Obviously, the big thing for the year was the release of Black Sheep, with all it's fight moments, final changes, and odd opportunities, which includes, but is not limited to, the New York Times Syndicate getting me to write an article. It doesn't actually appear in the NYT, or so I'm told, but is rather sold to papers round the world. Go figure, huh? Anyhow, the book has gotten some nice attention recently, and I feel like I've done a bunch of interviews where I say the same thing, which is the nature of interviews--I'm hoping this is leading to people buying and reading it, and if you have, feel free to drop your comments on blogs, on Amazon, and elsewhere. It still needs that word of mouth, really.
Which brings me, really, to 26lies. It came out late 2006, but I'll include it here because it's gotten a good bit of word of mouth, and good attention, and I'd to thank everyone who wrote about it and bought a copy during the year.
In addition to that, there were bits of short fiction out this year, starting with 'John Wayne' in Aurealis #37, 'Excerpts From Books Fifty Years From Now' in Overland #188, then 'Black Betty' in Lone Star Stories, and 'Possession' in Fantasy Magazine, the website. In addition to that, 'The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys' was reprinted in the third volume of Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt's Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Now, obviously, you can read some of this stuff for free, because that's how some of it was published, but if you want to read any of those stories right now as part of the Fuck-It-I-Gave-A-Book-Away-Why-Not-Short-F
Of course, no write up would be complete without the mention of Nowhere Near Savannah, the autobiographical comic that I run here, and which is illustrated by Anna Brown, who illustrated the comic in 26Lies. It's the favourite thing of mine at the moment, mostly because I get the pleasure of seeing Anna draw, and I hope everyone's digging it. I appreciate the emails I get, too, so don't stop sending those, either. The comic will run 52 weeks and we're in week 6 now.
That was the year, writing wise. It was a good year, and though 2008 looks like it'll be a quiet one--the writing and selling of books, dontchaknow--2009 looks like it might a little bit on the exciting side.
"Society has fractured into three supposedly pure race factions and multiculturalism is a crime in this bleak Orwellian debut, set in the far future. After the Culture War more than a century earlier, the United Nations divided the races to prevent violence and bigotry. Sydney, Australia, has become Asian-Sydney, Caucasian-Sydney and African-Sydney, and crossing the borders is strictly forbidden. Isao Dazai, a recent immigrant from Asian-Tokyo, dares to wonder what the other cities are like, despite fearful warnings from his wife, Kumiko. When she turns him in for speaking multicultural heresy, Isao is sent away for Assimilation, a dehumanizing procedure that strips him of his individuality. Thirteen years later, Isao manages to overcome his programming and becomes desperate to confront Kumiko, who has built a political career on her patriotic betrayal. Although the characters rarely rise above the roles of philosophical mouthpieces, Peek sketches chilling images of a future where individuality is deadly and only sameness provides safety."
"With the gravitas of a Margaret Atwood or Kazuo Ishiguro, Peek, in his debut novel, Black Sheep, crafts a quietly horrifying world displaced from ours by a century of time and an implosion of globalist attitudes."
"There’s a clear critique operating here of contemporary Australian society, with its expectation that newcomers leave their cultural background at the door on entry... Black Sheep is one of the more interesting novels I’ve read in recent times."
"This is an angry young book... it blazes across the page with absolute intensity. It’s also one of the most interesting and politically challenging science fiction novels to come out of Australia in a very long time. It’s a novel that has something to say."
"Ben Peek is a writer I fully expect to blunder out into the scene like a run-away brontosaurus one of these days. He has titanic talent generally leashed to micro-detail projects when his true canvas is probably something much wider and deeper. Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth is a gently experimental text that uses a glossary of terms from A to Z to create vignettes, one-liners, and other supports for loosely connected narratives. Some are funny, some are most definitely not funny. All are lively and deserve your attention."
"I emerged from the book feeling somewhat dazed and exhausted (having read it from beginning to end within a 24 hour period), and I’m not entirely sure what I feel about it. Impressed, certainly. Curious, definitely. A little pissed off... well, maybe."
"What I got from it is this: that truth matters when it matters, and doesn’t when it doesn’t. And that each of us must find our own path as to where that distinction lies. 26 Lies, 1 Truth is an intelligent, playful, funny, challenging, thoughtful and deeply moving work. It is a book filled with outrageous lies. And it is a book filled with truth."
"It ought to fail miserably. But, curse his eyes, Mr Peek has written a fantastic book. And despite its structure, Twenty-Six Lies has a powerful narrative drive. Mr Peek as deftly woven a story into his encyclopedia, complete with character development, unfolding themes, and a hard shock of an ending."
"Ben Peek's Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth is a memoir in the form of alphabetical entries, ten or so entries for each letter. The book is also semiotic, social commentary, a meditation on the truth-telling responsibilities of a writer, a part-time comic book, funny as hell, profane, and melancholy. Like the best memoirs it's deeply personal yet engaging and universal. Peek lays out the truths and lies and is smart enough to trust the reader to fit everything together. Powerful stuff. Highly recommended."
"This is a clever, moving, funny and insightful book. I laughed, and I would have cried, but I'm too fucking hard for that sort of shit. See, I understand, relate and empathise with a lot of the truth in this book, the truths I know are true."
"This book is an autobiography. At least some of it is true, for whatever value you like for 'true.' It tells me (or you, or whoever the reader) over and over again not to trust writers. Writers lie. Words, by their very nature, lie.
I know better than to trust this book. I know not to let it seep into my mind, not to take too much too heart what I think it tells me about Ben Peek.
The only trouble is, I don't know how."
"I find myself unable to call it a brilliant book, although there are certainly brilliant bits, and I am instead left to describe it as an interesting book, which is certainly is - through and through."
"Recently I read Ben Peek's Twenty Six Lies/ One Truth. Yes it's full of bluff and bluster, Peek coming across as a hard-ass, and yes, it's very fucking good. There are moments, in fact, of brilliance."
"A bit too clever."
"Ben Peek’s Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth is inebriating, an absinthe of self-deception, a smoke-filled room of conflicted emotion, a hall of mirrors, each of them distorting both perception and reality. Ben Peek dances on the stepping stones of Ben Peek’s supposed life, leaping from philosophy to pop culture, from insight to angst. As one reads this remarkable work, the question arises, “what is the line between the art and the artist”? Peek knows. I know. But you cannot know, for certain, until you pick out the lies. Do you trust your judgement that much? Do you trust Ben Peek? What makes you so certain that you can crack the code of Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth? I’d be careful if I were you. Deception awaits."