Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at www.marianneplumridge.com

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Location: New England, United States

Monday, April 30, 2007

Primary Ignition...a Book Review

PRIMARY IGNITION :
Essays: 1997-2001
by Allen Steele

DNA Publications & Wildside Press; Hardcover; ISBN 1587153491;
Price $30.00 US for Hardcover; $15.00 US for Trade Paperback
252 pages; 2003; Cover Art – Bob Eggleton

An author of fiction draws on a lifetime of experience, knowledge, research (not to mention copious rewrites), imagination, and, yes, talent, to build a believable reality in his or her stories. However, it is usually only through interviews and memoir jottings that readers, and sometimes friends, get any kind of real view of the author as a person. Fortunately for those of us with a curious inclination to know, there are tomes like “Primary Ignition”. This book contains the entertaining musings and essays of Science Fiction author Allen Steele, published over a period of five years in magazines such as Absolute Magnitude, Artemis Magazine, and several public talks given by the author during that time.

Steele takes us from the adventure of his first adult tour of NASA’s Cape Canaveral as a college journalist in the amusing opening factual essay ‘Road Trip for Rockets ‘84’ to the speculations of science fiction writers over the decades, and the long held belief that we, as a population, are living the future now in ‘Deja Futura’. Not to mention an unbiased look at the future of the space shuttle fleet and its successors in ‘Leap of Faith’. The themes throughout many of the essays reflect Steele’s lifelong passion for the original NASA space programs, beginning with the Gemini space-shots, Apollo, the subsequent shuttle fleet hiccups, and prospective futures in space exploration. All of which make his near future space fiction breathe with plausibility as well as possibility.

In ‘The Merchants of Mars’ Steele plays devil’s advocate in opposition to the many professional scientists, space engineers and such who profess that we must go to Mars now! It’s not that Steele believes we shouldn’t go to the red planet at all, but that we should do everything to get there the right way. As he mentions, too many probes have been lost enroute to Mars over the decades to commit human lives to the equation before we know what we are doing. This is a very erudite and deftly handled objective discourse. Some of Steel’s marginal cynicism is carried over into the essays: ‘The Tourist Trap’ and ‘Long Time Coming’ – respectively dealing with a possible tourism-driven/commercial-application exploration and settling of space by private industry, and the International Space Station (ISS). He discusses the pros and cons of both and underscores his monologue with an ongoing theme: if we’re going to do this at all, then can we please do it right, for the right reasons, otherwise what’s the point?

Extreme destinations of this prodigious author include his account of the nerve-wracking address to the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, the Committee on Science, and the testimony he delivered there in support of space settlement and exploration using a future redesigned NASA in tandem with a new Commercial Space Administration, on April 3, 2001.

Beginning the Science Fiction section is an essay called ‘Artifacts of the Future’ expounding the theme of dreams and the imagination – without which, humanity would get absolutely nowhere. Steele uses a personally oft-frequented museum exhibit in St Louis Science Center on nostalgic science fiction toys, books and magazines to underline the ‘what if’ motif. In his own words:

“Of all the gifts humankind has, imagination is our greatest. We used this gift to build space shuttles and manufacture tin ray guns, map the genome and concoct board games, write swashbuckling novels set on Mars and launch probes to see if, by any chance, the ghosts of Tars Tarkas and Dejas Thoris may yet lurk those cold red sands. And then we take our old dreams, fulfilled or otherwise, and carefully put them on display behind glass walls, to remind an older generation where we’ve been and to give the youn’uns a clue as to where to go. If life has a better purpose than this, I don’t know what it is.
And that’s why science fiction matters. It doesn’t predict the future, but it lays the foundation. It shows us all our limitless possibilities, good, bad, or evil, and presents us them as plausible alternatives.”

There is an essay on writing science fiction and the hiccups, realities, disappointments and joys it entails; another on ‘first contact’ for the common person and what would probably occur as opposed to what should take place, and the psychological effects on all. In another alien sense, the essay called ‘Cognitive Dissonance in Las Vegas’ paints a revealing portrait of a manufactured city from the point of view of an outsider looking in.

On a more personal level sits the essay entitled ‘Jake’s Last Stand’. In a heart-wrenching study on the life and personality of Allen and Linda Steele’s four-legged companion, Jake, the reader will find it hard not to be moved to tears over the passing of the beloved friend, or the raw vividness of emotion of the author over his loss. The fact that the essay ends on a hopeful note of new beginnings and new life is a tribute to Steele’s writing and ongoing optimistic outlook for the future, and the hopes he holds therein.

