David Stevens

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Eyes are burning

In Uncategorized on April 20, 2018 at 3:35 pm

What’s that you say, 3LBE?

“The voices from the shadows of the things long extinct loose whispers that a new issue will visit soon.”

You don’t say? And I wonder, why is it that I have a special interest in that? Hmm …

I hear that the next issue of Three-lobed Burning Eye magazine will be available in May. …

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A miracle for Easter

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2018 at 2:02 pm

What? This has nothing to do with cats?

Why aren’t you dreaming about fish, you bastard?

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2018 at 1:59 pm

 

Philip K and other stuff

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2018 at 4:15 pm

Sitting in the cinema with my mate Stephen back in another lifetime, as the opening credits for Total Recall unfurled. The year before, I had had a job which involved some proof reading of a corporate newsletter. We were told not to bother with certain parts, as they had been there for years. One of the new guys disregarded his instruction, and found an error that had been sent out to clients for years. (I laughed a lot, and learned a lesson.) You reach a point where mistakes just hit you in the eye. And there it was. Our favourite writer’s name misspelled in the credits as Phillip K Dick.

The world didn’t end. I knew I was right though, because back in primary school, we received a booklet every year that was supposed to be an educational resource but was mainly industrial puff pieces for major corporations operating in Australia. Philip Electronics made a big deal that their name was spelled with only one ‘l’ – just like electron. And for some reason, whenever I meet a Phil(l)ip, that sticks with me. I knew PKD was like the electron.

Anyway, nearly 30 years on, watched the start of Total Recall again earlier today, and waited for it, and there it was, PKDs name still misspelled. And still, the sky did not fall. And why do I remember this stuff?

***

Some science fiction people I sometimes read – Charles Stross and Ken Macleod – wrote / spoke recently and separately about how they don’t read / haven’t read much science fiction from the past (respectively one and two) decades. No judgement here – I gave up on speculative fiction entirely at one stage, and at another realised that all I was reading was non-fiction. Sick of tropes, sick of same-same, sick of same but different. I understand / sympathise / empathise completely. I never required that Len Deighton read non – Len Deightons.

It made me think, though, as a person who is not a member in any sense of any speculative fictional community – no conventions, fandoms, gatherings, groups, first name bases, whateverseses: could something similar be said about most genre writers, or at least, established genre writers? So when people are on panels together, are they largely speaking past each other, without engagement, or perhaps at best, only momentary engagement?

Does it matter? I suppose my mind comes back to it a bit because (again as an outsider), I always thought that somewhere else out in the world there were all these sf writers reading and commenting on and fighting about each others work (reinforced most recently by reading “The Night Ocean” by Paul La Farge). I may have just assumed that all sf writers were Brian Aldiss, with many thoughts about such things. But these were childish, unexamined thoughts, perhaps.

Maybe Margaret Thatcher was right (did I really just write that?) – there is no such thing as society, or at least, speculative fiction society. Say it isn’t so! 🙂

***

On the recommendation of a trusted reading friend, I have the first three Bernie Gunther novels of Philip (spelt correctly!) Kerr sitting on my bookshelf. I will read them. Seeing Kerr’s obituary the other day, I felt a little guilty. Honest, one day, I will. They sound right up my alley – noir, Berlin, WW2 and after, etc. What’s stopping you?, asked my friend. I admitted it: I did read one book he wrote, and I read it to the end, and it was one of the worst books I have ever read. My friend looked at me like there was something wrong. I wanted to like it, I added quickly. The subject matter was interesting. You know I like horror, and my interest in religion, and I race through a good thriller. Hang on, he says, what was it called? “Prayer” I said. His face changed. Oh yeah, that! He almost spat. I had blocked it out. That one’s fucked. But the others are good.

So I shall read the others

Night sky in the day time

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2018 at 10:03 am

Night sky in the day time

 

Relief after the storm

when rain washes the sky clear

grit and grain

drained away.

Awake to a sense of purity:

tensions resolved, static removed,

humidity vanished.

Walk outside

Bewildered at the streaks,

paint trailing at the bottom of a dome

See as you have never seen,

Darkly, though no longer through a glass.

Who knew the stars

were eyes?

Clustered, staring, unblinking

greedy.

Who knew the sky is a face?

The earth at your feet is a mouth,

full of teeth.

 

(with a nod to Laird Barron)

****

I miss Sydney thunderstorms – the urgent, commanding nature of weather that demands your full attention, slamming the skies, shaking your house. The cosy thrill / of knowing it can kill / while you are safe (-ish) indoors. And then afterwards, the air is clear and clean and everyone and everything can breathe so very deeply. Not like this monotonous seasons long European grey that wears you down until you are dead but you don’t realise. Dramatic much?

Twice we have heard thunderclaps here. Single individual booms. We waited, happy, ready for the follow up. Though it never came, we spoke about those thunder claps for days afterwards.

