Sep 30, 2013

Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology

Lauriat_frontcov-662x1024 And while talking about our neighbours to the north, Charles Tan has an anthology of Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction on offer for just 99c if you use this code NG66N at Smashwords. The special runs until the 25th of October.  So, come on 99c peeps that is quite seriously pocket change.  That’s 99 cents to check out some different perspectives.

Lauriat: A Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction Anthology





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Lontar – The Journal of South East Asian Speculative Fiction

Lontar I had a very nice chat with Rochita Loenen–Ruiz yesterday which you will all get to hear an edited version of for Galactic Chat.  We talked amongst other things about resources for international non-Anglophone writers now that the World SF Blog has been archived.  So it’s with a smile on my face that I stumbled across Lontar edited by Jason Lundberg this morning. 

Earlier this month the inaugural issue of Lontar – The Journal of South East Asian Speculative Fiction was released.  It features a number of contributors who I have come to enjoy through various publications put out by Math Paper Press, Flipside and Rocket Kapre.

Math Paper Press produce some of the finest quality books I have set eyes and that’s just the package.  Lontar retails for around $22 plus shipping but for those of you watching the purse strings (like me) Mr Lundberg is compiling an ebook bundle.

In the first issue we have:

Issue #1 Contents
01. Etching the Lontar | Jason Erik Lundberg (Editorial)
02. Departures | Kate Osias (Fiction)
03. Love in the Time of Utopia | Zen Cho (Fiction)
04. Philippine Magic: A Course Catalogue | Paolo Chikiamco (Non-Fiction)
05. Jayawarman 9th Remembers the Dragon Archipelago | Chris Mooney-Singh(Poetry)
06. The Immortal Pharmacist | Ang Si Min (Poetry)
07. Stainless Steel Nak | Bryan Thao Worra (Poetry)
08. The Yellow River | Elka Ray Nguyen (Fiction)
09. The Gambler | Paolo Bacigalupi (Fiction Reprint)

Source: Mr Lundberg’s Blog

What interests me particularly is the mix of fiction, non fiction and poetry.  So until Mr Lundberg has time to compile the eBook version I will satisfy myself with Alternative Alamat available now on Kobo.

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Book Release – Trucksong by Andrew Macrae

What's Trucksong?

In a post-apocalyptic Australian landscape dominated by free-wheeling cyborgs, a young man goes in search of his lost lover who has been kidnapped by a rogue AI truck – the Brumby King. Along the way, he teams with Sinnerman, an independent truck with its own reasons for hating the Brumby King. Before his final confrontation with the brumbies, he must learn more about the broken-down world and his own place in it, and face his worst fears.

The strange and playful voice of the first-person narrator keeps the story kicking along as he comes to his final realisation that the only meaning to be found in a world in slow decay is that which you make for yourself. This genre-bending work of literary biopunk mixes the mad fun of Mad Max II with the idiosyncratic testimony of works like Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang or Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. [Courtesy of Twelfth Planet Press]

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The Liebster Award

liebster-award-e1355858473421-300x200 I was tagged by the wonderful writer Joyce Chng with the Liebster Award.  It’s been awhile since I have done one of these internet memes and Sunday Monday morning with the edge just coming off a migraine it seems about the right time.

So apparently the rules of this internet meme are 1) Tell readers and the NSA 11 details about myself, tag 11 people, and answer 11 ques­tions posed to me by Joyce

