Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Anzac Day 2012

On 25 April, 1915, the volunteer soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps as well as many others landed on the beach at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. What was meant to be a quick push to over-run the Turkish lines resulted instead in the Australians and New Zealanders fighting to hold the beach for eight months. The loss of life on both sides was horrific - it's estimated 145,000 Allied troops (8709 Australians which for a country with a population of less than five million was an enormous loss) and 186,000 Turks  died - and ultimately pointless because the ANZAC troops were eventually withdrawn without achieving their objective.

 This was the first time Australia was involved in a war as one nation. When the disparate colonies came together as a federation in 1901 links to Great Britain (as it was known then) were strong and an attack on the motherland was regarded as an attack on Australia. Many young men immediately volunteered. In the days before World War One introduced modern weapons and the horrors of trench warfare it seemed an adventure as well as patriotic. The cost was high and became even higher when many of those who survived Gallipoli ended up dying in the trenches of Europe or in the Australian Light Horse charge at Beersheba, the last great cavalry charge before the horse was replaced by machines.

 Old enemies have now made peace and the Turkish Government welcomes the many Australians who visit the war cemeteries of both sides in memory of those who died. April 25 is Anzac Day in Australia when we remember those lost at Gallipoli and in all the conflicts our service men and women have been engaged in since. We mark it with commemoration services at dawn in Australia and in war cemeteries for our dead through out the world. Every year thousands visit the Lone Pine War Cemetery overlooking Gallipoli and Villiers-Bretonneux and other cemeteries in France and Belgium and they visit, too, other cemeteries in the Middle East, in South East Asia, in other parts of Europe, Korea and Vietnam and in times to come they'll visit them in Iraq and Afghanistan. They do not visit these places to glorify war but to remember the sacrifices made in these conflicts.

National days like this are important. There would be few families in Australia who have not been touched by war in one way or another. We need to remember the cost in lives and injuries that often mar the futures of those who suffered them and their families. War is a terrible thing and we must not enter into it lightly.

 Lest we forget.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ellen Datlow's The Best Horror of the Year - Honorable Mentions

Ellen Datlow has put up the list of honourable mentions for The Best Horror of the Year here. The complete list is in five posts so I'm only linking to the first of them.

I'm so excited because my fellow Egoboo WA writer, Joanna Fay, is among them as is Annette Backshall from the KSP Speculative Fiction Writers group, with both of their stories appearing in books put out by Western Australian press, Ticonderoga Publications. Congratulations to Russell B. Farr and Liz Grzyb for continuing to put out quality books. Then there are two of my Clarion South mates, Peter M. Ball and J. J. Irwin as well as two of our tutors, Margo Lanagan and Kelly Link, and that's even without mentioning the rest of the Australian contingent - and there are a lot of them, too many to list here.

The Table of Contents for The Best Horror of the Year is here.

Congratulations to all.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Apocalypse Prep

Having just been at Doomcon this seemed very apt. Picked up from Hoyden About Town comes the Map of the Dead. I'm not sure where the creators got their information - that on Perth was pretty sparse - but have fun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Swancon Final

It has been a good weekend, hasn't it. Lots of interesting panels and a chance to sit and chat and drink - well, you can guess what and somehow today I seem to have consumed more of c..... (Don't judge me. If I don't put the word in it doesn't count. Okay.) than ever before this weekend.

The standout panel for me today was the one on Post Apocalyptic World Building. When you put Sue Isles, Marianne de Pierres and Brandon Sanderson together to discuss a subject like this you have something worth listening. Fascinating stuff.

Sadly, the migraine that set in about midday made the rest of today a bit lacklustre despite the copious amounts of caffeine which often helps but didn't this time.

So now I'm home with a pile of books to read (There may be a dozen but who's counting. I may even do some reviews some time.) and, having abused my body by sitting far too long too often over the weekend, a bad case of sciatica and low back pain. I'm now heading off to bed to recuperate for the next few days. It's infuriating but that's the price I have to pay for a great weekend. Still the alternative is to give up socialising altogether and that is an even worse option. It's been bad enough being unable to drive for the last six months. That's made me feel like a prisoner and is doing nothing for my temper as Pisces could tell you.

Thanks to my trusty laptop I will at least be able to catch up a bit on what has been happening over the weekend in the real world - the one where science fiction and fantasy are not the major driving forces of existence.

Note: Having now watched the news with its multiple disasters and tragedies, I want to be back in the Swancon world where at least all the tragedies are fictional.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Hugo Shortlist

I've just noticed that the Hugo Shortlists are out. Congratulations to all those on the lists especially the Australian contingent: Jonathan Strahan shortlisted for Best Fancast for The Coode Street Podcast with Gary K. Wolfe and Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts in the same category for Galactic Suburbia. Jonathan Strahan is also shortlisted in Best Professional Editor Short Form.