‘The End of the Century’ deals with the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Steele begins with a last view of jewel-like nightscape of New York City when he passed through via train, on the way home from the World Science Fiction Convention, on Labor Day in 2001. He goes on to say how much promise that year had originally held for him, with all of its science and science fiction milestones – and how much of it is now eternally overshadowed by the tragic events eight days after that eventful trip. In his own opinion, Steele has come to believe that the events of September 11 signaled the world transition from a past now dead to a future re-imagined for years to come.

Fortunately, the final entry in this anthology is a positive one. As a counterbalance to the analysis of the ‘End of the Century’, the written testimony of Steele’s presentation to U.S. House of Representatives the same year rounds the collection off on a high note. Filled with possibility and the ‘what if ‘ principle, Steele offers a technical and well-researched outline of a possible future in commercially based space settlement and exploration that engenders the whisper: ‘If we upgrade our outlook and thinking, why can’t we do this?’ Indeed, why can’t we?

These collected essays of Allen Steele’s are a compelling read and give the impression that we do indeed live in ‘interesting times’. He handles the material and research in a balanced and knowledgeable manner, and sometimes the reader may get the impression that they’re hearing all these viewpoints from the author himself, over a beer in a quiet bar or sunset filled backyard. This is exactly what the author intends. So grab a beer, coffee, tea, whatever, pull up a comfy chair, and settle back for some interesting reflections on the future and on futures past.


Marianne Plumridge

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ANZAC DAY

Lest We Forget


At dawn on the 25 April 1915, massed Australian and New Zealand troops swarmed up the beach at Gallipoli and into the pages of history. Under heavy fire from the cliffs above, many didn’t make it out of the boats onto the sand, and of those that did waded through heat and sand and the bloody bodies of their fallen comrades to a tenuous foothold on a beach that they should never have been on.

These were the Australia and New Zealand Army Corp: known to one and all as the ANZACs. Their bravery and staunch humour in the face of incoming fire only added to the legend that still exists to this day. Every year, Australia mourns the loss of family and loved ones nearly eighty years on, to honour those who came home, to commemorate the day when a young country heeded the desperate call to arms and a cry for help. Their sacrifice is not forgotten. While their memories live, then so does the Australian spirit: ‘doing the right thing’, mateship, courage, honour, service, laughter and freedom. These are the rocks our country’s spirit was forged upon.


ANZAC Day has been commemorated since 1916, and traditionally begins with a dawn service:
“The Dawn Service observed on ANZAC Day has its origins in an operational routine which is still observed by the Australian Army today. The half-light of dawn plays tricks with soldiers' eyes and from the earliest times the half-hour or so before dawn, with all its grey, misty shadows, became one of the most favoured times for an attack. Soldiers in defensive positions were therefore woken up in the dark, before dawn, so that by the time the first dull grey light crept across the battlefield they were awake, alert and manning their weapons. This was, and still is, known as "Stand-to". It was also repeated at sunset.
After the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in those quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With symbolic links to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, a dawn stand-to or dawn ceremony became a common form of ANZAC Day remembrance during the 1920s; the first official dawn service was held at the Sydney Cenotaph in 1927. Dawn services were originally very simple and followed the operational ritual; in many cases they were restricted to veterans only. The daytime ceremony was for families and other well-wishers, the dawn service was for old soldiers to remember and reflect among the comrades with whom they shared a special bond. Before dawn the gathered veterans would be ordered to "stand to" and two minutes of silence would follow. At the end of this time a lone bugler would play the "Last Post" and then concluded the service with "Reveille". In more recent times the families and young people have been encouraged to take part in dawn services, and services in Australian capital cities have seen some of the largest turnouts ever. Reflecting this change, the ceremonies have become more elaborate, incorporating hymns, readings, pipers and rifle volleys. Others, though, have retained the simple format of the dawn stand-to, familiar to so many soldiers.”

Excerpt from the archives of The Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.


…They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
From: ‘For The Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon, 1914

Poppies placed by descendants and families of loved ones lost during WWI and all succeeding conflicts, where their names are engraved on the Roll of Honour, in the Hall of Memory, at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.

LEST WE FORGET

Marianne

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reading Victoria Laurie...