11 Things about me

  1. I learned to play Ode to Joy on the recorder rather well (though perhaps my parents would say otherwise), not as well as my sister who learned by watching me and was as good in half the time.
  2. I am an atheist and secularist.
  3. I hold a Second Dan in Chung Do Kwan, or Blue Wave School Tae Kwon Do, a post World War II Korean version of Shotokan Karate
  4. I attempted to join Royal Military College Duntroon but my knees were dodgy (ie wouldn’t stand the strain of running in boots).  They also asked really odd psych questions about whether I painted my nails as well.  Pretty happy I dodged this bullet in the end.
  5. I sat the entrance exam for Australian Intelligence Services in my final year of my first degree(and did I pass, you’re asking).
  6. I have appeared on national TV in a channel 7 “story” on prostate cancer where I played the average man on the street with no clue.  My sister worked as a paid actress and might still be on TV in QLD lottery ads.  Two people I have grown up with have featured in famous Australian dramas.
  7. I met( and by met I mean he was within about 6 feet of me) Pope John Paul II but it was raining and I went back and sat in the car (yeah that faith thing wasn’t ever that strong) before the speeches started.
  8. I work as a Teacher Librarian, but that’s the last in a long list of jobs I’ve held from Security Guard, Pizza Delivery Driver, Workplace Trainer, Jenny Craig Consultant.
  9. I have had to sign the official secrets act, sort of like the women who were at Bletchley Park, only my job [redacted] was [redacted].
  10. My Great Grandfather Lars Peter Koefod, was born on the Island of Bornholm, home to the Hammershus one of Europe’s largest medieval fortresses, and interestingly enough a water tower designed by Jørn Utzon, the architect who designed the Sydney opera house.
  11. There are no Star Wars prequel movies and no Highlanders after the first.


  The Official Questions that I must answer


1.What is the one thing you regret most in life?

Not getting serious enough about writing sooner.

2.What is your Myers-Brigg per­son­al­ity type?

INFJ apparently

3.Name some­thing about your­self that you dislike.

My inner editor, the bastard’s like a zombie.  I keep shooting him and he gets right back up.

4.Name some­thing about your­self that you are proud of.

In 2008 I helped survivors of a fundamentalist Christian health program(Mercy Ministries), shut down their operations in Australia.  They did the hard yards but I was happy to give them support and technical help and my blogging time.

5.What is your favourite book?

Too many favourites for lots of different reasons.

6.What quirk or habit do you have that most peo­ple aren’t aware of?

I like doing poor attempts of English regional accents, mostly after watching shows like Gavin & Stacey and Doc Martin.

7.Name your favourite char­ac­ter and explain why.

Wash from Firefly or almost any character that Alan Tudyk plays.  Strikes me as a good guy, the everyman, humour and courage that isn’t gung ho.

8.Name some­thing that most peo­ple dis­like but you secretly think is awesome.

Vegemite and cheese melted over bread in the microwave.

9.What is the last lie you’ve told?

Me:  No not I, it was the cat?

Wife: But Cat’s don’t fart.

10.What do you wish peo­ple knew about you?

Hmm. Not my secret identity obviously. 

11. If you could be some­one else, who would it be and why?

Nobody, I am pretty happy being a CIS white male in an affluent country and the grass always seems greener until you’re standing on it.


The Victims Recipients of the Much prized Liebster award are:

You readers.  Feel free to leave a link in the comments to your post. You can use the same questions as above.

This post was brought to you by TMI industries.

Sep 28, 2013

Galactic Chat 32 – Interview with Stephen Ormsby of Satalyte Publishing

Author and Publisher Stephen Ormsby chats to me about his new publishing venture, Satalyte Publishing, directed specifically at Australian authors. Satalyte's first cab off the rank is Tales of Australia : Great Southern Land featuring the likes of Lee Battersby, David McDonald, Sean McMullen and Charmaine Clancy.


You can download it direct here 



Publisher Website: Satalyte Publishing

Publisher Twitter: Satalyte Publishing

Publisher Facebook: Satalyte Publishing


Interviewer: Sean Wright

Guest: Stephen Ormsby

Music & Intro: Tansy Rayner Roberts

Post-production: Sean Wright


Twitter: @galactichat

Email: galactichat at gmail dot com

Sep 21, 2013

Book Review – Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

ancillary-justice If I am truthful I tend more toward fantasy than science fiction in my own reading.  Sure, I have read a smattering of earlier science fiction works, like Childhood’s End by Clarke, Come Hunt An Earthman by Phillip E High and  I have tried reading and listening to PK Dick but find him not to my taste. 

