Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dragon Tattoo Fashion Line - What?

Maybe it's because absoloutely almost everything these days about the world makes me want to go out and buy a real sturdy baseball bat, but this (pictured) just gives me a serious case of the what-the-fuck.

Oh hey - you too can look like someone who has been sexually, socially and morally abused. Because, you know, it's cool. We all want to be those people.

Or maybe they're saying you too can be your own hero by overcoming those things and kicking the shit out of everyone. Who knows? I don't. It still doesn't change the fact that someone out there is selling a fashion line pushed by violence against women. It makes me want to go have several showers. I seem to be becoming ragey in my old age.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lovecraft and Psychology

Quick Question:

For all the Lovecraft nerds: A well-known critic on the Gothic makes the claim that, compared to Poe, "Lovecraft is devoid of psychological interest". The statement is awkwardly phrased, and I'm not sure if he means Lovecraft as writer, or "Lovecraft" as a body of work. Thoughts?

For reference, the statement is from:

The Literature of Terror, Vol.2 by David Punter (UK, Longman, 1996), p. 38

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stupid Truly Is...Stupid.

I want to know how to deal with stupid people.

Oh no; are you one of those people that think it's cruel to call someone 'stupid'? Tell you what - give me a better word and I'll use it. Because stupid sure doesn't cover the crap I see on TV, the internet, or newspapers. But let's see what the Oxford says about stupid:


Having one's faculties deadened or dulled; Emotionally or morally dull or insensible; apathetic, indifferent; Wanting in or slow of mental perception; lacking ordinary activity of mind; slow-witted, dull; Characterized by or indicating stupidity or dullness of comprehension.

I tell you, it's a stupid world we live in.

It's hard for me to be apathetic. Over the past few years I have done a significant amount of mental work to not get upset about things that are out of my control. Lately, though, it seems as if my Zen barriers have begun to break down.

Things affect me more than usual. I want to go out and hit people senseless. Cruelty to animals, especially - it fills me with a deep and chilling numbness, swiftly followed by raging anger that makes me think I would actually gravely hurt someone who hurts any living thing that they consider inferior to themselves. I'm thinking if we wake up one morning and the animals all have shotguns, we'd be living in a better world a week later. Don't even get me started on the shit people do to one another.

The worst thing about all of this is that there is precious little you can do that will actually allow you to see the difference you're making. I like to think that I do have an impact, that I can make a difference. On most days, I believe it to be true. But I also know that my little efforts, and all the other amazingly awesome people's little efforts will really only start making a noticeable difference a few years from now. I might not even be alive when that happens. Most of the time, that's OK with me, too. But it makes days like today very hard. Have we become so numb, so clinical, so materialistic that we really just don't care? Or are we scared shitless of the path we've carved out for ourselves, and we are all just going to join the party until we finally walk into the flames?

So, from tomorrow, I am going to make an effort at calling people 'stupid' instead of all the horrible things I have been calling them lately. Sure, it feels less satisfying. Somehow calling someone a 'fucktard' makes me feel so much better. Still, "emotionally or morally dull" and "lacking ordinary activity of mind" are not too shabby. I just wish I could have been Dorothy fucking Parker in my execution.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Short Story In Something Wicked

My story "Into the Black Abyss" features in the current issue of South African spec magazine, Something Wicked.

The story is a journey into the African Congo at the turn of the previous century,featuring a small group of adventurers that go in search of answers to things that are best left undisturbed...

Issues are available in eBook, Kindle compatible MOBI and ePUB. You can also choose ALL VERSIONS to receive a zip file with all available formats

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Story in Fantastique Unfettered

My short story "Azif" will appear in issue 4 of Fantastique Unfettered. Booya.

It has insects. And Paris.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Science Is The New Religion

Seriously, I love science. I've got a giant collection of those awesome BBC docos that, god bless the Brits, they keep making. But I have started noticing a slightly ominous trend in the field in the last few months.

