Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Kassa Gambit

I remember the excitement of seeing my book starting to appear in online bookstores before it came out. Now it's my other half's turn, and I'm excited all over again! (He is a bit, too.) His book Prudence Falling, which became Firaxe, which became The Kassa Gambit, is listed at Amazon - not much info yet, but the cover is there. And the cover is here, too:

The book comes out from Tor in hardback on 8 January 2013. The blurb:

Centuries after the ecological collapse of Earth, humanity has spread among the stars. Under the governance of the League, our endless need for resources has driven us to colonize hundreds of planets, all of them devoid of other sentient life. Humanity is apparently alone in the universe. 

Then comes the sudden, brutal decimation of Kassa, a small farming planet, by a mysterious attacker. The few survivors send out a desperate plea for aid, which is answered by two unlikely rescuers. Prudence Falling is the young captain of a tramp freighter. She and her ragtag crew have been on the run and living job to job for years, eking out a living by making cargo runs that aren't always entirely legal. Lt. Kyle Daspar is a police officer from the wealthy planet of Altair Prime, working undercover as a double agent against the League. He's been undercover so long he can't be trusted by anyone--even himself. 

While flying rescue missions to extract survivors from the surface of devastated Kassa, they discover what could be the most important artifact in the history of man: an alien spaceship, crashed and abandoned during the attack. But something tells them there is more to the story. Together, they discover the cruel truth about the destruction of Kassa, and that an imminent alien invasion is the least of humanity's concerns.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hit & miss: 2 movie reviews

Attack the Block

This is a story that could not be told in America. In America the kids in the projects would have guns and the movie would be over in 3 minutes. These kids in the south London "block" (council estate) have kitchen knives and super soakers. Okay, one of them has a samurai sword.

Not much more to say other than this movie is heaps of fun. It's all about the characters, not the ray guns and army tanks (which there are none of either) and has a sort of Pitch Black redemptive flavour to it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This is a movie about chimps with anger issues, and misplaced anger at that. I recall the cinematic trailer being quite intense, but the movie has none of the epic feel of the classic series (to which it's a prequel - not of the stupid recent version set on another planet, but of the original). The plot is pure Disney. It's Project X on speed and Free Willy with machine guns. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2012 Snapshot of Australian SF

I've been interviewed as part of the 2012 Snapshot of Australian SF, where various bloggers publish various Aussie SF interviews over the course of several days. Here's my interview on Ian Mond's blog.

There are loads of great interviews to check out in this series - see the link round-up here: Snapshot 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Aurealis Awards - and the winner is...

Unfortunately we didn't make it to the Aurealis Awards in Sydney this year - but I did watch the tweets from the ceremony, so thanks to those who let their fingers do the talking.

Children of Scarabaeus didn't win, but a very interesting-sounding book did. (I say interesting-sounding because I haven't read - or at least completed - a novel in ages, so any time a recent SF novel is mentioned, you can count on me not having read it even if I've heard of it and want to read it.) Best SF Novel went to The Courier's New Bicycle by Kim Westwood - it's set in Melbourne, which is yet another reason to read it, and from the blurb sounds like a cross between the Dark Angel TV show and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, with some love, mystery and religion thrown in.

Congratulations, Kim!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview about SF and SFR

Aussie author Kylie Griffin has interviewed me on her blog, where I talk about some sci-fi influences and the slooooow (but hopefully ongoing) rise of SFR's popularity.

Check out Kylie's new book release Vengeance Born!

Monday, March 19, 2012

AA Nom!

Children of Scarabaeus has been nominated for the Aurealis Award for Best SF Novel 2011. Wow!

You can see the other nominees here, on the blog of the Judge Coordinator Tehani Croft Wessely.

The 5 nominees in my category are:

Machine Man by Max Barry (Scribe Publications)
Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy (HarperVoyager)
The Waterboys by Peter Docker (Fremantle Press)
Black Glass by Meg Mundell (Scribe Publications)
The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)

The Awards ceremony is on 12 May in Sydney - see you there!

Another trailer

Another upcoming sci-fi movie, Lockout - this is almost 5 straight minutes from the movie and to be honest it looks a bit silly, and the editing clunky, but maybe it's a rough cut.

Warning: needle/eyeball alert

What it has going for it:

  • space station setting
  • gritty grimy hardware
  • a cool monochrome look (hope it's not overdone)
  • a hero who quips "I'm gonna be sick" - cute
  • that hero being Guy Pearce (go Aussie!)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Alien revisited... 30 years later

Ridley Scott's forthcoming Prometheus finally has a trailer - see here on io9:

I don't like horror movies but I love Alien, the first and second-best movie in the Aliens franchise. The reason I don't think of it as horror is because it's not supernatural and not particularly gory (Noodle interruptus alien birth notwithstanding). More than that, Alien, like Aliens, is thoroughly believable in the way it looks. Like the ambience in Firefly, I truly buy that the crew members live and work on that ship, with the same day-in day-out banter and boredom that eventually comes with any job. The characters and the sets create a world I can fall into, regardless of the plot.

An offshoot of the new movie is the Weyland Industries site. Weyland created the androids Ash and Bishop as well as the (alarmingly unstable) atmosphere processors from Aliens, and apparently a great many other innovations for space travel as well. In cut scenes from Aliens you see their logo on the colony buildings. Otherwise, the company is never actually mentioned by name - it's the ubiquitous "Company" in both the first and second movie, represented by the bland Ash and blander Burke and their nefarious plans.

