Monday, 27 December 2010

2010 Aeon Award Final Round Shortlist

From the Albedo One website:

The judges are ready to announce the additions to the shortlist of the International Aeon Award 2001 Short Fiction Contest after the end of the final round of consideration, which ran from October 1 to November 30, 2010. Thank you to all who entered and supported this writing competition. Congratulations to the shortlisted authors (the additions are highlighted in italics in the list below) and sincere commiserations to those whose stories were not shortlisted this time. The judges will now embark on the process of re-reading all the shortlisted stores and deciding on the top six stories. These will then be sent to our esteemed Grand Judges, Ian Watson, Anne McCaffrey, Mike Resnick and Sam Millar for the final decision on the top three winning stories that will earn their authors €1000, €200 or €100, alongside publication in Albedo One, Ireland's science fiction, fantasy and horror magazine.

  • Blue
  • Passage of Time
  • Mandurang Jacket
  • The Monster of Venice
  • Room of Empty Frames
  • From Such Tiny Acorns Do Mighty Squirrels Grow
    Cinnamon Planet
  • I Hate You Perso
  • Aethra
  • The Martian Sky
  • Poacher
  • Starchaser
  • Waiting for the Rain
  • The Machine
  • A Digital Agony
  • Mirror Image
  • The More Things Change
  • Carnival
  • Pinocchio
  • Sensitive
  • Autopsy
  • Milford Sound
  • Damn Nation

Don't forget, the International Aeon Award 2011 Short Fiction Contest will open to entries from January 1 2011.

James Phelan's Lachlan Fox Series and other 2010 Highlights

I'd have to say my biggest surprise and best read for 2010 was James Phelan's Blood Oil, which I listened to on audio tape from my relocation drive from Adelaide to Sydney earlier this year. I've long been a fan of political thrillers but not many come up to the mark. However, Blood Oil was fantastic, with an indepth commentry on the current issues in Africa and the petrochemical industry, yet written in a simple and elegant style with lots of action and suspense, that literally kept me wanting to read more.

For Christmas my wife bought me another book in the series, Patriot Act, which is just as fun to read. All Phelan's thrillers are connected through the adventures of the main protagonist, Lachlan Fox, an ex-Australian Navy officer turned syndicate journalist. I plan to read more, and feel that they would make a great movie series.
This year I also read Clive Cussler for the first time on a recommendation of a friend, Inca Gold, and really enjoyed that too. I should read more thrillers, if for no other reason than that the writing style is always fluid, suspenseful and draws the reader in. Science fiction writers in comparison often have a boring style. I guess that's one reason why I really like Alastair Reynolds, because his style is very much like that of a thriller writer. It's a style I keep hoping to achieve, and if recent reviews on SF Crowsnest, perhaps I'm achieving that goal.

The Time Traveller's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger was also brilliant, and she too shows what can be achieved in a simple but elegant style of writing.

Favorite movies that I saw this year are Inception followed closely by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Favorite magazine remains Cosmos and favorite television series is Spooks, with the very excellent Series 8 recently airing in Australia.

"The Masked Messenger" A New Harrison Peel tale

I caught up with fellow speculative fiction writer and editor David Kernot on a recent trip to Adelaide for the Christmas holidays. We talked many things including issue 6 of Midnight Echo, the science fiction special we are editing for the Australian Horror Writers Association, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine where David is a co-op member and editor, and writing in general. David and I have been friends for some time and he is a very talented author, whom I'm certain we'll see more of his work out there in the future. David and I are working on two collaborations.

David's wife, Olivia Kernot, is a very talented photographer and offered to take some author photographs of myself, which I was very excited to see, especially compared to my ameuter self-portraits I've been using of late. More news (and images) when they are complete.

The great news David Kernot had for me was that my collaboration with John Goodrich, "The Masked Messenger" has been accepted for issue 52 of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine due out in Aug 2011. A very nice way to end the year, with a sale. "The Masked Messenger" is a new Harrison Peel tale set in Morocco and Algeria, part of an ongoing series. That's four Harrison Peel tales potential out next year.

