Category Archives: Blog

Periodically there are things I find worth saying about reading, writing, society and culture. This is where they are said.

A stir of activity (all things considered)

It would be lovely to be in a state of 100% excitement, focus and organisation in the lead up to launch of the The Sovereign Hand‘s on Aug 21; but my Dad is dying. He has Motor Neuron Disease. I’ve known since February and ever since I’ve been arranging to move down to Wellington, to be closer to him and for him to be closer to his only grandchild. Waiting for employment to fall into place hasn’t been working for a little while now. Dad’s health has deteriorated sharply, so me and mine are in the final days of bundling our things for storage and shuffling off to some temporary digs in the capital, somewhere nearby where I can imagine my daughter and I can see a bit of Dad each day, or whatever share of his dwindling time we can get.

Hence the slightly spotty updates around here. I haven’t , especially for an election year, been able to publish much of anarchically democratic value, with my best and most measured analysis reserved for internal monologues while doing the dishes. But I have managed to keep up with some reading, including, of late, Lawrence Patchett’s short stories (I Got His Blood On Me), rereading Voltaire’s Candide (among other of his stories), and James S.A. Corey’s Star Wars novel Honor Among Thieves. (Decent effort at characterising Han Solo, very good story – will have to check out their Leviathan Wakes space opera.) I also want to read Ledgard’s Submergence and Jim Crace’s Harvest –  oh, and Ancillary Justice pretty soon. At some point I’ll have to start being particular about my reading, furnishing the mind for my next project.

Because in actual Sovereign Hand news, the script goes to the printers on Sunday. Done. Finally. An end to my eternal tinkering, after 10 damn years. The next big date will be July 21, when Part One: Thorn will be released as a free download, along with other exciting happenings on that day too. Before then, I’ll be sharing some background to the book addressing the burning question: “Top Ten reasons you should buy (and read) The Sovereign Hand”. Because that’s why you’re all here, right?

But that’ll be a couple of weeks off. First things first.

The Luminaries (Forget your feet)

As already noted, I really enjoyed the discourse flowing around the greatest literary occasion to hit NZ in a long time: Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries winning the 2013 Man Booker Prize. It’s also been great reading more thoughts from Catton via interviews and such, they’re all over the internet. And it’s good she’s not shy with her opinions.

And unsurprisingly, prevailing opinion favours The Luminaries. But it is not unanimous, and I know that some are not attempting or finishing the novel, and there is a reason for that. Upon finishing The Luminaries, I felt fulfilled, satisfied and teased out as if after an actual physical workout, but I’d be lying if I said I loved it right from the start. While I don’t do reviews, as such, I will sound off on books that I like, and I figure a little light analysis might help people know how or whether to try The Luminaries out.

Upon winning the Booker, VUP’s Fergus Barrowman himself said the book had a slow start. So I think the first thing to point out is that if you can get a quarter through the book, you might as well keep reading, it will only get easier, better, and more enjoyable. This is not to say the first chapters aren’t skilfully wrought. The Luminaries carries two stories. The one that kicks the novel off is an intricate tale of a dead man’s gold and what 12 men know about it, which of course includes all the lies, misunderstandings and machinations with each person’s “whole truth” making nothing so true, but nothing less whole than a wheeling constellation of relations.

This story, the messy intrigue of “the whole truth”, is well-served by the astrological origins of the text’s structure. Where the novel shines, however, is towards the end. Catton herself has stated her story is, at the heart of it, a love story, and I would agree. But this heart it is only felt in the final, revelatory third once Staines is found and the text tapers to “nothing but the truth”, without the embellishments surrounding the dominant gold/mystery story. The Irishmen Paddy Ryan appears for one moment just to mark this transition where the lovers’ tale emerges from the body of the other. “Give us a tale and spin it out, so we forget about our feet, and we don’t notice that we’re walking,” he says. In The Luminaries there is a lot of palaver from tenuously connected characters, many minutiae of shipping and insurance, the tiny yet significant details of typesetting a paper, and a general mix of coincidences and contrivances that bring the constellation of events together. This is not a criticism in itself, but as these relations are so slender and transient, a lot hinges on whether you are engaged by the presence of the Victorian-style narrator and her insights and asides as to whether you “forget your feet”. I do like a little narration; a good narration not only reminds us we are engaged with a text but invites us to make our own external connections between it and our world. While others, apparently, have been appropriately bewitched by The Luminaries’ narrator, she remained aloof for me.

