And if an author wants to be taken seriously, he or she needs to take the business seriously. After all, the competition is a collection of mega-corporations with resources that dwarf those of the individual author.

Hope that was as good for you as it was for me. Now how about that kindle giveaway?

Here’s the deal: to be entered to win one of two free kindles all you have to do is visit my website—www.jeremyrobinsononline.com—and sign up for the newsletter. That’s it.*

The first kindle will go to a randomly chosen newsletter signup on October 31. For the second kindle, there’s a catch. The second giveaway will only be triggered if one of my kindle books hits the Amazon.com bestseller list (top 100). So pick up some books (most are just $2.99 a pop) and spread the word! If one of the books squeaks up to #100 for just a single hour, the second kindle will be given away to another randomly chosen newsletter sign up on October 31.

Thanks for spending some time with me today. Hope you enjoyed the Q&A, and good luck with the kindle giveaway!**

-- Jeremy Robinson

*When you sign up for the newsletter, be sure to include the name of the blog that referred you in the field provided. I’ll be giving away two $50 Amazon.com gift certificates to the blog that refers the most sign-ups and another to the blog who referred the first kindle winner.

** I will announce winners via Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and newsletter (which you will be signed up for!) but I’ll also e-mail the winners directly—I’ll need to know where to ship those kindles!

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Oct 12, 2011

The Gateway has opened

gatewaySometime yesterday Gollanz cut the ribbon on the Science Fiction Gateway project. 

What is the SF Gateway?

The SF Gateway is an initiative of the Orion Publishing Group, home to the UK's oldest science fiction publisher, Gollancz.

As an imprint, SF Gateway is an eBook publisher of classic SF and Fantasy. It is a sister imprint to Gollancz that, as a rule, focuses on SF's past, while Gollancz looks to its future.

As a website, SF Gateway is part catalogue site, highlighting and promoting the thousands of eBooks the imprint publishes; it is part gateway (pardon the inevitable pun) to the online retailers from whom these eBooks can be bought; part social network for readers who wish to discuss and recommend authors and books with their fellow enthusiasts; and part commentary/blog site.

As an ethos, SF Gateway is the attempt by a company with tremendous respect for the history of the field to ensure that the great works of SF & Fantasy's heritage are not lost to the harsh economic realities of modern commercial print publishing.

Enter here ye all who dare

So no longer will we listen to industry commentators like Gary K Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan, whipping us into an excited frenzy over classical SF  to find that the work they refer to is only available in out of print collections or in well stocked second hand stores.

At least that’s how I see it working eventually.  The team at the Gateway have done a great job getting the titles ready, and they plan to add more over the coming months.

The inevitable price whine

All of the titles appear to be priced at the $8 – $12 mark dependant on supplier (Amazon is the cheapest).  Which is on par, if not a little bit more than some new titles. 

It’s enough to turn my purchase decision from a “its a bargain at that price” impulse buy to a “hmm, I’ll think about it”.  This is not to say that I don’t think that’s a fair price to ask, considering the work that has to go into this project -despite what the eBook & 99c evangelists might say.  But it means that commentators and SF community members will have to work that little bit harder to be heard through the white noise I fear eBook publishing has/will generate.

We are used to equating classic with inexpensive ie Penguin classics, of paying premium prices for the “new” and bargain prices for the old.  But if Gollanz are true to their word, their mission, then we will see works that won’t have been accessible, even under the old paradigm. 

Perhaps it’s worth it at that price?

Heads-Up - Thief of Lives (epub) released

ThiefofLives_mnHot on the heels of Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Love and Romanpunk comes the digital edition of Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex

It’s available, DRM free from both Twelfth Planet Press and Wizard’s Tower Books in epub and mobi (kindle) format.

Oh and if you are a luddite or just love the book as a physical object then you can purchase the paperback from Twelfth Planet Press as well.

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Oct 11, 2011

The Raven, starring John Cusack

An interesting take on Edgar Allen Poe and his stories

H/T – Tor.com

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Oct 10, 2011

Aurealis Update

I spruked the Free copy of Aurealis a couple of posts ago.  They have now released some more info on the reasons for the change and to me they sound positive particularly for Aussie Writers.

