Monthly Archives: March 2011

Podcasts are coming of age

March 29, 2011

Podcasting has been around for a long time now, by internet standards. Anything that lasts more than a few months is long-lived by internet standards, but you know what I mean. Some things have their blaze of glory and disappear, though they leave a kind of legacy, like MySpace. Some things fire into the stratosphere incredibly briefly, incredibly brightly, and then are forgotten forever, like Chocolate Rain or the Star Wars Kid. They live on in infamy, in memory, but that’s about it. So it’s hard for anything, be it a person or an idea, to stick around for any length of time. Of course, podcasting isn’t really like a specific website or internet meme, but it is something that was either going to fly or sink.

With video-casting on YouTube and a website or three in every home, I did wonder back in the day (about 2008) if podcasting would really generate that desired state of normalcy, or if it would be something a geeky few would love briefly, before moving on. Here we are in 2011 and podcasting is ubiquitous. I co-host one myself, all about thrillers and other genre fiction. I listen to loads of them, especially fiction podcasts like Escape Pod and Podcastle. I’m still dancing with joy because my favourite podcast of all, Pseudopod, bought one of my stories recently. I can’t wait for that to come through.

But you know that podcasting is becoming truly accepted when it starts to win awards. Not podcasting awards, obviously, but other awards that have been around for ages and have now started recognising podcasts. I noticed this when I was going through the recently released Ditmar Awards ballot. Here’s the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium nominations list:

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Out of six listed nominations, five are podcasts. Among them are podcasts that I listen to regularly and one of them got my vote. The sixth one is a review website.

Here’s the same category last year:

Best Fan Publication

* Interstellar Ramjet Scoop, edited by Bill Wright
* A Writer Goes on a Journey (, edited by Nyssa Pascoe et al
* ASif! (, edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Gene Melzack et al
* Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet (, edited by Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner
* Steam Engine Time, edited by Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson

No podcasts.

In the 2010 Hugo Awards, the Best Fanzine award went to StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith. A podcast. It won a Hugo! It is brilliant, but even so it’s a great step in the acceptance of podcasting.

And this is just the genre podcasts that I’m familiar with. I’m sure there are thousands more out there covering all kinds of subjects. It seems that the audio magazine has really come of age. Even radio stations now are offering their shows as podcasts to appeal to people that might not be able to listen at a certain time, or may have missed a show. More power to the podcast, I say, and not just because I’m involved with one. Podcasting is a great example of utilising the power of the internet for good, producing quality, interesting content. Long may it continue.

I wonder when the Hugos, Ditmars, etc. will have an actual Podcast category. It can’t be far off.


Scenes From The Second Storey – review

March 26, 2011

scenesIf you think you recognise the title Scenes From The Second Storey from previous posts, you’d be right. It’s been nominated for Best Anthology in the Aurealis Awards, Ditmar Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, and numerous stories from it have been nominated all over the place as well. It’s got a lot of attention and deservedly so. I picked up a copy after the launch at Worldcon last year and it’s just made it to the top of my reading pile.

Scenes is a strange but rather cool concept. Mark Deniz of Morrigan Books came up with the idea, based in his love of the God Machine album of the same name – Scenes From The Second Storey. He wanted to pay homage to that, one of his favourite albums, by editing an anthology of short fiction, with each story being named after each track on the record. In the end two anthologies emerged – one with international contributors and one with Australian contributors. It’s the Australian edition, edited by the ably talented Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall, that I read. The talent commisioned for this book is awesome – here’s the ToC:

Dream Machine – David Conyers
She Said – Kirstyn McDermott
The Blind Man – Felicity Dowker
I’ve Seen The Man – Paul Haines
The Desert Song – Andrew McKiernan
Home – Martin Livings
It’s All Over – L.J. Hayward
Temptation – Trent Jamieson
Out – Stephen Dedman
Ego – Robert Hood
Seven – Stephanie Campisi
Purity – Kaaron Warren
The Piano Song – Cat Sparks

Each story takes its name and inspiration from a song on the album, with each author penning a speculative yarn in their own unique style. There’s really not a weak story in this book, but the real standouts for me were Kirstyn McDermott’s She Said, a creepy exploration of art and muse; Robert Hood’s Ego, an out there ghost story that takes some great twists and turns; and Kaaron Warren’s Purity, a tale exploring a cult of purity and laughter that is just beautiful in concept and execution. Seriously, Kaaron’s work is invariably mind-blowing, she really is a prodigious talent. Her collection, Dead Sea Fruit, is quickly rising to the top of my reading pile and I can’t wait.