But while the early content might be a barrier to some persevering with the novel, Catton’s writing is still a huge ameliorating factor. Her skill with sentences is what makes this conflation of circumstances readable, much less converge with masterful sense. The Luminaries is a novel that shouldn’t work, doesn’t quite work, yet does its work perfectly. Together the two stories comprise “the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”, suitably intertwined by the Carvers’ ambitions, and in this the text seems to execute the author’s intent. I confess a wish for the lovers’ and their antagonists to have spent more time centre-stage in a story told with the élan of The Luminaries’ final third. But that would have been an entirely different novel.

Novel progress? Yes!

When you’ve been working on a project for ten years, probably written several million words, you get kinda casual about reporting that yes, you are working on another draft and it will soon be back in the hands of your publisher. It’s draining enough doing it, without writing about doing it. I don’t even really talk about it. It’s a grunt and a nod. It’ll get done. Little Train That Could, n’all.

But now, happily, we’re at the stage of “real” things happening. First, a cover.

The Sovereign Hand - coverIt took much back and forth to get this how Stephen and I wanted. For a long time it felt like nothing would please me – and it’s true, it’s almost impossible for any cover to properly reflect the many varied dimensions of the story – but this one does its job well. The title font evokes the foundation genre well, an impression modified by the font choices for my name and the tag line, the latter being most modern. Equally the eye is a significant image from the text and adds interest with its detail. In short, it speaks directly to those who identify with speculative fiction, while remains understated enough, with enough intrigue, to attract the wider readership it suits. We hope.

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TSH proof

And now the proof is in my hot little hand. Okay, this arrived three weeks ago – at this point it’s clear that I have been less than diligent about my updates, tis true – but excuses and explanations for that can wait till tomorrow. For now let’s say she is weighing in at a flattering 452 pages in what I find a very attractive typeface. Pretty damn pleased, and this is where things are at: me scrawling final changes before sending it back. If I motor, that will be by end of May.

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Of course, the arrival of a proof also means that people are reading it. Bernard Beckett is author of the award-winning Genesis (a personal favourite that I recommend to everyone) and writes elegantly and knowledgeably on a vast field of topics, while also managing to be a secondary school teacher on the side (and father, and husband – I know better than to leave those out). All his writing has that most critical quality: something to say.  So his praise is like gold to me. I’ll have to dart over to Neil Gaiman’s blog for tips on how to shamelessly integrate such comments to my site.

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But there’s more. Without blowing anything too early, there is a real prospect of some major international exposure for The Sovereign Hand, probably in July, online. Stay tuned.

Shortly after that, I hope to have Part One, the first quarter or so of the book ,up online as a free download. I’m a great believer in try-before-you-buy, where possible, and The Sovereign Hand has so much to offer, there’s no reason not to share.

Then the book launch is scheduled for Wellington in mid to late August. If you’re in town, I hope you can make it. For everyone elsewhere, I’m working on making something special available for you too. (A special trip back to Hamilton would be nice too.)

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Last, thanks for stopping by. Welcome to my new followers on Twitter – I don’t really use it , but will always tweet when I have news specifically about my book (such as this post). Additionally, if anyone has some other media they prefer to use to keep in touch, for instance a Facebook page for The Sovereign Hand,  just let me know in the comments or contact page. If there’s demand, I can add it. But the easiest way to catch every update is just to follow the blog.

Tomorrow, The Luminaries (finally), and a little more on what I’ve been up to.

Books given, books read

Gifts: The Wind City, by Summer Wigmore; Tropic of Skorpeo by Michael Morrisey; Unspakable Secrets of the Aro Valley by Danyl McLauclan; The Factory World by Joe Ryan; I'm Working on a Building by Pip Adam' Hand Me Down World, by Lloyd Jones2013 was my Christmas of Literary Giving. All my family got great NZ books, as pictured, plus The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion‎ (a thoughtful choice, which my mother promptly vetoed by exchanging it for Amy Tan – sigh.)  Of the seven, I’d only read Tropic of Skorpeo and The Factory World, so I was giving away treasures I actually want to read myself: an inverted narrative about the construction of the world’s tallest building on the west coast of the South Island; Wellington’s Aro Valley has a hotbed of adventure, dark magic and intrigue – maybe with The Wind City‘s Maori gods romping around in the capital at the same time? Definitely no lack of entertaining ideas.

