I’d like it noted that I ate two chocolate covered insect larvae at the dead dog party.

Two whole ones.

And the chocolate wasn’t even that nice…

Thank you.


You’re holding your baby son, rocking him to sleep, singing along with The Rainbow Connection to settle him, and when he smiles at you just before falling asleep, you start crying.


You have been warned…


Started with Cathy Cupitt’s workshop on writing erotica. Was a bit worried about how she would react to me: Cathy is partner to Scot Snow, who has been receiving an unbelievable amount of bile recently, and it was entirely possible that Cathy would blame me, as I gave out the story rejection that brought the whole thing to a head. I shouldn’t have worried. Cathy was her always-luvverly self, and the workshop was a blast.

Later that evening I was banished to my room whilst the evil-minded Callisto ran a hen’s night panel for Lyn. I went to bed at 11.30, having spent the time blowing up a bunch of white balloons to use as Rovers in the following day’s The Prisoner presentation. My darling fiance rolled in around 2.15am, having survived such good fun as ‘Pin The Cucumber On Neil Gaiman’ and ‘Dirty Fridge Magnet Poetry’. And they were the clean ones…


Panel Day! Because of the wedding on Saturday, I’m on something like 7 panels today. Which is fine by me. I am Panel Junkie! Highlights include The Prisoner, where we made everyone wear number badges, showed clips, raved on like lunatic fans (The first step is acknowledgment of your problem…) and handed out Rovers on string. I take bizarre comfort in finding white balloons in strange corners of the hotel for the next 4 days, not to mention that some fans are still wearing their badges as late as Monday night. Next year I’ll have to create a Prisoner LARP to run under the con.

Other highlights included getting into a spontaneous Time Warp rendition and dance with Wing during the Cult Movie panel (bombard 2006 programmer Cheshire with emails demanding a midnight screening of Rocky Horror next year); spruiking Ticonderoga at the ‘zine launch by offering to give Connor to anybody who read our stories; and the Alternative History Game Show– Zara Baxter riding a tricycle; Aki cramming the plot of Hamlet into the flattest rendition of the Neighbours theme ever; Elaine Walker auctioning off the other members for (IIRC) half of Nevada and a packet of crisps; having to wrest the meat cleaver and machete back off Mynxii before she threw them at a blindfolded PRK… silly, silly, silly. Next year I’m hoping to run it in an expanded format, in which it will only be part of a much larger and stranger show. Bobbing for Cthulhu, anyone?


What else was there but the wedding? Lyn disappeared early to get the kids, and I shaved and spent the morning kicking about downstairs chatting and watching panels. I was told to attend the room at 1pm so I could get my hair done. Uh-uh. We’d forgotten the existence of Cassie Time. Put roughly, the theory of Cassie Time states that any time my 13 year old stepdaughter is presented with a hair/make-up/mirror opportunity, the time at which you get anything done will be extended by a factor equivalent to the importance in her mind of the event she’s getting ready for. This was her mother’s wedding. And her mother was getting her hair done too. Cassie Time With Chips!

3.30 I got my hair done. Then had nothing to do until 4.30, when the boys and I got dressed and headed down to the ceremony.


For once, I really don’t know what to say. I’d love to give a coherent, well-reasoned account of events, but the truth is that I was so blown away by emotion that what remains at this early stage is snippets and moments. However:

I’ve never seen so many fans being genuinely coupley and sweet as in the ceremony just before Lyn entered. Lots of holding hands, heads on shoulders, people wiping the first tears from their partners’ eyes.

I started bawling like Simon Oxwell at an awards ceremony the moment I saw Lyn, and didn’t stop until we’d signed the register. I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful. When she read the vows she’d written, it was only a matter of luck that the first 3 rows didn’t get soaked.

Lyn’s Mum just about had a heart attack when she realised the Stephen she’d been happily chatting to was the Stephen Dedman. Big fan. Now I know where Lyn gets the blush-and-flap-hands thing from 🙂

A lot of people talked to me about a lot of things during and after. I’m sorry if there was anything I was supposed to remember. I don’t. All I remember is Lyn, and her smile, and the tears that welled up every time I looked at her. And I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

I’m sure there’s a lot more: Lyn has a much better memory for these things. But I do know I’ve never been so happy, and the feeling won’t go away.

Strangely, later that night we went to the launch of Consensual 3 where I did a reading, and then copped an invite to the ASIM room party. What a weird feeling: watching Lyn discuss subscription numbers while dressed in a wedding dress. We’d also made an appearance at the Masquerade. DJ Dave Cake had asked us if we’d like a wedding dance, so we had the floor to ourselves for a rendition of Nick Cave’s The Ship Song. That is, until a few of the girls present decided to be the ships that sail around us, and we found ourselves dancing within a circle of dancing, balloon waving girlies. Then Dave decided we needed a song more appropriate to follow, and we got the chance to boogie to Billy Idol’s White Wedding.

The whole wedding (in fact, much of our life within SF) was like that: people care about Lyn, more than she realises, and all they wanted to do was show her how much she means to them and provide her with unique and special memories. Thank you to you all: you succeeded. Big thanks especially to Stephen, Calli, Chesh, Ju, and Kylie, who went beyond friendship and behaved the way family is supposed to. Quite literally: it could not have happened the way it did without you.

We finally made it back to our room at something like 1am. To quote Ian Dury: What happens next is private. It’s also very rude…


Iron Writer. Oh dear. Is 43 years old too late to get a nickname? I hope not, otherwise Poppa Dedman is never going to forgive me for the bizarre Stephen/Martin Livings real life slash that came out when I was forced to write a slash story using the word defenestrate; an ice-cream scoop; and the location Swancon 50 in Barbados. I’ll post it once we unpack the laptop and I can download it. I don’t think Martin can get any more broken over it, anyhow 🙂

Me writing slash. Who’d have thought it? And still I didn’t bloody win. Never underestimate a story in which I get killed by Robin Pen wielding a pair of ice-cream scoops instead of hands. Curse you, Zara Baxter, and your populist leanings! 🙂

We also attended the auction, but found it a little disappointing. There were no truly weird items to bid upon this year. In fact, only books, RPGs, and VHS videos made up the items. We still picked up a few cool things like Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, but nothing quite as froody as last year. Still, we made enough from our own entries to take Ju to dinner on Monday night to thank her for babysitting duties during Monday’s Big Burn, so it was worth it.

