I worry about… ghosts

I worry about ghosts. I know that doesn’t make me unique. A lot of people worry about ghosts.

Maybe you fear ghosts. They have, after all, been at the centre of a lot of frightening fiction over the years, insubstantial wraiths hell bent on destruction, revenge or mischief. I think being scared witless by the thought of a supernatural spirit with a single minded goal to wreck havoc on your life is a perfectly human, even rational, response to a disturbing situation.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Maybe the divulging of secrets concerns you. The potential for ghosts to gather information both during and after their lifetime is extensive. The idea that some intelligence is invisibly watching what you do is understandably worrisome. Think of your most secret shame. The thing you would never admit to, sometimes even to yourself. The ghosts know. They may tell, and in telling bring cascading waves of unbearable embarrassment down upon you.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps your concerns are more specific, like a nagging sense of concern about how they manifest clothes. If ghosts are the souls of women and men made manifest after death, then where do the clothes come from? Does clothing have a spirit? And, perhaps more disturbingly, who picks the outfits? The clothes they died in? The clothes they were buried in? Their favourite outfit from high school? Can they change clothes? And if the clothes are malleable, why not other features? Can a women who died in her 80s come back with the look she sported in her 20s? Can a baby extrapolate what they would have looked like if they’d had the chance to grow up?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps the defiance of natural laws unsettles you. Concerns about the application of physics to ghosts have been well documented. Many people cannot abide the thought of a ghost’s persistent failure to sink through the ground and fall towards the centre of the earth, even though they have no trouble walking through walls. Perhaps gravity has no pull on their insubstantial form, but why not? Perhaps they can move at a normal human pace through force of sheer will, but what substance does that will work on? And if they can’t interact with the physical world, how do they disturb air molecules to make all the moaning sounds?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

I worry about ghosts, but maybe it is more accurate to say that I worry for ghosts. I worry that if they are real, and if they can be perceived in the physical world, that rather than being exempt from the laws of nature, they might be all too susceptible to them. The Earth hurtles around the Sun. The Sun rockets around the Galaxy even faster. The Galaxy moves in the Universe at such a speed that even if we somehow pooled the collective intelligence of every brain reading this missive we would not truly comprehend it. And with all that momentum, all that sheer velocity, I worry that in the exact moment that a spirit is released from its physical form, that insubstantial phantom is immediately left behind. The Earth hurtles on, spiralling and spinning its way across the Universe. And dotted like spectral tear drops highlighting our passage sit the ghosts. Each one alone, separated by incomprehensible distances. Each one with no way to move, stuck at the exact point in space where they died. Perhaps every now and again two people die simultaneously while lying right next to each other and have the dubious comfort of an eternity with soundless company in a frozen vacuum. And maybe occasionally some of them fleetingly impact with other stellar phenomena, a brief moment of colour and movement as an object crosses the Earth’s long deserted path and then vanishes.

But the rest of them. Oh, the rest of them. Poor bastards, scattered like breadcrumbs marking our trail through the Universe, alone, scared and most likely rapidly driven completely insane.

I worry about ghosts. I worry for ghosts. No wonder the ones that work out how to grab hold and stay with us are so cranky.

What’s shakin’? – July, August and September 2018

What have you been looking at lately?


I tore through season 2 of the Marvel’s Luke Cage. I’m enjoying the various Netflix Marvel series and Luke Cage is not exception. Like in season 1, there is a level of African-American cultural references that I suspect are going way over my head, but not in such a way as to make the story incomprehensible. I’ve enjoyed the course they are charting for Luke Cage, and I think they’ve set up for an interesting third season down the line.

Likewise I worked my way through season 2 of Marvel’s Iron Fist. This is still very newly out, so I won’t give away any plot spoilers. Suffice to say I enjoyed it more than season 1, and it seemed like they engaged with a lot of the issues people raised re: cultural appropriation and gender bias (maybe not completely, but they seemed to at least be acknowledged). My perspective should be treated with suspicion though, as I’m as likely as the next person to have biases and blind spots. I’ll be very interested to see how people who have direct experience around those kinds of issues engage with the show.

