Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm drowning in books

at the moment. Wonderful books. Datlow, Link and Grant's Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. Christos Tsiolkas' Dead Europe. Neal Stephenson's Anathem, and now, Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Book One: Shadow and Betrayal.* It really is wonderful, perhaps the best fantasy novel I've read in years. This is the real deal, marvelous world building pared with a fine sense of character and evocative prose. If you haven't heard of it, I urge you to find yourself a copy now.

Every time I despair of finding a new fantasy to read something comes along and makes me realize that there are people out there still producing, original and passionate fiction. Paul Park was the last to do this for me, now Daniel Abraham has been added to my list of fabulists whose work I will hunt down until my eyes stop working and my heart beats out its last. His stuff is really that good.

*which was published in the US as: A Shadow in Summer

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So, you're supposed to be editing your novella, say

and you get your hands on a copy of Neil Gaiman's the Graveyard Book, and well, that's that day wiped out. The book is a delight, an absolute delight, the most comfort of comfort reads with just enough sting to it - well, more than enough sting because, as in most of Gaiman's fiction, it's wrapped around a moment of terrible brutality, that is dealt with quickly*, but resonates throughout the whole novel so that the stakes (even when we're not quite sure exactly what they are) are always high.

Like I said to Angela Slatter:* It was very sweet and sad, like coming to the end of a block of chocolate that you'd convinced yourself was going to last forever, even though you knew it wasn't.

Go out and buy yourself a copy.

While, I'm being all bossy, check out Chris Currie's blog Furious Horses. Chris is a writer that is going to go a long way***. His work is at once tender and ridiculous and all things in between, which is to say very good. And every day there is a new story up, and if I was half as fecund, I'd be very pleased indeed.

So, I better get back to that Novella

*I'm in such a name droppy mood today. Well, she's such a great writer, and if you haven't read her wonderful story the Jacaranda Wife in Dreaming Again, then you should go out and buy yourself a copy now, even if it means missing out on a couple of meals.

**Anansi Boys had a similar moment, that, unexpectedly, turned my stomach, and happened at about midpoint, this one starts with it, well, the immediate aftermath.

***How condescending is that, but give a jealous older writer his comforts, eh.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Red Pen Week

It's red pen week at Casa Nomicon. I'm working through the draft of Iron Temple, filling index cards, writing in margins - sadly, lots and lots of question marks and scrawly notes demanding "To What Purpose?". There's only a month to go, and there's still plot holes that I could drive a truck through - but it will come together.

It's one thing selling a story, it's altogether a different proposition when you're writing something that is going to share space with Margo Lanagan, Terry Dowling, Cat Sparks, Paul Haines, and Louise Katz. You don't want to be the one that writes something that sucks, or, even worse, is just okay.

It's more than a little scary.

Back to the red pen.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Spent the weekend on the Goldcoast Hinterland in a place called Springbrook. It was my sister's wedding. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and my little nephew Taj was as cute as a button*.

Everyone had a great time - truly one of the best weddings I've been to, and no, I didn't drink too much.

Woke up this morning to mist sliding into the valley, and ducklings trundling across the lawn, and not a hangover in sight.

*one of those really cute buttons.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Clockwork Up At Pseudopod

My story Clockwork is live at Pseudopod.

This is a story I'm exceedingly fond of. It was harder in the writing than I want to say, and helped me work through a few issues that I had at the time - it was also first published in the Vision anthology Glimpses*, and received an honorable mention in that year's Aurealis Award, which is cool, but the main thing is, well, I reckon I grew up a little bit in the writing of it. And, if it seems a slightly awkward child now, that's what happens when you add time to the mix - appropriate, I suppose, considering the title.

Let me know what you think.

And a big thanks to Ben Phillips, who I know was a bit worried about pronunciations - and is actively seeking a Australian vocal talent, if you're interested - Australian pronunciations are hard enough for Australians, just how many of you know how to pronounce Coraki or Indooroopilly?

