Cranky Ladies of History launches March 8

FableCroft Publishing is pleased to announce that Cranky Ladies of History will be launched in Canberra on March the 8th, 2015.

The successful Pozible crowd-funding campaign for Cranky Ladies began on March 1 and ran until March 31, coinciding with Women’s History Month.

The anthology examines or celebrates real cranky* ladies from history, with stories from a diverse range of backgrounds, nationalities, and time periods. The anthology is around 125,000 words in total, with original cover art by Kathleen Jennings.

*The definition of “cranky” is rather broad, and stems somewhat more from a tendency to buck societal standards of the era than a true inherent crankiness.

Table of Contents:

 

Author Provisional Title Cranky Lady A little detail…
Joyce Chng “Charmed Life” Leizu Chinese empress who discovered silk
Amanda Pillar “Neter Nefer” Hatshepsut Egyptian ruler
Barbara Robson “Theodora” Theodora, wife of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian the first Wife of the Byzantine Emperor, Justinian the first
Lisa Hannett “Hallgerðr Höskuldsdóttir / For So Great a Misdeed” Icelandic woman
Garth Nix “The Company of Women” Lady Godiva Anglo-Saxon noblewoman
Juliet Marillier “Hallowed Ground” Hildegard of Bingen German writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath
LM Myles “Little Battles” Eleanor of Aquitaine French queen & mother of dynasty
Foz Meadows “Bright Moon” Khutulun Central Asian warrior
Laura Lam “The lioness and her prey” Jeanne de Clisson French pirate
Liz Barr “Queenside” Mary Tudor (Mary I of England) Queen of England
Deborah Biancotti “Look How Cold My Hands Are” Countess Bathory countess from the renowned Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. She has been labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history
Dirk Flinthart “The gift of freedom” Grace O’Malley Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan sometimes known as “The Sea Queen of Connacht”
Faith Mudge “Glorious” Elizabeth I Queen of England
Havva Murat “The Pasha, the girl and the dagger: The story of Nora of Kelmendi” Nora of Kelmendi Albanian warrior
Kirstyn McDermott “Mary Mary” Mary Wollstonecroft English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.
Thoraiya Dyer “Vintana” Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar, also known as Ranavalona the Cruel Queen of Madagascar
Stephanie Lai “The dragon, the terror, the sea” Cheng Shih Chinese pirate
Jane Yolen SACAGAWEA SACAGAWEA Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States
Kaaron Warren “Another week in the future” Miss CH Spence Scottish-born Australian author, teacher, journalist, politician and leading suffragist.
Sylvia Kelso “Due care and attention” Lilian Cooper British-born Australian doctor
Sandra McDonald “Cora Crane and The Trouble with Me” Cora Crane American businesswoman, nightclub and bordello owner, writer and journalist.
Nisi Shawl “A Beautiful Stream” Colette French novelist and performer
Liz Argall “Oodgeroo is Not Yet Your Name” Oodgeroo Noonuccal Australian poet, political activist, artist and educator.

See FableCroft Publishing for more details.

Peripheral Visions ghost story collection by Robert Hood

Robert Hood‘s complete collection of ghost stories will be released in April 2015 by IFWG Publishing Australia, in paperback and ebook formats. It will also be available in hardcover, and most notably, IFWG Publishing Australia will produce 200 limited edition copies, signed by Robert Hood. The cover and internal artwork is created by the very talented, industry-respected artist, Nick Stathopoulos.

Robert Hood is a highly respected, award-winning author, considered by many to be one of Australia’s grand masters of horror and weird fiction. Though over his 40-year career (to date) he has published speculative fiction of all kinds, he has notably produced 43 short stories that feature ghosts, hauntings and spectral horrors. These memorable tales display his ability to make the fantastic real, to embrace weirdness, and create human characters whose inner and outer lives, haunted by mortality, are laid bare and revealed to be our own worst nightmares. Ranging from melancholy reflections on life and death, through disquieting tales of dark humour and vengeance, to chilling visions of ghostly apocalypse, Hood’s stories are sure to draw you into a terrifying world that in the end is revealed to be irrefutably our own.