Final Space is a cartoon space comedy on Netflix. Season 1 is 10 episodes, and I liked it. A little bit Futurama, but a lot more blood and guts. I may have been reading too much into it, but the straight, white guy protagonist was such a doofus that it almost seemed a commentary on sticking someone like that at the centre of a narrative. A bit stupid, but a lot of fun.

Speaking of stupid, I also watched Future Man, another sci-fi comedy. Again a lot of blood and guts, and some funny and self-aware commentary on time travel as a plot device.

The Good Place season 3 has just started – the whole household is very excited by its return.


Hidden City by Alan Baxter – an urban fantasy with strong horror elements (as you’d expect from Baxter). I enjoyed it, pace was good and Baxter develops the characters quickly and well. From Goodreads:

When the city suffers, everyone suffers.

Steven Hines listened to the city and the city spoke. Cleveport told him she was sick. With his unnatural connection to her, that meant Hines was sick too. But when his friend, Detective Abby Jones, comes to him for help investigating a series of deaths with no discernible cause, Hines can’t say no. Then strange fungal growths begin to appear in the streets, affecting anyone who gets too close, turning them into violent lunatics.

As the mayhem escalates and officials start to seal Cleveport off from the rest of the world, Hines knows the trouble has only just begun.

Cabaret of Monsters by Tansy Rayner Roberts – got this through Robert’s recent Kickstarter to resurrect her Creature Court trilogy. I enjoy Robert’s writing a lot, and this was no exception. Very much stand alone, although it I think it adds something if you’ve read the Creature Court trilogy (I’m planning a re-read when the new editions come out). From Goodreads:

Saturnalia in Aufleur is a time of topsy-turvy revels, of the world turned upside down and transformed before your eyes. The city’s theatres produce an annual display of reversals, surprises and transformations.

In this city, flappers can transform into wolves. Even the rats are not what they seem.

Evie Inglirra is on a mission to infiltrate the theatrical world of Aufleur and discover what lies beneath their glamorous cabaret costumes and backstage scandals. Has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Luna and Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald – great space opera.

I’ve been enjoying the Murderbot series by Martha Wells (not the only person on the planet that this is true of) so I decided I might try one of her fantasy books, and picked up Death of the Necromancer. Really good fantasy, set in a secondary world with a kind of 18th/19th century feel (muskets and swords, not medieval). Unfortunately, a lot of the books she has written based in this world don’t seem to be available in Australia, but I’ll keep looking.

Starting the Galactic Suburbia book club where they are reading How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ. Only up to chapter one at the moment, but I can tell it will be a very interesting experience.

I’m not reading as much as I should!


Normal superhero palaver – Ant Man and the Wasp, Deadpool 2, even went and saw Venom last night. I remain a sucker for superhero movies, even the bad ones. Ant Man and the Wasp I really enjoyed – funny, light hearted enough to be a good antidote to the slightly depressing Infinity WarsDeadpool 2 was funny, I’ve just picked it up on DVD and looking forward to watching the extended edition. Venom… wasn’t great, but watchable and I do like the anti-hero trend at the moment.

I suspect my daughter will insist on going to see the Teen Titans Movie some time these school holidays, and I’m also looking forward to the Spiderman cartoon with Miles as Spiderman.


I’ve downloaded some old games onto the iPad – Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2. I loved those games when I was younger, and I love them still! Have completed BG1 and working my way through BG2 as a Cleric/Ranger character (which I’ve never played before).

I also bought the new Tomb Raider game, but haven’t had a chance to play it yet as my 10yo daughter has decided she is going to be Laura Croft when she grows up and is devouring the game herself.


I’ve gone back to my novel manuscript, and have been slowly working my way through it editing. It is a very slow process – I don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing at the moment, and what time I have tends to be late at night when I’m not at my freshest.

What’s shakin’? – June 2018

So, what have I been up to in June, culture consumed wise?


Finally got around to finishing a couple of TV seasons that I’d left half done for some reason.

Lost In Space Season 1 – visually spectacular, good characterisation, tense. So if it was so good, why did I pause half way through and not come back to it for about 2 months? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it had to do with the Dr Smith storyline. Waiting for the other shoe to drop and people to work out what she was up to created a tension that took the edge off the show for me. However, when I got back into it it was a good run to the end, and it was an intriguing cliff hanger.

