23.04.14 7:37 am
Henry Mundy, a master portrait painter, teacher, composer and musician lived and worked in Tasmania. It was tragic circumstances that saw him take his own life at the Ship Hotel.
When she was in Tasmania to perform at the Federation Hall last year musician Kate Ceberano felt a strange sadness while in St David’s Park,only later realising it was Henry Mundy’s final resting place. This fact made such an impact on her because Kate is the great great great granddaughter of Henry Mundy. The experience was for Kate almost as if Henry was giving her a metaphorical pat on the back for continuing the family artistic tradition. It’s not the only familial link with Tasmania, Kate’s granddad Douglas was born in Hobart and lived in various places around Tasmania.
Recently Kate’s mum Cherie was in Tasmania for a special exhibition to celebrate Henry Mundy’s life.
When I spoke to Kate recently, after I introduced myself as being from the Tasmanian, I could almost sense the beam in Kate’s voice as she proudly said of herself ‘I’m Tasmanian’.
It would certainly be tempting to claim Kate as our own. This vivacious performer has been part of the Australian music scene and our lives since she began her career as a teenager. Her new book ‘I’m talking’ is the biography we have all been waiting for. The title is also a nod to one of her early bands.
‘Tasmanian’ Kate is a citizen of the world, her dad Tito migrated from the Philippines to be raised in Hawaii, eventually coming to Australia with just a ukulele and a surfboard. A judo instructor working in the Philippines he aims to return to Australia on retirement. Perhaps some details of Tito’s wooing (of which dancing was an important part) of her mum might point to a genetic connection to Kate’s recent successful foray into dance when she competed and won ‘Dancing with the Stars’,
When Kate did ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and won, it was an ironic experience because at the time Kate had a throat problem and wasn’t able to speak…with her main method of communication absent Kate developed another form of expression in dance. From the harrowing experience of being without her voice Kate now helps advise those facing the same frustrating throat procedures and challenging recuperation.
Kate’s longevity in the arts sees this book as an essential read for anyone entering the music business. Kate discusses the compromises that sometimes exist between artistic and commercial success and gives valuable advise to upcoming musicians, including on ‘how to read your audience’ such as Friday night audiences being ‘exhausted and needing fuel’ and corporate audiences needing ‘inspiration and improvisation’.
Kate herself continues to inspire by staying grounded and keeping it real. For Kate, family is of the essence and the book is filled with stories of family including her long lost and much loved brother Bey. A lovely story is about Kate finishing a gig to return home to see her darling daughter Gypsy perform in a school play, where she is playing the horses ‘behind’ Kate muses refreshingly, that we all have to play that part sometimes!
Kate’s book ‘I’m Talking’ is out now published by Hachette
Gregg Caruso MR
22.04.14 8:01 am
Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues,
Announcing the publication of Science and Religion: 5 Questions, edited by Gregg D. Caruso ( here ) — a collection of interviews with thirty-three of the world’s leading philosophers, scientists, theologians, apologists, and atheists.
Description: Are science and religion compatible when it comes to understanding cosmology (the origin of the universe), biology (the origin of life and of the human species), ethics, and the human mind (minds, brains, souls, and free will)? Do science and religion occupy non-overlapping magisteria? Is Intelligent Design a scientific theory? How do the various faith traditions view the relationship between science and religion? What, if any, are the limits of scientific explanation? What are the most important open questions, problems, or challenges confronting the relationship between science and religion, and what are the prospects for progress? These and other questions are explored in Science and Religion: 5 Questions—a collection of thirty-three interviews based on 5 questions presented to some of the world’s most influential and prominent philosophers, scientists, theologians, apologists, and atheists.
Contributors: Contributors include a Nobel Prize winning physicist, three Templeton Prize winners, two “Humanist of the Year” winners, the “Most Influential Rabbi in America” (Newsweek, 2012), “the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism” (New York Times), a National Humanities Medal winner, a National Medal of Science winner, a Star of South Africa Medal winner, a Carl Sagan Award winner, a National Science Board’s Public Service Medal winner, a MacArthur Fellow, a Lakatos Award winner, an Erasmus Prize winner, a “Friend of Darwin Award” winner, a “Distinguished Skeptic Award” winner, the first Muslim to deliver the prestigious Gifford Lectures, and many more.
• Simon Blackburn, Susan Blackmore, Sean Carroll, William Lane Craig, William Dembski, Daniel C. Dennett, George F.R. Ellis, Owen Flanagan, Owen Gingerich, Rebecca Goldstein, John F. Haught, Muzaffar Iqbal, Lawrence Krauss, Colin McGinn, Alister McGrath, Mary Midgley, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Timothy O’Connor, Massimo Pigliucci, Rev. John Polkinghorne, James “The Amazing” Randi, Alex Rosenberg, Michael Ruse, Robert John Russell, John Searle, Michael Shermer, Victor Stenger, Robert Thurman, Michael Tooley, Charles Townes, Peter van Inwagen, Keith Ward, Rabbi David Wolpe
Now available at Amazon (USA), Barnes & Nobel, and Amazon (UK).
• For purchase of single copies, please use the links above or contact your local bookstore
• For book orders of 10 copies or more, please contact Automatic Press/VIP
Science and Religion: 5 Questions is perfect for:
• General Audiences
• Reading and Discussion Groups
• Professional philosophers, scientists, theologians, and apologists
• Courses in Science and Religion, Philosophy of Religion, and Apologetics
Please feel free to contact me—Gregg D. Caruso—with any questions or requests you might have. And please consider sharing this announcement with any and all interested parties.
“Provocative thoughts on the most profound question of our time (or any time) by an all-star cast of thinkers.” -Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature.
“Imagine that some of the world’s best-known scientists, philosophers, and religionists were to offer up their answers to an identical set of probing questions. Imagine that these articulate statements, composed by scholars who think deeply about science and religion, are then assembled in a single collection. That’s the volume you’re holding—a fascinating snapshot of where the dialogue stands today, and of what it has (and hasn’t yet) achieved.” - Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology, Claremont School of Theology, and author of Science and Religion: The Basics
Dr. Gregg D. Caruso
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Chair of Humanities Department
Corning Community College, SUNY
Editor-in-Chief, Science, Religion and Culture
20.04.14 7:05 am
World leaders, fellow writers and Hollywood stars have paid tribute to the Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, following his death on Thursday at 87.
Figures from Bill Clinton to Mia Farrow and Ian McEwan expressed sorrow at the passing of the Nobel laureate, who was widely acknowledged to have been one of the greatest Latin American novelists.
García Márquez was best known for his masterpieces One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera which entwined tales of love, loss and magic rooted in Latin American’s tortuous history.
He had recently been unwell, and was last week released from hospital in what was described as a fragile condition, following a lung and urinary tract infection.
Clinton praised the legacy of García Márquez, adding: “I was always amazed by his unique gifts of imagination, clarity of thought, and emotional honesty. He captured the pain and joy of our common humanity in settings both real and magical. I was honoured to be his friend and to know his great heart and brilliant mind for more than 20 years.”
The writer’s death at his home in Mexico City was announced on Thursday.
The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, was among those paying tribute. “With his enchanting prose, Gabo, as he was known, led the reader through his imaginary Macondo [the fictional town in One Hundred Years of Solitude] as if he was showing a child a new world,” she said. “His unique characters will remain fixed in the hearts and minds of millions of readers.”
Outspoken and political, García Márquez was among the leftwing intellectuals of Latin America who bitterly opposed General Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, and unswervingly supported Fidel Castro in Cuba, which put the writer at odds with a number of political and literary figures in the US.
The publication in 1967 of One Hundred Years of Solitude – which charts the rise and fall of the Buendía family through several generations of war and peace – helped popularise the magical realism genre and provided inspiration for authors such as Salman Rushdie and Isabel Allende. Allende said on Thursday: “I owe him the impulse and the freedom to plunge into literature. In his books I found my own family, my country, the people I have known all my life, the colour, the rhythm, and the abundance of my continent.”
