In Your Face – speculative fiction with bite!

in your face anthologyIn Your Face, an anthology of confronting speculative fiction from FableCroft Publishing, will soon be in the wild (next month!)! This volume contains 22 stories from some of Australia’s biggest hitters in the genre (Sean Williams, Kaaron Warren, Angela Slatter and more!), as well as some lesser known writers such as myself, and they’re packing a punch.

Says a review in Aurealis, “some of these stories are confronting, even shocking in the subjects they tackle head-on … In Your Face is a truly rewarding and affecting experience”.

My yarn, A House in the Blue, is a reaction to the shitful health policies championed by the thankfully dead Abbott government (we note the Turnbull government’s similarity to its predecessor) and is no doubt all too familiar to readers in the United States. It is set in the climate-change affected future Brisbane introduced in 2014’s Watermarks. The sad thing about my story is that I think I’ve underplayed the situation, but I guess only time will tell.

There is a Goodreads contest running until June 30 offering a free copy, or you can read more here (or preorder at the online bookstore of your choice, pretty much). The countdown continues!

Kevin Matheson, outback vampire, rides again!

Here are the covers for the ‘Vampires in the Sunburnt Country’ duology: Blood and Dust* and The Big Smoke, courtesy of Clan Destine Press.

blood and dust by jason nahrung

the big smoke by jason nahrung

 

And look what happens when you put them side by side on the shelf — VROOM!

vampires in the sunburnt country books

The books should be hitting the road in paperback and digital in June. That’s not long, is it!

* But what do I mean, Kevin rides again? Well, Blood and Dust was released back in 2012 as a digital-only title, but CDP have ridden to the rescue to make it and its follow-up corporeal as well as ethereal. Sweet.

Andrew McGahan’s White Earth chosen for Our Story

white earth by andrew mcgahan

As part of the National Year of Reading, the Our Story program set out to select one text from each state and territory to fly the flag for a reading campaign. Six titles were shortlisted for each; the winners were announced earlier today.

Queensland’s book is The White Earth, by Andrew McGahan, and it’s a cracker story. It riffs off the Mabo land rights decision and the incredible fear and uncertainty in rural Australia about the right to continue to live on and work land that had, in some instances, been in the same family for several generations. A lot of terra nullius talk, a lot of right wing clap trap, some very real concerns.

McGahan draws on his childhood in setting the piece on the Darling Downs, where a young boy and his widowed mother come to live on their grandfather’s property, there to see the politics of the era played out and to uncover some unsettling family truths harking back to the days of white occupation and settlement.

The other finalists in the Queensland selection were:

  • Affection, by Ian Townsend (Townsville, 1900, the plague, a social scandal)
  • Brisbane, by Matthew Condon (one in a series of capital city ‘biographies’)
  • House on the Hill, by Estelle Pinney (romance in the west)
  • Journey to the Stone Country, by Alex Miller (a collision of colonial past and the impact in the present present)
  • The Tall Man, by Chloe Hooper (Doomadgee and Palm Island under the microscope, with a wider view).
  • Dead Red Heart available to pre-order

    dead red heart australian vampire anthology

    Ticonderoga has announced that its mammoth collection of Australian vampire stories, Dead Red Heart (including my rural gothic yarn ‘Children of the Cane’), is now available to pre-order online. It is due to hit shelves in April-May. It will also be available through online bookstores including Amazon.

    I noticed that the forthcoming paranormal romance anthology, More Scary Kisses (with my first published foray into erotica, ‘Resurrection in Red’), also due out in April-May, is also available to pre-order. This is the first time that Kirstyn and I have had stories in the same original anthology — hers is much creepier!

    Classic Australian spec fic

    macabre an anthology of australian horror stories

    Two quick links to tease your wallet:

    Aurealis releases a set of “classic Australian SF” novels (published originally 1880s-1930s; I suspect the SF is speculative fiction rather than pure science fiction) with introductions by some of the today’s best talent.

    And Macabre, a door-stopper of a volume that showcases Australian horror stories from yore to now. Due out in September.

    Mmm.

    The Loved Ones – skin-deep Aussie torture porn

    First, the good news: Australian horror movie The Loved Ones looks very good. Nice effects, effective acting — I really enjoyed Lauren McLeavey’s psycho killer Lola — and some wicked camera work (there’s a gorgeous shot, coming out of a cellar, with mirror ball highlights moving across the ceiling). Special effects were on the money.

    It’s a high school horror drama, set in regional Victoria, in which, as you will gather from the trailer, a side-lined girlfriend gets even with the help of her good ol’ dad (best line: this one’s for the Kingswood!), while the victim’s girlfriend is left to pine and his best buddy gets it on with the self-destructive goth girl (sigh).

    Note that the core plot ie boy being tortured, and the secondary plot ie sex with goth girl, have little to do with each other.

    And therein lies the rub. The connection between the characters and even the scenes in this flick just don’t add up. Just what kind of movie are we watching here — high school drama, family grief drama, edgy comedy, sicko horror? I’m sure I was laughing at the wrong times for all the wrong reasons, here.

    There is so little development of character — here is the guilt-ridden hero, feel sorry for him; here is the patient girlfriend, cheer for her; here is light relief in good-hearted side-kick and here is the total outsider who, in some strange act of self-humiliation, deigns to date the class loser for the night of the formal (I think the reason that she’s goth, or maybe emo, I can’t tell after a certain age these days without hearing the music, is because she HAS SUFFERED LOSS: hence the fashionable black, the drugs, the booze, the screwing). (Nice girl Holly gives blow jobs, but they’re for the good of others.)

    Lola the psycho could’ve been fascinating, but sadly she’s psycho from the moment the light goes green and has nowhere else to go. I really wanted to know her, her and her dad, and how it had come to this, but nup, it was all power drills and emotional power plays. Oh, and there’s a quasi-zombie moment.

    The movie could’ve been fascinating: a history of disappearances, guilt-addled and grief-stricken dysfunctional families, and some really cool defensive driving lessons were all on the cards here, but alas, style held all the aces.

    Anyway, it’s a solid little slice and dice if you’re up for seeing some people suffer, even if it is short on logic and lacking in give-a-damn, and the actors do a great job with what they’ve got. And it really does look very good.

    Awards news

    Good news on two fronts today regarding excellence in Australian fiction.

    Firstly, several Australians have made the finalists list for a Hugo, to be awarded at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne in September:

    Jonathan Strahan (best editor, short form), Shaun Tan (best pro artist), Helen Merrick (best related work) and Lezli Robyn (best newcomer, though it’s not strictly a Hugo, the John Campbell is run as an adjunct). See the full list of Hugo finalists here.

    Secondly, the Australian Shadows awards have been announced. This year, the award was split across three categories and the finalists presented a solid slice of Aussie horror writing.

    The winners were:

    Slights by Kaaron Warren (Long Fiction); Grants Pass, ed. Jennifer Brozek & Amanda Pillar (Edited Publication); “Six Suicides” by Deborah Biancotti (Short Fiction). The judges’ reports are available here.