Science appear with increased frequency to be discussed using the same
language paradigms that have traditionally been applied to religion. It's as if some in the scientific community are taking a kind of 'if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em' approach.

Science, and the way "things really work" seems to slowly but surely be taking the
same ram-it-down-your- throat approach, reminiscent of that annoying evangelist in track pants shouting at you from across the street.

I'm posting a recent Facebook conversation. The OP is a great guy, and devout atheist.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What The What?

I'm not sure why this annoys me so much. Hasn't Margaret Atwood spent most of her writing career vigilantly protecting herself from being called a science-fiction writer?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Spell of Algernon Blackwood

Seriously, I have no idea why it has taken me so long to start reading this guy.

Algernon Blackwood was a significant influence on H.P. Lovecraft, particularly Blackwood's story "The Willows", which I read yesterday, and which HPL wrote of in "Supernatural Horror in Literature:

"Here art and restraint in narrative reach their very highest development, and an impression of lasting poignancy is produced without a single strained passage or a single false note."

Hot damn, he sure knew what he was talking about. I think the overbearing presence of nature in Blackwood's story was what sucked me in immediately, taking into account my thesis argument about Poe and Lovecraft's employment of the natural world in uncanny fiction. It's wonderfully written, lulling the reader into a false sense of security on more than one occasion and then upsetting your whole sense of equilibrium with The Creepy.

Blackwood sure had a knack for writing the weird. More than one person has now told me he was a master of the ghost story. I can already see where they're coming from. Yes, please sir, can I have some more?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Like all the best B movies - but without the gore."

Here are two links to reviews for Tales for Canterbury; one from LibraryThing and another from Goodreads.

I'm flattered that Cassie Hart chose my story,
Extract, as her favourite from the anthology's "Survival" section:

"...from Survival - Extract by Lynne Jamneck is only 5 pages long, but an inventive twist on what happens when the nano-grey goo becomes sentient and how a horde of zombies will get in anywhere, even if you're in a secure research facility. Like all the best B movies - but without the gore."

and from Goodreads:

"...Lynne Jamneck's closer to ordinary zombie apocalypse stories; despite [this] disadvantage it hooked me in (and mildly triggered me, but I say this in a good way) and packed a cunning ending too."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Map. Fire. A Knife. A Key.


Last night, we watched Sucker Punch. It was good. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I am impressed with the story, the ideal behind all the orgasmic special effects and over the top scenery.

As roughly two hours of entertainment it fills the gap pretty decently. There are flaws, to be sure. Some of the fight scenes do drag on, but upon a deeper reflection of what they represent in Babydoll's psyche, I can forgive that.

Stylistically, I'll give Zack Snyder props. I wasn't that impressed with Watchmen, and in my opinion, Sucker Punch is a better movie. (Come on, clockwork soldiers in trench coats that bleed steam?) Furthermore, the emotional engagement lacking in Watchmen came through better in Sucker Punch, and that's a good step forward for Snyder. You can be as stylized as a photo shoot for Vogue, but if the film does not at any level connect with an audience you're going to have trouble.

The story is admirable. I'm particularly sick and tired of ra-rah movies where everything gets blown to shit without consequences. Sure, a lot of things were sliced and diced in SP, but in the end, Babydoll made the ultimate sacrifice. (Potential problem: she did let herself get lobotomised, in effect rejecting the burden of having to live with the guilt of accidentally killing her sister, and getting two of her inmates killed... On the other hand, getting lobotomised was the only way for Sweet Pea to have escaped..?) And the tiny twist in the end was satisfying, coming from a director who is not known for being subtle. It was a nice touch to find out that the story I was watching was actually the story of someone else.

The major flaw, I think, with SP is that, once Babydoll retracts into her own mind, we never see the real asylum again. I think an interplay between the two worlds (or three, of you count Babydoll's bouts of retraction within her mind another level down) would have hooked the movie together better. By the time the viewer returns to the real asylum near the end of the film, it feels like a bit of a sucker punch (ha) back into a reality we haven't seen for nearly 90 minutes.