Shadowhunters Season 3 – don’t generally love the angel/devil based urban fantasy (I love urban fantasy, just not the Christian element) but I remain vaguely interested in this one. Not enough to watch religiously (pun intended), but every now and then. I could make some comments about world building, but honestly I think I like it mainly because I can switch my brain off and just watch along.

The Magicians Season 3 – now this was excellent TV. I’ve liked The Magicians all the way through, but I thought this season stepped it up a notch. It goes without saying that Margo and Elliot steal the show as always, but using a portal fantasy setup to allow for the meta-examination of the tropes of fantasy makes this show stand out for me. If you haven’t been watching, definitely go back to season 1. But put it this way – any show that uses misheard request to result in “trial by wombat” is always going to have my vote.

Also watched the end of The Flash and Supergirl (my daughter loves both). I’m less of a fan these days, I think the characters on both shows (as well as Arrow) makes questionable ethical decisions, at least from a utilitarian point of view. Still, it is a good experience sharing with my daughter.

Next month, I watching along with Gotham (bonkers!) and looking forward to watching the next season of Luke Cage.


The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re just not smart enough to understand a book? The Stars are Legion has got a lot of love from a lot of people whose opinion I respect, but I didn’t fall in love with it myself. Didn’t hate it either, my reaction was more of the “meh” variety. I appreciated aspects of the novel, what it was doing with gender etc. But it didn’t grab me me by the throat and I had to drag myself through. Just goes to show, all the novels aren’t for all the people!

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz – I know I’m a bit late to this particular parade, but I liked this novel. It had that William Gibson/Bruce Sterling kind of feel which conjured up that warm, snuggly feeling you get when you are reminded of your teenage reading habits. Some really interesting comments on the long term impact of intellectual property law taken to an extreme. Some great characters as well – I like a novel that can write from the perspective of both the protagonist and the antagonist and still make both have sympathetic elements (as well as non-sympathetic ones).

Next month I’ve got Alan Baxter’s Hidden City on my reading list, not sure what else yet. As always, happen to entertain any suggestions in the comments.


My 10yo daughter has fallen in love with Oceans 8, and has insisted on seeing it three times at the movies. So I actually got to go and see it one of those three times. Does a great job at replicating the feel of the first movie, but still being a very fresh take on the theme. Script was tight, acting great – a fantastic movie, but if my daughter’s experience is anything to go from, particularly good for any young women in your orbit.

Speaking of heist films, I also saw Solo towards the start of the month. I know it hasn’t received as much love as previous films, but I really liked it. It was good to see another aspect of the Star Wars universe, and I thought the plot was good for the style of film (fast paced). There were enough nods to the history to keep fans happy, but I think a non-fan would also get a lot from it.

Next month, it’s Ant Man and the Wasp on the radar. I’d also like to see The Incredibles 2.


The experience of having my novella (‘The Reclaimers‘) released in Dimension6 earlier in the year was fantastic. Since then, I’ve been motivated to start editing my novel draft (Unaligned) and working on a new short story that I’m excited about. Family life and work have left less time than optimal for writing (and this blog!) over the last few years, and I’m trying to reboot now.

Rewatching DS9 – Season 2

I’ve continued watching, and enjoying, Star Trek Deep Space 9 over the last few months. A few comments on season 2 follows – if you’re interested you can also go back and read about my initial decision to do a rewatch, and a few comments on season 1.

In season 2, I was really struck by the ongoing commentary on feminism. You’ll be shocked to hear that this wasn’t something I remembered from the first time I watched the show (I was a young bloke in my late teens/early 20s in the 90s – I wasn’t thinking about feminist issues anywhere near as much as I should have been). Looking back now, I can see that the show was influential in  introducing concepts that are now part of the more mainstream conversation on challenging the traditional role of women in society.  I suspect I have a lot to thank DS9 for – by introducing these concepts by “stealth” I think I’m a much better person today than I might have otherwise been.

Some of the commentary was quite explicit – for instance the treatment of Ferengi woman in the episode “Rules of Acquisition”. But the commentary lies throughout the whole season, often highlighted by conversations between the Kira and Dax characters in particular. The season as a whole very definitely passes the Beckdel test!

