Friday, December 6, 2013


I was pleasantly surprised by this. Also, Tom Cruise was kind of sublime.


While the issue of clones has been addressed more effectively in films like Blade Runner and more recently, Moon, I don't think the masses can ever be told enough times, through whatever medium or narrative, that they shouldn't believe and accept everything they're told by those in positions of power.

And also, "Sally" was goddamned creepy. Especially at the end. So yes, fuck you, Sally.
Rest in peace, Tata.

18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Exciting things! Also, I need more hours in a day

Hi ho, it's been a while. I always mean to get regular updates going but really, a lot of things stay the same and though some things may be very exciting for me personally, it still mostly involves me sitting in front of a laptop, typing.

I have been approached by John Harlacher, the Creative Director of Weird Tales to be a contributing editor to the magazine. I'm obviously delighted and thrilled because Weirdness. Here's to much of it. I have a very healthy respect for the magazine and its history. I'm chittering with joy.

Finished my paper on Lovecraft and Hellboy for the special HPL issue of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts. It's now in the capable hands of Jeffrey Weinstock and Carl Sederholm for their "The Age of Lovecraft: Cosmic Horror, Posthumanism, and Popular Culture" collection of essays.

My short story, "Linguistica Obscura" will be in the fourth annual issue of The Weird Fiction Review, edited by S.T. Joshi. Wraparound Godzilla vs Ghidora cover by the awesome Bob Eggleton!

The end of 2013 approaches. How did this happen? I don't know.

At some point I am going to have to win the lottery or rob a bank. Seriously, I need more time to concentrate on writing and less on paying bills. There is just never enough hours in the day between getting everything I need to get done done and keeping myself sane. Oi vey.

Excitingly though, I am working on a new short story for the first time in ages. The novel is still there. It waits.

Friday, October 11, 2013


We went to see Gravity last night and I wanted to just get down a couple of things that struck me about the film's symbolism. For me, it was definitely a movie where sight took centre stage, which sounds silly because it's a movie and you're looking at it, but if you know what I mean, you know what I mean.


Gravity is littered with rebirth imagery. This extends from the repetition of being tethered/untethered and the obvious umbilical symbolism this brings to mind. Outer space acts as a womb, which Sandra Bullock's character, Ryan, as much as she thinks she wants to leave, actually wants to remain in.

The tagline of the film "Don't Let Go" is anachronistic, because in order for Ryan to be born again, she has to let go.

Did I say there was a lot of birth/rebirth imagery in the film?

The rebirth theme comes across in obvious and not so obvious ways. Most obviously is Ryan's rebirth and the fact that she had to go all the way into outer space, which is hostile to human life, in order to regain her life.

Mental note: rebirth is a shitter, but very much worth it.

That the environment of space is hostile to human life is present practically throughout the film. It may be the driving factor of the entire movie, because certainly, without this threat, Ryan's spiritual death would arguably not be confronted.

The final scene of the film again reinforces the rebirth theme, with Ryan coming out of the water after escaping the escape pod. It's also obviously Darwinian. She crawls out of the water, first on her stomach (fish), her fingers grabbing in the mud like pseudo-flippers. Then she's on all fours, before rising unsteadily onto her legs, her posture ape-like for a moment before she stands up, erect, and unsteadily begins to walk.

Gravity is most obviously a film about individual survival, rebirth, and finding meaning in a world that is ostensibly extremely hostile. Yet I think it also reflects, on a bigger scale, the individual's social anxieties concerning our everyday lives - a lack of meaning and spiritual death. Yet the film's most powerful message may be that yes, we do live in a hostile world, but that it is through our most painful experiences that we can once again regain meaning in our lives.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Look what came in the mail today!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

If cats wrote research papers

The Existential Nature of Hunting When Living in a Provided-for Home

Sleeping: What Is It and What does it Do to You?

The Transcendent Act of Staring

Dependence on Humans: How Evolution has Changed What We Fundamentally Are

The Physics of Clawing: Why the Leather Couch and not the Scratch Post

The Truth About Cat Food: Knowing When to Turn Up Your Nose

The Psychology of Independence: Why We Are Not Dogs

This is the dooda you come up with when you have your own journal paper to write.

Friday, May 17, 2013

You May Have Heard About The The H.P. Lovecraft Bronze Bust Project...