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Of the books I have read recently, I enjoyed Hamish Clayton’s Wulf, historical fiction fusing Te Rauparaha with the Beowulf epic. Sometimes I take just one or two things away from a novel, and in this case it was the evocative emphasis on a New Zealand that was all “black and green”, without the imported autumnal colours. Living in Dairyland, I was really impressed by that simple point, and kinda yearn to be in that long-gone place. Makes me appreciate my time in what remains of our bush even more.

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Kafka’s The Trial. Freedom of information advocate Aaron Swartz was facing the full weight of the US anti cyber “crime” agenda – years of stress, maybe years of jail, millions in punitive fines – after he made academic texts held by MIT available online. Swartz read The Trial in 2011, shortly after his arrest, and according to his father he called it “deep and magnificent” “I’d not really read much Kafka before and had grown up led to believe that it was a paranoid and hyperbolic work,” instead, he’d found it “precisely accurate—every single detail perfectly mirrored my own experience. This isn’t fiction, but documentary.”

Having now read The Trial, it is hard to argue – it resonates with my experiences with Inland Revenue, even challenging a parking ticket, any bureaucratic power. Has anyone not hit their head against a govt department wall? And now they are gathering all our information so they think they have even more god-like powers to judge guilt before innocence, and for anyone hoping to change the world this is chilling to the core.
Aaron Swartz was, of course, driven to suicide last year. No official of any sort will be held responsible for the witch hunt. He was 26.

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The most challenging and fascinating, and impressive, novel I’ve read lately is Sleight by Kirsten Kaschock. As a writer, you are attracted to reading that resonates with your own writing. I enjoy texts that ask the reader to make their own connections, and our understandings of the characters, the story, and “sleight” begin as disparate then coalesce, in the same way the sleight troupe’s practise comes together and arrives as a singular definitive event. In this way, the subject mirrors the novel’s structure, which is always effective, when achieved.

The multi-dimensional, abstract, almost impossible performance art-dance Kaschock created in sleight also resonated with the abstract-impossible aspects of The Sovereign Hand: those elements that are often decribed as “unfilmable”, where concrete description and detail surrender to an impression that eludes reality, and is all the more potent for it. The slake moth of Perdido Street Station and the perpetual train of Iron Council come to mind; the affect of scent in Süskind’s Perfume; In The Sovereign Hand, it’s the diablerie, in particular. All evidence that sometimes you can not just call a spade a spade, that you need richer language to unchain the reader from unthinking signifiers and permit them to draw their own ring around whatever is signified in their mind. That’s what speculative fiction, in whatever genre, does best.

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Next post: Joe Sacco’s Palestine, The Luminaries, and maybe a bit more about my book.

Push-me-pull-you

New year. A lot of change here at the anarko demokratus homestead, one of which being I’m almost ready to become more regular and wide-ranging with my blog posts.

Most exciting, the final final draft of The Sovereign Hand is in Stephen’s hand at Steam Press, so I’m looking forward to discussing the novel more in coming months, including making the whole first act available for download, free. And of course the book’s launch, in August this year, during New Zealand Book Month 2014.

Other topics: I have read a number of books over the summer, including The Luminaries – I did preview the novel, definitely a few more things to say having now read it. And plenty still to say on reading and writing in general.

It is also election year here in New Zealand. I’m not really interested in political parties, but power. Power. Power, power, power – what it is, who has it, and how we relate to it – so I may find a few things to say about that.

In the meantime, here is a snapshot  to prove that I spent my summer in lands distant and wonderous. Well, Wellington Zoo – but what a prize! Not photoshopped, I swear.

pushmepullyou

Non-fiction essay: A Part Of Me

A little girl dashes into the fog. She’s barely two. It’s our local park; she knows the playground, and I’m following along; but it feels taboo, letting her so far ahead. The image of such a dearly loved figure, so small and alone in the white, framed by the bare blank trees – it strikes the eye like neglect, like I should be hovering at her shoulder, just in case. But there’s no one about to upbraid me. As I watch her joy the guilt fades, and a new dread settles instead.

Nothing reframes your conception of family like your first child. You’re saddled with a whole new package of “grown up” and it all has to fit immediately. With it comes a new appreciation for your own parents, and all parents. Whatever your feelings about kinship – those push-me/pull-you ties that tangle and constrain, that can tighten like parachutes or winch you to unearned heights – having a child cuts through that gnarly wadding, makes an incurable wound. News items you once skimmed past disinterestedly now touch with a visceral chill: the baby who died in her bed from overheating; or the one that survived, cushioned in the backpack, when her parents fell from a gondola. And the irrational fears, seeded in our congealed criminal folklore: yes, my daughter is special, why wouldn’t someone want to snatch her, look at Madeleine McCann – presumably this nightmare is looped in some collective parental consciousness.