The individual characters were interesting as well. The Dax character, having been hosted by male and female characters over its lifetime, allowed for interesting contrast points between the genders. The Kira character was a fascinating blend of character traits – fierce and aggressive warrior who embraces her sexuality. Even the minor characters reflected this commentary, for instance the struggles of Keiko O’Brien – a professional scientist who made a career sacrifice, but was miserable doing it.

Another thing that struck me was the lack of neat endings throughout the season. Issues were left not fully resolved, or at least with a less saccharine ending. For instance, in the episode”Cardassians”, a young Cardassian boy who has been raised by Bajorans is sent back to Cardassia rather than being allowed to stay with his adoptive parents. Odo and Kira’s discussion about trust at the end of “Necessary Evil” is another example where a relationship is deepened by not giving the obvious resolution.

And while this season is still quite episodic, there was a three episode storyline! Two “To Be Continued” endings!! At the time, I was amazed. Sustaining a story over three episodes of television seemed incredibly ambitious. Now it is par for the course to see story arcs that last across whole seasons, but back then I was very impressed. It was a hint of things to come, as DS9 started to pioneer longer and longer story arcs in later seasons.

The introduction of the mirror universe in “Crossover” was a lot of fun. The over-the-top acting, the bat-shit crazy Intendant, humanity as second class citizens and slaves – its a wacky rollercoaster ride.

A fantastic season of a fantastic show! What memories do you have? Any other DS9 fans out there?

Rewatching DS9 – Season 1

We all have our favourite Star Trek series, and for me that series was Deep Space 9. I noticed a few months back that all the Star Trek series were available on Netflix. Of course, I have them on DVD, but DVD is so last decade. My laziness has hit a new 21st century high when I feel like the act of changing discs and the effort involved in remembering which disc you are up to has apparently become too much for me.

Oh please. You’ve hit that level of peak laziness too.

There is a lot of good TV around at the moment, and I’m relatively time poor, so seeing them on Netflix wasn’t enough to trigger any kind of rewatch. I’d tried to watch Star Trek the Next Generation again, to introduce my 9 year old daughter to the Star Trek universe. I didn’t last more than an episode or two. It has not dated well.

So I’d given up on old Star Trek rewatches, but then I was listening to a podcast (Galactic Suburbia), and one of the hosts (Alisa if I remember correctly) started talking about rewatching DS9 and I got all nostalgic. It was crunchy! It was a bit darker!! It had great story arcs!!!

Back in the day, I remember being a bit sceptical about the premise – how good could a space station be? Nowhere near as cool as a space ship. They’d be stuck in one place. There would be no spectacular space battles. Hell, the guy in charge wasn’t even a captain.

In my memory, the first couple of seasons were a bit episodic, then as the “ongoing” story took over I liked it more and more. So, I approached it assuming I’d have to grit my teeth and “get through” season 1 (especially remembering my STTNG experience). My daughter had a medium interest level (at best). I finally convinced her to sit down with me and watch the first episode.

It was excellent.

I mean, really excellent. Even though the actors were clearly still going through the “getting to know you” stage of a new series, the episode was fantastic. The story line was interesting. I loved it!

My daughter was less impressed. She wandered off at one point, complaining she didn’t really understand what was going on. Explaining wormhole aliens that don’t have a sense of linear time was a bit challenging for a 9 year old. I waved her away, slightly impatiently.

Over the next couple of weeks I kept watching, and the quality of each individual episode was excellent. Significantly better than I remember. The characters were introduced intelligently and developed over the course of the season with an admirable efficiency. Relationships were created and used to good effect. The world building was tight and to the point. The acting was, for the most part, excellent. Some haminess, but in the best possible way.