Well have you?

If you haven't, head on over.

They have a new stretch goal that, if achieved, will make a significant donation to the Providence Community Library, a "publicly funded system that offers childhood literacy programs at its various neighbourhood library branches. These libraries offer various free programs that promote a love of reading in young children from birth (through pre-literacy activities) and onward".

My pledge of $150 went toward acquiring the 5-volume Collected Essays, which is fast becoming a hard to get your hands on set.

Look at the pretties.

There are currently five of these sets still available as pledge rewards. In addition, sculptor Bryan Moore has made some fantastic statuettes that are also available to backers. Other rewards include a limited edition minted coin, swag, videos, more books, and other awesome Lovecraftian goodies.

The Kickstarter runs for another 15 days. So skip your coffee today (minimum pledge is only $5!) and do it for childhood literacy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Mike Mignola:
Artwork by Mike Mignola

"[Lovecraft's] stories are set in a time when people are still wearing suits everyday. They even have upturned collars and things like that. There’s just a wonderfully old-fashioned, scholarly antiquarian feel to the stuff. It bridges the gap between modern horror and the old, classic M.R. James ghost stories - Lovecraft just added bigger monsters. Instead of some shadowy thing that skitters along the wall, it’s a giant octopus in space that makes people go crazy."

From now on, when I don't know the answer to something, my default response will be:

"Because it’s a giant octopus in space that makes people go crazy."


Read the interview at BLDG BLOG 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Zealand Legalises Same-Sex Marriage - Parliament Breaks Into Song (Because We're Fabulous)

Hey look people, the sun's coming up! It's not the apocalypse after all!

Last night, on April 17, 2013, New Zealand became the 13th country to legalise gay marriage, and the first to do so in the Asia Pacific region.

"Two-thirds of parliament have endorsed marriage equality," said Louisa Wall, a gay opposition Labour party MP who campaigned in favour of the bill. "It shows that we are building on our human rights as a country."

Possibly the highlight of the 2 hour proceedings was a speech by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, talking about the "beautiful rainbow thread" that has woven itself through both sides of her family. She talks about her own daughter now finally being able to have the same rights as her sister, and the pride she holds for her gay daughter.

Louisa Wall, you are a legend. Thank you.

Watch New Zealand parliament break into song following the vote.

Australia: Get with the programme.

Family First: Sit on it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

An Open Letter To Rex Ahdar

In case you missed it on Scoop, here is my open letter to Professor of Law at Otago University Rex Ahdar. This is to a response to his opinion piece, "Finding the true essence of marriage".

Since writing my response, I have learned that Ahdar identifies strongly as Roman Catholic.


 Mr Ahdar,

It is with some disappointment and no small amount of disturbance that I recently read your opinion piece on Stuff titled "Finding the true essence of marriage" (8 April, 2013).

Yes, I am gay. I also have an academic degree (MA in English Literature and a major in Religious Studies); in this particular case, my academic background and experience was the main influence for me writing this letter.

Notwithstanding the fact that you categorise the LGBT community as individuals who lack the ability to be "real" parents, my problem with your "argument" stems not from essentially being labelled aberrant. Rather, it is the fact that your supposed "argument concerning the law" masquerades as thinly veiled religious rhetoric.

Indeed, you do not address any religious aspects overtly. Yet the language you use clearly indicates that what you have written is personal opinion, and religiously inclined. Your frequent use of the word "we" is rather defensive, and makes sure to place you within the majority of society, situating a divide between yourselves and those "others" you view as somehow being of a lesser nature.

Furthermore, the final few sentences of your argument additionally highlight the personal opinions behind what you wrote:

• "In the end sit still, close your eyes and quietly ask yourself: can a man marry another man and a woman wed another woman?
What on earth have we come to?"

The imagery evoked here is, to anyone with knowledge of religion, psychology, and language, clearly of a religious nature. To be still with one's eyes closed invokes prayer, and "asking one's self" is, conceptually, "talking to god" or a higher divinity within a religious context. Finally, "What on earth have we come to?" is obviously a statement meant to inspire indignation, a trait often associated with the majority whenever their delicate sensibilities have been offended.

Additionally, there are also a number of inconsistencies in your argument. For example:

• "And lacking reproductive capability they cannot be biological parents."