Then of course, there was the awards ceremony. Stephen Dedman beat me to Best Professional Work, which possibly surprised a small algae living on the far side of Pluto but nobody else. The uber-lovely Emma Hawkes won the Mumfan, which couldn’t have been more deserved– I still have fond memories of Emma wandering around Pancakes after my first Swancon, Erin in her arms, stoically refraining from screaming as Erin took interest in her hair as only 4 month olds can: pulllll…….

And then came the short story competition. Stephen rose, and explained how the decision over which story came 3rd or 2nd had been so difficult it had taken a week of discussions between the judges, and much to-ing and fro-ing, but eventually they decided that Whisper In The House of Angels by Lyn Battersby was the 3rd prize winner. Lyn went up and received her certificate and cheque. Stephen waited until she returned to her seat to reveal how the week of negotiation had been a complete waste of time because Unnatural Selection by Lyn Battersby had been the 2nd prize winner. So Lyn had to get up again and go receive another one! Gotta love blind submissions 🙂

And to top things off, my sweetie also won the Tin Duck for Best Professional Production for her editing of ASIM issue 11. If you know us, you know the story behind how difficult people made this issue for her, and how every decision she made was questioned and unsupported. But she endured, and we’ve had enough people tell us that it is the best single issue of that magazine that I was not at all surprised when she won. Proud, happy, over the moon. Just not surprised. All I can say is: vin-di-CATED.

Finished the night with our only real room party of the Con (dunno why, but we just never seem to connect up with the really good ones). Started as a wine tasting in the corridors of the 3rd level until lack of airconditioning drew a bunch of us down to PRK and Tori’s room. Which was fun, especially watching Lyn get in touch with her inner nerd and just having to blog in the middle of the party 🙂


I don’t remember much of what we did, except for The Big Burn. Lyn went up to the room to make bottles for Connor in the early afternoon, and came back down with a burn across the back of her hand so bad we had to go to hospital to get it treated. After 4 hours she emerged with a second-degree burn, tetanus shot, and a space bandage that’s supposed to promote healing until it falls off in a couple of weeks. Not the best way to end the Con, but everything’s okay now, apart from a bit of pain when she presses against it. The wonderful Ju looked after Connor like a clucky Aunt, including taking him for his first public speaking engagement (he stood in as representative of the Battersby family when Lyn and I were announced during the closing ceremony)

We finished at the dead dog party, where I ended up in a corner with Rob Hood, Cat Sparks, Deb Biancotti, Russell Farr and Liz Gryzb, seeing who could make the most outrageous statement about our fellow writers. We left relatively early as pain and fatigue were beginning to get on top of Lyn.

And that was that for another year. Now all we have to do is find a home for the new books, the disco Dalek, Lyn’s award, the two huge Womble hot water bottle holders (if you put the opening at the back, you shouldn’t be surprised when people use them like hand puppets…), the wedding presents (Thank you everyone. Individual thank you cards coming soon…), The Neil Gaiman & His Cucumber poster, the Sontaran action figure…

Oh, and to start getting ready for next year. This time, more than 2 weeks preparation 🙂


It took more hours packing than an armed US invasion of a small peaceful country, but we’re finally off to Swancon. I’ll be out of blogging range until at least Tuesday.

In the intervening period I’ll get married, perform on about a billion panels, the Alternative History Game Show will go off like a rocket in a heavy metal guitarist’s underpants, I’ll win a Tin Duck, The Prisoner panel will result in multitudes of people wandering the con dragging their own personal Rover behind them, Lyn will win a Tin Duck, John Howard and George Bush will announce their love with a successfully concluded mutual suicide pact…. Hey, while I’m wishing for perfection I might as well do the world some good….

Have fun, y’all. I will be 🙂


In the car on the weekend, apropos of nothing:

BLAKE: It would be really cool to be a werewolf.
ME: Really? Why?
BLAKE: Once a month I’d be allowed to stay up late.

Well…….. yeah.


Was out shopping yesterday for props for the Alternative History Game Show (Gotta love something that gives you a shopping list that includes a toy rat, mouthguard, and confetti). In one of the many stores I visited they were selling penyatas (or however the hell you spell it). Including one in the shape of a female angel.

Considering what you do to penyatas, and what you do to what spills out, it seemed rather wrong, to me.


As if the universe was daring me to hold a party based on the “Why? Oh, why?” theory of music, I heard a new hip hop song on the radio that sampled (wait for it)……..

the Captain Sensible version of Happy Talk.

To steal a line from Aki, WTFPOLARBEAR?


Saturday night is so close now that I’ve got to the stage of wanting everything between now and then to get out of the way and let us get on with it. It’s going to be brilliant.


If you’re not heading to Swancon, this is what you’ll be missing seeing me do (apart from the wedding, of course 🙂 )

Balancing Writing With Your Day Job (And Knowing when To Quit) Friday, 1pm-2pm. What do you get paid per word? How many words can you write a day? How many of them are you selling? How long can you survive without food and shelter? Is there more to the equation than this, and if so, what? With Charles De Lint, Rob Hood, Cat Sparks, & Dave Luckett

The Prisoner: Who Is Number 1? Friday, 2pm-3pm. “I am not a number. I am a human being!” So cries the eponymous prisoner in Patrick McGoohan’s revolutionary 1960s television series. But who exactly is he? What is the series about? And what the hell was that last episode about? With Luscious!

Short Fiction: Why Do We Still Write It? Friday, 3pm-4pm. If it’s not for money, is it for love? Is it more fun than writing novels? Is it a way of perfecting our craft? Is it because the voices tell us to? Please answer in 7500 words or less. With Charles de Lint, Terry Dowling, Robert Hood, Cat Sparks, and Stephen Dedman

Cult Movie, Bad Movie? Friday 5pm-6pm. Robot Monster. Plan 9 from Outer Space. Batman. Barbarella. Naked Killer. Tron. Do we love some movies despite their faults or because of them? What makes a cult movie, can you deliberately create a cult, and are there any good movies with cults? With Dave Cake, and Wing Chung

Trailer Park: The Good, the Bad, and the Sequels Friday 7pm-8pm. What does Hollywood have to offer us over the next year – and should we trust them to deliver? Can you judge a film by its trailer? And if not, are some films better than their marketing suggests? With Grant Watson, David Gunn, Simon Oxwell, and Paul Kidd

Alternate History Game Show Friday, 8pm-9pm. Last year, I rewrote history with the aid of 3 willing victims, who were forced to recreate the Bayeux Fingerpainting, buy Australia from the natives using only an Arnold Schwarzenegger DVD, and tear off random body parts from Vincent Van Gogh. This year promises to be even sillier. You don’t want to know what they invented instead of the toothbrush… With me!