It's girl power in short knickers and even shorter skirts, set in highly fantastical environments and shot to look like Zack Snyder's own personal comic book. It bleeds special effects. If none of this bothers you, and you're not looking to think too much during the film, it's a pretty good way to spend a rainy afternoon. Likely, you'll consider the whole thing more seriously once it's over. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I write Like Arthur C. Clarke. Apparently.

I write like
Arthur Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Who do you write like?

No, I Don't Have A Flag, But Paul Aguirre-Livingston Makes Me Wish I Did

Journalist Paul Aguirre-Livingston writes an article for The Grid about what it's like to be a twenty-something "post-mo" who sneers at the traditional trappings of homosexuality and gay activism.

The Torontoist counters and responds, and causes a participant in the original article to denounce his involvement in the piece.

The Grid responds to why it decided to publish the piece.

My take? Aguirre-Livingston's piece is lame, and gives anyone reading it who is not gay a terribly warped perspective of what it's like to be gay in 2012. And I say that as a queer who doesn't march, do activism or own a rainbow. I know nothing about The Grid, but I seriously can't fathom how such a piece was deemed "good" in any way when it's clearly a personal manifesto of what it's like for Paul Aguirre-Livingston to be gay. In Toronto.

On that note, have some gay vodka.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Auckland, Thursday, 2 June, 2011

Hey Hollywood - Have My Finger

Based on a series of books that addresses the sexual exploitation of women, Hollywood has come up with a poster for David Fincher's remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
..........''...\.......... _.·´

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quoth, Damn You, Quoth!

This is what happens when someone with nominal drawing talent (me) starts losing my mind at the end of the day and it's clearly time to turn out the light and go to sleep.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gaga Ra-Ma-Ma!

I don't write about pop culture much, despite the fact that I'm a big, geekeroid fan. In the last seven or so years there have been rare instances where new musicians have managed to stay on my radar for longer than the initial promising debuts. But I finally have to admit:

I like Gaga.

It began long ago, in a land far away, when I first heard Poker Face. It was catchy. There was something irreverent and non-panderish about it. I thought this odd, but somehow charismatic character would be a one-hit wonder and eventually fade away. Thus, I bopped along to Poker Face, enjoying it for what it was. We all need a happy song every now and again.

One day, a friend sent me a link to an article claiming Gaga was a"puppet" for the Illuminati. I laughed. Then I read it. Then I took notice. I thought, 'here is someone who knows how to work with symbolism, who puts these very recognisable images within an interesting context'. The article did not necessarily draw me closer to Gaga's music, but to her personality.

Then the Bad Romance video hit the internet. It captivated me in terms of symbolic imagery and pop culture reference - the controlled, showcased Britney image, and the buying and selling of that image; the burnt-out Amy Winehouse; the overarching visual narrative of the innocent, wide-eyed wannabe pop star, transformed by an industry through a 'bad romance' into a commodity. Here was someone who was actually criticizing the music industry from within. Of course, in this situation, both parties still gain from the critique, but I have always been a firm believer in the view that you can exact change better from inside a system. In simpler terms, with 'Bad Romance', Gaga was saying something. That is something that seems woefully missing from contemporary popular music.

Now I enjoy Gaga's music. The cool combination of genres - rock, eighties-retro, tight House beats and trippy Trance keep her approach to creating music interesting. There is a bio-kinetic feel to what she delivers; something robotic interlaced with something...alive. What I also find appealing is her sense of Eurocentricity.

Comparisons between Gaga and Madonna are often made, but I find them lacking when the argument focuses on Gaga as a 'rip-off' of Madonna. Granted, their voices might sound similar in some instances, but that's hardly something either of them can help.