In vitro fertilisation has been common practise for a number of years now. This clearly enables both homosexual men and women to be biological parents.

• "To redefine marriage is to abolish it."

Incorrect. To 'redefine' anything does not 'abolish' it. Redefinition implies the reconstitution of boundaries previously set out. It does not annihilate the object in question (also, I like how we get the word 'Constitution' from 'reconstitution; I think New Zealand needs one of those).

• "Lacking sexual complementarity, gay couples cannot achieve complete sexual bodily union."

I'm not entirely sure how this statement fits into an argument about the law and gay marriage. Nonetheless, simply taking into account sexual and gender theory/research, it is entirely incorrect, and I have to say, poorly researched.

When referring to how the concept of marriage has been established, you claim a gross inconsistency regarding the concept of marriage:

• When I say "we", I mean every culture, tribe and race since antiquity has recognised these as essential elements of this thing called marriage and accorded such unions special status.

Not so. Indigenous American and African cultures are only some examples of cultural societies that are polyamorous.

I should also point out that your argument is based on a majority perspective, which, in this particular context undermines the entirety of what you are arguing for.

• "Who says these attributes - sexual complementarity, reproductive capacity - are "essential"?
Who says this is the standard?

"We did. We decided that marriage involves the comprehensive sexual union of a man and a woman. "

Your "we" here, of course, refers to the Western majority. A first year philosophy student will be happy to argue the point that "we" is not representative of humanity as a whole. It is simply the majority, expounding the mores and values of an in-group at any given time. Furthermore, the above statement contradicts a previous statement in your argument, i.e.,

• "Marriage has a true essence, a fundamental core; it is a real phenomenon, not just a human invention or convention."

Wait, didn't "we" decide what marriage is? I must also again, as a student of language, point out your revealing word choices: "essence", "fundamental" and "phenomenon", all of which have religious overtones.

As an academic, it concerns me deeply that what you propose to be an argument surrounding the factual basis of the law as it relates to gay marriage is in fact nothing more than disguised rhetoric. Everybody is allowed to have their own personal views and opinions. However, as a Professor at a New Zealand University, I am concerned that your views blatantly contravene the notion of tertiary institutions being environments of acceptance and liberal thinking, two elements that are vital to the type of education students should have access to.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reading The Weird: 'Mimic' by Donald Wollheim

Donald Wollheim

Earth's human population: 7 billion.
Earth's insect population: 10 quintillion. At any given time.

Fun fact.

Anyway, for someone who doesn't have that much of a friendly relationship with insects, I can only say that 'Mimic' left me feeling a little scratchy. That said, I don't necessarily believe that you need this particular phobia to be disturbed by Wolheim's story. 

'Mimic' plays on the theme of the Other being hidden in plain sight, things that often go unnoticed because of people's refusal to see - to acknowledge - that which upsets their entrenched views of "what should be". Someone, however, inevitably, does see, and it's their fate to carry the burden of reality:

"But it is the other thing I saw when I ran to the window that has 
shaken me most. The policeman did not see it. Nobody else saw it but me..."

I swear, a man in a hat and trench coat walking down the street and pointing out what he wants in a grocery store instead of asking for it has never been so damned creepy. Did I mention that praying mantes scares the crap out of me? Those things are Cree.Py.

Yes, this is the short that Guillermo Del Toro based his 1997 film 'Mimic' on (which, actually, I quite like).

Find this story and other Weird delights in The Weird: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

So there I was...

...writing a scene and thinking to myself: Here, you have a scene that takes place in a university. It is a conversation between a professor and a drug addict who suffers from an anxiety disorder, about a weird thing called the ***** ****, which, supposedly, was stolen from Hell.

 I am pleased.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Every time - THIS

What I am referring to is the general response I get from "lesbian authors" whenever I tell them I do not consider myself a "lesbian author".

Consider this recent conversation on Facebook:

ME: I must confess as well (in hindsight), that I don't particularly consider myself a "lesbian" author - perhaps my point of view differs too much? I don't know - 

JANE DOE: decide! And as a Lambda finalist you surely must be in some form queer ... we don't judge our authors ...

ME: Oh I'm queer as a one dollar bill. But I don't consider myself as writing for a particularly queer audience only. The Lambda Nomination was for Periphery an anthology I edited.

