No hope for Thoraiya and other writerly stuff

anywhere but earth

Thoraiya Dyer has reviewed Keith Stevenson’s monolithic (it’s more than 700 pages!) SF antho Anywhere But Earth and I *love* her comment about my story in it:

Jason Nahrung, as usual, wrote beautifully, but handed me horror in sci-fi clothing. One day, he’ll gift me with a glimmer of hope!

A glimmer? I *think* I could do that. In fact, I did try once, and the jury’s still out on that story, but I *guess* I could try again…

Read Thoraiya’s thoughtful and generous review here.

  • Meanwhile, Karen Brooks has penned one of her, as usual, insightful media-probing articles about a new Snow White movie starring Charlize Theron and ‘that girl from Twilight‘, Kristen Stewart, a casting decision which apparently has issues of the shallow flesh front and centre. Stewart impressed in The Runaways; this might be worth a look. Has there been a decent adaptation since Sigourney Weaver played the wicked stepmother? I like what Karen says about looking for moral reinforcement in uncertain times, and just hope that means the movie makers are subverting the old tropes of cultural reinforcement rather than wielding them from a pulpit.
  • Louise Cusack has blogged on the authenticity of blogging and the crafting of online personae, this weird business of marketing the creator and not just the product. A kind of cult of personality, or a genuine reaching out to those who make a creative life financially viable (if you’re one of the lucky ones)? For those writers who fit the shy, retiring mould, the idea of appearing in public to try to talk up their work is anathema, but the pressure’s on. I guess the key is to try to be nice about it, wield some respect for others and yourself, while at the same time not taking it too seriously because there’s nothing worse than seeing a big head explode in front of an audience…
  • Jay Kristoff, who recently exhorted us all to walk and keep on walkin’ till we reach the destination, has got me thinking that, hm, yes, I really must investigate this Dropbox thing, or something similar. Read these words and tremble in shared terror:

    …the entire sequel had flipped out and been eaten by gremlins. Every draft. All my notes. My diary of a madman scribbles about where the trilogy was headed. Everything.

  • Michael Pryor, who has a new book out soon, has provided some cool tips for DIY booktrailers. Possibly the hardest part is getting someone to watch it, neh?
  • And Stephen M Irwin talks about the three acts of a narrative, the kind of basic info that I really should staple to the wall above my computer before I start the next project…
    Act 1: make it matter
    Act 2: make it messy
    Act 3: make it meaningful
    I can’t help feeling that it’s Act 3 that lets a lot of stories down. Boom, crash is all very well and lots of fun, but the stories that linger are the ones that reach down deep and make us ask those ‘what if’ questions.

    Back to the fairytales, then, and one of the coolest Disney villains: magnificent Maleficent!

  • Dragons, love and lights that shine after the final sunset: vale Anne McCaffrey

    Awoke to the news that Anne McCaffrey has died, aged 85, and I imagine all around the world readers are looking up and waiting to see if any dragonriders take flight to stave off the threads of dark the news has struck. Of her books I’ve read, from her famous Pern universe, one passage still rings clear, in which and a boy and a girl meet and fall instantly in love, and the narrator tells us there are two kinds of love, the one that creeps with time and subtlety and comfort, and this second one, the lightning bolt. Oh, yes.

    No doubt McCaffrey’s words linger still in the minds and hearts of her fans, and will continue to do so as long as those words are available, for generations to come. We will always have dragonriders to stave off the dark.

    Fly safe.

    Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl — what a bright spark

    meow meow cabaret performerHumour, pathos, an awesome voice, a superb use of light and shade in all forms … oh Meow Meow, it was all over way too soon, the light burning twice as bright burning half as — no wait.

    We saw Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at the Malthouse Theatre, that gorgeous old refurbed brewery in Melbourne’s Southbank, and it was a hot ticket. Not ‘too hot’, like the opening number sung in German and then English with true cabaret panache, but just the right kind of heiss: flirty, yes, and creative, and clever.

    I don’t want to say too much, because the show took turns I didn’t expect, in staging and lighting, and in musical direction. But there was at its core a social conscience anchored around the plight of children — hence the nod to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale — and in the wings superb support from a talented singer, Mitchell Butel, and a sharp four-piece band who added atmospherics with violin that were truly sensational.

    Meow Meow is so engaging, risque and personable and witty, making established one-liners and tired double entendres work anew. She swears for emphasis, not conversation. She does silence very well, and darkness, too. She pulls folks out of the audience and doesn’t take the piss, though she does tumble into some Teutonic instruction from time to time.