So Scenes manages to be that rare thing – a different, intriguing anthology with no weak spots. It’s also made me deseperate to hear the record now, so I’ll be picking that up soon. It sounds like it’s just my cup of tea. After each story the author has written a paragraph or two about how their story came to be, based on their listening to the track in question, which only adds to the depth of the book.

So get yourself a copy – you can get it in print or ebook. All the details here. Highly recommended.


New ThrillerCast – villains

March 26, 2011

thrillercastThe latest ThrillerCast podcast is up now. This time, David Wood and I talk about villains. What makes a good villain, what motivations and backstory make a villain believable and interesting and so on. We talk about the really popular villains already out there – Tony Soprano, The Joker, etc. – and try to figure out what makes them so powerful.

It’s a longish episode for us – our crapping on reaches new heights – but I think it’s a good episode too. All the details here:


2011 Ditmar Awards nominations announced

March 26, 2011

I told you it was awards season. The shortlist for the Ditmar Awards has just been released. The Ditmars are Australian fan-voted SF awards – you can learn all about them here. They’ll be awarded at Swancon in Perth in April. I’m so pleased to see so many talented people have got the nod, especially as so many of my friends are among them. Seriously, these guys make some stiff competition.

The list of nominations really does capture some of the best stuff from last year – voting in this is going to be really hard. In many cases I’ll be casting my vote between friends as well as very worthy stories. But just getting nominated among the plethora of talent in Australia is a hell of an achievement, so congratulations to all the nominees.

If you’re a member of the last Natcon or this coming one (Swancon in April) you can vote. Or you can pay $20 to be a supporting member, and then you get to vote without the expense of travelling to Perth. Of course, I’d recommend you go to Swancon, but I’m biased. I’ll be there.

I blogged about the Aurealis Award nominations here. Below is the Ditmar nominations ballot:

Best Novel

* Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson (Hachette)
* Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott (Pan Macmillan)
* Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Voyager)
* Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke (Voyager)
* Walking the Tree, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot Books)
* No Award

Best Novella or Novelette

* Acception, Tessa Kum (Eneit Press)
* All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan (Brimstone Press)
* Bleed, Peter M. Ball (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Her Gallant Needs, Paul Haines (Twelfth Planet Press)
* The Company Articles of Edward Teach, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)
* No Award

Best Short Story

* All the Love in the World, Cat Sparks (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press)
* Bread and Circuses, Felicity Dowker (Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
* One Saturday Night With Angel, Peter M. Ball (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press)
* She Said, Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes From the Second Storey, Morrigan Books)
* The House of the Nameless, Jason Fischer (Writers of the Future XXVI)
* The February Dragon, Angela Slatter and Lisa L. Hannett (Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
* No Award

Best Collected Work

* Baggage, edited by Gillian Polack (Eneit Press)
* Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
* Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar and Pete Kempshall (Morrigan Books)
* Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
* Worlds Next Door, edited by Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
* No Award

Best Artwork

* Cover art, The Angaelien Apocalypse/The Company Articles of Edward Teach (Twelfth Planet Press), Dion Hamill
* Cover art, Australis Imaginarium (FableCroft Publishing), Shaun Tan
* Cover art, Dead Sea Fruit (Ticonderoga Publications), Olga Read
* Cover art, The Girl With No Hands (Ticonderoga Publications), Lisa L. Hannett
* The Lost Thing short film (Passion Pictures), Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan
* No Award

Best Fan Writer

* Robert Hood, for Undead Backbrain
* Chuck McKenzie, for work in Horrorscope
* Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
* Tehani Wessely, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
* No Award

Best Fan Artist

* Rachel Holkner, for Continuum 6 props
* Dick Jenssen, for cover art of Interstellar Ramjet Scoop
* Amanda Rainey, for Swancon 36 logo
* No Award

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

* Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, edited by Alisa Krasnostein et al.
* Bad Film Diaries podcast, Grant Watson
* Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex Pierce
* Terra Incognita podcast, Keith Stevenson
* The Coode Street podcast, Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
* The Writer and the Critic podcast, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
* No Award

Best Achievement

* Helen Merrick and Andrew Milner, Academic Stream for Aussiecon 4
* Amanda Rainey, cover design for Scary Kisses
* Kyla Ward, Horror Stream and The Nightmare Ball for Aussiecon 4
* Grant Watson, Media Stream for Aussiecon 4
* Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, Rachel Holkner, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely, Snapshot 2010
* No Award

