Jun 30, 2012

The Gift – A 5 minute movie


Not sure if this one quite hits the spot, but good visuals, intriguing.

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Jun 29, 2012

Total Recall Ruminations

It’s with some melancholy that I post this trailer.  I remember going to see the original at the cinema.  I have watched the old version recently and its dated (the 80’s do have a lot to answer for) but there’s a certain charm to Arnie’s poor acting and his one liners.

But the production looks slick on this one and maybe, just maybe, the studios might be taking a sci-fi story a little seriously? And I am sure Damon Lindelof hasn’t been near this one.

I give you Total Recall

Apparently there’s no Mars in this story so it diverges from both the original movie and the Phillip K Dick story its based upon.  Though there’s some suggestion that it sticks closer to the original story? Ho they do that without going to Mars I am not sure.

Oh and it won’t be in 3D (woot!)


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Jun 28, 2012

The Star Wars that I used to know

Thanks to the peeps at SF Signal for this one.

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Continuum 8 There and Back Again (partie 4)

You can find the rest of my Continuum 8 posts here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

So Sunday morning I was organised and feeling moderately fresher.  There was no way I was going to be in a last minute rush to get to the Con.  So consequently I arrived there at 8.30 to a rather quiet bar.1 I wondered for a bit, disorientated, then discovered the wherewithal to check the program. 

I had turned up extra early.

So I walked to Lygon street for an early morning croissant and then meandered back to the Con.  I had by this stage largely decided to just pick panels at short notice.  Continuum 8 programing was so good that you could walk into almost any panel and not be disappointed at the discussion.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ifionlyknew/My first panel was Elizabethans are awesome, which had filled before most of the panellists arrived.  Grant Watson of Bad Film Diaries was moderating and also the only one in attendance from word go – and he did a sterling job of getting the audience warmed up. 

Dave Cake rocked up shortly after the start followed by Ian Nicholls with a story of being trapped in the elevator(his room was on level 1) and Gillian Polack, whose excuse of being late due to Melbourne trams was widely believed over Ian Nicholls’ excuse.  When the jeering from the crowd subsided2 a very interesting panel unfolded.  Dave relayed his speciality, Elizabethans and the Occult which had me rethinking about my perceptions voiced about magic and the church in this review.

I learned that the theatre district along with most of the brothels in Elizabethan London were located south of the river on land owned by the Bishop of Winchester making him a very rich and powerful man.

The Panel ran out of time just as we got to the bits about the growth of espionage in Elizabethan England, all in all it was very good.

5946127763_3121d3081f_zNext was We Want Your Brainz which was moderated by Peter Ball, one of my fave writers (unfortunately this meant he didn’t participate in answering the questions he posed). 

Now some may find the Zombie craze a bit mindless.  But this panel was one of the most intense and interesting that I attended.  It covered the modern history of the Zombie from its realistic voodoo roots to the more pop culture flesh eating horde.  The Epic of Gilgamesh even got a mention as an indicator of how far back our fascination with the walking dead goes.

There was much talk of which direction the genre could take.  Felicity Dowker had already made a foray into Zombie romance with one of her short stories.  I wish I had taken more notes or that Cons recorded some of the panels because this one was brimming with ideas and inspiration.

Next was the Guest of Honour speech handled in an interview format.  Alison Goodman in Conversation with Jason Nahrung.  Alison and Jason are good friends and this was evident in the relaxed and comfortable talk that took place.  I also became aware of Alison’s other less well known work  - her adult crime fiction novel, Killing the Rabbit which I simply must buy after hearing her talk about it.

After lunch came my one and only panel appearance Book Blogs & Reviewing, which went much more smoothly and less nervously than I thought it would.  I think we came across as a pretty diverse bunch and there was a good discussion on reviewing for friends or acquaintances which is hard to avoid in the Australian Speculative fiction scene.

I did have chuckle to myself when a member of the audience who is a reviewer for one of the major newspapers was heard to have remarked that nobody reads blogs any more.  I mean the audience obviously did and personally I can’t remember the last time I read a newspaper( so neener)- but I had well over 1000 blog feeds to read when I returned home from the Con.

It was no rest for the wicked though and  straight into The Writer & The Critic with Kirstyn McDermott, Ian Mond and guests, Kelly Link and Alison Goodman.  That particular panel was recorded here.

I believe then that a decision was made to go and grab a quick bite to eat before the Chronos and Ditmar awards.  I had a wonderful dinner with Mark Webb and David Golding at the same pizza restaurant that we had been to the Friday night.  The one thing that impresses me about Melbourne was really good customer service.

The Awards Ceremony was quite frankly a blast.  By far the most entertaining  I have watched/ participated in for awhile.  Nominated for two awards, an individual for Fan Writer and a group nomination for Galactic Chat, I was stoked just to have been involved (and to have received the coveted nomination pin).  The results of those awards can be found here

Congrats again to those who won.

My memory now eludes me as to what occurred next.  I am going to hazard a guess that I was in the bar where I managed to have two separate friendly theological discussions with people I know consider friends – you know who you are.

1.This is indicative of its importance as a location of free discussion not any latent alcoholism on my part

2. It was good hearted jeering.  I got the impression that Ian was well known to the con crowd.

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Deadlines–A Twelfth Planet Press Imprint

tppheader4-copyThis is a bit of old news, especially for those that were present at Continuum 8 or who are wired in to the online Australian Spec Fic Community. 

But for those readers who have passing interest in Speculative Fiction and who might enjoy a good crime novel I give you - Deadlines a new crime imprint from Twelfth Planet Press.

The first cab off the rank will be:

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day

Tabitha Darling has always had a dab hand for pastry and a knack for getting into trouble. Which was fine when she was a tearaway teen, but not so useful now she’s trying to run a hipster urban cafe, invent the perfect trendy dessert, and stop feeding the many (oh so unfashionable) policemen in her life.

