Tag Archives: karen healey

The Month of Good Books #1 – When We Wake and Caution: contains small parts

I’m reading books this month, and it shouldn’t feel quite so revolutionary a concept, but there you are. Having spent a year reading classic novels, rereading Doctor Who tie ins and generally slacking off, I now have a very short time to inhale all the books that are CURRENT and RELEVANT and potentially AWARDWORTHY SF and fantasy of 2013, especially those by female authors. In other words, Galactic Suburbia Recommends type books. I feel I’ve let the side down a bit over the last 12 months in that regard.

Luckily, having come to the end of the year, I have a very condensed list of books I’m pretty sure I’m going to love. And this is the month when I end up with heat-exhausted small children collapsed across me, which works out well for reading.

Of the seven books that I am really desperate to have read before nominations for things become urgent (I nominate for Nebulas now! Nebulas are cool!) I have covered 2 in the last week, which is pretty good going for me. I’m sure the list will

Only tiny reviews, to ensure I actually write up the things.

whenwewakeWhen We Wake by Karen Healey is really wonderful. It was pitched as a science fictional Sleeping Beauty tale, but I found elements of Snow White in there too – only fragments, though. Sixteen-year old Tegan is shot and killed by a sniper bullet at an environmental rally ten years in our future, and thanks to signing a ‘donate my body to science’ form, is awoken from cryogenic freezing a century later as part of a program to revive dead soldiers. I appreciated so many things about this story which uses smart extrapolation from current issues (especially politics and the environment) to build a credible near-future Australia. It reads at times like the novel is in direct response to some of the more public failings of the Abbott government, which makes it all the more clever (and depressing) as it was written published when Gillard was still Prime Minister.

But a diverse cast, a nuanced future (in which some social issues have improved, and others have gone quite down hill) this is a book I would love to see taken up by the Australian curriculum as there are so many elements of this futuristic Australia for teens to discuss – immigration, cultural and race issues, anti-military bias, climate change, faith religion drug legality and more. The protagonist is Christian, which is something you don’t see in YA that often, and the characters closest to her include a Muslim and an atheist – and for those seeking positive-but-casual representation of queer or trans characters, the book provides both.

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Teen Movie Times

If, like me, you really enjoy fun pop culture analysis, please check out Karen Healey’s new ebook: Teen Movie Times for $1.99 on Smashwords.

Karen, one of my favourite YA writers (both because of her books and because she is super nice) is putting herself through teacher training college in Christchurch next year so she can become (gulp) a high school teacher. The thought of that scares the pants off me, frankly, but I’m sure Karen is up to the job – and she is trying to raise some funds right now to help towards her (considerable) expenses over the next year.

Check out Karen’s post here about the book itself, a collection of essays about the best teen movies EVER including Clueless, Empire Records, Bring It On, Saved!, But I’m a Cheerleader, etc. (If nothing else, she’s going into her new profession armed with some exceptional meta about the stories of teenagers… and you can too!) The book also includes her essay ‘Romancing the Sro’ which talks about the importance of female friendships in movies, and how little we hear about them compared to their counterpart, the Bromance.

For a taste of what you would be buying you can also check out Karen’s recent essay ‘Easy A’ from the collection on her blog.

Help a Sro Out!

Friday Links Has Pink Polka Dots

Thanks to Charles Tan for putting up my guest post, “Oops I got History in my Fantasy (again).”

Voyager also put up a Flappers With Swords post of mine: Food For Thought in Fantasy Fiction.

The Mary Sue interviews Rachel Weil, the creator of Femicom, a web museum of “girly games” which seeks to archive and provoke discussion about those most-derided computer games: the ones with all the pink. It’s a great, crunchy discussion about how products “aimed at women” can simultaneously alienate male and female gamers, but also how the gaming community is so quick to disassociate itself with games thought of as feminine.

Mamaguilt, which I think is my new favourite blog title, has started a ‘Sheroes’ page to inspire us with amazing female heroes whenever the internet gets us down. Wonderful stuff, and I love some of her choices. Mary Beard for the win!

Karen Healey talks about Why I Write Diversity, and it’s an important post which I will probably need to link people back to many times in my future life. *bookmarks*

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Flappers With Swords Blog Tour: First Edition

And we’re off!