*another debt I owe that wonderful Brisbane writer's group.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Science Fiction Sunday at Avid Reader

Avid Reader Bookshop
in association with
Science Fiction Sunday Productions
The Show Ain't Over Till The Fat Lady Has Her Face Sucked Off By A
Seven Foot, Nine Tentacled Alien Terror From Beyond - A Space Opera.
Join Trent Jamieson and Paul Landymore as they take you on a gut wrenching, breath shortening, eye widening, mind boggling journey to the edges of the universe and beyond in the company of Ian M. Banks, Peter F. Hamilton, Ken MacLeod, Alistair Reynolds, Marianne de Pierres, Sean Williams et al. The Deep Space Cruiser
Fanciful Idea departs 5:00 pm, Sunday 23rd November.
This should be a fun hour or so at Avid, you'll get to hear us natter on about our favourite Space Opera authors, cover a bit of this grand old lady's history, and maybe even discuss "New Space Opera". Hopefully we'll get a bit of a discussion going. Ever since I read Foundation as a wee nip I've loved Space Opera, and I'm very lucky to count two of it's finest practitioners as friends - well, I'm not so sure about Sean, since Diana and I nearly killed him giving him a lift to his hotel a few months back, but that one way street leaped up out of nowhere, honest!
Paul Landymore is an extremely knowledgeable bookseller, and SF fan, and, hey, I'm writing a Space Opera novella right now - I promise, Keith, I really am. So if you're in Brisbane and want to come along please call Avid Reader Bookshop on 3846 3422, We'd love to see you there.
And, if the response is good, this should be the first of many monthly SF Sundays (we'll be covering Fantasy as well, I think*) with future topics including Cyberpunk, books with talking cats, and humorous stories about hats, well, definitely Cyberpunk anyway.
*I'd love to do one on Lud-in-the-Mist and it's descendants for instance, oh and the New Sword and Sorcery, and the New Weird**)
**Is there anything that isn't New these days?
If you're wondering about the hashes, it seems that this is the only way Blogger will let me separate paragraphs.

Ziggy Hunts the Flea

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Raining

outside and I have a copy of Anathem. Time to go to bed and read.


the US has (will have) itself a new President. What a cracker of a speech, eh.

Something Like Regular Programming

Marking is done. Stories are being written.


Waves crashing, and a distant, coughing machine, that he recognised at last as his own lungs. He dragged himself out of the water and saw, he didn't know what he saw, but it loomed over him, and funny, but the first thing that he thought was: predatory indigene.
The second: Well, that's it, I'm dead.
He'd been thinking that a lot lately.
Only he wasn't.

He'd been sailing, touring the archipelago when the plague surfaced. And that was the best way to describe it, it had bubbled out of his flesh, like the Mantacorns he seen lift out of the water.
Plague, God alone knew how. He'd had all the injections. Captain Quinn had assured him, after taking a little of his blood, that appropriate measures were being taken. They'd stripped his bed, burnt the linen, then thrown him overboard. Appropriate measures.



People were always making dust, and dust was always being converted. Thinking matter continued now much longer than it ever had: no more the slow rise from dumb to smart (by way of absorption into co-operative cellular masses, sentient and scheming) then back again. A flake of dandruff could become a soldier, grow tiny legs, burn tiny engines lay waste to tiny kingdoms. The employment opportunities for retired matter were nearly endless. From dust to dust was never truer.

Walking back to his rooms, sore and smiling. Jack ran into a rogue advertisement. It mumbled at him. Suggested brands long forgotten by all but the most nostalgic.

He ignored it. And its cries grew more plaintive. It grabbed at him with desperate rubber-coated fingers, hard where the rubber had worn away. He pushed the hands from him.

"Mondo Tethys Gum is the best. Chew it. Chew it. Please."

The air filled with a dry sweet smell, more sickening than enticement.

Why did advertisers never switch these things off? He knew the answer to that. When companies fell in Iron Temple, they fell hard.

Its cries drew more advertisements. Slice of life mechanicals, Endorsers, Placardinators. They followed him down the streets, crying, reaching out, sharing, giving in confidence information. Jack could have shot them. There was no law against that. In some suburbs of the city, they were hunted for sport in great advertorial culls. Still he couldn't. He felt sorry for them.
Jack wondered what it was like to wander endlessly, chased by the closing Outage, and never selling a thing.

He started into a jog. By the next street corner, all but the most tenacious advertisements had fallen away. A few more streets and it was just him.

He slowed to a walk, not far from his room. The street empty again, though he knew things watched him. Dust motes curious.

Behind him gunshots sounded. A cull had begun. Final sales put to rest. Whatever happiness a night of fucking had given him fled.