Bookings open for Salvage Queensland events in August

Salvage by Jason NahrungBookings are now open for those able to attend my chat at Caloundra Library on Monday August 13 at 10-11am and at Noosa Library on Tuesday August 14 4-5.30pm. Expect to hear about the writing and publishing process, landscape as character and inspiration, and vampires, of course. Given that Salvage was primarily written on (and is kind of set on) Bribie Island and polished off at Noosa, it’s something of a homecoming.

You can also rsvp for the Brisbane launch at Avid Reader, 6 for 6.30pm, on Friday August 10 by emailing events @ avidreader.com.au or phoning 3846 3422, or drop me a line and I’ll pass it on. Kim Wilkins will be doing the honours.

You can also book in for the Darkness Down Under panel, with Kirstyn McDermott, Angela Slatter and myself, at Logan North Library on Saturday August 11 at 1.30-3pm. If you like reading or writing horror and dark fantasy, there should be something in this for you.

All events are free. Copies of Salvage will be available. There will be coffee and time for chinwagging. I’m looking forward to it!

Zoo City, chapter 1: all you need to know

zoo city by lauren beukesLauren Beukes is looking like being one of those authors I just have to follow. I read the first chapter of her second novel, Zoo City, today over lunch, and within those few pages, however badly hyphenated on my Kindle app, despite having to read the very first line twice, I was:

  • engrossed by her world: a touch of dystopia with magical totem animals
  • familiar with her character enough to know I give a damn: touched by magic, with a nasty past and not a lot of future
  • intrigued by the story: there’s a mystery here
  • engaged by the writing: economical dialogue, and prose that’s to the point but with just the right amount of opinionated, fetching description.
  • Mission accomplished, then. Unless the book takes a swerve into Stupid, I’m on board. I greatly enjoyed her Moxyland, a multiple point-of-view thrill ride. I can’t wait to see where Zoo City takes me.

    Konqistador amps up world music with Suada

    This is the promo video for the new album by Konqistador, late of Melbourne and North America, now of Istanbul, and it’s the barest taste of the thoroughly entertaining Suada.Fortunately, they’ve kindly made audio tracks of the album available at YouTube so you can indulge before you buy (have a listen, name your price, download away at bandcamp).

    I’ve been thrashing it lately — four days of writing have been conducted largely to this, Kidneythieves and Android Lust; Gary Numan’s Jagged can’t be far off — so here’s a guided tour:

    Suada is an intriguing album. Emotional, transportative, at times meditative, others stirring, a real sine wave of sparse and dense.

    courage riot of konqistador‘Harcanan Kotu’ opens with a chop and change of percussion, bass and fuzz, borrowing a riff from ‘Evil Gotten Evil Spent’ on Konqistador’s ‘Courage Riot album which showed strong Middle Eastern influences.

    There follows three tracks that are more obviously rock tunes: ‘Albastru’, gothic and seductive with a delicious hint of menace; ‘Suada’, showcasing the world music and electronic elements with a jaunty beat; and ‘Brancovan’, offering hints of poppy hair metal, a wonderful anthem that leaps from the speakers and demands attention.

    There follows a more scenic second stretch, introduced by the low noise of ‘Izul’ that suggests a mysterious, perhaps spooky journey ahead. Wind noise and muted arabesque vocals further suggest a lost time or remoteness, slowly giving way to electro, almost SF, effects evoking the weird, the Gothic and the haunted. A superb introduction, it probably doesn’t stand alone as well as other pieces here.

    This lends the album a feeling of being a collection of mini-landscapes, an anthology rather than a novel, and what an enjoyable journey it is.

    Izul is followed by ‘With Eyes Shut’, a sweeping choral opening complemented by belly dance jangle and whispered lyrics, industrial sounds contrasting with the drums giving way to electric guitar-led cruise and some bursts of subdued electronica to provide some light and shade.

    This is where I was most likely to drift off – not necessarily a bad thing – and ‘Rafqa’ pulled me back after the fade.
    ‘Rafqa’ bustles with percussion and vocals. It stands out for being a relatively straightforward song amidst the more atmospheric offerings of this section – a transition or perhaps demarcation between the more instrumental works?

    The album jumps to ‘From the Ruins’, a comparatively sparse Greek guitar-and-synth instrumental that drops us back into a more desolate, though relatively pacific, landscape.

    suada by konqistadorDreamy ‘Keykubat’ is much more lush; it brings percussion to the fore, with ethereal vocals, synths and a gradual building of tension. It wouldn’t have been out of place on Trent Reznor’s soundtrack to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It hits a lot of my buttons thanks to the vocals and synth textures.

    ‘Huzun’ offers a quiet fall away to keyboard/electronic instrumental with choir, an interlude that gives way to percussion and then changes gear with swelling requiem organ under a driving percussive beat and then into fade.

