Apr 28, 2013

Book Review – In Fabula-divino edited by Nicole Murphy


In Fabula-divino is one of those projects that seemed to fly under my radar, despite being aware of and following many of the authors, the editor and publisher of the project.  I’ll let the Editor, Nicole Murphy explain the concept in her own words:

In March 2009, author and editor Nicole Murphy began the In Fabula-divino project – the aim being to provide up-and-coming authors with their first taste of a professional editing experience, mentor them through the ups and downs of a writing career and give a leg up to some talented writers.

The first few months were crowdfunded via Indiegogo. The first four stories were turned around in just three weeks, undergoing at least three rounds of editing in that time. The later stories were edited over a two month period.

Each story was published online, available for a month here on this very website, before it was replaced by the next fabulous story.

Unfortunately, time and family health issues meant the project couldn’t continue at the standard Nicole had set….


The anthology was made available in electronic form and despite all the poor luck it had to confront getting there, a paperback version was launched over this past weekend at the Australian Natcon.

But you want to know about the stories don’t you?

I wasn’t a big fan of anthology’s or a big reader of short stories before I became a reviewer, so the last two years has been a bit of an education in reading the shorter form and getting the feel of how anthologies work and what defines a good one.  No anthology is going to be 100% everybody’s thing, it’s the nature of getting a large number of writers together and building something cohesive but that still allows individuality. 

In Fabula-divino lacks a unifying theme, but it’s a slim read so I didn’t feel that it impacted on my reading experience.  What Murphy has done is given us a sprinkling of reprints and original works (all we new to me) from well known authors of speculative fiction interspersed with some well work-shopped and edited work from new or up and coming authors.  It was a quick, satisfying read with some excellent work from new and seasoned writers alike.

From the seasoned writers, I was emotionally gutted by Kaaron Warren’s White Bed (her first published story if I’m not mistaken)- I should know by now what to expect from Kaaron, but this story is a prime example of why she picks up awards for her writing.  The second seasoned writer story that made an impact was Angela Slatter’s Dresses, Three, a fairy tale retelling.

Of the new writers SG Larner would have tied with Slatter for the story with the most emotional impact with her Regret, had the Warren not been included in the collection.  It’s a really good example of the kind of speculative fiction that easily straddles the boundary between fantasy and magical realism i.e. it would not have been out of place in a Lit Journal.

Stay Out of the Park by Janett L Grady was another story that I felt mixed emotion, horror and hope in any interesting fashion.  Finally I was kicking myself for not seeing the reveal in Holy Kench’s Zombie story, The Secret Life of a Zombie Fan, having been exposed to her unique fiction via her blog.

In Fabula-Divino is a mixed bag in the best sense of the word, a selection of good (some great) short stories, there’s no liquorice in this bag of lolliesY.


In Fabula-divino was published by eMergeant Publishing in partnership with Nicole Murphy and can be purchased through Amazon and Smashwords in electronic form. A review copy was provided for this review.

YI used to hate liquorice as a kid, and dreaded finding liquorice in bags of mixed candy.  I have come to appreciate it especially in Sambucca form.

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Book Review – Fragments of a Broken Land : Valarl Undead

fragments-of-a-broken-land-valarl-undead-a-fantasy-novel What do you get when “Australia’s Master of Dark Fantasy” sets out to write a debut adult fantasy novel?  Not Granddad's, journey through Middle Earth, that’s for sure.

I have read Robert Hood’s work before but short fiction is obviously different to the novel form, so I didn’t have any firm convictions going in – possibly the best way to approach a book really.

Other reviewers have compared Fragments of a Broken Land to that branch of the fantasy tree inhabited by Moorcock, Lieber and Vance. I know of these writers but have only ever played games that use them as a source material ( I’ll hand in my Fantasy Fan Union Card after this review).

So for the general fantasy reader, bereft of the esoteric knowledge bestowed on readers of Elric and Fafhrd what do you get? A world that is deceptively rich for one that exists only as a “solid firmament”.  Hood manages to evoke a sense of long history, a passage of time and an exoticism that doesn’t rely on orientalism.  It’s more sorcery than sword with a definite emphasis on the workings, metaphysics and consequences of manipulating “deep powers”.

In a place where no stars appear in the night sky, a group of strangers whose ancestries reach back to an earlier apocalyptic disaster are brought together to track down a resurrected corpse that might hold the key to the End of the World.

Structurally we have two stories, one that is a fairly straight forward fantasy quest, shadowed by the other which deals with the metaphysics, the unseen forces that impact on the first.  We have characters that exist in both stories and that are aware, though not always fully, of the existence of two differing realities.

Fragments of a Broken Land will take an investment of your time and attention.  This is not a book that you will want to devour.  It will exercise your brains as you hold these two storylines and attempt to figure their conclusion before the main character does.  It’s the mystery that pulls you through the book, the desire to know how Hood can pull the story, the world, together. 

Initially I found the dual storyline and the shared characters a work out, but I think the structure of the book emulates the state of confusion the main character is experiencing.  As the book progressed both I and the character seemed to get our head around things.  On reflection then, I feel the structure was well done.

