The Reassurance of Dystopias: Talking to Jane Rawson

Attention Conservation Notice: a couple of ravy paras about how much I like Jane Rawson’s novel leading into an interview that shows her to be smart and funny in which we talk about dystopias, utopias, her new book and the inevitable reality of climate change (1992 words).

WrongTurnI really really love Jane Rawson’s A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists. It’s a dark and surreal urban fantasy partly set in a dystopian, tropical future Melbourne, partly set in an imaginary space accessible only through the worn-through creases in reality that are indicated by the worn creases on an old map, and partly inside a fictional version of San Francisco written by Caddie, the story’s protagonist who lives in the aforementioned dystopian future Melbourne.

A lot of authors would be satisfied with simply working out how to hold together such disparate elements without their story exploding, but Unmade Lists does more than just hang together – it tells an entirely convincing emotionally compelling story about the lives of the people who exist and interact in these places. It’s a case study in exactly how the freaky crazy worlds of fantastic writing can properly coexist with the emotional weight of realism without ever seeming like they don’t belong together.

Seriously, I cried. At least a couple of times. It’s a brilliant book. You gotta read it.

A while back I convinced Jane to let me interview her about Unmade Lists, which at the time had just deservedly won that odd award for most under-rated Australian book of the year. We spoke about Unmade Lists and also about her new book: The Handbook: Surviving and living with climate change, which is exactly what it says on the tin and which will be out in September this year.

WrongTurnDinkus

Do you see Unmade Lists as a dystopia?

Yes. Definitely. I’ve got my notes from when I was first thinking about it and I’ve got a list of “OK, what would a terrible Melbourne look like?” It would include lots of things like being really hot and dusty, you don’t have enough food today… Cockroaches, which didn’t make it into the final draft, but I pretty much set out to work out a future Melbourne.

And did that tie neatly into your own mental exploration of the refinery explosions?

Yeah, the imaginary explosions in Yarraville in my book are set very close to where I used to live.

“OK, what would a terrible Melbourne look like?”

You’d been thinking about that independently of the dystopian Melbourne scenario, though?

I think about all kinds of crises all the time. It was actually really reassuring. The guy I talked to said, “All of Yarraville would go up if these explode. You’ve got a $100,000 discount on your house because you’re so close to it, but ha ha, sucks to all those other people further away who paid more – they’re going to blow up too.” So that was nice. Read more ›

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Posted in i would like to recommend these people's writing, the writing process

Three Articles for ANZAC Day

Sharon Mascall-Dare: ANZAC Day: Ethics of Remembrance (via the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma)
“From an ethical perspective, such a prolonged focus on commemoration and remembrance raises numerous issues.”

Jane Rawson: Don’t Mention the War (via Overland)
“Courage, ingenuity, good humour, mateship and even sacrifice are qualities which have no inherent relationship with war. Sure, they occur during war; they also occur in primary schools and at stitch and bitch sessions in inner-city bars.”

Bruce Scates: Political Rhetoric Makes a Parody of Remembrance (via the Age)
“Seldom do we consider the flawed political systems and destructive ideologies that pit the young men of one nation against those of another. And in that, again we do that generation an injustice.”

Lest we forget.

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Posted in i would like to recommend these people's writing, Me and my opinions

250 Followers! (and update on 200 followers too)

Originally posted on Aramis Fox:

Aramis Foxgot a little more popular recently with the addition of our 250th follower, which is nice. As per the rules established around the time of follower 200, Zoe Dattner, who was the one who got the counter ticking one past 249, has been included in Aramis Fox.

Zoe appears as a colleague of Aramis’s who has a particular interest in superhero costumes. The two strike up a chat at a work do along those lines, giving Aramis more to think about in terms of his “work wear”, so to speak. The full conversation has already appeared on the twitter feed, and will be ensconced here in the archives shortly.