When a dead muso is found in the flat upstairs, Tabitha does her best (honestly) not to interfere with the investigation, despite the cute Scottish blogger who keeps angling for her help. Her superpower is gossip, not solving murder mysteries, and those are totally not the same thing, right?

But as that strange death turns into a string of random crimes across the city of Hobart, Tabitha can’t shake the unsettling feeling that maybe, for once, it really is ALL ABOUT HER.

And maybe she’s figured out the deadly truth a trifle late…

Livia Day is another Tasmanian writer (something in the water or is it the apples?) whose crime influences include Ms Emma Peel and Miss Marple.  She blogs here.

Maybe we might see a crime/speculative fiction mashup if TPP can get Tansy Rayner Roberts and Livia to work on a project together?

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Snapshot 2012 Index

SnaphotLogo200512Readers will no doubt remember the Snapshot series that I participated in just prior to leaving for Continuum 8.  I did my best to try and read/comment on all the other interviews but had to give it away around interview 60. 

The wonderful Tehani (correct me if I am wrong) has put together an index list for future reference, and to enable you to read interviews from your favourite authors.

You can find that index here.

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Steampunk and Angel Dust - Ticonderoga continues to roll out the goodies

ticonHot on the heels of their recent announcements here, Ticonderoga Publications have announced they will be publishing The Emerald Key, a steampunk thriller by  Stewart Sternberg and Christine Purcell.  The scheduled date of release is in mid-2014.

The Emerald Key is set in London in 1864 and blends alternate history with elements of horror, mystery and urban fantasy. The game is afoot and Ember Quatermain, the brilliant and courageous daughter of legendary explorer Allan Quatermain, must draw upon all of her abilities in order to save the day. Along the way she encounters dirigibles, the lost tomb of Alexander the Great, and the charming and irresponsible Peter Styles.


Angel Dust

They have also managed to sign author Ian McHugh for a debut collection.  The working title is Angel Dust.  The collection will feature a number of award winning and award nominated works as well as new content.For more information on Ian McHugh visit his website.

Angel Dust is scheduled for publication in mid-late 2014 and ill be available in limited edition hardcover, hardcover and trade editions.


Is it just me or does Speculative Fiction Small Press in Australia seem to be really healthy?

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Jun 27, 2012

Live und Sassy Episode 4

or Season 2 of the monthly, but not monthly Live and Sassy by Editor Jonathan Strahan and Publisher Alisa Krasnostein.

Download link ---> LINK

The general topic is kickstarters and how they effect or impact upon the publishing industry.

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Jun 25, 2012

Cabin in the Woods & Goliath

The name Cabin in the Woods had flitted across my limited attention span a couple of times but for some reason or another it didn’t really register until @deborah_b stated on Twitter :

OMG CABIN IN THE WOODS IS AWESOME U MUST SEE IT! Whedon sez 'oh, hai Horror film genre, i am in ur base owning ur tropes, bitchez'. F'real.

So I took a look at the trailer:

So yeah, I am interested.  It is Whedon after all.

I then stumbled upon Goliath which has potential see the nifty “pitch” trailer below.

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Jun 24, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Slow Down

Actually this whole weekend has been a bit slow.  I missed the dreaded Con lurgie  only to be struck down with the “just coming up to school holidays cold”.  One full week of relief teaching until the break where I must prepare for my transformation to school teacher librarian for a 10 week contract.

So here is some light entertainment plucked from Austral-Asian Speculative Fiction Daily(which you can subscribe to here even if you don’t use twitter) to help you handle Monday:

First an Avengers/Firely intro mashup

and second, Prometheus written as an RPG script:

Prometheus, Viewed As A Roleplaying Game

GM RIDLEY SCOTT: So you’ve all been in cryosleep for two years now, on a mysterious mission to the stars.  Your bodies lie in capsules, tended to by -


SCOTT: What?

FASSBENDER: I’M A ROBOT OH BOY!  I never need to sleep.  I’m gonna spend the whole trip watching movies, and running around the ship, and playing X-Box… It’s so cool!  Wait!  Does the ship have a gym?

SCOTT: …I guess.

FASSBENDER: I’m gonna ride a bike and shoot hoops!  Because I’M A ROBOT!  How do I do when I shoot?  Huh?  Tell me how I did.  I bet I did awesome!!!!!

SCOTT (rolls some dice): Sure.  You get it through the net.

FASSBENDER: I do it again!  Look at these stats on my character sheet!  They’re through the roof!  Being a robot is awesome.  I bet you wish YOU guys were all robots…

CHARLIZE THERON (whispering to fellow player STRINGER BELL): Hey, am I a robot?  I can never make sense of these character sheets.

SCOTT: Okay, yeah, Fassbender, you make a lot of hoops.  Then the ship shudders to a stop and everyone wakes up.  Your bodies cry out for nutrients…

STRINGER BELL: I smoke a cigar and set up a Christmas tree.

SCOTT: …what?  This is an enclosed spaceship!  Where the hell did you get a Christmas tree?

STRINGER BELL: Right on my inventory sheet.  I come prepared.  You’ll also see I have three freeze-dried Chihuahuas, a can of shark repellent, a case full of silly string, and a tin full of Mexican jumping beans in my left pocket.

SCOTT: Okay.  You set up a Christmas tree.



[Read more at The watchtower of Destruction]

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Jun 23, 2012

Prometheus the Pre-prequel

more Prometheus roasting.  Enjoy!

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Book Review–Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse 12) by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked is the latest in the Sookie Stackhouse series (I reviewed the previous book Dead Reckoning here).

The Continuing Adventures of Sookie Stackhouse.

