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22 June 2013

paperback , published Baen SF, 2007.

A collection with a very wide timespan. Most of the stories appeared in the 1950s-1960s in top pulp magazines, but one is dated as the end of 1990. The stories are entirely as advertised, unfortunate aliens having real trouble with humans, and they’re very funny. My favourites were Compensation, Merry Christmas From Outer Space, Underhandler (the 1990 one thus showing the author hasn’t lost his sense of humor) and Behind the Sandrat Hoax, which wasn’t only very funny, it was unpleasantly true. I didn’t quite get Duel to the Death, but that was the only story of the 13 I didn’t like. And the author undoubtedly has cats. In Compensation I noted the following lines… “The cat suddenly decided to get up. Ral (one of the aliens) didn’t let go. The cat put forth eighteen claws and got up. ” Ah yes, no one prevents a cat from doing as it wishes not even a visiting alien. This was an excellent colection and I recommend it. There is a companion volume The Trouble With Aliens. which may also bear investigation.

 

Narrelle M. Harris is a Melbourne-based writer of considerable versatility in many creative areas. Narrelle’s earliest writing was through science fiction fandom, including work based in Star Trek, Blake’s Seven and V universes. Her genzine, Inconsequential Parallax (co-written with husband, Tim Richards,) was nominated for a Ditmar Award in 1992. She wrote the award winning short play “Stalemate” in 2003, while in 2006 she appeared as ‘Ginny’ in the short film “Outland”.

Last year I attended the Australian Natcon and spent time in the huxters room selling some of my own books and buying those of other authors. I was attracted to the Clan Destine Press table and amongst other works ended up buying the two vampire books by this author. I arrived home, read them on arrival, grinned and added them to my ‘permanent collection.’ This week I sat down and reread them to see if they held up and if I should do Narrelle as one of my Overlooked Authors. They do and I have – herewith. I like a good Vampire book, not the teenage angst of Twilight, but the sort of work that looks deeper. Several authors have done excellent work on this sub-genre, authors such as Barbara Hambly, Misty Lackey, and Lee Killough, and I can honestly say that I found Narrelle’s work was right up there with those. The books are The Opposite of Life, and Walking Shadows and I’m hoping the promised third book doesn’t take too long to appear.

Lissa Wilson is the librarian daughter of a tranquillizer-addicted mother, and an alcoholic tennis professional father. Hauled out by a friend for a night on the town (Melbourne) after Lissa’s breakup with her boyfriend, she walks into the toilets at the nightclub and finds a very dead woman. As if that isn’t traumatic enough on another night out to a club a local dealer is found in similar condition, and Daniel the nice guy Lissa is starting to fall for has vanished. He subsequently turns up dead, with two puncture wounds in his neck and bloodless. It goes on full-tilt from there. Her creation of Gary has to be a high point. He’s very unlike the sort of vampire commonly appearing in that genre, yet you can see what he was like before he became a vampire and he’s so realistic as a character, his interaction with Lissa is priceless, and is part of what makes the best and most amusing parts of the book. These books are funny, sweet, and clever, with well-written plots, and characters and I throughly enjoyed them. So much so that I’m hoping to lay hands on more of her work. Recommended.

Bibliography (so far as I know it) :

Fly By Night (2004, Homosapien Books) two novellas about a gay musical duo who solve crimes,

Witch Honour (2006, Five Star Speculative Fiction) Fantasy with some SF as is the sequel.

Witch Faith (2007, Five Star Speculative Fiction) I understand a third book is intended.

The Opposite Of Life (2007, Pulp Fiction Press).

Walking Shadows (2012, Clan Destine Press.) And again, I believe there is to be a third in this series.

Showtime, (2012, Twelfth Planet Press.) a collection of short stories (including one featuring Gary and Lissa from The Opposite of Life and Walking Shadows)

The Witches of Tyne (2012, digital omnibus edition of Witch Honour and Witch Faith, including several bonus short stories and a song. Available currently on Amazon.com

Also published under N.M. Harris – spy-thriller-erotica story, Double Edged, with the second in that series, Expendable, due out soon.

 

It’s gone very wet this last week or so and the Bamboo Clump birds are turning up more often to share the hen’s wheat. Not that I or the hens mind that. Back when I built the cat-park for Rasti, the original cat here, I also planted a clump of bamboo in the corner of that. It grew, as bamboo does, and is now well past the wire-netting overhang, and around 8 feet in height. The upper levels have long since been colonised by small birds, Sparrows, Chaffinches, Green-Finches, and a lone Yellowhammer pair. Around 60-80 birds. They live in surprising safety since Thunder my Ocicat  isn’t that interested in them really, and as he has a massive objection to other cats, any intruder is sent on his way after a brutal beating. So the small birds are suprisingly safe from predation. They seem to know it too, and while they don’t approach my feline friend, they don’t mostly bother with alarm calls about him either. It isn’t exactly the lion lying down with the lamb, but it isn’t a bad compromise.

