Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Fog on the Window

The glass in the window is foggy. There are bushes and a street somewhere beyond it, evidence of a world beyond the walls that protect us from the elements – torrential rains and unsettling and powerful gusts of wind.

The apartment feels like a bubble. A pleasant bubble, at least. There are tables, beds, a kitchen, food – even a friendly grey cat. But it is still a bubble. Beyond the bubble, the world has vanished. The only proof of its existence is the occasional burst of noise against the glass panes – of bushes thrashing against the window, and in the spaces between the leaves, a faint, circular glow of a street lamp bleeds through on occasion.

The bubble provides quiet time, a sense of peace; granting us the necessary downtime so desperately needed following two animated days of ping-ponging between assorted locations for company functions and meetings. The world beyond is gone away. The bubble is a luxury. No one expects us. Our time is ours.

Rain and wind sweep through Brisbane’s streets, driving pedestrians off the footpath. Need supersedes desire; must – not whimsy. There is an element of the apocalyptic to it. What might be gone in the morning? A macabre thought to have, surely. Would cats still treat the world as their kingdoms if there is little kingdom left to feign a feline reign upon?

The light of the world will slowly return, the fog will clear away, reality will slowly reassemble.

But for now, we have our bubble.

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Filed under Ruminations and Musings, Telling stories

Star Wars Aftermath: Empire’s End

Chuck Wendig’s books are a treasure trove of clever metaphors, snarky dialogue, and prose that conveys a sense of urgency and immediacy.

Reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s remarkable double-whammy of Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, Wendig utilises a third person present tense to make something that happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away feel like it’s happening right now somewhere not so far away.

His nuanced characterisation presents readers with protagonists often-times at war with themselves as much as they are with their external environment. And it’s terrific stuff.

No less terrific is Wendig’s natural ease at presenting a same-sex relationship with the same obvious naturalness as between opposite-sex couples. This remains a curiously odd elephant-in-the-room for some readers, who find this to be a jarring disruption for reasons beyond this critic’s understanding.

Interspecies relationships between numerous (imagined) species are acceptable, but same-sex relationships between two human characters is not? There is an odd double-standard at play which may be as much a reflection of our changing times – and the pushback by the curious denizens unfathomably bothered by changes which in no way impact their day to day lives.

The Star Wars universe allows for a variety of stories about numerous characters, as well as a variety of approaches to telling those stories – be it Matt Stover’s Shatterpoint, which transitions between first and third person, to the Robin Hobb-like first person point of view of I, Jedi – to the exclusively third person omniscient approach utilised by Timothy Zahn in his contributions.

All are welcome. None are excluded. This open-armed and kind (Jedi-like, if you will) approach only enrichens the ever-expanding Star Wars universe.

None of us own it, but many of us play in it. To the universe’s benefit.

I doff my cap to Chuck Wendig for making the Star Wars galaxy a richer and more fascinating place to visit. May he someday return to further enrich this vast and diverse universe.

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Filed under Ruminating on fiction, Ruminations and Musings, Science-fiction!

On Matthew Woodring Stover

If you haven’t read the ‘Acts of Caine’ novels by Matthew Woodring Stover, do so now.

Publishers – if you’re out there and can see this: go and find copies of ‘Heroes Die’, ‘Blade of Tyshalle’, ‘Caine Black Knife’, and ‘Caine’s Law’. Go and find them, and for the love of any and all gods that might be out there listening: give the man a book deal, and savvy marketing department, and a staff of publicists who can market the ever-living shit out of this guy. Del Rey have never managed to properly market his books, and for years he has remained a cult author. The success he so rightly deserves has eluded him.

And that’s not right. And as Matilda said: “and if it’s not right, you’ve got to put it right!”

Each book in Matt’s Caine series is different, has a different tone, structure, and texture to it. Matt’s books are astonishing in their diverse narrative approaches, humbling in their clever narrative developments, contain complex, complicated, dynamic, three-dimensional characters. And prose and dialogue that sparkles and never, ever bores.

Don’t believe me? Then go listen to Stefan Rudnicki, the voice actor for ‘Heroes Die’: http://bit.ly/2mHIQ9z

Go and read the review Scott Lynch (of ‘Gentleman Bastards’ fame) wrote years before realising his own success as a writer: http://bit.ly/2nVEvAN

How about John Scalzi’s ebullient and gushing praise for Stover’s books? Would that suffice? http://bit.ly/2nJySq5

Matt Stover is an author that deserves a bigger audience than he’s thus far received. His books predated the contemporary ‘grimdark’ movement and are frequently cited as a source of considerable inspiration by many contemporary authors who grew up reading his novels and did what any smart author does:

They stole from the best.

And if you want to steal from the best?

You steal from Matthew Woodring Stover.

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Filed under fantasy fiction, Matt Stover, Matthew Woodring Stover, Science-fiction!, The Acts of Caine

Imagine Differently

You may have noticed that of late my social media feeds have been quite active. It’s not without basis or reason. In part, it feels as though, after nearly four years of – what feels like! – an imprisonment of the soul, that I’ve been, well, let loose. 

