A cute pooch! … oh, and The Never Never Land go for launch

IMG_2624Book proofs are always an exciting phase, and in my inbox this week appeared cuteness the doggy, standing guard over the proof of forthcoming anthology The Never Never Land. Put together with the tireless efforts of the folks at the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, it’s a collection inspired by this country and running into all the deep corners of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

My dark Pilbara-mining-gone-wrong tale The Seven-Forty from Paraburdoo is in there, along with a huge collection of other fabulous stories – see here for contents.

The anthology will be launching at Conflux 11, 5:30pm Sunday, 4th of October in the registration foyer, Novotel Canberra. Get along if you’re going to be at the con.

Focus 2014

I’m immensely honoured that one of my stories has been picked up for the Focus 2014 anthology (FableCroft). I’m more than a little star struck looking at the contents page. “The Ghost of Hephaestus” was such a left of field project for me, and perhaps this is telling me I need to spend a little more time in the left field! Regardless, this is very very cool. Looking forward to seeing the finished collection.

Bek and Char Review: Terminator – All of Them

New review!

The Escapades

bek and char

REVIEW: GUIDE TO THE TERMINATOR FRANCHISE

THE TERMINATOR (1984)

Bek: One of the greatest romantic movies of all time. Directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, this is a love story co-starring a killer robot (Schwarzenegger). I had a huge crush on the hero of this movie, Kyle Reese (Biehn) when I was a teenager. I mean, how can you not fall for a hero who has the line: “I came across time for you.” I mean *sniff* there’s all the feels right there.

Awwww

Bek: An original concept with the pace is fast and furious, the story compelling. And even better, because the movie is done mostly through Sarah Connor’s point of view, you go on the journey with her and feel involved in the story.

Char: Yes. I also loved Kyle Reese. He’s the ultimate tragic hero – selfless, tough, ruthlessly…

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Review: Nerd Girl Magazine #1

NG_Issue_1_Cover_for_Facebook_3c6f89db-5b58-41bd-baa6-7f790d67b598So I was super excited when I saw this new mag starting up. I was a bit wary when I saw the cover … to be perfectly honest, it’s a bit alienating as a woman to have a cover that looks like a lad’s mag. I know *now* it’s cosplay, but that’s not immediately obvious (and to be honest, it doesn’t change my reaction). But anyway, buoyed on by endorsements that the intent was good, I ordered my copy, which arrived last Friday.

I really like the ethos of this magazine – they’re welcoming of anyone who identifies as female, and aim to pay their contributors. Many an independent mag has started on worse terms. Also, the photography is really good quality – being a cosplay issue, that’s pretty important, and the photographer’s pedigree shows. It’s also a generous size – really generous, with many articles and perspectives. Top points there.

Now, to a few other things. After my initial reaction to the cover, I admit I was really turned off by the number of boobs and scantily clad cosplayers featured. I know, I know, it’s cosplay, BUT I think one of the articles actually in the mag summed it up when the author said one of the reasons she was reluctant to cosplay was that she wasn’t a size 6. There’s a heap of non-revealing photos, too, but many of the featured cosplayers to me just look like glamour models who happen to be wearing a costume (which to me, is arse backwards). That really doesn’t give me an inclusive feel at all. I mean, there’s one shot where the woman’s breasts are just concealed by a trick of lighting. I wondered at that moment who they thought the readership was, because I am not personally interested in looking at that. I want to see a clever costume, not a lack of one. The issue here is that it creates a very odd tone, that seems completely at odds with the ethos quoted above and at what I assume is a female target readership.

My other big sigh is the production quality. As I said before, the mag has amazing photography, so it’s a real shame that the hardcopy print quality didn’t do it justice – it’s matt, there’s low-res text that’s hard to read, multiple pages with print glitches running down the centre (I assume these aren’t intentional??), page cuts that are almost cutting text off. There’s a difficult line being ridden (I assume) between e-copy and print – text is full page width which is great for online reading, but horrible to read in print. The graphic design is also terribly distracting – the fonts and page arrangements just look … amateur, which is another shame because again, great pictures not being set off the best they could be. I’m almost certain that it must look much better in e-mag, and felt for the hefty price tag that ordering a hard copy was not worth it. I understand it’s being printed in the US, and can only assume that perhaps the quality isn’t what the producers had been hoping for.

