Note: I received an ARC copy of this book from Seb Doubinsky without any strings attached. I am a friend of Seb’s and he knew I was interested in reading it.
The Invisible, by Seb Doubinsky, will be released in May 2020. I had the good luck to receive an early copy and dive into Doubinsky’s New Babylon universe (The City-States Cycle).
The book was a godsend for me, as I had just had elective surgery and I needed something to distract me from a painful post-operative recovery. Doubinsky has a poet’s style to his writing, infusing poetry or poetic-prose where he can, and writing in an extremely lean, precise manner. And yes, it works. It carries vibrant descriptions, staccato-style scene changes, and a mathematical (yet natural) heartbeat pace. As is often the case, the author effortlessly marries his poetic prose with a rich noir setting and tone, an anarchist’s ear for politics (always triggered through a dystopian narrative), and an ever-present undercurrent of weird. The weird is the key for me – what makes his work particularly original, and which often maintains an uneasiness for the reader, even at a story’s conclusion – and most certainly in the case of The Invisible.
I will refrain from providing details of the plot as it is something that needs to be experienced totally fresh, but it is a delightful slice of his magnificent world building, allowing the reader to taste, smell, feel the grimy city of New Babylon, both on the streets as well as in the off-colour halls of power. There are twists and secret societies, betrayal and love and friendship. There were moments when I thought the love was too good, too well conceived, but I’m sure that this was deliberately constructed to add to the uneasiness of the reader, ever-wondering that there will be disappointment, adding empathy for the protagonist, Ratner. Masterful in my opinion. The story stands alone but is clearly only a stepping stone to the next book in the City-States Cycle – this too was well crafted, with the aid of a cat’s bum (you have to read it to understand).
I was rather lucky to spot the fact that Love on the Spectrum was airing on ABC TV (Australia) when it first actually appeared free to air. I was (sort of) reluctant to see it, as shows that dive deep into children and young adults with ASD exposes my sensitivities to the subject because of my autistic daughter, but Jenny and I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad we did.
Continue reading “Thoughts: Love on the Spectrum (ABC TV)”
Seb Doubinsky’s Missing Signal is the first of his books I have read and I look forward to reading more – and to dip into his expansive world building.
The adage that ‘less is more’ is key to my impression of Seb’s style, as it is lean, fast-paced and thoughtful in choice of words. The style is not suited to some types of work – but this is hardly an issue as it perfectly matches Doubinsky’s purpose. He paints a dystopian world and setting, and yet there is a strong humanity intermingled in it, albeit mysterious and oscillating in and out of the plot. Using a subversive agent as the protagonist allows for the story and insights to be concentrated, staccato-fashion, enabling the reader to take a roller-coaster ride.
Above all, I enjoyed the X-Files/sci-fi plot – effectively managed – but used supremely well as a foil for insights into our own society with its warts and pimples. Doubinsky is certainly a perfect example of a writer that can easily straddle speculative fiction with what may be called the experimental literary genre.
I certainly will be seeking out all of Doubinsky’s work.
NB: I purchased this book at World Fantasy Con (Baltimore 2018) at roughly the same time meeting Seb Doubinsky, having had my interest piqued.
I have just come back with my family (Jenny and daughter Erin) from the States, as part of a quality-time holiday. As a background, early this year I asked Jenny if it was alright with her that I took a week out going to World Fantasy Con 44 in Baltimore – a big deal as Erin is autistic and at times she is high maintenance (not to suggest this is endemic). Jenny’s response was well played and I liked it – why not go to LA for two weeks, and I can do a quick fly-in/fly-out to Baltimore for the Con. Plan set and paid for.
Baltimore was amazing and my first world con. Highlights include:
- Having a wonderful dinner at a seafood restaurant with Kaaron Warren, Joe Haldeman (and his lovely wife and sister-in-law), Janeen Webb, Dena Taylor, and many others.
- Seafood was a highlight in itself.
- Meeting so many great writers, and developing almost instant-friendships.
- Attending insightful and entertaining panels and presentations (particularly liked Kaaron’s Australian landscape presso)
- Visiting Edgar Allen Poe’s grave (and the atmospheric gothic church next to it)
- Being able to impart (and take on) quality publishing/distribution knowledge among peers
- And on an important professional level, successfully pitching two writing projects that still need to go through an assessment process, but have progressed beyond my expectations. More on this if they bear fruit.
Yes, Baltimore was fantastic (the domestic jet hopping was another story) and professionally, very important for me and my publishing imprints.
I viewed the LA wing of the holiday initially as an emphasis on having Erin experience the time of her life – and it worked. But having said this, boy I had a great time. Disneyland and Universal were mind-blowing, particularly the virtual rides etc (I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean 4 times, as I did the Harry Potter virtual), and I can honestly say Disneyland does make you feel happy. We bought tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party, and it was worth every cent – at 6pm non-ticket holders left Disneyland, leaving thousands of partygoers (as opposed to tens of thousands of visitors) and rides ended up having queues lasting but a few minutes in many cases. I left the party early to connect to a flight to Baltimore, but Erin and Jenny partied beyond Midnight.
Erin loves basketball and is a fan of the LA Lakers. Managed to get tickets to a home game and the three of us had an amazing extravaganza presented to us. Again, well worth the investment.
We visited the Tar Pits and other notable attractions in LA. We even experienced Target US and Walmart shopping in Burbank. That was an experience.
LA is a huge, bustling city but we found everyone we met were friendly and upbeat. We felt welcomed and it did make a difference.
We most certainly will come back.
Happy to see my dark piece, Brown Eyes, appear in the July 2018 edition of Bards and Sages Quarterly. Good to see a story set in a familiar Melbourne locale appear in an international format publication. It’s all about guilt.
It can be purchased through Amazon.
Delighted to have my short story, The Girl Who Floated to Heaven, published in Disturbed Digest #16. This one was hard to sell as it was recent historical in setting, having strong science fiction undertones, and was highly disturbing, covering topics such as domestic violence and suicide. And yet, it was also about unrequited love, and the editor who accepted my piece, stated that he thought it was primarily just that – a romance piece with all the other trappings. First time anyone called any of my pieces ‘romance’.
Regardless, I am over the moon to see this in print – hope you read it.
Pleased that my maritime flash piece, Journey to the Depths, was accepted for the Anemone Enemy anthology, to be published by Oscillate WIldly Press. I love writing ghost stories and so this was a pleasure to write – and as always, a little tougher to work through for sub 500 word fiction. Looking forward to seeing it in print.
NB. I was provided a copy of this book from the author as a result of a long standing friendship. He didn’t solicit a review.
I’ve read pretty much everything by Smith and for a good reason – he has a unique voice in the dark fiction writing world, and it is very effective. This is his first novel, and certainly one of the things I was looking for when reading it was the transition from short ficiton to substantial length pieces, particularly in terms of theme and style. When completing Riding the Centipede I was not disappointed – it has Smith’s style all over it and then some. It is an excellent work and deserved shortlisting in last year’s Stoker Awards.
Continue reading “Book Review: Riding the Centipede by John Claude Smith”
It is with pleasure that my flash fiction piece, Roland's Merry Christmas, is included with a wonderful group of flash fiction stories by notable and excellent writers – all of whom (myself included) are members of the Australian Horror Writers Association. The theme can easily be determined from the cover:
It is available in ebook format through Amazon and Smashwords.
Happy to see a home for my short dark fiction piece, Derelict. It is set in the same fictional geography as a story I published in Tico4 years ago, and it was inspired by some thoughts about people who are down and out – what stories do they have? Anyway, glad to see this out and about.