I have made the realisation with this book that this series is not speculative fiction, it’s not paranormal or urban fantasy, it’s domestic drama with a flavouring of the paranormal.1 
In this iteration the main plot driver is that Eric, still Sookie’s husband, is framed for murder and it’s up to Sookie to get herself in the thick of things to get him off the hook.

Judging a book by its genre

So coming from the angle that the book isn’t really located in a genre I am familiar with does it hold up?
I have to say no.  I didn’t dislike the book (though there are some very articulate, hard hitting critiques of the whole series and its misogyny and racism). Taken at face value it was a flat read.  I have to ask, if the core of domestic drama is the drama.  Where is it to be found in Deadlocked?
There seemed to be no difference in pacing or tension between Sookie checking her emails or sitting at her kitchen table having a chat while an intruder lies dead at her feet.
Indeed that which has the greatest affect on Sookie is the perceived cheating on her by her vampire husband and the possibility of her loosing him. Even that’s fixed by sitting on the edge of the bathtub for a few seconds of shallow soul searching. 
I find that I can only believe Sookie as a character if I consider her to have some sort of borderline personality disorder.

Irksome Writing

Some of the writing irked me as well.  Stuck inside Sookie’s head the reader is in “conversation” with Sookie the entire book.  Which is why I was tempted to throw the book when Sookie began relaying the contents of her inbox, including how much spam she had and the fact that she deleted it. 
When conveying one’s day surely even Sookie knows to cull out the uninteresting bits.
Another doozy was the confession of the baddie to the hardnosed, and nosey Police Detective over the phone.  The dialogue so stilted that it screamed “forced confession” to anyone bar an inebriated monkey (which the writer had established was not the case).  How Sookie could think that the detective would buy it for a second I can not say?

Only for the diehard fans.

In summary, this book hits forty kilometres an hour and stays there the entire time.  If you want to know what happens to Sookie, you’ll no doubt want to get it, but for someone looking for a cheap thrill or an escape I'd look elsewhere - there’s nothing to get your blood rushing or heart thumping.
This book was provided by the publisher.

1.  Hat tip to Gillian Polack for twitter discussion on type of Genre.

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Jun 22, 2012

Judge Dredd 3D

Hard to tell if its any good from the trailer but there’s a new Dread in town.

Me I am kinda partial to the Stallone movie, but its been years since I’ve seen it.

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One Small Step - Call for submissions

fablecroft-profpicFor all you cool speculative fiction writers out there FableCroft are calling for submissions for stories on the theme “One Small Step”.  Here’s the info from Tehani:


FableCroft Publishing is seeking speculative fiction stories on the theme “One Small Step”. You know the quote and where it comes from. The stories must in some way address the idea of discoveries, new beginnings, or literal or figurative “small steps”. The rest is limited only by your imagination.

Stories should be between 2,000 and 12,000 words. Please query the editor before sending stories outside those limits.

We are seeking original stories only – no reprints.
No simultaneous submissions please.
For multiple submissions, please query first.

Submissions open: July 1, 2012
Submissions close: September 30, 2012
Anticipated publication date: April 2013

Please go here for more information on formatting and submission.

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Jun 20, 2012

eBook Review–Light Touch Paper Stand Clear by Edwina Harvey & Simon Petrie(Eds)


Light Touch Paper Strand Clear published by Peggy Bright Books is an anthology created around the concept of a spark, literal or figurative, of inspiration or of fire. 

The anthology title refers to instructions that used to be found on fireworks, and so the authors were given this idea of lighting a touch paper and seeing where the story went.

Now, as with all anthologies there were stories that resonated with me and those that didn’t.  I’ll briefly discuss those that I slaked me thirst for good speculative fiction.

The collection opens with Joanne Anderton’s The Bone Chime Song.  It’s a very good choice, the story - it’s content and execution is indicative of an author on fire; Necromancy, and the love that dare not speak its name.  It’s a magical mood infused police procedural in a sorcerous setting.

He shook his head. “Murder was done to this poor soul. This and at least four others on the edge of the tidal plain, to the west of the city wall. Foul, desecrating murder that twisted their spirits. The Necromancers and I have raised nothing but tortured, gibbering shrouds. But I am Watch, and I will not allow the people of my city to die unknown, unmourned, and unavenged.”

“And so you thought of wind chimes?” I drew my hands away.

“You give song to those whose voices are lost.” Casimir drew his timepiece, but did not look at its hands. It was meant as a conciliatory gesture. I had given it to him twenty years ago, and it had survived separation and war, now marriage and offspring. I did not return the gesture. I had long ago dismantled the one he gave me.

Balancing what is a quite heavy and hard hitting start is the light and playful tone of Sue Bursztynski’s Five ways to start a war.  A collection of perspectives from Greek gods and the humans they victimise around the causes of the Trojan War.  Capricious gods, chest beating heroes and the blame falls on a woman.


I was on Mount Ida, taking care of my cows and also taking care of some herder girls, when the travellers arrived. That was the real beginning.

They were huge, obviously gods, but when gods think they’re in disguise, you must go along with it.

The man was—Hermes? I thought so. His staff had live snakes on it and he wore a floppy traveller’s hat over his curls. The wings on his sandals flapped gently. One of his companions wore a helmet under her very large hood and carried a spear she was trying to disguise as a staff—Athene, then, had to be. The other two I couldn’t make out under their hooded cloaks, but they would reveal themselves soon enough.

Shooing away the nymph on my knee, I went to greet the gods—er, humble travellers.

Dave Luckett’s History: Theory and Practice had me chuckling to myself –some subtle tongue in cheek commentary in the guise of straight faced sci-fi action adventure. 

Thoraiya Dyer’s Faet’s Fire had some disturbing visuals that I am still trying to get out of my mind, alongside a subtle hat tip to current environmental issues. So thanks Thoraiya, I did manage to keep my lunch down.  Whatever you do, don’t go looking for a bit of action in coal seam gas shed – fracking will be the least of your problems.