Who we claim as family is significant. The world demands we make these divisions and we are herd creatures at heart. We impart trust on the ties of blood embellished with ideas of self-interest and shut out the rest, resulting in genocide, wars and sectarian violence at one end of the scale, to remarriage after a divorce, leaving one family for another, at the other. In the Royals we have a family that has succeeded in setting itself above all others, yet is embraced in the imagination of millions as if they also belong. It is a fundamental human inequality. We are forever making the statement: you are with me – and you are not.

This creates rules around family, divisions as real as whanau, hapu, iwi, maori, tauiwi, but they are not hard walls. The boundaries shift when we talk of the kinship of community, of a crowd united at an All Blacks game, where provincial foes become hometown heroes; or of a city humbled by disaster, its collective struggles almost incommunicable as the rest of the country ticks on. Even the act of asking for and sharing a smoke on the street expresses a familial bond.

Here is where family transcends the contest for power and resources. Where the stakes are low, family becomes just a feeling that might be extended to anyone, even everyone. I was perhaps nine when I realised something like this, on a sunny day walking home from school. It was just luck that made me white, middle-class, male; I could have been born into any body in any family, any place in the world. The thought was not paired with any religious belief, but the consequence, that I could have been born as anyone: I realised I was everyone. Or, at least, I should act as if everyone was part of me.

Naturally, this epiphany lasted five minutes on the rough-and-tumble reality of playground politics, but the inclination to embrace commonalities endures; and we have nothing less in common than all being only human. This does not necessarily suit a world weighted towards the fear of difference, to turned backs, to protecting one’s tribe. Our hearts reach out to Australians caught in flash-fires, but we say nothing of the fire that pours even more senselessly on Gaza. We have received the non-message, those people are not, could not, be ours; which is hard to take when I consider recent revelations from Iraq, more graphic photos swapped between US troops like baseball cards. Because when I see a young woman, surrounded, with blurred spots covering her mouth, I see with the eyes of a father. I know that she and all her family are now dead, and it’s left to me to demand that no family suffer such circumstances ever again.

It’s an old game. The Great Game. The dividing lines are imagined, but when acted upon become real, with real gains for a few and real tragedies for the rest. We see the fruits in the feudalism that emerges under every system of government: royal families, corporate dynasties, political parties and the frameworks that fund them. While real families, for so long the heart of the human economy, become “nice-to-haves”, a flag of political rhetoric, and an externality that is left to look after itself – debased by systems that promote individual self-interest above all else.

And that’s what I saw as my little girl ran into the mist: a desolate place where people stood around like black trees, silent, not seeing her or each other, only the heights to which they might grow, heedless of the collective cost. A vision of the future. And it seems like the only power I have to stop it is to have another child, just so my daughter won’t have to endure it alone.

This essay was written as an entry to the Sunday Star Times essay competition on “Family”, 2013.

Booker Brilliance; theme song for the day

As everyone who loves literature probably knows, Eleanor Catton was awarded the Booker Prize this week, for The Luminaries. Google has you covered for most of that coverage, or @fergusvup on twitter, or Bookman Beattie’s blog.

As mentioned previously, The Luminaries was on my must-reads before it got longlisted, but since that time I actually found the reviews themselves diverting enough for me to delay reading the actual book, allowing myself more time to digest the discourse around the novel to inform my reading.

As with 90% of most media products, 90% of “reviews” were drek – just recycled clippings of basic facts: long and physically heavy (work-out jokes), 832 pages, astrological system, intricately unfolding murder mystery, gold rush 1800s Hokitika NZ. More recent reviews, since The Luminaries made the shortlist and won (I’m thinking New York Times, and an Irish or Scottish paper? They didn’t grab me enough to bother linking) were more suggestive in terms of big themes and import: the value of love versus gold, although unsurprisingly with a novel this length and complexity, any review struggles to encapsulate this adequately. As author of a soon-to-be published long novel, I know this; we ask potential readers to take a lot on faith.

Aside from a review via dialogue from two Victoria University students, as insightful as capering Shakespearian fools, there were a troika of reviews, below, that struck me as most interesting as critiques, and it comes largely down to the novel’s design.