My love of science fiction started, I think with Star Wars and probably deepened a little later with Frank Herbet’s Dune.  So recent Space Opera works like Leviathan Wakes have hit that sweet spot - space adventure on a more or less epic scale but obeying the laws of physics a little tighter.

Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice sits nicely in my comfort zone but is a little more epic in scope than SA Corey’s work.  We have a galaxy spanning empire, sentient ships with corpse soldiers on ice but it’s also refreshingly grounded in its description of other human cultures, of a humanity dispersed throughout the galaxies.  The blurb describes it aptly asInventive and intelligent space opera”.

Our protagonist is an AI, more specifically a sentient ship called the Justice of Torren, one of the many sentient ships of different sizes that the Empire of the Radch has used in its ever expanding annexations(read invasion and subjugation) of other human societies.  The Empire is thousands of years old, old enough for most humans to have forgotten that they originated on Earth, for other societies to have risen and fallen.

Like all good stories Ancillary Justice is set at a time of change, the very last Annexation has taken place.  Justice of Torren orbits the planet Shi's’urna and concurrently, serves through its capacity to operate as Ancillaries (corpse soldiers under the control of the central AI), as a security force and aide to the human Lieutenant who acts as a de facto governor on the planet’s surface.

Or at least that’s half the tale – because when we meet The Justice of Torren it is the last remaining Ancillary, Torren One Esk or Breq as she/it prefers.  Leckie switches between the scenario above and the arrival of a singular Ancillary on the planet Nilt.  The annexation of Shi's’urna has occurred twenty years previously and Leckie delightfully builds tension as she switches backwards and forwards in time.

From very early on the reader knows that The Justice of Torren, the ship that can see through the eyes of thousands of Ancillaries, has been reduced to only one in the present, some great calamity has befallen it.  How that happened and the implications unravelling that mystery reveals, is what drives this novel for much of its length. 
A character who narrates in the first person but that for a good portion of the novel is almost omniscient presented, I am sure, some challenges for Leckie.  How do you present a character that simultaneously observes from dozens of different points, who can measure the heart rate and temperature of everyone on the ship and a large number of people on the surface of a planet?  Although it felt a bit unusual at first (in a narrative sense), Leckie’s solution builds on itself and gives a sense of what it might be like to be Justice of Torren without bogging down the flow of the story. 

The approach to gender in Ancillary Justice was also clever.  Justice of Torren is an AI who can inhabit a ship, a body or bodies. It has experienced a number of cultures and annexations and frequently in the text it expresses a concern over whether or not it has used the right gender pronoun for the language/culture it is engaged with.  Consequently, sometimes the same character is referred to as he or she or designated male or female.  

I get the impression that the pronoun she was used far more than he, that most of the characters were female.  I even have to stop myself from referring to Justice of Torren as a she above because that’s what I feel though I don’t think that’s explicitly stated in the novel.
Have I made this assumption because culturally ships are female or because there is a preponderance of female pronouns in the text. If I were asked who the male characters were in the book I couldn’t name them with certainty.  Their are characters referred to as both male and female depending on who Torren is communicating with but this seems distanced from any biological markers. What I think Leckie was going for was a book where gender was largely irrelevant, where it was fluid dependant on culture and where it didn’t matter really to Torren or the story.  I would be interested to read reviews by female readers or even a gender queer response to it.

In terms of a reading experience the initial mystery and world building drew me in and by the time I was hooked the disparate timelines had coalesced into one and the story picked up speed toward its conclusion. I am left with a sense of depth in the world building and genuine desire to see where the story goes. If you like a bit of mystery and a fresh take on galaxy spanning empires I think its very much worth a look.

This book was a review copy provided by the publisher.