Ian McHugh’s The Godbreaker and Unggubudh the Mountain, was a surprising piece.  Initially I found it hard to connect with the protagonist, but by the end of what could be possibly a longer tale, the voice of Unggubudh was strong and distinct.  Finnshing the story had me a bit melancholic.

He had looked briefly at the injury in the Godbreaker’s side. The extent and colour of the bruising visible through his sparse fur suggested cracked ribs from a blunt impact—a fall, perhaps, rather than a weapon. He had a number of other, minor wounds that were from weapons. Had the Godbreaker fallen while being pursued? In hindsight, it seemed likely that his fear had not been of Big Ung.

But from what would a Godbreaker run? What was coming behind him? Big Ung’s thoughts went to Marnnonttok and the villagers at Unggubudh’s foot.

Little Ung disappeared beneath the outcrop that sheltered the mouth of their cave.

Inside, Big Ung laid the Godbreaker on the straw sitting mat near the entrance. He pulled aside the Godbreaker’s robe and shucked up his undershirt.

Little Ung hovered at his shoulder. “Is it a Czua?” he asked.

“He is a Godbreaker,” said Big Ung. “What the proper name of his race is, I do not know.” The Godbreaker stirred when Big Ung rolled him onto his uninjured side. Big Ung found the pressure point in his neck and applied a gentle force. The Godbreaker subsided back into unconsciousness.

The collection was rounded out with a lovely piece from Kathleen Jennings who continues to impress with her writing as well as her art.  With Kindling we have a steampunk infused tale, where Jennings weaves present and past deftly and manages to riff off the anthology concept beautifully.

A common cause may start a hundred stories, but to weave them into one took a common enemy. Someone to throw a spanner in the works, to steal the inventions of quarrelling conspirators and spill blood for sleuths to sniff after, to cross the paths of young lovers with those of their pursuers. To tangle the threads, to take advantage of situations. Someone who wasn’t tied into one little story, but could stand up and pull the strings of all of the characters. Someone to elbow out empty places on the map, stir up ghost-eyed dragons, set fire on the high mountains, raise storm clouds, start wars. Someone to take over the world.

Someone to call out a hero.

With a fairly loose theme the anthology can sometimes feel a little disjointed, some works may overshadow others in ways that have nothing to do with their individual quality. 

I have picked out a few that tickled my fancy.  I note that in this collection I have tended to pick those tales that fall more in the fantasy rather than science fiction basket.

Is there strength in diversity?

A diverse collection  with something for everyone  means that it may not be seen as outstanding by any particular readership.  My impression is that it holds its own and while it won’t have the punch of a more directly themed collection, it is a collection you could revisit  and  find joy in,  depending on changing mood or taste.  There’s not a piece that I think is padding in other words.

This book was provided to me by the publisher

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Ticonderoga – Elephants and Assassins

ticonSome interesting news out from Russ and the team at Ticonderoga Publications:

The Assassin by Robert Ashby

Robert Ashby has been signed for the first book in The Kingbreaker Chronicles series The Assassin.

The Assassin follows the coming of age of Lydia Estrella, as she becomes an assassin in the employ of Lord Zhe, the crown prince of the Empire of Nara. The daughter of a merchant captain, Lydia is thrust into a world of intrigue, corruption, magic and, of course, murder.

Scheduled for publication in early 2014. The novel will be available in limited edition hardcover, hardcover and trade editions.



Death at the Blue Elephant by Janeen Webb

Janeen Webb will be releasing her debut collection, tentatively titled Death at the Blue Elephant through Ticonderoga.  There’s a scheduled release date for the first half of 2014.

It will be a mix of award winning shorts and never before seen material. 

If the name sounds familiar it should be.  Janeen co-edited the World Fantasy Award winning Dreaming Down Under and has her own young adult series, The Sinbad Chronicles. Janeen is also a noted critic and academic.  You can check out a selection of her work here.

You can also read a recent interview with her by Jason Nahrung.

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Jun 19, 2012

Galactic Suburbia # 62 The Tansy-less Edition

images (4)Alisa and Alex some how manage to front up with another Galactic Suburbia hot on the heels of the Continuum recording. 

They are machines I tell you, machines.

Downloady Link

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Jun 18, 2012

Continuum 8 There and Back Again (Troisième partie)

or part three if you prefer.

Day 2 of the convention dawned with a light drizzle.  My headache had departed along with any chance of getting breakfast before rushing off to the con. 

I managed to make it to the con just as Take the pebble from my hand, a panel on mentoring for writers was beginning.  It was both an interesting panel to listen to, featuring three mentors and one mentee, and packed with some good resources.

2012-06-09 10.19.50Next I attended the Masters of Podcasting (an interesting title considering that two of the panellists were female members of some of the most popular Australian specfic podcasts). 

Terry Frost of Paleo-Cinema podcast declared that fanzines were dead as a large part of Fandom.  Jonathan Strahan then went on to say that the podcast was the lazy persons(perhaps time challenged) fanzine. 

Much talk was had on the ease of production, distribution and consumption of podcasts i.e. Jonathan rolls out of bed conducts a structured ramble with Gary K Wolfe, uploads without editing and it’s done.  Listeners then download and listen to it while they exercise/drive/do chores – a process that takes a fraction of time for all parties concerned, compared to the production and consumption of fanzines.

Next was Fans & Faith which was “advertised” as Religion often frowns upon science fiction…how do the panellists reconcile their passion with their faith.  It turned out to be more about how panellists felt isolated or misleadingly portrayed by the science fiction community. Either way, as a an atheist it was interesting to observe. 

There were a couple of times I winced as comments were directed at atheists but for the most part it was good discussion – I attended in the spirit of understanding.  Ian Mond made some excellent points about the portrayal of Jewish and Islamic characters, the specifics of which elude me now. 

