Worldcon/Aussiecon appearances

the darkness withinI’ve scoured the Aussiecon4 program online and come up with these appearances at the convention, at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, for those who might like to catch up (outside of the bar area):

Saturday, Sept 4, 5pm

If anyone has a dusty copy of The Darkness Within lying around they’d like signed (or maybe an anthology such as Dreaming Again), I’ll be in Room 201-02 with pen in hand. (I believe Guest of hHnour Kim Stanley Robinson, amongst others, is also signing at that time.)

Sunday, Sept 5, noon

A reading in Room 215

Sunday, 1pm

Presenting a chat (for teens only) about the evolution of the vampire from Dracula to now, in Room 218.

Sunday, 2pm

I’ll be joining some very cool people indeed to support the anthology Dreaming Again (probably my proudest publishing credit), in Room 211 (keep your eyes, or ears, peeled, as there *might* be an audio version of my story ‘Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn’, available during the con).

Monday, Sept 6, 1pm

Joining a discussion on the taboos in dark fantasy, again with some very cool people, in Room 211.

I’m very happy indeed to be able to support the worldcon through this participation, so I hope some folks can come along to any and all of these: the more input the better 🙂

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Best screen vampires

Another day, another list … this one of the Ten Best Screen Vampires at the Guardian was winning me hands down until the very end, where once again the confusion about popular equating to good kicked in. Honestly, if you want a vampire struggling with their nature and trying to practise restraint, wouldn’t you go for one that actually makes you feel the true weight of that struggle rather than just mooching about – at best a cad, at worst a dirty old man? Like, say, Louis in Interview, or eponymous Angel, or even Nick Knight (probably more the TV show than the movie)? Still, nine out of 10 ain’t bad (even if I’d probably have plumbed for Kirsten Dunst’s Claudia in Interview as my child representative).

Ahem. Twilight. And on Being Human

While in New Orleans in October, I was asked by the Aussie ABC Online to offer some thoughts on the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga and the state of the vampire mythos today. The article has appeared here, in a preview of the latest movie’s opening.

If ever there was a city in which to talk vampires, it’s New Orleans, or at least the French Quarter, with its uneven, gas-lit sidewalks and classic architecture, and the legacy of Anne Rice never too far away.

Meanwhile, my local cinema is filled with Twilight posters, standees and even a merchandise table that includes, I kid you not, an umbrella for $50. Can someone please make it stop now?

Fortunately, as some kind of counterbalance, however unbalanced that balance might be, there are shows such as Being Human: cleverly scripted, well acted, an engaging take on the supernatural trying to co-exist with the mundane. The premise sounds a little like a gag — a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost all live in this house and… — but it’s not a laughing matter. Think Ultraviolet in a sharehouse. Yummy. Maybe there’s hope after all… even if it doesn’t have a brolly.

Here’s a taste, about how the show approaches its bloodsuckers:

And a trailer for Ultraviolet, truly superb viewing if you can get your hands on the series.

Continuum, Slights from Angry Robots, and some vampires

So I’m in post-convention funk, short on sleep and strong on caffeine, a day back at work and wondering where the weekend went. The receipts tell some of the story: cabs, airlines, two dinners at a Chinese restaurant with lots and lots of chilli and an amazing capacity for seating and feeding 17 people at the drop of a hat, Japanese, innumerable coffees at the Lindt cafe and the State Library and that excellent sandwich bar in the Queen Victoria Building and other places besides…

Cat Sparks’ (as always) fun photo diary helps fill in some blanks, too.

So, the event was Continuum 5, held in the basement of the sprawling Mercure hotel complex in Melbourne, with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro as international guest of honour. She was rather grand, too. I enjoyed my vampire panel with her, and taking a new novel in the making for a walk during a reading session on the Sunday. I enjoyed meeting up with a bunch of folks from around the country, seeing Deb Biancotti launch her first anthology and Richard Harland steaming on with Worldshaker … and Kirstyn McDermott landed an award trifecta with her short story “Painlessness”, which had already won an Aurealis and a Ditmar before taking a brand new Chronos.

Next year there will be another Continuum, in February, and in September there will be a grandaddy of conventions, the Worldcon aka Aussiecon 4, also in Melbourne. If you are in Australia and write any kind of spec fic, you really owe it to yourself to be at the Worldcon.

Slights by Kaaron Warren

Slights by Kaaron Warren

On the flight home from Melbourne, I finished Kaaron Warren’s debut novel, Slights. It’s one of the first books to be released under HarperCollins’ new spec fic imprint, Angry Robot. It’s a weird title for an imprint, especially given that Kaaron’s book doesn’t have robots in it, nor any science fiction at all. The SF component of two of the other first four books also seems non-existent. No matter. What matters is that Aussie writer Kaaron’s book is a real gem. Sure, I had a little rant about the number of literal errors — you can’t get away from them these days — but don’t let that distract you. This is a compelling read, even though it’s not exactly express train pace. It’s a steam train of personality and character, wit and dread; such fully realised characters just don’t pop up that often, especially when they’re digging up family secrets in the backyard, pissing off their brother, tormenting all and insundry — and paying a heavy price. I can’t say Stevie is likeable, but her honesty is refreshing, her barbed one-liners engaging, her relationship with and indeed morbid curiosity about death intriguing and just a tad spooky. She namechecks Aussie writers Richard Harland and Robert Hood, too. Cool.

Kaaron has two more books signed to Angry Robot. So what’s to be angry about, huh? You tell me, robot.

Despite the previously mentioned funk, there is no rest for the wicked. I’m up to my jugular in vampires, and will be till Saturday when I present a wee talk at the Logan library’s SF month about the evolution of the vampire, from Byron to, ahem, Twilight.

Zombies have their day … and night

The indominitable Chuck McKenzie, his glee barely contained by the electrons, points out this piece in Time magazine proclaiming that the zombies’ day has come. If it means less twee Twilight and more actual, you know, horror with something to say, bring it on. Though Chuck, the vampire will never die, my friend 😉