Peripheral Visions is a one-of-a-kind reference collection that includes all of Hood’s 43 ghost stories to date, three of them especially written for this volume.

“Rob Hood is Australia’s master of dark fantasy, seducing the reader with stories that are lavishly grim and rife with a quirky, unpredictable inventiveness.” (Sean Williams)

“Rob Hood is so good at what he does, he’ll have you believing in ghosts by the end of the first story in this brilliant collection.” (Kaaron Warren)

Peripheral Visions is a large volume of work, with a word count over 220k. In trade paperback format it will be published in two volumes, spaced over a month. Here is the appearance of the two covers, when laid side-by-side.

Rob's cover LeftRob's cover right

A single volume hardcover edition will also be published, with internal illustrations by Nick Stathopoulos. The exciting part of this publishing effort is a signed, limited hardcover edition, which can be pre-ordered now. There are only 200 limited edition copies available (numbered), each of which includes a Nick Stathopoulos-designed signature page, and a bonus ‘chap-ebook’ containing several zombie stories, titled Haunted Flesh: Stories of the Living Dead. These editions will disappear quickly, so we recommend interested readers pre-order now. IFWG Publishing Australia will not be repeating this offer.

The offer:

  • Hardcover Book: 6.14″ x 9.21″ (156mm x 234mm), creme paper, plain cloth binding with spine imprint, and matt cover sleeve.
  • 43 stories: a mix of short stories, novelettes and a novella. Over 220k words of fiction, spanning the period 1986 to present. Three stories, including the novella, are new, published for the first time here.
  • The book will also contain extensive notes on all stories, and a table that registers the complete publishing history of each story, including all reprints, and any awards or short listing for awards.
  • An introduction by World Fantasy Awards winner, Danel Olson.
  • The book is divided into six categories of ghost stories:
    • Haunted Places
    • Haunted Families
    • Haunted Minds
    • Haunted Youth
    • Haunted Vengeance
    • Haunted Realities
  • Each category of the book will include an illustration by Nick Stathopoulos, as well as a frontispiece.
  • Each book will have a signature page (also illustrated/designed by Nick Stathopoulos), signed by Robert Hood, and numbered from 1 to 200. The sequence number provided will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. There will never be any other signed limited editions produced for sale, beyond this 200.
  • Each purchaser will also get, as an added bonus, a chap-ebook titled Haunted Flesh: Stories of the Living Dead, containing several zombie stories, totalling to approximately 20k in word count.

Orders:

For Australian shipping addresses, the price is AU$75.00 (including shipping).
For Other countries shipping addresses, the price is US$85.00 (including shipping).

Far Cry 4: Game Review

Far Cry 4 Limited Editon packshot_0Finished Far Cry 4 (Xbox360 version) yesterday and, ultimately, it is a disappointing game.

First-person open world games are my favourites, and some entries in the Far Cry series are right up there alongside S.T.A.L.K.E.R. as amongst the best.

In a way, Far Cry 1 started it all — allowing you to approach missions any way you wanted, with few set paths. Far Cry 2 took this to a new level, opening up an enormous map of a (fictional) section of Africa, allowing the player a great deal of latitude in playing the game the way they wanted to. Far Cry 2 also took itself quite seriously and, despite it’s numerous bugs and annoyances, was a dark tale with strong messages on ethics in war. I think Far Cry 2 is still my favourite of the series.

Far Cry 3 was gorgeous to look at, and took the open world nature of FC2 to an entirely new level. Unfortunately, the POV character was lame and the story even worse. There were also constant attempts at humour, and I mean ‘attempts’, and a silliness to many of the characters that meant it lacked the gritty seriousness of FC2. There was no real moral, and the ethics questionable. I played it through though (twice!) because the scenery was so good, and I just loved the open nature of the missions. Ultimately, though, I was hoping for more with FC4.