Australian readers can pre-order Ancillary Justice here.

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Sep 14, 2013

eBook Review – The Year of Ancient Ghosts by Kim Wilkins

the-year-of-ancient-ghosts-web How not to sound like a raving fanboy?

Hmm… probably not going to happen.

How often does a collection of novellas cause you to go and borrow every book you can by the author?  For you see, that’s what I did before I’d finished reading The Year of Ancient Ghosts. That was before the Lark and the River, the final novella in the collection left me blinking away the tears, left me so immersed that I had to remind myself that it was fiction.

Not many writers do that to me anymore.  It is a battle – skill and talent versus my familiarity with literature and story.  Most of the novellas within the collection were excellent, a couple superb.

The titular novella, The Year of Ancient Ghosts, had me in mind of a dramatisation of MR James’ A View from a Hill – foreboding and menace found in small things, the frisson when the everyday is cleverly juxtaposed with the weird.

“Strange wee boy. Full of stories. Full of mystery. Folk around here used to say, he’s not for this world, that lad. Not for this world.” Then, checking himself, realising he might be stirring my sadness, he cleared his throat. “I’m glad you’re both here. I think you made the right choice.”

Jenny the wife of a famous novelist returns to the place of his youth – the Orkney Islands. She takes their young daughter, as they had planned, to meet the people that raised him.  Straight away Wilkins situates the reader in the aftermath of a tragedy, we are immediately sympathetic and on edge, fearing what strangeness is in store for our two bereaved souls far from home.  Wild weather, strange noises and bad dreams draw out the tension as we wait to cross the threshold from unsettling normality to horror.

The Crown of Rowan, is a reprint and one of the superb stories in this collection.  Set in the kingdom of Thyrsland, Wilkins’ version of  Anglo-Saxon England, it is a tantalising glimpse into what I think would be a great full length novel or series. Wilkins alludes to such a novel in her afterword (which also struck me as a beautiful piece of writing) hoping that she has captured the spare and elegiac mood of the original Old English literature.

There are seven kings in Thyrsland. My father is one of them, and my husband is another. In my belly, perhaps, I carry a third.

It is blood month, and outside my bower window I hear fear-moaning cattle on their way to slaughter. Every night this week, I have smelled blood on the wind: faint but unmistakable, worming under the shutters. And I’ve turned my face to my pillow and held tight to avoid retching.

Unmistakably elegiac from the get go I think. A beginning that could launch a thousand (well I said raving fanboy) books but I’d settle for just the one.   I must admit I am a fan of the Anglo-Saxon era, the poetry, the mystery, the fall of Rome till the Norman conquest.  Similar to England, Thyrsland is experiencing a time of change – different models of kingship, different religions, conflicts political, military and personal.  I got the sense that an epic prose edda (yeah I know not quite Anglo Saxon) was to unfold alongside the personal story of our protagonist Rose.  In The Crown of Rowan you have earthy magic, love, mystery and a hint of battle.  Wilkins has sold me on the novel and any following set in this particular world.

Dindrana’s Lover is a reworking of Wilkins’, The Death of Pamela, and is the tale of Percival’s sister, left behind at the residence of Saint Triscula as he and Galahad go off on an adventure.  It’s a reworking of Arthurian legend and I like its commentary on attitudes to desire and virginity.  I am sure I am not the only reader that sincerely hoped Galahad would meet with a riding accident in this piece.  The story is dark, sensuous and immersive.

He turned his gaze to her. “Virginity, Dindrana, is a woman’s only treasure. His hands, then, shall I remove them both?”

“You shall not touch him,” she said, imbuing her voice with more force than she actually felt. “Let him leave. You shall not act contrary to my wishes when you are the guest of my father.”

Galahad, courteous to a fault, put his sword away. “Go,” he said to Gabriel. “I shall be telling Dindrana’s father of this, so you’d best go for good. You will be unwelcome anywhere in Margris from this moment on.”