Now, I pity poor Catton, in one regard, because the first question it seems she ever got asked in any interview was “Wow – long book. Why?” Her response, naturally was to explain it as a product of design almost outside her control, with the astrological necessities creating constraints for her to work to and the twelve chapters diminishing by half the previous as progressed, and so on… and she is clearly satisfied and proud with how this panned out (by which I join the bad-pun brigade, sorry), and spoke on this at length. This was picked up and became the defining aspect of the novel in the press; if she did discuss any of the import or themes of the book, it was dwarfed by the coverage given to the book’s structure. The consequence being, because of our media’s blaring, echo-chamber effect,  that this intricate design became the summation of that pernicious beast, the author’s intent – the question then being, is this architecture, however perfect, all there is to The Luminaries?

For me, I think Guy Somerset raised this question in review, himself dubious of the answer; CK Stead asked it in his own way and found the novel lacking (The original title was “All that glistens”, from memory); and KIrsty Gunn did the same but came out with an emphatic affirmative of the novel’s worth.

All of which makes me think it is a question worth asking. A good critique should arm the reader with the tools – the right questions – to dig into the field of the text and find their own answers; a good review should at least tip who would be likely to enjoy a book (and not in a snarky way, or don’t review it at all).

Since winning, Catton appears to have hit out at such reviews as Stead and Somerset. Putting aside the tone taken by individuals (a hard thing to ask of any author, I admit), the impression I received across the strata of reviews was the book might well be a glory-box: beautifully, artfully made, designed to hold treasure, and bore the name “glory”, without much exploration of whether it was empty or full. Perhaps a metaphor that suits the pseudo-Victorian style… It is, of course, impossible, now, to write a 19th Century sensation novel; is it possible to even ape that mode so perfectly that the thinking of an author 150 years distant doesn’t seep through? Catton has apparently done her research, and her skills and will are formidable enough, and her design arbitrary enough, that I suspect she would be one of the few able to do it: if she chose. If she chose to crop away the modern-day, couldn’t what’s left feel somewhat hollow?

So I have enjoyed reading the reviews, puzzling over the conundrum of the post-modern Victorian sensation novel before I happily, finally purchased The Luminaries as an e-book minutes after her win, to celebrate – $20, the most expensive e-book I’ve ever purchased, but I don’t hold with the notion of any new book hovering round the price of a coffee or a hamburger. And my reader tells me I’m 9% in, and it’s a slow start, but I get the sense so far not of a glory box, but a monumental pyramid, building, aloof, but not yet sun-dazzled like Pharoah’s, and already the depths are showing, the hint of secret passages and labyrinthine twists. How many slaves laboured for how many years, for such a feat? Just one, for three years. (My own, quite different, long project, will have spanned 10.)

Beyond the novel, success at the Booker has given Eleanor Catton a profile, and I hope she works hard to make it one that truly reflects the person she is, the things she values, her depth of thought. The mainstream media is trite, superficial, and loves gossip, even the erudite sectors. She has already, by her own admission, tripped up talking too loosely to journalists (New Zealand lacking a culture of reviewing, she said), and she has to decide how to use the power the spotlight brings. Arundhati Roy, for instance, has not written a novel since The God of Small Things, but used her profile to fight for justice and sovereignty in India – duly ignored by the mainstream media (see how quickly Catton would become “that crazy astrology lady” if she starts banging on too much on the wrong topic – say, the impact of industry on global warming).

This is all the more important in a year the Man Booker has decided to open itself up to all UK-published works in English. In doing so it is undeniable that this institution has an agenda, a “growth” path for itself, in the corporate model, and it doesn’t appear to involve widening the platform to expose writing talent or even more cash. The only motivation seems a vain hope to aggrandise itself as the anointer of one champion of the writing world. And so not only has Catton won the Booker prize, but the Man Booker has awarded itself a dazzling young star to spearhead its charge on the USA – hoping Americans will notice. For 50,000 pounds? I’m not sure who got the better bargain.

I do know that prizes, while a lottery when you get down to it (comparing apples with oranges and bananas) are invaluable to authors at all stages of their career. The awards for my extracts were hugely motivating and gave a sense of purpose in a pursuit where you have no empirical proof of performance or improvement, not like sportsfolk, or even worth – sometimes not even once you jump that “last” hurdle, getting published. We should be making more prizes, not heading towards a unification bout between the Booker and National Book Awards.

Locally, I hope someone as appealing and articulate as Eleanor Catton can make an impact on the fortunes of the NZ literary environment, at least lifting the profile of NZ writers, if not encouraging more funding. Given, the current government’s bullying approach to public intellectuals and culture, she could be just the person to take them on.