There was some heated discussion when an audience member raised a badly framed question about the scientific method being antithetical to religion.  He framed it badly and the panel was defensive, which was a pity because I think it gets to the crux of the matter.  How do the scientifically minded religious deal with doctrinal/dogmatic interference in science. 

The minister sitting on the panel seemed a bit blinded in her appreciation for the power religion held in chilling science when it’s ethically dubious, but not when it might hold up advances that are beneficial i.e. eugenics versus say birth control.

I wanted to ask the panel if they saw Christianity as a solid cohesive belief structure(it’s not in my experience - there are some 3000 Christian sects) and saw attacks or misrepresentations as an attack on all Christians or an attack on a particular type?  Is there a tendency to close ranks, in other words?

All in all though a good talk that got me thinking.

2012-06-09 14.49.54After introducing myself to the Ditmar Winning Ian Mond I hightailed it over to the Galactic Suburbia live podcast (mentioned here).

Wanting to support some of the new and old talent that had been published in Fablecroft’s Epilogue I arrived to a rather empty room to hear David McDonald, Steve Cameron, Jo Anderton and Dirk Flinthart read.  I was the only audience member so we adjourned to the Bar.  I still got all their signatures though.

2012-06-09 17.05.44From then on I was involved in helping Twelfth Planet Press carry stuff down to the Writer & The Critic recording at my friend Warren’s bookstore – Embiggen Books.  The result of which you can listen to here.

From then on it was a quick drink at The Moat followed by a Greek restaurant for dinner.

And somehow I ended up back at the Convention bar and had the good fortune to listen wide-eyed as Jonathan Strahan and Robin M Pen held an informal panel on Australian Sci-Fi with me as the only audience member.

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Jun 17, 2012

Book Review–Showtime by Narrelle M Harris


Showtime is the fifth book in the Twelve Planets series published by Twelfth Planet Press – a series showcasing the quality and variety of Australian women’s speculative fiction through short collections of short stories and novella’s.

They are a chance for each of the invited authors to showcase their talent, to have a little fun, to produce work they might not get the freedom to produce elsewhere.

Showtime is an excellent example of that.  I found the title a perfect fit for the collection and having listened to Narrelle speak at Continuum 8 I get the sense that this collection is an extension of her vibrant and dramatic persona.

Showtime is an eclectic mix in both tone and content.  Comprised of 4 stories, Stalemate captures beautifully the oppression of the everyday, the suffocation of domesticity and family.  Thrall gives the reader a modern take on the monstrous but slightly out of date European vampire. The Truth About Brains is a quaint story that every older sister would appreciate – your kid brother turned into a stinking zombie (some might say there’s not too much difference) and Showtime gives us a window into Harris’ characters from her longer work The Opposite of Life featuring the Gary the Hawaiian shirt wearing vampire ( who I picture played by Bruce Campbell).

This collection was a bit of a hoot, though there’s some seriousness and comment in both Stalemate and Thrall.  As a showcase it’s worked – I am sorely tempted to pick up Narrelle’s longer fiction – featuring vampire’s sans glitter.

So in summary a very neat little package.  My favourite’s Thrall as it returns us to the “evil vampire” and yet also casts that vampire as a relic of a bygone age.

Disclaimer:  I am a fan of Twelfth Planet Press and contribute to the Galactic Chat podcast.

awwc2012This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012.  Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women.



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Continuum 8 There and Back Again (Parte the Seconde)

Part the first can be found here.

If you came here for the Nude Cyclists on Lygon street, I’ll get to that shortly.

Friday, the First convention day.

I awoke with the same headache that I had gone to bed with.  I had been nervous about leaving my clothes bag in the dorm room (hey Bonds are top quality underwear), but upon arising I noticed that my room mate had left his macbook pro on the bunk(seriously who backpacks with a macbook).  I decided then to worry no more about my tighty-whiteys.

I arrived early-ish and sat in the Bar1 seriously a vital spot at any convention.  My first panel was Splicing Genres with Jane Routley, Claire Corbett and Lisa Hannett and my impressions were that Australians are playing on the edge of genre quite well and as long as the author can get the mode right then something worthwhile and fresh is turned out.

Next up was Tales as old as time – a panel on fairy tales, where the wolf featured prominently as a topic of discussion.  There was also mention of the dark origins of many of our well known tales; sanitised first by the Grimms and then by Disney.  Also How our forebears made no distinction between tales for children and adults in their folk tales.

This flowed quite naturally into the Twelfth Planet Press Hour.  A celebration of TPP authors and the Press.  I met Alex Pierce for the first time and helped lighten the load of cupcakes she was distributing amongst the crowd.

The crowd was huge, I would have said about 60 odd at least.  Alisa Krasnostein stood on a chair to address the throng and all the Twelfth Planet Press authors in attendance had their photo taken.

12 planet authors

(photo: Cat Sparks)

After this, a group of us absconded to Lygon street.  Where after ordering our meals at one of the famous and really well priced Italian pizza joints we were treated to the wonderful sight of a large group of naked cyclists, Police Incident van in tow.

Sorry no pictures2 .  It was a cold night and I didn’t catch the cause they were riding for.

1. The was a lot of sitting in the bar.  It was the unofficial convention free form panel where many authors held court and chatted.There may have been some drinking…

2. I’ll let you imagine something akin to the Melbourne football team naked on bicycles

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Galactic Suburbia–Craftinomicon Edition

Yet another podcast I got to sit in on and watch live.  Now generally speaking watching a show that’s meant for audio consumption only is kind of weird.

I commend the Galactic Suburbians for pretty much doing their thang in front of a reasonably sized audience and not being at all put off.  If it had been me I’d have been tempted to play to the audience so to speak.

So without more of my rambling here is the episode:

or you can download it.

