Asian-Pacific Cyberpunk chat

I don’t write much cyberpunk myself (apart from dipping my toe in with the flash fiction story Another Arm for Gemini a couple of years ago [1]). Which is strange, because it’s a genre I’m very fond of reading, having imprinted on novel William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash at a comparatively early age.

I also love listening to interesting people talking about cyberpunk’s themes, motifs and narrative goals. Should you happen to feel the same way, or if you desperately miss being able to sit in on convention panel discussions because nobody gets to do that these days, then I have some great news for you.

As part of Australia’s bid to host the 2025 Worldcon, and via Melbourne’s Continuum convention, author and YouTube host Kat Clay has put together a powerhouse panel of cyberpunk authors and designers for a discussion on how the genre is developing beyond its origins in 80’s American economic xenophobia to new and diverging Australian and south-east Asian perspectives.

At just over an hour, it’s an insightful and fun discussion (although not without the usual Zoom-based technical difficulties), and well worth your time and the reading list you’ll walk away with. Australian spec fic fans are likely to have come across at least some of the locals – Corey J White, Amanda Bridgeman, and TR Napper – and if you don’t, then I recommend you check their work out.

Of greater interest to me were the panel members I’d never come across before –  Jamila R. Nedjadi (from the Philippines) and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (Sri Lanka). Both bring smart and insightful perspectives on cyberpunk’s intersections with culture, tabletop roleplaying and public policy (topics close to my nerd heart).

Worth your time to sit back and get your discussion panel fix. Neural enhancement guaranteed.

[1] Go on, give it a read – you’ll be one of the very few who ever did 🙂

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We all know that you can’t be considered a real writer unless you have a cute pet, and a willingness to share pictures of said cute pet on social media. All right then. Never let it be said I’m above pandering to an audience. This is Burger.

Dog. Fluffy white border collie - poodle cross

Or at least, this is what he looked like when we got him in October 2020. He’s bigger and fluffier now.

For anyone who needs to know, he’s a bordoodle. No, I hadn’t heard of them either. He’s a border collie – poodle cross, although in his case there’s also some maltese terrier in the mix.

Burger is fluffy and energetic, and has very – very – hard teeth. He’s curious, cheerful, and thrilled to meet new people and new dogs. He’s also an absolute ratbag: digging holes, stealing socks, chewing furniture, and barking at invisible visitors when we don’t pay him sufficient attention.

We’re getting pretty desperate to get him into a behaviour training class before he finds out he can chew through electric cables.

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Writing is hard and so is typing

Here’s what I meant to do: I meant to celebrate the end of my intense Aurealis reading period, which amounted to somewhere around 50 anthologies and collections in about 11 weeks, with a triumphant return to writing, blogging and sending out newsletters.

Then I had a few weeks of being a bit sick and chasing down medical stuff, but I figured – “Well, a little longer won’t matter too much, so I’ll just give myself a break and get back to it in the last couple of weeks of February. In the meantime I can do some tinkering with a story and practise playing my bass guitar. You know, those things I like to do for relaxation and a quiet sense of accomplishment.”

Then my puppy accidentally (!) took a giant chunk out of the tip of my middle right finger, which just happens to be one of the main ones I use for both typing and plucking bass strings. My typing technique is self-taught and sits at the precise balance-point between touch typing and classic hunt-and-peck. My bass technique is similarly haphazard and undoubtedly offensive to trained instrumentalists)

To briefly sidestep into the mildly grotesque surgical details: a few stitches, no bone or significant nail damage, tendons are fine but jury is still out on possible nerve twinges. The meat will probably take a few more weeks to properly seal over, and I’ll end up with a scar to match the one on my index finger that I have no recollection whatsoever of injuring. I daresay I’ll be able to play bass again, but maybe not for a while.

So I’ve had a more-than-usually dramatic couple of weeks to neatly tie a bow around the 2020 hangover months of January and February. I’m hopeful that will be the end of the near-constant string of distractions, and I can ease back into writing. This has been some good practise – it’s the longest string of uninterrupted typing I’ve done for weeks, and I can hardly feel a tingle in my bandaged finger at all.

Let’s see how it feels once I start using it to type fiction…

(Oh yeah – I have a dog now. More on this important development soon.)

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It’s Aurealis season!

It’s time once again to get your entries in for Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards. The Aurealis Awards celebrate the year’s best in Australian (and Australian-adjacent) science fiction, fantasy and horror writing.


And this year – I’m a judge! I’ve volunteered to be on the judging panel for the Anthologies/Collections category, which means I’ll be frantically ploughing through dozens of volumes of collected works before the end of the year. Whether it’s single-author collections or short story anthologies based around some unifying theme (which could be as broad as “in the science fiction genre” or as specific as “stories about dogs fighting ghosts”[1]), if it was published in Australia or by an Australian in 2020, I may well be reading it. (Check out the Aurealis rules for more information on eligibility and how to submit entries).

Best of luck to everyone in the running for this year’s awards!

[1] Needless to say, if anyone has published an anthology about dogs fighting ghosts, I am ethically obliged to disclose my extreme disposition to showering it with All The Awards. Luckily there are several other people on the panel, all of them likely more sensible than me.
(Image source: Image source:


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Words in Oz: The 2020 Australian SF Snapshot

The Australian SF Snapshot is a biennial project to take the pulse of the Australian and New Zealand speculative fiction scene.

A snapshot of the 2020 Australian Speculative Fiction Snapshot

Every couple of years, the organisers conduct a series of very short interviews with active Australian and New Zealand authors, as a quick health check on the state of the spec fic writing community, and a permanent record of its growth and wellbeing. What began in 2005 with a few dozen authors has blown up to more than a hundred names.

Ironically, despite this being a very fallow writing year for me, it’s also my first time participating in the snapshot. You can read my entry right here (none of the information is new to anyone reading this, but I do make a couple of book/author recommendations you might like to check out).

While you’re there, do have a browse. Go and check in on the writers you love, or discover someone you never knew about. At the time of writing, the interview count has passed the hundred mark and the project still has about a week to run.

(To get you started, here’s the links to the people in the picture above. By the time you see this, there will already be new ones above these…)

Top Row: Trent JamiesonK H CanobiMarty YoungGillian PolackDonna Hanson
Middle Row: Matthew R DavisAmanda BridgemanGrant Stone Suzanne J WillisNicole Lenoir-Jourdan
Bottom Row: Cary LenehanSarah EpsteinAdam BrowneAmie KaufmanMelanie Harding-Shaw

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