Iron Writer Sunday 3pm-4pm. Nearly a decade ago, a man’s fantasy became reality in a form never seen before; Writing Stadium, a giant literary arena. His motivation; to encounter new, original prose, which could be called true, artistic creations. To realize his dream, he started choosing the top Writers of various styles of literature, and he named his men and women the Iron Writers. With Paul Kidd, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Zara Baxter, and Elaine Kemp.

Open Mike Monday, 12pm-1pm. Come and read out your words to an adoring audience. With whoever wants to read some of their stuff out.


Big-mob thanks to everyone who came to the party on Saturday night and made it such a biffo event. Our last guests tumbled out the door at gone 1am, after we’d finally exhausted all the bad 80s video clips we wanted to see, but before that we had hours of good fun, great conversation, laughing, drinking, and having the time of our lives.

Whilst there were a host of brilliant moments, I think my personal favourite would have to have been breaking the usually unflappable Chesh with an image of my Mum dreaming of a Lloyd Cole-Chris Isaak sandwich. Or was it learning that the mah-na-mah-na song was originally taken from a Swedish Porn movie? (Which lead to some very dodgy Kermit the Frog impersonations) Or listening to Cassie’s shock at the kind of music us “old people” listen to? Or watching Mynxii trying to outblush Luscious (and being beaten comprehensively: next contender please!)

Too much fun. Next time it’ll have to be a “Why, oh why?” party. As in “Why, oh why did Ministry cover a Bob Dylan song? Why, oh why did they do a dance remix of ‘Reckless’? Why, oh why The Dickies record that version of ‘Nights In White Satin’?”


Received an email from Callisto yesterday, asking whether we could write something for the Swancon convention booklet regarding the wedding, and due to the usual committee organisational skills, could she have it, like, ten minutes ago?

Luscious was at the gym so I sat down and rattled off a page about her and what she means to me. She came home half an hour later, and there was still time for her to write a page too, as long as she did it right now.

If you attend the con you’ll read the results. All I’ll say is that sometimes, when all you have time for are the simplest statements, the results can be powerful.


I put Connor’s cot together today. The cot I’ve spent the last couple of weeks sanding and painting.

And it looks bloody awful.

But at least I did it myself, for my son. I will gladly admit to being crap when it comes to the handyman stuff, but sometimes there are things you have to do yourself, just so you can take a greater stake in your own universe. Connor’s asleep in it now, for the first time, and even though the paintjob is patchy, and I scraped a bloody great line down one side putting it all together, and somehow the side doesn’t come down the way it’s supposed to, none of that matters, because I did it for him.

Besides, I can always touch it up after the con 🙂


After tonight there are two sleeps until the convention starts. And all I have to do is: burn 20 CDs for wedding guests; print out the covers; put the CDs into cases and cut, fold, and insert the covers; sticky-tape safety pins to the back of 64 Prisoner badges; write the Prisoner panel; organise the clips for the panel; organise a DVD or laptop projector; write the questions for the Alternative History show; then write them onto A4 cards; buy/find/steal the props to go with them; pack my clothes; pack my writing gear; contact my best man and the suit hire shop and go out for my final fitting; buy socks for me and the boys for the wedding; shave (this is not a minor undertaking); pay the florist; give 250 flyers for the collection to the conbag stuffers; take Erin to her grandparents; pick up my suit; input the line-edits for over 20 of the collection stories and send the package to my editor… and that’s the stuff I remember.

I do this every year- spend the week before the con running around like a blue-arsed fly so that by the time I actually get to the hotel I’m too shagged out to enjoy the first two days. You think I’d bloody learn…


The too-groovy-for-words Cat Sparks has shown me the cover art for the collection, and it’s damn cool. All I need to do is get the rubber stamp from Prime, and it’s set. I’ll throw up a link to an image when I get back from Swancon, so you can all tell Cat how cool it is.


Just in case you’d forgotten, tomorrow night is the Last Days of The Triffitt Party. Here are the details once more:

26th March: Lyn Triffitt swaps her tired old surname for a new, 27% improved one!
19th March: She uses that as an excuse to have a party!

Where: 22 Redfox Crescent, Huntingdale
When: Saturday, 19th March, 7pm onwards.
Theme: Sure, why not? Tacky 80s it is! All the Plastic Bertrand, Toto Coelo, Captain Sensible, and The Buggles you could ask for! The Specials! Jona Lewie! Anybody else we can come up with in the meantime!
Food: Nibblies provided, as well as a bunch of soft drink.

Dress to theme and win a prize (Okay, we’ll probably just take a photo of you, but that’s something…)

I’ve got about 5 1/2 hours of lovely aural cheese lined up, but if anyone’s got a CD with Hayzee Fantayzee’s Shiny Shiny on it that they want to bring and let me rip to the playlist, it’d be much appreciated.


We cleaned, we assembled nibblies, we filled the fridge with a whole lot of wine. And they came in numbers, and they came bearing money, and they had a fabbo time as far as I could tell because I was in the other room keeping a non-Tuppery Cheshire company and getting wellied on Swancon fundraising champagne (that wine glass was deceptively large).

To everyone who came: Sarah, Ju, PRK, Kylie, Anna, Elaine, Davina, Christine, and Lily: Thank you, for your generosity (Lyn seems to have bought every container known to man with your gift donations), your enjoyment, and your obvious love for Luscious. You gave her a wonderful night, and a very happy occasion. As bridal showers go, it was weird and wonderful. Much like our relationship 🙂


Just received word from Aurealis accepting the third Father Muerte story, Father Muerte & The Flesh.

Happy dance commenciiiiiiiiinnnnnngggggg………………………… now.


Issue 3 of Ticonderoga Online is up!

Editorial by that Tin Duck-nominated paragon of editorial loveliness, Luscious Lyn Triffitt. Stories by Martin Livings and Ben Peek. An interview with Deb Biancotti. Loads of reviews.

