I always thought the SJV was a tracked vehicle from the Captain Scarlet series, until …

10 11 2014

New Zealand’s fan-based speculative fiction awards, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, are currently accepting nominations, as detailed here. The nominations close on 31st January 2015. If you’re interested in nominating work for the SJVs — and you don’t have to be a New Zealander, nor resident in NZ, just ‘a natural person active in fandom’ as I believe the expression has it, in order to nominate — the requirements for placing a nomination are given on this page of the SFFANZ website. If you’ve read or viewed or listened to something memorable and / or moving by a Kiwi creator over the past year, and the item was first published or aired or unleashed onto an unsuspecting universe in the 2014 calendar year, I’d heartily encourage you to nominate that item. If you’ve read ten such things, there’s nothing to stop you nominating them all. The strength of the awards depends on the motivation of a wide and well-versed public: the more diversity there is on the ballot, the more representative is the ultimate award. So read widely, nominate wisely.

With the above in mind, the following list summarises eligible items with which I have been associated:


From Use Only As Directed (all eligible for Best Short Story):

‘Fetch Me Down My Gun’, by Lyn McConchie

‘Always Falling Up’, by Grant Stone [at 7300 words, this is a long short story, but it is categorically a short story according to the definition]

‘Uncle Darwin’s Bazooka’, by Douglas A. Van Belle

‘Home Sick’, by M. Darusha Wehm


From Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (all eligible for Best Short Story, unless otherwise indicated):

‘Alecia in the Mechwurm’, by Sean Monaghan, writing as Michael Shone (in ASIM 59)

‘Dada’, by Cerberus (Dan Rabarts, Grant Stone, and Matthew Sanborn Smith) (in ASIM 60)

‘Double Team’, by Sean Monaghan (in ASIM 61, upcoming, expected release in December) [this is a novelette, and so is eligible for Best Novella / Novelette]

‘Long’s Confandabulous Clockwork Circus and Carnival, and Cats of Many Persuasions’, by A. J. Fitzwater (in ASIM 61, upcoming, expected release in December) [this is a novella, and so is eligible for Best Novella / Novelette]


From Difficult Second Album: more stories of Xenobiology, Space Elevators, and Bats Out Of Hell, by Simon Petrie (all eligible for Best Short Story, unless otherwise indicated):


‘Fixing a Hole’

‘Buying a Ray Gun’



‘Elevator Pitch’ [this is a novella, and so is eligible for Best Novella / Novelette]

[and Difficult Second Album itself — edited by Edwina Harvey and published by Peggy Bright Books — is eligible for Best Collected Work]


If any of the above have particularly spoken to you, I’d encourage you to nominate them. But I’d also encourage you to nominate anything else that takes your fancy, in the interests of diversity: there’s a lot of good stuff out there …

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water …

9 11 2014

… it’s the Return of the Mershark. For the (mercifully) uninitiated, that would be the Cynthia Mershark, accidental poet, who has been known on occasion to grace this website (for, as they say, a given value of ‘grace’).

Cynthia informs me that she has not one but two Found Poems she wishes to share with you today. Somewhat unusually — for most of her poems come to her line-by-line and must be constructed, as it were, from the disparate threads of her unconscious — these oeuvres apparently each sprang fully formed from the fountainhead of her poetic genius and required no further assembly, beyond the insertion of line feeds.

I must confess, I have some qualms about the language employed in Poem #2: the turn of phrase employed here is not one I, myself, would have intended for this website; but the ways of the poet are inscrutable (a statement which, while generally true, is especially so in Cynthia’s case), and so I will allow the lapse in taste to pass. I will say also that, though Cynthia has not vouchsafed to me the exact identity of this ‘George’, she has assured me that it is not our current Attorney-General, nor any recent President of the United States of America, nor any particular fantasy novelist, recently-married actor, or other celebrity.

And so, without further ado, two (2) acts of accidental poetry:


there are only a few instances more precious than those

by Cynthia Mershark

Asking questions
are actually fastidious thing
if you are not understanding
anything completely,
but this piece of writing
gives fastidious
understanding yet.

to George

by Cynthia Mershark

For you
to George: you stupid fucking
tosser, jackets might be
formulated to break
down within ages as
opposed to generations.
Head out notify yourself.


So. ‘Head out notify yourself’. If that’s not a slogan to live by, I don’t know what is.

Who says there’s no such thing as a free l(a)unch?

26 09 2014

Since an attempted-delivery note alerts me to the information that a certain collection is now, as they say, a ‘thing’, and since said thing can it seems now be purchased from the publisher’s website and from Amazon (of which further details below), it behooves me to announce that Difficult Second Album: more stories of Xenobiology, Space Elevators, and Bats Out Of Hell will be launched, in some modest fashion, at 12 noon on Saturday 4th October, in the ‘Registration Area’ of Conflux X (which I am given to understand is also the ‘Launch Area’ for several books during the convention). Conflux, if you are going to be in Canberra for that weekend, is to be held at the Rydges Capital Hill, and I believe that book launches may be attended by members of the general public, without requiring a con membership. At the launch I’ll read a brief extract or two from the book; but, to add some much-needed spice to the occasion, Leife Shallcross and Edwina Harvey will also read from their own work in other recent Peggy Bright Books offerings.