Far Cry 4 started out well. The new setting (Himalayas instead of a tropical island or African savannah) is even more gorgeous than previous games, and the verticality of the mountains make a very different game. And the wildlife! Tigers, Bears, Rhinos, Elephants, Eagles, Honeybadgers (damn those honeybadgers!)… they’re all there and they’re all dangerous. Very exciting! But the story? The POV character’s motives for getting involved in all this are near non-existent. You’re just expected to become a bloodthirsty killer, mowing down natives in another near Third-World country, for the flimsiest of reasons (if there actually WAS a reason). And the ending was VERY anti-climactic. After pouring over 45 hours of my time into this thing, I expected some sort of pay-off at the end. Unfortunately, it just sort of fizzes out.

So, the verdict? It looks amazing and there have been many improvements — getting the wingsuit so early really opens up the world, and the single-seat ‘Buzzer’ helicopters were a great addition. I still loved just wandering the world, climbing mountains and traversing valleys, watching Eagles snatch pigs from the fields and bears fight with tigers. I loved stealthing into an enemy compound and taking guys out silently, without anyone ever knowing I was there… and if things turned to shit, I always had enough heavy weaponry to blast my way to victory. It was AMAZING!

But the story? It sucked so bad that it spoiled a lot of the experience. I’m glad I played it, but I probably won’t be going back to Kyrat. Hopefully, FC5 will return to the much more serious (and adult) style storyline of FC2.

Score: 7/10

From Out of the Dark now available

New_From_Out_Of_The_DarkEditor: Robert N Stephenson
Publisher: Altair Australia Publishing
Published: 9 January 2015
290 pages
Available in two formats: print and ebook (free)

From Out of the Dark is a SF/H anthology set in the gap between galaxies, in the immense darkness of space with all the frightening aspects and contemplation billions of light years of unseeable entities can bring.

A collection of 10 short stories by 10 unique writers, including Tony Shillitoe, Gene Stewart and Gregory L. Norris. Some stories travel the same road, some not so close, some are classic space opera and some are strangely different. But these are not just first encounters. This is not horror added the SF or SF added to horror by slight of hand. These are journeys into places we cannot and will never imagine outside of telescopes and maths.

Edited by Robert N Stephenson (Altair Australia Publishing), an award winning author of novels and non fiction/fiction collections, with over 100 short stories published across the world. As an editor, Robert has edited over 30 full length novels, as well as Altair Magazine for 3 years, and other anthologies in SF and Horror.

Written in Darkness by Mark Samuels – review by Mario Guslandi

23462553WRITTEN IN DARKNESS

By Mark Samuels

Egaeus Press 2014,

Hardcover, 127 pages

A review by Mario Guslandi

The latest short story collection by British author Mark Samuels ,aptly entitled “Written in Darkness” , confirms his ability to unearth the dark side of the universe as well as the dark depths of the human soul. Darkness is everywhere, in the failing economy, in the breakdown of our place of work, in the emptiness of the daily routine, in the loneliness of our life, in the nature of our secret feelings. That is the common ground of the nine stories assembled in a slim, elegant volume published by Egaeus Press.

Obviously, not all the stories have the same intensity and some are more accomplished than others. The general tone may sound a bit depressing, so I advise you to savour each tale in separate reading sessions rather than being engulfed in a spiral of pessimism and melancholy : you will enjoy the stories more.

In my opinion the best stories are : “A Call to Greatness” a Kafkaesque piece featuring a stern Baron hopelessly fighting against the Bolsheviks, “My Heretical Existence”, a short, sinister tale about an elusive zone of an European city where a different, dangerous reality is lurking and “Outside Interference”, a puzzling example of urban horror involving the employees of a corporate firm located in a building,the basement of which conceals deadly secrets.

My favourite ,however, is a very traditional horror story, the deliciously creepy “Alistair” where a little boy becomes privy of the dark mysteries surrounding an old mansion and the adjacent cemetery.

- review by Mario Guslandi

2015 Ditmar Award nominations open

Nominations for the 2015 Australian SF (“Ditmar”) awards are now open and will remain open until one minute before midnight Perth time on Sunday, 1st of February, 2015 (ie. 11.59pm, GMT+8). Postal nominations must be postmarked no later than Friday, 30th of January, 2015.

The current rules, including Award categories can be found HERE.

