FIVE FOR FRIDAY: ONE ALBUM, LIFE-LONG DEVOTION.

You know how it is. Some artists release a string of songs that speak to the innermost tremblings of your soul. No matter where you are in your life, somehow they seem to know, and find that connection, so that whatever is happening, you can pick up an album, or turn to your playlist, and find the words, and the music, that pick at the tendons of your feelings and bring your heart, and mind, and soul together in a syncopated, three-minute burst of perfection.

And then, you know, there’s Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop.

Somewhere in between, there’s a strange beast, or at least, in my listening life there is. Over the years, I’ve fallen deeply in love with an album, only to find that the love is pretty much exactly one album deep. Sure, there’s the occasional songs here and there, for a while. But never that tumultuous wrestling with my feelings, never that look across a crowded playlist that says You. Me. One the floor. Right now. Don;t even take your clothes off. I’ll chew through them myself. Some of these albums have been with me for years, and yet, they’ve never inspired me to go much further in pursuing that artist’s career, or my emotional reactions to their work.

Leaving aside Best Of’s, which are a different thing entirely, here, then, are five albums that I’ve carried with me since their release, which are still, lock-stock on my playlist in their entirety, but which are unburdened by company.

Five for Friday: One album wonders.

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THUMBNAIL THURSDAY CLAIMS THIS PLANET ON BEHALF OF ITSELF

It’s a good, old-fashioned SF trope: what if the aliens we contact are so far in advance that they don’t see us as equals. But the trope stretches farther, and farther back than that: Voltaire’s story Micromegas, published in 1752, shows aliens that consider Earth unpopulated because nothing so small as humans could bear intelligence. Upon interacting with us, they change their opinion: we’re idiots.

This is my own, small, visual contribution to that trope.

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“One small step for a Vilognian…”

PRECIOUS THINGS: JAY WATSON

I know I’ve said this about a few people, but Jay Watson is one of the loveliest human beings alive. He’s a giant of a man, tall and broad, and just big, but there’s not an ounce of malice or intimidation in him. Quite the opposite: he’s one of the gentlest, most caring people I’ve ever come across. And while it is often a truism, in this case it’s simply true: there’s not a person you’ll meet who doesn’t adore the man.

A passionate and long-time SF fan, he’s been on more Swancon committees than is healthy, is one of the organisers behind the excellent CrimeScene convention, and is a friend and safe space for anyone who needs it. My first experience of him was sitting at a dinner table, throwing Goon Show lines at each other, and it’s been a long, happy association ever since. Now here he is, in his own words.

 

Precious Things: Jay Watson

Image may contain: 2 people, beard and text

Jay’s on the left.

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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: VISUAL ARTISTS

Full disclosure: if I could play guitar the way I wish I could, I probably wouldn’t be a writer. If I could act as well as I wish I could, I probably wouldn’t be just a writer. If I could draw, or paint, or create visual art… ah, if I could only do that…..

I’ve always loved the visual arts: deeply, at a level beyond my capacity to articulate. No trip to a new town, a new State, a new country, is complete until I’ve experienced the art gallery, the sculpture park, the local museum. I think in pictures, explain in diagrams, communicate in sketches and arms waved around to delineate space and placement.

Sadly, as anybody who has been following my Thumbnail Thursday posts, or has seen the few cartoons I actually managed to finish and have published over the years, can attest, it turns out I can’t draw for shite.

My sense of visualisation, however, is very strong. When I’m writing– when it’s going well, and the words are flowing at their highest swell– I have a very clear image of what I’m writing about; so strong that, at times, I’m doing little more than transcribing what I see, rather than truly creating from empty cloth.

Still, words are an artificial construct, a mechanical choice between pre-forged components relying on a social contract between author and audience to assign meaning to the thoughts being relayed. (See?) When I experience an image; when I see the combination of light, colour, form and medium and it sparks of an emotional recognition in me; it feels pure, unrestrained.

If I could, I would. Until then, I rely on my own imperfect tools, and my own limited repertoire of creative skills. But here are five artists who do things to me I can only wish I had the talent to replicate.

FIVE FOR FRIDAY: VISUAL ARTISTS

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I CONSIDER MYSELF A FASS… A FASLY… A FACILILY… A TEACHER

My stint as Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre approaches like a monster riding a runaway train over a cliff while on fire (Of course I’m ready. Why wouldn’t I be ready? What would make you think that? Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, you. Am I ready, you ask. Hahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaahhhhhccccchhhhhh…..)

From the 10th to the 24th I’ll be ensconced in one of the Centre’s delightful cabins; staring out at the beautiful gardens while I pretend to write; visiting writing groups to spread love, bonhomie and my usual blend of fatuous advice; mentoring aspiring authors who haven’t yet worked out what a complete fraud I am; and generally living the life of a swanny writah dahling while I work on my next round of rejection fodder.

I’ll also be helming a workshop:

World Building 101 will be an intense, 3 hour session in what I do best– bringing the odd into the mundane; tipping normality so that it doesn’t look quite right, whatever angle you view it from; and generally injecting a note of weirdness into your work. We’ll be discussing, and practicing, the elements of fantasy world-building, and smashing through a series of exercises designed to give participants the beginnings of a whole bunch of different fantastical stories. You can see my full itinerary here, including the literary dinner on the 11th July, for which tickets are still available.

The workshop takes place from 1-4pm, Saturday 22 July, at the KSP in Greenmount. Bookings are open now through Eventbrite.

PRECIOUS THINGS: COLIN SHARPE

Colin Sharpe is one of those irritatingly handsome men who you can’t hate because he’s also extremely likable and manages to keep the terrifying things he does to kittens a secret. He’s a father, a cyclist, a rock-climber, hockey player, an Inventory Controller and an artist, but not always in that order. He has been involved in many aspects of Perth fandom, in many different roles, and was proudly one of the editors of the superb manga anthology Xuan Xuan.

