Monthly Archives: April 2010

New mugshot

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April 29, 2010

You may have noticed that the picture of me in the banner above has changed again. This is one of those random things that just turns out well. A Kung Fu buddy of mine, Louise, took this picture completely on the fly with her iPhone using the Hipstamatic app. It’s funny how we now have the kind of technology in the iPhone that makes Star Trek devices look naff, and then we load it up with complicated applications designed to replicate a simpler, analogue era.

Anyway, I just happened to really like this picture. It’s weird and unusual, which suits me, and it has a good light burst behind me that makes it all look quite mysterious. I tried it out on my Facebook author page and someone said:

“You look like your [sic] standing over a dead body – and I’m it! icon razz New mugshot Whether you’re the killer or police at the crime scene, I cannot tell…”

That sold it to me. Oh yes, I like that kind of ambiguity. I hope you like the pic too.

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My books now available from Gryphonwood Press

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April 29, 2010

I’m very happy to announce that the Gryphonwood Press editions of my books are now available. The newly edited RealmShift and MageSign can be bought direct from Gryphonwood or, more easily, get them through Amazon.

At Amazon you can find RealmShift here and MageSign here, both just $9.99 each. There are also Kindle editions of both and Smashwords editions of both for those ebook lovers among you. You can also use any of the links here as I’ve updated them all now. Click on a book cover for info.

Also (wait, there’s more!), as a Gryphonwood author, I have my very own little discussion forum on their site. You can find that here if you’re interested.

I feel like I should be giving away some steak knives or something. Please do spread the word that these books are available and you’ll not only be supporting my writing (for which I’m eternally grateful) but small press in general. If you like the books, buy them as gifts for your friends – Amazon will even gift wrap them for you – recommend them, suggest them for book clubs and so on. If it’s an online book club I’ll be happy to join in the discussions.

Thanks again for all your support so far, and on into the future. It’s the people that make the difference these days. And thanks to Gryphonwood Press for taking me on board.

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NSW Society Of Editors talk with Bill Congreve

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April 28, 2010

I’m very honoured to have been invited by the NSW Society Of Editors to talk at their monthly meeting next week. I’ll be sharing the honour with Bill Congreve, writer and owner of MirrorDanse Books, and we’ll be talking all about speculative fiction in general, with an emphasis on the nature of the spec fic publishing world.

If you’re interested in coming along you don’t have to be a society member. Non-members can attend for $20 ($10 concessions). The meeting is described thus:

Speculative fiction is one of the biggest selling genres in Australian book publishing. Two author-editor-publishers from the speculative fiction world will describe the kinds of work it encompasses. Alan Baxter works in the realms of dark fantasy, science fiction and horror. Bill Congreve’s books encompasses horror, with a specialisation in ghost and vampire stories. Between them they are familiar with all the different demands on author, editor and publisher.

(Should I be a smart arse and point out that the paragraph above could have really used an editor? Maybe not, seeing as I’m their guest).

Times and addresses and all details can be found here.

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In honour of the Tenth Doctor

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April 27, 2010

Once again, S F Signal comes up with the good stuff. This is a fan video showcasing David Tennant’s run as the tenth Doctor with a variety of backing music. It’s a brilliant piece of editing and a fitting tribute to a great Doctor. I’m not entirely sure what the relevance of the Christopher Eccleston (ninth Doctor) is, as he crops up periodically watching along with us, but there you go.

Enjoy.

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A little interview at A Writer Goes On A Journey

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April 26, 2010

You may remember that I recently hosted the Australian Spec Fic blog carnival. Following that, the lovely Nyssa from A Writer Goes On A Journey ran a few quick interview questions by me. You can read the interview here if you’re interested.

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Short film – The Raven

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April 26, 2010

This is an excellent sci-fi short film making good use of special effects. It’s by Ricardo de Montreuil and is described thusly:

Chris Black possesses a power that could lead to the destruction of the current regime, and they will stop at nothing to destroy him. The chase is on as Chris runs for his life in this sci-fi thriller set in an alternate and futuristic Los Angeles.

Hat tip S F Signal.

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What’s in a name?

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April 24, 2010

Check this out from Lamebook.com:

shatty Whats in a name?

420, pronounced four-twenty, is an American counter culture holiday. It’s the day you’re supposed to get stoned. According to lore (wikipedia), the term was coined from a group of teenagers at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, California in 1971. The teens would meet after school at 4:20 pm to smoke marijuana.

