Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jon Courtney Grimwood on Parrish’s Patch

Marianne de Pierre periodically hosts authors on her message board, and, starting from tomorrow night, and for the next few nights you can ask the excellent SF author Jon Courtney Grimwood all manner of writerly and readerly questions.

I must admit that I hadn't actually read any JCG until this last week. Now all I can say is, how cool is Ashraf Bey?*

*Well, he really is a very charming character, of course I can say more than that, how else did I order my lunch today?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

snapshot snapped or something

My interview's up here and here, which is cool. What's far cooler are the other interviews, and a chance to see what everyone else is up to. And I still think my biggest success in the last decade or so was marrying Diana.

Congrats are also in order, Margo's collection Red Spikes is up for a World Fantasy Award, fingers crossed, Margo.

Oh, and I've just added Sean Williams Saturn Returns to my reading pile, and I don't know what Cat Sparks is writing, but I can't wait till she finishes, finds a publisher and I can get my hands on a copy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Chris Willrich's "A Wizard of the Old School"

About a year ago I mentioned having read a fine story by Chris Willrich called "Penultima Thule", well I bought the August Fantasy & Science Fiction today, and have just finished a new Willrich tale "A Wizard of the Old School" a sequel of sorts to the last story and a very welcome one indeed. If you are at all a fan of Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tales you'll get a kick out of Willrich's Gaunt and Bone stories, they're funny and melancholy, perhaps closer in tone to one of my favourite fantasy shorts Peter S. Beagle's "Lal and Soukyan"*.

Definitely worth hunting down for a taste of old school sword and sorcery fuelled by new school wit or something like that anyway.

*You can find that particular novella in P.S.Beagle's excellent collection "Giant Bones".**

**My favourite Leiber short is "Adept's Gambit" the original and still the best, ah but I love those Nehwon rogues.

Australian 2007 Snapshot

Carrying on Ben Peek's snapshot legacy, you can check out the current state of the Australian SF scene here.

And they'll all be archived here over the next week, including my somewhat less than insightful answers to Mr Payne's questions.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Astronaut Coughs: Damages Shuttle Heat Shield

I'm glad they're retiring these soon. Still I remember building a model "Enterprise" when I was a wee nip, and watching the first launch of Columbia on telly. Back then the Space Shuttles were the spaceship of the future, who'd have thought we'd be still using them now.

Stuff on the Horizon, and Two Pieces of Rope

Things have been a bit quiet in Trentsville, Qld. Not been a Trent story out in a while, and last year only saw two stories Marco's Tooth and Persuasion, the latter read by about three people. But things should change soon, I've made a few sales this year - none of which have been formally anounced so I'm going to not mention them yet, because I'm terribly superstitious - all of which I am extremely proud of.

Then there's The City and the Stony Stars my first kids' novel, and part of the Lost Shimmaron series, coming out next year. Don't forget to buy a copy in May 2008, it has not just one giant iron crow, but two, people, count them, two*. I also have an article on writing and anxiety out next month in the Writing Qld, which is something dear to my heart.

And I'm writing like a demon (which is kind of messy, things get stuck under my claws, but productive) I'm a third of the way through a pretty neat new novel - set in Brisbane and let's just say in that book, Brisbane isn't Australia's most liveable (heh, heh) city - have a rough first draft of an odd and somewhat bloody fantasy novel set in a wooden continent floating on Jupiter's red spot, which when I have another couple of months distance from it I think I can shape into something quite good, and have so many shorts nearing completion that I'm starting to lose track, not to mention the ten or so shorts I've got doing the rounds as we speak.

And then, there's the stories that I've been working on based on this. I love Woods 111, it's a thirty piece sculpture and I often go to Goma just to look at it. If you can imagine one of them floating in space, well a sort of void anyway, smudged in clouds of black predatory cranes and circled by a miniature sun, that swings so close to one side that it is uninhabitable, and so swiftly down the other face that the day is about four hours long, and the night seven**, then you have the setting for my stories about the City Vertical. Oh and at the top of the column are vast mile high trees, crawling with termites the size of beagles, and that have a tendency to topple and scrape away at the face of the city from time to time. It's pretty much a closed circuit environment, dependent on the guano from the cranes, and the miniature racing sun. This is the place I go to when I'm trying to avoid anything else, and I love it there.

Here's a bit from a new story called Rope, about a penitent who works one of the many rope-lifts that keep the industry of the city going. It's pure raw, unedited wank at the moment, but I'm having fun, and to share the wank, which after all is set on a very phallic column, I give you two pieces of rope:

It is a job of the moment. Everything is of the moment. I have seen a pigeon in flight, caught each sweep of its wings - as I worked the rope - watched it snatch a termite the size of my fist, out of the air, then, in turn, fall prey to the jabbing madness of the cranes that mark the sky like a haze or a shifting patch of black blood in otherwise shiftless water.

