Recent reads: Gibson, Strahan, Kiernan, Abbott

I’ve been slack, sneaking in a bit of reading and not passing on the goods. So here’s a quick summary of yarns I’ve read lately (outside of last year’s Australian Women Writers Challenge) that have made me happy:

william gibson book the peripheralThe Peripheral, William Gibson (Penguin/Viking 2014): Gibson time travels, from the economically bereft American South to a socially bereft future London, where climate change has wrought its sneaky damage and only tech has saved humanity — at the price, perhaps, of its humanity. The book needs its own review — there are plenty out there, and this one by Keith Stevenson tags a bunch of my responses (yeah, the tracking device, way too convenient) — but suffice to say, I love Gibson’s writing. Here’s a protag who is perhaps slightly under-equipped to handle the situation in which, tired and lonely though not alone, he finds himself; here’s another who is coping very well with it, thanks, due to her smarts, and those family and friends in dangerous places. There was little tension, though, and the happy endings all round left me a bit meh, but the ride was comfortable (but not safe — Gibson does not err on the side of over-explanation, bless, though some of the sentence fragments actually jarred me from time to time) and the view deftly drawn and suitably gloomy in all the right places. Makes me want to read Neuromancer et al all over again.

fearful symmetries anthology editor ellen datlowFearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow (ed) (ChiZine 2014): I helped Kickstart this tome and it was money well spent; a solid bunch of spooky yarns. One, though, blew my socks off; it dispensed with linear narrative in a way that made my head spin — that it was partly set in New Orleans probably helped, sure, but wow: ‘Ballad of An Echo Whisperer’ by Caitlín R Kiernan floated my boat like few other short stories I read last year.

 

fearsome magicsFearsome Magics, Jonathan Strahan (ed) (Solaris, 2014): One of the strongest anthologies I read last year, with not even a handful of yarns that made me go ‘meh’. While magic was the core theme, the variations to be found within are wide and wonderful: faery magic, science as magic, high fantasy, urban fantasy. Strahan has conjured a strong field for this table of contents and they cast quite a spell.

 

die a little by megan abbottAnd finally, I should be reading, oh, dozens of books right now, I guess, but sometimes you just gotta go for a safe, enjoyable read. A palate cleanser, for want of a more charitable description. One where you know the voice and the world will immerse you, the writing will thrill you, and the story will be worth your investment. And so it is I have picked up Megan Abbott’s Die A Little (Simon and Schuster, 2005). It’s another (early) of her period noirs, in which a school teacher and her policeman brother get caught up with a femme fatale with a shadowy past. I’d probably still pick Queenpin as my favourite so far — I note I am behind in Abbott’s catalogue *sigh* — but I love the voice and the use of a chapter-free progression of scenes told in the first person from a rather cool cucumber. I’m halfway through and the dressing’s just hit the salad and I can’t wait to see who dishes up the just desserts …

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Dimension6: we have lift off

dimension6 speculative fiction magazineA quick plug to say today is the day for Australia’s newest spec fic magazine: the free, digital Dimension6. It’s available here and includes yarns by Richard Harland, Charlotte Nash and yours truly. You can get a taste of what each of us (and editor Keith Stevenson) is about thanks to an interview series conducted by Angela Slatter — just click those links. Or just read the magazine!
Dimenion6 runs three issues a year, so stick around!

Eclipse online, editor apocalypse and other write bites

I hit if:book Australia’s Bookcamp last Friday, and it was cool. I found out about some very neat exercises in geo-writing: Matt Blackwood’s MyStory project, and his other exercises in using QR codes to bring readers to stories, or vice versa. Locative narrative, geocaching stories, however you describe it, puts the story inside the location, or allows the reader to experience the actual setting of the story at the same time as the story … here’s a video interview out of this year’s Emerging Writers Festival that explains it better.

On a similar theme, Hitotoki ties experience to a map, some working better than others: status updates, not so interesting; environmental interaction, w00t!

Another cool link to come out of the ‘unconference’: Small Demons. Linking books by subject matter. I’ve yet to delve into it too deeply — somewhat time poor at the moment and this website looks like a massive procrastination tool — but I love the idea of tagging books by quirks, locations, songs … When I think of all the music I’ve discovered thanks to mentions in books, and the joy to be found in paying homage to musos in the written word in the hope of spreading similar love, yeah, this idea really appeals. Chartreuse + Cocteau Twins = Poppy Z Brite and ? and ?

And finally, a word of wisdom from guest Craig Mod for those going digital: can you do it better than Amazon?

  • WHILE I was up north delving into emergent writing trends and technologies, Aussie writer Angela Slatter was winning a British Fantasy Award;

  • Keith Stevenson was making a damn fine case at Conflux for the importance of editors (hear! hear!); and

  • Night Shade Books was readying to unveil Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse Online mag. Locus says the title’s due to go live this month with two stories a month. Ooh …

    A musical note to finish on: big hugs to Sarah Calderwood, whose solo album As Night Falls was a finalist in the ARIAs for best world music album (announced today, being segregated from the ‘popular’ categories announced in November)! Right up there with Dead Can Dance! What a thrill to see a mate earning such renown!

  • Anywhere But Earth … T minus X and counting…

    anywhere but earth short story anthology

    Coeur de Lion has released the table of contents for its forthcoming anthology Anywhere But Earth, and wow, I’m very glad indeed to be in this one. Editor Keith Stevenson’s summary of my ‘Messiah on the Rock’: “Arse kicking atheists and messianic alien vampires”. Twenty-seven yarns all set somewhere that isn’t there — this is gonna be fun! This isn’t necessarily the final cover, and the anthology is due out late 2011.