I guess there’s nothing like getting baked before going home to do homework and watch Blue Peter. Anyway, the date 4/20, which is April 20th in American terminology, has evolved into a cannabis culture holiday.

So, to recap the little Facebook discussion above, this girl is planning to celebrate 420 and she’s pregnant and friends are wisely suggesting she reconsider.

But aside from all that, have you seen her name? The girl is called Shatonya. Seriously, shat on ya? Her parents really had it in for her.

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Good show, sir

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April 23, 2010

My brother-in-law put me onto this great site (thanks Adrian!) It’s called Good Show Sir and it’s all about showcasing the worst book covers in sci-fi and fantasy. Their explanation is this:

Because sometimes, a book cover is so bad that all you can do is step back in wonder and say “Good show, sir, good show”.

The truth is that these days there’s been a considerable improvement in book cover design. Some covers of recent spec-fic releases are truly outstanding. But there was a time when any sci-fi or fantasy book was guaranteed an awful cover of one kind or another. That’s where this site comes in. Check it out here.

To whet your appetite, I present this:

doorintofire Good show, sir

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Spam comment of the week

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April 23, 2010

I get a lot of spam comments here. It’s inevitable, I suppose. Once you’ve been blogging for a while a certain amount of robots and fuckwits are naturally drawn to the comments section where they shit their rubbish all over the place, telling me what a great blog this is or what an interesting post I wrote while desperately trying to get their link to Viagra or cheaper home loans approved.

The thing that pisses me off is that there are enough absolute idiots out there clikcing on these spam links that it’s clearly worthwhile. If a spammer drops a million comments and 0.1% of people actually click through, and 0.1% of those idiots are actually so dumb that they buy something, then it’s still worthwhile for the spammer. He drops a million spam a day and makes a tidy living off the fact that 0.1% of 0.1% of people have porridge for brains.

It’s fairly Darwinian in its own way, I suppose. Those uber-dicks deserve everything they get. Which is probably having their identity stolen and used to traffic sex slaves across eastern European borders or something. Or maybe I read too much thriller fiction. Regardless, there are unscrupulous dickwads out there and there are brainless morons that fall victim to them. I wish it didn’t happen. I wish it wasn’t part of human nature to prey on those weaker than ourselves, but it is. And there are those that can’t help themselves and ignore their moral inclinations for a quick buck. What are you going to do?

The thing is, what bothers me most about it is that this asshattery gets played out on my website. Since I installed the Akismet spam killer application to this site a couple of years ago it’s caught 52,523 spam comments. Scumbags!

But, on the upside, every once in a while it asks me to manually check a spam comment that it’s not sure about. They’re usually the same lame rubbish, but occasionally you get something quiet poetic. Unintentionally, of course. Probably some Nigerian fraudster trying to sound casual and friendly or something similar. Today I got one that has just the right combination of over-enthusiasm, arse-licking and poor English skills, while being very badly generically written to “apply” to pretty much any post. Spam comment of the week goes to:

Astounding! just what exactly an idea ! regarding concept ! Gorgeous .. Awesome … icon smile Spam comment of the week

Yes, I had exactly an idea. This was on a post about succinctly pitching your book to a publisher or interested party. His spam link was for cheap medical insurance quotes.

It’s bewildering, really.

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Doctor Who the 11th

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April 20, 2010

I admit that I was cautious in my excitement about the new series of Doctor Who. When the series rebooted with Christopher Eccleston back in 2005 I was very excited and the series took off with just the right blend of old school cheesiness and modern technology (in the form of CGI and so on) that my love for Dr Who was both nostalgic and reinvigorated. When Eccelston took an early bow after so little time in the role I wondered if that would be the end of it. Was it a moment of magic and Dr Who was now heading down the gurgler again?

Then David Tennant took over the role. My concerns quickly gave way when I realiased that this was a man born for the role. Tennant absolutely owned the Doctor and very nearly toppled Tom Baker as the best Doctor ever (in my humble opinion). I can’t really think of Tennant as better than Baker, because Baker was just nutso and had such a massive influence on my early years behind the sofa. But they certainly share the top spot. And Tennant was in the role for a long time. Basically the same amount of time as Baker. They are, without a doubt, the embodiment of the very concept of Dr Who – Baker in the innocent 70s and Tennant in the decadent 00s.

matt smith eleventh doctor Doctor Who the 11thI was sad when Tennant announced he was leaving the role and I was then concerned when I saw the first pictures of Matt Smith, touted to play the 11th incarnation of the good Doctor. Nothing against Smith himself, I didn’t know him as an actor, he just seemed a bit out of context. But still photos will always do that. And he seemed too young. But maybe I’m just getting older.