Commenting on all the episodes would be tedious for you, but a couple of highlights:

  • In “Emissary” (the pilot episode), as well as everything above I loved the idea of a run down station, with everything broken. Perhaps its the engineer in me, but the lack of clean lines, the general grubbiness of the world really appealed to me.
  • “Captive Pursuit”, where O’Brien befriends an alien from the Gamma Quadrant who is being hunted, really endeared O’Brien to me. I loved his willingness to put everything on the line, and watching him mastermind a gaol-break was fantastic. I love it when engineers go rogue!
  • The episode “Dax” where Jadzia is accused of murder and refuses to defend herself, I found quite moving. She was quiet, she was determined and she was willing to defend the secrets of her previous host to the end. That episode really stuck with me.
  • “In the Hands of the Prophets” (the season finale) introduces then Vedek Winn – one of my favourite baddies in the whole Star Trek universe. She is just so loathsomely evil. Also in this episode was the first time in Star Trek that I noticed them introduce a minor character for a few episodes beforehand, so that when she suddenly played a major role it wasn’t as jarring as it could have been. This “seeding” was the fore-runner of the longer story arcs that came to characterise the show.

Somewhere in the middle of the season, my daughter wandered back in and started paying attention again. She likes Quark. A lot. I’m now not allowed to watch DS9 without her, although she is often doing other things while it is on. That’s OK. I think she’s slowly getting hooked.

Just in time for Star Trek Discovery.

Finishing Discworld

I’ve been a big fan of Terry Pratchett’s work for more years than I care to remember. I still remember coming across The Colour of Magic when I was at high school. It was a revelation – screwball comedy in fantasy done in a way I’d never encountered before. I laughed harder than I felt that a nerd with a taste for the fantastica had any right to. At that point only a few of Pratchett’s Discworld novels had come out, but I was hooked.

Ever since that first encounter, I have hung out for every new release, and each book has taken me back to that feeling I had in high school. When I heard about Pratchett’s alzheimers diagnosis I was sad. To be honest, sadder than I really had a right to be given I never met the man. And his death in 2015 struck me as it did his many, many fans around the world.

I read most of everything that Pratchett wrote, including the excellent Good Omens and more recently his co-authored Long Earth series. But there was one section of his bibliography that I had never ventured into, and that was his young adult novels (both in and out of the Discworld setting).

I’m not 100% sure why. By the time I became aware of them, I’d left the “young” part of young adult far behind. As I’ve got older, I’ve found less and less to empathise with in young adult books generally. These days, when I hear that a book is young adult it tends to drop down my “to be read” pile (so many books to read, it doesn’t take much to have one drop away). But still, this is Terry Pratchett. One of my favourite authors. And in the case of the Tiffany Aching series, they were even set one of my favourite worlds, the Discworld. Yet I put it off and put it off.

Recently, my 8 year old daughter was looking for something to read and I thought of the Tiffany Aching books. I didn’t know much about them, just that they were set in Discworld, involved witches and were for younger readers. So I bought the books on Kindle, and told my daughter I’d read the first one at the same time she did.

Now as it turns out, even the first book is a bit advanced for your average 8 year old and my daughter put it aside after a couple of chapters. I’m sure she’ll come back to them some day. But me, I kept reading. And reading. And reading. And soon I’d read all five books.

This isn’t a review of the series. They are good. If you like Pratchett, they are very good. And I will gentle nudge my daughter back towards them when she is a bit older, because there are some excellent themes for young women. If my daughter grows up wanting to emulate Tiffany Aching, well let’s just say there are much worse role models out there.

But reading them made me a bit sad, because reading them marked the end of a chapter of my reading life. There are no more Discworld novels to look forward to. I will never again feel the anticipation of an impending new release, never more have the satisfaction of settling in to read the opening chapters, never finish reading and feel the sting of having to wait so long until the next release. There are no more new words to be consumed.

Yes, I’ll reread at some point and yes it will be marvellous. But it will never again be new. And that makes me sad.

And so, I’ve written this post in an utterly self indulgent desire to share that sadness, and perhaps through writing come a little more to terms with it. No artist lives forever. But with Pratchett, I wish we’d had a little longer.

The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett (with links to each book’s Wikipedia page) includes:

The Peppa Pig dilemma

Let me ask you two questions:

1. Are you a parent with children that were young in the last decade?

2. Are you a science fiction fan?

If you answered yes to both questions (1), then I guarantee you that there is something that has been gnawing at your subconscious, tearing away at your concept of reality. Have you been cranky with a co-worker lately? Finding some of the habits of your better half or close friends irritating? Catching yourself snarling back at the local cat who everyone says is an institution, providing the neighbourhood with a delightful dash of much needed character, but whom you suspect is actually an entity of pure evil hell bent on world destruction?

