The Darkest Shade Of Grey, episode 2 now live

My serial novella, The Darkest Shade Of Grey, is being published in four weekly installments by The Red Penny Papers. It’s free to read online, so get on over there and check it out.

Episode 1 is here.

Episode 2 is here.

Episodes 3 and 4 will be published over the next two weeks.

If you enjoy it, please do share the links with your family, friends and colleagues.

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Thirteen O’Clock Australian dark fiction news and reviews – launched

ThirteenOClockI’m very happy to be able to officially announce this new venture. Myself and writers Andrew McKiernan and Felicity Dowker have put together a new website, to fill a void in the Australian dark and weird fiction scene. Since the untimely demise of Horrorscope, there’s been a gap where good dark and weird fiction can be reviewed and reported. We’re hoping to fill that gap with Thirteen O’Clock. And, after all, you can’t have too many sources of news and reviews in this game. Here are the relevant links:

Thirteen O’Clock website.

Thirteen O’Clock on Facebook.

Thirteen O’Clock on Twitter.

All the details are in the official press release, here.

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Kraken by China Mieville – review

cover-kraken

KrakenI really, really wanted to like this book. But, ultimately, I was a bit disappointed. It’s the sort of thing I should love. Hell, it’s the sort of thing I should fucking write! Competing religious cults, magic and technomancy in contemporary London. This has my stamp of approval all over it like a particularly virulent venereal disease. And for the first third, I was along for the ride.

Some things bugged me. I love what Mieville does with language. I get it. He wants to challenge readers, and that’s cool. I’m down with his excessive adjectives and long rambling descriptions. Rules are there to be broken when you’re good enough to do so, and Mieville most certainly is. But there were many flaws with that work in this book. For some strange reason, there’s a serious dearth of commas. The comma is a valuable piece of punctuation and is often abused. People overuse it when it would be better to have two sentences and stuff like that. But it’s necessary. It helps us ride the words smoothly and evenly, rolling with their hips, as it were. When there’s a lack of commas for no readily apparent reason, words in a sentence run into each like bean juice into egg yolk in your Saturday morning fry-up. Words get all mixed up and you have to stop and go back, read the sentence again. I don’t mind being challenged by language and writing, but I resent having to keep stopping and starting, being forced to unravel a sentence that punctuation should unravel for me.

There’s also the dialogue. Everyone in this book talks just like real people. That’s essentially a good thing. But it’s a bit overdone here. I understand what he’s trying to do old China I really do, with his characters all Londoners talking stream of conscious like and being right there with the slang and fucking honesty. But combine it with a lack of commas and you see what happens. I grew up in and around London. I know he’s done a stellar job of the dialogue. Only he’s done it so much and in such a way that it sometimes becomes a chore to read a conversation.

But fine, whatever. I’ll play along. That’s the style of this book. I can live with that. And, as I said above, for the first third I did live with it quite happily. I was loving the different cults, the styles of magic being employed, the whole city of London as a living character in the story. As usual, Mieville’s imagination was going off like November 5th fireworks and that’s great. But the story doesn’t quite hold it up. I started to get a bit bored with who had the Kraken, and why. I got to the point by the final third where I really just didn’t give a fuck any more and was only reading to the end for a sense of closure. It all built towards something massive, tripped over its own feet at around the two thirds mark, and stumbled over the finish line with its trousers around its ankles. Which is a bloody shame, because it should have been awesome.

I’ve only read one Mieville book before, Perdido Street Station, and I loved that. It was overly long and convoluted too, but it worked. I lived and breathed the city and the story, and was happy to wallow in it with Mieville all the way. This time around it didn’t work out for me.

And yet, there is a lot to like about Kraken anyway, if nothing else just the scope of ideas and characters. I’m a sucker for a good sense of place, and London in this book is brilliant. Many of the characters are truly horrifying or endlessly entertaining. If you like urban fantasy and horror, and you’re prepared to put up with the issues I’ve mentioned here, I’d certainy recommend it. It’s not like anything else, and that in itself is reason enough for a look. It hasn’t put me off China Mieville and I plan to read more of his work. But Mieville is like pate on toast, with caviar on top. And some cream. It’s all a bit much and you might really enjoy it once, but you need a big long break before you consume anything like that again. Kraken is worth a try, but only three stars from me.

