aussie spec fic right there on my teevee*

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I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s some Aussie spec fic on teevee this year. I KNOW.

Airlock

Steph has seen episode 1 of this three part series. Episode 1 is available for free on youtube, and eps 2 + 3 can be purchased for five whole aussie dollars from the website. (Steph plans to do so shortly)

It was crowdfunded, and is some hard SF without actually spending too much money. There’s an isolated space station, a drifting spaceship, a bunch of refugees, a dead crew, and some fun special effects that I enjoyed mostly because they came with an Australian accent and some brown Australians.

Airlock stars an ex-classmate of Housemate of No Award Bella, Mark Coles Smith, also known around these parts as a very attractive young Indigenous Australian man. I’m not saying that should be part of your reasoning but it should definitely be part of your reasoning.

(Liz fell in love with Mark Coles Smith when she watched The Gods of Wheat Street, which is another piece of Aussie spec TV that everyone should watch — it’s a ghost story and family drama, and all the main characters are Indigenous, also it’s bloody good — and No Award endorses his cheekbones.)

Glitch

Our ABC has blessed us with Glitch, a series about zombies. No Award has not yet watched this series.

When Sergeant Hayes is called to the cemetery, he makes a startling discovery. Six people have inexplicably returned from the dead and are in perfect health. How is this possible? Who are they and why are they back?

Bless you, Our ABC. Glitch is available on iView and Steph will be watching this as soon as it’s all aired and she can mainline it.

The Kettering Incident

Not sure what this is about yet, but it’s a mystery series with “otherworldly overtones” and is “Tipped to be Australia’s Twin Peaks,” which sounds a) right up No Award’s alley and b) specifically relevant to Liz’s current interests, which include ‘mainlining the X-Files’ and ‘reading about murders.’ Also it’s set in Tasmania, which is the most traditionally gothic part of Australia.

(Sadly, this series will allegedly air on pay tv, which of course means it will subsequently be heavily illegally downloaded)

(Liz clarifies: reading about murders, not committing them.  I just want to make that clear.)

 

 

 

*GET IT?!

In space, no one can hear you have manpain

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Infini was written and directed by an Australian, features an all-Australian cast, and was filmed in Australia.  It should rocket straight to the top of the No Award List Of Things We Really Like.

'infini: search. rescue. destroy'

If only that were true.

The all-Aussie cast are doing American accents — except one guy who I think is meant to be British, but he sounds like an American actor trying for Aussie — and it’s just a tedious fest of rehashed Star Trek plots mixed with manpain.

Now, I don’t mind a bit of rehashed Trek.  Serve it up with some shiny low-budget effects and local accents, I’d have eaten it up with a spoon.  (And then whinged here about the dude-heaviness of the whole thing, but that’s half the fun!)  But setting it in the US is just … lazy.  Everyone has seen this before.  Why not change it up a bit?  (Answer: the accountant was in charge.)

Similarly, the casting is just woefully dull.  Of the fourteen cast members — that includes bit players — ten are men, and nine of those are white men.  I’m not great at distinguishing faces, so I knew them as Lead Guy (aka The Dancing With The Stars Host), The Other Other Hemsworth (turns out there are three!), Beardy McBeardsalot (aka Guy From Animal Kingdom), REX MANNING (that was his character’s name — I could recognise him because people kept saying it in allcaps), Is He English Or What?, The One With Dark Hair, and The Rest.

(I should note that Kevin Copeland, The One Guy Who Isn’t White, is in fact American.  He does a lot of Australian stuff, though.  I totally forgot he wasn’t One Of Us.)

One of the film’s four women is a bit player.  The remaining three are:

  • Lead Guy’s pregnant wife, who cries and makes him promise to come home, then cries a bit more;
  • Claire, the medic, who has Abortion Angst and a failed romance with … I think it was The One With Dark Hair;
  • Philippa, who is introduced like she’s a big deal — though not as big as REX MANNING, of course — but who doesn’t really get much to do.