I have a headache… Not really surprising, since I’ve just finished reading the last three books – back to back within twenty-four hours - written by professional psychic and novelist, Victoria Laurie. No, not ‘how-to’ books, novels: crime fiction, to be precise. Her series protagonist is Abby Cooper, also a professional psychic, whose comfortable world of doing ‘readings’ for clients is about to be ripped apart. That would be from the first book, “Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye”.

Despite the human race’s long on/off love affair with ‘otherworldly influences’ – there are those who walk among us who truly have contact with the ‘other side’. Throughout time, these people have been either loved or hated, cosseted or burned, flocked to or shunned, ignored or persecuted, under any given set of circumstances. And in spite of the role of stereotypical charlatans that pop up during crises to proclaim they know what’s going on and what signs people must follow, there are a genuine few who bear the true gift of sight. And in saying that they ‘bear’ their gift, I mean just that. It can be the heaviest of burdens. But what they ‘see’ isn’t the problem, it’s how it’s received, perceived and dealt with by those the psychic ‘reads’ for. So no matter how loved and accepted they are (lucky few), a psychic can walk a very lonely road. This is what strikes me about Victoria Laurie’s ‘Abby’. She’s both vulnerable and tough, has a largish inferiority complex but can also be strong as steel, is feisty, karmic and morally responsible, a giver who’s constantly running to the frontline in anyone’s given battle. Karmic heroine? Possibly: but just as flawed a human being as the rest of us - seeing two worlds, not just one, and feeling responsible for both. So in this series of books, Abby finds that violence enters her life – much to the chagrin of those who love her most. Throughout successive books, Abby is nearly killed several times in her pursuit of truth, and brings about the demise of a mob boss who threatens her, as well as everyone around her, attempts to kill her, and fails in the end. She saves whom she can, and that is most, but there are the odd failures due to miscommunications or trying to find out what’s going on. In ‘Killer Insight’, Abby actually does die for a short time, in her efforts to find a deranged killer. Thinking she is insignificant and has nothing to live for, she wants to surrender to the ‘other side’, but her grandmother gently helps her to see for herself what the future should and must be. Abby comes back to those she loves and helps, grateful to find them there waiting, but there will be repercussions that she has to face in her own spirit and soul. However that is for future books, one of which is ‘Crime Seen’ released in September 2007. I for one can’t wait.

“Abby Cooper: Psychic Eye”
This is the first of Victoria Laurie’s novels involving professional psychic, Abby Cooper. In spite of a few close friends, a full time practice ‘reading’ for clients, and a loveable miniature dachshund named Eggy, Abby walks a lonely path. Her personal life is non-existent, she has defensive and anger issues regarding her work and how other people behave once they know that she has ‘connections’, and a cash flow problem – or lack thereof. On the flipside of her personality, Abby is caring, determined, has a steely will, and an impulsiveness that drives her where angels fear to tread. Most times she listens to her guides when they are trying to tell her something, but sometimes, through absolute physical or emotional exhaustion, she ignores them at her – or someone else’s – peril.

In this novel, Theresa, Abby’s best friend and mentor, is moving from the Royal Oak, Michigan office that they share, to California and a dream shot at doing her Medium stuff in front of a live audience. Feeling somewhat bereft, Abby decides to take hold of her destiny with both hands and signs up with a computer dating service. The resulting date is a passionate attraction of opposites – not only in points of view, but performance of duties. Innate shyness, anger, and several margaritas cause Abby to blurt out what she ‘sees’ surrounding her date. His shock is a balm, and he apologizes, but he is still an unbeliever. They walk around town getting to know each other while exchanging small confidences, and Abby is both alternately irritated by, and incredibly attracted to Dutch. It seems he is attracted to her too, and his kisses are a happy memory.

A week later, an angry and barely awake Abby opens her door to a formal Dutch and a stranger who has been tailing her. The two are cops and are only there to demand more information out of her regarding a case that Abby mentioned to Dutch on their date. All of Abby’s old horrors of being falsely accused of committing a crime seem to be coming home to roost. Until her guides inform her that they are lying to her and that she has nothing to worry about. If anything, Abby is in a towering rage and flings their lies back in their faces along with facts as to why they’re lies. She reluctantly answers their questions, repeats what she said to Dutch on their date, and then throws them out of her house with a few more personal home truths for them to chew on.

Then a last minute client of Abby’s is murdered, and things go downhill from there.

