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29 November 2015

softcover, 28 stories etc. 6th in a themed series.
reviewed by Steve Johnson.
I’m going to make this fast, it’s the time of the year when a whole stack of things to do descend on me, and they have. This is one of Lyn’s author copies, I know she was really pleased to have a story in it because she is an animal-lover, but that means she likes animals, NOT what some people do in some of these stories. It’s a good anthology though.
I particularly liked Lyn’s own story, Earnest, all about a misplaced rooster. We both liked the last story too, Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk. And I loved Squonk The Dragon, Brush and Sniff, Faithful, and Gerbil 07 which had me laughing out loud. Not a bad anthology average, 25% of the stories I unequivocally liked, no reservations on anything about them. A pleasant anthology competently edited, good layout and print size, and a cover of solid quality, attractively done.

When I started school at four, I used a pen dipped in ink in an ink well. Who’d have ever foreseen that one day I’d write books on a computer?
When I was four an icecream cost a penny. Now it’s about $4, on the other hand I can buy one with a LOT more than just vanilla flavour.
When I was four we had a cat that ruled the roost… come to think of it, that hasn’t changed at all. But nowadays they do live longer.

Not that this makes a lot of difference to a farmer/author. Both occupations can take place any time over 24/7 and don’t care if it’s Christmas, Mid-year, my birthday, Easter, or a zombie apocalypse. In fact what it really means is that I’m busier than ever because Christmas events are added in. Right now it’s about time to shear the sheep, I’m doing revision for the latest completed book, due to go Xmas shopping with a friend late this week, have a Xmas party the week after, am still getting out cards and Xmas letters and any minute now all the hens will go off the lay and start moulting. They usually do that just at the time I want them to lay lots of eggs to use over Xmas/New Year. Oh, well. At least I managed to buy a suitable-sized turkey, that atones for a lot of work. With which sentiment Thunder is in full agreement. He too likes turkey. (Although he’d like it often, not just over xmas…)

Yes, it’s a steady trickle of non-fiction stuff. October saw an article of mine on a very early detective author out in CADS UK. (LOOK WHAT YOU FIND WHEN YOU AREN’T LOOKING: GRANT ALLEN) While two short items appeared over November, one each in the NZ Woman’s Weekly, and That’s Life magazines.

13 November 2015

softcover, 217 pages, intro, and 13 stories. From SF Trails.
reviewed by Steve Johnson.
As Lyn says, it must be the season. We’d (my wife, Glen and I) no sooner vanished off down the road in our campervan, than Lyn got in copies of two anthologies with her work and wanted me to review them. Unfortunately they had to wait until we got back, but now that ae are –
MIDDAY SUN is an editor’s choice volume. That means Mr. Riley went back over a stack of anthologies his publishing house produced previously, and selected from them the stories he likes best himself. That can be either a disaster or a triumph, and in this case it was a triumph. He attracts a number of talented writers, and in any of the Trails anthologies I usually like about half of the stories a lot. In this one out of 13 stories I really enjoyed all but two. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the two, just that they didn’t appeal to me. So –
last up were two I liked best, the editor’s own tale The Preacher, (with a punchline that made me LOL, I could just hear that weary, faintly ironic comment in my head) and J.A. Campbell’s, Serpent’s Rest, which sent shivers down my backbone. They Zapped With Their Boots On was a very solid riff on alternate worlds, while Ching Song Ping and the 53 Thieves had a whiff of Ali Baba about it and made me smile at the final line. Also excellent were Lyn’s A Day Out Shopping (which I enjoyed when I first read it in ms) the first of two stories by John Howard, Kit Volker’s Art Lessons, and C.J. Killmer’s, Forewarned is…
All in all this was a great anthology, and I think that the editor could do a lot worse that to produce a second ‘editorial choice’ anthology sometime in the future, if only because his taste seems to allign with mine.

the world is getting sillier by the minute, and an American friend recently said to me that she thinks her country is sillier than most. I might have disagreed – until I came across this one recently read on Snopes – a 6 year old boy was suspended from his school for three days for playing at recess and (oh horror) shooting friends with an IMAGINERY bow and arrow. So far as I can tell, this report is substantiated. Dear God! that takes the biscuit. What part of this didn’t the headmaster understand – it isn’t a real weapon, it’s imaginery. What next. The kid pretends to shoot someone with a bow and arrow, they pretend to die – and the police arrest him for murder?
I’m just thankful that when, at a similar age, I played with a real homemade bow and arrows (we had bamboo out the back) no one decided I was a homicidal maniac in the making. To this idiot headmaster I would point out that it’s part of childhood to play with toy weapons, it doesn’t mean you grow up vicious. Anymore than sitting quietly and reading about space means that…yes, well. Sigh. Maybe if it did I’d be piloting a spaceship by now. Then again, it may have had something to do with my application a couple of years back to go to Mars.

Must be the season for it. First I heard that Lethe were doing my disaster novel – Vestiges of Flames (set in NZ) as audio, then I had an email from Wildside asking if I minded if my book, Sherlock Holmes: Beastly Mysteries did too. Not only do I not mind, I hugely looking forward to hearing the results.

Quick break just now while I marched out and explained to my rooster (Oscar Wilde II) that I’d appreciate it if he went elsewhere to do that. I have no idea why, but he’s just spent the last hour standing in the woodshed making odd noises, not ordinary crowing, more like a hen cackling while being strangled. I’m tolerant, but after an hour I’d heard enough and said so. Oscar knows when not to push it, he’s departed for a back paddock along with several of his hens. Where, so far as I’m concerned they can sing jazz or rap if they want, just so long as I don’t have to listen.