If you’re keeping track, that’s two-thirds of the female characters having uterus-related character development.  Infini

Claire is played by the beautiful and underrated Grace Huang, so that’s two non-white people in the cast.  There’s a moment where, as she goes mad from PLOT REASONS and also Abortion Angst, she says goodbye to her mother in Mandarin, and that’s the closest we come to further character development for her.

Not that the men fare any better.  These characters are strictly cardboard cut-outs.  Lead Guy bonds with Is He English Or What? over fatherhood, and has high level manpain because What If He Dies?  REX MANNING shouts and shoots things.

There’s quality dialogue like, “I’M TALKING TO MY FUCKING KIDS, MOTHERFUCKER!”  The final act is basically just guys screaming at each other, while I texted Stephanie to ask if I had to keep watching.  She said yes, which I’m pretty sure is a human rights violation.

Maybe Australian accents wouldn’t have saved this movie.

The highlight, for me, was the repeated shots of Sinister Wind Farms On An Alien Planet.  A lot of the dialogue was mumbled, so I’m not sure why they were sinister, but there they were.  Wind farming.  Ominously.  Maybe Going Crazy In An Isolated Facility On An Alien Planet is one of the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome?  I made a joke on Twitter about this being what it takes to get an arts grant these days, but it turns out Infini received no taxpayer funding.  Thank heavens.

Oh, and the plot — a mining operation on a distant planet turns out to be digging up an alien life form, and it’s maaaaaaaaad.  Star Trek did it with “The Devil in the Dark” (TOS) and “Home Soil” (TNG); Doctor Who did it with “42” and, like, every third Pertwee serial.  This is entirely skippable.

Infini was released direct to iTunes and maybe other video on demand sources, who knows?  Liz paid AU$6.99 to rent a HD copy of Infini from iTunes and kind of wants her money and her two hours back. 

science fiction saves the future

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Stephanie was invited to speak at the Speculative Fiction Festival at the New South Wales’ Writers’ Centre last week. It was curated by Cat Sparks, and it was excellent!

The blurb for Steph’s panel:

Can Science Fiction Save the Future? (11am-12am)

This panel examines science fiction as an agent of scientific and social change, serving as a cultural primer, preparing us for new inventions, moral arguments or major events, such as catastrophic destruction or the possibility of transhuman consciousness. Should SF shake us out of complacency regarding genuine threats to society, as well as inspiring compelling new possibilities?

Steph was on this panel with Joanne Anderton, Marianne de Pierres, Bruce McCabe, and Keith Stephenson.

Stephanie has so many feelings climate change and speculative fiction, news at eleven.

There was a feeling that spec fic isn’t for evangelising because the reader doesn’t want to be lectured at. But I disagree – science fiction is for evangelising. I write climate change fiction because I’m inspired in my day job, and I want everyone to know it and be converted.

Scientific accuracy is as important as being able to write well and to convey your meaning. If we’re to inspire, what’s the point in inspiring things that can’t scientifically happen because they defy physics? There’s an argument to be made for inspiring people to move beyond the known science but there’s only so far one can go with that. Don’t be suggesting our climate change future in Australia is going to be full of, like, coral and white people unless you can prove it.

Scientific accuracy is important in my own work, and preferably in the work of others. There’s no shame in throwing the book against the wall when the science is wrong. And half the fun is creating a fantastical world within scientific bounds.

But also: what’s the point in inspiring when you’re doing it on false pretenses?

But can’t you trust the reader to tell the difference between possible and impossible? Can’t you trust the reader?

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Australian Spec Fic Week

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It’s not official, it’s just here at No Award! This week No Award is going to talk EVERY DAMN DAY about spec fic.

Liz and Steph love spec fic, and we have a special place in our hearts and in our lives for Australian spec fic. And we could say there’s not enough of it (there isn’t), but what there is just isn’t talked about enough. So we have taken it upon ourselves, sacrificed whole hours of our time, to engage with and review a number of Aussie spec fic texts.

australian space stamps

look how old they are!