If you’re keen for an e-copy of Difficult Second Album right now, it’s up on Amazon (mobi only), but I can particularly recommend the limited-time special offer that Peggy Bright Books is running until Monday 13th October, with your choice of e-book format (epub, mobi, pdf) for only $1.99AUD while the deal lasts. (You can also order the print book through the PBB website, if you’ve a mind to, of course.)

Message ends; you may go about your business.

A sneak peek at some upcoming pulpy cover-art goodness

12 09 2014

Here, in all its glory, is the cover of Difficult Second Album, with artwork by the wonderfully-talented Tom Godfrey:



The cover illustration is a depiction of a scene from the story ‘The Speed of Heavy’ which is in the collection (and which was first published in Kaleidotrope 8) — if you wish to find out how it plays out, the book should be available in early October. (For example, at Conflux X.)

Here’s the full TOC (italics show items previously unpublished elsewhere):

The Fridge Whisperer / Dark Rendezvous / Florence, 1504, Late Winter / Dream(TM) / Things YOU Can Do To Defend Yourself Against The Earth Getting Swallowed By A Rogue Black Hole / The Speed of Heavy / London, 1666, Springtime / Latency / Moonlight / Because We’re Living In A Material World / Cruisy / CREVjack / You Said ‘Two of Each’, Right? / Fixing a Hole / 21st Century Nursery Rhymes, #126: I Had A Little Nut Tree / Buying a Ray Gun / X-Factor / Elevator Pitch / Lithophiles / Next! / The Man Who … / Must’ve Been While You Were Kissing Me / The Assault Goes Ever On / Suckers for Love

As the above suggests, a fair swodge of the stories in DSA aren’t available anywhere else, and this is stuff I’m very proud of — I reckon ‘CREVjack’ and ‘Fixing a Hole’ just might be the two best Titan stories I’ve managed yet, and I’m really pleased with how the new Gordon Mamon space-elevator murder mystery novella ‘Elevator Pitch’ has turned out … but, of course, I’m hardly the best person to assess these things objectively.

More details — such as purchase links for the unwary — when we have actual availability.

Thought for the day

8 09 2014

(with apologies to Martin Luther King):

The arc of the Marvel universe is long, but it bends towards silly climactic conflict scenes.

(I’m not, overall, a fan of superhero fare, although when it comes to the construction of silly climactic conflict scenes, I suppose I must myself on occasion plead “guilty as charged, m’lud.”)

Crossing the Streams

27 08 2014

The goat-city of Medellin was an architectural marvel, the jewel of the Alps.

One morning, a trader arrived at the city gates, his cart laden with wares. The scheming trader knew of the goats’ legendary fondness for fine clothing, not as raiment but as dietary fibre. Accordingly, he had poisoned his entire inventory, thinking not only to grow rich through honest commerce, but also acquisitive of much valuable and newly-vacated real estate.

But he had reckoned without societal change. For the youth of Medellin now followed a deity which held that clothing was not for consumption, but for the concealment of hirsute goaty nakedness; and thus it was that much of the trader’s toxic freight remained undigested, and  was instead worn and washed, and thus rendered harmless.

Inevitably, a fair few of the city’s older billies and nannies were stuck in the old ways, and enough perished in suspicious fabric-related circumstances that it became obvious the trader’s shipment of clothing was to blame. The trader was accordingly arrested, his capture witnessed with considerable interest by several representatives of the younger generation, themselves clad in the very outfits with which he had hoped to engineer their demise.  The young goats stood and watched as they raised their front hooves in obeisance towards their deity. As the trader was led away, he was heard to raise his voice in complaint to those he held responsible for his capture, “I would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you Medellin kids and your god!”


It may be of comfort to some people — not least my publisher and my editor — that the above work of fiction is not destined to appear in the upcoming Difficult Second Album. It may be puzzling to other people as to why I have titled this post ‘Crossing the Streams’. The explanation which I will offer — and it may appear, on first pass, to be inadequate, though I assure you it is not — is that I, personally, have never played a character of the name of Jonas Sulk.

If there is a circle of hell set aside for paronomasiacs, then I suspect I may well be in serious trouble. Particularly if whoever’s in charge of it isn’t too fond of cutesy pop-culture references.

And another one

25 08 2014

My Titan story ‘Lakeside’, which is, depending on how one counts these things, either the third or the fifth of my Titan stories (it’s the third one written, but the fifth one published) has been accepted by Perihelion SF, and will apparently see the light of day (or what, I suppose, passes for ‘day’ upon Titan) sometime in October. I’ll provide updated linkage at the appropriate time.

For those interested, this is the first of these stories in which I’ve re-used a protagonist. Åke Garrity, the aviation-obsessed teenager from ‘Broadwing’ (which aired in the Christchurch earthquake charity anthology Tales For Canterbury, published by Random Static — I believe the antho had a limited run and is now out of print) is front-and-centre in ‘Lakeside’ as well, as he makes a disturbing find near the shores of Ontario Lacus.

(I suppose this means I’d better try to claw out some time to get some more writing done. Now. how do I achieve that?)


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