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. 🙂