Gaiman on story, Aussie fantasy on the hit list

A quick post from the wonderful Guardian, still one of my favourite book sites, in which Neil Gaiman weighs in anew on the Lit/Genre divide, and a commentator finds much to recommend in eastern fantasy, Aussie style, thanks to Lian Hearn and Alison Goodman. Great stuff on a cool day.

In other bookish news, a crime novel has won the Miles Franklin, and the Ditmar awards are now open for submissions.

Sunday the 13th

It’s a hard thing, this internet thing. Part publicity, part friends and professional network, part (public) diary: sometimes the privacy line is hard to judge. For instance, my fiancee and I made no announcements online about our engagement, feeling it wasn’t the kind of thing to be broadbanded about. Especially before our families knew (we got engaged overseas, and wanted to tell immediate family face-to-face where we could).

But some things are too big to keep to yourself.

So, here’s my news, or at least an overview: a week ago, Kirstyn and I got married. And it was a great day. A marvellous day. The staff at Bar Soma, a Brisbane nightclub I’d had occasion to frequent during my time in the city, were superb, and the club gave us just the atmosphere we were looking for. Celtic band Sunas played The Cure’s Love Song, instrumental and with vocals, in their own so-special way during the ceremony, and played two sets of very fine tunes, before handing over to Tycho Brahe to up the beats per minute with two amazing sets, including a splendid arrangement of Love Song and a cover of Atmosphere that I suspect had more depth to it than first appeared (will have to ask Ken about that!).

The wedding was most definitely *us* — there were spiderwebs of icing on the cupcakes/cake and a raven on the wishing well and a gargoyle overlooking the guest book — and we had a grand time. We did our best to chat with everyone, but as is always the way, it seems, a few slipped through the cracks. And we felt keenly the absence of loved ones and dear friends, taken too soon, and lamented that we hadn’t been able to invite all we might have liked, and that some some we had weren’t able to join us. (If ever there was a curse, it must be the wedding guest list – at least there wasn’t a seating plan to worry about!)

Our honeymoon was in Cairns and it was just the right mix of getting out and lazing about, with superb food within walking distance of the hotel. We drove to some sights, snorkelled on others, and for the most part simply coasted.

The words ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ are still a novelty, and I hope that doesn’t wear off too quickly. I’m glad we’ve embraced them in an official capacity. They have, quite literally, got a ring to them that carries a great deal of weight — a ritual importance, if you will.

We got home yesterday to find the real world waiting: emails and bills and the usual stuff (including two babies, two birthdays and a new home for a friend), and a very nice review of Kirstyn’s Madigan Mine that isn’t online but I’m sure she’ll share if she gets clearance to, and a job vacancy that I really must throw my hat into the ring for. But I like to think the ring on my finger will keep Sunday’s magic alive; it’s been blessed with the love of family and friends and is a sign of my link to a singularly remarkable woman.

Onwards, then. Together.

In my absence

singing the dogstar blues

I’ve been away from the keyboard for the past 10 days — more on that later, once I’ve caught up — and in my splendid offline absence, folks have been busy doing stuff:

  • Trent Jamieson’s upcoming debut novel, Death Most Definite, scored a lovely review
  • Cat Sparks has launched a drive to fund writer Peter Watts’ presence at Aussiecon
  • Melbourne’s Rjurik Davidson has announced a tidy little collection, The Library of Forgotten Books.
  • While on the road, I managed to catch up with:

  • Singing the Dogstar Blues, by Alison Goodman: a thoroughly enjoyable YA read in which a misfit muso befriends a misfit alien at a school for time travellers, and family secrets are revealed. The book was so much fun, with such superbly sketched glimpses of future earth and alien culture.
  • Target 5, by Colin Forbes: this was one of my favourite novels when I was 13, the copy rather bent, and I enjoyed revisiting, but found the story about extracting a Russian defector over Arctic ice a little over-the-top, the writing not as shiny as I remembered, but the pace still as strapping.
  • The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood: what a superb Gothic tale this turned out to be, with short stories in the text providing mirrors for the current day action as a young fellow from Australia strikes up a written friendship with a girl in England that proves a catalyst for some stunning familial revelations.
  • On seasons

    autumn leaves

    The trees put up a good fight, basking as long as they could, but finally, winter has pried their leaves from their branches.

    Likewise, I’ve been doing some shedding of my own. It’s not so much a winter of discontent as a spring clean come early. Winter is a good time for taking stock, working out the way ahead, the path travelled. The memorabilia has been reduced to a few tubs, the books and CDs pared back. If only regrets were so easily discarded, and joys enshrined.

    Autumn has always been my favourite season, and now that I’m down in the south, I’ve been able to truly appreciate it: a low sun, the dropping temperature, and of course the glorious colours of the turning leaves.

    As I said, the leaves aren’t the only things that are changing down here — even though it’s winter, there’s that touch of spring, an air of renewal. As Bowie might say, Ch-ch-ch-changes … there’s no future without a past, but the past isn’t something to be dwelled on. Learnt from, certainly, but let’s try to dodge it’s little Gothic claws and enjoy the sunshine ahead.

    The Girl With No Hands

    the girl with no hands by angela slatter

    Heads up! Here’s a collection of stories to keep an eye out for, most likely at Aussiecon, which will be a cornucopia of Aussie titles. Angela Slatter is a tale-teller of note, and this book contains a bunch of her best. With a divine cover, to boot. Ticonderoga is releasing this trade version and also a limited edition hard cover, alas not till September. Put it in your diary and grab a copy.

    Trent Reznor rides again

    How to Destroy Angels is a new project featuring NIN mainman Trent Reznor – it’s mostly quiet, moody, elegant, with touches of Reznor’s industrial synths and arrangements pleasing to the ear. The band (comprised of Reznor, his wife Mariqueen Maandig on dreamy vocals, and NIN producer Atticus Ross) is offering a free six-track self-titled EP, or an upgraded version for US$2, at its website.

    This clip for The Space In Between illustrates the style beautifully.

    Parasite shakes things up a bit, with a Slip-like feel thanks to fuzz guitar and Reznor’s threatening vocals in the mix; Fur Lined is likewise upbeat but sans sharp edges.

    The EP’s diversity and overall charm bodes well for the album – on its way!