JANE DOE: hmm, so you don't object to talk to a lesbian audience, right? or would you rather only address straight audiences?? if you talk to lesbians you might consider talking to [the group] ... first time we got excluded by [a] queer author because we are lesbians - I am thoroughly amused.

ME: I'm not excluding anyone, just stating that I have in the past found that not classifying myself as a "lesbian author" has been received with negative responses. Which I find interesting.

The book I am writing now is not particularly queer per se, even though the protag is queer, it's basically only mentioned as an aside. Most of the short fiction I have written in the last four to five years have not been particularly queer.

JANE DOE: lol ... well, the day we only need to mention queerness as an aside we have overcome the big rift between straight and LGBTQ. We are all human. Sadly, this is no universal view ... see what an interesting thing to discuss in the ***

Every time someone approaches me to take part in a discussion about queer fiction and I bring up the fact that I do not consider myself a "queer writer", this strange perception of BUT I DON'T UNDERSTAND rears its head.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

80's Movie Re-Watch: Fatal Attraction

Remember how Fatal Attraction divided audiences when it first came out?

After watching it again tonight, I have to say, it remains a problematic film. I've never thought of Glenn Close's character as a villain, per se. I find it revealing that many people do think of Alex Forest (Close's character in the film) as a quintessential bad guy, famously inspiring audiences in the 80's to scream "Kill the bitch!" out loud in cinema theatres at the end of the film.

The truth is, Alex Forest is psychologically unstable, which creates all kinds of problems in terms of labelling her a villain. It also brings up some very troubling notions about how people view mental illness.

It made me wonder if contemporary audiences would still view Alex as the bad guy. Mental instability remains, on the whole, a touchy subject in mainstream media.

I also do not quite understand arguments that pose Michael Douglas' character, Dan Gallagher, as the married bastard who had a one-night stand and therefore deserves to be stalked, have acid thrown on his car, his child's bunny rabbit cooked, and almost having his wife knifed to death. It's a reactive argument that once again deflects part of the real problem: Alex Forest is psychologically unstable. Seemingly, audiences in 1987 found infidelity a much more palatable subject than mental illness.

Could the film have been made with the roles reversed? Probably not. Interestingly, when men are portrayed as obsessive and stalker-like, notions of mental illness are never bubbling far from the surface. And somehow, as audiences, we appear to be much more open to the idea of mentally unstable men, but perhaps that's due to the shot in the arm of convicted male psychopaths who exist in reality.

Fatal Attraction's original ending had Alex commit suicide and framing Dan for her murder. Test audiences, however, didn't appreciate this particular ending (surprise!), and despite Glen Close's vehement protests, an alternate ending was shot, which sees Dan's wife (played by Anne Archer) shoot Alex dead. In the stomach. Did I mention that Alex claimed to have fallen pregnant after her weekend affair with Dan? And Dan told his wife?

Like I said. It's a problematic film. But a good one.

Interesting facts: The highest-grossing film of 1987 worldwide; More than 20 directors passed on directing the movie; Alex Forrest suffers from an obsessive condition known as de Clérambault's syndrome (better known as Erotomania).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Pick: 2012

The previous year was kind of a busy one for me. I didn't nearly get around to reading all the books that popped up on my radar during the previous 12 months. A lot of it had to do with finishing my MA, which saw me still reading research-related material well after having handed in my thesis. It takes a while to get off the bandwagon after all that intense dedication. And it doesn't help that the more you research, the more interesting it gets.

Other things also prohibited just kicking back with a book and a cup of coffee. Work, which these days consists of several projects in the works, a novel, short story ideas that won't leave me the hell alone, and the inevitable work (in my case, creative and academic proofreading) that needs to be done so your electricity doesn't get cut or, god forbid, your internet connection gets the chop.

Nevertheless, one book popped into my personal stratosphere, and it's one that, in terms of size, content and quality, goes some in making up for the other no-doubt noteworthy books that passed me by.

The Weird: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories (eds. Anne and Jeff Vandermeer, Tor Books) is a 50,000-word reprint anthology covering 100 years of Weird fiction. The term "weird" is often one met by confusion when people ask me what kind of fiction I like to read. "Weird as in, how?" is usually the response. "No, just Weird fiction. It's a type of fiction."

Confused expression.