Another thing I enjoyed was the use of poetry and song.  It’s a brave author that attempts these forms within a story.  Some readers will skip over them(why this is I am not sure) and  you have to have both skill and knowledge of poetic forms in addition to being able to place them in a fantasy setting and make them “sound” natural. So kudos to Hood for doing so.

Fragments of a Broken Land is a rich, thought provoking fantasy read with elements of horror.  It’s a book that requires some fantasy grounding and possibly a mature reading experience to fully enjoy ie you don’t get annoyed when things aren’t handed to you on a plate.

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Apr 27, 2013

The Ditmar Awards 2013 in tweets and pictures

Apr 24, 2013

Australian SpecFic Review 24/4/2013

Still experimenting with the Australian SpecFic Review.  Paper.li seems to do a pretty ordinary job of picking up the #ausfrev tag ie where ordinary means absolutely shite.  So at the moment I have a a column on my Tweetdeck account that captures those hashtags nicely and then I manually add to the paper.

I have notifications turned off at the moment and am sharing the paper once after I have finished collating it for the day.

I am currently only doing  a daily paper if there are enough reviews.

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Apr 22, 2013

Breaking News - Ben Peek gets six figure book deal

from John, Ben’s agent:

Australian author Ben Peek’s first epic fantasy novel and two sequels have been acquired by Julie Crisp, Editorial Director at Tor UK, in a six-figure world-rights deal with agent John Jarrold after a hard-fought auction. She set a floor, which she exercised at the end of the auction for a six-figure sum. The under-bidder was Hana Osman of Michael Joseph/Penguin UK.  The first novel, titled IMMOLATION, will be published in spring 2014.

[Read on]

Congrats Ben.

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Norma K Hemming Nominations announced:

Hemming4 The wonderful Rowena Cory Daniells brings us the glad tidings.  There are 4 authors nominated and 6 books.  They are in no particular order:

The Norma K Hemming Award :

marks excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability:

  • in the form of science fiction and fantasy or related artwork or media.

  • produced either in Australia or by Australian citizens.

  • first published, released or presented in the calendar year preceding the year in which the award is given.


I have read 4 of the above titles and concur with the judges selections.  I haven’t read the Jo Spurrier (it’s in my non reviewing TBR pile) but I have heard some very good things.  I would have been severely (yes severely) perturbed if Rowena hadn’t made the list because there’s a whole lot of gender commentary wrapped up in some of the best gritty dark fantasy on the market.

For judges comments you can go here.

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Apr 17, 2013

2012 Chronos Award Nominees and Ballot

Now for those of you unschooled in the ways if Australian Speculative Fiction awards, it’s nearly time for the Chronos Awards.  The Continuum Foundation(who ran a tip top national convention last year) has proudly announced this year’s ballot for the Chronos Awards for excellence in Victorian Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror in 2012.

Victorian fiction being the State of Victoria, Australia, not Victorian as in Steampunk.  So some of those nominated below appear on national awards and there are other who don’t.   It's nice to sometimes see good work that may have been missed.

I even get a guernsey.


Best Long Fiction

Bread and Circuses by Felicity Dowker (Ticonderoga Publications)

Salvage by Jason Nahrung (Twelfth Planet Press)

Walking Shadows by Narrelle M. Harris (Clan Destine Press)

Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)

Dyson’s Drop by Paul Collins (Ford Street Publishing)



Must get Bread and Circuses.  I can remember Felicity Dowker being interviewed about it early in the first season of Writer and the Critic. Salvage by Nahrung, nominated for national awards, this is a good novel/novella even Mrs Blogonaut loved it.  Walking Shadows, is staring daggers at me from the shelf.  And well I … yep moving on



Best Short Fiction

“Five Ways to Start a War” by Sue Bursztynski in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

“The Mornington Ride” by Jason Nahrung in Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

“Nematalien” by LynC in The Narratorium, edited by David Grigg

“Fireflies” by Steve Cameron in Epilogue (FableCroft Publishing)

“The D_d” by Adam Browne in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)


I fare subtly better in this category.  Owning 4 of the stories.  All good, but my favourites are the Nahrung and the Bursztynski. 



Best Fan Writer

Alexandra Pierce – good reviewer and commentator

Jason Nahrung – great reviews, music as well as the Specfic scene (bastard’s a good writer too)

Nalini Haynes - tireless content provider of reviews & geek culture- often provides audio and video interviews with local and international stars.

Bruce Gillespie – an institution :D

Grant Watson – intelligent commentator on film, Dr Who, and speculative fiction in general

Steve Cameron – Good writer, sadly have not chanced upon his fan writing.



See above


Best Fan Written Work

Reviewing New Who series by David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely


A worthy nomination.  But sad the category has no other competition.


Best Fan Artist

Dick Jenssen


A worthy nomination.  But sad the category has no other competition.


Best Fan Artwork

“The Entellechy” by Dick Jenssen, cover art for Interstellar Ramjet Scoop for ANZAPA 267 edited by Bill Wright


A worthy nomination.  But sad the category has no other competition.