20.04.14 2:00 am
Griffith REVIEW: Cultural Solutions
edited by Julianne Schultz
Homelessness, family violence, drug abuse, and alienation: have our leaders and policy makers been going about it all wrong? What if karaoke could create cultural cohesion in fractured communities; or if hospitality helped house people; or if troubled kids could turn their lives around by telling stories?
At a time when austerity informs economic policies in even the ‘essential’ areas of health and education, is it time to reconsider the returns from funding arts and culture? There are proven benefits of using the arts to develop and maintain social cohesion and innovation.
Griffith REVIEW: Cultural Solutions explores new ways Australians are working together and solving social problems that governments and other organisations have struggled with.
Contributors including Robyn Archer AO, Scott Rankin, Marcus Westbury, Jim Hearn, Alice Pung, Maria Tumarkin, along with many others.
Australian Society of Authors
18.04.14 7:49 am
The Hobart Bookshop
18.04.14 7:45 am
We are pleased to invite you to the launch, by Peter Timms, of a new collection of Tasmanian articles, sketches, and essays.
Keeping Time, edited by Megan Schaffner and published by the Fellowship of Australian Writers (Tasmania), includes writing that highlights our need to manipulate time, to hold it still for a few moments, in order to observe events more closely—before time hurries us on to an unknowable future.
Join us in holding time still for a few moments: Thursday 24 April, 5.30pm, at The Hobart Bookshop (22 Salamanca Square).
Free event, all welcome.
The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
17.04.14 7:30 am
The invitation to the April 15 event ... the next event is below, and listed in TT What’s On
As a thank you for supporting the very first Naked Girls Reading in Tasmania we are offering you a 25% off discount for online tickets.
Simply go to http://www.trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=83987 and type in rock in the promotional code box.
This is exclusively for people like you have who supported us by promoting the event or buying your tickets online nice and early.
The next Naked Girls Reading will be held on the 17th June at the earlier time of 7:30pm at the Homestead.
The theme is Naked Girls Rock. The women will be reading about rock music in all its forms. Biographies, lyrics etc. The evening will be followed by a live music set by all girl punk rock band Straddle Puss.
We hope to see you there.
The Hobart Bookshop
13.04.14 10:19 am
The Hobart Bookshop and Ginninderra Press invite you to the launch, by Mary Blackwood, of Janet Upcher’s Changing Countries, Bridging Worlds: The poetry and prose of Margaret Scott.
Where: Hobart Bookshop
When: 5.30pm. 1st May
All welcome to this free event.
The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
10.04.14 8:09 am
Literary life began early…at birth!, for Tehani Wessley when her Mum decided to give her the exotic literary name of a Polynesian Princess from James Mitchener’s ‘Hawaii’. Tehani is a Tahitian name meaning ‘the soft caress of flowers’ which is quite ironic for Tehani Wessely’s latest project. The soft caress of flowers doesn’t sound like something the fearless females she is compiling in her book would be interested in. The women Tehani profiles in her book are ‘cranky ladies’, women that wanted to impact on their communities and the world.
The women canvassed come from diverse backgrounds, international and national with a variety of careers, ethnicities and beliefs. Some of them are well known, others are unfamiliar but have made no less a potent contribution to history, one example being Queen Kristina of Sweden who dressed as a man during her reign and was friends with the Pope of the time.
Tehani works in Canberra by week, as a History and English teacher, and then returns on weekends to her Launceston home where she has been living since 2012.
Through the process of crowd funding by ‘Crowbar’(A new crowd funding incentive of Arts Tasmania that offers a lift, as its name suggests, up to $2000 dollars in support of projects to Tasmanian artists. Tehani ‘s cranky ladies will have original stories by selected authors on very original women from history who rearranged and changed the normal understanding of the role of a woman. They are ladies that assumed a powerful influence by going against the grain, and social norms to do and achieve what they wanted in spite of what others told them they were capable and eligible to do!
This inspiring collection garners involvement from the public by their choice of contribution and gaining ‘rewards’ for their contribution, including some lucky contributors choosing what ladies will have an illustration in the book. Award winning author Tansy Rayner Roberts also a Ph.D. classicist specialising in Roman history takes on the role of co-editor for the project.
Tehani says her definition of cranky is not derogatory, but rather denotes a passion for getting things done, and if that is the definition to go by Tehani herself with her passion to bring this project to fruition by her own admission is bit of a cranky lady herself ; )
Transportation is an exciting new literary project that will showcase and promote work by writers based in London and Tasmania.
From the time of convict transportation to the present, London and Tasmania have established rich historical links, and despite their geographical distance there has always been a sense of cross-cultural exchange.
This can be traced right back to the 1820s, when East End convict and supposedly the inspiration for Dickens’ Fagin, Ikey Solomon, was transported to Tasmania.
The first Australian novel was written by Henry Savery, transported for forgery to Van Diemen’s Land:
Transportation will modernise and strengthen these ties by publishing a collection of short stories on the theme of Islands and cities.
Writers in London and Tasmania are invited to submit work to the project on the theme of ‘islands and cities’ and the selected work will be published in book form late in 2014.
The project ‘Transportation’ is already fostering a contemporary interchange between writers in Tasmania and London, with work from the London editor, Sean Preston, recently published on the Tasmanian literary magazine, Island’s website.
The Tasmanian editor, Rachel Edwards, former editor of Island and host of a weekly books and publishing show on Edge Radio says “Transportation is a wonderful opportunity for Tasmanian authors to appear in an international publication.
“Transportation is fostering real international connections and creating an international writing community between Tasmania and London. There’s nothing like it.”
London editor Sean Preston is the editor and creative director of Open Pen ...
... an innovative literary journal. He is also a production coordinator at record label, Ninja Tunes.
Transportation will launch a crowdfunding project in June.
Submissions will be accepted until June 18 and more information can be found here:
Stephen Romei, The Australian
28.03.14 5:19 am
TASMANIAN writer Richard Flanagan has dashed from the blocks in this year’s race for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North last night named best fiction and book of the year in the Indie Awards.
The Indies, voted by Australia’s independent booksellers, are usually a reliable guide to the literary prize season. In 2012, Anna Funder’s All That I Am was named Indie book of the year before going on to win the Miles Franklin.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, set partly on the Thai-Burma Railway, prevailed over three novels that are sure to be contenders in this year’s fiction awards: Tim Winton’s Eyrie, Christos Tsiolkas’s Barracuda and Alex Miller’s Coal Creek.
In his acceptance speech Flanagan said 2013 was “a golden year for Australian books” across all genres.
Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites was named best debut fiction, David Hunt’s Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia took out best nonfiction and Alison Lester’s Kissed by the Moon was voted best children’s book.
27.03.14 10:58 am
Ghosts of Ireland: A Shanachie’s Tale has been published on Amazon (kindle, Ipad, Iphone etc; hard copies soon).
Ghosts of Ireland: A Shanachie’s Tale is an Historical Fantasy thriller and love story with supernatural elements, and set in Ireland and Australia.
Synopsis: A flawed and wayward son discovers his inner steel when he journeys through death’s dark vale, in Ireland’s past and present to rescue his stricken mother and long lost baby sister from a supernatural curse .
The writer Anthony Fitzgerald has been a teacher, a copywriter, freelance journalist, TV documentary writer, a short story writer and has two screenplays currently optioned. He has had two Oscar winning actors attached to his first screenplay and is co-producing a TV pilot he wrote - with an Oscar winning producer - this year. This is his first published novel.
Earlier on Tasmanian Times: Beam me up, Scottie ...
Tasmanian Writers' Centre
27.03.14 7:21 am
How do you craft your life story? Memory is such a tricky medium and a well-written memoir requires detachment, a critical eye and some well-honed writing skills.