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Jun 16, 2012

New Zealand author Helen Lowe wins Morningstar Award

the-heir-of-nightHelen Lowe who was interviewed for Galactic Chat by yours truly in April has taken out the Gemmell Morningstar award for best fantasy newcomer for her novel Heir of Night, the first novel in the The Wall of Night Series.

I know Helen will be stoked upon receiving this. So congratulations Helen for a well deserved award.

I note that Booktopia has the novel at $9.95.  If you are interested click the link above and type WINTER in the coupon box and you’ll get free shipping (only before Midnight Monday) anywhere in Australia.1


1. I will get a small commission too

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Jun 15, 2012

The Writer & The Critic - Embiggen Edition

PD*3141165I had the great fortune to attend the recording of this particular podcast at Melbourne’s exclusive Science, Philosophy and Steampunkish bookstore - Embiggen Books.

It was a little disappointing to hear many of the locals who attended various events at Embiggen over the weekend say something akin to “This bookshop is great, I never knew it existed”.

It is by far the coolest damn bookshop I have ever been into, run by people that have put their money where their mouth is to bring their customers the best in Science,  Philosophy and Critical Thinking. Melbournians don’t know what they are missing.

But on with the show:

Download it

One thing you don’t get to see obviously, is the facial expressions of the hosts, it being a podcast. The look on Mondy’s face at Deb Biancotti’s continued declarations of love was hilarious.

Enjoy, the Writer & The Critic talking with most of the Twelve Planet Authors at Embiggen Books.

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Jun 14, 2012

Continuum 8–There and back again (Part 1)


Well I made it back…eventually.  The trip over and the convention went smoothly. The return, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, was something of an adventure.1

Day 1 – Whose idea was it to backpack it?

To be fair if I hadn’t chosen to stay at the backpackers I probably wouldn't have been able to go.  It was an experience and not  one that I want to repeat in a hurry - the backpacking, that is.

I arrived the day before the convention, not out of any desire to see Melbourne, lovely though the city is, but because going on the Thursday enabled me to get the cost of flights down to $23 + frequent flyer points.

Travellers Hint: If staying in the city catch the Skybus, $17 may sound a bit steep for a bus ride but the taxi is quite a bit more.

Fear of Myki Card Failure 2 meant that I decided to walk everywhere and so I walked the manageable distance from Southern Cross station to Nomad Backpackers in A’beckett Street.  I was accosted along the way by some English tourist roped into selling something and managed to practice some awareness tactics from my self protection training days.3

Upon arriving at Nomads I was pleasantly surprised by the reception decor - a mixture of funky lounge and bar, clean and professional. 

I was less impressed with the fact that the security locker they had mentioned on the website was a) the size of a shoebox b) was bring your own padlock.  That the wireless internet wasn’t complementary (though perhaps I was confused with the Convention Venue) was a bit of a downer too.

I had chosen an 8 berth suite and upon arriving in my room discovered it full and smelling of wet socks.  I sat on what looked like the only free bed and pondered my predicament – having to repack all my valuables into the bag that I would carry with me all the time. 

I would have to chance the possibility that there wasn’t a person around with a fetish for bonds underwear and leave my clothing case at the mercy of my room mates.

Upon pulling back the covers in an attempt to rest my eyes and rid myself of a troublesome headache, I discovered a dainty pile of nicely folded pink sleepwear. It appeared  Goldilocks was sleeping in my bed.  I traipsed downstairs (via the lift) and informed them that the Inn was full.

The receptionist ( who still strikes me as the splitting image of some Eastern European actress) investigated and I was shifted to another room.  Here I must comment on the exceptional customer service, not to be expected from hotel staff let alone backpackers working for a few extra quid.

My new room, a 6 berth suite was largely unoccupied apart from Stu an English backpacker with whom I shared my only conversation with room mates for the entire time I was there.

It was still quite early and leaving my Bonds behind I ventured out into the city, hoping to catch a viewing of Prometheus before heading up to the convention site to test the walking time.

The walk it turns out was more interesting than the movie.  For a good summary of Ridley Scott’s tribute to pissing on sci-fi go here.

On reaching the Rydges I found the bar, Cat Sparks, Jonathan Strahan, Kaaron Warren and Margo Lanagan, though it’s possible that I am conflating days and one or two of those people weren’t there yet - I was tired and may have had some Port.

Nonetheless I felt at home.  That is until the hotel began their ruthless emptying of the bar at 11pm, a trend that was, along with chronic understaffing, to continue for the whole of the convention.

I returned home to a darkened room.  Stu seemed to have found a companion for the evening and I flopped into bed pleased that the bar downstairs was quiet.  The paper thin pillow and the light from yonder building through conspired to give me a rather restless night.

Not to be outdone by Thursday, Friday offered up the start of the convention and a bevvy of Nude Cyclists braving Lygon Street.  But more of that later.

1. First the plane was delayed, then cancelled.  Another 4 planes left for Adelaide before they were able to fit me on one. My wife had already left the homestead for the 2.5 hour trip to come and collect me.  So in the end she ended up with a 5 hour wait and me 10 .  I began to gain an appreciation of Tom  Hanks’ character in The Terminal.  

2.Note this who evr runs the transport system.  Issues with your travel system are so wide spread that some travellers will forgo using it just to avoid the hassle

3. Sort of like Mindful ignoring or deflection of her manipulative attempts at emotional manipulation

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Book depository to stop selling eBooks

I received an email from The Book Depository this morning informing me of their decision to cease selling and supporting commercial ebooks.

We are contacting you in relation to your eBook purchase BDG-950-2683314940 for Die Trying which was purchased on 25/09/2010.

The Book Depository has come to the decision to cease selling eBooks, as we feel that the customer experience we were able to offer was not as good as it should have been. This is partially driven by complexity in format and the number of differing devices, which we found often led to customer frustration. We will instead focus on adding more new books to our, already 8 million strong, title selection.