Here he discusses his passion for comic books, and reveals his Precious Thing as an issue that those of us who were there at the time will recall with the kind of horrified fascination that we had the first time Johnny Depp sucked, or Al Pacino did that weird shouty thing he does, or the first time we saw Rob Liefeld’s work, or heard a Mariah Carey song, or realised Steven Segal was serious……

Precious Things: Colin Sharpe

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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: FAVOURITE AUTHORS

Back when I was growing up, it’s fair to say that the explosion of artistic experimentation represented by the post-war literary boom, the New Wave, the Sixties, sexual liberation, good music, haircuts longer than a piece of peach fuzz, and colour television hadn’t really reached my hometown of Boganville. When I first started to entertain the idea of becoming a writer, benchmarking options were fairly thin on the ground: what i looked on as some sort of aspirational holy trinity consisted of everybody’s starter for 10: Asimov, Bradbury and Heinlein.

It’s far to say, I don’t exaggerate when I say going to University was the saving of my soul.

Over the years, I’ve stumbled across countless authors who have filled in gaps in my education, my understanding of the Universe, and paved the way for me to become an infinitely better human being than I was the day I first walked across campus (First, yes, I pretty much do separate my life into before and after day one of Uni, and second, if you think I’m an arsehole now, that’s probably fair, you should have known me then).

So, for today, here’s a list of five authors whose works I remain in love with, who continue to inspire me, and for whom I am, unashamedly, a fanboy.

FIVE for FRIDAY: AUTHORS

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PRECIOUS THINGS: AMANDA CURTIN

Amanda Curtin has always been one of those authors I’ve found slightly intimidating, as well as an aspirational benchmark. It seems like she’s been on the stage at every Perth Writers Festival I’ve ever attended, always speaking with an encyclopaedic understanding of the industry; her name is always attached to every study I see produced about the state of WA writing; she appears to be associated with every literary market in WA I can’t get within kilometres of getting published by…. men stand aside as she walks by, women swoon, horses stamp their hooves nervously……

Having finally met her this year, she is, of course, utterly lovely. She still dresses up as a bat and fights crime at night, but gently, with a soft-spoken voice and an interest in how the criminal is getting on. She’s also published two novels, Elemental and The Sinkings, and a short story collection, Inherited. Elemental was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Books Awards (Fiction and People’s Choice categories), and in 2016 it was published in the UK and in a new Australia/NZ edition. She has been a freelance book editor for more than 30 years (accredited with the Institute of Professional Editors) and has a PhD in Writing. She’s got a beautifully-written and welcoming website, and is equally approachable on Facebook or Twitter. And she’s here, as erudite and articulate as ever, to talk about her most precious literary possession.

Precious Things: Amanda Curtin

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FIVE FOR FRIDAY: POETS

When I was in my final years of high school: of barely-moderate achievement; from a family with a fair to middling military history; living in a Navy town; surrounded by friends who either came from a military family or had aspirations to join the military, I pretty much sold my mother on the idea that I was going to join the Army. I had long harboured a dream to join the Air Force– I was, as I still am, deeply in love with military aircraft, and wanted more than anything to be a pilot. However, when my eyes betrayed me, I decided I couldn’t bear to be in the Air Force and not fly, so the Army it was going to be. I applied for, and was accepted into, the Australian Defence Force Academy, and convinced my Mum that I was on my way to becoming a Lieutenant in the Intelligence Division.

Two days from the flight, I had a panic attack and cancelled everything. Instead, I enrolled in an English degree, and stayed at home for the next three years while I learned to write poetry. I literally ran away from the Army to become a poet.

To her dying day, I don’t think my mother ever quite forgave me.

My first publications were poems, and I still, every now and again– especially when the creative well is dry and I need to kick something into gear through sheer wordplay and condensed imagery– turn to poetry. There’s a comfort in working within the form, and a sense of pure satisfaction whenever I make it work (not often enough: I’m just not good enough, or disciplined enough, to be a real poet). My most recently completed long work is a poem, of sorts: a 32-stanza picture book I’m waiting to hear back from my publisher about.

So here, for the fun of it, are 5 poets whose work I love, and whose views of the world have influenced my own work.

FIVE for FRIDAY: POETS

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PRECIOUS THINGS: DANIEL I RUSSELL

Daniel I Russell is a horror author and psychology student who, like myself, travelled from the heartlands of England to the Western Australian countryside. He, however, came from Wigan, so you can understand where the horror and the need for psychological understanding comes from.

With a fine line in sick storytelling, and an equally fine line in sick jokes, he’s one of the few guys around who make me laugh in the way I truly enjoy– heartily, both at the joke and at the discomfort of those who don’t get it.

He’s alive on the web over here, and thanks to the mysteries of techonockery, he’s live in front of your very faces as he delivers his Precious Thing in person! In his full, filmic glory, heeeeeere’s Daniel!

Precious Things: Daniel I Russell

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FIVE for FRIDAY: JUSTICE LEAGUE

A little while ago, I posted my alternative, all-female, Five for Friday Avengers line-up. It was carefully worked out, beautifully rationalised, and, you know, I’m ready and waiting, Marvel…….

Master 12, who is much more a DC fan than a Marvel fan, has demanded parity. So, utilising the same rules, (all females; secondary characters that are too cool to dispose of, but never seem to get any real primacy), and the same set of character definitions (A Tank, a General, a Conscience, a Street Warrior, and a Wildcard: check the original post for rationalisations.), here is my all-new, all-female, Justice League.

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