Monday, August 15, 2005

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Velvet Threads - Reading, Writing & Other Fantastic Pursuits

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

2005 Ditmar Awards
The 2005 Australian National Science Fiction Achievement 'Ditmar' Awards were presented at Thylacon, the 44th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, on Saturday 11 June 2005, in a ceremony at the Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania. The awards were presented by Cary Lenehan. The winners were:

Best Novel
The Crooked Letter, Sean Williams (HarperCollins Australia)

Best Collected Work
Black Juice, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin Australia)

Best Novella/Novelette
"The Last Days of Kali Yuga", Paul Haines (NFG Magazine, August 2004)

Best Short Story
"Singing My Sister Down", Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)

Best Professional Artwork
Kerri Valkova for the cover to The Black Crusade (Chimaera Publications)

Best Professional Achievement
Clarion South committee

Fan Achievement
Conflux convention committee

Fan Artist
Sarah Xu

The SF Bullsheet, eds Edwina Harvey & Ted Scribner

Fan Writer
Bruce Gillespie

Best New Talent
Paul Haines

Also at Thylacon, two non-Ditmar awards were presented:

William Atheling Jnr Award for Criticism or Review (tie)
Robert Hood, for his review of Weight of Water at HoodReviews; and
Jason Nahrung for "Why are publishers afraid of horror" (BAM, Courier Mail, 20 March 2004)

The Peter McNamara Achievement Award (presented by Mariann MacNamara)
Jonathan Strahan

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thylacon is eight days away. I'm actually starting to look forward to it, and not just because I'll be getting my life back afterwards. Last time I went to a science fiction convention, I wasn't pregnant yet. Now I have a nearly-five-month old beautiful baby girl, and a new house (more rooms than we actually need right now!!!) and an entirely different life.

Not that the old one was bad, it was actually pretty damn good, but the new one is on another plane. I love being a mum.

Now I just have to finish my PhD thesis, get back to The Creature Court and use it to get me an agent and a three-book contract...

But before then, I have a convention to put on. Come along and see us - day memberships are $50 at the door. I recommend Saturday, as that includes the Masquerade and Ditmar awards, which are something of an extravaganza. But the programming on Sunday is pretty good - you'll get the widest range of choice with nearly three streams plus gaming & trading.

and watch this space to find out what happens next. :)

My new housemum existence (as opposed to the old gadabout bookshop-haunting student existence) means that I don't get out much. The upshot of this is that I am spending less money on impulse-buy books from actual bookshops, and spending more on buying books online. Funnily enough, it works out that overall I spend less money on books, because I'm a lot choosier when lashing out for postage.

I have less time for everything these days, except reading (while breastfeeding). And soap operas, but that's another story. :)

I've recently been indulging in a pile of Locus-recommended fiction, and enjoying myself immensely.

The Family Trade by Charles Stross was a bit of a disappointment, but only because I have read so many reviews that built it up so highly. I don't think it's quite as fantastic and original and amazing as so many other reviewers seem to thing, although I should add that it is a) pretty good, b) reasonably original, and c) far better than most of the mass market fantasy out there. The character and set up is interesting, and I'll certainly read more in the series. I'm generally not a fan of US-based 'portal' fantasy but this is a quality example of the sub-genre.

Even though I was prepared for it not to have a proper conclusion (having been warned by various reviews) I wasn't really prepared for it to stop *so* suddenly and when the story had only just gotten started. Apparently this is another publisher-slashes-book-in-half casualty and I'm getting so tired of those! Unfortunately there's no way to protest this without doing further damage to the author. The female characters are fantastic, very developed and interesting, not only the heroine but her various friends and companions also. Conversely, the male characters are very uninteresting and uninspired. The central 'dangerous man/villain/father figure' never gets beyond the oft-mentioned Godfather metaphor, and as for the 'romantic interest' Roland - well, he *could* be wetter, but it's hard to imagine. I didn't mind Miriam falling into bed with him in an attempt to manipulate him, but I couldn't for the life of me see why/how she was falling in love so suddenly. It didn't fit in with her character.

I wish I'd waited until another volume or two of this was out, because the pace does build up and I'm keen to see what happens next. I did enjoy this - particularly the various travel descriptions, usually the bane of fantasy - and will be following future installments. My high expectations worked against me with this one.

Not so with Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, which I also came into prepared to love. In this case I did, unconditionally. Kelly Link writes exactly the kind of stories that I love to read - and the kind I'd love to write. She constantly surprises me with my favourite themes and characters that I enjoy spending time with; even the nasty ones! I'm looking forward to Magic for Beginners.