    The show went for 80 minutes and there were torches and light bulbs and a chandelier. It could not be confused with Phantom of the Opera although the singing was very good. There was a clever — damn, that word again — to a Melbourne moment that might not work in other cities, unless they’re equally as clueless when it comes to public transport.

    The Malthouse show runs till December 4 (I can recommend the pork belly if you’re dining beforehand, and isn’t it nice to be at a theatre where you can take your drink in?), and Meow Meow returns early next year for gigs in Melbourne’s Spiegeltent, and others’, too. Nom nom nom.

    Wendy Rule at the Caravan Music Club

    wendy rule

    Melbourne’s Wendy Rule played ‘south of the river’ on Saturday night when she took to the stage at the cosy Caravan Music Club, at Oakleigh’s RSL Club. With a cemetery for a backyard, it was a suitable venue for the pagan singer-songwriter, given a cabaret air with the red-and-white checked table cloths and candles.

    Saturday’s gig drew a small but appreciative crowd on a wet night on a soaked day — my sister had retreated, saturated and mud splattered, before the main act at a vineyard concert earlier in the day — and it was a shame there weren’t more on hand to hear a wonderful performance.

    With the air scented with white sage and red wine on stage, the gig was engagingly laid back. Rule was effervescent as always but with an extra sparkle in the wake of her recent wedding, and husband Timothy on stage with guitar alongside regular companions William Llewellyn Griffiths on percussion and Rachel Samuel on cello. I love the cello in particular, such a great accompaniment to Rule’s hybrid brand of folk/rock/world/jazz, the notes penetrating all the way to the spine.

    There were several highlights over the two sets, timing in at around an hour and a half and leaning on latest album Guided by Venus: an a capella Celtic ballad in ‘John Riley’, stirring ‘Wolf Sky’ and ‘Artemis’, a fetching rendition of ‘Horses’, two promising fairytale-inspired tunes being worked up for side project Don’t Be Scared, and Rule and guitar providing the encore, ‘La Vie En Rose’ (I think).

    The sound was superb and the lighting rig sufficient to embellish the dark, romantic mood evoked by Rule’s music.

    The night was well worth venturing out into the rain for, well priced and well presented. Blessed be, indeed.

    Spot the Christmas gift idea…

    macbeth tea towel

    Cute Macbeth tea towel, for the writer, reader or theatre lover who has everything? From Readers’ Niche. They have the same pattern on erasers, too — *chortle*.

    And while I’m throwing shopping suggestions around for the festive crowd, one of my happiest hunting grounds for pressies for my Significant Other is Poppet Planet. We fell in love with Lisa Snellings’ work at World Fantasy in San Jose a couple of years back: writer poppets, Halloween poppets, Dr Who poppets, cute and melancholy and downright adorable poppets… oooh. Awesome service, too.

    lisa snellings poppet

    Amanda Palmer in San Diego, and three cheers for the Jane Austen Argument

    amanda palmer san diego concert poster

    So back in October, which was only last month but feels like years ago, we ducked out of the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego to hit the gorgeous Birch Park North Theatre (it’s a lot lovelier and older and genteel than it sounds) to take in a show by the always entertaining Amanda Palmer.

    As good as she was, largely arranging her set list by audience request and running a tighter show than usual, the night was made truly superb by the most excellent support bands: San Diego’s London Below and Melbourne’s Jane Austen Argument.

    London Below, aka Tragic Tantrum, were a gothed up bunch made awesome by the operatic range and presence of their lead singer, Zoe Tantrum. They plumb the waters of ‘dark cabaret’, in the queue with the Dresden Dolls and Emilie Autumn and such, but distinctive enough to hold their own ground.

    But the big buzz of the night was the Aussie duo, Jane Austen Argument, who have supported Palmer in Australia and popped down for the San Diego from Seattle, where they were recording their debut studio album, Somewhere Under the Rainbow, due out early next year.

    Their first tune was met with silence. Then, from the front, a guy said, ‘wow’, and the room erupted, and kept erupting. To judge by the response, both to their set and then to a trio of songs during Palmer’s set, and then the throng still gathered around them as we left after the final curtain, the duo scored a theatre of fans.

    They’re a fetching, modest act, with Jen Kingwell on keys and vocals and Tom Dickins holding centre stage with his amazing voice. Material played on the night suggests Somewhere Under the Rainbow is going to be a blinder.

    That was then, this is later: the Dresden Dolls are touring in January, and on another musical matter of much excitement here, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde fame is playing the Spiegeltent in Melbourne in March. I’m hoping for plenty of material from her awesome solo album, Scarred. The Blonde have recently posted new singles at CD Baby… wonderful stuff.

    Tragic Tantrum, ‘Only With You’