The woman came to me two days after the cranes devoured the pigeon, and one day after I had coiled my frayed rope aside and waited for its replacement.

"Peter," she said.

I did not recognise the name. Names are the last to go but even they are worn away, and when my time was done I would take a new name, and all the possibilities of the City Vertical, previously denied to me, would be open and unfurl like the frangipanis on the Avenue Decline. But you cannot think that way, you cannot hold the future in any regard, just the rope, or you will tumble to the haruspices so patient below -- waiting to read a different prospect in your spilled guts -- or hang yourself upon the rope itself.

"Peter, please."

I looked at her. "I do not know," I said. The words came, though it was dreadful hard to speak them, my voice a whisper: for all my strength was in my arms and my legs now. "I do not know that name."


I woke once to the gaze of a crane, flown in from the cloud of its brethren.

Its beak was mere inches from my left eye. Dark gimlet eyes regarded me with something close to irony. Cranes are clever they are certainly possessed of some Other intelligence absorbed, perhaps, in their long migration from wherever it is they breed and nest, because they are neither indigenous to Fall nor the City Vertical.

They descend out of the rubicund sky, their wings perfectly black. And they descend with a hungry cunning. The native birds, the sparrows and the currawongs are swift to get out of their way, to hide in the trees of the few unshattered boulevards, and peer out as hunted things peer, fearful.

I could feel its breath, and on its beak edge remained the hint of recent butchery, and I knew it could blind me in one darting movement. But it did not, merely dipped its head, as though to say it understood, that some revelation was drawing near, then it moved with steady, fearless grace around and away, over the lip of my station, its black wings extended. It dropped and glided from me, and I watched with the eyes that it had spared and felt relief. It is not uncommon to be blinded by the cranes. Some see it as a blessing. I am not so foolish.

*But only one frozen world inhabited by monsters and mad Godlings.
**And who can't imagine that.

The Weekend that ROR Ruled the Papers

Saturday morning is my favourite morning of the week. I go down to my local cafe, and read the Saturday papers, and drink coffee until I'm jittery. Today was a good day for the family ROR.

Marianne got a fine review in the SMH's Spectrum (no link unfortunately)

Margo got a mention in the Australian here

And we all got a Mention here. (Along with Quentaris and the extremely cool New Ceres, which if you haven't got a subscription to follow this link.)

Yup we are taking over the world. Fear us.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Greg Egan's Back, Baby.

Greg Egan's writing again. There's a new novel coming out next year. There's been some shorts most notably Glory, which is in Strahan and Dozois' "New Space Opera", and, well, you can check all out here.

I love Greg Egan's fiction. Oceanic was a bloody revelation. So too his excellent collection of shorts "Luminous" and, well, just pick any of his novels. Do it. Do it now.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Writing fiction is like building a bridge across a chasm, of unknow(able)n depth, using nothing but bits of material of dubious quality, some of which have been eaten by termites, never knowing if there is even another side to the chasm, or if the materials you've got are just going to give in half way. And sometimes you don't know if you've made it to the other side or fallen through until it's published and even then you can read it and realise that you didn't and it's out there for all the world to see*. I'd even posit that this is actually most times. But building rickety bridges is a hell of a lot of scary fun.

* well you wish it was, even when you hate it, part of you wishes it was.

no one wants to hear about your 97th tear* or week-o-Shite

Well, what a shit week.

Lots of little things, and vomit. Still queasy, but it's ended with a new *Okkervil River album: which is glorious and everything I wanted, and reminds me why I love this band. And I finished Falling Man**, six o'clock this morning, which ends most inconclusively or conclusively depending on your perspective, and it probably wasn't the best week to read such a book, or it was.

Begone week of shit I say. Begone, back into the abyss from which ye came.

**which at least is the correct title, got one title right this week.

Friday, August 03, 2007


I have never felt as sick as I did yesterday, had the total, fever, vomit, dizziness thing going. Bad enough in a quiet household. I can't tell you how much it sucks to wake up with a puppy gnawing a hole in your ear. So I'm dizzy, vomiting, with a headache that feels like my sinuses have exploded and taken out most of my brain, and I'm mopping up blood from my chewed up ear. It only got worse from there.

But I did get a great idea for a new Anthozoan story. The Anthozoans were my warlike coral creatures in Porcelain Salli. That idea was about the only thing that got me through the day. That's what writing's all about, I reckon: except for the writing bit of course.