Best Fan Publication

Dark Matter Fanzine (www.darkmatterfanzine.com), by Nalini Hayes

SF Commentary, (http://efanzines.com/SFC/) edited by Bruce Gillespie

Viewing Clutter, DVD and Blu-ray reviews blog (http://georgeivanoff.com.au/other-writing/reviews/viewing-clutter/), by George Ivanoff


On content and visible effort Dark Matter should take this one out.


Best Achievement

Continuum 8: Craftonomicon (51st Australian National SF Convention) Program by Julia Svaganovic, Emma Hespa Mann, and Caitlin Noble

“Snapshot 2012″ by Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright


I took me about five days to realise I was nominated in this category.  Like I said I’m sometimes a bit slow.  That being said Continuum 8, the last Natcon, was a blast.  I think despite the mammoth effort that was Snapshot 2012, the programming of Continuum 8 I wouldn’t attempt if you paid me.  I reckon it will go to them.



Best Artwork

The award for Best Artwork is not being presented due to insufficient nominations being received.


Victoria is one of our larger states, so its a bit sad to see this category and others bordering on empty

Book Review - River of Bones by Jodi Cleghorn

river River of Bones was previously published by the Australian Review of Fiction under the title of Elyora, the name of the town featured in the novella.  I read it back in January and by a stroke of good fortune happened to read Dr Lisa L Hannett’s article, Wide Open Fear: Australian Horror and Gothic Fiction at the same time.  Hannett introduced me to the concept of unheimlich, a term that roughly translates to an object, situation or place that has a quality of being familiar yet foreign at the same time.

The term describes River of Bones perfectly.  The setting is familiar, yet strange and Cleghorn presents a story that straddles the borderline between the everyday, the mundane and the disturbing.  She presents an Australian landscape and characters that I know and manages to embed a “wrongness”, a fractured reality that builds until the true horror is revealed.

Australia is the sort of country where a wrong turn can kill you, either the people, the animals or the environment.  The initial opening of the tale ( a short prologue was added with the new edition) starts off with a band in their combi-van traveling an outback road to a gig.  Most Australian’s have that experience of the road trip, of turning off into towns bypassed by the highway, of taking shortcuts that turnout to be long-ways-around.  Elyora could be anyone of a hundred once-were-towns in my state.


Jo, Benny and Hal, members of the band Faunabate, have no idea what they’re in for when their car suddenly breaks down on the way to their first gig.
Their nearest town? Elyora. Upon arrival it quickly becomes clear that this is not your normal town. Why are all the magazines dated at 1974?
Why have all of their clocks stopped? And where exactly have all the people gone?There are some towns you don't ever want to visit.

And Elyora is one of them.

I have become a fan of Stephen King in recent years, more so for the emotional weight he embeds in his focus on character -I was more torn up over the love story in 22.11.63 than the Kennedy story. Though he does take a long time getting there.  With River of Bones Cleghorn somehow manages to deliver that same weight, that same investment in character that I feel with King, but without such a long run-up.  I would have been fine with just the emotional interplay, the tragedy in this novella, but Cleghorn delivered a double punch of emotional and very deftly placed, visceral horror.  The ending was particularly gutting with respect to both.

Cleghorn’s rendering of Elyora and its inhabitants is so vivid that I see possibilities for it as an independent horror film in much the same vein as Wolf Creek. Hannett did not quote River of Bones as being part of the tradition of Australian Gothic ( she probably hadn’t read it at the time) but it strikes me as one of the better recent examples.

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Apr 16, 2013

Adventures of a Bookonaut Podcast – Piper’s Reach Special

If you haven’t heard of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach and you are interested in contemporary fiction and exploring different ways of telling stories then I encourage you to visit the website. Here’s the summary:

In December 1992 Ella-Louise Wilson boarded the Greyhound Coach for Sydney leaving behind the small coastal town of Piper’s Reach and her best friend and soulmate, Jude Smith. After twenty years of silence, a letter arrives at Piper’s Reach reopening wounds that never really healed.

When the past reaches into the future, is it worth risking a second chance?

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is an ambitious collaborative project between Jodi Cleghorn and Adam Byatt traversing an odd path between old and new forms of communication, differing modalities of storytelling and mixed media, all played out in real and suspended time. The project has at its heart a love of letter writing and music.

I had the great pleasure of talking to both Adam and Jodi last night and in a rush to get you some behind the scenes action before the series culminates I have spent the second day of my holidays editing just for you.

You can play via the player if you have decent internet


or you can download the mp3 file here.

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Apr 14, 2013

Book Review – Seroks (Iteration 1: Mirror Man) by David Hontiveros


In 2002 David Hontiveros won second prize in Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards- Futuristic Fiction Category for his short story titled Kaming Mga Seroks.  That piece forms the first story in this collection.  I say collection but Seroks is a tightly structured series of stories, so tightly linked that I am inclined to call it a mosaic novella. 