You must include your name with any nomination. Nominations will be accepted only from natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of Swancon 40, the 2015 Australian National SF Convention. Where a nominator may not be known to the Ditmar subcommittee, the nominator should provide the name of someone known to the subcommittee who can vouch for the nominator’s eligibility. Convention attendance or membership of an SF club are among the criteria which qualify a person as “active in fandom”, but are not the only qualifying criteria. If in doubt, nominate and mention your qualifying criteria. If you received this email directly, you almost certainly qualify.

You may nominate as many times in as many Award categories as you like, although you may only nominate a particular person, work or achievement once. The Ditmar subcommittee, which is organised under the auspices the Standing Committee of the Natcon Business Meeting, will rule on situations where eligibility is unclear. A partial and unofficial eligibility list, to which everyone is encouraged to add, can be found HERE.

While online nominations are preferred, nominations can be made in a number of ways:

1. online, via this form.

2. via email to ditmars [@] sf.org.au; or

3. by post to:
Ditmars
6 Florence Road
NEDLANDS WA 6009
AUSTRALIA

Book of the Dead by Greig Beck – review by Geoff Brown

9781760082437_Book-of-the-Dead_cover1Book of the Dead

by Greig Beck

Momentum Books

(review by Geoff Brown)

Military horror. That’s what I like. Hell, that’s what I tend to publish through my own press. The term is pretty self-explanatory. Guys with guns shooting at things that shouldn’t exist. When you put it that way, it seems pretty basic, but it’s hard to pull off one of these tales without losing the reader. Things get too hard to believe, and then bam, the reader rolls their eyes and you’re lost them.

Australian writer of military horror Greig Beck manages to keep the reader engaged throughout his books, and I can tell you, that is hard considering some of the creatures that act as the villain in them. I’ve read Beck’s books since I first discovered This Green Hell, the third book in the Alex Hunter series, his most well-known works. As soon as I read that one, I raced off and found copies of the two earlier books, and then waited (somewhat impatiently) for the follow-ups. Since then, he’s written two more in that series, and a number of other books, all as exciting and thrilling as I had come to expect.

Book of the Dead is not an Alex Hunter novel. It follows a side character from that series, paleolinguist Matt Kearns, on a mission that even Hunter may not have survived. From the depths of history, word has carried through the ages of elder gods and of a time they will rise up. Many of the prophets of these events have been called mad, and to anyone listening to what they try to warn us of, they surely do seem insane. Yet… in this madness lies the seeds of a dangerous truth.

In our age, massive sinkholes begin to open across the globe, dragging anything on the surface down into the depths. When authorities investigate, they find no trace of any living thing. No bodies, no forensics… nothing. When these sinkholes start to get bigger and bigger, there are also reports of ‘things’ rising from the depths. As more and more people start to disappear, the government is forced to act. They recruit a team of specialists which includes Professor Kearns. The team explores one of the sinkholes, and find evidence to show that the ancient, elder gods are once again ready to rise from their ancient slumber. Their aim? Another catastrophic extinction event, just like the last few times they have risen. Life on Earth would cease to exist.

The team of military and civilian experts find themselves in a race against time, and against an unknown but powerful and ruthless enemy, to find the Book of the Dead before it’s too late.

Beck takes a man-made mythos, that of Cthulhu and the pantheon of elder gods he leads, and brings it blazing into the Twenty-First Century. Things that have only caused fear in legend and literature are now rising up to destroy the world. The characters are believable, the pacing is frantic, and the plotline is so incredible only a few authors could make it seem so believable. Beck is one of those authors. He has really hit his stride with Book of the Dead, and I cannot wait to see what he does with his next book.

- review by Geoff Brown

Geoff Brown AKA G.N. Braun is an Australian writer and Australian Shadows Award finalist-editor raised in Melbourne’s gritty Western Suburbs. He writes fiction across various genres, and is the author of many published short stories. He has had numerous articles published in newspapers, both regional and metropolitan. He is the past president of the Australian Horror Writers Association (2011-2013), as well as the past director of the Australian Shadows Awards. He is an editor and columnist for UK site This is Horror, and the guest editor for Midnight Echo #9.
His memoir, Hammered, was released in early 2012 by Legumeman Books and has been extensively reviewed. He is the owner of Cohesion Editing and Proofreading, and has now opened a publishing house, Cohesion Press.