Go, read, enjoy.


I am butch, I am rough-n-tumble, I am the rock and roll Tyrannosaurus sex God of Australian Science Fiction…

I am currently cleaning the house like a mad thing before the cleaning lady gets here to clean up for the Tupperware party this evening.

Has anybody seen my testicles?


See that review of Dark City in my 25 movies to watch list? Take out Rupert Everett’s name and insert Rufus Sewell, would you?

That’s what I get for typing these things up at 1 in the morning…. Thanks to Paul A. for pointing it out to me.


It occurs to me that I should also mention that Borderlands 4 contains the single best non-fiction article I’ve read since I became involved in the Oz SF scene 4 years ago.

Then again, long time readers of this blog or my Ideomancer reviews will not be at all surpsied by the high esteem in which I hold Chris Lawson.


I found out earlier this evening that Tales of Nireym has been nominated for the Best Professional Fiction Tin Duck Award at this year’s Swancon.

Even better, ASIM 11 has been nominated for Best Professional Production. If you’d been privy to the amount of shit Luscious had to wade through just to get this issue to see print, you’d be lining up with me to accord her a medal. (A Tin Duck will do nicely, though). It’s a real vindication of her fight with the committee, and proof of not only her excellent editorial skills, but of the strength of character she showed by not backing down when some members of said committee (including a member of a fundamentalist religion who wouldn’t know pulp tradition if it reared up and bit her on the arse) came over all faint at the idea of a pulp magazine printing horror. Coz Weird Tales never did that, dontch’a know…

I’m extraordinarily proud of Lyn right now. I hope the ASIM members who are present at the Award ceremony have the grace to stand aside and let her take centre stage if the issue wins.


…is surprisingly enjoyable. And (I can’t believe these words would ever appear from my consciousness), Keanu Reeves doesn’t do that bad a job. Okay, the film is riddled with weaknesses, and it’s so far from the source material that changing the title from Hellblazer to Constantine is a damn good idea, BUT: if you want someone to play a character who has suffered so many spritual blows that he is dead mentally and emotionally, who can’t raise a vestige of optimism to save his life, and whose knowledge of damnation is enough to scare any sense of vaitality from his every waking moment……. the Canoe is your man.

Of course, it didn’t hurt to have Lyn and the boys snuggling into me every time a scary moment happened 🙂


I enjoy Borderlands. I think it fills a valuable niche at the top end of literary SF in Australia, and I both submit and subscribe as often as I can.

I have a deep and abiding love of truly crappy SF. Hey, I’ve just told the world to watch Robot Monster. There is a level of badness beyond which something becomes amazingly enjoyable, like watching a car crash full of smurfs. True badness is as enjoyable as true class. Borderlands recognises this: Grant Watson’s ‘Bad Film Diaries’ are an hilarious attempt by my favourite film maven to defend the likes of Masters Of The Universe, Alien 3, and Alien Vs Predator.

Borderlands 1, 2, and 3 have included some brilliant stories, such as Simon Brown’s Ring Ring!, KJ Bishop’s Beach Rubble, and Dave Luckett’s By The Sweat of Your Brow.

Borderlands 4 contains the worst story I’ve read in years. Enjoyably bad like whole busloads of smurfs impacting each other. I’m not going to tell you which one. You have to buy the issue and find out for yourselves. And be aware: this isn’t me telling you not to buy the issue. I want you to buy it: Borderlands is a fantastic magazine, and needs more subscribers. You should own it.

And if screenings of movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Star Wars, and Robot Monster can attract hundreds of fans of the deliciously awful, if Mathew Reilly can sell novels like most of us can only dream about, if Usher and Nelly can flog off more albums than any 3 good bands from your memory, then the story in Borderlands 4 should be read by as many people as possible.

It’s fabulous!


Christopher Eccleston is an engaging cross between early Peter Davidson and Colin Baker. Billie Piper shows enough spirit and ballsiness to indicate that she’ll be a more than acceptable foil. They keep the awful control room from that abysmal Paul McGann travesty (or at least, it looks like I remember and buggered if I’m going to watch it again to confirm), and there are some lovely bits of business going on that make me believe that this reincarnation could have some legs.

Yup, saw the first episode of the new Dr Who last night, crowded around Splanky’s laptop with Luscious and the Sunday Night Crew.

I just wish Eccleston had worn something a little more Who-like. Sharp and stylish doesn’t belong.


For every up there’s a down, for every yin there’s a yang, for every list of movies you should watch…

Same guidelines as before. And remember, as Grant Watson says, I’ve watched these so you don’t have to.

Supernova: A snapshot from the James Spader sideshow of awfulness. How can a man who appears in so many funky, fun films, turn up in so many abysmal B-graders? Such as this farrago. I can’t even really remember the plot, only that there’s a spaceship, and he spends half the movie horning after Angela Bassett, and there’s that zero-g shagging scene in the viewport. And I’m not entirely sure that’s the point of the film, but I do know there isn’t a herd of mastodon that could drag me near a copy of this movie to check. (NB: I really wanted to add Wolf to this list, but I like James Spader, so only one at a time)

Event Horizon: If this B-grade shocker about a mad scientist using a spacecraft’s FTL drive to open a gateway to Hell (no, seriously) had a cast to match it’s shocker of a plot, I could have left it off and put Universal Soldier in here where it belongs. But Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne stumble through this. They may look like they’d rather be licking Kurt Russell’s eyeballs. They may act like they’re only waiting until lunch so they can steal a fork from the canteen and stab their agents in the inner ear over and over and over. But they’re in it, and for that alone the plague rats crawl all over this rotting corpse of a film in numbers too many to count.

Escape From New York/LA: Kurt Russell. You don’t need more than that, surely? Okay, how about the fact that these two movies are essentially the ame damn film released a decade and a half apart? How about the ludicrous basketball scene? How about Peter Fonda and Oor Kurt surfing to safety? How about… look, they’re Kurt Russell films. Just trust me, okay?

Stargate: Kuuuuuurrrrrtttttt….. And James Spader to boot! If you think the TV show is bad (and how can you think otherwise?) you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! So ridiculous on every level it’s difficult to know where to begin. Like a Von Daniken wet dream, this Egyptians-From-Space epic lurches from irrationality to irrationality with its eyes closed, and a deep hope that nobody else is watching. So don’t.