The aim of this course is to complete a well drafted manuscript or a structural prototype for your finished work.
During this series of monthly workshops we will explore:
The structure ...
26.03.14 11:48 am
Island Magazine’s 136th issue is ready to be launched and scattered amongst the masses! The Autumn 2014 issue is full of what you’ve come to expect from Island; fiction, non-fiction, poetry and beautiful art throughout. We’re pretty proud of this baby…even if we do say so ourselves.
Our new fiction editor, Geordie Williamson (yes that dapper gentleman also known as the chief literary critic of The Australian) ...
To get out to the Farm Bar, there is a bus departing at 5.30pm from Hobart Tourist Information Centre (cnr of Elizabeth and Davey streets) and returning around 10.45pm ...
25.03.14 4:44 pm
HOBART BOOKSHOP and WALLEAH PRESS invite you to the launch of David HM Wright’s poetry collection, Splendour of the Shore.
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tas 7000
5:30 pm, Thursday 27th March 2014
“First, and most obviously, Mr Wright has a marvellous command of language which he uses to great effect. The poems “sing”.
Secondly, he creates powerful images: we can almost see and smell the scenes he describes.
And thirdly, there is, underlying the lyrical description of scenes and events, a spiritual, almost metaphysical quality which makes the reader turn again to each poem to think about its meaning.”
— Philip Grundy
David Wright was born in Zimbabwe where he came to be recognised as one of Central Africa’s White poets. He emigrated to Australia in 1982. He served as headmaster of Oxley College, Bowral, from 1982-1993 and of the International Grammar School, Sydney from 1994-2000.
He is a graduate of the universities of Natal, Oxford, Rhodesia and Sydney. He is now retired and lives and writes in Kingston Beach, Tasmania.
ISBN 978-1-877010-44-6 20 pp $10 RRP
© Copyright, Les Harris and Diane Caney, 2013
25.03.14 6:57 am
• Les’ family has decided to set up a Story Competition in memory of Les. They will seek stories about the beautiful waters in and around Tasmania. Les asked that stories be sought from Tasmanian residents. For more information, please follow this link ... </b>
Photograph taken in March 2014 near Bruny Island, Courtesy of Rod Houghton, Tassie Photographer @ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tassie-Photographer/162812083834306?
Photograph Courtesy of Duncan Giblin, Stormboy Photos, http://www.stormboyphotos.com
When living in Melbourne in 1990, I saw a wonderful performance of some poems written by Heathcote Williams. Knowing that my father loved dolphins, I sent him a hardback copy of Falling for a Dolphin, a poem which describes an incredible encounter between a man and a dolphin.
Afterwards, I received the following letter from Dad.
I think it is so beautiful.
At the end of all things, what will stand out as the pivotal moment in our lives?
This story is Dad’s response to that question.
He asked to have part of this story read at his funeral.
And, we did that today (June 2013) .
It’s a wonderful story.
Friday, Eleventh of May, 1990
After receiving Falling for a Dolphin on the morning of Friday the eleventh, and reading it immediately, I was inspired to write to you ‘instantly’ to relate to you my experience with Dolphins.
Reading this book has unlocked memories of a lot of sea-related experiences, or more aptly, treasures of my mind, which I would like to share with you. I am very emotional at this stage of writing to you, which I can only put down to feeling that the things I am about to share are the closest things to my soul.
Lots of tears … now.
The experiences happened when I was between 11 to 18 years of age. I lived in a house on Bellerive Bluff, a little to the east of the Bluff, towards the beach. My bedroom was at the rear of the house, and on the beach side. Money was scarce, so I slept on a straw filled mattress and the smell of straw was always with me while I was in bed. You would have to experience this to realise that having to use straw by necessity actually was a bonus, except that after a period of time the straw flattened out.
My first feeling for the Sea was when I was in bed at night, and for the previous two to three days the wind had been blowing from the South West before stopping to a dead calm, only leaving the ground swell that had built up. This swell would catch the beach on the quarter and after starting at the Western end the waves would clap all along the beach on a roll which seemed to last for minutes, but was probably only a few seconds. This was a marvellous experience and I yearned for these conditions to occur so I could go to bed early and soak them up and dream of the Sea.
Because money for food was scarce, I thought perhaps there may be fish in the Sea around the Bluff. I had trouble getting the old green line to cast out over the rocks, so I fashioned a fishing pole made from a piece of bamboo stolen from a fashionable garden. The pole was most successful and the fish – squeaker, perch and cod – were there in abundance. There were also mussels which I cooked in an old tin on the rocks, using she-oak twigs. I found the mussels tasted good, as well as being excellent bait. So, I now had lots of high grade food that I’d found, discovered through necessity. The Sea seemed to call me and encourage me to use its contents, as if it had all been put there especially for me, and just me.
While foraging for mussels I noticed some tiny fish in the rock pools. I was told they were called ‘Bullies’ or ‘Bull Fish’. I can’t imagine why, as they were so small, although they did have tiny, poisonous spikes. I had an urge to catch them, so I modified a small tin by creating drain holes so I could use it as a scoop. I then collected the Bullies out of their pools and put them into a smaller observation pool after first testing the temperature to see that it was not too hot, as this caused them to get distressed. I would spend hours watching the Bullies, enjoying each one’s personality and differences.
So, the Sea had now provided me with a leisure activity that could be enjoyed each day, and it was always changing as the tide ebbed and renewed the experiences with variations every time. At the waterline, in the more exposed area of the Bluff, the various sea slugs and different types of coloured seaweed were always there to be enjoyed as well. My days were long and enjoyable, and it seemed as if they would go on forever.
Living near the Sea, I was always interested in the various types of boats, so when I grew older and had an income, I built an eleven foot yacht. It was extremely stable and I found in light weather, if I balanced the sails correctly, I could tie the tiller centrally to the floorboards and set it on a windward course. I could then travel on one long tack with the sails cleated off. I would travel in quietness, except for the natural noises, such as the waves slapping against the bow and the sea birds making the occasional call.
So, the Sea was still providing me with enormous pleasure and it always seemed as though it was put there just for me.
One day there were several of us in our yachts on our favourite course from the Bluff to Long Beach, Sandy Bay. There was an average strength sea breeze and the Sea was quite choppy when an enormous number of Dolphins appeared all around us. They seemed to be greeting us and wanting to play.
The more they stayed around us, the more excited I became. Eventually I called to one of my brothers on a nearby boat and said, ‘I’m going to jump in with them and swim over to you. Be prepared to pick me up.’
I dived in and started to swim.
The Dolphins streamed past me, so close that I could touch them, but they were moving too fast, as if they were on another mission, but still had time to pass with us. I can relate to the idea that there is an enormous field of bio-electricity given off by Dolphins, especially when there are large numbers of them in a confined area.
Being with them was the greatest feeling.
It was the best experience I have ever had.
It might have been excitement, or adrenalin, but I think it was the electricity which was all around, in the air and in the water – it seemed to pass though me in pulsating waves of ecstasy. The feeling, in my body and on my skin, and in my head, lasted for hours after the Dolphins had dispersed and I was back on land. So, I will be forever grateful to the Sea for giving me the pleasure of a lifetime, as well as all the other pleasures, which became minor after the Electric Dolphins.
The Sea is still calling me to settle closer to it, so as it is more able to continue to pass on to me all its teachings and all its pleasures.
And I still know that they are put there just for me.
Many thanks for the book.
I think that you will understand how much it means to me from this letter.
Les passed away on Friday 14th June 2013 in Hobart, two hours after Ryoji Ikeda’s Spectra lights were switched on to make an enormous beam stretching 15 kilometres into the sky. His children, Diane, Frank and Steven sat with him for a while with their mother and aunt, and then went and wandered by Les’ beloved Derwent River in the rain, staring up at the amazing, brightly lit pathway to the world beyond. They believe that Les is sailing the balmy seas of heaven now, under halcyon skies, regularly ditching his yacht to take a dip with divine pods of Electric Dolphins.