Both wanting to help her client and salve her own guilty conscience, Abby helps answer a few questions herself and then offers to help the police. In spite of their grudging earlier belief, they make her feel like she has nothing they can use or want. Abby begins to do things on her own, and her ‘relationship’ to Dutch gets even more complicated. Trust isn’t an easy thing to establish on either side, and both of them wind up hurt, angry, distrustful, or passionate, and each with a grudging growing respect for the other.

The killer is of a nasty, vindictive kind and thinks that Abby knows more than she does, so she is targeted too. A series of logic, intuition, puzzling clues and crossed live connections, lead to getting the killer and solving the crimes, but not before Abby is dreadfully wounded.
This is a compelling story, with compelling characters that have all too human quirks of their own. But not to be totally serious, there are some very gratifying fun moments and ‘gotchas!’ to keep this roller coaster ride of a novel chugging along nicely.



“Better Read Than Dead”
Abby is happily preparing for the homecoming of her boyfriend, Dutch, who is on his way back from his FBI rookie training. Then, out of the blue, she is dragooned into helping read Tarot cards – despite the fact that she doesn’t know how – at an expensive wedding on the night he’s due home. And when they do meet up, Dutch introduces Abby to his new partner, ‘Joe’: a stunning woman with all of the subtlety of a barracuda when it comes to men, and who smugly baits and taunts Abby while they wait for Dutch’s return from taking a phone-call. She reacts badly when he says that he and ‘Joe’ have to leave town on a mission.

The wedding turns out to be a mob one, as in mafia, and Abby reads for a hit man. Afterward, she and Kendal panic and leave. Subsequently, she and Kendal return early to his house and find his boyfriend in bed with a woman. Kendal races out, distraught. Abby returns home, unsuspecting that her life and the life of everyone she loves is now on the line. Kendal disappears – to Florida, it seems – and Abby is forcibly kidnapped to answer to the mob boss, Andros Kapordelis, for her and Kendal’s defection. He makes her repay the money – her share, Kendal’s, and then double for the inconvenience. She is now broke, but still has her attitude and anger to get her by. She defies Andros when he tries to strong-arm her into working for him. Alone, she is unprepared for the intimidation and threats in the days that follow. A further complication is when Milo, Dutch’s former detective partner, asks for Abby’s help in trying to nail a serial rapist.

She puts it all together in the end, after a wild ride through fear, leaps of faith, running for her life, and losing almost every personal possession she has. Her sister, Cat is attacked but saved; Dutch’s life is literally in her hands during a test by Andros; and her own life is saved by mistaken identity, but not her friend Mary Lou’s. It takes every shred of intuitive power, guidance from the other side, logic, guts, and shrewdness to get Abby through this and tie up all the loose ends to everyone’s satisfaction and safety, but hers. Her karmic balance now leans to the ‘debt’ side.

Compelling and harrowing, funny and dead serious at the same time: this is not a ride to miss.



“A Vision of Murder”
Abby has taken January off to take a passionate vacation with her boyfriend, FBI agent Dutch Rivers, and buy furniture for her new house, when the fates intervene. Dutch gets shot in the derriere and Abby has to nurse him for a month. Meanwhile, the investment property – dump, might be a better word – that she’s been dragooned into buying and renovating by her handyman, Dave, and her sister Cat, has major problems of its own: hefty violent ghostly ones, with a live violent agent. It takes Abby, a barely mobile Dutch, Milo and Dave to see it though. World War II betrayals, evil intent, murder, and jewels are all a part of this dark puzzle.

This is an almost straightforward poltergeist/historical mystery story, but Ms Laurie’s intrinsic fast pace, danger and excitement are still as palpable as they are in her earlier books. There are some genuinely funny moments as well as tense ones, and death surrounds all.

Read this to find out what Cat does with a bulldozer and what it costs her for her temper tantrum. Find out about Abby and Cat’s parents, and why Abby loathes them. And as argumentative as they are all through this story – scaring the bejeezus out of each other in the process – Dutch and Abby finally get to take their much needed vacation of passion.



“Killer Insight”
This novel is every bit as deadly serious as Abby’s situation in “Better Read Than Dead”. A rocky Valentine’s Day date at Abby’s house leads to a surmised rift between Dutch and Abby when he says he wants more space to concentrate on his work. She’s angry and hurt, and blames it on when Dutch came to her office to help clean up following its destruction in the previous novel. Unfortunately, the first thing he picks up is a file that affects him strangely. He makes excuses and leaves. She groans when she realizes that it’s her ages old ‘wedding file’: the file of clippings a girl keeps while she dreams of her ‘big day’. Things come to a head on Valentine’s Day, and the misunderstanding gets worse. She looks at Dutch’s energy and sees that her pattern is no longer a part of it. Abby is shocked, and concludes that he’s removing her from his life and is moving on: essentially breaking up with her. There are far more chilling reasons for it not being there, but it doesn’t occur to her to ask. She forces him to leave and then promptly falls to pieces.