Independence Day: So big, so dumb, so full of Will Smith that there should be a law against it. Where do I start? IBM-compatible aliens? A race of psychic aliens who can’t detect when two humans are flying a spacecraft right up their motherships ass because the pilots duck behind the control console? Will Smith? The fact that the humans spend half the movie trying to break into an alien craft they’ve had since the 50s when one’s sitting crashed in the desert with the top open not half an hour’s walk away? Will Smith?

The Star Wars Sextet: Sure, Jaws may have started the belief that bigger, faster and stupider equalled better, but these are the movies that made that belief holy. And by God they’re big, and by God they’re fast, and by bloody God on a pike they’re stupid. I don’t have the time to waste listing all the ways these movies suck, and let’s be honest, either you agree with me or you’re not going to listen. But they do.

2001- A Space Odyssey: Yes, this is a classic. Yes, it revolutionised film special effects and non-linear storytelling. Yes, the ending is a bizarre journey through one director’s determination not to let us understand a bloody thing. But let’s be honest, here: this film is so goddamn boring I’d rather be listening to a Rick Astley album.

Okay, maybe not that boring. But still…

The Mummy/ The Mummy Returns: Let’s take a classic Boris Karloff creeper from the 1930s and rejig it as a semi-comedy vehicle for Brendan Fraser. Of all people. The Ishtar of Horror Movies, and then they made a sequel. From the moment they fired Clive Barker this began to stink like week-old stew. And worse of all, it gave Rachel Weiss TWO acting jobs…

Armageddon: Bigger, faster, dumber. With Ben Afleck. Who doesn’t die on a gaint meteor, blown apart by nuclear bombs. So unfair. I mean, is it too much to ask? A Meteor for the 90s, with an idea so stupid only an American action movie star would do it.

Altered States: William Hurt has a reputation as a serious actor of deep intelligence, giving measured performances that balance passion and reflectiveness in a restrained dose. Personally, I think he’s boring, wooden-faced, and monotone-voiced. Sure, he was in Dark City, but then, he was in this too. And this is as boring as batshit. Even in deeply reflective mediatations on the human psyche and what it means to step across the divide between one’s id and ego, something has to happen. 2 minutes of a bad-CGI monkey at the end is not enough.

AI: Spielberg does Kubrick. And somewhere there’s an alternative universe where that’s a good idea. 90 minutes of the wet-eyed charms of Hayley Joel Osmont, playing a pinocchio who never grows up, never becomes a real boy, and never learns a frigging thing, followed by the usual half hour of unrestrained Spielberg mush as only he can ruin it. By the end of this I wanted to kill every supertoy I could find before summer started.

Hook: Another Spielberg monstrosity. What if Peter Pan grew up? What if he became boring? What if Robin Williams turned in his flabbiest-ever performance in a production so staged and artless you hope the crocodile just would eat them all and get it over with? What if they ignored everything that made Peter Pan dark, and dangerous, and special, and instead riffed on the Disney abomination so badly that any vestige of magic was crushed beneath Speilberg’s soulless commercial desires?

ET- The Extra-Terrestrial: I defy anyone to watch this movie and not contract diabetes. More mawkish sentimentality from Spielberg, with the usual moralising about how children should remain children and not trust adults, who will only lie to you and try to cut up your best friends whilst telling you it for their own good. Don’t trust anyone over 30, man. Never mind not leaving Michael Jackson alone with your children, if the babysitting agency sent me Spielberg I’d lock the doors and ring the police.

Titan AE: I don’t know how to explain why this is so bad. It just… is. Like everything that makes anime SF so hip and self-aware turned on its head with a wise-cracking sidekick to boot. The effect is like watching a very slow car crash. The sense of inevitability is there, as is the helplessness, and whilst you really want to care about the poor victims, by the end of it they remain strangers and you can walk away. With a few therapy sessions you can pretend it never happened.

Planet of The Apes: Marky Mark as a creditable Charlton Heston replacement? It’s a hard movie to justify when you’re hoping by halfway through that he’d just shutup and shag the chimpanzee woman just to give this thing a bit of interest. Proof that you should never remake classic movies that are easily available at Blockbusterworld.

Meteor: Sean Connery has done so many, many bad movies. And this is one of them. One of the great failures of the disaster movie 70s, and it’s not hard to see why. It doesn’t matter how dramatic the action is on the surface if your entire cast stay trapped on a subway platform thirty feet underground for most of the damn film!

Flash Gordon: A lesson in taking excellent British stage actors and making them look like idiots. If I told you I could make a movie with Brian Blessed, Timothy Dalton and Max Von Sydow, and give it a Queen soundtrack, and make it so bad that it would become a byword for how not to do SF, would you believe me? The kind of movie you put on right at the death of a very good party, when everyone has had all the vodka available in the suburb, and can appreciate it.

Soldier: Kurrrrrttttttt….. He only speaks about 72 words in this one, which is an improvement. It doesn’t help the plot, which is about a genetically enhanced soldier dumped on a giant rubbish heap, who then defends it from the even more genetically enhanced super soldiers that kicked his sorry ass there in the first place. No, I don’t remember why anybody would fight over a rubbish tip. Does it matter?

Total Recall: A Philip K Dick adaptation so bad it makes Screamers look like a viable alternative. Whilst it’s impossible to know where to begin criticising this movie, let’s start by noting that it’s impossible to reconstitute the atmosphere of an entire planet in under ten minutes and only blow out a few windows as a result. And that’s one of the minor faults. Imho, this is easily one of the ten worst films ever made, in any genre. This is a genuine, 100%, accept no substitutes, plague rat.

Starship Troopers: What is it with classic SF writers and adaptations by directors who shouldn’t be trusted to sit the right way round on a toilet seat? It’s like Paul Bloody Verhowven read the book, took in the single line about unisex showers, thought “Ooh, tits!” and built a movie around it. But then, this is the guy who gave us Showgirls. Somebody, kill this man. Please. And film it. That’d be a Verhoeven film I’d actually pay to watch.

Freejack: Based on a Robert Sheckley story. Robert Sheckly is a classic SF author. By definition, this movie must be shit. It doesn’t disappoint. Manly action star Emilio Estevez is carried forward umpteen years when his race car goes over a bump and hits a bridge 30 feet above the track. Never mind the rest of the plot after that, I still want to know how the hell that car got up there!