Rather, I think Gaga is a stylistic progression from the 'Madonna Image'. In many ways, she seems to effortlessly accomplish those things Madonna only paid lip service to. Despite Madonna's numerous attempts at injecting her image with a Eurocentric feel, she always remained decidedly American. Gaga's efforts in terms of equal human rights also goes much further than Madonna's, whose concerns about (for instance) LGBT rights were really only displayed in music videos, by portraying herself in queer situations. This did not necessarily relate to an audience outside the television screen. To be able to act like Madonna first means to be Madonna. There is where the disconnect exists. As for the statement that Gaga copies Madonna in terms of religious imagery, I think that is an argument that does not pass muster when taking into consideration how important religion (and the offense to religion) has become in our society.

Is it worse to make Jesus a black man (Madonna) or to reject him and choose Judas (Gaga)? Debatable. As an extension (or progression) of Madonna's legacy, Gaga can be seen as taking the religious controversy further. Gaga outright denies the symbolic Jesus. By analysing this rejection in the context of contemporary politics, the potential for socio-religious interpretation becomes clear.

And what is not to like about how Gaga looks? It is one of the easiest ways to instigate confrontation in contemporary society. If you look "different" you do not belong to the rest, to a group. You have no flock. Gaga uses her "bizarre" images to emphasise that in being different, one can belong. She portrays the "monster", but it is this same monster who is adored by millions because she speaks for those who are "little monsters", like herself. Madonna was/is an image created for Madonna; up on a pedestal, the one we strive to be like. Gaga is the head of a larger body, monster and little monsters as part of something bigger, but all part of the same thing. With Madonna, there is disconnect, with Gaga, the opposite.

Oh, and if you were still wondering - the woman has talent. Check out this version of Paparazzi, with only Gaga on keyboard.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Last Supper Before The Rapture

This was ours... What will you be having??

Herfs Is Hier!

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf's a flower."
- Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remember when... still had a VHS machine, and whenever you paused the image would be all squiggly and you couldn't see the picture? Those days are gone!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Back In The Swing Of Things

It's been a bit longer than a week now since we came back from South Africa. The trip was wonderful; seeing everyone was wonderful; seeing Jen have such an inspirational reaction to the country was wonderful. Being back in Cape Town was fantastic - just to be in that cultural environment, going to all the art galleries and hearing people beat the crap out of African drums on Green Market Square gave a sense of belonging that I will never find anywhere else.

The three weeks went by so quick. I wish we could have stayed longer. It's a long journey, getting there, but now that I have done it once, the distance (at least in my mind) seems to have grown just a little bit smaller.

Back home, in New Zealand, things are amping up to the next level. I have to start writing my thesis this week, and I'm petrified. My supervisor told me calmly to just start wherever I feel like starting. Don't worry about the introduction, it will write itself. No, it won't! Anyhoo, I think I have found my companion piece to "The Dunwhich Horror", which is Poe's "A Descent Into The Maelstrom".

Also have to find time to FINISH THE BOOK.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In South Africa!

Jen and I have been in South Africa for 11 days now, and slowly acclimatising. Boy, it's hot. Unusually so for April. Temperatures are still easily running into the 30 degree mark.

I won't say too much at this point, just upload some photos. Once back in NZ I will have the necessary perspective to look back and describe the experience better. In the meantinme, enjoy the photos!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tales For Canterbury Benefit Anthology

(a longer post about this soon - I just want to get the information out soon as possible, because people need help)

As you may know, New Zealand's Christchurch experienced a debilitating earthquake on February 22, 2011.

In response, both New Zealand and international writers have come together to produce "Tales For Canterbury", a benefit anthology, with all proceeds donated to assist those affected by the recent events.

The line up contains a variety of authors and a fantastic blend of stories, all of which focus primarily on the themes of survival and hope. Authors include myself, Jeff Vandermeer, Brenda Cooper, Neil Gaiman, Jay Lake, Jessie Bullington, Sean Williams, Grant Stone and Gwyneth Jones. (see LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS for websites)

Pre-orders for "Tales For Canterbury" are now available, for both electronic (various formats) and print editions. If you would like to offer your support to Christchurch, please take a moment to follow the link below. And feel free to circulate this message along to friends and colleagues.


List of contributors

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shut The Fuck Up!

I've always had a soft spot for eloquent arguments.