Copyright, Les Harris and Diane Caney, 2013
Les’ family has decided to set up a Story Competition in memory of Les. They will seek stories about the beautiful waters in and around Tasmania. Les asked that stories be sought from Tasmanian residents.
For more information, please follow this link:
The Hobart Bookshop
24.03.14 6:32 am
Striking in conception and craft, The Language of Water traces an odyssey, a journey at once mythic and breathtakingly individual. Kathryn Lomer.
The work includes colour images of paintings by Marianne Stafford.
You are invited to the launch of a new book of poetry by Anne Collins The Language of Water (Walleah Press).
It will be launched by Lyn Reeves.
When: Wednesday the 2nd April, 5.30pm.
Where: The Hobart Bookshop, 22 Salamanca Square, Hobart.
The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
24.03.14 4:34 am
Author Hugh Mackay loves Tasmania and he has long standing links with the state. His Great, Great, Grandfather left England, first settling in Hobart before later moving to Melbourne and Sydney. I had the opportunity to speak to Hugh recently about his latest novel ‘infidelity’.
The name Hugh, in many languages means ‘intelligent’ and it is indeed an intelligent novel that Hugh delivers.
The cover image of ‘Infidelity’ features, in Hugh’s words, a ‘striking’ portrait of a woman, naked under the wrap around her shoulders and it’s those shoulders that she rests on for support, a telling body language. Hugh notes ‘the woman sits with her back to us and ironically her physical nakedness actually masks something ‘hidden’ about her.
This picture chosen by Hugh’s publisher sets the tone for the book because it puts into visuals the story of a woman somewhat alienated from both her emotions, and expressing them to others. Hugh says it is this cover and that of his other recent book ‘The Good Life’, with its hot air balloons which he considers the best covers of all his books.
This beautifully crafted novel addresses the many types of infidelity, both physical and emotional. While the most common definition of infidelity is ‘physical unfaithfulness’ it also encompasses emotional unfaithfulness and unfaithfulness to one’s self.
The protagonist Sarah, is an academic, a literature lecturer, whose speciality is interpreting fairy-tales and nursery rhymes, a position which Hugh selected for her in part to contradict Sarah’s ambivalence to having children.
The other main protagonist is male clinical psychologist Tom Harper (The character of Tom has appeared in other books by Hugh, however his appearance here can be read as a stand alone book. Perhaps,Ironically his surname ‘Harper ‘might inspire readers to insert some ‘harp music’ for Tom, who finds himself in the UK to escape the aftermath of an ‘indiscretion’. Like Sarah, Tom’s job is interpreting, not fairy-tales but reality,that Tom is grounded in reality more so than Sarah.
Tom says Hugh, ‘knows how to dish out advice to others’ but when it comes to his own situation all his clinical criteria can’t keep him seeing through the fairy-tale fantasy, fairy-tales that also have to deal with the darker side of relationship psychology and so our two protagonists are caught in their own fairy-tale of light and darkness.
The novel demonstrates how having two major characters with careers based on interpretation doesn’t make them immune to how easily misinterpretation can totally renovate or wreck the landscape of a relationship.
Hugh agrees that Morris Gleitzman’s comments about the ‘magic spaces’, where the reader and author meet rings true to him, and is thankful, even if he can’t meet all of his readers he can by virtue of email get feedback of how they are receiving his novels.
Hugh ultimately wants in ‘Infidelity’ and his other books to offer ‘illumination about ourselves’ to his readers.
Hopefully Hugh will visit Tasmania later this year or early next year promoting his next book.
‘Infidelity’ is available now.
Karina Woolrich ACORN PRESS
24.03.14 3:58 am
Acorn Press Limited – http://www.acornpress.net.au
New Book Information
Title: From Head to Toe: Men and Their Roles in the First Two Generations of Christianity
Author: Ross Saunders (1926–2005)
Edition: 1st edition
Formats: paperback and eBook
Publication date: 30 April 2014
Launch details: 6.30 pm
Wednesday30 April 2014
4-8 Vicki St
Blackburn Sth VIC 3130
RRP: $29.95 (paperback)
eBook price will vary depending on retailer
Acorn website quick link:
From Head to Toe invites us to into the world of men in the first two generations of Christianity as they come to terms with what it means to follow Jesus. We share in their struggles and triumphs as they make the journey ‘from head to toe’ – from status-seeking to serving.
Ross Saunders shows us how to read the New Testament with new eyes and hearts, exploring our own understanding of authority, leadership and service within the household of God.
Ross Saunders (1926–2005) served as an Anglican minister and spent many years in religious broadcasting. He was the author of Outrageous Women, Outrageous God: Women in the First Two Generations of Christianity and Were You There: People of Christ’s Passion.
ISBN: 9780987428691 (paperback)
• Pages – 256
• Weight – TBC
• Dimensions – 224 x 148 mm
• Paperback can be purchased through Acorn’s website (http://www.acornpress.net.au). Wholesalers can contact Acorn’s distributors, Rainbow Book Agencies.
• EBook available for purchase through the following sites:
o Amazon Kindle
o Apple’s iBookstore
o Barnes & Noble
For a church that has been steeped in patriarchy, it is quite a shock to see Jesus as a feminist. But that is exactly what Ross Saunders documents. Scholarly but readable, From Head to Toe examines the lives of dozens of men in the Bible as they are called to relinquish status and accept Jesus’ radical view: that true leadership means becoming a servant to all. Along the way, Saunders unfolds in extraordinary detail the lives of these men and their struggles and triumphs with Jesus’ message. The message for us now is no less radical. To follow Jesus, we men must abandon all claims to privilege or power. Only then can we be free.
Steve Biddulph, author of The New Manhood
From Head to Toe makes a significant contribution to understanding the culture of the first two generations of Christianity and provides an important opportunity to stimulate fresh discussion about servant leadership in the church.
Jackie Stoneman, Director of Studies, Mary Andrews College
Tasmanian Writers' Centre
21.03.14 9:51 am
The Art of the Story with Arnold Zable: Saturday 29 March 10 am - 4pm
What is the story you need to tell? Is it personal or is it a passion you need to express? Is it fiction or is it an essay? Do you know the best way to tell it?
At the heart of every good story is the art of using your imagination and the craft of words. Join us for a day with Arnold Zable to explore the techniques of writing and shaping your story.
Arnold Zable is the author of numerous stories, essays and features, and works for theatre. He has conducted numerous writing workshops throughout Australia and overseas, and lectured extensively on creative writing and the art of story. He is a human rights advocate, the immediate past president of International PEN, Melbourne and has a doctorate in creative arts, Melbourne University, where he is currently a Vice Chancellor’s fellow. More details here: http://www.tasmanianwriters.org/calendar/art-story-arnold-zable
Cost: $88 for TWC members; $120 for non-members (membership available from $25)
Where: Salamanca Arts Centre, 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart
Don’t miss Arnold Zable and Maureen Scott Harris at the Lark Distillery on Wed 26 March from 6pm (free event, all welcome) More details here:
Sharon Evans Big Sky Publishing - Marketing & Communications, http://www.bigskypublishing.com.au
20.03.14 5:34 am
What do you get when you put super-uber cool nicknames together with a raft of legendary exploits from daring no-gooders? Six of Australia’s renown Bushrangers of course. But, are the stories surrounding them true? Author Jane Smith reveals all….
The stories of the bushrangers have become the stuff of legend and with time many of the tales have been distorted and falsified until now! Queensland author, historian and Concordia Lutheran College librarian/archivist Jane Smiths new series The Australian Bushranger sets out to separate fact from fiction.