For anyone who remains confused about what Weird fiction is, I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy of Ann and Jeff Vandermeer's anthology. The stories follow the genre through from its early beginnings circa 1908 to the recent present, 2010. The stylistic changes that run throughout the stories collected within provide a fascinating look at themes that have disconcerted and unsettled us through the course of a century. Of particular interest to my own research is how changes in language reflect our anxieties and fears, which is on glorious display here throughout the 101 collected stories.

Names such as Neil Gaimain, China Mieville, Margo Lanagan, Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King will attract readers who have come to the genre (perhaps through the fork in the road  labelled 'horror') fairly recently.

However, what elevates the collection (in my mind) to something that sets the benchmark for fiction of this kind is that, together with the more well-known names of the Weird -- which also include the likes of H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Aickman, M.R. James, F. Marion Crawford, Algernon Blackwood and Clark Ashton Smith -- the collection also celebrates the unsung heroes (at least, in the mainstream English reading market) of Weird tales: Jean Ray, Hagiwara Sakutoro, Haruki Murakami, Alfred Kubin, Hanns Heinz Ewers, Stefan Grabinski, and many others.

In addition, the editors have sourced work from authors who are perhaps better known for writing work that fit (or are labelled as) other genres: George R.R. Martin, Octavia Butler, William Gibson and John Shirley, Joanna Russ, Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka, to name but a few.

As a type of fiction, the Weird is hard to define, simply because different things get under people's skins for different reasons; this is part of what makes a collection like this fascinating. From cultural, sociological, religious and psychoanalytical perspectives, the 750 000-odd words collected in The Weird provides new insight into that which arguably scares us all the most - The Thing Within.

Go on and open it; you may like what you find, you may not. But one thing is certain: if you take note of what happens along the way, you may just find the answers to why you hesitate to turn off the lights at night. Whether that will be of comfort ... that remains entirely up to you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It All Starts Again

Why hello 2013.

Another year has arrived without much fanfare, as is usually the case for me. I'm not a big party animal, or a big drinker, so this time of the year tends to be a relaxed event for me. While Jen was out all night at a costume party, I was on the couch, having a beer or three and watching 666 Park Avenue.

So, writing wise, what happened in 2012:

An extract of my thesis, "Tekeli-li! Disturbing Language in Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft", was published in the Lovecraft Annual #6, edited by S.T. Joshi.

The essay I wrote on Kathe Koja's fantastic short story, "Angels in Love", was published at Weird Fiction Review Online as part of their ongoing review of the 101 stories in The Weird anthology.

I did find time to write some short fiction in 2012. This included "Fluke", published in Tales from the Bell Club, March 2012.

I sold two stories that will be published in 2013:  "The Flood" will be published in Nameless Magazine (ed. Jason V. Brock), while "Linguistica Obscura" will appear in #4 of the annual Weird Fiction Review (ed. S.T. Joshi).

"Into the Black Abyss" (originally published in Something Wicked #15, November 2011), was published in Something Wicked's first volume of short stories, showcasing the writing of South African and international genre writers.

Periphery, a Lambda Award finalist in 2009, was re-released by Untreed Reads. Check out a recent in-depth review at Future Fire.

What's in store for 2013, then?

I have to finish my novel. How long have I been saying this? Too long. In-between finishing a Masters degree, and being an academic proofreader, my time has been, to say the least, limited. Also, the damn thing scares me. Ridiculous. The 60 000 words I have down feels incomplete, unstructured, and sometimes just plain BAD. I know that every writer feels like this at some point and it's something I simply have to get over. If there was a pill for it, I'd have swallowed one ages ago. Honestly, some days it's like trying to chew rocks.

On the academic side, I'm researching a 6000 word essay on the Lovecraftian aesthetic in the Hellboy films for a special Lovecraft-themed edition of the Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, edited by Jeffrey A. Weinstock and  Carl Sederholm. Due date is October 2013, so plenty of time to get the research cogs turning.

For Weird Fiction Review Online, I'm researching an essay on A. Merritt's "The People of the Pit". This is part of an ongoing series of essays, each focusing on a story collected in the ground breaking anthology The Weird, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer.

Sekrit Project in development. More info hopefully soon.

Considering doing a PhD.

Aside from work, I hope that 2013 will be a good year for the human race. Something needs to change. And quickly.