Gabriel stood uncertainly, reached for Dindrana. Instantly the sword was free again, swinging down and stopping a mere inch from Gabriel’s hand. “You will lose it,” Galahad threatened.

The passage made me want to kneecap Galahad with war hammer.

With Wild dreams of Blood we are treated to some Viking infused urban fantasy.  It was reminiscent of The Almighty Johnsons in some ways and highlights Wilkins’ facility in being able to write across subgenres.  It’s hard to swing a hammer without hitting Viking mythology these days and I thought Wilkins did a fantastic job of grounding this story in the modern and everyday to differentiate it.

My greatest praise though falls on the final story The Lark and the River.  This one nearly broke me.  It’s historical fiction with a touch of magic, indeed if it weren’t in a speculative fiction collection you could get away with sliding it into historical magical realism.  The setting is England after the Norman conquest (another period of great change) there’s tension between the displaced Anglo-Saxons and their Norman lords, between the old gods and the new one. As with some of the previous stories the background conflict is mirrored by family and personal conflicts.  This is a time of upheaval in which love blossoms despite the odds and… well I’ll let you read it. 

Have the tissues handy though.

New stone churches were going up all over England. For years, we’d done what we ought and travelled to the chapel-at-ease, four miles away at Lissford, as good Christians are meant to do. Or sometimes we forgot to travel or forgot to pray or forgot about God all together, because he wasn’t as tied to our days and seasons as we needed him to be, and instead we went to the spear-stone, or the well, or the ancient yew tree, to leave offerings and tie ribbons for wishes. Our community’s faith was fluid and self-serving, and we enjoyed the freedom even as we knew the creep of containment was coming in the wake of William’s invasion.

Wilkins combines great craft with solid knowledge and understanding of the core material.  We have a mix of subgenres and their attendant historical underpinnings(influences) in this collection and Wilkins’ skill is demonstrated in not being overt about it but letting her historical knowledge sit under the motivations and actions of the characters.

On reflection everyone of these stories displays strong female characters, where “strong” is demonstrated in a variety of ways.  For male writers who can’t understand how to write a diverse array of female characters I’d urge you to take a look at Wilkins.  For international readers just beginning to appreciate the likes of Daniells, Lanagan and Warren.  Please add Wilkins to your list, I think she’s one of our best. 


This book was provided by the crew at Ticonderoga Publishing.

Note: Australian readers - If you are interested in purchasing and would like to do so before Sunday the 15th use this link and put READING in the coupon code area to get free shipping.

awwbadge_2013[4]This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013.  Please check out this page for more great writing from Australian women.




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Sep 13, 2013

Dialogue by Gloria Kempton and free shipping


Just a quick note for Australian readers. My copy of Dialogue by Gloria Kempton arrived today from Booktopia where they have the book on sale for $9.95 (sans shipping if you include the code READING before midnight this Sunday).  I am about halfway through Plot and Structure, another title in the Write Great Fiction series and was happy with that so I thought it was worth it as part of my dedicated push toward self directed learning.

A review will be forthcoming, but not for a couple of weeks or perhaps longer.  If you want to check out out the direct link to booktopia is here and Goodreads has a fair selection of reviews here.





This blog supports itself through affiliate links to Australia's favourite bookstore Booktopia

Sep 12, 2013

Continuum X – Start saving


I received a lovely email from the Continuum crew this morning, announcing that next year’s convention website (the 53rd Annual Natcon) is up and running - you can see it here.

I quite like the carnival theme they have.  So many cosplay opportunities to be had.  The guest line up is good too - Jim C Hines our international act is good value and its great to see Ambelin Kwaymullina (hailing from the Palyku people of the Pilbara region) as our local guest of honour.

I also checked out their harassment policy which you can find here.

Although it’s a way off yet, I find myself eagerly anticipating it.