And so it was with great trepidation and excitement that I sat down to watch the new Doctor Who this weekend. There’ll be some spoilers following, so beware if you haven’t seen it yet.

The program opened with the newly regenerated Matt Smith Doctor desperately trying to save an out of control TARDIS. In many ways this hectic, slapstick opening, with the Doctor hanging out the door of the TARDIS as it barrelled over London at night, had me suspicious. This was all a bit too children’s cartoon for my liking. But Steven Moffat has replaced Russell T Davies as head writer, I kept telling myself. While Davies did a sterling job, it was Moffat that wrote all the standout episodes recently (The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone). Although, to give Davies his credit, he wrote some blinders too, like Turn Left. I’m digressing here, but while we’re on the subject, I still reckon that The Satan Pit/The Impossible Planet written by Matt Jones was one of the best episodes of the new Doctor Who series so far.

Anyway, my point is that we should be able to trust Moffat not to fuck up the story on the first outing with a new Doctor. We need something other than a runaway TARDIS. But Moffat comes through. The TARDIS crash lands in a suburban garden, the Doctor meets a sassy young girl and talks to her about the voices in her room and promises he’ll be back in 5 minutes once he’s stabilised the still repairing TARDIS. Of course, he returns 12 years later and the kid has some issues. Thankfully the police uniform she was wearing was supposed to be fake, as my wife was getting quite upset about the mini skirt and clearly fake police radio, and we discover that young Amy Pond is a kissogram. I thought it was a bit risque to have her as a stripper, which was my guess on the mini skirt policewoman thing, given the family target audience of Doctor Who, so downgrading that profession to kissogram is actually kinda sweet.

Matt Smith has oodles of Doctory presence. I think the bar was set in the mid-70s when Tom Baker brought a certain lunacy to the role. The three incarnations before him had been rather more severe and serious characters and Baker lightened it all up a bit. He set a benchmark and every Doctor since has seemingly emulated that in some way. I think Tennant did an excellent job of portraying just what sort of personality a 900 year old genius would have and Matt Smith, in this first episode, does a cracking job of reviving Tennant’s persona while slathering on enough of his own personality to take ownership of the role. My concerns about how unnatural he looked in the stills and my concerns about his age were quickly dispensed. I reckon this Matt Smith fella is going to do a good job.

karen gillan amy pond Doctor Who the 11thAnd I’m already a fan of Amy Pond, and not just because she’s a looker. I like that her character has a clear backstory that we want to know about. What happened in that 12 years? Why is she still in the same house? She’s already a character with mysticque and I trust Moffat to develop that well. I’m slightly concerned that she leaves with the Doctor the day before she’s supposed to get married, as is implied at the end of the episode. That could turn out to be a bit of a tacky and heavy idea to work around. We’re presumably left to believe that she’s settled for this dweeby guy, Rory, that we get a brief look at during the episode. He’s a helpful and friendly enought bloke, but he’s clearly a “bumbling fool” character. Why would a headstrong girl like Amy settle for anyone? Hopefully that will be well answered and not turn out to be a weak point in her character. I believe Rory is going to be a repeating character and there’s a danger of the Amy/Rory thing being a bit close to the Rose/Mickey thing from before. We’ll have to wait and see.

Anyway, the net result of all my rambling is that I think Moffat has started this new season and this new Doctor with a great story – classic alien killer hiding out on Earth scenario – and the new Doctor and assistant are both taking their roles by the horns (do roles have horns?) and look like they’re going to do a sterling job. I loved how the Doctor called the aliens back just to say, “Right, take a close look at me. Got it? Good. Now run away!” Brilliant.

My excitement is reinvigorated once again and I can’t wait for my weekly fixes of the Doctor. Long may he continue to travel through time and space and into our living rooms.

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Welcome

The website of author Alan Baxter

Alan Baxter, Author

Author of horror, dark fantasy & sci-fi. Kung Fu instructor. Personal Trainer. Motorcyclist. Dog lover. Gamer. Heavy metal fan. Britstralian. Misanthrope. Learn more about me and my work by clicking About Alan just below the header.

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