The story is crowded with observations that seem unnecessary and bizarre

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2018 at 8:43 pm

Quite. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Peter Temple RIP

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2018 at 7:45 am

Sad news today. He was an excellent writer. Australians are great at claiming others as their own, but Peter Temple claimed us, and caught us so well in his writing. He had a great way with wounded characters, and not only was there toughness and grit, there was also a lot of gentleness in his writing. I enjoyed his work very much.

 

Mormon boys

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2018 at 5:47 pm

Lonely Mormons

far from home

wandering through the great apostasy.

Tempted by Coca Cola,

shunning coffee and other like beverages,

is your truth too good for me?

You rush to share it

with the pretty Asian girls.

Was there nothing on

those buried gold plates

Elohim wanted you

to share with me?

I’ll just have to cross my own desert.

Not for the first time.

*****

Those Mormon boys were hanging around Chinatown in Sydney, and no matter how many times I walked past, ready to talk to them about Joseph Smith, they were too busy sharing their truth with pretty girls.

A jewel in the dark …

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

In his introduction to CHTHONIC, editor Scott R Jones very kindly remarks

Finally, David Stevens’ Some Corner of a Dorset Field That Is Forever Arabia gives us the secret history and fantastic death of a famous English colonel. I count this last as a jewel in CHTHONIC, and I think you will, too.

When I first described my monster, I thought it was harmless enough, as monsters go, but then I saw Fufu Fruenwahl’s drawing, and it freaked me out on several levels. Hmm, there may be something wrong with me.

If you enjoy reading the weird, and/or supporting small independent publishers, I recommend CHTHONIC for your reading and purchasing pleasure, with not a jot of self interest (you can trust me, I’m Australian).

…..

Martian Migraine Press presents seventeen diverse tales of subterranean horrors and abyssal wonder.
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Only $11.99USD via paypal

 

  If you’re Canadian (and congratulations if you are!)
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Martian Migraine Press: the Best Kind of Headache

 

 

 

 

But I wouldn’t have been a Nazi.

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2018 at 3:53 pm

It is easy to judge both our fellows and our predecessors. Somehow, because we live in the future, we are better. We can scoff at those who came before us. And we know that we would have done better.

We all know that we would have stood up to Hitler. Despite the risk of death, the fear, the fatigue, the danger to our families, the horrors the nazis engaged in, we know that we would not have been like other people, we would have stood up against the nazis. And if we had been anywhere in occupied Europe, of course we would have been members of the [insert name of relevant European country here] resistance.

None of us would have been slave-owners. None of us would have burned crosses. We wouldn’t have fallen victim to a tsunami of militarism or nationalism. We would not have denied global warming (sorry 🙂 ). We are the good guys.

It is right to learn from the mistakes of the past, but we all have enough sins of our own that should concern us, to suggest to us, we can learn from mistakes once they are exposed, but let’s not think that we would always have known better, that we would not have succumbed.

The treatment of people suffering from Lyme disease in Australia is a mess. Thousands of lives are being lost and wasted. I recall a remark from an infectious disease specialist that went something like this:

Hey folks, there is no conspiracy. There is just no such disease here. Don’t worry – I am an infectious disease specialist. I love this stuff. These things are great puzzles to me. If there was some weird disease here, I would love to be involved in tracking it down and solving it and treating it. There just ain’t any such thing.

It sounds so reasonable. I am sure the bloke believes it. Would it not be nice to have the funds to do a statistical analysis of his practice, to see how many people with weird and wonderful symptoms are just sent on their way without a proper response from doctors like that? People believe these things of themselves, because there is nobody to challenge them. There is no reason for them to doubt themselves.

The reason I don’t believe doctors like this is because it has happened before. I might be older than those doctors, my memory might be longer. In the US and Australia and elsewhere, AIDS arrived. The response was not great. It was not swift. All the specialists did not drop everything, and say, here is a conundrum. Let us solve this. No. They continued on with their practices. They turned up to work each day. They paid their bills. Sent their kids to expensive private skills. Betrayed their wives. All the things rich people do.

What I just said is not altogether fair. I should not be so sweeping. I should not be so cruelly generalising. I should not be so judgmental. Forgive me, please. But neither is the way Lyme patients are treated in Australia particularly fair.

There were good doctors in Australia who were in the forefront of the fight against AIDS. Some of those are now in the forefront of the fight against Lyme disease.

When an infectious disease specialist in Australia says, don’t worry, we would love to deal with a strange disease, I ask: your colleagues took a very long time to come on board at the start of the AIDS epidemic. Are you absolutely confident that you would have been one of the good guys? Are you absolutely assured that you would not have been like most of the rest? Its easy now all these years later to be on the right side of AIDS treatment. Are you absolutely dead sure that you would have been on the right side back at the start?

Listen to Dr Richard Schloeffel speaking at Parliament House inaugural ‘Friends of Lyme-like Illness sufferers’ event. Is Australia repeating the mistakes of AIDS in the 80’s? He saw what happened in the 80’s and sees Australia repeating the same mistakes. Click here.

From AIDS to Lyme: Will We Let History Repeat Itself?