Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Loncon 3: The Worldcon in London

 I will be attending the upcoming World SF Convention in London in August. This will be my 4th Worldcon -- the first was in Glasgow in 2005. I also went to the one in Melbourne and another in Denver.

I've received my tentative programming, but please be aware that things may change between now and then, and attendees should always check on the day. If there are changes I know about in the meantime, I will adjust here.

I have been scheduled as a panellist on the following 5 panels:

1. Recentering the World Storm: 
John Clute's "Fantastika" and the World

Thursday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 6 (ExCeL)

In recent years John Clute has argued that fantastika is "the planetary form of story", originating after 1750, "the point when Western Civilization begins to understand that we do not inhabit a world but a planet." But where does this leave fantastika written in non-Western, non-Anglophone traditions? Is Clute's formulation adequate as an understanding of Western fantastika, or is a more explicit accounting of (for example) the relationship between the colonial imagination and the fantastic imagination required? Can readers and critics from multiple traditions identify common ground for the discussion of truly "planetary" fantastika, and what would that ground look like?

Geoff Ryman, John Clute, Glenda Larke, JY Yang, Gili Bar-Hillel

This should be a fabulous panel. John Clute is one of the convention's guests, a Renaissance man if ever there was one. Geoff Ryman is the author of some brilliant novels, including "Air" (a favourite of mine); he's a multiple award winner. Gili Bar-Hillel is a very well-known Hebrew translator, a multi-talented professor. J.Y. Yang lives in Singapore and writes SF; she is a Clarion survivor.

2. I Like My Secondary World Fantasy a Little on the Techy Side

Friday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 4 (ExCeL)

Some secondary world fantasies, like Brandon Sanderson's "Alloy of Law", Francis Knight's "Fade to Black", and Adrian Tchaikovsky's "Shadows of the Apt", have ventured into industrialisation. To what extent can the kinds of narratives common in secondary world and epic fantasies find a home in these kinds of settings? Is technological development less "believable" in a world with magic?

Django Wexler, Robert Jackson Bennett, Floris M. Kleijne, Glenda Larke, Adrian Tchaikovsky

I actually first read the topic as "on the tetchy side", and envisaged a quite different slant to the discussion ... Belligerent characters? Bellicose nations? No, wait: tech-y. Right.

3. SF/F Across Borders

Sunday 16:30 - 18:00, Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL)

Genre writers such as Vandana Singh, Geoff Ryman, Tricia Sullivan, and Zen Cho are already travellers to other worlds. Many authors write as resident outsiders, and want to write their new homes as well as their old. How does the experience of moving between countries affect the writing of fiction? How can or should writers respond to the varying power dynamics of race, language and culture involved in such migrations? And how should readers approach the stories that result?

Stephanie Saulter, Jesús Cañadas, Glenda Larke, Yen Ooi, Suzanne van Rooyen

4. All the Traps of Earth

Monday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 8 (ExCeL)

Thinking about the long-term existence of humanity requires us to examine the relationship between our culture(s) and the physical world we inhabit. How have SF and fantasy explored this relationship -- not just in terms of technology and stewardship, but by looking at the grain of daily life and work? What is the place of the "natural" world in SF and fantasy, and how is it linked to, or contrasted with, the human world?

Sam Scheiner, Anne Charnock, Glenda Larke, Amy Thomson, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

5. Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics

Monday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 5 (ExCeL)

How are wars and other conflicts won? It doesn't matter how good your troops and generals are if they don't get the resources they need, so the logistics of warfare, and the economics that drive them, play a far larger role than usually appears in fiction. What is the real story from history and how can science fiction get it right?

Phil Dyson, Nigel Furlong, Glenda Larke, Juliet E McKenna

_____________________________

 I am also scheduled for a Kaffeeklatch:
That's a discussion over coffee where readers can book a place at the table to meet writers they'd like to grill chat with about their work, etc.

Friday 13:00 - 14:00, London Suite 5 (ExCeL)

Glenda Larke, James Patrick Kelly

This sounds as though there are two of us sharing. I've never had a Kaffeeklatsch with another writer before, so this should be interesting, especially as Jim Kelly is more a SF writer. He is a Nebula and a Hugo winner, so I will be in distinguished company!

Anyway, if any of you are at Loncon 3, do feel free to hunt me down...

Friday, June 20, 2014

My programme for SUPANOVA PERTH


 THIS WEEKEND!!

Apart from lunch between 1pm and 2pm, I'll be available for chatting, signing, whatever (and as I will be a lot less in demand than the mega stars, there will really be time to chat!!)