Best New Talent

* Thoraiya Dyer
* Lisa L. Hannett
* Patty Jansen
* Kathleen Jennings
* Pete Kempshall
* No Award

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

* Leigh Blackmore, for Marvels and Horrors: Terry Dowling’s Clowns at Midnight
* Damien Broderick, for editing Skiffy and Mimesis: More Best of Australian Science Fiction Review
* Ross Murray, for The Australian Dream Becomes Nightmare
* Tansy Rayner Roberts, for A Modern Woman’s Guide to Classic Who
* No Award


Midnight Echo #6 to feature me

March 25, 2011

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was waxing lyrical about one of my favourite publications, Midnight Echo. In fact, I was posting about how issue 5 was now available and featured a killer line-up of awesome stuff. I also said, “I’m really hoping that they’ll buy one of my stories one day.” Well, what do you know – I’ve just had word that my sci-fi/horror story, Trawling The Void, has been accepted for publication in issue 6.

Midnight Echo is the official publication of the Australian Horror Writers Association, so it’s all about dark fiction. Issue 6 is a themed edition, with all the stories being some variety of sci-fi. My story scored an Honourable Mention in the Writers Of The Future competition last year, and is exactly suited to the theme of ME6. But it’s a tough publication to score a hit in, so I’m Snoopy dancing like a madman at landing this one.

It’s co-edited by the team of Jason Fischer, David Conyers and David Kernot. The full ToC was released by Jason Fischer today and I must say, I’m humbled to be a part of this line-up:

* Out Hunting for Teeth by Joanne Anderton
* Trawling the Void by Alan Baxter
* Silver-Clean by Jenny Blackford
* Graveyard Orbit by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
* More Matter, Less Art by Stephen Dedman
* Seeds by Mark Farrugia
* Earth Worms by Cody Goodfellow
* The Wanderer in the Darkness by Andrew McKiernan
* Dead Low by Cat Sparks
* Surgeon Scalpelfingers by Helen Stubbs

This issue will also contain interviews all sorts of other bits and pieces.

Sweet! I’ll let you know when it’s published.


The current state of my things – writing, edits, fights and articles

March 23, 2011

I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. But I’m getting there. My primary focus for the majority of this year has been working on my latest novel, getting it up to the best polish I can. I’ve been working on it during every spare minute and I’ve just sent the manuscript somewhere, so wish me luck! I’m very proud of this book. You know you’re onto a winner when you’ve read something you’ve written many times in a few months and the story and characters still excite you. Of course, I’m biased, but I’ve also had some great feedback from my little team of beta readers that helped make this book even better. Thanks to all of you – you know who you are. You people rock. I’m not going to jinx myself by mentioning any more, but a lot of you may know already or can guess what I’m talking about. And no, I won’t be answering guesses.

While this has been my main focus, I’ve been busy with other projects too. I’ve had some good success with short fiction recently and have several stories forthcoming in various journals and anthologies. I’ll let you know as and when each of those is published. I think the next one will be my story Mirrorwalk, in Murky Depths. I blogged about that last week. Working with editors on those things is always interesting. A good editor makes a good story into a great story. I’ve just had another one of those land in my inbox, actually, so I’d better get on with that pretty sharpish.

Another project is my Write The Fight Right ebook. Using my experience as a career martial artist I’ve been running the Write The Fight Right workshop at conventions for a while now, helping people understand how to write a convincing, realistic fight scene. I’ll be doing it again in April at Swancon, for anyone interested. Every time I do the workshop people ask me for further information and I don’t really have anything to give them, other than telling them to try martial arts classes. After I ran the workshop at Worldcon last year, with a big room full of people from all over the world (which was both a little overwhelming and very gratifying) several people suggested I should write up the content of the workshop into a short ebook and make that available for people to buy. What a good idea. So I’ve finally got around to that and now the novel is submitted, and once these couple of short story edits are dealt with, I’ll be finalising that and making it available.

The Write The Fight Right “book” is about 11,000 words, basically a set of detailed notes about all the things I cover in the workshop with a few extra bits added in. I’ll make it available in all formats on Smashwords and as a Kindle edition at Amazon sometime soon. I’m hoping to have that available before the end of April, so when I do the workshop at Swancon and people say, “Is there anything else I can read about this stuff?” I can reply, “Why, yes, there most certainly is.” (And many thanks to Laura Goodin for helping me with a proof-read and editorial suggestions on that project.)