Chimaera Publications has decided that a publication devoted to fantasy and science fiction should be at the forefront of change and that digital publication is the future.  We believe that Aurealis will gain a much wider readership and will ultimately be able to pay contributors more with the launch of the new Aurealis.  So, from October 2011 we will exploring some new worlds:

1. Aurealis will become a monthly epublication with downloads available in all e-reading formats: iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and phones, Kindles, Kobo readers, pdfs for PCs etc.  It will appear every month except December and January, which means 10 issues a year.

2. This Aurealis epublication will effectively be a merger between Aurealis print magazine and AurealisXpress.  Each monthly issue will consist of 2 stories, (+ possibly 1 article),

Read more

aurealis 45Download Issue 45 for Free from Smashwords







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The Dangers of Book Hunting

2011-10-10 17.02.38Today I ventured north in my hunt for books, to the metropolis at the centre of the Iron Triangle known as Port Pirie. Famous for being South Australia’s first proclaimed provincial city its also well known for lead dust contamination in its populace. 

Fear not, I braved the threat of colica pictonum and was justly rewarded with this wonderful 2nd hand purchase from Meg’s Bookshop. 

They have only just recently started their second hand service, diversifying (like many independents).  They have a good reputation locally as a an independent bookseller and that was evident in the service I received today.

The proprietor was even keen to spend time discussing the downfall of Red Group and the state of the market.  I came away from this jaunt feeling like I could go back and merely enjoy the browsing.

I have no trouble recommending them, for their service and events.  Recent author appearances have been Emily Rodda, Matt Reilly, & Fiona McIntosh.

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Oct 8, 2011

Aurealis goes digital and free for issue 45


aurealis 45


Aurealis (ori-aahliss) or as I incorrectly pronounced it for most of my life or-reelis is Australia's most successful speculative fiction magazine. Issue 1 was released in late 1990 and was intended as a professional mass market magazine.

Prior to this Australian speculative fiction readers and writers had to survive on international magazines.

So some 20 years later and Aurealis is changing both format and regularity.  From memory it used to be a quarterly, it’s now moving to a monthly publication and it will be offered for purchase on Smashwords in multiple formats.

Dirk Strasser who along with Stephen Higgins started the Magazine back in 1990 returns as editor of this first digital issue stating in his editorial that:

We believe a publication devoted to fantasy and science fiction should be at the forefront of change. So here we are. Right on the edge. Helping create a new type of speculative fiction magazine.

Dirk also informs us that with the transformation to a monthly magazine

…we are merging AurealisXpress and Aurealis magazine with what will become a monthly emag that combines the quality new fiction and non-fiction of Aurealis with the up-to-date reviews and information of AurealisXpress.

The low down

I have viewed the epub version via the Calibre software and on the old workhorse - my Sony PRS 505.  The calibre book viewer renders it very well, there’s no formatting errors that I can see and being connected to the internet the embedded video reviews show up beautifully and are a nice bonus feature.

On the PRS I was sure that there would be an issue with the video links displaying(the PRS does not do internet connectivity) but I was surprised to see that the jpg’s render just like they do on computer screen(though I obviously can’t play them).

It seems to me to be a very good launch, embedded video and audio links will obviously favour those devices that have internet connectivity (like iPads and tablet readers) but for the one of two reviews that future editions might contain It wouldn’t both me to view it first on Calibre before I load it on the reader.

Enough of the specs…what are we getting?

Well as they are moving to a monthly schedule there’s about half the content of the old mag (going purely on page count of issue 37) which when you think about it actually results in more content over a three month period.

In this issue we have:

  1. From the Cloud – Dirk Strasser (Editorial)
  2. The Bunyipslayer and the Bounty Hunter – Lachlan Huddy(Fiction)
  3. One Hundred Years – Aimee Smith(Fiction)
  4. Breakfast with Glenda Larke – Crisetta MacLeod(Non Fiction)
  5. Reviews(Non Fiction)
  6. Carissa's Weblog – Carissa Thorp(News)

And to my surprise my interview with Kelley Armstrong is included as a link in Carissa’s weblog.