The series features meticulously researched, stand alone books, each detailing the colourful lives of six of Australia’s most famous bushrangers of the gold rush era - Captain Thunderbolt, Captain Moonlite, Frank Gardiner, Ben Hall, and the two men known as ‘Captain Starlight’.
Intrigued by the sheer audacity of their behaviour Smith set out discover why they acted the way they did – unravelling their lives, from their background and the circumstances and events that led them to crime, and, where relevant, their capture and death. Society at the time is explored and for the first time many of the myths around their lives and their legendary exploits are busted. Thunderbolt for example took over a year to write due to the many contradictory stories regarding his ‘career’.
Smith explains, “Many myths have been told about the bushrangers and many books that are currently in print are little more than transcriptions of oral histories. My books are based on extensive research and consequently they correct these myths. I hope that my books will give the reader a sense of the different world that was 19th century Australia, and a better understanding of the factors that led these people into their desperate lives of crime.”
Full of interesting facts and loaded with images, newspaper clippings and records the first two books in the series provide an insight into the careers of Captain Thunderbolt (NSW), whose lacklustre skill with the gun lead to the belief he abhorred violence, and Captain Moonlite (VIC), a charismatic lay preacher gone bad, although, he protested his innocence until his death on the gallows!
The Australian Bushranger series is aimed at late primary to young adult readers and is a useful adjunct to the national school’s curriculum in English and History. However with shootouts, acts of courage or no-good daring and new facts the lives of these Australian Bushrangers will please young and old. Concise , intelligent and easy to read the series are sure to entertain.
Australian Bushrangers will be launched next Thursday 20 March, 4pm at the Concordia Lutheran College Library, Toowoomba by Toowoomba Regional Council’s Special Collections Librarian Jayne Fitzpatrick.
Book Launch Details
Thursday 20 March, 4pm
Concordia Lutheran College - Library
Redlands Campus, 154 Stephen St, Toowoomba
About the Author – Jane Smith is a school Librarian and Archivist at Concordia Lutheran College, Toowoomba, QLD. She grew up in Brisbane and practised as a physiotherapist in country NSW before moving back to QLD and retraining as a librarian. She is married and has two teenage children who are nearly all grown up and in the process of emptying the nest. Jane enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to live music, singing in a community choir and spending time with her family and cat. She is fascinated by history and love visiting old houses. For over nine years she has met monthly for ‘Book Club’ meetings at a café with a group of loyal friends; they call it ‘Book Club’ but it’s really about the coffee, the cake, and the friendship.
Tasmanian Writers' Centre
18.03.14 5:12 am
Visiting writers: Arnold Zable and Maureen Scott Harris will share the limelight on Wednesday 26 March from 6pm.
Come hear these two captivating writers as they share their stories and writings.
Arnold Zable is an acclaimed writer, and novelist. His award-winning books include: Jewels and Ashes,The Fig Tree, and Café Scheherazade. His most recent work is Violin Lessons, a collection of stories about the lives of people he has met over the last forty years.
Poet and essayist Maureen Scott Harris lives in Toronto and has been in Hobart over this summer. Her three collections of poetry are: A Possible Landscape, Drowning Lessons and Slow Curve Out (Pedlar Press, 2012). Harris’s essays have won the Prairie Fire Creative Nonfiction Prize, and the WildCare Tasmania Nature Writing Prize
When: Wednesday, 26 March, 6-8pm
Where: Lark Distillery, 14 Davey St, Hobart
Free event, all welcome.
The Hobart Bookshop
16.03.14 5:48 am
The Hobart Bookshop and Walleah Press invite you to the launch, by Giles Hugo, of Tim Thorne’s latest collection of poetry The Unspeak Poems and Other Verse.
When: 5.30pm Thursday March 20
Where: The Hobart Bookshop
Free event, all welcome.
Please see our Upcoming Events page ( http://www.hobartbookshop.com.au/upcoming/ ) for more information on this and other bookshop events.
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
ph 03 6223 1803 | fax 03 6223 1804
14.03.14 5:46 am
The name says it all, Lynne Champion is a champion in name and deed, a person who has managed to overcome obstacles to triumph in many situations that would have deterred or hindered most of us.
As a young girl, who grew up in relative poverty in Tasmania, Lynne went on to establish ‘Excessories’ an accessory store she ran in San Francisco for 12 years, now the store is a fully fledged boutique chain in Australia and Lynne has notched up a 25 year involvement in retail.
Lynne is based in Melbourne these days but continues to be a globetrotter, but for all that she retains a deep love of Tasmania, in fact when I ask her to nominate places in Tasmania she loves the most it is more or less an impossible task finding a place she doesn’t love!
Among her favourite places are Battery Point, Bicheno, the Huon Valley, Freycinet, Sandy Bay, Salamanca and the Midlands where some of Lynne’s aunts still reside. Lynne concludes Tasmania is a ‘special place’ and has only positive things to say about the people who ‘are uncomplicated’ and ‘not as superficial’ as people in other parts of Australia.
So much does Lynne admire Tassie that in April she will be accompanying a group of overseas guests to Tasmania for very special birthday celebrations.
Like other famous Tasmanians, Crown Princess Mary and Judith Durham, Lynne has links with Taroona. Why is the suburb so well represented by Tasmanian ladies on the world stage? Lynne has a lot of admiration for the suburb and especially for the progressiveness of Taroona high school with its ‘excellent and fun’ teaching methods. ‘The great teachers,’ says Lynne, were ‘‘inspiring and fun. In addition she credits her time in Taroona for forming a firm circle of friends and admired the fact Taroona High was a co-ed school says Lynne, also gave it an advantage.
When Lynne and languages didn’t link she opted for woodwork and so became the only girl in the woodwork class and as the only girl was spoiled with extra assistance.
It was this solid education along with Lynne’s natural talent that has enabled her to create an amazing life, putting pen to paper with the book, and plans have been put into motion for a movie.
When we speak Lynne is literally getting together with her film team following a coincidental meeting. After watching an hour long ABC documentary on the Australian film industry Lynne met a film director in a restaurant.
Lynne gave him a copy of her book to read it on his plane journey and he asked her if she had thought about making the book into a film and it didn’t take long for plans to be penned.
With a keen business acumen Lynne plans to be involved in all parts of the realisation of the film, including budgeting and auditions, already she is impressed by the young actresses arriving for auditions. They have a commitment to the serious message of empowering women and addressing female emancipation in what she hopes to be a thought provoking as well as a funny movie.
But Lynne’s story is also the story about her companions, a coat, a sunny duck and Cosmo the dog. For some wonderfully witty writing see Lynne’s chapter narrated from the viewpoint of her sometimes misunderstood but much loved coat and the chapter narrated by her oft companion the wonderful, gentlemanly Sunny Duck. Cosmo is the present representative of a long line of dog companions and make no mistake says Lynne, Cosmo will most definitely have a cameo in the movie.
As well as working on her film Lynne has found that at her various book launches around Australia, people are coming to her asking for advice in setting up their own businesses and even though it is a time when Lynne is content to sit back on her achievements and enjoy the luxury and freedom of being in ‘a really wonderful place’ she is in high demand to be a mentor and Lynne has never shirked a challenge and so begins a new career.
It’s perhaps the cover picture of Lynne’s book that illustrates her story best with its combination of pure white cover of the woman that was once the little girl growing up in Tasmania. The splashes of red in the photo on Cosmo’s bow-tie and Lynne’s sharp shoes clearly show a red hot passion for life that has created her own business, conquered The Grand Canyon, had a career as a race car driver, mixed with the rich and famous and a guest at The Academy Awards which is an apt point to end on as Lynne’s story is fit to film and perhaps see a return invitation!
‘Champion Tales’ by Lynne Champion is out now.
13.03.14 5:06 am
A flight simulator still sits at Hutchins school. Its the legacy of flying lessons that had once been taught as an elective by the school at the ‘Cambridge aerodrome with the onsite simulator providing a back-up’. It’s a good metaphor for a school that has taken flight and has striven to develop boys potential for a number of years.