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Sep 10, 2013

To SMOF or not

100_5434 Paul Cornell has just given a rather good apology for his comedy speech on SMOFS and Smurfs.  I didn’t hear the speech as… well..Ustream+ 3G internet.  But he offended some folks who consider themselves SMOFs (Secret Masters of Fandom or Con runners/Organisers) but  he managed to do what many people can’t do these days – offer a sincere apology for that offense.

The post got me thinking though and I have decided to post my thoughts here rather than on Paul’s post because his is an apology and doesn’t really need additional commentary.

The question I ask myself is whether of not SMOF or smof is something that the SpecFic community should continue to embrace as a term.  For the origin of the term you can check out the wikipedia page here.

Now I ask myself – If a community wants to be open and inviting, is requiring some special understanding some extra layer of sub culture language appropriate.  In-jokes are fine for those who are in but I’d argue they present a barrier to those coming to the community from the outside. 

The term covers a multitude of roles, organiser, fan, valued community member.  Indeed I hadn’t heard of it until I had been commenting on the genre for a good 2 years.  What started as an endearing, self referential term that bolstered community seems to have outlived its usefulness.  Or has it?  Is it worth hanging on to the term out of deference to its place as part of the development of fan convention running or is it time to consign it to history?

I guess I am a fan of recognising those who contribute to the community in an open, easily understood way, for the benefit of  new fans.  I also wonder if this is a something particular to Northern Hemisphere cons.  Because its only in reference to American and UK cons that I have heard the term or… perhaps I am still on the outer? 80

Your thoughts?

Book Review – A Dance with Dragons (1&2) by George R.R. Martin


Where to begin?

I have been reading the book series in conjunction with the HBO series, reading ahead when the itch to know what has happened to our favourite characters has become too irritating. Perhaps it’s because I am all caught up and thinking about the series that my thinking is drawn to how episodic this particular tome (tomes if you read the split version) is.  I do feel, more so in this book than any other in the entire series, that things are being drawn out like an episodic TV show. The writing is as good as ever and when Jon Snow, Tyrion and Arya are the focus I attain immersion in the text.

The first half of the novel (Book 1) suffered most I think from the effects on too many points of view with not moving the plot forward.  The second half (Book 2) I felt moved as closer to a resolution, but then left us hanging on the sides of several cliffs.

Still none of my favourite characters died and if that was the only resolution we were going to get I might just let Martin get away with it.  I think if I had paid for the books instead of borrowing them from the library I might have felt a bit cheated or perhaps milked.  If Martin were to release another book in the series without some more focussed momentum towards a conclusion I might give the series away and just watch the show.

Then again, when Martin writes those characters I love, places them in tightly written chapters I am just as likely to foreswear everything I have written above.

Another author and reviewer, Ben Peek, has some interesting things to say the complement the above. 

In short my feelings are that A Dance with Dragons was compelling enough to keep me reading, but overall I was left feeling unsatisfied, yearning for some resolution. 

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A Writerly Update

100_5458News, views and interviews – huh? Well I think the reviews have been pretty steady but I am surprised how only working three full days a week seems to sap all the energy from me.  But truthfully, while I may not be blogging as heavily, when I cast my eye over the projects on the boil at the moment, I am doing quite a bit.  So this is a writerly update  but its also me taking stock – bear with me.

Boiling away we have:

  • Plotting on my BFF (big fat fantasy) – I am about half way.  At the point where I really need to be immersing myself and working on it every day which I am not.
  • I am helping someone edit their novel manuscript - I recommend it actually, much easier to pick out structural issues in another’s work, to see the framework that helps make a good story.
  • Interviewing and post production for Galactic Chat – this is happily chuffing along.  The post production is a considerable load especially every week.  My admiration and respect goes out to all the silent producers. 

But there was a small gem, one of those wins that you have to stop and really appreciate before life moves on.  I received notification last week (and those on Twitter and FB will know already) that a poem I wrote was selected for inclusion in a print anthology to be published next year. Stay tuned I will be spruking it like no tomorrow when it comes out.