First, I turned up at Lynne M Thomas’ Confessions of a Curator blog. Lynne is a big comics reader like I am and so I wrote her a piece based on some ideas that have been churning around in my head lately, as to whether I write epic fantasy, and whether you can have epic fantasy that doesn’t travel anywhere… and I decided that Batman and the near-destruction of Gotham City has a lot to teach epic fantasy about how to do exactly this:

“Everything happens in cities. Some of the best sieges, invasions, tragic love stories and disasters have occurred in urban environments, going right back to the Trojan War. The only reason that fantasy writers generally get hung up about all that mountain trekking is because of being imprinted with Tolkien at an early age. And I’m not saying that wading through all the bracken with your questing party of dwarves is an invalid approach…

But CITIES. Where you can have your crazy magical invasions, your prophets of doom, your dark lords and battles and deadly, world-coming-to-an-end high stakes, and still be able to order dumplings at 2 in the morning.”

Then, over at Karen Healey’s place, she asked me to write about Classics Nerdery in honour of the heroine of her novel Guardian of the Dead, and funnily enough that was something I was perfectly capable of rolling out!

I also bounced with merriment at Karen’s intro to the piece, because I love pretty much everything about her blogging voice.

“We all have favourite historical characters, right? You hear about them in some book, or see a great TV show or movie and start getting interested in the real person, and somehow they take hold of your brain, and you start shipping them with other historical characters, and maybe there’s fanfic, and you have Opinions about, for instance, that person who killed them, or divorced them, or whatever.”

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Hugo Nominations Out – What Will You Wear?

Sadly the outfit I will probably wear to the Hugos this year involves pyjamas and ug boots, cos I’m certainly not going all the way to Chicago, but, but BUT…

Galactic Suburbia was nominated for Best Fancast.

This is a dizzying and most splendid honour, and all four of us, presenters and producer, are tickled pink.

Congratulations to everyone on the shortlists, especially our fellow nominees in the Fancast category:

Best Fancast (326 ballots)
The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz, produced by Patrick Hester
SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

There is dancing, much dancing, and joyful celebration. Also, there will be HUGO PINS, that most exciting sartorial item. I also love that my Twitter feed has filled up with people talking about the acquisition of frocks for the ceremony.

The most splendid Karen Healey and I chatted this morning (in one of my brief holiday internet windows) about the importance of wearable tokens of awards, and how all literary awards could be GREATLY IMPROVED. You can read a cut down version of our conversation here.

Friday Links Strike a Pose

Pretty sure everyone on the internet has seen the latest feminist post by Jim C Hines, this time with him putting his male body through the bizarre poses displayed by women on various fantasy covers. Needless to say, he hurt himself in the attempt.

Malinda Lo riffs off a Kate Elliott post, talking about being a woman writer and still having to actively check your manuscripts to make sure the female characters are not being screwed over. I do this too! Did I accidentally kill off all the women in my book? Oh, crap. Rewrite!

NK Jemisin talks about why her editor, Devi Pillai of Orbit Books, should be considered for the Hugo race – she had me at ‘Paradol Protectorate’!

A lovely article about cosplaying the TARDIS, bringing steampunk into her design, and just how female the TARDIS is anyway. The cosplay/crossplay phenomenon as a feminist statement is something I never fail to find interesting, and the fannish craft evident in this post is awesome. I say this as someone who is planning to make two birthday cakes next week – a TARDIS and a Time Vortex.

Speaking of which, 3D TARDIS cookies are the best use I can think of for 3D printers…

The Guardian looks at the outpourings of mancrush inspired by the return of Thierry Henry to the Arsenal and questions why football is so institutionally anti-gay when, quite frankly, even the straightest of fannish football blokes are set all aflutter by certain men in certain shorts, scoring certain goals. It’s actually a slightly more serious article than I suggest here, and worth reading.

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Best Reading of the Year 2011 (so far)

This one’s for Jonathan, Gary & Mondy, who have been speculating a lot lately about what are the best books published in 2011 so far, that they should be paying attention to.

These are mine. It’s entirely personal, of course, and based what I’ve actually read (as opposed to the towering To Read pile that will one day cause me major injury) but given that I haven’t done nearly enough this year of reviewing the books I love, I think it’s worth doing.