Heath Graham, our 200th follower, has also made his appearance in the story since he became follower 199 + 1, appearing as The Mystery Squid, a blogger-superhero looking for another powered person to team up with. Will that person be…

View original 132 more words

Posted in writing

Give These People Your Money: Night Terrace

Night Terrace is a series of hilarious, smart and witty science fiction comedy audioplays about a terrace house that travels randomly in space and time with a retired superspy and a door-to-door power company salesperson inside it.

It stars Jackie Woodburne (aka “Susan from Neighbours“) as Anastasia Black (the superspy), Ben McKenzie as Eddie Jones (the salesperson) and Petra Eliot as Sue, a mysterious disembodied purveyor of cryptic sometimes completely unhelpful advice who may actually know quite a lot about the house and why it does what it does. But why waste words describing Night Terrace, when you can listen to Episode One of Series One for free for yourself?

Following on from the success of Night Terrace Series One (including recently receiving an Aurealis Award), Series Two is currently being crowdfunded, with around a week to go to reach its target. If listening to Episode One (see above) isn’t enough to get you pledging to the creation of even more Night Terrace, here’s Night Terrace co-founder Mr. John Richards to elaborate on the show and why you really should back it.


Was doing a second season of Night Terrace always part of the plan?

John: I was always focused on just getting season one made, but others in the group (looking at YOU, Lee Zachariah) had other ideas. There’s actually something important about Season Two planted in the first two minutes of the first episode. And we know what Season Three will be about now as well. But as a deeply scientific-leaning man I worry about jinxes.

Read more ›

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“Lip Tongued Hot Sex”

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I’ll admit that self-googling is a bit indulgent, but this is not what I had in mind when I set up alerts for my books.

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Posted in crappin' on about the inconsequential, hee hee hee hee heeee, Not Quite the Man for the Job

The Best Possible Follow-up to That Blog I Wrote About That Poem I Wrote

The one I rambled about here? I got an email over the weekend from Australian Poetry Journal asking for a bio to go with the poem because they want to publish it in (I think) the July issue of APJ. Which is really unexpected, given my track record in recent years for successful poetry submissions, but hey four days is definitely less than ninety, so that’s pretty nice.

Of course the irrational lizard part of my brain is now determined to test the association between that blog post and this quick turnaround, and it’ll be hard hard hard not to post another snarky blog about how long it takes to hear back about submissions the next time I send anything out into the scary big world of journals.

Anyway, gettin’ published: yay.

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Posted in crappin' on about the inconsequential, i would like to recommend these people's writing, the writing process

Favourite New Who Episodes by Doctor (because why not right?)

Friends of mine on Facebook were talking about a Doctor Who rewatch night they had to celebrate 10 years since the first episode of the new series was screened back in 2005. They voted among themselves to decide which episode featuring each of the four actors to play the Doctor they would watch, and came up with this list:

  • For Doctor #9  they picked “End of the World”, in which the Doctor and Rose travel to the future to watch from the safety of a satellite as the earth dies.
  • For Doctor #10 they picked “Blink”, in which the Doctor and Martha meet/escape from the Weeping Angels by recording a bunch of DVD easter eggs and using them to matchmake a young woman and a videostore nerd.
  • For Doctor #11 they picked “The Eleventh Hour”, in which the newly-regenerated Doctor meets Amy Pond twice (once as an 11-year-old and once as a twenty something), then chases off an escaped alien prisoner and the alien race that imprisoned it.
  • For Doctor #12 they picked “Mummy on the Orient Express”, in which the Doctor and Clara get caught up in a retro-1920s whodunnit on a train in space involving an ancient space-mummy curse.

All fine episodes, eminently watchable. Which I plan to do myself very soon. But it got me thinking about what my own 10-years-of-Having-Doctor-Who-on-Telly-Again one-ep-per-Doctor watchback list would be, and I came up with this (spoilers obv):

Read more ›

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Vanishing Point. Today's desk companions were those genre-shifting game-changers, Superman & Spider-Man! Love those blues and reds! One Is The Loneliest Number That You'll Ever Do. At The Third Stroke.

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