Also, before the end of May, I need to put together an article for Writing Queensland magazine that I was asked to write. I’m honoured to have been asked to do something for them, so will make sure I do a good job of that as soon as possible.

So that’s me right now. Kinda busy, but all good stuff that I’m very excited about. I should really stop cocking around blogging about it and get on with some of it.


2010 Aurealis Awards nominations announced

March 22, 2011

The Aurealis Awards, Australia’s answer to the Hugo’s, or the Spec Fic Oscars, have announced the list of nominations for 2010 publications. Revealed here at Tansy Rayner Roberts livejournal, the anxious wait is over.

I’ll repost the full list below. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Judging Coordinator, Keith Stevenson, said that with approximately 600 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a big task.

Wow. Winners of the 2010 Aurealis Awards and the Peter McNamara Award will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, sponsored by Harper Voyager, on the evening of Saturday the 21st of May. Details of the evening and a link to the online booking website are available at

2010 Aurealis Awards – Finalists

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

Grimsdon, Deborah Abela, Random House
Ranger’s Apprentice #9: Halt’s Peril, John Flanagan, Random House
The Vulture of Sommerset, Stephen M Giles, Pan Macmillan
The Keepers, Lian Tanner, Allen & Unwin
Haggis MacGregor and the Night of the Skull, Jen Storer & Gug Gordon, Aussie Nibbles

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

Night School, Isobelle Carmody (writer) & Anne Spudvilas (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Magpie, Luke Davies (writer) & Inari Kiuru (illustrator), ABC Books (HarperCollins)
The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett (writer) & Lucia Masciullo (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Precious Little, Julie Hunt & Sue Moss (writers) & Gaye Chapman (illustrator), Allen & Unwin
The Cloudchasers, David Richardson (writer) & Steven Hunt (illustrator), ABC Books (HarperCollins)


Inksucker, Aidan Doyle, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing
One Story, No Refunds, Dirk Flinthart, Shiny #6, Twelfth Planet Press
A Thousand Flowers, Margo Lanagan, Zombies Vs Unicorns, Allen & Unwin
Nine Times, Kaia Landelius & Tansy Rayner Roberts, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing
An Ordinary Boy, Jen White, The Tangled Bank, Tangled Bank Press


Merrow, Ananda Braxton-Smith, black dog books
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin
The Midnight Zoo, Sonya Hartnett, Penguin
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher, Doug MacLeod, Penguin
Behemoth (Leviathan Trilogy Book Two), Scott Westerfeld, Penguin


Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nicki Greenberg, Allen & Unwin
EEEK!: Weird Australian Tales of Suspense, Jason Paulos et al, Black House Comics
Changing Ways Book 1, Justin Randall, Gestalt Publishing
Five Wounds: An Illustrated Novel, Jonathan Walker & Dan Hallett, Allen & Unwin
Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators, Rocky Wood & Glenn Chadbourne, McFarlane & Co.


The Library of Forgotten Books, Rjurik Davidson, PS Publishing
Under Stones, Bob Franklin, Affirm Press
Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter, Tartarus Press
The Girl With No Hands, Angela Slatter, Ticonderoga Publications
Dead Sea Fruit, Kaaron Warren, Ticonderoga Publications


Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Dr Marty Young, Brimstone Press
Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Twelfth Planet Press
Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall, Morrigan Books
Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan, SF Book Club
Wings of Fire, edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon, Night Shade Books

HORROR Short Story

Take the Free Tour, Bob Franklin, Under Stones, Affirm Press
Her Gallant Needs, Paul Haines, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The Fear, Richard Harland, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press
Wasting Matilda, Robert Hood, Zombie Apocalypse!, Constable & Robinson Ltd
Lollo, Martin Livings, Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, Apex Publishing


After the World: Gravesend, Jason Fischer, Black House Comics
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott, Pan Macmillan

FANTASY Short Story

The Duke of Vertumn’s Fingerling, Elizabeth Carroll, Strange Horizons
Yowie, Thoraiya Dyer, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The February Dragon, LL Hannett & Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications
All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press
Sister, Sister, Angela Slatter, Strange Tales III, Tartarus Press


The Silence of Medair, Andrea K Höst, self-published
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)
Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier, Pan Macmillan
Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)


The Heart of a Mouse, K.J. Bishop, Subterranean Online (Winter 2010)
The Angaelian Apocalypse, Matthew Chrulew, The Company Articles Of Edward Teach/The Angaelian Apocalypse, Twelfth Planet Press
Border Crossing, Penelope Love, Belong, Ticonderoga Publications
Interloper, Ian McHugh, Asimovs (Jan 2011)
Relentless Adaptations, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press


