Books! King, Powers, After the Rain, Shaun Tan, the Man Booker International shortlist

After the rain

The news:

The Man Booker International shortlist (NOT the Man Booker, for a book, but rather for a lifetime achievement) features John Le Carre and Philip Pullman, and Aussie David Malouf is in the 13, too. I find it cool that Le Carre wants to stay out in the cold — he’s not competitive, it appears, and the organisers have politely declined his equally polite request to be withdrawn.

And FableCroft has opened pre-orders for After the Rain, which includes my cyberpunk homage to misspent RPG days. The story has been fine-tuned since it was included in FableCroft’s flood relief charity e-version. The physical release is due out for Easter.

And it would be remiss to fail to mention the ongoing Year of the Shaun Tan, with the Aussie artist adding the mortgage-killing Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award to this year’s Oscar. Huzzah!

And the reviews, briefly:

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King, collecting four yarns all uniformly bleak. The opening novella, ‘1922’, is classic obsession/haunting stuff, I had a couple of wee niggles, but I can’t go past the man’s command of character and, in this collection, the economy of words and gorgeous phrasing. ‘Big Driver’ is an ugly tale where the ugliness is not just foreshadowed but announced — you’d think that’d kill the suspense, but it doesn’t. The short story ‘Fair Extension’ is probably the least engaging, a Faustian exercise in human bitterness with surprisingly few twists. And ‘A Good Marriage’ is another simply domestic bliss gone bad, an one way in which we can handle home-grown evil. Even when the story has a kind of happy ending, there are no real winners here: such an apt title. King at his best or even his mediocre is a great salve.

And the other novel to have travelled from the to-read pile to the finally read one is Tim Powers’ The Stress of Her Regard, a fetching alternative reality in which the poets Byron, Keats and Shelley battled very literal demons. It’s clever and I can only imagine how much fun the author must’ve had digging up the poetic extracts to head each chapter, selecting not only for theme but to set the mood on the action to follow. It’s a pedestrian pace but well worth the stroll through this superbly imagined fantasy.

Shaun Tan snaffles an Oscar – go you lost thing!

There’s much Snoopy dancing around Australia at the moment, because one of the nicest guys in the spec fic community has landed an Oscar for his short film, The Lost Thing. Shaun Tan’s win is much deserved for a guy who has been working his way to international acclaim as an illustrator. It should serve to widen attention on his craft, as well as on his considerable talent. Huzzah!

Other unsung Aussies in the running are Kirk Baxter for editing The Social Network (he won!); Ben Snow for visual effects for Iron Man 2 and Joe Farrell for visual effects for Hereafter.

We’re also claiming a gong for Dave Elsey’s make-up work! All up, five Oscars went Down Under.

And here’s a picture of the fab Helena Bonham Carter on the red carpet: no little statute for her this year, but glam as ever!

Wheeler Centre continues to wow, Tut is on his way!

If you haven’t checked out the Wheeler Centre’s amazing program of mostly free events, now is a great time to do so. This month, they are hosting much-awarded Shaun Tan, best-selling Kate Morton and tunesmiths Stephen Cummings and Clare Bowditch, amongst others. Not bad diversity, that.

And in other events to keep an eye on, it’s worth noting that an uber expensive Tutankhamun exhibit is on its way to Melbourne next year. Despite the level of crass commercialism suggested by the article, I still *shiver in anticipation*.

Aussiecon4 highs and lows, Voyager blasts off

Cherie, Kylie, Lindy and Amanda keep me company at the signing desk - a kaffee klatsch without the kaffee!

Aussiecon4, the 2010 Worldcon, is over, and I’m home snuffling and coughing with a dose of persistent pre-Worldcon flu, feeling totally knackered but yet energised as well.

This was my first Worldcon and it was thoroughly enjoyable, even with the flu.
Downsides were:

  • Sean Williams being too ill to attend.
  • Ellen Datlow having to leave early due to sickness in the family — all the more poignant for her Hugo win.
  • The Christchurch earthquake was also worrying, a relief that there were no casualties. The Kiwis are bidding to host Worldcon in 2020.
  • Not catching *anything* involving China Mieville.

The program was massive, spread across ground floor auditoriums and an array of rooms on the second floor of the convention and exhibition centre, and it just wasn’t possible to attend everything of interest, nor report everything here. What I did catch was generally informative and at times downright inspiring. I particularly enjoyed hearing Peter Brett (The Painted Man) speak of his “survivor’s guilt” after having his novel picked up while pals were still striving to get theirs on the shelf. I also took heart from Will Elliott’s passion and Fiona Macintosh’s work ethic.

