Monday, July 31, 2006

Family Trade

Moving on, I’m now reading Charles Stross’ “The Family Trade”.

Interesting seeing him play in the fantasy sandpit*. I really dug “Iron Sunrise” and his short fiction has always been infodensely entertaining, and just plain fun, but I wasn’t sure how “The Family Trade” would work. It unashamedly wears its influences on its sleeve and such good influences they are. Going by the few chapters I’ve read so far if you’re a fan of Zelazy’s Amber Books you’re going to like this.

Wishing I was getting down to Continuum, but I’m not.


*But not surprising, Charles Stross likes his multiple streams of sandpits.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

David Gemmell & Dad

David Gemmell is very much an author of my young adult years, his early books, Legend, Waylander and King Beyond the Gate are perhaps my favourites. My signed copy of the later sits rather proudly on my bookcase. He was the master of the perfectly paced heroic fantasy, and if some of his books didn’t work as well as others, they were always entertaining.

David Gemmell was one of the few authors that my Dad and I shared in common. The moment I'd heard that David had died I called dad - they're of similar ages, and I can’t think of David Gemmell’s work without thinking of dad.

I met David once at a signing quite a few years back. He was touring the country with Terry Pratchett, and a bigger height disparity you couldn't imagine. David Gemmell was very tall, Terry Pratchett very short (on the other hand David Gemmell’s signing queues were pretty good, but Terry's stretched for miles). I was there to get my copy of King Beyond the Gate signed and to get a copy signed for my dad. I handed my books over, and, as usual when I go all fanboyish, my mind blanked and I mumbled something about his books being one of the few things dad and I had in common.

David smiled and told me about his dad, and how he hadn’t had that much in common with him, but that it didn’t really matter in the end. Well, it was something like that.

I’ll miss seeing his new books on the shelves at work, and I’ll miss buying them for my dad.





* though I really liked Knights of Dark Renown – kind of the seven samurai with vampires and knights.

Vale David Gemmell

From Locus Online:

UK fantasy writer David Gemmell, born 1948, died this morning at his home, a week following quadruple heart bypass surgery. Gemmel was the author of over 30 novels, including Legend (1984), first in the long-running Drenai series, and numerous other books in the Slipstrassi, Hawk Queen, and Rigante sequences.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Silver Road

I have just finished reading one of the most wonderful books I have read in a very long time.

What's more it was written by a friend. I am also launching the book in Brisbane - the Brisbane launch, as it is also being launched next weekend at Continuum, in August 22 - and, having read it, I am feeling extremely pleased, extremely honoured and just plain proud to be connected with this book in even such a tenuous fashion.

The book in question is Grace Dugan’s “The Silver Road”. It’s out now.

You should buy it.

Being a bookseller (and a person who likes to say this book is like… ) it draws more than favourable comparison with one of my favourite books, Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana” and I can say this quite happily having only read “Tigana” again a few months ago. They have similar concerns, but, dare I say it, Grace’s characterisation is more subtle, she has breathed life into her characters and given them the ability to etch themselves into your memory.

It’s a rich and glorious book, and much more than one should expect from a first novel. Even though we do, these days, don’t we.

I’m going to write about this book at length, but not now – it’s still a little too fresh, and I’ve drunk perhaps a glass too much wine.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In a world where anything is possible

Ads generally annoy me, the logic of ads, and all those white teeth, but one ad caught my attention today.

It's for that new film "The Lakehouse" which is a remake of a Korean film, I believe, which is neither here nor there, because I'm whinging about the ad, not the film, which I doubt I'll ever watch. The ad has a voice over which goes roughly "In a world where anything is possible, could a man from the future love a woman from the past?"

Well, yes.

In a world where anything is possible, anything is possible.

In that particular world I am emperor of the universe, and so is everyone else, and my pets (one of which is a dinosaur*) can talk, and I have a giant robot, and so on**, because in that world, anything is possible.

We even get entertaining advertising.