“But, Ilya, you left your job nearly two months ago”, you might say. And that’s not incorrect. 

But I’m not yet well. Not yet stable.

I’m presently in therapy, to discuss, analyse, understand, and deal with the all too real and serious trauma brought upon by my last job, as well as lingering, older trauma. To become more self-aware of my own bad habits and behaviours. 

But it is a process. And one that needs riding out as the mind heals itself. I’m not there yet. Some days, the desire to address the ills of the world is strong, to rant and rage at the financial and banking sector, to right all the wrongs I witnessed during my time in the finance world. 

Other days, I want to hide from everything, and everyone, due to being unable to deal with social interactions. 

It’s all part of the self-rejiggering process. Rebuilding. Shaving my beard and hair, getting an earring and a tattoo, it’s all part of that process. 

My close friends – my ‘chosen’ family, as I think of them – know of my past mental health struggles, and my emotionally –  and occasionally physically – abusive upbringing, and how that’s been reflected in past relationships, to say nothing of my current non-relationship with my biological parents.

It’s a peculiar process to go through, healing mentally. It’s difficult to know what to expect some days, and it’s different for everyone that goes through therapy. 

So bear with me. After all, you’ve got to start with ‘A New Hope’ if you want to get to ‘The Return of the Jedi’. 

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Filed under Mental health, Telling stories, Where We Are

The Reduced Drink Experience: Day Eight

A rainy day. Dreary, in a pleasant, relaxing way.

Ended up driving down to Brighton Le Sands and then the northern part of The Shire (Caringbah) for no reason in particular, whilst listening to The Counting Crows. I figure it was a form of meditation on what I was due to write on in my diary today, as well as to simply enjoy the freedom of not being constrained to a desk and job that made me absolutely miserable, and learning to enjoy life again – or at least continuing to learn how to enjoy life again.

Returned home and read for a bit – am trying to finish ‘Dust of Dreams’ – Steven Erikson’s ninth  – and penultimate – Malazan novel. Following a few hours of reading, I began cooking dinner for a friend who was visiting to announce some excellent and totally smile-inducing news (she quit her job, which, like my previous job, made her miserable, for impressively similar reasons).

Managed to cook some fish, rice (with a bit of spice sprinkled into it), and some steamed vegetables smeared in pesto. We enjoyed them with a six pack of XXXX. Had three myself over the course of the evening, before returning to my desk to focus on my homework for my psychologist and write up the events of the preceding days.

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Filed under Drinking habits, Food and Drink, My hilarious friends, My relentlessly fascinating life

The Reduced Drink Experience: Day Seven

Monday.

A busy day. An educational day.

Following a stop-in at my local cafe for a cappuccino, I wound my way to Ashfield, to help a friend take care of her 18 month old son (she’d had an operation involving the appendix leaking a bit like a mostly ok but not quite perfect kitchen faucet where the nobs never seem to be tight enough).

I learned a bit about baby poo – which, when it involves diapers, really looks like an accident was perpetrated against a chocolate cake that involved collapsing knees, gravity, and a severe lack of pants.

Following several wonderful hours of taking care of the most adorable 18 month old baby I have ever met, I hightailed it for the city, for trivia training. See, I’m training to become a trivia host. Stuff working in finance – being a trivia host is just a billion times most interesting and rewarding (isn’t hyperbole just the best thing ever?).

Following my bit of the show, I took the time to sit and enjoy a pint of cider with a Russian guy that the host introduced me to. A Russian who grew up in the same city as my father.

And attended the same university as my father.

And studied in the same faculty as my father.

And in all likelihood, probably knows my father.

We spent a bit of time chatting after trivia wrapped up. A pint of cider was followed by a pint of Kosciuszko beer, followed later by one final schooner of Coopers before heading home. (I paced myself, fret not!)

What a tremendously weird and awesome experience though, to meet someone that’s a quarter of a degree removed from my father. And who’s also a Frank Herbert fan too!

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Filed under Drinking habits, Food and Drink, My relentlessly fascinating life, Ruminations and Musings, Telling stories

The Reduced Drink Experience: Day Six

Date day!

I love date day!

We started with brunch at a cafe, moved to a doggy park to let the pups run around off-lead and play with other pups, then visited Galaxy to say hello to the lovely staff there and pick up a few books to add to our ever-expanding library (we have a beautiful library).

On our way back, we popped into a store called ‘Howards’ (if I am not mistaken) to purchase some kitchen and houseware, including a shaving mirror with x5 magnification, to help me better take care of my beard.

Having finished off this domestic task, we popped by home, dropped off and crated the pups, and left for Strathfield, to meet some friends for dinner (Korean BBQ – omnom!). Because we once again found ourselves out with friends, I allowed myself to indulge in two James Boags with dinner (a million billion tonnes of pork, beef, and chicken).

Jade of course drove home, as the food coma that followed dinner left me unable to function properly. Compounded by the pain in my quads from Friday’s workout at the gym, and I was in no shape to drive. Which was just fine by me!

It was a good date day though. Really good.

I love having date days with Jade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Drinking habits, Food and Drink