Virtuosity: Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington not only worked after this movie, they won Oscars. A cynical attempt to cash in on the current internet craze (back when old fat guys in suits thought it was a craze), it surprised nobody by being a lame, dissolute, bland affair. Much like the actors in question, really.

Lost In Space: The worst television show in history, and they add William Hurt and Joey from Friends to the recipe. It’s like some movie exec said to himself “I really want to go back to selling shoes, but I just can’t work out how to get out of this biz.” Add a frothing Gary Oldman, and a plot so transparent and obvious a Hollywood executive could work it out, and a career in shoes is yours for the asking.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Who, when faced with the quintessentially British scientific horror text, decides that Robert De Niro is a good casting choice for the monster? Who? Kenneth Branagh? One day they’ll make the perfect version of this brilliant novel. One day they’ll do it, whilst remaining true to the text. One day… oh, this is boring crap. Rent out the James Whale version. Remakes of classic movies easily available at Blockbusterworld. When will they learn?

Johnny Mnemonic: Keanu Reeves and Ice-T add to their impressive film CVs. And another classic SF author is leant over the Hollywood barrel and has his trousers pulled down. Boring actors, boring script, boring movie. Let’s be honest: when Dolph Lundgren steals the movie, you’re in shit too deep to paddle through.

So maybe they’re not the all-time worst movies. And I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. But unless you’re Grant Watson (you Spielberg-loving film zombie, you), I defy you to argue that any of these turkeys doesn’t deserve to be basted over the fires of movie hell.

You know, I feel better now…


As writers, we spend a lot of time bitching to each other about editors, rejections, delays, the weather, why my Daddy never really loved me……

Anyway, a bouquet to Chiaroscuro magazine: I emailed them a story on the 9th of this month, and although they rejected it, they did so by way of a detailed critique, with constructive comments and encouragement to send more.

And I received it on the 11th.


At the other end, I rejected a Ticonderoga submission during the week, and within days received a number of emails from pals asking “Did you reject a story from (Name withheld for comedy purposes)?”

Seems our writer was so miffed at receiving a personalised rejection from someone he knew that he just had to rave about it on his LJ. (Never mind the snarky and ill-mannered email he sent me, arguing with his rejection. A novel approach, I must admit…) Apparently the editor didn’t understand that the story was deliberately badly-written, clunky, and riddled with errors of both plot and style. Apparently it was a spoof of mainstream authors who condescend to write SF and do an awful job of it. This writer has been writing for 20 years, and it just bugs him when people don’t get what he’s aiming for.

Must have been better than I’m capable of noticing: I thought it was crap. Whilst I’ve not been writing for 20 years, I’ve certainly not turned out much worse in the 6 years I’ve been around. Well, not deliberately.


Exactly two weeks from now, I’ll be standing at the front of the room, nervously fiddling with the neck of my suit, and making sure I’ve got the ring in my pocket, for the umpteenth time. Within ten minutes, the opening strains of Nick Cave’s The Ship Song will begin, Lyn will make her appearance, and we’ll be getting married.

It’s impossible not to smile when I think about it.


Couldn’t get to sleep the other night, so round about 1am I decided to list 10 movies you should watch, a la Grant Watson’s recent list except more sleep deprived and less justifiable. Which is how I ended up with 25. It’d be more if I’d not decided to stick roughly to the speculative genre, left out sequels for the most part, and decided not to include anything that began life as a comic book. My only real rider (Hey, it was 1am…) was that I must have seen them. Anyway, for what it’s worth, here they are in no particular order. They’re not the best, necessarily, or the most outstanding, I just think they’re damn good and you should watch them, ‘k?

The Terminator: Unlike its inferior sequels, this movie remains tense, claustrophobic, with a consistent sense of paranoia and fear. And even if you’ve watched it multiple times, you’re still gasping with the possibility that the good guys won’t win. This franchise lost it when it became two machines thumping each other, instead of fallible and frail humans desparately trying to stave off an implacable and terrifying enemy. James Cameron has never directed a better movie.

Starman: Forget the cloying diabetes induced by such saccharine efforts as ET. This is a simple, sweet movie, centred around Jeff Bridges’ performance as an alien, dropped off in the wrong spot, who must travel to a pre-arranged pickup destination. No flashy effects, no demographic-aimed cuddly toy masquerading as a character. A simple plot, fine acting, and a genuine sentimentality that never becomes mawkish or manipulative. Sometimes explosions are not all there is.

A Clockwork Orange: Not an SF film? Ho yus, my fine friends, from the super-milk Moloko to the raging social satire. An angry, hilarious, gonzo piece of film-making, with a performance by Malcom McDowell that ruined his career: he simply could never be better, and wasn’t. This is a mesmerising film, and possibly the funniest black comedy ever made. The director, Stanley Kubrick, also delivered Doctor Strangelove, or I How Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb, which could easily have made this list. I plumped for this one instead. Cheat: watch them both, they both make my top-10 favourite movies.

12 Monkeys: Like Kubrick, I could have picked any number of Terry Gilliam’s disturbing and insane SF visions: Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, or Jabberwocky. But this is his best film by far, a circular, hallucinatory, complete, ride through past, present and future, that leaves more questions with each viewing. A suitably dazed and beaten performance by Bruce Willis is set against Brad Pitt’s manic, popping sidekick, in a role he’s only bettered once (And Fight Club would have made this list with ease, had I been able to call it Spec-fic). A personal top-10 favourite.

The Thing: Aaah, Kurt Russell. So many roles, so much to hate. And yet, this 1982 adaptation of Donald Stuart’s classic “Who Goes There” is a fantastic movie: unrelentingly claustrophobic, relentlessly logical, and with a final scene that should be rememberd as a minor classic of the “Nothing good can come of this” variety. The SFX creaks a little, but thankfully is not the focus of the work: instead it is the slowly unravelling interpersonal relations of a group trapped by death with no way to get out that makes this such an inspired film.

The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy: Okay, for those who complain about how long the ending to the third movie is, take note: try treating the films like you treat the book. This isn’t really a trilogy, it’s a massive, sprawling, 9 hour epic film. And while it has its faults, and its detractors, its fair to say that no film has been SO epic, SO sprawling, and SO simply magnificent, as this. Take a day out from life, watch the three extended versions one after the other, and see what I mean.