Through a number of forms and perspectives Hontiveros gives us a far future Philippines run by an almost omnipresent Maharlika Company, a world where the Chinese are the dominant force and the United States was bought out in the aftermath of a gene based attack on the male section of the populace leaving them mostly sterile.

If you are a fan of old school Gibsonian Cyberpunk you’ll feel a tingling of familiarity.  Hontiveros, however, drags in some other ideas and influences that give this mosaic a fresh feel -there’s some Superhero DNA, the history of Filipino film is alluded to, and the occurrence of piracy is extrapolated past the point of software and cd’s.

Imagine a world with clones, imagine that film studios can clone actors and have the duplicates or Seroks (took me half the book to realize that Seroks =  Xerox and that it roughly translates to Copies) stand in for them.  Imagine then that these clones or the templates that are used to create them can be pirated.  We have a world that’s ripe for abuse.  We have a world where Seroks, who are for all intents and purposes human, don’t have human rights.

The mosaic follows the fortunes of a group or Seroks owned by aging Filipino movie star and disgraced President Frederico Rubio.  The Seroks are all grown to look like the aging star at the different stages in his movie career, some engineered to be the characters and not merely the actor playing the character.

Seroks is part thriller, part comment on corporate greed, part superhero story.  I love the diversity of writing form that Hontiveros brings to the work; first person point of view, television script, a couple of the pieces described almost in terms of stage directions. It comes as no surprise to me that he writes the Supehero comic series Bathala as I feel he has a very good handle on imagery and conveying that to the reader.

As a first Iteration, a part one, Seroks, does a very good job of laying down a firm foundation and giving the reader some action and resolution.  The world building is fresh and tangible and I think that Hontiveros has played it well; giving us just enough to feel immersed and temporarily satisfied.  I await further iterations. Don’t leave us waiting too long Mr Hontiveros.

The artwork is provided by Alan Navara - the cover and internal story separators. I think he and Visprint should be commended for rounding out the work with high spec. production and simple but striking artwork.

And thanks to Charles Tan for facilitating access to this work.

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The Stella Award and the Culture of Prize Giving

the-economy-of-prestige A very interesting discussion on the Stella, the Queensland Lit Awards.  It features Sophie Cunningham, Stuart Glover; and American academic, James English who’s written The Economy of Prestige.

Interesting discussions around gender and political influence in prizes. It’s only about 15 minutes long.

You can listen here.




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Apr 13, 2013

Self promotion by authors and awards

I have just read Seanan MacGuire’s post here and it’s a little depressing:

The main flush of angry kvetching over the Hugo ballot has passed; we're on to complaining about other things, like the Clarke Award short list and whether or not "fake geek girls" really exist. (I have a guest post about fake geek girls and why they're a fiction that makes me want to set everything the sun touches on fire coming up later this month, so I'm not going to go into that now.) And to be honest, I'm really glad. Sure, it's nice to have everyone you've ever met in a friendly capacity saying congratulations for a couple of days, and it's an honor to be nominated—nothing can change that. But the personal comments got to be a bit much within the first twenty-four hours, and by the time the primary articles stopped, I was basically just hiding under my bed and waiting for it to be over. [Read on …no really do because its a good discussion]

And while Jonathan McCalmont certainly doesn’t accuse Seanan of excessive self promotion he did criticize a group of authors/nominees for not “spreading the love” so to speak.  Seanan being one of those authors. 

My issue is not with the people engaged in the grinding and socially awkward task of being a professional writer but with the people who remind others of their eligibility whilst conveniently failing to acknowledge the existence of works other than their own. [Read the full article]

There is an issue with certain segments of the writing community not being acknowledged for reasons of race, gender and sexuality.  I don’t think you’d find many who’d disagree with that claim.  I’m not convinced however that it’s fair, to expect authors in particular to commit to the sort of Hugo posting that McCalmont would like. Even if they did, I wonder if they wouldn’t cop flack for the choices they made. That is, being accused of nominating friends and acquaintances or perhaps of not being sincere in their discussions of who should be nominated.  If I had a choice between a “ya’ll should check out the other nominees, I ‘ve heard good stuff about them” and nothing - I’ll go nothing.

I think the sort of broad discussion posts that McCalmont was hoping to find more of, are the purview of bloggers and commentators.  Indeed it looks to me if  that first group he highlights is essentially made up of those.

I just don’t know if authors have the time to read and critically examine enough of the current works on offer.  I know several authors at the top of their game in Australia that don’t read heavily in the field they write in for a number of reasons, chief among them being time and wanting to have a break from the genre.

So I agree with McCalmont that there should be more discussion well ahead of the nomination period, but I think that it’s not really an author’s responsibility.  When it comes to sites that have staff/multiple volunteers then I’m on the fence.  They have more individuals and a wider reading experience to draw on.