(In a cool bit of metamoviemagic, the URL redirects to the Weyland Industries site.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nostalgic for crafts

More on the nostalgic front, because we are what we were as children, are we not?

I've been feeling crafty lately - actually, ever since I was pregnant, when I started making a collage alphabet frieze for my daughter's bedroom. Each letter is a 6" square.

My retired school-teacher-mum made me change A for alien and O for owl because those words start with the letter name, not the letter sound, if that means anything to you. Far be it from me to corrupt my daughter's early education with improper alphabet lessons, so I've now redone them as apple and octopus. (My mum rates those baby alphabet books by whether they include giraffe and icecream (baaaaad) or goat and igloo (good).)

We kids were very crafty - we drew fanatically, and loved making models and stuffed animals - whether from kits or found parts. We made doll house furniture out of card, and peg dolls with pipecleaner arms. We knitted and crocheted. We traced pictures from books and meticulously painted them, and cut them out to make stickers for our bedroom walls. My sister had a kit to make a 1:12 scale plastic Airfix model of none other than Henry VIII. 

Image of vintage 1970s kit found on eBay
All three of us girls were given for Christmas one year a plastic doll in a kit where you glued together (ewww) a felt historical outfit. My doll's outfit was lime green, which was apparently all the rage in the year seventeen-hundred-and-something. Speaking of felt, I've been making felt food for my daughter. So far I've made a chocolate cake (below), some fondant fancies, and a slice of Battenberg cake (delicious marzipan/cake treats from my childhood).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life on other planets

This is the stuff of every sci-fi writer's dreams, except that it's true...

Astronomers have discovered over 700 exoplanets (extrasolar planets), of which 120+ are in the habitable zone - not too far or too near their sun for life. Of these, most are gas planets the size of Jupiter or bigger, and won't support life ("as we know it"). One reason for this is that bigger planets are easier to detect, so there's no reason not to think smaller Earth-like planets also exist in those solar systems.

Last month NASA announced the discovery of the first Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star. The planet is 2.4 times the radius of Earth and similar in temperature, with a 290-day year, while the star (Kepler-22) is G-class, the same as our Sun, and 600 light-years away.

Little is yet known about the composition of this exoplanet, so we can only speculate that it might be similar to Earth's - mostly ocean with a rocky core - in which case, it might harbor life.

There are probably tens of billions of exoplanets in our galaxy alone. Multiply that by the 100 billion galaxies in the universe and you have - well, squillions of planets! It's nice to imagine (hope) a few of them have life that we may one day explore, and even nicer if that life is sentient. Preferably friendly.

And even if the planets themselves don't support life, their moons might. Our moon might be a big ol' dusty pock-marked rock but they're not all like that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Battle: Los Angeles

I repeat myself from yesterday, with a minor twist: Battle: Los Angeles is more enjoyable if you watch it as a war movie than as science fiction. It borrows relentlessly from ID4 and Aliens, the former in plot and the latter in that it focuses exclusively on one platoon of US Marines as they go into evacuated Santa Monica to rescue civilians, then blow up a lot of alien stuff.

There are only two personal stories, really - the staff sergeant got the lieutenant's brother killed in Afghanistan (ooh, tension!); and a kid's dad dies - an incident that provides some out-of-place sentimentality and a chance for Aaron Eckhart as the staff sergeant to go all Marines Never Quit!! on us. They could've left that out.

We barely get to know the aliens. There is some hideous nonsense about them wanting our water (ocean levels have decreased several inches because they're using our water for fuel - what??!) but I'll just ignore that. The military stuff is handled believably to my completely untrained eye and - be thankful for the crumbs - there are two quite nice roles for women in this testosterone monsoon.

The movie is fun, in exactly the same way Cowboys and Aliens was fun. I think I would have hated this on the big screen, but the $5 blu-ray was just fine.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Review: Cowboys and Aliens

We quite enjoyed this one as a popcorn movie. In fact we watched it on our wedding anniversary, so let's call it a great date movie.

I think you have to watch it as a Western, not an SF movie, in order to appreciate it. There's really not much to it. There are some cowboys (and indians) and some aliens, and they duke it out. End of story. It's pretty to look at, fun and forgettable.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Far North

Two films I've seen recently - one to recommend and one... not so much.

The bad news first. Tomorrow, the good. I rented Far North because it has Sean Bean and it was MCP's idea to trek through his movies, he of LOTR and Game of Thrones. (The former we are rewatching on the Extended Blu-Ray I got MCP for Xmas, the latter we both enjoyed - incidentally, he has read both the LOTR and GoT series, I have read neither.)

Far North is based on a 4-page short story by Sara Maitland. The setting is the Arctic tundra at an unspecified point in time, where two women survive the hostile environment totally alone because the older one believes she's cursed. She raised the younger one from a baby, after rescuing her from her slaughtered village. They find Sean Bean on the ice and nurse him back to health, and he falls for one of them, making the other jealous. We get a lot of fairly interesting anthropological stuff while waiting for something Big to happen. Then Far North goes south, or pear-shaped as the Brits would say, and we get a sort of magic-realism slasher ending. (Which justifies me filing this under SF movies.)

It didn't work for me. Maybe the (very) short story worked, because you have so little time to establish character that the reader can fill in the blanks appropriately. But in a movie, we get to see the characters in detail. The ending comes from left field, making no sense in light of what we've seen before.

Which goes to show that just because you have a picturesque location and some great actors, doesn't mean you can translate a thousand words of prose into anything meaningful even when you make it a hundred times longer.

Tomorrow: Cowboys and Aliens.