Some upcoming highlights:

  • Shiver! As Liz watches a movie with many shots of sinister wind farms!
  • Tremble! As Steph reads horror books on the plane to Perth!
  • Gasp with delight! At the Indian-Australian YA spec fic anthology with pictures, what the hell, give us more.
  • Wibble With Discomfort! As Liz digs up some hardcore claustrophobic body horror for readers aged 9-14.
  • Whine with jealousy! As Steph steals books from Australian small presses to read!
  • Look on with envy! As Liz steals them from Steph and reads them herself!
  • And, be not surprised! As Steph starts the week with sitting on a panel and threatening to throw books against the wall.

We’ll update this post at the end of the week to be a master list, but we would love for you to come on this journey with us. Tell us you disagree with us, or agree, or just aren’t sure.

Reading the Hugos: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

This is the last of my Hugo reading, as I decided after the short stories that life is already full of pointless suffering, and why should I inflict more upon myself?  Plus, I’ve had a convention to chair, a novel to write/revise, and also a day job.

Accordingly, my ballot looks like this:

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and Best Fan Artist

Not voting, haven’t had time to do research.

Best Fan Writer

Not voting, as the only nominated writer I’ve read is Laura J Mixon for her piece on RequiresHate/Winterfox/Benjanun Sriduangkaew, which to my mind doesn’t constitute a body of work.  (Plus, I just hate giving Sriduangkaew oxygen.)

Best Fancast

I’ve only ever enjoyed one podcast enough to listen to it religiously. (Sorry, podcasters, I’m just not very aurally-oriented.)  Luckily, Galactic Suburbia is one of the nominees.  I’m going to give that my first preference, and otherwise not vote.

Best Fanzine, Best Semiprozine, Best Professional Artist, Best Editors (long form and short form)

Not voting, as haven’t had time to look at nominees.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Finally, a category where I’m familiar with more than one nominee!  I’ll be voting thusly:

1. Orphan Black, “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”

2. Doctor Who, “Listen”

3. Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper”

I haven’t seen Flash or Grimm, so I’m ignoring those.  I hope Orphan Black wins, just because I love it so much, and the second season finale was outstanding — but I also suspect this episode will be completely mystifying to anyone who hasn’t watched at least the preceding season.  Likewise Game of Thrones.

“Listen”, on the other hand, is a perfect, standalone piece of creepypasta, and I adored it, and won’t be at all sorry if it wins.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

I’ve seen three of the nominated movies — Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie — but I can’t get excited about any of them.  I’m not voting in this category.

(Stephanie note: This is because Liz doesn’t have enough heart to have feelings about the Steeb and Bucky story)

(Liz response: My heart is a cold, misandrist lump of coal with no room for manpain.)

Best Graphic Story

You know, I probably have time to read the nominated works before the deadline.  I read Ms Marvel: No Normal last year, and loved it, but there are a couple of other nominees that were already on my radar.  Let me come back to this.

Best Related Work

I’m not voting in this one, partially because I haven’t read any of the nominees, but also because I’m pissed off that the thoroughly deserving Queers Dig Time Lords didn’t get a nomination, thanks, Puppies.

Plus, Companion Piece — remember that book I co-edited? — is eligible for nomination next year, and I feel like I just have too much personal involvement in this category.

Best Short Story

No Award.  No hesitation.

(Okay, some hesitation.)

Best Novelette and Best Novella

Not voting; haven’t read them.

Best Novel

  1. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  2. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
  3. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  4. No Award

“Wow, Liz,” you might be thinking, “you’re ranking The Goblin Emperor below Ancillary Sword, which you were quite lukewarm about?”

Yes, Hypothetical Reader, I was surprised, too.  Lots of my friends loved The Goblin Emperor, and found it engaging and enjoyable on every level.  And that’s great!  I am quite happy, and also a little jealous, that they enjoyed it so much.

I found it beautifully written, with interesting worldbuilding, and completely boring.

The plot: Maia, unloved half-goblin son of the elf emperor, unexpectedly takes the throne when his father and half-brothers are all murdered.  Despite his lack of training, and lack of self-confidence, he sorts out various political situations and solves the mystery by being really, really decent to people.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying that The Goblin Emperor is a response to the trend for grimdark fantasy.  I really hope not, because the opposite of grimdark is not dull.

