March 2nd, 2006


This'll Probably Shock And/Or Upset

Ben Payne (benpayne) has taken up the job of the Aurealis Award Convener. Possibly because he was drunk when asked, or because they thought he was me, and it'd be funny to put me in charge of this. Humour: it's a strange thing. Besides which, there is a history of people confusing him for me, or me for him... er, however it works. In the last couple of years, I've been listed as the editor of Potato Monkey, had people query me about submitting to Aurealis and once, in a bar in Canberra, was told by an editor how much she loved one of my stories, how she thought I showed a lot of ability, talent, and that I was really quite cute, too. She expected to hear the name Ben Payne again and again. I just smiled, took her money, and told her I was gay. And just yesterday I had an email asking me how I'd become the Convener of the Aurealis Award. There's more, but I won't go on, since there's no real point to this little bit. I just think it's funny, is all. Incidently, over the weekend, Ben was hospitalised after being glassed in a bar brawl by a bunch of angry writers. He's always getting the dirty end of the stick.

At the moment, however, he is looking for judges in the Aurealis Awards this year. He says, "We are looking for people with a broad knowledge of the field, who are interested in judging books and stories written in one of our five categories (science fiction, fantasy, horror, young adult and children) during the coming year.

"These are voluntary, unpaid positions. Judges must be willing to commit a substantial amount of time to reading those books which are applicable to their category, and to discussing the books' merits with other judges via email.

"Anybody interested, or with questions, should write to me at

One of the big problems with the local scene here is that it's insular. It doesn't reach outside its tiny little barriers a whole lot and, one might even argue, that it doesn't try to. That's another comment for another time, however. Despite my opinions of awards, and my criticisms of the Golden Shower in particular, I do think it is possible to use the award to take the scene and work within it outside these barriers, but it needs people from the outside coming in. Always has. I know a lot of people in different scenes in different countries read this blog. I know some of you are even familiar with the work that has won previous Aurealis Awards. Way I figure, if some of you have an interest in judging awards, or just getting yourself involved in this kind of thing, and you have a knowledge of speculative fiction, this might be your ticket. Plus, you get a whole heap of free fiction, free Australian fiction even, so you can be a tourist in the exotic world that is so pretty in the commercials for a year, only, you know, with books.

No one asked me to do this. Likely, Ben is probably calling me a cunt from his hospital bed, and wondering what he's going to do when his pretty face heals all up. What's that thing in Britain right now? Happy Slapping? Anyway:The Aurealis Award site is here. Check it, email Ben, do whatever if it strikes your interest.
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    Black Mountain - Heart of Snow

Oh Pure and Radiant Heart Review and Other Things

My review of Lydia Millet's Oh Pure and Radiant Heart is up at Strange Horizons (sh_reviews). You want to read it. You want to buy the book. Argue not. The book contains one of the finest final lines I've read in years. To tell you would spoil it, so just, y'know, buy/borrow/read.

In other news, I've finished the last clean through and touch up on A Year in the City. It is done now. Finished. No more. I promptly ripped out twenty thousand or so words to begin preparing it for submission, which was pretty easy. The joy of having a mosaic novel. I'm just waiting on the last reader, the fine and lovely Mari Ness (mariness), and after I fix all the mistakes she shows me up for, I'll put the academic section in, go get four copies printed out, and get it bound. Monday, I hope. Then, then, I swear to you, there won't be one more boring post about my thesis and how I'm chewing painkillers for a form of entertainment and no longer remember what the outside looks like, much less my friends, or even attractive women. There'll be no more of that. This blog will go back to being interesting, rather than just a place where everyone pissed off at me drops by to check on my slowly deteriorating mental health. I will find some nice drugs. Nice women. Nice bridges. It'll be fine. We'll all know love.

When I began writing A Year in the City, I had this idea of having every different narrator in a different font, possibly a hand writing font. I was even going to do some fancy layout things. It appealed to me, and still does, but the thing I quickly learnt is that such a thing is best done when you have some design skill, or knowledge of fonts, at the very least. I've got a bit, but not enough to look vaguely professional, so I shelved the idea. However, in the final pass, as I made a voice stronger, I decided to use a bit of that, and I think it's managed to bind the final elements of it together quite nicely with two extra fonts. Just small things really, but they work well. Sure, I hate it still, don't be fooled none, but I have a satisfied hate. And if this makes no sense to you, or it just makes it sound like this book is just the biggest wank you've ever had to sit and listen about, well, you know, all goes right and I'll have doctorate and all the useless party tricks that go with it... way I figure, you gotta do something useless and wanky for that little addition to your name.

oh, hey, lastly: expensive headphones really do make a difference in sound. I am humbled and happy. Thanks for all the advice to those who gave it.
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    Spoon - The Beast And Dragon, Adored