I was chuffed to have people I didn’t know attend my reading and that, despite my hoarse flu voice, they stayed to the end, and was very grateful indeed to have company at the signing desk while the most engaging guest of honour Kim Stanley Robinson made the day for a very long line of fans indeed. His self-interview, complete with coat on-and-off, was a delight. Kyla Ward, who organised the horror stream in which I took part, proved exceptional as an organiser — she also masterminded the horror ball that I sadly failed to attend, though I heard gushing reports. I also really enjoyed talking vampires with a bunch of clued up and inquisitive teenagers and talking taboos with Richard Harland, Deborah Biancotti and Catherynne Valente.

UK writer Robert Shearman performed a most entertaining reading of a rather poignant story about a boy and his love of love songs, and Kirstyn’s reading of her story from the Scenes from the Second Storey collection (launched at the con) also drew a pleasing response.

The Hugo awards (full list of winners here) also proved an enjoyable affair, running smoothly and not overlong, with a feeling of camaraderie rather than competition, and absolutely nil ego. MC Garth Nix was, as always, personable and engaging. Lovely to see, amongst others, Aussie artist and con guest of honour Shaun Tan recognised, and to see the splendid movie Moon score a gong.

My appreciation for George RR Martin has also been cemented thanks to his wit and delightful chuckle. (Do read his Fevre Dream if you haven’t already: one of the best vampire books evah!)

At the end of the day, after the launches (yay Angela Slatter and Kaaron Warren’s double launch, complete with publisher Russell Farr in a kilt doing the honours; and the massive collection of Aussie horror in Macabre, amongst others) and parties and panels and awards (some well-earned Ditmars were given out — the full list is here), it was the people who made the convention, and it was amazing bumping into so many friends from throughout Australia and overseas.

Let’s do it again — but not till I’ve had a nap!

There are some pictures at my flickr site.

Voyager going global

Voyager’s 15th birthday party held in conjunction with Aussiecon prompted this (annotated) announcement of a new global (or is that Orbital?) approach to marketing its genre fiction:

“Eos Books, a US imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, will be rebranded as Harper Voyager, joining together with the celebrated Voyager imprints in Australia/New Zealand and the UK. The move is anticipated to create a global genre-fiction powerhouse.
“This move enables us to offer authors a strong global publishing platform when signing with HarperCollins – whether the acquiring editor is in New York, Sydney, or London,’ said Brian Murray, president and chief executive officer of HarperCollins Worldwide.
“Two authors, Karen Azinger and David Wellington (writing as David Chandler), have recently been signed and are expected to publish with Harper Voyager and Voyager for a worldwide debut. The Eos imprint will officially change to Harper Voyager starting with the January 2011 hardcover, trade, mass market, e-book, and audio publications.
“The Voyager/Harper Voyager editorial leaders are: executive editor Diana Gill in the US; editorial director Emma Coode in the UK (working with publishing director Jane Johnson); and associate publisher Stephanie Smith in Australia.”

Exciting and interesting stuff with an apparent focus on breaking down the regional publishing territories, or at least making more effort to spread product globally. It’ll be interesting to see the impact this has.

Aurealis Awards 2008

It was a big night for Perth’s Adrian Bedford at the Aurealis Awards in Brisbane last night.

Bedford, writing as KA Bedford, has had all four of his novels published by Edge in Canada make the finalist lists of the awards, and last night he scored his second win: for best science fiction novel, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait. The novel is also a finalist for the Philip K Dick award.

The awards, recognising excellence in Australian speculative fiction, were presented in a sold-out Judith Wright Centre, with Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley in the audience.

Other winners were:

Children’s fiction

Illustrated work/picture book: Richard Harland and illustrator Laura Peterson, The Wolf Kingdom series
Novel: Emily Rodda, The Wizard of Rondo

Illustrated book/graphic novel: Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia

Young Adult
Short story: Trent Jamieson, “Cracks”, Shiny #2
Novel: Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock

Collection: Sean Williams and Russell B Farr (ed), Magic Dirt: The Best of Sean Williams

Anthology: Jonathan Strahan (ed), The Starry Rift

Short story:
Kirstyn McDermott, “Painlessness”, Greatest Uncommon Denominator #2
Novel: John Harwood, The Seance

Short story: Cat Sparks, “Sammarynda Deep”, Paper Cities
Novel: Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom

Science fiction
Short story: Simon Brown, “The Empire”, Dreaming Again
Novel: KA Bedford, Time
Machines Repaired While-U-Wait

Peter McNamara Convenors Award: this special award was presented to Jack Dann for his incredible lifetime of achievement in the genre.

This was the first year that prizes were awarded for best collection, anthology and illustrated book/graphic novel.

Fantastic Queensland chairman Damon Cavalchini announced that 2010 would be the last year that FQ would host the awards as their contract with awards founders Chimaera Publications will expire, and a new team to organise the awards for 2011 and onwards is needed.