If all this sounds familiar then you, like me, have been snared by the Peppa Pig syndrome (2).

If you’ve hung around sci-fi for a while, you’d be familiar with the trope of “uplifting” animals to sapient status (3). Clearly people that write children’s television are, because it seems like every second kids TV show has talking animals in it. Given we don’t have talking animals now, and given these shows don’t feature any people, I can only assume that they are set in some far-future world where the human race has died out.

But here is the first of my gripes – these shows seldom put any effort into basic world building. How did the human race die out? Some kind of catastrophe? External, or generated ourselves? What mechanism was used by animals to gain sentience? Did humanity perform the uplift? The operation of evolution over millions of years? Some freak combination of mutating viruses and the alignment of planets?

And then there is the question of how these animals built the society they are living in. Most of the represented species lack opposable thumbs, making it hard to see how they developed the toolset to create the worlds they live in. Further, their civil structures invariably seem to be modelled on human-equivalent societies, which implies that they’ve got access to records of the human civilisation that came before them. Have they maintained some semblance of our society out of a sense of misguided loyalty to their creators? Or did they find a cache of television programs from our time which they used as a template for creating their own community? Perhaps they turned in desperation to the human example when recovering from some kind of inter-species war that threatened to annihilate them all (4). Even to the extent of primarily speaking English as the linga-fraca of these new worlds (presumably everyone speaks their own language – Lionish, Gazellish etc but learns English from an early age to allow inter-species communication).

And who decided which animals were uplifted? There seem to be some pretty arbitrary decisions made in that arena, with breathtakingly dubious ethics. What makes pigs inherently more sentience-worthy than spiders? What’s with the subjugation of goldfish? These selections, they haunt me. Are the non-uplifted animals some kind of under-class? Was it our decisions about who got uplifted that caused their persecution? And worst of all, was “cuteness” our primary selection criterion? Oh, humanity. We have so much to answer for.

Modern science tells us that intelligence is a thin veil holding back a seething mass of primeval emotions and instincts. These impulses threaten to tear groups of humans apart, even as our higher consciousness attempts to pull us together. And that’s when we have a fundamentally compatible sub-conscious infrastructure. Imagine a world where even the base instincts of the sapient beings were in stark opposition. Predator vs prey, mammal vs reptile, ground vs air. And this points to a darker issue. Did we do more than provide intelligence? Did we alter these creatures more fundamentally, to bring their sub-conscious drives into alignment? Is the crocodile no longer a predator? The possum-rat no longer prey? Has peace been bought at the price of individuality and diversity?

And were those changes also made at a biological level? At times I find myself consumed by concerns of food security in this animal utopia. Some of the uplifted creatures are carnivores, whose systems would not be able to tolerate a plant-based diet. Either there is a very disturbing underbelly of activity, where carnivorous creatures continue to eat their historical prey even when those animals are themselves sapient, or basic biology has been changed to tolerate either non-sapient creatures or non-animal food. Perhaps these societies have invented meat-substitutes, but that would require a level of technology beyond our own.

Can I answer all these questions? Clearly not. But next time you sit down with your little munchkins and you hear the opening strains of their favourite theme songs, try to hold onto your lunch as your stomach heaves in response to your reflections of what we are responsible for.

The behaviour that you watch as quality children’s entertainment is the behaviour you accept. At least have the common decency to be sickened by what you have done.


(1) If you answered yes to question 1, but not question 2, then I suspect you’ve landed on the wrong blog. If you answered yes to question 2 but not question 1, then you’re probably on the right blog but this may not be the article for you. Or who knows, it could be exactly the article for you. I mean, I don’t know you. Categorising what you may or may not like based on two questions is a bit rich. You have every right to be offended. Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the post expressing your righteous indignation.

If you answered no to both questions, then get you’re probably my mum (the only older, non-SF person likely to be looking at this blog). Hi Mum!

(2) Or at least some of it. Look, if I had to guess I’d say that if approximately 30% of it or more sounds familiar then you’ve probably been snared.