And, as well:

Saturday 3.30-4.20pm in the Supanova Seminar Room
Panel Name: Mr or Mrs Smith?
Panelists: Keri Arthur, Glenda Larke, Bruce McCabe and David Henley

Sunday 3.10-4pm in the Supanova Seminar Room
Panel name: Blood on your hands
Panelists: Jo Spurrier, Lara Morgan, Robin Hobb, Scott Baker, Colin Taber

Panel descriptions:
  • Mr or Mrs Smith?: Gender in fantasy & Science Fiction – Was Peter Jackson correct to add a female character to the film adaption of ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’? What causes an author to create a female or male protagonist and does the publishing industry, society or even the fans influence this decision? Come and hear our guest authors take on this contentious topic.
  • ·Blood on your hands: The art of killing, maiming and torturing your favourite characters – Come and see how our guest authors deal with making their characters’ lives a living hell, while still keeping the reader on the edge of their seats and wanting more.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amazon, Orbit and Me

Dear Readers,

You may have heard of this ongoing war between my publisher (Orbit) and Amazon.

Basically, Amazon is being greedy, trying to punish a publisher who refuses to cave in pricing negotiations. The people who get hurt when elephants dance are always the little guys, in this case, us authors.

I no longer have a "normal" job -- post 65, I found that the work I was doing was a bit beyond me physically: the tropical rainforest is a tough place. In addition I started to have some skeletal issues that tend to plague the aged... Now, of course, I am no longer living in Malaysia anyway. So my only income is my writing.

And let's face it, Amazon.com has become more and more important for selling books. Bookchains -- having wrecked the independents with their price cutting and other tactics -- are now collapsing under their mismanagement and misunderstanding of the industry. So what Amazon does has become more and more vital to authors and publishers. Amazon knows that, and they are using that knowledge to further their greed, indifferent to how the small guy suffers. (At the moment, Amazon.co.uk --at least as far as my books are concerned -- does not seem to have joined in the war.)

What can you, the reader do?

Buy your books elsewhere.

Here are a few alternatives:

WORLDWIDE for HAVENSTAR
Paperback or hardback: Buy from Indiebooks
eBook can be bought through:
Smashwords, which includes a Kindle version
Kobo,
Barnes & Noble;

AUSTRALIA (for other titles of mine)
Fishpond
Booktopia
Dymocks stores  
Click on the links for a list of my paperback books available at any of the above

Or try Independent bookshops such as:
Galaxy in Sydney
Stefen's in Perth
Pulpfiction in Brisbane

In USA
Buy any of my books (listed here) from BARNES &NOBLE
Independent bookstores such as Borderlands San Francisco

In UK
Try Waterstones.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What I'm doing this year...



Here's the latest GLENDA LARKE news.

BOOKS
  • "The Lascar's Dagger", book 1 of a trilogy "The Forsaken Lands" is now out, available as an eBook and a paperback worldwide. If you would like to know more about it, see a couple of author posts I've put up on the www.Orbitbooks.net site. Book 2 has already been delivered and is due for publication in January 2015.
If you want to help out the author, tell your friends -- or write an honest review somewhere or other!
  • "The Aware", the first book of the "Isles of Glory" trilogy, is free as an eBook on all formats (Apple, Kindle, PDF, Nook, Smashwords etc etc)  until the end of the month. I believe it has already had over 2,000 downloads just on Amazon! Of course, this is designed to entice you into buying books 2 & 3... :)
  • "Havenstar" is now available from Tigonderoga Press, Amazon, etc as a hardback or paperback. The eBook is up everywhere except Amazon -- try Smashwords, B&N, Apple, Sony, Kobo...
My other two trilogies, The Mirage Makers and The Watergivers (Stormlord books) are available pretty much everywhere as ebooks and paperbacks.

CONVENTIONS
  • I will be attending three SFF conventions this year.
The first is Swancon over Easter in Perth, Australia.
The second is the World SF Convention Loncon3 in London in August,
and the third is the British Fantasy Convention in York UK in September. If you'll be at any of them, please say hi!

READINGS /SIGNINGS
  • Some readings, chats etc to look forward to:
Charlottesville Virginia at the B&N in 5th April at 6pm
Forbidden Planet in London post Loncon3, with Karen Miller, date to be decided.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

IF YOU ARE IN CHARLOTTSVILLE, VA...



I will be appearing 
at the Barnes and Noble store 
in Charlottesville, Virginia,
Saturday, 5th April 2014
at 6 p.m.