Well I haven’t had time to read the fiction yet, but my initial thoughts are positive.  I like the step towards digitisation and I like the move toward a quicker turnaround, and monthly issues.  I like it enough to even consider becoming a regular subscriber.

Do yourself a favour and download it it’s free

Edit:  I have it on good authority that the next 10 issues will be free and thence forward it will be $1.99.

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Oct 7, 2011

A …what do call a grouping of Podcasts?

Regular readers will already be subscribed to these wonderful podcasts(and if they aren’t they should go and give themselves a very good talking to).

Warning: Contains Nuts

The Book Nut is the brainchild of Fablecroft proprietor Tehani Wessely it covers fiction for children and young adults with a focus on Australian material.  Tehani’s  a teacher librarian, publisher and literary awards judge.

This weeks podcast is a discussion with Australian speculative fiction author Tansy Rayner Roberts.  They cover speculative fiction for children and young adults the reason why speculative fiction should feature in any library or family collection.

You can stream it using the embedded player below or download it directly here.


Duelling Banjo’s

This month’s Writer and the Critic covers Lisa Hannett’s newly released Bluegrass Symphony and Rob Shearman’s, Everyone’s just so so special.  These two have possibly the best podcast chemistry going in Australia at the moment well worth a listen just for their on air interactions.

You can stream it using the embedded player below or download it directly here

Cue shameless plug

I have finally got my own podcast site up and running.  The first post links to my interview with Kelley Armstrong for Galactic Chat.  I do, however, have some interviews lined up that will be forming part of The Bookonaut Podcast proper.

You can find the link in the navigation bar above or subscribe to the show here

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Oct 5, 2011

Library Loot– October 5th to 11th

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link to it via the plugin on the host's page. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries! This week is hosted by Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

Whoa, it’s been a long time between drinks participating in a library loot.  Strangely enough for the last school term I was actually employed as a Librarian. 

So looted books(bought rather than borrowed):

2011-10-05 12.23.50Well this first one comes tinged with sadness.  One of our library board members, passed away recently, he wasn’t hale and hearty, so it wasn’t that much of a shock. Still talking to a man one day and having him drop dead the next reminds you of your own mortality. 

Alby was a committed reader, who when his health was fair, would shoot about the town on his gopher, putting up promotional posters.  He led an interesting life as paddle steamer captain and lived for his westerns. 

His daughter returned his library books along with a collection of books that could be donated or sold through the library.  So I happened upon his copy of The Adventurers of Sherlock Holmes, which I shall have as a keepsake, to remind me of a dedicated reader and a library supporter.


The next purchase was cancelled stock – Comix, A history of Comic Books in America.  Which, as I think I may have mentioned on twitter gets very interesting around the mid 1950’s, with the various witch hunting and blacklisting that occurred under McCarthy.

If you think people are only now doing edgy subversive stuff in comics now, it was being done long before.




And my final purchase was The Bachman Books by Stephen King, four stories written by King under the pseudonym Richcard Bachman.

Why people through this stuff away I will never understand.  The 14 introductory notes that King writes on why he chose to write under another name are a story all in themselves.



goneBorrowed, extended and extended again was Gone by talented Australian author and poet, Jennifer Mills.  The downside to being a reviewer is of course that books that you want to read, often sit on the back burner – I may have to reluctantly return this one until I have some spare time to enjoy it.

I have read the first chapter so far, and its good, takes me back to my short stint spent working in community mental health.


So link below or at Marg’s site and let me know what books you have “looted”  this week.

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Oct 4, 2011

Book Review–Fenrir by M.D. Lachlan

fenFenrir is the second book in the Craw series.  The first Wolfsangel, received critical acclaim from some heavy hitters in the speculative fiction field -  Joe Abercrombie recommended it as “dark and original”, Adam Roberts classed it as “unputdownable”.

I haven’t read Wolfsangel and to tell you the truth that fact didn't hinder me as much as I thought it would.  Reviewing for publishing houses means that I do often get the second book in the series without having read the first.  Generally,  I find that with a little difficulty I can push on and pick up the story.  I didn’t have to with Fenrir, it stands pretty well on its own, at least initially.