On that note, some Radiohead. (Because why wouldn’t you?)

Excerpt #2, House of Mirrors, now available; another trial cover

It has been another month of line-edits, insertions and deletions; all undoubted improvements, but I always find it unsettling. The text is such a well-traversed field, yet with each tiny change it feels increasingly unfamiliar territory so by the end I want nothing more than to go back and read it all through again.

Excerpt #2, like the first, came Runner-up in the Pikihuia Awards. With Rise and Shine I was pleased to get a literary award for a fantasy extract. With House of Mirrors, it was still fantasy, of course, but also a set-piece from almost the middle of the book: like a cold splash of water to the reader, given the unfamiliarity of the setting, lack of character intros, and general assumptions it makes of the reader’s knowledge. Far from a safe bet, so success at the Awards meant a lot, especially with the excellent Briar Grace-Smith as judge. I think it works well enough as an introduction for Tanner without spoiling too much.

Sovereign Hand temporary cover 2This excerpt includes the latest trial cover for the novel. It illustrates another aspect of the story, the political side. House of Mirrors takes a broad, inclusive brush to matters of political philosophy and sociology; the political motivations of the Crown and its actions are also significant in this part of the book. But the real political in the book, for me, is the personal, the choices and changes the characters make in dealing with power. So the pawn is an apt image and I’d be happy if it was what we finally decide upon.

 

Just a sprinkle on the page.

My essay entry (requisite topic: “family”) has flown off to the Sunday Star Times Short Story competition. At only 900 words, and non-fiction, it was exactly what I needed right now to wedge in between work, volunteering, and working on the line edits that have come back from Stephen at Steam Press (who certainly ain’t phoning it in – challenging queries, I tell you). It would have been nice to enter a short story, and I have a zillion ideas for them, but it’s a form I simply haven’t had time to get comfortable with, with most of my writing energy being directed towards The Sovereign Hand for the last 9 years. I see the stories that win and are lauded, and there appears to be a formula. My short fiction, however, always seems to be wrestling towards a novella, or at least something atypical for Short stories in NZ. I think my subject matter, which tends to be more about “The World” than “Life”, has something to do with that – a question I’ll revisit in a later post.

Regarding The Sovereign Hand, I will be posting a second excerpt, the latest version of  House of Mirrors, previously published in Huia Short Stories 8, some time next month.

Timely, and to the point.

It’s one of the ironies of the blogosphere that a lag between posts makes a blog owner look lazy and idle (“What, you’re not taking your dog for a walk? Again?“), when the truth can be entirely the reverse.

For anyone politically engaged, critically aware, or in any way oriented to the world around them by means other than the television, there has been some interesting shit going down, in NZ and abroad, and it has all been finding ground inside me, heart and mind.

So all the reading I’ve been doing over the internet about the NSA and America’s response, into the local GCSB Bill and the spying actions of the Prime Minister’s office, all the stories veering from authoritarianism to literary criticism that I pick off reliable Friends feeds – y’know, all that stuff that no one has had the incredible wisdom to actually pay me to do – that’s research. And that all intertwines with my increasingly grim reading of Listener articles (no, I do not pay for them – but it pays to know what is being read); and the books I have finished, such as Cypherpunks; and with the local culture – skirmish over the fluoridation of drinking water; and my real-life wrestling with the Inland Revenue Department and city council, and whatever, and whatever – and yes, that all qualifies as incredibly useful and as research, so long as the ideas that flow from these interconnections are recorded, filed and indexed in accurate and timely fashion. Which, you know, never actually happens.

Nevertheless! They are held in my head and will hang there, these future blog posts, fictions and miscellanea, like so many orphaned limbs until I get around to some assembling, or at least give them the dignity of text, even if it is in OneNote, which tends to be my perpetual purgatory of partially-constructed thoughts.

The upshot of which is I do intend to write a post on the implications of our growing surveillance society for the bureaucratic authoritarianism (way to link Assange to a $12 parking infringement), among a host of others; but barring the unlikelihood of someone emailing me to beg for a blog post, I thought I might whip something together for the Sunday Star Times non-fiction essay, the required theme being “family”, which I think has the potential to focus a lot of the things I’m interested – politics, culture, the hypocrisies in our public morality. Whether it catches the judge’s eye or not, I’ll post it here in November.

At the same time, I’ve got line edits from Stephen at Steam Press for Act 2 of The Sovereign Hand, plus the aforementioned purgatory to renovate. So if it seems still around here, assume that’s where I’ll be.