Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review of Matt Browne's "The Future Happens Twice"

Hi all,

The Future Happens Twice is one of the better science-fiction novels I have read. Its originality and Matt’s uncomplicated writing style made it a delight to read. Matt’s extensive research for the novel also shines through as I never found myself thinking an element within the novel was implausible.

It is a hard science-fiction novel. By hard I don’t mean it’s hard to read, far from it. Matt Browne writes in a simple style that doesn’t intrude on the story. His style is reminiscent of the uncomplicated writing of Dean Koontz, Margaret Atwood and Peter Carey. You won’t be re-reading jargon laden and unnecessarily complicated sentences in The Future Happens Twice.

By hard science-fiction I mean that Matt Browne has created a universe true to today’s science and what scientists think will be possible in the future. Some of the hard science-fiction elements in the novel include: cloning, nanotechnology matter-compilers, artificial wombs, believable androids, realistic alien life-forms, and intergenerational space travel.

The best thing about the novel is its originality. I’ve read and watched a lot of science-fiction and I never found myself thinking that Matt’s novel sounded familiar. It is part-thriller and very much an adventure story as Matt explores one possible future for humanity.

It is a story where a group of scientists set out to ensure that the human race survives an end-of-civilisation event. To help ensure our future, scientists conduct a series of ethically questionable experiments on the unsuspecting crew of a spaceship and their relatives on earth. Some of their test subjects become aware of the experiment, jeopardising its continuation and human kind’s future.

His characters are full of human desires and flaws. There are no one-dimensional, chiselled-from-stone characters in this novel.

I would recommend the Future Happens Twice to anyone who likes to read plausible, simple to read, exciting, adventure/thriller novels set in the not too distant future.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Sophie Mirabella's boycott of the apology.

Hi all,

If you didn't know, Sophie Mirabella was one of three or four opposition members to boycott Kevin Rudd's apology for past government policies to the Stolen Generation. Unfortunately Sophie is my local member. The local regional newspaper, The Border Mail, calls her the "darling of the far-right". I would tend to agree.

There has been a strong response against her boycott from the electorate of Indi. 150 people took out a newspaper ad in the Border Mail, and about 40 letters, 34 or so against her stance, appeared in last Saturday's edition of that paper. On regional ABC radio phone calls and read out texts went about 50/50, but that was probably the ABC trying to show a lack of bias. Last Thursday 400 people attended a rally in Wangaratta to show that they were against her boycott and supported the apology.

Sophie evaded a question on radio about whether she thought that Aboriginal children had been stolen by stating that none had been taken in Victoria according to one report she had read. She said the issue of the Stolen Generation was divisive, she certainly proved that. In a speech against the apology she often quoted Noel Pearson.

Sophie did not inform the electorate that she would boycott the apology before she did so.

Below is a letter I have just put in the mail.

Sophie Mirabella,
117 Murphy Street
Wangaratta Vic 3677

Dear Sophie,

We are writing this letter to express our disgust at your boycott of the Australian Government’s apology for past policies that lead to the Stolen Generation.

Some have called your decision to boycott racist, which is, as yet, unproven. We believe your boycott resulted from ignorance. We believe you limited your research on the complex issue of the Stolen Generation to those opinions supporting yours, as over the past few years the Age and the ABC have had hundreds of stories from Aborigines who were stolen from their parents.

You consistently try to argue that all the Aboriginal children were taken for their own good and that none were stolen from their parents in Victoria, but we have read and heard hundreds of stories from the Stolen Generation and know your claim is either maliciously or ignorantly wrong.

Your attempt to whip up fear that the apology will cause huge compensation payments has failed to scare us. Compensation funds have already been setup in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia. In South Australia a member of the Stolen Generation recently had interest added to their successful court claim. In our opinion, the Stolen Generation and their families should be compensated for their pain and suffering, just as illegally deported Vivian Alverez-Solon was.

In the end, your opinion only matters in that it stains the voters of Indi with your ignorance. What really matters is the reaction of the Aboriginal people, which on the whole seems to be a mixture of happiness and relief. Note: Noel Pearson does not have a monopoly on Aboriginal opinion. Perhaps you could talk to local Wally Cooper.

Graham Clements Neil Clements Doris Clements.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The future of the book (part two).

Hi all,

In a previous post (January 6th) about the future of the book, I mentioned a few articles I had read that suggested novel writers might have a greater chance of fighting off the distractions of computer games and movies if they wrote stories that did the one thing that movies and games can't do as effectively: explore the inner working of their character's mind. There seemed some logic to doing this: why read an action adventure story if you can play an action adventure game or watch an action adventure television program.

In Japan a new phenomenon suggests that novelists might be more successful if they don't explore the inner workings of their character's minds at all. Novels written and read on mobile phones have become all the rage. Five of the top ten selling novels in Japan last year first made their appearance as mobile phone serials. These mainly romance novels use pauses to indicate that a character is thinking. What they are thinking is obviously up to the reader's imagination.

I may also have been wasting my time reading many science-fiction, fantasy and literature short stories and novels as the writers and readers of these Japanese text novels have little or no knowledge of what novels and stories have gone before. But, I will continue to read my favourite authors and award winning novels and short-stories. If I am wasting my time it will have been enjoyable waste of time.

I did like a remark by Ethan Hawke's character in a film that distracted me the other night. In Fast Food Nation he said something like: people who follow their passion, even those who are not the successes they set out to be, die happier then those who quit their passion or have no passion.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

what's happening

Hi all,

I enjoyed my first day back at work, partly due to my nemesis not being there, but more due to a new teacher-librarian who is there two days a week - she seems open to suggestions. There also wasn't the mad rush to return books before the end-of-year overdue letters were given to students.

I got the quickest turn around for an application and then interview on Monday. I applied for a long shot - I thought anyway - with an email and got a phone call for an interview thirty minutes later. I had the interview today and did okay, I think.

I've written some of my novel every day this year. Habits become habit forming, I hope. I am still not up to my ideal modest word count per day, but it is on the increase.

I've been fooling around with technocrati, a search engine for blogs. At the moment I have three blogs, one at myspace, one at livejournal and one at blogspot. I will probably eventually ditch blogspot and then carry on with one of the others, depending on which one is getting the most hits. They all have the same posts, from whatever day they were started. I still haven't registered my blog with google, which I might try and do right now.