Dec 17, 2014

Galactic Chat 61 with Kameron Hurley

So yes, a definite slow down in posting in December, what with reading for Aurealis and intermittent internet issues caused by goodness knows what. Still I am hoping to  conduct one last Galactic Chat interview for the year this evening and have it out for you prior to Christmas.  In the meantime here’s out latest Galactic Chat conducted by the wonderful David McDonald.

You can download the mp3 file from our Podbean site or play direct below.

This week David chats with award winning author and blogger Kameron Hurley. Kameron has been nominated for the Nebula, Clarke and the BSFA, selected for the Tiptree honour list and this year won the Hugo for Best Fan Writer.  Additionally, her essay "'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative" also won the Hugo for Best Related Work.

Please enjoy their chat where they talk about the influences on her most famous trilogy( including a dodgy rental apartment with bugs), when authors should speak out on issues of poor or disadvantageous contracts and what's next on Hurley's agenda.

You can find Kameron at her website

Dec 9, 2014

eBook Review – Stillways by Steve Bisley

stillways

I happened upon Stillways while lending support at a local gallery and craft shop. Steve Bisley is one of those iconic Australian actors, never perhaps appearing on the big screen internationally (except in Mad Max), but almost always there in supporting roles.  He’s much like Bryan Brown in that respect.  I have a fondness for the roles he’s played and his presence on air has been part of my cultural experience growing up.

Stillways  captured my attention and dragged me away from other more pressing reading work.  I am not a hug fan of memoirs, I have read about 3 in my lifetime, but I couldn’t stop reading.  There’s an honesty and earthiness in this book, humour and dark secrets.  And love, love that hits you square in the eyes in the final pages. I didn’t have cash with me to buy the book but was able to pick it up online.

The opening chapters read like prose poetry and had me wondering where Bisley had been hiding this talent.  There’s a palpable love of the physically environment of Stillways and Bisley’s descriptions bring the place alive in words. 

The soaking wind curves around the channel that empties Lake Macquarie into the Pacific Ocean. It blows across Pulbah Island and reaches to the sodden south. There is no rain, but a thin wetness. There is no whisper through the casuarinas brought by other winds; they are bowed and heavy now and all things feel sunk and riven.

This is the only way to see my home. This is the only true way to see my home.

 

The later chapters are perhaps less poetic, but I think the content is suited by the change of tone. Particularly around tales of school boy masturbation:

 

I masturbate a lot. We’ve got a masturbation club going at school. Chris Dodds is the current champion. The rules of the club are a bit loose and ill-defined, but it basically comes down to who cums first, wins. Doddsie’s got his dick in his hand more often than a biro, whenever and wherever the mood takes him, and it takes him a lot, and he doesn’t much care who’s around at the time. He has no shame. None of us do.

 

or indeed the troubled relation ship with his father:

 

Our sticks of choice are in our hands.

We have chosen carefully.

Too thin means they’ll break too early and the fury will continue with a belt or worse.

Too thick and the welts will be raw and deep.

There is a crunch outside and then another, measured and quickening.

My eyes go to my sister; her legs are buckling in preparation for the blows, her stout stick is quivering in her hand.

Then he is at the door.

Then inside with us.

His face is ruddy, white spittle blisters his lips and he is shaking and furious. He wrenches the stick from my sister’s hand and cuts a great whistling arc with it. Again and again the stick flails against her till she is screaming and pleading. ‘I’ll be good, Dad!’ she cries, and, ‘No, Dad, no! Please, no!’

 

It only covers Bisley’s life to age 15 ( I suspect another volume) but there’s more than enough of a life revealed in those pages to feel as though you’ve got value as a reader. Bisley comes across almost as a stereotypical larrikin. I think this book reveals that side of him that we see surface in many of his roles but there is also greater depth here.  If he appears a stereotypical rough talking, straight shooting Aussie, it’s because that’s his background.

Grab a copy while we are waiting for the next fabricated celebrity star to fall and fade.  Bisley’s life is  interesting and colourful, perhaps more so than many of the roles we have come to love him for.


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Dec 6, 2014

eBook Review – Horizon by Keith Stevenson

horizon

Keith Stevenson’s Horizon was released through HarperCollins’ digital imprint in November.  Keith’s been a stalwart of the Australian speculative fiction scene for many a year, mainly in his editor/publisher role at Coeur de lion publishing. So it’s good to see him surface with this product from one of the majors.

Horizon is Keith’s debut novel.  How has he fared, stepping away from short fiction and editing/publishing the longer works of others?

Very well I believe. 

In my reading at least, I have perceived a tendency for science fiction novels to move toward the centre in terms of combining narrative and the science of science fiction i.e. we move toward what is scientifically plausible (with some subtle handwavium) and the story centres on character.

I am thinking of James SA Corey’s works and closer to home, Patty Jansen. Space is generally a hostile place that puts characters under stress in extreme isolation. It’s fertile ground for human foibles to be pressured and exposed, for conflict to arise.

So that’s the approach Keith has taken with Horizon

The exploration vessel Magellan has been sent on a 34 light year trip to the Iota Persei system to explore the distant earth like planet,Horizon.  Staffed by a multinational crew it should be a testament to humanity’s ability to pull together in a crisis. Tensions between nations, however, play out between crew members even before they begin the Deepsleep (a half century of life suspension)  portion of the mission.  On waking, Commander Cait Dyson discovers her 2IC dead and their course changed. What was a bold mission into the unknown becomes a tense novel of suspense and second guessing.  Can they trust each other, the ships AI, the half human half digital intelligence Bren?  But most of all can they trust that the situation on Earth hasn’t changed in the 55 years they have been asleep?

Keith combines that sense of wonder we get from the extrapolation and explanation of big ideas (don’t worry, there’s no calculus) with tense mystery and suspense.  There’s competing personalities and agendas, some social and ecological commentary.  It proved to be a edge of the seat experience for much of my read.

Horizon’s strengths were in the presentation of the story world, the explanation of the workings of Magellan and the tense interplay between characters. I didn’t feel quite as convinced by the socio-cultural representation of Earth.  Certainly there was nothing that derailed the story but I felt at times that Keith had done such a great job at other elements that the background for the political and cultural situation on Earth didn’t quite have the same depth.

If you are hankering for some science fiction that makes sense and a tension building read, buy it. Good entertainment doesn’t usually come this cheap.

This copy was provided by the author.


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