Subsequent events take her to a dear friend’s wedding in Colorado, to nurse her wounds and get some fresh scenery. Pathetically, she takes the ‘on sale’ new cell phone that Dutch gave her for Valentine’s Day, and vainly waits for him to call. Before she’s even unpacked, however, local events surrounding the wedding turn dark when she discovers that one of the bridesmaids is somehow dead. The snowball search for her body and cause for her murder turns into a fast-paced avalanche that spells danger for women in the wedding party and Abby in particular.

There is a deeply tragic turning point for Abby near the end of this story. It gives her some answers, lets her ask some questions of her own, and gives her hope and resolve to go on with. Her turmoil will give any reader pause, who has gone through love and rejection, rebound and resolution, and strengthening of will. Compelling, fast paced, funny in parts, deadly in others, this story compares favorably to “Better Read Than Dead” for Abby at her most rebellious and resourceful, determined and brave. A damn good read.

I can’t wait until September when Ms Laurie’s new novel in the series, “Crime Seen” hits the bookstores.

Meanwhile, I’ve read…


“What’s a Ghoul to Do?”
This is a new series by Ms Laurie, surrounding the character of professional ghostbuster M.J. Holliday who was introduced in the Abby Cooper series in “A Vision of Murder”. M.J. is a Medium: that she can talk to dead people, in ways that Abby can’t. Although M.J. is somewhat lonely as far as relationships with men goes, her best friend and partner is an extrovert gay man called Gilley that she’s known since childhood. After that, M.J. and Abby differ greatly, in their respective talents as well as their approach to life. Both are determined and brave, but M.J. doesn’t seem to attract the same violence and trouble that finds Abby. However, this is just the first book about M.J.’s adventures, so things could get way more interesting as time goes on.

At first, M.J. turns down a ghostbusting job in northern Massachusetts, because the client insists on coming with her on the job. For good reasons, M.J. and Gilley work alone, but Dr. Steven Sable – or Doctor Delicious as M.J.’s african gray parrot, Doc, calls him – is skeptical and insists. They part ways, only to meet up again on a blind date set up by Mama Dell. An embarrassing mix up and a sharp taste of her talent later, Steven takes M.J. more seriously and apologizes. Meanwhile there is a heavy degree of electricity rebounding back forth between the two, in the mutual attraction stakes.

The job is to go to Steven’s grandfather’s fancy lodge and find if, and why he killed himself there. If it were only that easy… Old agreements, questionable paternity, old hatreds, and Steven’s sleazy, calculating father, Dr. Steven Sable Senior, make for a deadly raising of stakes. Wild TV sets, ghost lights, a very pushy specter, secrets, an exploding pool, and a shadowy would-be murderer create mayhem and danger for our team.

The story rollicks along at a standard Laurie pace: fast. There’s also the usual amount of passion and fun. And although, this isn’t quite as deep as the Abby Cooper novels, it only needs for the author to shrug her shoulders for the characters to fall into place, and for her to hit her stride with that particular end of the psychic universe. I, for one, can’t believe I’ve got to wait a whole year for the next installment.

Marianne

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Daikaiju...a Book Review

DAIKAIJU: Giant Monster Tales.
Edited by Robert Hood and Robin Pen.

March 2005 – Agog Press, PO Box U302, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522. ISBN 0-9580567-4-9; Trade Paperback; 352 pages; Price AUS $27.99 (Collins Booksellers – GST included). Available on Amazon.com in the USA.

For more about this book see:
http://www.roberthood.net/daikaiju-antho/index2.html

‘Kaiju’ is the Japanese word for monster and has come to be the catchphrase for the giant monsters that stride their way through myriad fantasy and science fiction tales today, whether they be purely literary or larger than life images on the big screen. The editors give an apt and detailed description in their introduction and it is well worth the read, to gauge the depth of enthusiastic response that writers and readers have had to this collection of short tales.

The entries in this remarkable anthology are, by and large, of excellent quality from authors all over the world. Style and content vary widely, from introspective ‘survivors’ tales to interaction with the giant beasts, from existing universes of giant ‘monsterisms’ to startlingly new and varied fresh responses to the theme.