So until next time enjoy your reading and listening, we have an Hugo Award winning author in our upcoming Galactic Chat Podcast.

Sep 1, 2013

Book Review – Jump: Twinmaker 1 by Sean Williams

 jumpJump, called Twinmaker in the US, is Sean Williams’ foray into teen science fiction, he’s well known as a NY Times bestselling novelist of adult scifi and he’s also done a great children's series in conjunction with another Australian author Garth Nix - Troubletwisters.

In the world of Jump we have solved our environmental and power problems, we can teleport from anywhere on the face of the planet to anywhere else there is a D-mat booth. We can fabricate and recycle the goods that we need.  It’s a post scarcity world.  Fully connected through the Air (an outgrowth of the Internet).  You can live in Switzerland and go to school in California.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing to get here though, there were the water wars, global warming has submerged islands and Manhattan’s streets lie underwater.  But the world is safer.

Or so our protagonist believes.

Clair and Libby are best friends, Libby is the go getter, the popular girl.  Clair is the plodder, together they balance each other.  Libby rushes headlong into things and Clair picks up the pieces. Then there’s Zed the jock who is going out with Libby but harbours feelings for Clair, feelings that Clair thinks she shares.

And here the reader might pause and think – this sounds familiar.  Two friends fall out over a boy and we have a novel about mean girls ripping each other to shreds over him.  I must admit that not being a heavy reader of fiction marketed at Teens, even I raised an eyebrow at this setup.  Indeed I am aware that some readers walked away at this point thinking that the novel might deteriorate into a form of slut shaming where Libby would blame Clair for any intimate action with Zed and Zed would get off scot-free.

Clair and Zed kiss and she realises it’s a mistake, a betrayal of friendship (we never quite get to hear his thoughts due to the novel’s point of view) but before they can both talk to Libby,(secretly unhappy with her appearance) she chooses to try out Improvement - a spam message that promises she can change what she dislikes about herself.

And from this point we are led on an adventure as Clair, Zed and a host of outcasts try to undo the damage Libby has done to herself.  In the process they discover the world and technologies that they thought were safe, aren’t.

Other reviews have expressed concerned or have been unsure about the cheating (the kiss) mentioned above. It’s a very real scenario, people cheat.  What’s important here is the character’s reaction.  The reader can experience that reaction vicariously and be aware of what it might be like to cheat on someone or be cheated on, they can begin to develop empathy in that regard.  Not all teens learn, nor should they learn from first hand experience.  I would have though that’s one of the great advantages of storytelling in any format.

I don’t want to say anymore.  Williams plays with reader expectations to good effect, I think the setup above is necessary for him to surprise the reader in the rest of the novel.  A novel that is more about growing up, accepting consequences and discovering the meaning of true friendship.  It’s about the complexity of growing into adulthood with the added bonus and pressure of having to save the planet.  Big stakes emotionally and physically.

What I like about Clair is her growing self confidence, along side her introspection.  There’s a tendency in some fiction to present strong women in terms of what it means for men to be strong i.e. they have to be able to kick ass and take names, carry a sword or a gun.  While Clair does carry a gun she’s never comfortable about it and her first thought is to use her smarts.  When she does attempt physical conflict, even when she wins, she hurts herself  - as an untrained teen would do.  She feels very real to me.

With that story at its core the wonderfully envisaged future world is icing on the cake.  Williams does a great job of extrapolating current technologies, trends and social behaviours to give us a familiar yet exciting future.  The text is sprinkled with a dusting of ideas that hint at a fully realised world.  And for much older readers I am pretty sure that there’s a Devo reference somewhere around page sixty.

Jump is a well paced action adventure with a great female protagonist.  I eagerly await more books in the series.


This review is based on an ARC bearing the American cover.

You can pre-order the book through Booktopia.

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