I feel a bit weird saying this, because Characters Being Competent and Political Shenanigans are two of my favourite things in fiction.  But Maia’s competence feels unearned.  He instinctively knows how to deal with people, he instantly befriends trustworthy and reliable allies, and where he makes bad decisions, the consequences are minor.

Likewise, the Political Shenanigans are, well, predictable.  The traitors are just who you would expect, and Maia deals with them appropriately, and no one minds very much because the traitors weren’t even that good at their jobs, let alone popular or widely supported.

I’ve been thinking about the problems with The Goblin Emperor for a few weeks, and I think what it needed was a second POV character.  Maia is interesting, but he has very little context for the places he goes and the things he does, and that gets old fast.  And all of the supporting characters around him are two-dimensional in the extreme.  It’s difficult to imagine any of them having a life that doesn’t revolve around the main character.

Likewise the women — not that there are many.  The sympathetic female characters are what I think of when I hear that horrible phrase “awesome ladies”: they turn up, do or say something to subvert the patriarchy, and then step back and let the men get on with the plot stuff (such as it is).

The unsympathetic women are all ambitious and super-feminine (and they’re still subordinate to the plot-driving men).

In short, I was extremely disappointed in The Goblin Emperor, and really only forced myself to finish it for the sake of the Hugos.  It’s possible I was just in the mood for something more plot-driven.  But I don’t plan to read anything else by Addison, whether under that name or her Sarah Monette identity.  Life’s too short.

surfer went for a nom

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No Award loves sharks, okay?

bloop bloop by zandraart - a series of sharks adorably illustrated and looking like they should be cuddled

BLOOP BLOOP by zandraart

Important shark radar: OCEARCH, tracking international sharks. And a Western Australian shark tracker: Shark Smart.  Please note that the WA State Government engages in disgusting anti-shark behaviour, and No Award’s linking to the Shark Smart site is only so you can gaze respectfully and lovingly at the sharks in Western Australian waters.

There’s sharks in Monday’s First Dog on the Moon, and it’s a good reminder that even sharks can be right-wing.

Shark survives attack by Australian surfer.

Williams was minding his own business at Jeffreys Bay off the coast of South African, when a chance encounter with professional surfer and full-time Aussie Mick Fanning left him facing a series of potentially lethal blows.

Which is the shark news reporting on this incident reported Monday morning.

Further in shark news: Shark nets planned for Sorrento Beach in Perth and Albany’s Middleton Beach. Shark nets are bad for sharks, WA! Stop using them! And Instructor’s paddle ski attacked by shark while training students in waters off Gold Coast.

If you’re interested in getting angry about our anti-shark Australian media, the shark tag at Our ABC is worth the occasional visit.

And a reminder that if you want to get angry about a misuse of meteorology and sharks at the same time, Sharknado 3 is coming. No Award will not deign to link to it, but  might get drunk and watch it.

You could follow the average shark twitter. Steph does.

@samir how the shark news reported it: a fucking human interrupted our swimming competition AGAIN

Why does No Award like sharks so much? They eat both penguins and cephalopods. But we can all live in awesomeness, I guess.

a split second action in a dynamic environment

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This weekend saw rallies by Reclaim Australia (racists) and protests/opposing rallies from #noroomforracism. And just in case you’re wondering where Victorian coppers stand:

copper pepper spraying a protester; fb text: victoria police went to some lengths to repress #antifa but people power ensured that the fascists left knowing they're very unwelcome in #Melbourne

Here’s a photo of a member of the Victorian Police pepper spraying an anti-fascist marcher.

copper not leaving a racist hanging, gives him a high five

Here’s a photo of a member of the Victorian Police giving a high five to a totally racist fucker at a pro-racism rally.

photo of a medic washing their face with milk after being pepper sprayed by a copper

Here’s a photo of a medic who was pepper sprayed by a member of the Victorian Police. (This action was allegedly with no warning)

user @retrovertigo tweets: So it was a brain fart then? How about pepper spraying medics, was that also a split second decision in a dynamic environment?

