Tag Archives: Kirstyn McDermott

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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Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott

9781922057174-500x763So far this year I’ve been pretty slack on the AWW front, and indeed in the reading books front at all. I blame it on Ford Madox Ford, who sucked me in with the possibility of Benedict Cumberbatch and made me read four books under the guise of being just one book that was so enormous that almost a month fell into it. And that was my experience reading Parade’s End.

Possibly it’s unfair to blame Ford Madox Ford for Benedict Cumberbatch, but then again we have to blame somebody, right?

In any case, I have officially just finished by first book by an Australian woman writer: Perfections, by Kirstyn McDermott. I’m pretty sure Kirstyn describes this one as a gothic fairytale, or something along those lines. I think I’d go for more of an ‘urban suspense’ line, though if it was in actual bookshops I would hope to see it with more of a Fay Weldon cover than anything with overt genre markers.

Oh, did I mention Fay Weldon? That’s probably because she came to mind while I was reading this novel – something about the realist, cynical tone and themes to do with women’s careers and quiet household despair mixed with sneaky supernatural, magic and horror bits. The tone also reminded me a great deal of Donna Tartt. I really hope Kirstyn reaches the wide audience she deserves with this one.
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E-books for Christmas

Surely one of the benefits that the paper book has over its more economical & tree-friendly e-edition is the gifting possibilities. There’s nothing like a comforting, rectangular parcel at Christmas, right?

I’ve been giving books as presents my whole life: childhood classics to my much younger cousin and now to my daughters, my godson & his brothers; art books for my mother; medieval history with ladies in to one particular friend; graphic novels to another. When in doubt, books.

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Snapshot 2012: Kirstyn McDermott

Kirstyn McDermott’s short fiction has been published in various journals, magazines and anthologies in Australia and overseas. Her debut novel, Madigan Mine, received an Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel, and her second, Perfections, is due out later this year. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and fellow scribbler, Jason Nahrung, and can be found online at www.kirstynmcdermott.com

1. The Writer and the Critic has become an integral part of the Aussie spec fic scene very fast – and you don’t even talk about spec fic books all the time! What does podcasting offer you, as a social medium or a creative one?

For one thing, it gives me a chance to review and talk about books. It sounds simplistic but somehow I never find the time to actually sit down and write reviews these days, let alone the sort of substantial, in depth critiques that The Writer and the Critic affords me. Of course, it does mean that “reading” for me has now been shifted across into the “work/obligation” box, but I’m learning to live with that. And I’ve realised what a highly critical reader I am … now when I read a book, my filter is generally, “Can I talk about this for half an hour on the podcast?” If the answer is, “No,” as it very often is, I’m afraid I find myself resenting that book rather a lot more than I might have a couple of years ago. Maybe that’s not really fair, but it does remind me that life is way too short to read anything less than brilliant books.

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Galactic Suburbia 60: In Which, Cake

The new episode is up! Grab it from our site, or download it from iTunes!

In which we celebrate our 60th episode and Peter McNamara Award for Excellence win with cake, yarn and superheroes. For best results, consume this podcast with fabulous cake and/or sock yarn.


Nebula Awards

Aurealis Awards:

Sturgeon shortlist

2012 Mythopoeic Awards

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Friday Links is the Queen of Llamias

Aliette DeBodard talks about female protagonists in historical fantasy, and Kate Elliott responds by talking about female protagonists in fantasy-inspired-by-history. Between the two of them and the comments section there is some great, crunchy discussion.

Kate also appears on the Fantasy Cafe as part of their Women in SFF Month with a marvellous essay about learning that you don’t have to despise being a girl in order to play with the cool toys.

Kirstyn McDermott provides a counterpoint to the ‘women on urban fantasy book covers’ discussion by pointing out an example of getting it right. She is also interviewed by Dr Lisa & Dr Angela with Oops Your Psychosis is Showing. Later (Kirstyn is on FIRE this week!) she blogs about the consequences of being a girl, and the way we are socialised to view the world.

A lovely essay on the Mary Sue talks about having a four year old daughter who loves superheroes. I think you all know how much this resonates with me!

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Friday Links has Great Role Models

Twelfth Planet Press is now 5 years old, and wow how far she’s come!

Alisa muses on the last five years here, and also talks about how she can find positive female role models in trashy reality TV shows.

Speaking of role models, I wrote a Friday Hoyden post for Hoyden About Town, about: who else? Joanna Russ!

Kirstyn McDermott talks about the false equivalence of male and female representation on book covers, as beautifully illustrated by Jim C Hines.

Ben Peek heralds the new Ditmar ballot as ammunition in his ongoing secret rivalry against Bill Wright. Best Ditmar response so far!

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Friday Links is an Imperfect Feminist (but tries hard)

Kirstyn McDermott confesses to being a bad feminist… which brings home how very hard women can be on themselves! Sometimes allowing yourself to be imperfect is in itself a feminist achievement. On the other hand, it never hurts to reassess, and try harder. As long as you take care of yourself before you start helping others with their oxygen masks…

Foz Meadows expresses frustration at how heavily books (especially those aimed at teens these days) appear to be gendered, when they really don’t need to be. So does Seanan McGuire. This is a thing. I’ve had a similar conversation with about six different people in the last fortnight, including my seven-year-old! She likes to read books that aren’t girl books or boy books but KID BOOKS. It’s a pink glitter jungle out there.

Tehani Wessely provides some gender stats on the Aurealis Awards.

Mari Ness raises her eyebrows at a list of great YA girl characters from books that aren’t necessarily YA…

Mary Robinette Kowal is an astoundingly good sport about the fact that her new novel Glamour in Glass (sequel to the awesome Shades of Milk and Honey) is being published without its first sentence. I would be on the floor in pieces. She has devised a clever bookmark, a sticker, a plan for writing it into your book at formal signings, and a cool quiz. I scored 9/10!

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Elsewhere on the Internet: gothic men and time ladies

I reviewed Kirstyn McDermott’s debut novel Madigan Mine at the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog, with particular reference to how clever she is, and my new appreciation of gothic tropes. I have kind of missed writing book reviews, maybe I should do more of it instead of saving it up to blather once a fortnight on Galactic Suburbia.

Kirstyn liked my review! Always a relief when I think I’m spotting something clever and turn out to be right.

Over at Doctor Her, I interview Lynne M Thomas and Deborah Stanish about Chicks Dig Time Lords and the series of books it developed into. Chicks Dig Comics is out this week, people! And it’s wonderful!

Galactic Suburbia 55

I didn’t put this up before because Podbean has been down all weekend but now it’s back! You can check out the new Galactic Suburbia episode on our website or at iTunes.

Episode 55

In which we honour the memory of Paul Haines by giving ourselves nightmares, and catch up (mostly) on several months of feedback about how Galactic Suburbia is singlehandedly keeping the bookselling business alive.

Paul Haines in memoriam.
Death notice and information about memorial service
We discuss posts by Dirk Flinthart and Ben Peek.

If anyone does a round up of memorial posts about Paul, please let us know & we’ll add the link. In the mean time, check out this post about his complete bibliography and how to get hold of his work.

Ladybusiness on coverage of women on SF/F blogs

New Galactic Chat: Claire Corbett

What Culture Have we Consumed?
Alisa: Wives, Paul Haines; The Warrior’s Apprentice, Lois Mcmaster Bujold; Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts), Locus Round Table featuring Nalo Hopkinson and Karen Lord
Alex: Solaris Rising (ed Ian Whates); Reign of Beasts (Tansy Rayner Roberts); Pure (Julianna Bagott)
Tansy: Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott, The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M Harris

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