We have spotted that you still have 2 download(s) remaining. Each eBook purchased will have 3 downloads allotted.

If you wish to use the remaining downloads, we ask that you do so by the 30th June 2012. It will not be possible to download purchased eBooks from the Book Depository sites after this date.


It’s these sort of decisions that reinforce to me the need to be able to store and backup files in a number of formats ( imagine their service wasn’t one that allowed you to store your own copies).  Nothing is forever, and companies change direction all the time.

It’s why I applaud publishers that have decided to remove DRM. That long overdue (and largely redundant) decision allows me to move and convert file formats with relative ease.  In the end only I can be relied upon to look after and store the books that I own, just like my paper book library.

I am a big fan of Comixology and their guided view app for comics.  They would have a couple of hundred dollars from me in comics if I wasn’t wary of the fact that at a moments notice I could lose access to some or all of the comics I have purchased from them, so tightly wrapped in DRM is their selection.


Does not having access to an ebook file to archive yourself worry you? Am I just old fashioned? Where do you think ebooks might go? Subscription based services? Do you buy the excuse that TBD gives above?

Jun 13, 2012

Tara Sharp Series Optioned

This rather excellent news popped into my inbox this morning. 

Award-winning Aussie Creators Go Psychic

Sharp-Turn_web-200x306Hoodlum Entertainment and author, Marianne Delacourt, team up to bring sass and murder our TV screens.

Step aside The Mentalist and Lie to Me, there’s a new psychic in town and she’s home-grown. Meet Tara Sharp, an unemployed, twenty-something with a gift for reading auras and body language. Add a dose of dangerous clients and a bunch of oddball friends and you have the ingredients for a first rate comic mystery television series.

Bestselling, award-winning author Marianne Delacourt and award-winning multiplatform production company Hoodlum, today announced the option of Delacourt’s Tara Sharp series published by Allen and Unwin.

The Tara Sharp series by Australian author Marianne Delacourt (aka Marianne de Pierres) is light and sassy mystery adventure fiction with a touch of the psychic.  I reviewed Sharp Turn here.

It’s excellent news and comes on the heels of another of our writers announcing possible TV deals i.e. Sean Williams- The Crooked Letter.

Good luck Marianne - it’s a long way from Option to the TV set, but it’s still a marvellous milestone that brings that reality closer.

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Jun 7, 2012

2012 Snapshot Interview– AK Wrox

I decided to let Amanda and Kylie introduce themselves.  Humble thanks to the both of them for their time:

A.K. Wrox is variously known as Kylie Fox, Amanda Wrangles, Mum, Hey You or – most commonly – That Evil Wench.

Both halves of A.K. reside on a beautiful peninsula in southern Australia with their partners, gaggles of children and a dog or three.
Neither of them own bunnies.

  • Arrabella Candellarbra & The Questy Thing to End All Questy Things is your first book together, tell us a bit about the book and how it came about?

images (3)Arrabella is what happens when two “favourite friends” have a few drinks and decide they need to write something fun to get their creative juices flowing for their more serious work. In one such night we decided that high fantasy would be fun to write if we could double every cliché of the genre, add in some triple entendres and pay homage to all our favourite books and movies and songs.

It is, above all else, a fairy tale, very much for adults. There is, naturally, a quest, a warrior heroine, a beast master, a fairy, a wizard and every other creature one would expect to find in fantasy – and then some. The book was described by one person as the love-child of Terry Pratchett and Monty Python. Obviously, we’d never assume to put ourselves in the same category as either one but the sentiment behind it holds true.

Arrabella was a lot of fun to write and (hopefully) as much fun to read.
And we’re pretty sure it’s the first – and maybe only – book to be written entirely on a private Facebook page!

  • Looking back over you past work, what has stood out the most, what have you been proudest of?

Amanda: Two short stories spring immediately to mind. One, of course, is Persia Bloom, winner of the Scarlet Stiletto short story comp. I was very much a newbie; Persia was the first story I’d entered or submitted anywhere and winning the award was the moment the made me realise I could (maybe) actually ‘do this’ writing thing.

A hairdresser with wicked ways and special gifts, Persia is a character that arrived fully formed and has never left me. I’m looking forward to hanging out with Persia some more and giving her some novel-length adventures in the near future. The story is published in The Second Cut.

The other story is ‘Annie at the Beach’. It was written for the same competition, a year later, in the fortnight after my father died and managed a shortlisting. Although it didn’t meet with the same success as Persia (special commendation), and since been reworked from being straight crime into spec fic; it’s the story I’m most proud of. It was an extremely emotional time, which plays out in a pretty graphic manner in the story. Hopefully, I’ll find a home for Annie soon.

Kylie: For me, every time I get to type those magic words “the end” it’s my new proudest moment. Starting stories is always the easy part, there never seems to be any end to new ideas, but the sense of achievement to see a story to its conclusion is amazing.

My short story in verse “Poppies” is something I’m immensely proud of, not just because it earned me some recognition in winning the Dorothy Porter award but, more importantly, because it was a story I tried to write several times but couldn’t quite get right. I finally gave into myself and wrote it in verse, not entirely sure that I was capable of doing that, and it worked.

I’ve also completed a full-length solo novel which still astounds me. So many times I nearly gave up and killed off all my characters but I persevered and got there. And I still like my assassin, Kat Delaney, we managed to stay friends to the end! I’m hoping the sense of pride will still be there when I’ve finished reworking and editing her story.


  • I gather there is more  Arrabella in the works?  Are you working on any projects separately that you can tell us about?

Amanda: Yes, there is most definitely another Arrabella in the works to be released later this year. In fact, we’re contracted for at least another two in the series, with talk of a fourth.