To celebrate the launch of 
The Lascar's Dagger
The Forsaken Lands,
Book One.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity, I'd love to see you.



 I'll be giving a short reading, 
answering questions
and signing books,
(if you have any -- and even if you don't, you are still more than welcome!)


Even better, I won't be alone.
The YA fantasy author
Jodi Meadows 
will be with me doing the same thing.
You can find out more about Jodi and her books here.
 
So ... two authors
 who want to meet anyone who loves fantasy
 or anyone who is just curious... 

And of course, our books will be on sale in Barnes and Noble.
Support your local bookstores!!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

ALIEN ABDUCTION!

I was at the beach near where I live to take sunset pictures, 
and look what happened... 

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Lascar's Dagger: maps


This is a look at one of the preliminary versions of the maps for The Lascar's Dagger, done -- as usual -- by Perdita Phillips, artist. (Take a look at her website here.) 

To see the final expanded versions, you'll have to buy the book...

Coming out March 15th 2014
Ready for pre-order!

Amazon.com.au  (Australia: ebook only)
Book depository (worldwide)



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Final Orbit U.K. Cover of "The Lascar's Dagger"

Less than two months away now, in mid-March, the first book of a new trilogy from Glenda Larke will be on the shelves. It is being published worldwide by Orbit.

The Lascar's Dagger is the Book 1 of The Forsaken Lands.

The idea for this trilogy came to me in a flash one day ...

Er, no. As for all my books, there's no one idea, but dozens, some of them larger than others, and they came from all over the place, and not all at once. 

I suppose the main inspiration originated from my desire to write a book that drew on my experiences living in South-east Asia, something evocative of a period and a place not usually touched upon in fantasy epics. And so this trilogy is set in a fantasy world of two hemispheres, east and west, where western countries are setting out to trade with the other side of the world--and their main desire is to procure tropical spices. Think 17th-18th century Europe; think the rivalry between the British and Dutch East India Companies; think the Spice Islands of Indonesia and the impact of this contact between two hemispheres. And then think: but what if...

What if the Spice Islands had magic?

And so, being a fantasy, it's not just about a clash of cultures, but about a clash in religious/magic systems...The trilogy's protagonists come from both hemispheres.

"Lascar" is a term that is not very specific in its application. The word is Persian/Arabic in origin, meaning guard, soldier or more generally pertaining to military, but later came to mean a militiaman or seaman from the southern Asian region (i.e. not Chinese/Korean/Japanese). 

"Lascars" came to mean those serving on British naval ships under so-called  "lascar" agreements. The first British East India merchantmen sailing to India had lascar sailors on board. 

Many of these lascars never returned to the countries of their birth after their period of service. They became the first wave of Asian migration to Britain. Intermarriage was common. Most of these British lascar's were from the Indian sub-continent--whereas the lascar of my book comes from the tropical spice islands of my fantasy world, a place I call Chenderawasi. 

As a sidebar: My husband's ancestry is, in part, Minangkabau. These people have their origins in western Sumatra, Indonesia. They were often traders and sea-faring folk. It is logical to assume that among my husband's forebears there may well have been one at least who ended up as a lascar!

Watch this site for the maps to come...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Unidentified and flying and ... er, something



I may write fantasy, but basically I am a very scientifically oriented person who believes nothing absolutely until it's proven to be true. And one thing I have always been sceptical about is UFOs. (Another is ghosts). I reckon both are pretty much just people seeing something out of the ordinary and jumping to conclusions -- when in fact there is an explanation that is rooted in science, not the supernatural.

So when I see something that is unidentified and flying through the air, I reckon there has to be an explanation, ok? I just don't know what it is yet...

I do know it wasn't in my head because the person I was with saw it just as clearly as I did.

We were driving out to the airport last night at about 12.30 a.m. It was a clear night after a very hot day (about 36C/98F). No clouds at all. The temperature at that hour was about 25C/77F and there was a gusty wind. We were in a van, one of those ones with a big wide windscreen which gives a great view of the sky, travelling down a 4-lane highway just out of Mandurah. No lights anywhere as we were passing through an area that is a bit rural -- low bush, some trees. There's a wide median strip with very low vegetation, and no cars on the other side of the road at that particular moment, one sedan not far behind us (love to know what they saw).