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My latest op-ed up at The Punch, in which I rant about DRM

My latest opinion piece has been published today at The Punch, “Australia’s Best Conversation”. The title was the work of the editor, and is deliberately sensationalist, but the piece should clarify my position. It begins thusly:

Digital Rights Management doesn’t work. DRM is a method of locking digital media so it can’t be shared. Except it fails. For every form of DRM employed, pirates instantly break it.

DRM only inconveniences honest, paying customers. For example, in the case of eBooks, a person might justifiably want to have their book on their PC and their tablet, but DRM can prevent that.

I regularly get Google Alerts about my books being mentioned online and many times it’s when they appear illegally on filesharing sites. For every download like that, it’s a drop of cash not going to keeping food on my table, right? Actually, probably not.

Read the read here.

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Awards all over the place – Stokers and Nebulas

Award season is upon us once again and all sorts of nominations are coming out.

Firstly, the Stoker Awards. Each year, the Horror Writers Association presents the Bram Stoker Awards™ for Superior Achievement in the field of horror writing, named in honor of Bram Stoker, author of the seminal horror work Dracula. Since 1987, the approximately 700 members of the HWA have recommended, nominated and voted on the greatest works of horror and dark fantasy of the previous calendar year, making the Bram Stoker Awards™ the most prestigious award in the field of horror literature. For the first time in 2011, half the nominees were chosen by juries.

The awards are presented in eleven categories: Novel, First Novel, Young Adult Novel, Graphic Novel, Long Fiction, Short Fiction, Screenplay, Fiction Collection, Anthology, Non-fiction, and Poetry Collection. The organization’s Active and Lifetime members will select the winners from this list of nominees; and the Awards will be presented at a gala banquet on Saturday evening, March 31, at the World Horror Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This year’s nominees are:

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

A Matrix Of Angels by Christopher Conlon (Creative Guy Publishing)
Cosmic Forces by Greg Lamberson (Medallion Press)
Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi (Medallion Press / Thunderstorm Books)
Flesh Eaters by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle Books)
Not Fade Away by Gene O’Neill (Bad Moon Books)
The German by Lee Thomas (Lethe Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL

Isis Unbound by Allyson Bird (Dark Regions Press)
Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs (Night Shade Books)
The Lamplighters by Frazer Lee (Samhain Horror)
The Panama Laugh by Thomas Roche (Night Shade Books)
That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley (JournalStone)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Ghosts of Coronado Bay, A Maya Blair Mystery by J. G. Faherty (JournalStone)
The Screaming Season by Nancy Holder (Razorbill)
Rotters by Daniel Kraus (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Candlewick / Walker)
This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel (Simon & Schuster / David Fickling Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (First Second)
Locke & Key Volume 4 by Joe Hill (IDW Publishing)
Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen (Dark Horse)
Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine by Jonathan Maberry (Marvel)
Baltimore Volume I: The Plague Ships by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden (Dark Horse)
Neonomicon by Alan Moore (Avatar Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION

7 Brains by Michael Louis Calvillo (Burning Effigy Press)
Roots and All by Brian Hodge (A Book of Horrors)
The Colliers’ Venus (1893) by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Naked City: New Tales of Urban Fantasy)
Ursa Major by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books)
Rusting Chickens by Gene O’Neill (Dark Regions Press)
The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine by Peter Straub (Conjunctions: 56)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION

Her Husband’s Hands by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine, October 2011)
Herman Wouk Is Still Alive by Stephen King (The Atlantic Magazine, May 2011)
Hypergraphia by Ken Lillie-Paetz (The Uninvited #1)
Graffiti Sonata by Gene O’Neill (Dark Discoveries #18)
Home by George Saunders (The New Yorker Magazine, June 13, 2011)
All You Can Do Is Breathe by Kaaron Warren (Blood and Other Cravings)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A SCREENPLAY