Other exciting Harrison Peel news, publisher and editor of Perilous Press informs me that my Harrison Peel novella, The Eye Of Infinity, has been upgraded from a chapbook and will be out in trade paperback next month.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Elements of the Apocalypse

Just noticed the release of Elements of the Apocalypse from Permuted Press, with four novellas for some very respectable authors, three of whom I have had the pleasure to work with on previous publications. John Sunseri is my co-author on The Spiraling Worm, Ryan C. Thomas accepted a story from me for Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror, and D.L. Snell and I are working together (amongst some other authors) on a new book I'm preparing. Needless to say all these guys are at the top of their game and produce some great stories, so I'd recommend checking this one out:

Elements of the Apocalypse

Four tales drawn from the classic Greek elements show the end of the world in ways you’ve never imagined!

EARTH: Chaos erupts when Mother Earth begins to purge the sickness that is mankind.

AIR: In a hopeless future, humanity has moved underground to escape the poisonous air that fills the atmosphere.

WATER: Humanity is plunged into desperation when all the water in the world suddenly evaporates.

FIRE: Ashes fill the sky as cases of spontaneous human combustion erupt on a world-wide scale.
  • Remains - D.L. Snell
  • Silence in Heave - John Sunseri
  • Phrenetic - R. Thomas Riley
  • With a Face of Golden Pleasure - Ryan C. Thomas

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Okay, exciting news today, the first pictures of the new Tintin movie, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn are out. I couldn't believe how good they are, and how true they are to the original comics.

It's been directed and produced by two of my favorite directors, Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) and Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones movies). This has to be the must see movie for me in 2011. It also features Daniel Craig as Red Rackham and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. And Stephen Moffat (Coupling, Doctor Who) is one of the writers.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Two Reviews of "The Uncertainty Bridge"

Two reviews of "The Uncertainty Bridge", which appeared in Jupiter #30, have just appeared on the Intranet. The first by Sam Tomaino appeared in SFRevu:

The fiction concludes with "The Uncertainty Bridge" by David Conyers. Humanity has almost entirely wiped it self out with plagues and environmental disaster. Geoff lives on a farm with his parents and sister, Jo. His parents have fallen asleep and cannot be wakened. His sister is exhibiting the same symptoms but before sleeping babbles odd bits of information. He rides into town and finds everyone there dead. When he encounters soldiers, he finds out the true horror of his situation. This one left a real chill.

The second appeared on SFCrowsnest, by Rod MacDonald:

The final story and the longest of the quartet was ‘The Uncertainty Bridge’ by David Conyers. This well-known author from Sydney, Australia, is no stranger to the pages of ‘Jupiter’ and many other magazines out there. I've always been impressed by the readability and delivery of his fiction and, with this story, he maintains his standards impeccably...

A really great story and one you should definitely read. The other stories were very good but I've got to say that this one was the best. While I should not get into the habit of selecting the best, agreeing that all fiction has its merits in different areas, I think this story by David Conyers would be the best in any magazine at the moment.

I like the bit about 'readability, I've always strived to do that with my fiction, so it's nice to see that I'm succeeding. The last line is very nice too!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The 2010 Scorecard

The end of the year approaches and it is time again to reflect on my writing achievements for the last year. I've been doing the same for three years, mostly as a self assessment of how I'm tracking publishing-wise. This year (2010) I can't say I've done much better than the last two years, with on average five short stories being published each year since I started down this track (with serious fiction publications commencing around 2005).

This year my new short stories are:
  • "Emergency Rebuild" in Andromeda Spaceways #43 (Australia)
  • "Sister of the Sands" in Cthulhu's Dark Cults (Chaosium Inc, USA) (an anthology which I incidentally edited)
  • "Dream Machine" in Scenes from the Second Storey (Morrigan Books, Sweden)
  • "Sweet as Decay" with David Witteveen in Macabre: A Journey Through Australia's Fear (Brimstone Press, Australia)
  • "The Uncertainty Bridge" in Jupiter #24 (UK).