*forget about one dinosaur, I've got a million dinosaurs, make that a trillion - and I know all their names.

**including that I'm Tarzan's grandson, and that all the books that I love in this world I wrote, during the first week of my year 11 summer holidays, and this blog is actually really interesting.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What a wonderful sort of weekend.

I rarely have such serene weekends*. It consisted of hanging out with the lovely d, wine, walking, writing, and wanking on about music, and other bloggerly stuff. My left leg, which had me a virtual cripple two weeks ago, is now completely better - I walked four kilometres today, not counting a quick trip down to the shop, without even a twinge.

I love walking, and not being able to walk down to the train or for a coffee at more than a limping crawl was beginning to depress me terribly.

It’s also a lot easier to write when you’re not in pain; writing when your body isn’t functioning well sucks.



*which isn’t to say that my weekends are usually crammed with excitement, just that they’re rarely as blissfully relaxing.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Music - a slight wank

I've had the best year music-wise. Just as in my reading I've been utterly spoilt by the albums I've bought this year. Everything has engaged me.

Shearwater's Palo Santo is still the stand out of all the things I've bought this year. It's stood up to a month and a bit of listening and is as radiant and mysterious an album as ever.

I'm totally getting into the new Thom Yorke album Eraser. At first I thought, well it's just another Radiohead album but without the depth. And it kind of is, but that's what makes it so good. There's a lot more going on there, stuff that I don't think I can capture without sounding like an absolute wanker.

Also liking the new Dresden Doll's album Yes Virginia... bought tickets to see them play in September should be good.

Though I suspect it's going to be overshadowed by Okkervil River, also playing September. I can't stress enough how good these guys are.

Oh, and there's a new Crystal Skulls album. Their last album Blocked Numbers was a laidback lounge rock delight. Worth buying for the song "Hussy" bloody excellent.

Yup, and then there was the new Augie March - Moo You Bloody Choir.

Been totally spoilt I reckon.

Tumble and Golf Courses of the Old West

It's been an extremely quiet year for me on the short story front. Not a bad writing as a sort of career year, hey, I sold my first kid's book - contract finally signed, thank you - published my first book of short stories, and won an Aurealis Award, none-of-which suck. But the shorts haven't exactly been coming that quickly, though I'm happy with what I'm writing almost none of it is ready for publication. 2007 should be good, and, even if it isn't, and, as frustrating as that can be, I'm enjoying the process, the act of writing what I'm writing, everything else is just icing on the writing cake.

Anyway adding to my list of nice things that have come from stuff already published one of my stories made the ASIF recommended reading list.

ASIF is an Australian SF review site. Very much worth checking out if you want to get an idea of what's going on in Australian SF. (And check out the discussion forum, Cat Sparks is the featured editor - very interesting, but Cat's always interesting and entertaining, and too damn talented.) Mix it with Tansy Rayner Robert’s , Jonathan Strahan's and Ben Peek's blogs and you've got a very nice overview - all thoughtful and far more erudite views on writing (and other stuff) if that's your bag.

Anyway, the story "Tumble" (you can check it out here *)is one of my favourites so it was good to see that at least a couple of other people had read it, and liked it.

I totally dig Leone westerns, and it's sort of a western. I like the terse patter, the guns, and the long shadows. When I was editing K.J. Bishop's "The Etched City" one of the things I loved about that book (actually what wasn't there to love about it?) were the opening scenes set in the Copper Country. Few books have ever captured that sense of the West - but a west viewed through the lens of Sergio Leone - so well.

Getting back to my story - it's my blog, and I can brag if I want to - "Tumble" is also the only story I've ever set in Gunnedah - well, a fantasy Gunnedah, with a fantasy golf course hotel. My dad, who is also a dead keen fan of Westerns, loves his golf, so we never lived far from the golf course. That golf course was a big part of my childhood. I liked the dams it contained, the curious swans and geese, its quiet darkness. It always seemed to be waiting for something, a particular moment perhaps, when it might rise up in a cloud of drowned golf balls and angry geese and go shuffling off into the dry land beyond the town. Never did.