The two narratives appear(as I said I’ve not read the first) to be linked through characters that reincarnate, for want of a better term.  Throughout Fenrir three central characters have flashbacks or memories of previous lives.

Fenrir unfolds,however, as a stand alone book, with characters presented with the usual depth and vigour a writer would employ if they were introducing them for the first time – there’s no obvious info dumps to bring latecomers up to speed.

So, the story
Paris lies besieged by one of several Viking armies.  The King of the Franks, used to buying the Vikings off with silver does nothing.  The Viking army will lift the siege if the Count of Paris will hand over his sister to the Sorcerer Munin. 

Unable to sell his sister, the Lady Aelis into slavery or death, he calls on on the living saint, the blind and crippled Jehan of St Germain, to intercede with God and resolve the situation for him.

The decision is soon taken out of their hands,however,  as the Wolfman, a shaman, intent on saving the Lady Aelis spirits the young noble out of Paris and a Viking war party manages to snatch the Jehan from the count’s protection.

What follows is a dark and twisted tale of adventure, involving Norse gods that walk as men and dark sorceries that seek to bring about the end of the world.

“Old Skool” Sword and Sorcery
Abercrombie was right, this tale is dark and original- a very earthy blend of Norse myth and magic, that bonds well with the historical context.  I feel Lachlan has captured the essence, the rough edged vitality of Viking culture and woven a concept of magic through it that feels possible and very culturally appropriate.  There’s no magic spells in a Harry Potter sense, the magic is runic and borne out of pain and sacrifice.

A warning for those with tender stomachs, some might find it a little too dark in places with the description of the disfigurements that the Sorcerer Munin has inflicted upon her (to empower her magic) and non-consensual cannibalism experienced by one of the other characters.

Not your tree hugging Werewolf
While not strictly a Werewolf book, one of the central characters is a Werewolf(not the Wolfman mentioned above).  He’s not one of those, six-pack toting teens that readers of Twilight might barrack for though.  No, the werewolf in this tale has more in common with such creatures as Grendel, a creature that is cursed and terrible to behold.  That being said, his tale appears to be a tragic one that the reader can sympathise with.

I felt the pace dropped off toward the end of the novel. There were extended scenes when Aelis, the count’s sister is remembering a previous life, (necessary no doubt for on-going plot) where I felt that the story brakes were on when we should have been accelerating.

I won’t tell you the ending, however, the resolution of the tale was unsatisfactory one for me.  To be fair to Lachlan though, this dissatisfaction stems from the fact that I am reading as a stand alone when in fact its a continuation of characters journeys from Wolfsangel

Like I said the book has a very old school sword and sorcery feel to it.  Though it might also appeal those that enjoy historical fiction and don’t mind a little fantasy thrown in.  Not absolutely necessary to have read Wolfsangel but on reflection I think it’s advised, especially if you want to enjoy the the book fully.

It’s piqued my interest enough to chase down Wolfsangel and the third book when it’s released.

This book was provided by the publisher at no cost to myself

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Oct 3, 2011

Blogging on the go

I will be travelling to Brisbane at the beginning of November to see my nephew, attend Supanova and if I'm lucky catch up with some cool writers.

I will be without my laptop for a whole week (how will I survive?). I still want to blog, especially pics and observations of Supanova so I have enabled blogging on the android phone.

So tell me fellow bloggers, what's your set up for blogging on the go?

Note: This post was sent by my  Galaxy Samsung 5.

Heads Up– Guest Post by Jeremy Robinson


sentinel-mediumJeremy Robinson aka Jeremy Bishop whose No. 1 Selling Kindle horror title I reviewed here, is on book tour starting 3rd of October.  So sometime this month(details will be forthcoming) he’ll be posting a guest post fielding some questions that I’ve submitted.

In addition to stunning you with his writing wisdom Jeremy is also giving readers a chance to win a Kindle.

So keep your eye’s peeled and your RSS feeds running. 

But wait!

If you want to get in early you can go to Jeremy’s site now.

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