Song of Scarabaeous, Sara Creasy, EOS Books
Mirror Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)
Transformation Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)


2011 Best Australian Blogs Competition

March 21, 2011

Best BlogsI discovered today that the Sydney Writers’ Centre is running a competition to find the 2011 Best Australian Blogs. They’re not looking for just over two thousand great blogs – that’s the year. I self-nominated my own blog here, partly because it’s awesome, but also to make sure you guys all know about the competition. I’ve entered this blog in the Words category, obviously:

Blogs that focus on writing, reading, literature or books.

This category will be judged by Angela Meyer, the author of the blog LiteraryMinded, which has been running for four years and was moved to Crikey’s blog network in 2008.

I follow Angela Meyer on Twitter (@LiteraryMinded) and read the Literary Minded blog, so it’s cool that she’ll be the judge. She’s a smart lady. And no, that isn’t me sucking up to her for a win – I doubt she reads my blog.

But you guys can vote for me, if you feel so inclined, as there’s a People’s Choice Award category too.

So have a look, get involved, nominate your blog or one you like and don’t forget to vote in the People’s Choice Award when it opens. I’ll remind you.


Battle: Los Angeles – review

March 18, 2011

Battle LA 1Battle: Los Angeles is brought to you by the US Marine Corp Board of Recruitment. Hoo-rah!

At least, it’s hard not to think so having watched the film. Battle: Los Angeles is about an alien invasion. Basically, these bizarre meteor showers suddenly appear in Earth’s atmosphere and within hours they’re crash landing in the ocean near major cities all around the world. Except they’re not really crash landing. They’re slowing down before impact, they’re of uniform size, their appearance is synchronised – obviously, it’s an alien invasion.

The military is mobilised.

We see the story from the point of view of one squad of crack Marines, led by one grizzly Staff Sergeant, two days out from retirement, and a fresh faced Lieutenant, green straight from the academy. As you can see, the whole film is cliché-powered. The Cliché Squad consists of one dude about to get married in three weeks, a guy barely recovered from shellshock, desperate to be cleared for combat duty again, a bitter young chap who’s brother died in a mission with the same Grizzled Staff Sergeant who now leads him and so on. Help me, I’m choking on clichés! So anyway, our erstwhile mob is sent into the war zone to rescue five civilians trapped in a police station several clicks inside the battle lines. They have three hours before the Air Force drop bombs to raze the place to rubble.

Wait a minute, what’s that screeching noise? Oh, it’s the last vestige of credibility, spinning off Disbelief Suspension Highway in a cloud of tyre smoke and broken logic. And we’re barely ten minutes into the film.

Let me get this straight – aliens have starting smashing major cities all over the world simultaneously. The military has a chance to bomb the intergalactic shit out of them before they can get too far inland as they seem to be ground based only and have no air support (which we’ll come to in a minute), yet they’re going to wait three hours before said shock and awe campaign? Bollocks are they. Aliens, destroying the world = coastal population: collateral damage. The only reason they would wait three hours to start bombing is to give a fairly ridiculous squad of marines a chance to have a film made about them while they move in to rescue five civilians. FIVE! There are already thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, dead. Dudes, bomb those fucking aliens back to Alpha Centauri! Quick!

So yeah, it’s pretty stupid. Actually, it’s really stupid.

They fly Cliché Squad into the war zone – i.e. the area that the aliens have already advanced into from the coast. That’s right, they fly them in by chopper. Yet they land them a couple of Ks out from the police station where the civies are. That’s because we then get to see the marines do their street by street thing, all cool and efficient. But, of course, that goes wrong. Yet they prevail briefly. When the marines find the civilians, they call in a chopper to get them out. WHAT!? Why didn’t they just fly all the way in then? Of course, at this point the alien’s air support is mobilised and the chopper is taken out and the marines have to escape again on foot.

Well, of course the aliens have aircraft. THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE! Did the US military really think they flew here from another planet, but only had ground troops on board? That’s just mental.