Here’s how the Victorian Police chose to defend some actions:

The image of a policeman engaging in a hand gesture with a demonstrator yesterday represents a split second action in a dynamic environment.

We very much hope that this response is merely the work of VicPol’s PR department’s work experience kid, and that Monday morning involved a lot of senior people going, “Okay, we need to find out who high-fived the fascist, who gave the order to pepper spray peaceful protesters and medics, and which dickhead was running the Twitter account yesterday afternoon.”

We have hope, but not necessarily optimism.

@EX_V19: This is what I said about the red light camera but I was still booked

So anyway basically everything is terrible. Statistically, we’re probably friends with or related to people who support some of this shit, and we’re pretty angry right now.

From Our ABC’s reporting:

Federal MP attends Queensland rally

In Mackay, Federal Coalition MP George Christensen addressed a Reclaim Australia rally, telling the crowd it would be naive to think Australia was not at war with extreme Islam.

Dude, we’re seriously not. Like, we’re really, really not at war with Islam. Like. Fuck.

(Political blogger Andrew Elder talks about George Christensen’s political background and the value he brings to the Liberal Party.  Interesting and depressing stuff!)

The Reclaim Australia supporters marched through Elizabeth Mall, singing Waltzing Matilda and the national anthem.

As they reached Hobart Fountain, anti-racist protesters were waiting, singing the theme song from television show Neighbours.

What.

This is all depressingly reminiscent of the 1930s, when lots of countries (including the UK, US and, yes, Australia) saw little bubbles of Fascism rise to the surface.   Luckily, Fascism didn’t take hold in Australia … partially because it was seen as being a bit, you know, foreign. IRONY.

But the other reason it never became mainstream was because the average Australian punters were too busy pointing and laughing to say more than, “Yeah, nuh” to the guys shrieking about international Jewish conspiracies and blaming minorities instead of capitalism for unemployment and poverty.

Liz feels, therefore, that more anti-fascism protests should involve group singalongs of Aussie soap themes.  Reclaim Australia doesn’t deserve the dignity of a serious response.

YOU KNOW WE BELONG TOGETHER.

Here’s a nicer thing, I guess:

A brown man standing with a fist held high; sign says 'not yours to reclaim'. parliament house is in the background. twitter text: @livenewslive: A message for the tiny crowd of #reclaimaustralia bigots in #canberra. #noroomforracism

For some actual reclamation of Australia, support IndigenousX.

A black T-shirt with the words AUSTRALIA: DRIVE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT in white.

T-Shirt by Dark and Disturbing, available from their online store, or as a reward for supporting IndigenousX’s crowdfunding campaign.

5 Seconds of Linkspam

That awkward moment when you’re looking for lobsters and find volcanoes.

“That’s what happened between me and Clark” – Revising Hollywood’s Greatest Scandal

Loretta Young has been excoriated for decades for presenting herself as a moralist while raising Clark Cable’s secret love child.  Anne Helen Petersen uncovers the sadder, darker story behind the rumours.

It was in 1998 — in the wake of Judy’s memoir — that Young, by then in her eighties, first heard the term “date rape” on Larry King Live, at home in Palm Springs with Ed Funk. “She asked me what that meant and I explained to the best of my ability,” Funk told me.

…“And there was this whole dawning,” Linda said. …She said, ‘That — that’s what happened to me.’”

New from Telstra: the Time Phone

Normally, of course, No Award gets a bit shirty when the US media reports on Australia — not that it shouldn’t, it’s just that defensive reflex — but we make an exception for hanging shit on the Abbott government: “If the Koch brothers ran a country, it might look like what’s happening in Australia.”

Steph isn’t sure what’s happening here: Skip Showers for Beef (please note that all figures appear to be in USA measurements, ie, weird shit like ounces.).

showers to beef conversion chart (us measurements)

(As always, No Award recommends 4 minute shower timers, and also civil disobedience).