I recently spoke to Margaret Mason-Cox who has completed an impressive chronological study of the history of the Hutchins school.
Hutchins is a school that has always been about developing boys best capabilities and over time expanding this to include and celebrate their specific interests. It has evolved over time and no longer is the emphasis solely on the classics, now it is encouraged and supported if a boy wishes to pursue a career in acting or music, woodwork or sport. No discipline is considered more worthy than another.
The school has moved physically as much as it has in curriculum content. The school moved from what is now the Mercury Print Museum, where it was situated from 1846 to 1849 to the impressive Macquarie Street building designed by William Archer to it’s present home at Sandy Bay.
Margaret skilfully relates the many outside and inner influences that have gone together to form the school, one of these has been the gradual introduction of the female contingent both in the teaching fraternity (pardon the pun) and as students. The first female student was Agnes Anderson the daughter of headmaster Anderson.
Margaret believes the introduction of girl students and the ties between Hutchins and Collegiate, and to an extent with Fahan and Mt Carmel at Matric level, has made a positive impact on the school. It has as Margaret said ‘helped keep the boys here’. When parents were considering the benefits of co ed education another positive factor of having girls at the school has been the softening effect on the boys by having girls in class. The fact that having the girls there means co coordinating buses etc and the unavoidable impacting on time and finances does not deter or outweigh the benefits of having female participation at the school.
The addition of having girls in the class has also helped widen the options open to boys studying subjects not traditionally offered at an all boy school like Hutchins.
Another feature of Hutchins has been it’s highly qualified teachers staff members and headmasters with the ability to introduce a number of unique subjects in most cases ‘options’ or ‘electives’ such as hot air ballooning flying lessons. In these cases the subjects were always options or electives.
Margaret’s father was a headmaster at Hutchins when he moved the family here from Melbourne in 1954. Margaret is a Hutchins alumni too, having been enrolled at Hutchins kindergarten.
Margaret doesn’t like saying much, but its acknowledged that under her father’s watch that he ‘was a breathe of fresh air’ and was instrumental in getting the school moved to Sandy Bay.
With a love of sports Margaret’s dad engendered a revitalisation of school spirit.
There are some record making stories too, such as the headmaster Buckland who held office for 28 years to be followed by his son; which saw ‘a family ownership’ of the role for 50 years.
Margaret believes each headmaster proved a foil for the one after him and each one added something to the school.
Margaret has given us a book that illuminates the story of a school that has evolved both in physicality and in the staff and student body, and all along gives us a history that is as exciting as it is exact.
Margaret’s book ‘Character Unbound: A History of The Hutchins School’ is available from the following link.
12.03.14 8:40 am
Andrew Wilkie, the Independent Member for Denison, discloses new details of Julia Gillard’s proposed deal with him, amongst other critical reflections on Australian politics, in a 5000 wd essay to be published this week in Island magazine, a leading quarterly of ideas, writing, and culture.
A live radio interview with Andrew Wilkie will be on Statewide Mornings with Leon Compton, 936 ABC Hobart at 10.05am today to discuss these revelations.
A 1700wd edited excerpt has been published today online at Crikey.com.au.
Highlights of the essay include:
On Gillard Deal
“A curious twist in the story is how Gillard effectively offered me Denison for keeps in mid-2011. We were holding one of our frequent meetings in Canberra and out of the blue she said I needed to think about my future and, in particular, whether I wanted to be the ALP Denison candidate at the next federal election or wanted Labor to not even run a candidate there at all. The alternative, clearly, was business as usual – and by implication a tough Labor campaign directed at me come election time.”
On 43rd ‘hung’ parliament
“The popular misconception at the time, that the ‘hung’ parliament was dysfunctional and somehow illegitimate, was to a large degree the mischievous work of the Liberal–National coalition and some in the media. The reality was that it was simply a power-sharing parliament similar to many effective power-sharing parliaments right around the world; the logical outcome of an effective democratic system where voters are required to elect the members of a parliament, and not a majority government as some critics of the Gillard Government would have you believe.”
On Independents vs Political Parties
“History shows that governments often crave the imprimatur of well-regarded independents and will just as often pork-barrel their seats if only to try to win such sanction, or the seat itself, off them. But of course, much of this effort can be counterproductive because the more a government talks to and about an independent, and the more it dispenses largess, then the more the electorate sees the benefit in holding on to their independent. It’s not lost on some mainland politicians and commentators that the Abbott Government is pushing ahead with the $16 million grant to Cadburys in Hobart while at the same time refusing SPC’s plea for $25 million in federal government investment in Victoria.”
On Political Parties
“Examples of party members failing to follow their conscience, or to effectively represent their constituents, are many, but none are more striking than the parliamentary votes on asylum seekers, marriage equality and animal welfare. Time and time again otherwise good members of parliament have been on the public record making principled statements on these important areas of public policy and then walked in to the Chamber, sat with their party and made a complete mockery of their previous behaviour.”
On the Greens
“In early 2008, I left the Greens and have been on the receiving end of the Greens’ vitriol ever since. There were many reasons for the Greens’ behaviour. Among the rank and file, and even among some of the party leadership, I enjoyed a pleasing level of support. But key figures had taken quite a strong personal dislike to me for reasons, as far as I can tell, as diverse as my army and intelligence background, my moderate views and my preoccupation with social justice and peace issues rather than a strong track record in environmental activism. One very senior Green in particular seemed to be mindful of the possibility that I might one day succeed Bob Brown in the Senate and replace him as party leader.”
“There’s certainly a hunger for more independents by many in the community who are sick and tired of politics, politicians and the political parties. But it’s a tough road to hoe for independents and the parties will do their best to make it all the tougher. After all, the parties like their cushy duopoly on power and don’t take kindly to those who come along and threaten it. Bad luck, I say, they’d better get used to it because we’re here to stay and hopefully prosper.”
Island will be available from today (12 March 2014).
Scott Eathorne Quikmark Media W: http://www.quikmarkmedia.com.au
11.03.14 1:08 pm
The Ross Ice Shelf in the Antarctic, a lump of Ice about the size of France, is forecast to collapse into the sea creating a fifteen metre tsunami that will race around the globe destroying much of the world as we know it. This dire prediction, made by the British Antarctic Survey, New Zealand Scientists, and the Pentagon, is ignored by most of the world’s population, and forms the basis for the forthcoming sci-fi adventure story, Icefall (Short Stop Press, May, $29.99).
Icefall follows the story of street smart Tanya and her family, who after recognising the threat to their existence abandon their city lifestyle to create a secure settlement in the Blue Mountains, enabling them to survive the catastrophe and witness the complete destruction of Sydney and all of Australia’s coastal cities. From this, the depths of despair, they find ways to start to rebuild the vibrant society that once existed. A fast-faced sci-fi adventure epic based on true climate change research, Icefall is the compelling fifth novel from Sydney writer Guy Hallowes.
06.03.14 8:49 am
Island is Australia’s most dynamic quarterly of ideas, writing, and culture. It is also one of our oldest and most respected literary magazines, based in Tasmania, Australia.
Geordie Williamson is chief literary critic of The Australian and winner of the 2011 Pascall prize for critical writing. His book about neglected Australian authors, The Burning Library, was published in 2012 (Text Publishing). He recently won the inaugural Merlyn Meyer Biography Stipend for his new book, Kings of Rapa Nui, a history of his Scottish merchant forbears and their half-century of dominion over Easter Island.
Island 136 is Williamson’s first issue as Fiction Editor. It contains new short fiction from Jessica White, Ashley Hay, Laurie Steed, Paul Griffiths and Colin Oehring.
On his joining the Island team, Geordie Williamson said:
‘I have been either reading, writing about, or writing for, Island for years now. My respect for, and sense of engagement with the journal has only deepened over time—particularly with the arrival of the indefatigable and manifestly intelligent Matthew Lamb as Editor in 2012.
