The Writer and the Critic: Episode 17

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

Here are the show notes:

This month on The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond invite award-winning UK author Robert Shearman to chat about his recent adventures at the Adelaide Writers’ Week and the New Zealand International Arts Festival, as well as his ongoing and insanely impressive — or impressively insane? — One Hundred Stories project. Hilarity ensues. Highly personal details about Ian’s sleeping habits are disclosed. Rob explains why he writes like an uber-caffeinated monkey. Kirstyn edits none of it out. Mwaohahaha.

Around the 27:15 mark, the conversation meanders over to Rob’s recommended book, Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander. Despite the fact that it’s quite a new book, the trio are relentlessly free and easy with the spoilers, so skip ahead if you’d rather not hear how the book ends. Or begins. Or what happens in the middle.

Hope by Shalom Auslander, and Robert Shearman

They then move on to discussing the two official podcast books: Houses Without Doors by Peter Straub (beginning at 1:00:30), picked by Kirstyn, and Queenpin by Megan Abbott (1:31:30) which was Ian’s recommendation. Yes, it’s another looooong episode. You’re welcome!

Houses Without Doors and Queenpin

Tune back in around the 01:53:45 point for final remarks (and possibly some out-of-tune singing).

Next month, Ian has recommended When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger while Kirstyn has picked The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Read ahead and join in the spoilerific fun!

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Vale Paul Haines

Paul Haines, a well-known and much-loved member of the Australian spec fic community, passed away on Monday 5th March, 2012. Paul was a generous, funny and all-around amazing human being, as well as being an astonishingly good writer – truly, one of our best. He will be sorely missed by those who knew him and by those who only met him through his words. Paul’s work is dark, disturbing, confronting and, more often than not, piss funny to boot. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, please track down his collections:

Thank you, Paul. Travel safe.

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The Writer and the Critic: Episode 12

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

Here are the show notes:

On this episode of The Writer and the Critic, your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, decide to eschew their normal thirty-odd minutes of waffle and plunge straight into a discussion of the two titles at hand, Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett and Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman. As both books are short story collections and also very new releases, there are no spoilers as such. But here are the time stamps anyway: 03:00 for Bluegrass Symphony (yes, that’s three minutes — they really meant it with the eschewing) and 33:00 for Everyone’s Just So So Special. Final remarks kick in around 01:21:00.

Kirstyn would like to disclaim that she is a judge for both the Australian Shadows and the Aurealis Awards this year, for which Lisa Hannett’s stories are eligible, and therefore needs to stress that her opinions of the collection as expressed on this podcast are solely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the judging panels for either award. Ian would like to disclaim that he loves Rob Shearman just so so much, and is therefore incapable of holding any objective opinion of his work. So there’s that.

Bluegrass Symphony / Everyone's Just So So Special

The Karen Joy Fowler story that is tangentially mentioned can be read online over at Subterranean Press, while Rob Shearman’s insane One Hundred Stories project lives here.

Next month, Ian and Kirstyn invite John Richards from Boxcutters to be their special podcast guest. John has chosen Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland as for everyone to read, while Ian has selected Room by Emma Donoghue and Kirstyn has recommended The Secret History by Donna Tartt. They will most likely be back to their usual spoilerific form, so read ahead and join in the fun!

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Fabulous Links to Free Online Fiction

Because sometimes I like to be nice, I give you the delicious swag of short fiction that has been accumulating in my browser tabs over the past couple of months:

“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal which just won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story.

“The Wolves of Brooklyn” by Catherynne M. Valente over at Fantasy magazine. While you’re at it, check out the rest of the free fiction that Fantasy showcases on their site. A new short story goes up each week, along with some tasty nonfiction. (And if you like the work they’re publishing, you can buy each complete issue in ePub format for a very reasonable US$2.99.)

“26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss” by Kij Johnson, who is currently a beloved literary crush of mine. Also, because you can never have too much Kij — no, seriously, you simply can not — here is her Hugo-nominated “Ponies”. It’s a horrible, beautiful, crawl-under-your-skin kind of story. You might feel the need to shower afterwards.

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky, which was on the Hugo ballot this year for Best Novella, and The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, which took out the gong in that category. Need I say more?

Those last two links came from Subterranean Press Magazine, which has been publishing free online fiction, reviews and articles since 2007 — with all the back issues archived on their site for your reading pleasure. Nom nom nom. Allow me to point you towards their recent Special YA Issue as a starting point. All the stories are seriously good, but I particularly loved  “Younger Women” by Karen Joy Fowler and “Valley of the Girls” by Kelly Link.

Everyone's Just So So Special

And finally, Robert Shearman has just published a new short story collection called Everyone’s Just So So Special. No, it’s not available for free. But — and this is a massive, insane, mind-boggling BUT — Rob has undertaken to write a personal, fictional history for every single one of the hundred people who purchased a copy of the leatherbound limited edition of the collection. Yes, that’s right. One hundred new stories, penned at a rate of one every few days or so. And we’re not talking 200-word throwaway vignettes here; some of these babies are thousands upon thousands of words of fully fledged fiction. Madness. Sweet, wonderful, absurdly talented madness. Sadly, the limited editions of Everyone’s Just So So Special have sold out already, so your opportunity to star in your own Shearman history — would that be a “Shearstory”? — has passed. But they are all going to be posted here for all of us to read and marvel at. Now that’s accountability. And madness. Did I mention the madness?

So, once you’ve done reading and marvelling, perhaps you might like to wander over to wherever you satisfy your bibliographic tendencies and consider purchasing a (non-limited-bound-in-leather-written-in-blood-and-the-tears-of-mad-writers) copy of Everyone’s Just So So Special. Or another of Rob Shearman’s amazing, poignant and so so brilliant collections, Tiny Deaths or Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. Because he’s a truly astonishing writer. And because this latest project might just render him a gibbering mess, fingers worn down to stumps, incapable of producing another word beyond redrum redrum redrum. Actually, in Rob’s case, that would more likely be aetfopuc aetfopuc aetfopuc.

Robert Shearman: genteel to the bitter, bloody-fingered end.

Shoo now. Sally forth and read!