I guess it’s still waiting.


*just ignore my lame-arse introduction, I hate those things.

Enchanting

I live in an enchanting writerly sort of life – engaged in a sort of fervid and thunderous battle against the terrible silence of the world, as well as all manner of enchanting writerly stuff. I know you all read this blog ( well my mum does, hi mum) and think, how wonderful, I wish I could write such an enchanting and interesting blog.

Well, let me share my secret,the wellspring of all this enchantment.

This aloe vera plant lifts its mighty and succulent leaves at the front of our house. A magical pixie lives at the base of the plant.

Enchanting.



The little pixie often eats these berries.




Enchanting.

Unfortunately the berries are toxic, so he frequently gets lost on his way home, and ends up here.




It’s the magical and enchanting reverse-cycle air-conditioner under our living room. You can see the pixie’s shadow here.



Yes, the magic is alive. Enchanting, you could say.

Most fridays I sit with the little fellow, discussing the nature of narrative and the australian sf writing scene, and eat some of the magical berries, too. Then, I go up to my desk, this is what it looks like after a couple of berries.




Bloody enchanting.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Graph's are Math

I've discovered that I am extremely crap at writing synopses. This is disappointing. I like to think that I'm good, well, at least passable at most things - except mathematics, oh, and most sports, and mathematics. Synopses must, in part, be mathematical. Well, everything is math, to a degree, and I think my skill level exists on a level proportionate to the mathematical nature of the task.






Now this is a very badly constructed graph, but that makes sense, because graphs are math.


And how bad is "Neighbours" lately - well, it's always been bad, but lately I can hear the bad acting from the other room.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Is "The Chronicles of Riddick" the worst SF Movie ever?

I finally got around to watching "The Chronicles of Riddick" tonight, yeah, so it takes me two years to get around to watching a movie - hey, I only saw Casablanca a couple of years ago.

The bad SF movie bar was set for me by "Mission to Mars", tonight it may have dropped a couple of rungs. "The Chronicles of Riddick" just made no sense. It looked sort of pretty in that, well, lets design our sets in a kind of art nouveau sort of style that has been mined ad nauseam in SF movies since, well, the nineteen thirties. But pretty is not enough.

Now, I understand that action SF movies have (in the main, but not always, because there are always exceptions) degenerated to set pieces linked by the most tenuous of logic, but even still, this movie sucked. I’m not even going to bother with arguing with the movie’s logic or breaking down the plot, it would be like breaking down the plot of a brick, only a brick with less structural integrity than your usual sort of brick, maybe a brick designed by a bunch of studio execs after they’ve been up all night snorting coke – leavened with a generous helping of talcum powder.

This movie made “Aeon Flux” look classy.

And what's worse is that I really liked "Pitch Black".

What's this?

Why, I believe it's rain.

I have a cluttered, er, functional office, but this is where I write most weekends.

Well, more precisely, here.

Not today though. Gotta love the rain.

Also received the most glowing review I have ever had in my life. Check out the Courier Mail, if you can, or want to. Thanks, Jason.

My little, but apotropaic, book is now on sale at Pulp Fiction, too. Which is very cool. Ever since I stumbled upon that shop, many years ago, it's been a dream of mine to have a book there. And now I do. Still don't believe it, but I do.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Today

was unseasonably hot. Too hot.

I have a cold.

My wife has a cold. And the city has a fever.

Miserable, and on my way home from work, I bought the new Thom Yorke album - on first listen it's a prickly thing, but I suspect it will grow on me.

I am reading a gorgeous book. That's all I am going to say for now. Other than I'm loving it - yet another novel to be enthusiastic about in this blessed for trent reading year. The writing is wonderful. And, well, that's all I'm going to say. For now.

Blogs need mystery.

Where have I been?