I’d personally have liked to see a shorter mag with the money spent on a better design and print job. BUT this is issue 1, and I’ll be keen to see the themes of later issues, which could be more my thing. I think next time I will go for the e-edition and appreciate those lovely photos on screen.

… why Jurassic World is actually pretty good …

In typical internets fashion, there’s been invective and outrage lurking in my Facebook feed this last week. But rather than the PM’s latest gaffe, this time it was all over an action flick. Resoundingly, many whose opinion I value think Jurassic World is an awful film. Or at least mediocre.

I beg to differ.

So, I’ll begin by declaring my bias. I’m a pretty huge Michael Crichton fan, no mistake. I read Jurassic Park when I was thirteen or so and then rapidly read everything else in his catalogue. Some people think this is just one of my teenage fetishes that I never shook off, like Bryan Adams’ music (love you BA), or mock cream donuts. Having read ever published MC book, I can argue with confidence that Jurassic Park is the pinnacle of his work. This bias, however, is more likely to work against films – I’ve never been a fan of the earlier movies. The first one stripped out all the book’s thinky stuff and made it for kids, and all suffered from banal scripts and plotting, relying on the non-speaking cast to do all the heavy lifting. Even Jeff Goldblum quite frankly couldn’t make them shine. Glitter on a turd and all that.

So now we come to *episode 4*. My expectations were set by other examples of craptacular fourth movies, like Alien Resurrection, and Terminator Salvation, which nicely flushed any of my remaining enthusiasm for what began in those franchises as two fave films of all time. And so, knock me down when Jurassic World defies those expectations. Here’s why. ***a few spoilers ahead***

First, it’s funny. And not so-bad-it’s-good funny. There’s good jokes in it, and most of the characters get one, not just some comic relief guy. Let’s face it, if you have a film that’s about people getting eaten by dinosaurs, a few laughs are probably warranted to balance the tone. It gave me the same feel that Avengers did (don’t hate me, people) – it’s let’s not take this too seriously, but let’s not be stupid, either. So no, no to slapstick. Yes to self-depreciation. It avoids many lazy cliches it could have indulged, and doesn’t dwell on its potential shortcomings. Explanations are punchy, and oh hey, it’s Chris Pratt! He’s kind of a badass, and I loved GoTG … hey I can’t remember what you were saying, so let’s move on. People in the cinema were laughing. Out loud. OMG. Hell, even one of the numerous extras gets a gag, fleeing aerial death while clutching two frozen margaritas. Top marks, sir.

Second, it’s competently structured. The characters are all given some development to care about up front and that makes sense (mostly) with who they are. There’s human moments, especially from the kids (but not too many). The dialogue is pretty well written, especially by the standards of the genre. There’s some great actors in it. The kids are not annoyingly front and centre (no, no, there we have the deliciousness of Chris Pratt [yes even acknowledging this]). Everything moves with a pleasing rhythm, like going for a yacht cruise on a fine day. Despite a multiplicity of threads, no one gets mentally sea sick from a screenplay lurching all over the damn place.

Third, it’s nostalgic … and modern at the same time. Crichton novels are all about the cautionary tale (let’s face it, that’s what he did best). The park’s vision is never to be realised – John Hammond was created only to court hubris. Now, until I saw this film, I’d have said that’s the point. But Jurassic World does a fantastic job of showing the realised park (before it goes to shit). There’s some real thought in that vision. It feels plausible (honestly, if this were real, there’d be a dino petting zoo for shiz) and it’s dragged the original MC story (which let’s face it, was created when Crays were the most impressive computers) into the modern world. Not only that, but there’s some hat tips to the first movie that feel natural. Even the ending respects the heritage of the story, while adding a little twist on for good measure.

Look, it’s not the f-ing majesty that is fourth-franchise-film Mad Mad Fury Road. There’s some stupid stuff – I mean, a Triumph Scrambler keeps pace with raptors in the jungle?? (I can only assume because product placement) (but hey, love you Triumph). Bryce’s hair’s one-scene transformation from slick-bitch-bob to wavy heroine grated (I suppose frizz is fast in the jungle, but ain’t no one got an Instyler out there). Inconsistencies. Blah blah. But much of that is forgivable, even perversely enjoyable.

Jurassic Park the novel was a perfect storm – a big idea in the hands of a writer who could render it into the right scenes. Jurassic World keeps the cautionary spirit of the original book but with a fresh take. This is not a kiddie film, and it’s a long way from frachise ruining. Given the choice of watching any of them again, I choose this one.