Australian Shadows Award Winners

The Australian Shadows Awards are:

… the annual literary awards presented by the AHWA and judged on the overall effect - the skill, delivery, and lasting resonance - of horror fiction written or edited by an Australian. [source: Australian Horror Writers Association]

Here are the winners:nightshade


Perfections – Kirstyn McDermott


Sky – Kaaron Warren


Birthday Suit – Martin Livings


Surviving the End – Craig Bezant


Through Splintered Walls – Kaaron Warren


The list includes two writers that I have read recently.  And I am very happy to see them win, I don’t tend to read much horror,but those selected were certainly good writing.  Congrats to Kaaron, Kirstyn and the others, whose works I have yet to read.

Oh and isn’t the trophy delightfully macabre, it’s made by Nightshade Fx

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Apr 11, 2013

A Bottle of Storm Clouds: Stories …not a review

15828203 Just a short post to give you a heads up.  I have reviewed Eliza Victoria’s A Bottle of Storm Clouds for ISF and that review should be coming out in the next 3 weeks or so. 

In short its good and I think fans of some of the dark fantasy writings of Margo Lanagan and Kaaron Warren might appreciate picking it up.

It’s 200 odd pages of award nominated stories.

and while we are talking about Filipino writers I really liking David Hontiveros’ Seroks - Iteration 1.




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eBook Review – Dieselpunk ePulp Showcase


I think I enjoyed Dieselpunk before I was even aware of the genre tag or that of its more prevalent cousin Steampunk.  I can remember playing the tabletop version of Crimson Skies (the original, with the cardboard press out game pieces).  So coming into this collection I had an expectation of something similar.  "That Sort of World: a Tale of the Aether Age" by Grant Gardiner certainly didn’t disappoint on that front- indeed it felt like a Crimson Skies story.  I enjoyed the genre markers: gangsters, speakeasies, spies and Grant employed some subtle humour to good effect.

Who are the People in your Neighborhood?" by John Picha, I thought had a good shot at mixing social comment with pulp action.  It felt more 30’s vigilante superhero than my concept of Dieselpunk and there was some interesting use of tense that jarred me out of the story.

"The Wise Man Says" by Bard Constantine was hardboiled detective fiction in a dystopic future earth.  It felt a bit like Dark City without the aliens.  It was well done genre writing but the futuristic setting didn’t quite convince me. It would have been none too different a story without the science fictional markers.

"Friend of the Spirits" by Jack Philpott showed the broadest range in what could be called “Dieselpunk”, but it struck me as more fantasy than Dieselpunk for some reason – not enough Art Deco perhaps.  All in all it was original even if it didn’t quiet fog up my aviator glasses.

So.  It’s a showcase and it certainly displays a broad range of what an author might be able to do in the sub-genre.  For my personal tastes though I am more a Sky Pirates kinda guy, battling Nazi’s on the back of giant Zeppelins. So I’d say I liked some aspects of the showcase more than others but it’s worth a look if you have the time.

Checkout the Dieselpunk site here.

This ebook was provided free of charge

Ditmars 2013 The Atheling

Blishor to give it the full title the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review.  It’s named after the pseudonym created by science fiction writer James Blish and according  to the rule

3.12 The William Atheling Jr Award:

The William Atheling Jr Award is for the writing or editing of a work or a group of related works of criticism or review pertaining to the genres of science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

So it can be quite broad.  I personally view it as an award for  a singular work or a small collection of works that make some critical impact.  It’s for that reason that I don’t tend to favour what typically passes for blogging reviews as eligible for the award. Note this is just my personal opinion based on my own style of reviewing (which tends to be short; more inline with book recommendations.

What I favour for an Atheling is a work that is longer, has some critical bite to it, some depth and that makes some impact.  This years nominees are:


William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
* Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, and Tehani Wessely, for review of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh, in ASIF
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy.Let’s Unpack That.”, in tor.com
* David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely, for the “New Who in Conversation” series
* Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, for “The Year in Review”, in The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011
* Rjurik Davidson, for “An Illusion in the Game for Survival”, a review of Reamde by Neal Stephenson, in The Age

Those in bold were nominated last year either for a continuing project or for the new version of that project.  I think all of these nominees fall under my own particular idea of the type of work we should be lauding .

I will tell you now though I favour Tansy’s post on Tor, it achieved impact, displayed passion and illustrated in the comments section why such a piece needed to be said. That’s not to say that the others aren’t worthy but that it really did strike a chord with me and others.

Apr 10, 2013

Booktopia Free Shipping till Sunday 14 April

fairy taleBooktopia have free shipping until Sunday.  Go here and place the word SAVE in the coupon field at the very end of the checkout process.
Now some recent books of interest to my self were:

Graham Joyce’s Some Kind of Fairy Tale which will be covered on the next episode of The Writer and the Critic and House of Leaves mentioned on their current cast.

I also caught up with the Last Short Story podcast and Alex and Tehani have convinced me to have a look at Queen Victoria's Book of Spells.

Disclaimer:  Those links are affiliate links that earn me a percentage at no cost to you which I then roll into projects like hosting for the podcasts. 

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ISF nominated for European Science Fiction Society Award

annual-isf-anthology International Speculative Fiction Magazine which I pen a review column for has been nominated in the Best European Magazine category at the European Science Fiction Society Awards.