Jo Walton
Among Others

A wonderful, wonderful book about the reading habits of young girls, with subtle magic and a fabulous theme of iconic SF books. At some point I hope I will write that essay I want to, about my lifelong relationship with Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin and how that book trained me to get the most out of this one despite the fact that I’ve never read Delaney, Zelazny or more than two novels by Heinlein.

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Friday Links Don’t Have Enough Lesbians In Them.

One of the two headline stories of our recent Galactic Suburbia Episode 42 was the piece on Publisher’s Weekly about two authors who were upset about an agent asking them to ‘straighten’ a gay protagonist.

Nicola Griffith shared a video of her describing a similar issue to a group of students, when her own agent questioned why the protagonist of her second novel needed to be a lesbian.

Malinda Lo followed up with a very constructive post looking at the hard stats of YA fiction published in the US over the last several decades. In particular I found it interesting that she proves once and for all that the anecdotal experience of there being less lesbians than gay male characters in YA is absolutely true – in fact, it’s a 2-1 balance. So YA authors, time to add the girl on girl kissing!

Finally, it seems that while the Publishers Weekly was carefully not naming and shaming the agent in question, the buzz behind the scenes was not so kind. She speaks out at Colleen Lindsay’s blog the Swivet, with her own description of the phone call in question.

[UPDATE] The authors of the original post have replied at Rachel’s LJ, standing by their original post and urging people to focus on the bigger and more important picture of making YA more gay-friendly, rather than getting distracted in finger pointing or choosing sides.

In other news, Catherynne Valente provides one of the best responses I’ve seen to the idea of an Amazon ‘subscription service’ for e-books. I don’t think I know any writer who is more eloquent when angry.

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Heroes, Villains and Thylacines

The Shattering, by Karen Healey
Thyla, by Kate Gordon
Will Supervillains Be On The Final? Vol. One, by Naomi Novik & Yishan Li

I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I want to lately, but I have made some great YA discoveries.

Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healey, was one of the most interesting YA debut novels last year, with its mixture of serial killer horror and Maori mythology, featuring contemporary New Zealand teenagers with both snark and substance. I was delighted to receive an early copy of Karen Healey’s follow up novel, The Shattering – so much so that I took it as my in flight entertainment for the Aurealis Awards weekend, at which Guardian of the Dead ended up winning Best Novel!

Set in an idyllic New Zealand tourist town, this book has a very simple premise at the heart of it – teenagers uncovering supernatural wrongdoings – but it becomes something far more crunchy and intriguing thanks to the complex, diverse protagonists and Healey’s sensitive handling of some pretty major issues, including teen suicide, grief response, mental health, bullying and coming out to your parents. The absolute heart of the novel is the friendship between the three main characters, who all bond over the shared grief of losing an elder brother to suicide, and decide to investigate whether there is a more sinister reason behind their loss. I loved each of these characters deeply and enjoyed how flawed they are as well as how strong. I also *adored* the fact that, while there is romance here, the novel took a very pragmatic attitude towards teenage love stories, and that the central triad (two girls and a boy) was about as far from a love triangle as it is possible to get.

Original, fast paced and richly detailed, The Shattering is a powerful second novel from a writer whose narrative choices are never dull.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 33 Show Notes

New episode up! Grab it from iTunes, by direct download or stream it on the site.


In which we wax lyrical about awards, short stories and the love of reading. Because it’s that time of year!

Aurealis Awards winners as reported by roving reporter Tansy

Nebula Awards winners

Translation Awards

Aqueduct links to 25 commemorations of Joanna Russ

New podcast – How I got my Boyfriend to Read Comics

Last Short Story is on Twitter @lastshortstory

New Galactic Chat: Kirstyn McDermott

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Tansy: The Shattering, Karen Healey
Alex: The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss; How to Suppress Women’s Writing, Joanna Russ; Welcome to Bordertown, Ellen Kushner and Terri Windling; finished Stargate SG1 for the second time.
Alisa: Ken Liu’s Paper Menagerie (F&SF March/April), Joanna Russ’s We Who Are About To

Pet Subject: Last Short Story 2011

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