Alien: The greatest monster movie ever made, or “There’s something bad hunting us down, let’s go alone into this dark room.”? It doesn’t matter, really. You can’t not engage, can’t not feel the fear and threat leaking out of the screen in the last 45 minutes of this film, even after 25 years of knowing what the monster looks like. The cinema of paranoia at its best.

Princess Mononoke: Like Kubrick, Scott, and Gilliam, Miyazaki is a film maker from whom I could have picked any number of movies. Princess Mononoke may not be his best (Spirited Away is undoubtedly that), or his most loved (Have you ever met anyone who didn’t fall in love with My Neighbour Toturo?) but it is his most mythic, his most magnificent, his grandest. There are epics within epics here, and multiple viewings lead only to multiple interpretations. The power of animation to harness storytelling on a massive scale at its best.

The Returner: How can you not love this insane, kitchen-sink-and-all, piece of God-knows-what from Japan? Time-travellers, aliens, giant transforming 747s… Nothing makes any sense, once you stop to think about it, yet the ride is so delirious, so damn enjoyable, that it doesn’t matter. Bubblegum SF taken to its illogical extreme. Too damn fun for words.

The Princess Bride: And on the subject of fun, this Rob Reiner-directed, William Goldman-scripted take on Fantasy is so hip and self-aware that it can’t bve anything other than fun, funny, and when it takes the time to be sweet and romantic, genuinely so. It’s hard to say what inspires such fondness in me for this film. It’s just that everything fits so perfectly together, so believably, that I can’t watch it without wanting to take part, just for a little while.

Willow: What is it with me and fun fantasy movies? Here’s another one, a silly little tale made watchable by delightful performances from the likes of Val Kilmer and Kevin Pollack. The story, such as it is, is not the point: there’s magic and quests and dwarves and warriors and sword fights thrown about with such gay abandon that everyone involved seems to be having the time of their lives, and you can’t help but get involved. Watch it with friends. Watch it as a double feature with The Princess Bride. Have sword fights in your backyard.

Akira: There are so many moments of sheer brilliance within anime SF that I could easily fill a list with them: Jin-Roh, Metropolis (don’t get it mixed up with the classic live-action movie of the same name), Vampire Hunter D, Cowboy Be-Bop… This is the movie that started it, and for sheer dystopian magnificnence, it’s never been bettered.

Bride of Frankenstein: James Whale’s Frankenstein is a deserved classic of cinema, and everyone should watch it. This sequel is better. Karloff’s performance is sublime, and Whale’s direction is at its best in this gloomy, prophetic piece of noir genius.

The Wizard of Oz: Flying Monkeys! What else do you need? Seriously, this is just about the perfect blend of music, fantasy, character, and storytelling. I don’t think there was a real contender for the “Most Wonderfullest Family Movie” title until Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory a thousand or so years later. What’s more, it still holds up: it’s as fresh and joyful now as it was when it was first made. A truly generation-spanning piece of entertainment.

Quatermass & The Pit: Nobody does it like the British: makes paranoi and claustrophobia a filmic art form. And here’s where the template really hit form: a low budget forcing the filmmakers into a tightly controlled filming that draws you in and refusus to let you go until the inevitable consequences have been followed. It creaks a little now, but hunt it out next time you want to watch a Will Smith film: at the very least you’ll save your IQ from leaking out your ears. If you can, double-feature it with The Quatermass Experiment.

Dark City: Alex Proyas’ homage to all that’s dark and noirish about classic SF, with the best cast of weird-looking actors since The Name Of The Rose, and a plot that genuinely defies description on its first viewing. Fantastic performances from Rupert Everett and Keifer Sutherland, and a breakout role for Jennifer Connelly make this intelligent, darkly pessimistic film a top 10 for me.

Shadow Of The Vampire: Willem Dafoe did not win an Oscar for this movie. Keep that in mind as you watch, becuase I defy anybody to explain how his hypnotic, creepy performance didn’t guarantee him a gong. Based on a simple premise (What if Max Schrek from Nosferatu really was a vampire?) this stylish and perfectly realised movie is a testament to balanced, perfectionist film-making.

Cronos: An odd little movie about a scarab, and the strange powers of time and space contained within. With an appearance from one of my favourite wierdoes, the fabulous Ron Perlman, this is a weird and wonderful delight with which to surpise unwary friends.

Planet of The Apes: It’s become something of a joke over the years, but watch it and you’ll wonder why. It’s bloody good. Ignore the multitude of sequels: they were crap. This original has power, prediction, and a strong central performance from Charlton Heston at the peak of his much-maligned powers. The ending, of course, is as classic as classic can be. If you’ve not seen it, or not seen it for a while, get it out. You’ll be surprised.

Plan 9 From Outer Space/ Robot Monster: Told you they wouldn’t necessarily be good 🙂 Depending upon who you listen to, these two films are the worst and second worst of all time. Only the order changes. Watch them as a double feature, with all your friends and the biggest bucket of popcorn you can find. Save some to throw at the screen.

Forbidden Planet: Ignore the wood shavings flying away from Leslie Neilsen’s performance in this 50s classic, and there’s a dark, brooding, story lurking beneath the surface. It holds up pretty well, all things considered, and there are few vistas that excite the geekboy inside me as much as the tour of the abandoned Krell city. Intelligent and ambitious, this is one of the movies that made it possible for SF cinema to stay alive when the rest of the world had dismissed the genre as bad stuff for retarded children.

Bladerunner: The only thing that people forget to say about this film, amongst the millions of words that have been written about it, is that it’s bloody good. Watch the Director’s Cut, sure: the voiceover was always unnecessary, and there’s more meat on the bones. But in either version it’s a visual treat, with perfectly mannered performances for the leads and a visual aesthetic that remained unmatched, imho, until the first Matrix movie.

Metropolis: There are a raft of silent, expressionsit, movies, that have informed the American film culture, and deserve to be watched. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, M, Nosferatu… I’ve picked this one because it’s likely to be the easiest to find in Blockbusterworld. Try to find the original, rather than the mid-80s re-release with the dire electronic soundtrack, or if you can’t, watch it muted (Hey, it’s a silent film). There’s something obscene and shivery in the scenes of robotic workers marching in perfect unison, hundreds at a time, into the operating cubicles of the great machines. You’ll remember it, I assure you.