I'd say "Dream Machine" is my best piece this year, but I am also particularly proud of Cthulhu's Dark Cults, which has received some very nice reviews, and an accomplishment considering the whole thing was on hold from early 2008. I had some reprints this year including:

  • "Black Water" appearing on the Albedo One Fiction Highlights website, which was also nominated for a Ditmar Award this year, and remains one of my favourites of my own work
  • "The Swelling" appearing in Innsmouth Free Press #3.

I did six reviews for Albedo One issues #38 and #39, more online reviews for the same magazine, was interviewed by Innsmouth Free Press and by Jeff W. Edwards for Shroud Magazine.

For 2011 (or later, depending on how long these things take) I have the following coming out:

  • The Eye of Infinity chapbook published by Perilous Press and edited by Cody Goodfellow, which incidentally is a new Harrison Peel adventure
  • "The Hag of Zais" Lovecraftian fable appearing in Ancient Shadows (Elder Signs Press)
  • "The R'lyeh Singularity" co-written with Brian M. Sammons appearing in Cthulhu Unbound 3 which is also another Harrison Peel tale
  • Another Harrison Peel tale with a publisher I cannot yet disclose
  • "Subtle Invasion" appearing in Best New Tales of the Apocalypse (Permuted Press) (incidentally this is one of my most successful short stories, appearing now in two best of anthologies, being shortlisted for an Australian Shadows Award, and being read on The Writing Show)
  • Midnight Echo 6, edited with Jason Fischer and David Kernot, featuring science fiction horror stories
  • Cthulhu Unbound 3, edited with Brian M. Sammons featuring four Cthulhu Mythos novellas
  • Cthulhu Afrikus, a chapbook from Rainfall Books featuring reprints of "The Faceless Watchers", "As Above, So Below" and "Screaming Crawler"
  • On going reviews for Albedo One.

I had intended to start my space opera novel this year, but frankly that didn't happen, primarly because I just didn't get the head space with changing jobs and states (South Australia to New South Wales), and because I still believe my short fiction needs to kick up a notch before I am ready to tackel a 150,000 word manuscript. So 2011 will be focused on editing Cthulhu Unbound 3, Midnight Echo 6 and getting some science fiction short stories and novellas together, and finishing off the Harrison Peel series with at least one more novella, because I have a very keen publisher interested in the series that began with The Spiraling Worm (Chaoiusm, 2007).

Of course, there are always other projects going on in the background, but I don't like to talk about them in an open forum until something is definite. However, any news I always post here first.

I'd particularly like to thank the following people in the industry for their help this year, including Frank Ludlow, John Kenny and the rest of the team at Albedo One, David Kernot, Cody Goodfellow, Brian M. Sammons, Jacob Kerr, D.L. Snell, Tim Curran, Glyn White, Brian Courtmanche, Shane Jiraya Cummings, Amanda Pillar, Angela Challis, Pete Kempshall, Jason Fischer and everyone at the Australian Horror Writers Association, although this is in no way a complete list of those individuals whose support I have been grateful for this year.

One can only hope, and strive, for the next year to be even better than the last.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Expanded Possibilities for Life as we know it

Read an interesting article about the possibilities of life here and here, a new branch of microscopic life that uses arsenic instead of phosphorus as an essential element of its molecular structure, expanding the possiblies of where and how life may evolve. "We know that some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we've found is a microbe doing something new - building parts of itself out of arsenic."

It's not 'shadow life' in the sense that it is still life that uses DNA and RNA, and not something completely different, but certainly encouraging nonetheless about what life will be found out there in the cosmos. I still wonder if we'll discover microbal life elsewhere in the Solar System in my life time. I hope so, I'd like to be around to see what happens when we do.