It appeared as a light. My immediate thought -- and my companion's -- was that it was a shooting star, i.e. a meteor, but we both pretty much dismissed that immediately. Meteors present as streaks through the sky, this was a ball of light travelling more or less parallel to us in the same direction, but getting lower all the time, and didn't give the impression of being in the sky at all, but a whole lot closer.  It kept pace with us (at  somewhere around a 45 angle up), then vanished. And when I say vanish, that's what it did. It didn't pass out of sight, or travel behind something, or fade, or explode. It was an intensely bright white light growing slightly larger over the period it was in view (possibly because our routes were converging and it was getting closer--which was the way it felt)--and then it wasn't there any more. We had it on view for maybe half a minute.

With something like this is very hard to judge just how far away it was. (A huge light a long way off or something the size of a beach ball over the far lane of the highway?) My impression was that by the time it vanished it was less than 50m away, but I could be completely wrong.

My companion suggested (without conviction!) a helicopter searchlight that was abruptly switched off. Well, if that was so, the helicopter was flying without navigation lights, and we certainly didn't hear anything, and I think that, if that's what it was, we would have seen the outline. It would have been close enough. The light did not appear to illuminate anything around it the way a helicopter searchlight would have. It was a light without illumination of anything nearby.

My feeling is that we were privileged enough to see a Min Min light.  And yes, there may be a scientific explanation for them. Doesn't matter: it was an experience I'm so glad I had. I've seen an unidentified flying ... um ... light. A UFL.

Don't you dare tell me it was a helicopter or a weather balloon. I want it to be a Min Min light!
-------------------------------------
 UPDATE: I was sent this link by Barb Holten, and I must admit the photos there -- of the lab-made ball lightning and the accidentally filmed ball lightning in China -- really do resemble what I saw. A lot.
 --------------------------



Monday, January 13, 2014

Downton Abbey--sadistic in its treatment of women?

"Downton Abbey Continues Its Sadistic Streak Against Women" is the title of an article in Slate Magazine by June Thomas, and I'm afraid it annoyed me. Perhaps I'm not qualified to comment, as I haven't seen the latest episodes of that TV series. In fact, I stopped watching about halfway through the second season. 

But I wonder if the reason for the trauma of Downton Abbey women is perhaps this: 

Almost every culture throughout history has been stacked against women. One could argue that the writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, is just telling it as it was (taking into consideration that any drama is going to up the trauma beyond the norms of most normal lives, for both men and women). 

 Life was often particularly nasty to those women who didn't conform, and to women who were the first to step away from cultural restrictions. If they were backed by money, or possessed power in their own right, or were protected by the power of the men in their life, they could get away with it. Otherwise? There were unpleasant consequences. 

Portraying women in fiction as perpetual victims is annoying, especially if they are always being saved by a man--but we can also go too far if we are critical because fictional women have a tough time. I don't want to see writers making women too powerful and confident to fit their culture and upbringing and influences. I don't want to see writers making the repercussions of rebellion too mild for their historical or cultural setting. I don't want to see writers glossing over how tough it was to be female, how careful you had to be, and how painful if you were unlucky. 

June Thomas ends with these words:
A woman loses a baby, sister, daughter, or husband, or is humiliated in front of her family and friends, and we get to watch them recover. Raping a beloved character is just latest of the show’s experiments in sadism. 


 Er, what? When a woman loses a loved one, isn't someone else usually just as traumatised by the death, like...a husband or a father by the death of a child? And when a husband dies...um, isn't he a man? He just lost his life ...and nothing bad happened to that character? And if a woman is raped--well, you know what? It still happens! 

It seems to me that when we underplay the traumatic events in the lives of women, we are ignoring historical (or present day) truths. Where we as writers can excel is in showing how strong women can be when confronted with trauma. We can portray our fictional women characters as survivors and heroes. But if we downplay the kind of horrors that happen to fictional women simply because they are women, then we are pretending something that's not true in the real world. 

Historically women do have it harder. In many, many parts of the world, even in our own societies, they still do. Let's not gloss over it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Decorations of the other half...?

 

This is where we had dinner last night:

Fish and chips, while we looked across at million $ yachts...

Mandurah, the area where we live, is a mixed sort of place. People live here because property is cheaper to buy and rent than closer to Perth (which is 50 minutes away by train, and some 70-80 kms by road).

People live here because it'a a lovely place to retire to: cooler in summer, warmer in winter, lovely places to walk, boat, bike, paddle, fish...and there are a load of retirement homes, villages, lifestyle villages for 45+, etc etc.

And some people live here because if you have the $$ you can live on a canal with your million dollar boat on your own personal jetty...

And if you are one of the latter, you can decorate your palatial home for Christmas and then people pay to come and see them on canal boat trips--which is what we did last night.