Good authors whose work you love have no right to stop writing and/or die… until you die.

People who have rented you a house for many happy years – have no right to sell the darn place so you have to move at great inconvenience and expense.

New Zealand publishers have no right to reject your brilliant NZ-backgrounded book, even when it’s then snapped up by US publishers.

Small cute dogs have no right to act like a large ferocious dog and bite when you stop to pat them.

The cat you praise for every dead mouse/rat offered has no right to offer little dead birds as an alternative.

editors have no right to edit your work into something totally different…and then expect you to be happy that at least it’s being published.

If you prefer to write work that has no sex/violence, publishers have no right to reject it on those grounds.

If you prefer to write work that is full of sex/violence, publishers have no right to reject it on those grounds.

If you prefer to write work that has gay characters, publishers have no right to reject it on those grounds.

In fact, publishers have no right to reject work…until they go bankrupt which may not take long.

a writers’ organisation has no right to offer memberships at triple the cost when they give no more benefits than the cheaper one.

The NZ Government has no right to provide a superannuation so low a recipient may have to choose between food and heating.

And, life has no right to be unfair to me. Okay, to others, but not to me!

(And no, half that happened to others, not to me, but it still isn’t RIGHT!)

I finally finished editing my collection of SF/F Cat stories (Katalagein) with UK Editor Stuart. It was a pleasant exercise, he’s not only a good editor, I found him very easy to work with and it was he who suggested the title. Katalageina South African term which is connected to compassionate justice – ‘sacrifice, mercy, reconciliation, righteousness and restoration of dignity, peace and joy.’ All of which fitted in one way or another, the fifteen cat stories in the collection. The collection is scheduled to be out from Sky Warrior Books sometime in September and I’m looking forward to it, the more so as the cover I’ve seen is gorgeous and the artist may have prints of it available at our National SF Convention in July this year. (2013.)

9 June 2013

Yes, I can say that winter is now here and that has been heralded by firewood arriving for the coming cold wet months..and by much physical effort, some of it mine. Several cords were dumped on my lawn outside the woodshed and I was left to heave it from lawn into the shed. Last weekend that involved all Saturday, as my house manager did almost all of the work for the first delivery, but she’d gone by the second and I was left alone, hurling heavy chunks of wood across the gap between where the shipment had landed, and to under cover. I managed about half in a series of work episodes/rest-and catch-my-breath episodes before running out of daylight and energy. Fortunately a friend took pity on me and came over to toss the rest under cover over the next couple of days. So I now have a shed full of firewood, and Thunder and I can look forward to days and night of NOT freezing – just the way we both like it.

published paperback Pocket Books 2001.

I always enjoy a good vet-written book and have half a shelf of them ranging from all of the James Herriot volumes to a couple by Oz’s Dr Harry, and half a dozen by Hugh Lasgarn as well as others. And now this one, which I picked up recently, will be joining them. The writer started in a private country practise but then moved on to work for many years at the RSPCA’s Harmsworth hospital in London. The book is well-written, the animals’ (and owners’) stories are great, and it is a fascinating contrast to most of the other books by vets – which normally cover country practises – although I also have the series by David Taylor – a zoo vetwho travelled the world caring for ill or injured exotic animals.

It notes on the cover that the author is “TV’s favourite vet.” A little over-claimed I would have thought, in my opinion that title would have to go to James Herriot. But wondering why they said that, I googled the author’s name, and found that there is a continuing TV series in the Uk. This is Emergency Animal Rescue, a documentary series  following the work of RSPCA officers across England and Wales as they tackle cases of animal cruelty. It’s based at Harmsworth Animal Hospital in London, and the series follows chief vet David Grant as he performs surgery on ill or injured pets and also follows the Special Operations Unit as they try to catch those guilty of harming animals. I couldn’t find much detail, but the series appears to be still running in the Uk, and from the listings it’s run for at least 6 seasons to date. This explains the books, no publisher would miss that opportunity, and in this case, certainly, they were right not to, Grant is a competent and amusing writer, and I’ll watch out for others of his books. Recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 June 2013

I’m delighted to announce that my 30th book, a Young Adult standalone novel entitled Flying Free is now out from Sky Warrior Books. It’s set in New Zealand and features Icarus, a Haast’s eagle. The cover was done by my talented friend Sharman Horwood (who also did the cover for our collaborated alternate history, Queen of Iron Years, currently nominated for a Vogel Award.)

Cover for 'Flying Free'

The book can be found and purchased ($4.99USD) at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/322284