‘The paradox of our contemporary moment is that the margins have the most to teach the centre: about place, about localism, and about the ways in which we must resist the benign imperialism of the literary metropolis.
‘There is valuable news still to come from Tassie; and there is a depth of talent, as well as a magnificently oblique angle of approach to both home and the wider world that I find winning, and urgent. As the great man sings: “from little things, big things grow.”
‘I look forward to managing my small patch of that verdant market garden of ideas and words.’
Matthew Lamb—in his editorial to issue 136—states:
‘Why have we asked Williamson to join the Island team? Because he takes Australian literature seriously.’
WHO: Geordie Williamson and Island magazine
WHAT: Geordie Williamson to join Island magazine as Fiction Editor
WHEN: Island, issue 136, published March 15 2014
WHERE: All good book shops, or online http://www.islandmag.com
05.03.14 6:13 am
You and your friends are invited to the launch by Giles Hugo of Tim Thorne’s The Unspeak Poems and other verses at the Hobart Bookshop, Salamanca Square, at 5.30 pm on Thursday March 20.
Copyright © A.P. Fitzgerald
03.03.14 5:06 am
T’pockit, t’pockit, t’pockit, BARSOOM!! The dreaded mind numbing warning that
often preceded landing came `a juddering through Blodwin’s Osiris Space Pod
like a muted sonic boom. As the sleek craft spurted into the hovering
mists swathing Gannymede Minor his mind raced:
“Must be the Sniveling factor,” he thought as his steel grey orbs fell upon
the Hawking Temporal Differential Extrapolator stapled to his wrist. The
zirconium HTD had been a grateful gift from Kud, king of the ruminant Klingons
from the bicuspid stellar artery of the Anthrax Nebula. These unfortunates he
had saved from the Ringworld Moorlocks of Epsilon during the Sirocco and the
Fohn Wind Wars. He gulped down his fear and flicked a thoughtful glance at his
pregnant wife Barbarella that was glued to the computer console.
“Say it with flowers: give her some Triffids,” piped in the mincing voice of
JCN the super computer, who, like his second cousin HAL from 2001 was named as
an Irish acronym for IBM and could read human thought with consummate ease.
Meanwhile, back on Eo, the Gamma Mutants of the Omegatron had penetrated the
Sony Cobalt shield, and Hydra Blue and the Sleep Wizards were interfacing with
Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians…… who could only communicate by farting and tap
dancing at the same time… which explains why when the first peaceful
Tralfamadorian landed on Earth and immediately ran to a nearby alfalfa farm to
warn the Scientologist occupant that his house was on fire, the redneck beat him
to a pulp with a nine iron and…...and..”
And, like garlic pizza, yodelling and boot scooting, SF is an acquired
taste, even though in a sense it’s been with us since most human beings lost
their tails, learnt to perambulate as bipeds and started telling the first mono
syllabic tales, probably with the visual aid of a dead gecko. According to the
mythologist Joseph Campbell, there are only twelve stories, and each is
borrowed from, warped, tweaked, and often immersed in loghorraeic jargon
and pseudo-science to become hi fi sci fi.
Humanity’s search for worm-holes and the meaning of the universe, its desire to
transcend its mortal coil and the constraints of gravity, or even its need to be
able to walk and chew betel-nut at the same time, reaches back to an era when
fire-side chats constituted not only the main form of entertainment but also the
best opportunity of learning how to survive puberty. When the greater part of
every day equated with a sustained sprint through an over-crowded zoo without
bars, when a twenty eight year life span qualified you as a geriatric, and
when death by tusk, tooth, claw, or simian SARS, was virtually guaranteed,
it’s not surprising our venerable ancestors wanted to escape to some imaginative
place, a better place or a more interesting place in their imaginations.
Freedom of flight: `here’s a cliff, so make like a Pteradactyl Grug’; or Icarus
attempts the Immelman turn with the wax in his ears; immortality (`Methuselah
makes a horse’s bottom of himself at his 601st birthday bash); and enterprising
sand viper snaffles Gilgamesh’s tad-awkward-to-replace elixir of life; conquest
(Charlemagne’s Paladins: Have Armies Will Travel); Heaven (a celestial
place with a good dental care system and no sabre toothed tigers); Xenophobia
(stranger danger)and the riddle of the stars, represent some of the themes
and ideas in the earliest Science fiction.
Way, way, back in time, when “Fast Food” was a reference to speedy gourmet
Marsupials or monitor lizards, the pride of the tribe were the story tellers,
but the only sure-fire method of curbing the wandering ways of these
yabberers was to poke out their eyeballs with a burnt stick. This
practice of the blind leading the bland became so widespread that the Celtic
word `bard’ for a story-teller also meant `blind’. These days Hollywood gives
these hacks three million smackers and locks them in a piano bar at the Beverley
Wiltshire with a laptop and ten crates of DOM for six months at a time to punch
out humanistic SF like Star Troopers and Cyborg, originally titled Jo Zeff and
his Full Metal Jacket.
All ancient societies had their concepts of Creation, ranging from the sexually
charged Big Bang theory to the more scientifically convincing Rainbow Serpent
and Ra. Astronomer, novelist and futurist Arthur C. Clarke even speculated that
nebulous cloud floating in the seventh heaven viewed through the Hubble Bubble
Technical Trouble Telescope may actually be composed of amino acids, those
gregarious little boogers that are the building blocks of life. He further
speculated that if he is correct, it could mean the universe was seeded, much
like your Johnny Apple-seed, but on a more ambitious scale. Let’s hope that if
he’s right, that most of the potential weeds get winnowed in the direction of
the sun or some lunar icescape with a diurnal range of 2000 degrees.
Likewise in his follow up novel 2010, Clarke opined that Europa, a celebrated
moon of Jupiter, might support life. This theory, like Europa, and the beers
served at my pub - “The Wookie and Child” - is said to hold substantial water.
The recent finding of a bottle of Mylanta tablets on Pluto have engendered a
Scientific rethink on the matter.
Unfortunately, with much SF today, the reader or watcher often gains a nagging
feeling of déjà vu…..didn’t I just say that? I mean, it’s always the twenty
ninth century (and I thought MY watch was fast), youth is still rebellious, more
of those ratbag gung Ho Outcasters want to take over the planet and vaporize
anyone with a mullett, essentials such as Moet and other creature
comforts still cost a fistful of plastic, there’s yet another heretical mystic
on the Jihad horizon, and as Woody Allen once avowed, Epsilon girls still prefer
French kissing to hand shaking. I also have to agree with him that what most
people want to know about the universe is not so much whether there’s life in
outer space, but, do they have Ray Guns?” Film title idea flash: Venus in Blue
Genes AKA Sheer Folly.
Science Fiction as a genre is a shape changer and a shameless plunderer of
everything from myths and magic to high science. Science versus Creationism led
to ripping yarns like the one about that big goombah, Frankenstein’s monster, a
man of many parts. Unknown to many SF afficionadoes is the fact that the first
SF story was not Goethe’s cerebral talking food opus “Die Meisterschnitzel”
but the sublime novella “The Dream of Ogg”, a pat mini epic written in
tapir-stool. Its protagonist was a precocious prehistoric Neanderthal Goliath
with halitosis -a “C’ Class Honours student of the University of Tundra and
Cavern who attempted to build a space ship made out of a mussel and oyster shell
midden to carry him out of the Dordogne Valley to greener pastures and forty
leagues closer to the burgeoning Pinot wine district. Not surprisingly the
would-be astronaut died of bivale cigeuretea just before blast off.