13 interesting things you can see out your Melbourne train window.  The Heavenly Queen Temple and Franco Cozzo mural are the highlights of Liz’s commute.

Actual discrimination against a ginger! (Not really, but the phrase “not sick, just Scottish” will live in Liz’s ginger-haired Anglo-Celtic heart forever.) (Steph notes this is what our dystopias will be: the brown morass discriminating against pale people for obviously being deficient. So great. So exciting.)

If you, too, enjoy filling your kitchen with completely useless and ridiculous appliances, The Guardian’s Inspect A Gadget feature is for you.

While preparation of leaf tea is traditionally a ritualised communion with ideas of elegance and solemnity, there’s always room for novelty pants.

Teen spends babysitting money on getting vaccinated; parents mad.

Friend of No Award, In Which I, posts about tea.

Important Hanging Rock update.

No Award leaves the house: #loveOzYA at Readings

Back in May, ALIA (that’s the Australian Libraries and Information Association for those readers who don’t have a defunct Grad Dip in Library and Information Studies) released the top 10 YA titles borrowed from Australian public libraries.

Only two out of the ten were Australian.  John Green had more entries in this list than Australian YA authors.

Out of this problem grew the #loveOzYA hashtag, a grassroots reader movement that was quickly embraced by booksellers and publishers.  Danielle Binks writes more about that for Kill Your Darlings.

I read Australian YA, and I also write it (or try to), so this is an issue very dear to my heart.  I want to be a published author one day, and I want to reach a wide audience — who doesn’t? — but I also want to tell Australian stories.  And I don’t want to choose.

(Yesterday I sat down and made a list of all the ideas I have for middle grade and YA novels, and where they’re at, and roughly how I’d prioritise them.  I have ten ideas that I think are worth pursuing.  Nine are specifically set in Australia.  I clearly have a vested interest in promoting Australian fiction for young readers.)

On Tuesday night, I went to a #loveOzYA event at Readings Hawthorn, a panel discussion titled Where’s OzYA going right, and where’s it going wrong?  The panel was moderated by Isobel Moore, the specialist YA bookseller from Readings St Kilda.  On the panel were Melissa Keil, winner of the inaugural Ampersand Prize and author of contemporary Melbourne-based YA; Marisa Pintado, commissioning editor of YA for Hardie Grant Egmont and coordinator of the Ampersand Prize; the abovementioned Danielle Binks; and Susan la Marca, a senior teacher-librarian.

This was the perfect event — Readings Hawthorn was warm, dry, spacious and had toilets, not to mention that it was full of books, and the panel only ran for three-quarters of an hour, which is handy when it’s a Tuesday night and it takes me an hour to get home.

For once, I didn’t livetweet the event, but instead chose to take notes on my phone.  (Okay, I’ll be honest: I’m nearly out of data.)  Important lesson for Future Lizzes: just take a notebook.  It’s low-tech, but at least doesn’t have autocorrect.

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A Pub With No Beer: Australian slang that foreigners* misuse

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There are many very important articles floating around about vital Australian slang, such as this listicle at buzzfeed and this listicle at huffpo and and this other huffpo listicle. And they are very critical to any understanding of Australia!

In fact, why don’t you watch this video for 2 minutes before we start this post. No Award and the Friends of No Award have watched this several times and cried with laughter every time.

Okay, good, great work, everyone.

This post was mostly inspired by Mad Max fandom. What Steph loves the very most about Mad Max fandom is that it’s full of grumpy Australians being really grumpy about non-Australians (mostly Americans) Getting Things Wrong. Steph is one of these Australians, all get off my lawn and get out of my car, and definitely get out of my town of 2 million people that doesn’t have a Starbucks. She’s a little bit obsessed with an epic coffee shop AU set in a small town in Australia. It has a Starbucks and a piano bar but no pub. NO PUB. Not gonna link the AU because it’s not about making fun of fanfic, it’s about making fun of Americans in general, and revelling in our own ridiculousness.

And so, for the humour and wtf of all Australians, we present:

A Pub With No Beer: Australian slang that foreigners* misuse

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