Some of the stories that stand out include…

Stephen Mark Rainey’s ‘Transformer of Worlds’ combines the power of art and the power of dreams and a person’s ability to manipulate both. Only this time, the wrong person creates art for truly the wrong reason. Masterfully told story of a chase across time and dream realms to prevent the destruction of multitude worlds by art that releases…wait for it…giant monsters. Although that appears to be a trite summation, the monster aspects seem incidental to the story as the struggle between the protagonist and the insane scientist/artist create the framework and drive of the plot. This tale would make an interesting novel. Nice nod to the master of supernatural enquiry, Edgar Cayce, by naming the female lead for him.

‘Aspect Hunter’ by Anthony Fordham is a tale of danger, adventure, conflict and outrageous behavior, with a dose of time travel and unrequited romance. That’s about as close as it comes to a regular giant monster fantasy scenario. The kaiju in this story is a malevolent glacier that is gaining a swift advance on the city of Sydney, Australia following its growth and destruction of the towns west of the city. It sounds kind of like a fast ice-age until you find out that the glacier – like all of the other glaciers in existence – has a mind of its own, and thousands of ‘white demons’ to kill and destroy everything in their path. It is the job of the Aspect Hunter to ‘take it down’. Back from a time trip to 11,000 BC, the Aspect Hunter lands in a situation that has rapidly gone from bad to worse. He’s immortal, experienced in dealing with ‘ice’, and hangs with ‘the Yak’. Sorry, but you’re going to have to read the story for yourself if you want more information. I really enjoyed this one, and wouldn’t mind seeing the premise and characters developed in to a full-blown novel or series.

Paul Finch’s ‘Calibos’ is an adventure of note, as is Cody Goodfellow’s ‘Kungmin Horangi: The People’s Tiger’. Both encompass mankind’s struggle with itself to solve a dangerous problem, and not lose its humanity in the process. Well written, with only a slightly farcical, or should I say incredulous ending to ‘Kungmin’’.

‘Park Rot’ by Skip Peel is another oddity, but assuredly an amusing read if mildly cynical of big business greed.

On a more humorous note, Andrew Sullivan’s story, ‘Notes Concerning Events at the Ray Harryhausen Memorial Home For Retired Actors’ is a must read. It is a ‘take’ on how things would be if the monstrous giants of screen legend really were that size and actors to boot. What happens when they get past the height of their popularity, and grow old – some not so gracefully? This is the funniest ‘day-in-the-life-of’ I’ve ever read, as told by a giant ape who shall remain nameless.

Of Garth Nix ‘Read It In the Headlines’, it is a story told only in newspaper headlines and is also a great deal of fun.

I had a hard time comprehending the connections between the seemingly unconnected paragraphs of ‘Five Bells’ by Trent Jamieson.

The rest of the stories in this anthology are as well worth a read as the few mentioned above. Each of them has their own style and pace that makes them wholly individual and diverse. The editors have chosen well in their selection.

Concluding the anthology is a ‘must-read’ essay by Brian Thomas called “Wonders 8 Through 88: A Brief History of the Larger-Than-Life”. This is a witty and knowledgeable chronicle that doesn’t once get bogged down in too much reference or fan ‘gushiness’. The author shows a depth of knowledge of the human psych and what drives us to admire the huge heroes that touch our sense of awe and wonder, not to mention the inner child: reaching back into ancient archetypes and myth to find a basis for ‘why do we like them?’ A truly fun trip from the mythic past all the way to the mythic ‘future’ of big screen monsters, beginning with the original icon of 1933’s ‘King Kong’ to the most up to date entry from Japan, 2004’s ‘Godzilla: Final Wars’.

Also, reading the contributor’s biographies is almost as much fun as reading their contributions. Cute quips and cats…er, companion kaiju.

In summation, if you like big monsters, you’ll like this book. Even if you don’t, there is enough material to make a picky reader curious, perhaps enough to appreciate the diversity of imagination and what ‘larger-than-life’ means to each of us.

Meanwhile, the editors have announced the imminent production of a sequel anthology… In fact, two sequels will be launched on 1st June 2007 in Australia!

Marianne Plumridge

********************************************

Here are some photos from the Official Launch of "Daikaiju" at Conflux convention in Canberra, Australia in 2005:


Bob Eggleton (my husband) declaring the book 'Launched'!

Editor Rob Hood, writer Cat Sparks, and Bob at the launch.