So congratulations to the Roberto and the team for working so hard to bring us free, quality, international fiction and commentary.

Speaking of free.

You can download the ISF 2012 anthology in pdf/mobi/epub for free.  That’s right all three formats for free just go here.

It features some names you might recognize Ken Liu, Joyce Chng, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Aliette de Bodard and Lavie Tidhar.




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Apr 9, 2013

Ditmars 2013 Best New Talent

So this years Best New Talent features only one person from last years ballot – Steve Cameron ( but then there’s a two year limit on eligibility).  The most recent work I have read of Steve’s was in Fablecroft’s Epilogue. 

David McDonald’s work featured in the same collection and he’s really ramped up his presence this year continuing with Dr Who projects from last year and running a really good interview series on his blog.

Faith Mudge I have yet to read but I am hearing good things about.

Stacey Larner is a dark horse in this race, I have read a couple of her most recent works and she is a writer to watch. Check out the links below and acquaint yourself with these talented folks.

Best New Talent
* David McDonald
* Faith Mudge
* Steve Cameron
* Stacey Larner


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Apr 8, 2013

Small Blue Planet — Episode 01, Finland

Somehow I missed the launch of Small Blue Planet.  I don’t know what planet I’m was on at the time but it obviously wasn’t Earth.  Hosted on the Locus site it’s a monthly podcast devoted to talking to Science fiction and Fantasy personalities from around the world.  It features Cheryl Morgan, Hugos Sage and owner of  Wizard’s Tower Books with asides from Karen Burnham.

In their inaugural show she interviews Jukka Halme and Marianna Leikomaa

Have a listen, I found it very interesting and am looking forward to picking up some of the authors works mentioned.

Download (Duration: 55:39 — 51.0MB)

Show notes can be found here.


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Ditmars 2013 - Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

Probably the only section that I have 100% coverage of.  First upIMG_0327-225x300 I thought I would do a quick comparison between last years nominees and this years.  So last year we had:

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium 2012

* SF Commentary, edited by Bruce Gillespie
* The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
* Galactic Chat, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Sean Wright
* Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce

and this year

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
* The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Antipodean SF, Ion Newcombe
* The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
* Snapshot 2012, Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung et. al.
* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, Alisa Krasnostein, Tehani Wessely, et. al.
* Galactic Chat, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Sean Wright

So it’s just over 50% the same players as last year.  You might also notice that bar the nominations of Strahan, Wolfe and Newcombe there is quite a bit of cross pollination in the nominated projects.  Ian Mond is nominated for the Writer and the Critic and the Snapshot.  I am nominated in Galactic Chat and the Snapshot.  Tansy and Alisa are nominated for Galactic Suburbia, Galactic Chat, The Snapshot and ASIF.  Alex Pierce is nominated for Galactic Suburbs, ASIF and the Snapshot.

As to the nominated publications, they all provide something different( this feature of Australian podcasting has been noted by Chrales  Tan if memory serves me correctly)which makes the process of comparing/judging them particularly hard.

The Writer and the Critic features two very intelligent commentators (money, brown paper bag, usual spot) who consistently bring us quality in-depth discussion on a select range of speculative fiction.  You don’t really get this level of attention or quality commentary outside of dedicated book shows and I get the distinct impression that apart from and even more select range of authors there’s a bit of a looking down ones nose at speculative fiction from the various  mainstream media outlets.

Galactic Suburbia - relaxed conversational feminist commentary on the field.  I credit them with making changes to my reading habits.  Their mostly laid back conversational style of talking about women’s issues slips under the knee jerk, defensive reaction of men unaccustomed to the idea that women have had and continue to play an important role in the conversation on speculative fiction.

Antipodean SF – A stalwart of the community, run by Ion Newcombe who I have yet not had the pleasure to meet.  Mark Webb has some very kind things to say about this entry:

Thirdly, Antipodean SF (who published a few of my flash fiction pieces last year) are up for best fan publication in the Ditmars. It is amazing how many established writers I talk to who say “Oh, yes – Antipodean SF is where I got my first story published”. Ion Newcombe is an excellent editor and generous contributor to the Australian speculative fiction scene. If you’ve never seen Antipodean SF, I’d encourage you to check the site out [source]

The Coode Street Podcast – the Statler and Waldorf of podcasting, not meaning to imply that they are muppets, but rather they represent commentary from an earlier era and they may be a little old-fartish, prone to the occasional ramble.  This show is like a bar side seat at a convention, a must listen.

Snapshot 2012 – a massive snapshot of the Australian Speculative Fiction scene, involving some 10 interviewers conducting 157 interviews.  You can see the Index here. Hosted on the ASIF website.

Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus – a comprehensive collection of interviews and reviews of Australian fiction.  It ended this year and there’s not been something com along to replace it.

Galactic Chat – a one on one interview podcast showcasing mostly local author talent an with a weighting towards interviewing female writers.  That being said they did interview Lord Grimdark or should that be The Prince of Grim Darkness - Joe Abercrombie.