True Blood, episode #44: “Spellbound” by Alan Ball (HBO)
The Walking Dead, episode #13: “Pretty Much Dead Already” by Scott M. Gimple (AMC)
The Walking Dead, episode #9: “Save the Last One” by Scott M. Gimple (AMC)
Priest by Cory Goodman (Screen Gems)
The Adjustment Bureau by George Nolfi (Universal Pictures)
American Horror Story, episode #12: “Afterbirth” by Jessica Sharzer (20th Century Fox Television)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FICTION COLLECTION

Voices: Tales of Horror by Lawrence C. Connolly (Fantasist Enterprises)
Red Gloves by Christopher Fowler (PS Publishing)
Two Worlds and In Between: The Best of Caitlin R. Kiernan (Volume One) by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
Monsters of L.A. by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press)
Multiplex Fandango by Weston Ochse (Dark Regions Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN AN ANTHOLOGY (EDITING)

NEHW Presents: Epitaphs edited by Tracy L. Carbone (Shroud Publishing)
Ghosts By Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (Harper Voyager)
Blood And Other Cravings edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor Books)
Supernatural Noir edited by Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse)
Tattered Souls 2 edited by Frank J. Hutton (Cutting Block Press)
Demons: Encounters with the Devil and his Minions, Fallen Angels and the Possessed edited by John Skipp (Black Dog and Leventhal)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NON-FICTION

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne (Pelican Publishing)
Reflections in a Glass Darkly: Essays on J. Sheridan Le Fanu edited by Gary William Crawford, Jim Rockhill and Brian J. Showers (Hippocampus Press)
Starve Better by Nick Mamatas (Apex Publications)
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Zombies by Matt Mogk (Gallery Books)
The Gothic Imagination by John C. Tibbetts (Palgrave Macmillan)
Stephen King: A Literary Companion by Rocky Wood (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A POETRY COLLECTION

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison (Necon Ebooks)
At Louche Ends: Poetry for the Decadent, the Damned & the Absinthe-Minded by Maria Alexander (Burning Effigy Press)
Surrealities by Bruce Boston (Dark Regions Press)
Shroud of Night by G. O. Clark (Dark Regions Press)
The Mad Hattery by Marge Simon (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Unearthly Delights by Marge Simon (Sam’s Dot)

(From http://www.stokers2012.org/)

Also, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced the nominees for the 2011 Nebula Awards (presented 2012), the nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. Here are the nominees:

Novel

God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade)
The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Firebird, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime)
Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)

Novella

With Unclean Hands, Adam-Troy Castro (Analog 11/11)
The Ice Owl, Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF 11-12/11)
The Man Who Bridged the Mist, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11)
Kiss Me Twice, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s 6/11)
The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary, Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Novelette

Six Months, Three Days, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com 6/8/11)
The Old Equations, Jake Kerr (Lightspeed 7/11)
What We Found, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/11)
The Migratory Pattern of Dancers, Katherine Sparrow (GigaNotoSaurus 7/11)
Sauerkraut Station, Ferrett Steinmetz (GigaNotoSaurus 11/11)
Fields of Gold, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse 4)
Ray of Light, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog 12/11)

Short Story

Her Husband’s Hands, Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed 10/11)
Mama, We Are Zhenya, Your Son, Tom Crosshill (Lightspeed 4/11)
Shipbirth, Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s 2/11)
Movement, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s 3/11)
The Axiom of Choice, David W. Goldman (New Haven Review Winter ’11)
The Paper Menagerie, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld 4/11)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

The Adjustment Bureau
Attack the Block
Captain America: The First Avenger
Doctor Who: ‘‘The Doctor’s Wife’’
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Source Code

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book

Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Orchard UK; Carolrhoda)
Chime, Franny Billingsley (Dial)
The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (Greenwillow; Gollancz as Fire and Thorns)
The Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout (Bloomsbury USA)
Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)
The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor (Little, Brown)

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 47th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend, May 17 – May 20, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. Connie Willis will be honoured with the 2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award for her lifetime contributions and achievements in the field. Walter Jon Williams will preside as toastmaster, with Astronaut Michael Fincke as keynote speaker. (From Locus.)

Congratulations and best of luck to all the nominees!

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