I have sat in the dark.

I have crouched upon the precipice of the world above the world, where the winds are snatchful and ice-fingered, and regarded the world beneath the world above.

I have craned my neck, looked up and up, at the great peristaltic innards of the snake god what swallowed the world.

I have hidden in a fortress of matchsticks and whispered, in the midst of all that brittle creaking possibility of flame, and no-one heard me.

I have pushed the shopping trolleys of the night and found that none of their wheels please me.

I have watched a girl with a talking knife bury her mother, then bury another by a lake called December.

I have removed the stickers from books, and though they begged, their whiny bookish voices irritating even as they offered me the world, I boxed them up and sent them away to the dark warehouses of the Books that Do Not Sell (even if they ought).

I have sat and written this blog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Post Wedding

Well, the wedding was lovely. The reception, in a really cool restaurant in the middle of the Botanical Gardens, was grand. Both Jaqui and Tim looked extremely relaxed, and very happy. Definitely the most chilled out wedding I've been to, lots of champagne, brief but very entertaining speeches, and a couple in love.

Diana was the official photographer, so not as relaxing for her, but she loves bossing people about - she's a primary school teacher after all - so she was in her element.

Yes, it was a wonderful day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

And, regarding Hugh Cook...

my brother Travis directed me to Hugh's blog which directed me to this webpage. Check it out.

Thanks, Travis. You were holding out on me, bro. I would have appreciated this much sooner.

Also, fellow ROR writer, Maxine Mcarthur has a new webpage. It's very pretty, and it's here.

On the ROR front it looks like we're getting together in March or April next year, which means I have to write a new novel by then. Well, by the end of the year. Yup, easy. I'd write three novels just to hang out with Team ROR. And, since I've been sitting on three novels I think I might.*


*Okay this is just me trying to be a big man, but when you're the least successful member of such a wonderful group you have to talk the talk

Word to the J & T

A big word to my sister-in-law to be Jaqui, soon to marry Diana's brother Tim. And when I say soon I mean Saturday. Welcome to the family, Jaqui*. This is the first family wedding I've been to, Diana and I have shared a few funerals (and our own wedding, of course, which was not at all funereal), but to actually see two people who I care about so much tie the knot is going to be very cool indeed.

And on a similar note, my best friend Jodi is on her honeymoon - it only took her and hubby Pete 12 months, but they're there. I hope you're having fun over in Paris etc.


*Not that you weren't family already in all but name.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Carnies - get yours today

I finished "Carnies" today, and it entertained me from start to finish. Thematically it is very similar to "Anansi Boys" - it's about family, particularly brothers and their relationship with their father - it's also similarly paced, though much darker. It's wonderful, old school horror - if your old school is 7o's horror, as opposed to say early 30's weirdness.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Martin writes next. Until then I'll just have to make do with his short fiction.

Everybody needs a nice dose of horror in their diet. Get out there and get yours today.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Quiet and Cook

It's been a quiet few days. Very quiet. Maybe too quiet.

And it looks like quiet is on the horizon.

I've been thinking about Hugh Cook. He wrote a fantasy series called "Chronicles of an Age of Darkness". The ten books that made up the series were a little patchy in places, but it still sets the benchmark for fantasy series for me. It rambled all over the place, and he wasn't frightened to kill his characters, and even when it was about quests and all the appurtenances of modern fantasy it wasn't.

They were pretty damn good books.

Then Hugh Cook disappeared.

Well, not completely, he wrote a bunch of interesting horror shorts, published in small press magazines a few years ago, but I've not seen anything lately.

Those ten books appeared to kill his career.

Damn shame because they were pretty damn good. The books teemed, part dying earth, part space opera, part quest fantasy, part comedy, part historical diatribe. They were playful and dark. They obviously didn't sell.

My favourite of the series is called "The Walrus and the Warwolf" it's a coming of age tale that also explores religious fervour, love, the end of the world, and pirates. It's bloody excellent.