Given the onerous task of identifying some very readable SF literature (a
Visigoth to a Vandal: eaten any good books lately Genseric?), even
devotees, Sfans, Trekkies, Vogons and the like, would vacillate, obfuscate and,
most likely, oscillate before plumping for SF such as:
Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series (Tarzan masters Physics) Wells’
Time Machine (Eloi! Eloi! oi oi oi! AKA “Cannibal Tours”; Herbert’s DUNE
(The Worm Turns); Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” (a Literary
companion for celebrity assassins in the U.S); Paul Theroux’s “Ozone” (3 Mile
Island goes continental); Orwell’s “1984” (Mogadishu on a Sunday night); “The
Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (A “How To” book for restaurant bolters at the
end of the universe); or Dan Simmons’ Hugo and Nebula award winning “Hyperion”,
in which budding Starship captain Het Masteen twigs that it’s time his tree ship
Yggdrasil branched out for Hyperion, where hurricanes hoften happen in pursuit
of the deadly Shrike…(I kid you not).
So when the temperature reaches “Fahrenheit 451”, drop the burning book and
seek out searing titles like H Potter inspiration “A Wizard of Earthsea” where
you’ll find Ged, a “Speaker for the Dead” who’ll tell you to head to Westworld
thence navigate the drowned “Riverworld” und……blah blah “und zo it goes” alzo
sprach sour kraut Vonnegut. Ergo, if you’re gonna read a classic, gonna read a
Jurassic, gonna read it in an attic…better read the guide first.
On celluloid though, the SF best” lists could comprise: “Metropolis” (New York
without the traffic snarls); The old eastern bloc’s Solaris (Spaced out Spouse);
“The Omega Man”(Charlton Heston’s last Swiss watch); “Logan’s Run” (The Old and
the Dutiful)”; “Village of the Damned” (Cuckolds Anonymous); “A for Andromeda”
(a B.B.C dramatization of the alphabet); “2001” (My Mentor Woth a Monolith, or
1470 man finds atomic inspiration before lunch); Ridley Scott’s “Alien” (Jaws on
acid); “E.T.(a Bell TELEPHONE CO promo spectacular);“Blade Runner”(`I Robot You
Jane)”; “Star Wars” (Merlin, Arthur and Mordred transmogriphy in a galaxy far,
far, away); the mind boggling 3D PANDORA (“Dances with Wolves” reconstituted
meets The Navii Gator and Beyond Blue); and the high tech/low plot Arnold
Schwarzenbeefeneggenberger blockenbusters “Total Recall” and the Terminators
(“It’s not a toomer!” I tink maybe it is) The sequels were both scary: “The
Governator”; and The Presidentinator”
Another film that could be included is the Close Encounters of the Worst
Kind megahit was “Independence Day - I.D. 4”. essentially summarised as follows:
(U.F.O’s. stop./ NYC RSVP E.T’s. Stop./ FBI, CIA S.N.A.F.U stop./ E.T’s
S.O.B’s. stop./ S.O.S I.B.M, F18’s. stop./ E.T’s D.O.A. stop/ U.N. A.O.K.stop.
Over and out.
Or, also on ID 4: Israelis, Palestinians and interested parties vigorously
reject Alien Middle East solution; Inter Galactic Terra-formers Poleaxed by
Computer Nerd; or “Feisty President kicks arses of Aliens with Altitude Problem”.
And as for the genetic engineering romp “Jurassic Park”, basically it was “What
Then there were major Directors’ shots at the genre:
Spielberg’s “Minority Report”-(Foxy Precog gets bad vibe about Cruise marriage);
SIGNS (Mel’s Field of Bad Dreams – If you build crop circles They Will Come);
and “Matrix Reloaded” and “Matrix Revolution” (NEOphyte Computer Whiz Hacks Into
Techno Babble and SFX MOTHERLODE). And with “I Robot”, “the first two rules of
robotics are that a robot cannot harm a human”. Riii—ight, Even Godiva’s Peeping
Tom, Blind Pugh at the Admiral Ben Bow Inn and Tutenkamen’s mummy saw that
Steven Spielberg’s disconcertingly discomforting take on H.G Wells’ “War of
the Worlds”, however, managed to be something altogether different again: a
chilling thrilling visual parable for the holocaust and other genocides from the
primordial murk of human behaviour and history.
Every viewer of this film possessing a modicum of grey matter and humanity,
regardless of their ethnic and cultural origins, was left in absolutely
no doubt about what genocide must be like for the victims.
And just like the S.S and all malevolent maggots before them and after them,
Spielberg’s alien Martians articulated the same timeless catch cries of all well
armed, strongly motivated and viscerally ambitious “Visitors”: We come in peace,
come in peace: Shoot to kill! Shoot to Kill!
In the past half dozen years the SF fare has been popularised and diversified
immensely, in terms of imaginative scope not so reliant on SFX. Of course
when you’re on a good thing in terms of Box Office receipts, general advice
says don’t mess with it! Which is why “Star Wars” released prequels like “Attack
of the Clones”, and why Terminator and its kind become franchises that could
even release Parts 11 and 12 if they so wished. There will, however, always be
some adolescent pap with laconic heroes comprised of teak or mahogany
propped up by high tech SFX excess as in “Transformers”, and a spate of teen
angst SF like “Twilight”-inspired “I am Number Four” (I vote to retitle it, “I
am Number two”)and forget the spate of expensive Hollywood schlock stuff based
on join the dots, writing by numbers scripts like “Battle for Los Angeles” and
“Chronicles of Riddick”. That said, there is also a growing number of thought-
Provoking and insightful audio-visual material for viewers who are tired of
seeing a predictable plot plodding from A to E, and who really hope for a plot
ranging from A to J via P and a secret LBJ home movie and the discovery of giant
mutant marine life in Fukushima.
There is arguably a rising standard in the best of SF branching into hybrid
genres (not “Cowboys and Aliens so much), including Comedy, Drama and
Other relatively recent offerings like SF comedy “PAUL” managed to break some
new ground despite trotting out myriad homages to so many Alien on
Earth stories that came before it, which included the story of Jesus.
The best SF comedies so far were the laugh out loud John Carpenter film
“Dark Star”, whose evil alien closely resembles a large $4 K Mart beach ball
with legs and attitude.
He deviously and hilariously torments the space ship’s crew, whose job entails
an endless trip through the galaxies exploding potentially unstable stars and
this crew’s very existence has been forgotten by NASA decades earlier. They
encounter an unexpected problem though when one of their talking bombs develops
a “personality disorder” and starts to channel Rousseau, Sartre and a plethora
of other philosophers and argues the logic of “his” purpose and his very
existence shortly after being armed for release and detonation. The countdown
continues with the increasingly “ticked off” and terrified crew desperately
trying to convince him his purpose is to head for the targeted star immediately
or “stand down”.
The ironic and darkly hilarious South Efrikaaner Dramedy/mockumentary “AREA
9” is almost as good. It features giant intelligent prawn-like aliens
incarcerated in a Soweto style township outside Johannesburg after their
space ship encounters mechanical trouble. Seeing these repugnant and terrifying
looking monsters being racially maligned by their intolerant tawny Soweto human
neighbours, and watching them having their citizenship documentation checked by
dull Government officials who address them by their newly allotted names, such
as Charles Potts or Alistair Smith, produced much spontaneous audience laughter
in the movie session I attended and was well worth the price of the ticket.
The new Tom Cruise SF film “Oblivion” is close to being the goods but some
critics and audiences have targeted a few the script’s burgeoning black holes
and that appears in Act 2, as well as its unevenness.
The film “Gravity”, by Alfonse Cuaron, is, however, a breath of fresh air
for SF lovers – though not so fresh for its two protagonists – and this
inventive original audio-visual alchemy truly mines space-junk for a golden seam
and it is film storytelling at its finest.
So, irrefutably, SF is a rapacious looter of the entire world catalogue
of histories, mythologies, yarns and ideas, but it has also added a new
dimension to literary storehouses for an aeon and a millisecond; and inarguably,
in Hollywood, When an Alien Stalks, Money Talks.