So Cliché Squad starts trying to get out again, Young Lieutenant loses it, Grizzly Staff Sergeant pulls him back together, Young Lieutenant does the honourable thing and gives his life to save the squad, Grizzly Staff Sergeant has to lead them, but he’s the one that got all his men killed before! “Don’t you think I think about those young men every day?” Oh, he’s actually pretty cool and he’ll lead us well. Hoo-rah, let’s fight those alien scum! Wait, all these flying things are unmanned drones, that means they have a mother of a command and control centre (because that’s how we humans would do it). If we can only take that C & C centre out, we could have a chance in this godforsaken war! Wait, what’s that? A large area with the power out? That must be where the C & C is, sucking up all the power. (Wait a minute, this entire city is being destroyed by an alien invasion force, wouldn’t pretty much everywhere have the power out by now? Quiet, you – you’re spoiling the tenuous plot. Well, I say plot…) Look at us go, Cliché Squad to the rescue! Hoo-rah! Yay, we’ve taken out the C & C, now we’re showing those alien scumbags who they’re messing with! Look at all the drones falling out of the sky. The aliens are retreating, we’re so super cool! But the war’s not over yet. No, we don’t need a rest Captain, we just need to refill our ammo and get back out there. HOO-RAH!

And that’s only a fraction of the stupidity. I haven’t even mentioned the bit where they capture an alien and repeatedly stab it everywhere looking for “the vital organ” so they know where to shoot. Or the fact that an entire alien invasion seems to consist of disparate groups of half a dozen or so alien infantry scattered here and there throughout LA. Or the seemingly indestructible Marine laser targeting device. Or the clearly structured nature of events identical to the increasing difficulty levels of a computer game. And… and… I can’t go on. The shooting barely stops, yet the plot holes still outnumber the bullet holes.

Battle LA 2To make matters worse, the whole thing is shot in the worst handicam style. It makes the Blair Witch camera work seems Oscar-worthy. It’s as if the whole thing is being filmed by an embedded journalist that’s lost his camera so he’s running around trying to capture it all on his phone. I know it’s a device to make us feel like we’re in the action, but it even happens right at the start with two dudes having a conversation in an office. It’s like the cameraman is on one of those 60s weight loss machines where you stand on a platform with a bigger rubber belt around your arse and it vibrates the flab away.

And worst of all, this film once again employs that most annoying of alien invasion conceits – the aliens underestimate the tenacity of the human race; they have no idea who they’re messing with. You know, this is an alien race that’s spanned the galaxy. They’ve got here and they’re taking over the planet. It’s quite possible that they’re some pretty fucking tenacious creatures themselves. I bet they’ve got squads of warriors every bit as tough, determined and brave as the humans. We like to think we’re awesome, but an invading alien army would probably be pretty awesome too. And far better equipped. They came here through space, after all.

Really, this film is utter shite. It has no redeeming features. It would be an impressive visual display of effects if the cameraman wasn’t having an epileptic fit throughout the movie. It’s just action and mayhem and American hoo-rahism, wrapped up in a complete lack of plot and a thoroughly implausible premise. For two hours when you can switch your brain to neutral and see if you can avoid your own epileptic fit while watching, give it a go. Otherwise do something more constructive with your time, like sit in the garden and eat grass.


Honourable Mentions for Blade Red Press authors

March 16, 2011

Dark PagesYou may remember that I was pleased recently to see that Dark Pages, the anthology I published through my small publishing venture, Blade Red Press, scored a nomination for an Australian Shadows Award.

I’m further chuffed to see now that no less than six of the stories in that book have scored an Honourable Mention on Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year list. You can find the full lists here and here.

The stories included are:

Lucien E.G. Spelman – “The Stain of the Psychopomp King”
Naomi Bell – “Dust”
Joel L Murr – “The Franchise”
Aaron Polson – “Cargo”
Derek Rutherford – “Yellow Water Pike”
Robert Neilson – “Nightwork”

Also mentioned on the list is:

Bill Congreve’s “The Traps of Tumut”, which originally appeared in Aurealis 43. That story is reprinted in Bill’s collection, Souls Along The Meridian, another Blade Red Press book.

I’m so pleased to see these things included in such a well-respected list.

Not only that, but a lot of my friends have also scored mentions, far too many people to list here. Congratulations to everyone – you deserve it. Maybe next year I might even see myself on that list with something I’ve written. It would be an honour to join the likes of those listed before.

I know I’m biased, but I’m very proud to have published the Dark Pages anthology and Bill’s collection. While I’m first and foremost a writer, being able to make these books available gives me enormous pleasure. Hopefully I’ll be able to release more books through Blade Red Press in the future. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Dark Pages or Souls Along The Meridian, I highly recommend that you do. You can get them in print or ebook. Details for Dark Pages here and Souls Along The Meridian here.



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. Zetetic.

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