In my own, separate world from Kylie (is there really one of those? An alternate universe maybe?) I’ve been working on the same novel for a couple of years now, along with numerous shorts, one of which will be published in a crime anthology this year. My novel – Morgan’s Dust - is aimed at the older end of the YA market, and the story of a girl who lives in a funeral home with a (big) difference. This one is definitely following my first love of pure Spec Fic, filled with all kinds of new beasties; a full world and mythology build. Luckily, I’ve recently had the amazing Alison Goodman mentoring me through the process as the end finally looms near.

Kylie:  As Amanda said, we’re most definitely working on the continuing saga of Arrabella and her friends and yes, we’re always working on something new of our own too.

My novel, currently titled Kataclysmic but to be renamed, starring Kat Delaney that I mentioned above, is in the redraft stage. I’m also working on a not-quite-zombie novella, a couple of short stories and a YA urban fantasy.


  • I know that both of you are very active in the Speculative Fiction scene.  What Australian works have really made you sit up and take notice?

Amanda: Ahh, do I really have to choose?

Well, of course Marianne de Pierres is big on my list of favourites. Her Night Creatures series is rich, dark and graphic – all the things I love in YA spec fic. Kirstyn McDermott’s Madigan Mine blew me away with serious word envy, the same with Alison Goodman’s EON and EONA. I’ve been a bit slow and only recently discovered Margo Lanagan; Sea Hearts is to die for. Jo Anderton, Kim Westwood, A.K. Bedford, L.L. Hannett and Karen Brooks have also left me wanting more of their work – now.

Kylie:  Amazingly enough (or not!) I totally agree with everything Amanda just said. Madigan Mine was one of the most exquisitely written books I’ve ever read – the mood that Kirstyn McDermott managed to create and maintain throughout to the book was incredible.

Alison Goodman’s Eon and Eona are absolute perfection. Marianne’s Night Creatures are deep and rich and the epitome of world building.
KA Bedford’s Time Machines Repaired While You Wait, is one of very few time-travel books that have really hit the mark for me – brilliant!
Also, Jason Nahrung, Angela Slatter, Tracie McBride, Felicity Dowker and Andrew McKiernan have really impressed me.

The anthologies, Macabre and Dead Red Heart were choc-full of wordy-goodness – not just enough to sit up and take notice but jump up from my seat cheering!


  • Two years on from Aussiecon 4,  what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?

Amanda:  Well, quite honestly, at the time of Aussiecon 4, we were absolute newbies to the scene, and attended the con purely as fans. For me, it was an experience of a lifetime, not having attended a big con before. I loved the feeling of finding so many like-minded people, and so much information to the craft in one place.

I guess so far as changes go – the Australian Spec Fic scene just gets bigger and better; it’s very exciting. We have such an amazing pool of talent in this country, and so many friendly people willing to help out and give advice to new writers.  As a reviewer, I’ve read almost exclusively Australian authors over the last couple of years, and I’m constantly blown-away by the standard of our authors.  

Kylie:  Once again, Amanda has beaten me to it but she’s absolutely right. Everything about the scene seems new to me since Aussiecon, in large part because I feel like I’m far more in touch with it now than I was then.

One of the things I’ve noticed is how much more accessible work is now – there seems to be a lot more opportunities available for Aussie SpecFic writers with anthologies and several new small presses readily publishing. Hopefully that will only continue to grow and the works of these talented people can keep finding new readerships.

kylie & mandy

Amanda Wrangles’ Bio:

Amanda Wrangles writes Speculative Fiction and Crime – usually in the same story. She grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and horror and encouraged to read under the blankets by torchlight well after the time most good children were fast asleep. These days, she tries to pretend not to notice when one of her three sons does the same thing.

Amanda was the winner of the 2009 Scarlet Stiletto short story competition with a spec fic story disguised as crime. She shortlisted in the same competition in 2010 and 2011. This year, she’s given up entering, becoming a judge instead. She reviews YA Spec Fic, paranormal crime and SciFi for author Marianne de Pierres’ various websites.

Kylie Fox’s Bio:

Kylie spends her days caring for her four younger children (and growing a fifth!) and her nights plotting murder, revenge and espionage; and creating worlds far away from her own.

Kylie always knew that she wanted to be a writer but thought that “real” authors were mythical creatures living in far-away crystalline towers. Once she discovered that authors were real people, she set to work doing the only thing she could – writing.

Kylie was the winner of the Dorothy Porter award at the 2010 Scarlet Stiletto Awards for her short story in verse, “Poppies” which is now published in the anthology, The Second Cut.

Her first novel, written with Amanda Wrangles, under the pseudonym, A.K. Wrox, is Arrabella Candellarbra and the Questy Thing to End All Questy Things, published by Clan Destine Press.

Kylie is currently rewriting a crime thriller starring Melbourne-based, kick-arse heroine and government-sanctioned assassin, Kat Delaney. She is also working on a YA paranormal novel; an apocalyptic horror novel and several short stories across genres.

In her spare time, (ha!) she manages Marianne Delacourt’s (aka Marianne de Pierres) Tara Sharp site and reviews across her other websites, along with several other online publications and sites.


This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 1st June to 8th June  and archiving them at ASif!: Australian SpecFic in Focus. You can read interviews at:

http://thebooknut.wordpress.com/tag/2012snapshot/ http://kathrynlinge.livejournal.com/tag/2012snapshot/ http://helenm.posterous.com/tag/2012snapshot http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/search/label/2012Snapshot   http://www.davidmcdonaldspage.com/tag/2012snapshot/ tansyrr.com/tansywp/tag/2012snapshot/ www.champagneandsocks.com/tag/2012snapshot/ http://randomalex.net/tag/2012snapshot/  http://jasonnahrung.com/tag/2012snapshot/                            http://mondyboy.com/?tag=2012snapshot

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