Which is, I will admit, all rather lovely. I particularly appreciated the folk who took a whimsical approach to their decoration. And thanks to all who took the trouble to decorate their homes and were gracious enough to wave as we went past!

Although I must say, parking your boat in front of the decorations did rather spoil the effect occasionally...
Like this one:

Or this one
Or this one

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shapes on a beach...

Walked to this beach this morning--in an attempt to get some inspiration for a chapter that is giving me some difficulty. Still can't get the chapter right, but the beach was lovely anyway! This place is half an hour's walk from our house.

That's me in there
I'm in there to show the scale...




Saturday, December 21, 2013

I wandered lonely as a cloud...

Actually not true. I am rarely lonely, although I do like wandering. It clears the head after being crouched over my computer for hours, trying to write a steady 1,500 (good) words a day in book 2 of The Forsaken Lands.  The title of this one looks like being "The Dagger's Path". And I am incredibly lucky to have truly wonderful places to wander into, especially as we don't have a car. Like these:
Black-winged Stilt striding out...
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Rottnest Island Daisies;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.
Ok, so it doesn't scan. But they are everywhere...growing wild, because this their home territory.


And then there's the wildlife:
This is a Christmas Spider, so called because it only appears at this time of the year. They weren't there a couple of weeks back, now they are everywhere. Tiny and quite exquisitely shaped and coloured, just like a Christmas Tree ornament.

After Christmas their colours start fading until by April they are pretty much black, after which they disappear.
Hard to photograph these, as the scuttle away across the web when you approach, and the wind was blowing the web all over the place. They are tiny too!




And of course, what is Australia without a kangaroo or two, or half a dozen?
With joey in the pouch
These fellas are right alongside the path and don't budge as I walk by.

Friday, November 15, 2013

So, why the silence?

 Believe it or not, we owe our lives to these things:
 Which are found here (and in very few other places these days):
 This is Lake Clifton, and it's just a short drive away from my house in a national park called Yalgorup.
We owe these guys, because they made the first oxygen 
needed for life on land.




 Here's an article worth thinking about, from The Atlantic, Nov. 11th, 2013.
It's inspired by the tragedy of the latest natural disaster, in the Philippines, but it was the final paragraphs that really got to me, about how countries "ought to spend less figuring out how to kill one another and more trying to stop nature from prematurely killing us"... and  "the high probability that advanced civilisations destroy themselves."   
Which is why
 we never hear any intelligent life out there speaking  us. 
The universe is silent.


"In other words, 
this silent universe is conveying 
not a flattering lesson about our uniqueness 
but a tragic story about our destiny. 
It is telling us that intelligence may be 
the most cursed faculty in the entire universe—
an endowment not just ultimately fatal but, 
on the scale of cosmic time, 
near instantly so."


And we in Australia have blithely and selfishly elected a government which seems to believe that anything that makes the rich richer benefits all (in spite of all proof to the contrary) 
and that there's no such thing as global warming and climate change (also in spite of massive evidence to the contrary.)

So this is a five minute verse from me:
without thrombolites and stromatolites 
we wouldn't be here
life is fragile
this planet is just cotton candy 
in the universe
and greenies aren't 
just tree-huggers
they are scientists too
trying to tell us
we need to take care
--of ourselves,
of our planet:

it's all we've got,
mr abbott

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some Wildlife Where I Live

Grey Kangaroo-not very grey...
Bob-tailed Goanna, actually a skink which gives birth to live young


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Looking back at Spring in Western Australia

We are in Summer now. Warm days of endless sun...

As those of you know me well, or who have been reading this blog over the years will realise -- I have loved the tropical rainforest. Its grandeur, its wild exuberance, its overstated, overpowering, magnificent fecundity. I've tramped and camped in places that appear so wild and lonely you can imagine yourself to be the only human being ever to have come that way (you'd probably be wrong, of course, but that's the way it feels.)

But one thing it hasn't got much of, at least not noticeably, are the flowering plants like these (although a single tropical forest tree may have -- quite literally -- millions of individual blooms...). To find wild flowers in adundance you must come to Australia, specifically Western Australia. No other place has so many varieties in such a small area -- an abundance of epidemics that is staggering. And in Spring, well, everywhere you look.

Like the following:

Eucalyptus woody fruits: we used to call then honky or gum nuts

Orchid


Banksia tree with 3 stages of flower/seed

Wax matches
Wattle
Mixed wild flowers in King's Park
Kangaroo Paws and Leschenualtia
Eggs and Bacon
Orchid