Honestly I don’t know who’s going to take out this award.  It’s good to see that written works, The Snapshot and Antipodean fly the flag for the typed word.  To me they all contribute, if any of them take home a trophy I am happy. So unless there’s a revolt and the no award is selected I forsee contentedness in my future.

(Photo Credit: No idea, please let me know)

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Apr 7, 2013

Episode 3 Last Short Story

QVBookofSpells Somehow this slipped through/under the radar, released two days ago was the third episode of Last Short story featuring the talents of  Alex Pierce and Tehani Wessely as they chat about  Queen Victoria's Book of Spells: an anthology of gaslamp fantasy (edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling - purchase here)

It’s only 30minutes long so you can probably play it from the player below or if like me you have a long drive tomorrow you can download here.


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Ditmars 2013 – Best Fan Artist

6201322851_b5ba8ce1bf Well I am not surprised that Kathleen is listed in this category as well. 

I am a fan of the works she does on her blog with the Dalek game.  Is it time though, as Ian Mond has suggested to, park this category? The eligible's list is fairly short. 

What does it say about the community about art in fandom if we let it go?  Is it a small field because the others don’t have a high enough profile in the scene? Are we not appreciative of the talent and skill an artist has to develop to enter the “professional” arena?

Best Fan Artist
* Kathleen Jennings, for body of work including “The Dalek Game” and “The Tamsyn Webb Sketchbook”





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Apr 6, 2013

Ditmars 2013 - Best Fan Writer

I have been in two minds as to whether I should comment on this category with me appearing as the number four spot on the ballot but I also want to preview the other people in the running because I think they are very worthy.  I note that this year the ballot features three folks that were featured last year Alex, Tansy and myself.

So, Alex Pierce or Random Alex if you follow her blog. She’s nominated for her body of work and her reviews for the now sadly closed ASIF.  Fans of Galactic Suburbia will know her as a regular panelist participant on that show.  I like Alex’s work, though I often have delay my reading of it because she’s reviewing books that I have in my list as well.  I appreciate the depth of analysis that she brings to each review and secretly wish that I had the time to do the same.  A worthy nominee.  She’s one of those reviewers who I think influence the books I buy personally.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, or should I say the “Hugo nominated” Tansy Rayner Roberts( both her and Alex are in the podcast category as well).  I love both her fiction and her non-fiction writings.  She makes me look like a neophyte fan of Dr Who and her essay/blog post on TOR Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy.Let’s Unpack That.,(nominated for an Atheling) was one of the standout pieces for the year.  I generally find anything that Tansy writes to be of interest, across a range of subjects. You can find her here. Worthy? Very much so.

Grant Watson, well known and with a considerable history in fandom, is a quiet achiever – I say quiet because he’s not one to put himself about, or toot his own horn(at least online). He turns out quality commentary regularly, covering comics, film, and television if your are not subscribed to The Angriest, you should be.  I also had the pleasure of seeing him almost single handedly run a convention panel on the Elizabethans at the last Natcon.  A bit of a dark horse in this race I think

And me.  Well I’ll leave the judging to you and potential voters.  I am nominated for my body of work, which last year consisted more of reviews than specific defined projects (the podcasting and collaborative projects are nominated in other categories).  I am proud to have improved my reviewing of female writers due in part to my continued focus on gender balance and the AWW2012 challenge.  I hope you have enjoyed the reviews and news coverage.  Thanks for reading.

Best Fan Writer
* Alex Pierce, for body of work including reviews in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
* Grant Watson, for body of work including the “Who50” series in The Angriest
* Sean Wright, for body of work including reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut

Of course this list is the end result of the nomination protest there are a number of folks that put in a heap of work, like all of us, unpaid.  I could list most of the eligibles list here, as worth a look.

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Winged Lives Wagered at The Glass Coin

rooster My poem Winged Lives Wagered is live at The Glass Coin. So feel free my hordes of readers to go over and make a comment or if you prefer the serenity of this blog to make a comment below or at my dedicated poetry blog – Words Poetical

Winged Lives Wagered was written as part of Post-It Note Poetry month.  An event that was spawned by the brains of Adam Byatt and Jodi Cleghorn and held on a Facebook group.  Each participant was encouraged to write a poem a day, something that would fit on a post-it note.  The emphasis was on just writing poetry(and actually writing not typing), not worrying too much about how good it was, not giving time for our internal editors to stifle the flow.

It was and still is the best poetry writing activity I have participated in.

It is amazing what you can achieve when under a little pressure.  Not everything was a brilliant work of art (speaking of my own work) but there were some good works that I am proud of.  One of them is Winged Lives Wagered


Winged Lives Wagered

Two roosters crowed a dueling song

and mornings break still yet to come,

I lay and watched the stars explode

as with my hands I rubbed at sleep

that glued lids shut in pleasant dreams.

With fitful breath I did, it seems

upon the name of demons call

for plagues of mites or chicken flu.

For sleepless nights can lead a thought,

to winged lives wagered and souls bought.