Swanconning Again

Day three - for me at least, others may have been there on Thursday evening - and I'm still having fun but starting to run down just a bit.

So I was there in time to have a coffee with friends. Are you noticing a theme here? You should be. my caffeine intake at events like this is ludicrously high. This is because any time someone says, 'Do you want to have coffee?' my immediate response is, 'What a good idea.'

I was on a panel - sadly my name didn't get into the program in time which left me feeling a bit like a fraud although I did check on the first day and was told to just turn up. Serves me right for not volunteering earlier - but I'm glad I did get a chance to participate. The other panelists were industry professionals - publishers and editors - and I am definitely not (I'm still trying to sell my first novel) but I think it was a good thing to have someone who is going through the process as opposed to having only those on the other side.

There were other panels, of course, and I'm still spitting that I just missed out on a stunning portrait in the art auction. Ah well, I hope it went to a good home. Not that anyone could have loved it as much as I did. I drowned my sorrows by buying some more books. I'm trying to feel guilty about it but ... nah.

So now I'm home, hoping to recoup a bit of energy for the final day. I can do that.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Swanning Around At Swancon

I love, love, love Swancon. During the four day Easter holiday break in Perth (the one in Western Australia) speculative fiction fans converge on the biggest annual convention in the state. This year it's about all things apocalyptic so it's rejoicing under the title of Doomcon.

Swancon is very much literature orientated so, as well as fans, many of those attending are writers, ranging from folk just starting out to professionals, and the Guests of Honour reflect that. This year they are American author, Brandon Sanderson (he was already well established as a science fiction and fantasy writer when he was chosen to complete the epic series The Wheel of Time following the death of Robert Jordan), Australian novelist and multi award winner, Marianne de Pierres, who writes science fiction, fantasy, young adult and crime (which she writes as Marianne Delacourt) and Fan Guest of Honour, Chris Creagh.

So what do you do at conventions? So far I have sat in on panels - What Do You Owe Your Readers, What's On in Perth and Gender Norms in Fiction, been a panelist on Rewriting the Manuscript, attended the book launch for the latest Ticonderoga Publications anthology Damnation and Dames, drunk coffee, gone to lunch with the Katharine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Writers group, attended a session with Brandon Sanderson, browsed the dealers' room and market place, drunk coffee, visited the art exhibition and chatted with publishers, authors and booksellers (Some I knew, some I didn't. It doesn't matter at a con. You just introduce yourself.). Then I caught up with old friends, bought too many books (according to Pisces. Probably just as well he doesn't know my plans for tomorrow.) and rubbed shoulders with other authors, publishers, elegant ladies and gentlemen in Steampunk costumes, at least one ewok and a very small and crankily tired fairy queen (the pacifier she was sucking firmly on did slightly mar the effect but when you're only three I think it can be forgiven). Did I mention drinking coffee? Not bad for a day and a half. There were other panels and book launches I wanted to go to but a disrupted night last night meant exhaustion won out by 2:00 PM today. A pity because I'd have liked to been around to see the costumes for this evening's Masquerade competition as well.

Tomorrow I'm on another panel - What Happens After I Finish the Manuscript. I'm not sure what I'll be contributing to that since my current experience is mainly just sending the novel and short stories out again and again with occasional highs and frequent lows depending on the response I get. But I suppose if you haven't been around the business even that could be informative. There's a bundle of other stuff going on too. The Poi Twirling Workshop has some curiosity appeal. It's certainly the most light hearted activity of the adult day. Otherwise there's much about surviving the Apocalypse, or you can learn about writing for video games, how to run a convention ( We KSPers have already been plugging our much smaller convention, the KSP Minicon, for later in the year. Flyers everywhere.) and in the evening there are the Tin Duck Awards - and there's still Monday to go.

Swancon has a family stream as well - on Friday the day there started with Aliens and Spaceships and TARDIS, Oh My! and involved small people, icing, sweets and biscuits (cookies to those of you in the US) to give you an idea of what can happen. There's also a games stream - all sorts running the gamut from video to cards and everything in between - and often (but sadly not this year) an academic stream.

Planning has already begun for the next Swancon 38 with details to be announced on Monday. I can't wait.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Vale Jimmy Little

One of Australia's most respected indigenous country & western artists, Jimmy Little, passed away earlier this week. He had a gentle manner and a lovely voice. I saw an interview with him on ABC's program,7:30, where, when asked how he'd like to be remembered, he said, 'as a nice person, who was fair-minded, had a bit of talent and put it to good use.' Everything I've heard about him indicates he will be remembered just that way. He will be missed.