Men In Black: Yeah, so fuck it, I broke my own rules and included a comic book movie. So sue me. Thing is, this is a genuinely funny, enjoyable movie, with an SF theme that simultaneously pokes fun at, and glorifies in, the pulp SF tradition. Yes, it has Will Smith, but that’s balanced by Tommy Lee Jones giving perhaps the best performance of his career, with a pan so dead it could be the result of Botox, and a voice so monotone he could have borrowed it from Keanu Reeves. The end is a little rushed, and not so well thought out as the rest of the film, but it’s all such a lot of fun. Remember: Elvis isn’t dead. he’s just gone home.

The Day The Earth Stood Still: Another intelligent, thoughtful classic from the cauldron of post-war Americana. And that rarest of things: a quiet SF movie. No super-battles, no crap mysticism about universal forces, just a visitor from another place trying to treat insane, paranoid, terrified creatures (Humans, or more specifically, Americans) with decency, and not understanding why they just don’t get it. A riff revisited to great effect in The Man Who Fell To Earth, which is also worth watching.

Well, there you go. Have fun.

Weird moment: While I was typing this, Alice Cooper’s The Ballad of Dwight Frye came up on the playlist. Now there’s something to listen to whilst you bang on about Frankenstein and 30’s noir classics…


Boy, some days you’re becalmed, and other days:

Read 120 pages of the manuscript I’m assessing, printed out 250 flyers advertising The Divergence Tree, line-edited 2 stories for the collection, read a bunch of submissions for Ticonderoga Online, edited the collection contract, shared words with a New York agent who expressed interest in the novel, shared words with a fellow writer regarding the intricacies of contracts…

We have a self-imposed deadline of March 19th (Party day: see below) to get everything for the collection finished as well as completing the novel, cleaning and organising the house from top to bottom, and having the wedding fully organised, so we can have a few days rest before the Swancon whirlwind. Many busy days ahead…


It’s a funny old game, in my best Kevin Keegan voice.

One of the stories in the collection, The Imprisonment of Marianne, was due to appear in Borderlands magazine this month, 7 months before the book came out. But the collection was pushed up to June, and I’ve received notice that the story has been set back to issue 6 of the magazine, which would mean it appeared in magazine format 3 months after the book. Which would not be cricket on my part.

Soooooo, I’m taking it out of the book. After all, it’s surrounded by a lot of just me in that place, whereas it will be the first time I’ve shared magazine space with Luscious as separate writers (we’ve done it as collaborators, and as editor & writer, but this is the first time we’ve submitted and been accepted separately, only to co-habit) which is something rather special.

I’ve got four reserves lined up, so all I have to do is choose between them. A few luvverly pals have volunteered to give an opinion, so at least I’ll have something to write in my acknowledgements 🙂

It’s a funny old game…


In the mail today: the Hellboy t-shirt I bought off Ebay. Significant beause it means that for the first time since I got involved in fandom I have enough black t-shirts to get through the 5 days of Swancon.



If you’ve not read it yet, Luscious’ latest review is of the Kim Wilkins novel Angel of Ruin. Check it out.


So whose idea was it to bring Spaceballs on Sunday? PRKs, that’s who. There’s a type of laughter because you find something funny, and a type because you can’t believe you once were amused…

Had a fun time, though. Next week it’s one from Cheshire & Callisto’s collection of disturbing Asian cinema melange-a-thons. Last time we watched one it was a mah-jong western, complete with rap singing gangsters in pink fluffy jackets. My kind of stuff, really 🙂


Just been told this morning that the date for the release of the The Divergence Tree collection has been set as June of this year, not October as I had previously thought.

Keep your hands near your wallets, Battreaders!


<a href="Which Animaniacs Character are You?

You have megalomaniacal impulses regularly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as you have the cranial capacity of a small planet. Trying to take over the world is hard work, though, and you’re not above exploiting your lessers. Even now, you have a plan that’s being enacted which will pitch the world’s economy into turmoil, leaving the floodgates of trade exposed for the sole owner of stock in the Pets.com © company! You are en route to taking over the world!
Oh, and you ARE pondering what I’m pondering.<a href="
Click here to see my Livejournal.

The meme never lies…

Which just makes it harder to accept the whole “6th Doctor” thing…


Felt along the edges of Connor’s gums this evening. I’d say the first tooth is about 2 weeks from joining us. Bandaids and germoline for Luscious’ nipples, right this way!


I’ve picked up a few days data entry work for the electoral commission. I sit at a table with 4 other waifs and strays, tapping away at a keyboard and listening to them chat while they sort postal and absentee votes into piles. Now, I know that this kind of temporary work doesn’t always attract the shiniest stars in the firmament, but still:

Two of my tablemates were talking about their pets today. I consider it a sign of my burgeoning maturity that I stayed upright after the following exchange–

She: We’ve always had a huge amount of pets. (Rattles off long list of animals currently sharing her little palace in the suburbs)
He: I’ve always wanted some native animals as pets. You should get one.
She: Well, we do have a dog…


I’ve just had the epilogue of the novel come to me. Complete. Word perfect. I know exactly what’s going to happen, who’s going to be present, what they’re going to say… all of it, in one fat lump. All I have to do is transcribe.

Problem is, I’m still in the midst of the final confrontation and anywhere up to 10 000 words away from it. And if I write it I just know the book’s going to twist away from it anyway, leaving me with a beautiful epilogue that doesn’t bear any relation to the novel that came before.

I hate it when this happens.

I guess I’ll just write the bloody thing anyway and see what comes of it. But if you pick up a magazine in a year’s time and read a story that sounds suspiciously like it should have 80 000 words of backstory…


How do you start being positive about a manuscript that bills itself as being for readers “…in their 30s, better educated, possibly already interested in SF- typical Star Trek fans”?

I’m trying, I’m really trying.


Luscious started back at Uni today. Last year she managed a High Distinction, despite spending most of the semester heavily pregnant and in pain. This semester she has Connor in tow, yet her determination to improve herself and enjoy her University education doesn’t waver. I’m proud beyond words of her for so many reasons, but this is one of the biggies.

A figure from her past once told her she’d never graduate because she wasn’t good enough to stick at anything. Some comments have more to do with the speaker’s insecurities than the listener’s capabilities. I don’t doubt her for a moment, and more importantly, she’s beginning to realise what she can do when she believes in herself, and has the support she deserves.