The third on the list was Trash Sex Magic by Jennifer Stevenson. I admit that I read it because of the title more than the various awards it's garnered, but I was overwhelmed by how much it exceeded my expectations. It's a beautiful, literate story about brash, lively characters. It doesn't patronise or over-explain (or confuse). It doesn't need a sequel or a prequel or a map or twice as many pages as the plot allows for. It's tight and clever and more fantasy should be exactly like this (only different of course, which is the point).

So two out of three books this week that made me want to be a better writer. Not bad at all.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sci Fi & Other Strange Stuff Quiz Night
When: Monday 11th April
Where: New Sydney Hotel, Bathurst Street, Hobart
Cost: $4.00 per person
Time: Registration 7.30pm

Categories are: Sci Fi TV, movies, Hits & Misses (geography), story
lines (books), All hail the great thingy (religion), smart people
(science) and of course Strange Stuff! Gather your friends and form a

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The latest from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine:

The Andromeda Spaceways Newsletter
Keeping you up-to-date every with everything happening at ASIM!

Terry Pratchett!!

Dave Luckett scored an interview with Terry Pratchett when he visited
Australia last year, and we've got the interview to prove it! Check
out issue 17 for our six-page feature Terry Pratchett article as well
as our usual mix of reviews, articles and many, many pages of the fun
fiction goodness you love.

ASIM has scored nominations all over the place. Congratulations to all
nominees, but in particular to:
~~Barbara Robson, whose science fiction story Absolution in issue 15
was nominated for an Aurealis Award
~~Stephen Dedman, whose story The Whole of the Law in issue 13 was
nominated for a Ditmar
~~Les Petersen, who received best artwork Ditmar nominations for the
covers of ASIM issues 12 and 16
~~ASIM-featured artist Brian Smith, ASIM-featured author Barbara
Robson and ASIM-featured author and collective member Stuart Barrow,
who were all nominated for a Best New Talent Ditmar.

New Issue out now!

Issue #17 has hit the shelves: edited by Sally Beasley, this issue
includes Dave Luckett's interview with Terry Pratchett. But that's not

Trouble Leaves a Scent Trail, by Constance Cooper
Impractical Magic, by Gillian Polack
The Team-mate Reference Problem in Final-Stage Demon Confrontation, by
Constance Cooper
The Red Priest's Homecoming, by Dirk Flinthart
An Alien Abduction, by Mark Patrick Lynch
A Game of Knight Court, by Jason D Wittman
The Memory of Breathing, by Lyn Triffitt

Close Approach: Mars, by Helen Patrice
On Elven Grammar II, by Gillian Polack
The Sorcerer's Realm I, by Sophie Masson

New Members
ASIM is sorry to see Lyn Triffitt leave us, but we've gained Trevor
Dadson, Rowena Lindquist and Tara Smith in recent months.

See us at Swancon!
We'll be out in force at Swancon, in Perth, from 24-28 March. And
we'll have chocolate for anyone subscribing at the con. Not that we'd
try to bribe you.


You can spot ASIM members at the Con by their nifty new ~Travel Agent~
teeshirts. Speaking of which:

Want an ASIM teeshirt? Let us know! ~ contact to put in an order.

We want your feedback!
We love getting letters to publish in the magazine, and we appreciate
hearing from our readers about what they liked and didn't like. We
also appreciate letters or emails discussing any aspect of speculative
fiction that might be of interest to our readers. Send to

Subscribe now! You know you want to. ASIM issues make great presents,
and the paper is soft enough that you get at least one additional use
for them.

That's it for this newsletter - keep an eye out for issue 18 coming in

Robbie Matthews,
Zara Baxter,
Newsletter Editor

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Things I can do while breastfeeding:

Read magazines
Read small paperback novels
Read reasonable-sized trade paperbacks (with some difficulty)
Answer the phone (if someone handy picks it up and passes it to me)
Eat dinner (only occasionally balancing dinner plate on baby)
Turn radio on and off (if sitting in correct chair)
Write in notebook (if feeding on left breast)
Check email (if laptop set up correctly beforehand)
Gaze lovingly at unreasonably cute baby
Watch previously taped episodes of silly soap operas (only allowed between 11:30pm & 6am)
Carry on nonchalant conversation with people who have never seen my breasts before (and probably never expected to)
Stand up and move to another room without detaching baby (but have both hands full and therefore can't do anything when I get there)

Things I can't do while breastfeeding:

Read substantial trade paperbacks (eg. Best of Anthologies)
Read newspaper
Answer the phone (if home alone)
Blow my nose
Eat dinner without spilling something on baby's new outfit
Write in notebook (if feeding on right breast)
Think like a sane person