I own chickens and the roosters that inspired the poem, never crow at the break of dawn, instead preferring to start a competition at around 3am.  It’s led to many a nights wishing I had a sharpened axe.

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Apr 5, 2013

Ditmars 2013 Best Artwork

We see the work, but I wonder how many of us actually consciously notice it, before diving into the words between the covers.  Do we appreciate the way in which a cover can alter the way that we enjoy a book? How black and white interior illustrations can alter our imaginings.

Below are the nominated artworks - bar the Adam Browne black and white interior artwork of which only one is shown.

You’ll notice the category is all small press, again reflecting the support given to Australian artists by that end of the industry.

Best Artwork
* Cover art, Nick Stathopoulos, for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine 56 (ASIM Collective)
* Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Midnight and Moonshine (Ticonderoga Publications)
* Illustrations, Adam Browne, for Pyrotechnicon (Coeur de Lion Publishing)
* Cover art and illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, for To Spin a Darker Stair (FableCroft Publishing)
* Cover art, Les Petersen, for Light Touch Paper Stand Clear (Peggy Bright Books)


midnight-and-moonshine-web_thumb elephant2GS

In terms of “could have beens” I am surprised to not see any of the covers Amanda Rainey did for Fablecroft or Twelfth Planet Press.  She creates simple and striking covers that are almost instantly recognizable.

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Apr 4, 2013

Calling all reviewers - Australian Spec Fic Review Weekly

I was listening to this edition of Galactic Suburbia, where amongst other things (Hugo’s, Ditmars, saying very nice things about me) they reminded me that the ASIF project had come to an end.  There was some lamentation that there isn’t really something to replace it as centralized store of reviews.  I was momentarily saddened but it got me thinking - lots of time to when your car radio’s stuffed and you have run out of podcasts. 

The people that contributed to the reviews on ASIF still review, the material is still out there. 

Now, I am a fan of  Paper.li service for collating tweets/news particular to certain areas of interest and thought. Thus I have formed a paper called the Australian Spec Fic Review Weekly, a service that will collate all reviews of Australian Speculative Fiction in one place. Its not as reliable a service as a dedicated store, but it should pickup the reviews that happen weekly.

So if you are an Australian reviewer (or anyone really) reviewing Australian Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror then you can add your tweet to those collated by the weekly by appending the hashtag  #ausfrev to your podcasts, reviews or interviews.

I will be exercising post publishing editorial control on those tweets collected by the paper.

EDIT: Which means that I will delete tweets that aren’t referencing articles that relate to Australian writers/reviewing/interviews/podcasts on the same.  The idea is to promote Aussie  writers and those that review them, not to become a congealed mess of neophyte bookpushers who seem to clog up every book review space :D .

The paper will publish Friday evenings at roughly 6 pm.

Apr 3, 2013

Ditmars 2013–Best Collected Work

Epilogue_lg_mediumA category dominated by the dedicated (some say slightly unhinged) folk that dedicate their lives and mortgages to bringing us collections of short fiction, a section that speaks of love of the genre. They unearth and support neophyte writers, connive with mistresses and masters of craft to bring us work that might not fit less imaginative markets.

I own all the works on the list, but in what sounds like a familiar tune, I haven’t had time to read them all.  The Twelve Planets are nice, bite sized collections easily devoured the others in the list, particularly the last, are treasure troves that really do need time to sit own and ponder over.

So I have read Cracklescape, Through Splintered Walls, Light Touch Paper…, and have dipped in and out of the others. 

And the difficulty here as in some other sections is that they are almost all different beasts. I don’t know that you can really compare them other than to try and go with an intuitive gut feeling about which one made the greater impression.  A method that invariably leaves books I have barely read at a disadvantage.

Best Collected Work

  • Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth
    Planet Press)
  • Epilogue, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Through Splintered Walls by Kaaron Warren, edited by Alisa Krasnostein
    (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Light Touch Paper Stand Clear, edited by Edwina Harvey and Simon
    Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)
  • Midnight and Moonshine by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, edited
    by Russell B. Farr (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011, edited by Liz
    Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)

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Apr 2, 2013

Ditmars 2013 - Best Short Story

clarkesworld75-193x300 This is perhaps my weakest category so far, in that I have only read The Bone Chime Song – I fact I hope to rectify because a) short stories b) I think I actually own everything bar the Mudge.  I posted a review of Light Touch Paper Stand Clear here.  My thoughts on The Bone Chime Song as an opening story were:

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.



But Jo’s up against Thoraiya Dyer, who’s impressed me since I read her work in New Ceres Nights. 




Best Short Story Nominees
* “Sanaa’s Army”, Joanne Anderton, in Bloodstones (Ticonderoga Publications)
* “The Wisdom of Ants”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Clarkesworld 75
* “The Bone Chime Song”, Joanne Anderton, in Light Touch Paper Stand Clear (Peggy Bright Books)
* “Oracle’s Tower”, Faith Mudge, in To Spin a Darker Stair (FableCroft Publishing)


One thing before you go, I’ll let you know that I’ll be voting for a woman in this category.

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