    And finally we have the closer ‘O Yar Katit Darom’, resetting yet again with its quiet start. The vocals add to its meld of Arabia and India; quite a contrast to ‘Huzun’. It’s a particularly long piece at 13 minutes, caught in its percussive groove before again we have the swell, reminiscent of Ministry’s ‘Khyber Pass‘. The SF effects add contrast, a flying saucer landing in the middle of a bazaar, perhaps with a windstorm in effect, indicating the end of a musical wander through varied yet complementary sonic terrain.

    spaceships and dreamers (part one) by christopher antonIF something more retro is your style — say, ’80s dancey and all Depeche Mode-y / Human League-y — have a taste of Christopher Anton’s Spaceships and Dreamers (Part One). You have permission to boogie.

    The Cabin in the Woods: not so much

    cabin the the woods posterWe saw Cabin in the Woods last week. The venerable Astor Theatre was packed to the rafters with out and proud nerds. They lapped up the Joss Whedon horror flick like popcorn, cackling throughout and applauding its finish. It was all very mysterious.

    The movie was not to my taste, I have to say. Sure, I got my chuckles — just chuckles — from the occasional pithy line, and enjoyed the appearances by former Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast members, but the clever meta content and genre self-awareness seemed to pull back from making any real point — afraid of insulting the fans, perhaps — and the story, engaging enough to begin with as it troped along, slowly sank under the weight of its own increasingly unbelievable world building. Quite strange, how Buffy fought time and again to save the world, and here its ending is applauded. Loudly and possibly sycophantically. Meh.

    Meanwhile, on the Astor website it seems the old theatre might be operating under a cloud. That’s a pity.

    AWWNYRC#9: Meg Mundell’s Black Glass is so very shiny

    This is the ninth book I’m reading as part of my list of 10 for the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge.

    Black Glass

    by Meg Mundell

    Scribe, 2011, ISBN: 9781921640933


    black glass by meg mundell

    This is Melburnite Meg Mundell’s debut novel, and it’s a cracker. Once again*, we have Melbourne being gloomified in a near-future dystopia in which that mighty gap between the haves and the have-nots is bringing the city to the brink of anarchy. In the glass towers, the government manipulates its embedded media to try to keep a lid on. On the streets, the undocumented lower classes slink through the shadows, dodging security cameras and police patrols to earn a crust through corporate sabotage. And then there’s the young turks, looking to draw attention to the corruption at the top and the suffering at the bottom through increasingly violent demonstrations.

    Into this tense social battlefield come two sisters, divided by an unfortunate incident, one seeking the other, and both forced to engage with the world beneath the veneer of identity cards and taxable wages.

    The sisters provide the emotional thrust of the story, while other points of view are offered by a journalist delving into the underworld and a ‘moodie’ — a cross between tech and artist who uses lights, sounds and smells to exert subtle emotional control over people, usually in a crowd: say, keeping gamblers happy, helping concert-goers get frenetic without being destructive.

    australian women writers challenge 2012And then there are the walk-ons, often undescribed, mere transcripts of conversation as their conversations offer extra explanations and bridge scenes.

    It’s a fetching combination of character-driven narrative and reportage, as shiny as the black glass that hides the corporate shenanigans, but not dark enough to be opaque.

    All the pieces fit together and the ending is sublimely satisfying. It reminded me a little of the most excellent Moxyland, by South African Lauren Beukes, with its ensemble exploration of social strata.

    Black Glass has figured in a bunch of Australian awards short-lists this year; it wouldn’t surprise if Mundell goes all the way in the future.


    * cf The Courier’s New Bicycle, below.

    Previous Challenge reviews:

    Brisbane launch for Salvage, and other Queensland events

    Salvage by Jason NahrungI’m very pleased to announce that Salvage will be enjoying a few days in the sun in Queensland.

    On Friday August 10, Kim Wilkins will be launching the book at Avid Reader in West End. It’s a free event, there will be wine: 6pm for 6.30pm, we get kicked out at 8pm. RSVP to Avid by emailing events AT avidreader.com.au or drop me a line and I’ll pass it on.



    On Saturday August 11, I’ll be on a panel at Logan North Library‘s Science Fiction and Fantasy Month with the inimitable Angela Slatter and Kirstyn McDermott, discussing all things dark and spooky: a snapshot of Australia’s dark fantasy and horror scene with plenty of market advice. The panel is 1.30-3.30pm so there’s plenty of time for questions and a chat. It’s free, but rsvp to the library on 3412 4140.


    And a heads up for folks on the Sunshine Coast: on Monday August 13, Caloundra Library is kindly having me in to present a talk about Salvage, landscape and Australian vampires, and I’ll backing up on Tuesday August 14 to do the same at Noosa. At this stage, it’s looking like 10am at Caloundra and 4pm at Noosa, but those times are to be locked in: let me know if you’re interested and I can keep you updated, or check with the libraries closer to the date.

    I’m particularly happy to be able to take Salvage to the coast, given that the book was written on Bribie Island and is so anchored in its setting — one not perhaps expected of a vampire story, even one that’s a little left of centre. Salvage will be available at all events, or can be found at select bookshops — ask your local! — or at the publisher’s website for $15 + postage, or direct from me if you’d like a signed copy.

    In Victoria, I know that Notions Unlimited has three signed copies. 🙂