(3) Like being sapient is all that. When is the last time you saw a budgerigar that was worried about credit card debt? Or a porpoise that had alienated its friendship circles by a misjudged social media post? I could go on, but this article isn’t designed to question the whole “sapient = good” premise of uplift.

But someone should.

(4) In which case more fool them. Have you looked at human society lately? Not example a good model to base yourself on. Still, perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe they take the good bits, and modify the rest.

Happy holidays

Hi all,

Whether you’re celebrating a significant event in the existence of your particular brand of all-powerful-sky-dwelling-wish-granter or worshiping at the slightly more secular prawns-and-presents-with-family-and-friends alter, or even participating in the insidious scheme codenamed “Get Them Hooked On Presents and a Jolly Bowl Full Of Jelly Facade Before Taking Over The World” (I’m looking at you Elf 9683), I hope you all have a relaxing and safe holiday break.

Unless of course you have to work to keep all the people having a relaxing and safe holiday break relaxed and safe. In which case, let me offer you a mixture of condolences and thanks.

Monthly roundup culture consumed – November 2016

Hope everyone has had a great November, and you’re not freaking out about how close Christmas is all of a sudden.


As foreshadowed last month I finished Revenger by Alistair Reynolds during November. This is an excellent book. Set in the far, far future, the matter in the solar system has been reconfigured to be a lot of small planetoids, using tame black holes and other sciencey things to maintain things like gravity at Earth levels. There have been a series of civilisations that have risen and fallen in this environment, and as a result the planetoids are littered with the junk of many civilisations, some of it much more advanced than the current civilisation. Treasure hunting spaceships travel between worlds, and the whole thing has an 18th century naval adventure feel to it. I won’t give away much of the plot – you should go and read this book.

I started another couple of books – a new anthology edited by Jim Butcher called Shadowed Souls and the second book in Ken Liu’s Dandelion Dynasty series, The Wall of Storms. Not far enough through either to have much to say as yet, although I can say that I really enjoyed Liu’s last book, and this one seems to be continuing on in a very satisfying way.


I’ve been watching The Expanse on Netflix. The special effects on this series are amazing, and while it is a while since I read the book, the plot seems to follow pretty faithfully. Still got a couple of episodes to go, but a great show so far.

A couple of years back I watched the first two episodes of the sci-fi series Orphan Black, and while I enjoyed them I never got around to watching any more of it. I watched the first couple of episodes again in November, and again enjoyed them but I’m not finding myself drawn back to them. I’m going to try to power through at least a few more episodes – I’ve heard so many good reviews of this series and I feel like I’ve missed an essential part of the shared community experience.

The new Australian animated series Pacific Heat has started. At the time of writing, I’ve only watched the first episode. Very much like the American series Archer – same style of animation, very similar premise. I suspect the series will take a few episodes to find its feet – the humour was a bit hit and miss. The voice actors are a lot of the crew from the D-Generation (an Australian phenomenon) so there is a nostalgia angle here as well. If you’ve watched Archer and liked it, give this a go.


Didn’t go to the movies at all in December, but I did finally get around to watching The Martian. I found it surprisingly enjoyable. In some ways it is very old fashioned sci-fi, where the main enemy is a cold, uncaring universe and the problems can be solved by science and engineering. But Matt Damon played the main character with just enough wry humour to make him sympathetic and as a result the movie kept me very much hooked in.


One of the podcasts I really like, Tea and Jeopardy, is starting its annual “Advent Calendar” style run – with very short episodes being published every day in the lead up to Christmas. An excellent podcast – usual format is a speculative fiction author interview with a small “radio play” around it.

Another favourite podcast, Sheep Might Fly, has just started a new audio story –  “Dance, Princes, Dance” by Australian author Tansy Rayner Roberts.

So, what have you been up to?

In which I am offline for a couple of weeks

Hi all.

A very boring post this time around, just to say that I’ll be offline for a couple of weeks. Small family holiday (huzzah!) will mean that I’m not accessing computers enough to compose sensible length blog posts.

Hey, sometimes you have to put down the keyboard and pick up a Moscow Mule.

Next scheduled post will be Sunday 13th November!

Be good.