Market News: Short Story, The Girl Who Floated To Heaven, published in Disturbed Digest #16

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.

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Book Review: Evermore by Isobelle Carmody and Daniel Reed

I’ve been a bit remiss in reviewing Carmody and Reed’s graphic novel, Evermore, as I have read it some time ago. Particularly because this book is a treasure.

I am not always an avid reader of fairy tale reboots for adults – probably because getting it right requires a great deal of skill by a writer, but if it is very well constructed, it is an absolute pleasure to read. This is the case with Evermore, and especially when it was wrapped in visual magic.

Evermore is a story written through the point of view of Princess Rose, a teenager confined to a keep by a ruthless King. The language is the English of the fairy tale, archaic in form. The clothing of the princess, and her limited companions are medieval in style, as is much of the architecture of the princess’ home. And yet, from the very beginning, there is the sense of a post apocalyptic setting, and modern technologies are glimpsed or referenced. This is a mysterious juxtaposition, sitting elegantly on the pages, but at the same time forming an uneasiness in the narrative.

Without providing spoilers, Rose discovers her heritage is more complex than she had thought and with her growing conspicuous womanhood, will be the object of suitors’ desires. She learns that it is unlikely she will be wed, but instead, suitors who will battle for her hand will all end in agonizing deaths. She needs to escape her nightmare world to where her mother had originated, across a desolate desert.

I simply can’t say much more about the plot. It would be unfair to you, the reader.

It is my understanding that Evermore was a story that was written before it transformed into a graphic novel. And while there are a scattering of pages that contain reasonably long passages of text, compared to rich illustrations with quantities of text what readers are normally used to, it is not a downside to the work. The words are evocative, strong, and unmistakebly carries the protagonist’s voice.

Daniel Reed’s artistic skills do not expand Evermore’s story – it compliments it. Aside from extraordinary quality of art in terms of rendered characters and depiction of the world settings, it is also fresh and artistic in terms of the way Carmody’s words are woven among the frames. Colour and tone choice is generally dark and tending toward monochrome, adding to the atomosphere of bleakness of a post apocalyptic world, and depressed by tyranny. The words are typed with a derelict typewriter, which has forced the protagonist to add the ‘f’s by hand, as the f/F key is missing – the reader can’t miss it, but instead of being a distraction, it anchors the reader deep into this world. Reed loves to skew images and text in odd, quirky angles, again adding to the uneasiness of Rose’s predicament.

Evermore isn’t a standard sized graphic novel; it is a sizeable 135 pages long. It is a fairy tale but it is fresh and atmospheric, and has a unique backdrop. The story is original, with a fantasy style, but ultimately driving into a science fiction conclusion. We don’t have a helpless princess being rescued by a prince – instead we have a girl growing into a woman, and with the aid of the sacrifice of caring friends and drawing from her mother’s strength of character, a heroine who withstands the greatest of tests, without the need to resort to violence. We have tragedy and palpable evil depicted, but at the same time we have triumph of love and devotion. The conclusion isn’t a classical fairytale ending, as Carmody realistically depicts the price that sacrifice and suffering must reap. And yet the story’s ending is still a fairy tale.

It boggles my mind that Evermore hasn’t been shortlisted in the Aurealis Awards as I am sure it will linger longer in the minds of its readers than the majority of graphic novels produced in Australia in 2015. I’m still scratching my head.

This piece of art deserves 5 stars out of 5.

Market News: Science Fiction Collection to be published in 2015

I am over the moon with the news that a large selection of my reprint and original science fiction short fiction, spanning about 6 years, will be collected in a book by Cohesion Press (the same publishers of my young teen fantasy novel, Guardian of the Sky Realms). A lot of details are still to be sorted out, but a great wad of short stories and a novelette are in the publisher's hands, and the lights are green for next year. Stay tuned, folks.
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Movie: Gravity

I saw Gravity today and was impressed on a number of levels. There were a few, small number of physics issues but that wasn't why I came to see the movie – I was hoping to get quality speculative entertainment in the survival theme of near-future/now scifi. I got it, and the escapism was breathtaking. Clooney was beautifully cast – he was cast as Clooney, and it worked very well. I was a bit reticent when I saw Bullock's name appear as principal protagonist, although not as much as some – I have seen her in serious roles and generally they have been performed well to excellently. To my delight, she was good, well integrated into the movie. I hope not too many people superimpose some sort of typecast layer over her when viewing the film.

The special effects were breathtaking, with a great deal of emphasis on the vistas of Earth-orbital space, as well as small, subtle things, like tear drops and curios/nicknacks floating in zero-G. However, the action sequences were also heroes of the special effects.

The plot was a good workhorse, extracting the survival theme to the maximum, and wasn't always predictable.

All in all, I enjoyed the film. I'd see it again. 4.5 stars from me.
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Market News: ‘Whistle In The Wind’ cross-genre short story now available in ‘Alien Sky’ anthology

Happy to announce that Alien Sky, edited by Justin Nicholes, can now be ordered. It contains a lot of very good science fiction short stories, including work by speculative fiction luminaries such as Daniel Pearlman. I am honoured to have my historical scifi, Whistle in the Wind, included. At the moment it is available at Amazon.

Alien Sky Cover_
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Market News: Blue Stripped published in Stupefying Stories 1.11

Very pleased to see my dystopian short story, Blue Stripped, now published in Stupefying Stories 1.11 (December 2012).

Stupefying Stories 1.11 cover

Market News: The Place Where Two Eagles Meet

Pleased to say that I have sold my short story, The Place Where Two Eagles Meet, to Cover of Darkness magazine. This is a good result for two reasons – firstly, the story is very cross genre (semi steampunk, historical and contemporary, scifi, fantasy, horror) and it was difficult to find the right market – Cover of Darkness is horror, but they recognized the chilling aspects to it and snapped it up fairly quickly. Secondly, I gave myself a personal target of 15 sales this year, and this is number 15! A good result, and in the nick of time.
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Book Review: The Rebels by Elizabeth Lang

The Rebels, by Elizabeth Lang, sequel to The Empire, is an entertaining, clever book.

I say 'clever' for several reasons. Firstly, Lang's greatest strength is her dialogue, which engages the reader with the characters and adds a sense of realism. Secondly, her backdrop is tangible, a future society where dystopian nightmares come true, but on a galactic level. Finally, and perhaps most pertinently, Lang cleverly continues themes from her first book, but at the same time twists them in ingenious ways.

In The Empire, a great amount of Lang's book is devoted to Adrian, the tortured soul of a genius scientist. It continues into The Rebels, but we have another soul (the bounty hunter Drel Argus) who in fact is the most poignant, noticeable tortured character.

I simplify when it would be unfair to Lang. There are many characters who have depth and turn this science fiction novel into a memorable one indeed.

The Rebels Cover

Five deserved stars.