Posted 1202 days ago by John Gunders in |

Well that seems to be about it then.

I’ll turn comments off and we’ll discuss what to do with the content: either leave it here to gather dust, or to take it down and archive off-line, or just trash the lot…

Thank you to everyone who has been involved with this project over the years, as writers, readers, and commenters. Big thanks especially to Nick who floated the original idea and has maintained the backend for seven years. Not a bad innings for a blog, given that I think the moment was on the point of passing back in 2005 when we started this.

So that’s goodbye from all of us. Over and out.

Freedom in Azerbaijan

Posted 1280 days ago by John Gunders in |

Guest post from Sam Gunders, media and journalism student at the University of Southern Queensland. This report went to air on Phoenix Radio Online on Friday morning, 25 May, and is reproduced here with Sam’s permission.

On Sunday night we might be enjoying a drink or 10 and watching the Eurovision song contest for 2012 from Baku, Azerbaijan. It will of course be a fun night of gratuitous changes of both the musical and costume varieties; there will be a bit of singing and a lot of watching votes being counted and you can bet that it will be an entirely politics free zone.

Politics and Eurovision have mixed in the past, but it is usually frowned upon. In 2009, Georgia withdrew after they were told to change the lyrics to their song “We Don’t Want To Put In” no political grounds.They refused and took no part in the contest.

Beyond the stadium in Baku though there is a nation in need of attention from the wider world. Azerbaijan was rated in the 2011 Freedom in the World Report as being “not free”, scoring 6 out of 7 for political rights and 5 out of 7 for civil liberties. Just to be confusing, a 7 is actually the worst score in that report, 1 is the best. So Azerbaijan is not performing well.


Nebula Award Winners 2011

Posted 1288 days ago by John Gunders in |

The Nebula Award winners for 2011 were announced overnight:

Novel: Among Others, by Jo Walton (Tor)

Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)

Novellette: “What We Found,” Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011)

Short Story: “The Paper Menagerie,” Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2011)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman (writer), Richard Clark (director) (BBC Wales)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book: The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)

Eurovision 2012 - Semifinal two contestants

Posted 1301 days ago by John Gunders in |

Part two of my brief assessments of this year’s Eurovision contestants (part one is here).

In this second half of the draw, the piano ballad is king, although there is a fair range of styles from Eurodisco to bat-shit crazy. It also contains the favourite, Sweden, although it remains to be seen if the bookmakers have to pay out on that one.

Tomorrow I’ll post my opinions about the “big six”: that is, the five western European countries that bank-roll the event and the previous year’s winner, in this case, Azerbaijan.


Eurovision 2012 - Semifinal one contestants

Posted 1302 days ago by John Gunders in |

Well it’s that time again. Yes, we are off to Baku in Azerbaijan for Eurovision 2012. This will be the most easterly Eurovision ever, and the first time it has been hosted in Eastern Europe—Latvia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2005 are the closest the competition has come to the countries that seem to take it the most seriously.

Below the fold are my frankly ill-informed assessments of the first semifinal contestants, based on a single hearing of the Youtube video. There are presented in alphabetical order rather than performance because… well, because. I was going to add links, but I couldn’t be bothered. The Eurovision site is here.

I’ll be back in the next couple of days with the second semifinal contestants. In the meantime, enjoy :-)

Hugo Award Nominees 2012

Posted 1330 days ago by John Gunders in |

Nominations for the 2012 Hugo Awards were announced overnight. You can find the full list here. Nominations for best novel are:

Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Jo Walton and China Miéville have the chance to make it a Hugo/Nebula double.

In other interesting news, the five nominations for “Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form” include three episodes of Doctor Who (“The Doctor’s Wife”, “The Girl Who Waited”, and “A Good Man Goes to War”), and an episode of Community (“Remedial Chaos Theory”). I must say, I never expected to see an episode of Community on a Hugos list, but the nominated ep is a masterpiece of alternative reality fiction. I wouldn’t be surprised if it picked up the gong: Doctor Who has owned the category for half a decade, and this must grate a little on US voters, but as much as I loved “The Doctor’s Wife” (screenwriter: Neil Gaiman), “Remedial Chaos Theory” was almost flawless television.

Winners will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, 30 August – 3 September.

Created Communities: Caboolture Historical Village

Posted 1356 days ago by John Gunders in |

[Department of blatant self-promotion]

My latest paper has just been published in Altitude. Please cite repeatedly in prestigious journals…

Abstract: Following Zygmunt Bauman’s provocation that times of physical and ideological insecurity lead to an appeal to the ideals of community, this paper considers the way in which history and community are reconstructed at the Caboolture Historical Village, an open-air museum north of Brisbane. The village privileges the region’s pioneer past and the period evoked is rural, late nineteenth century, largely excluding any references to Caboolture’s modern, urban history. An analysis of the site reveals that the version of community on display is narrowly constructed around the ideals of hard work, individualism, and piety, and reveals an emphasis on technological progress and innovation to the exclusion of the lives of the people whose lives are ostensibly commemorated. This paper contends that this idealised construction of an homogeneous, unified past that excludes problematic figures such as aborigines and migrants serves a conservative fantasy of the “good old days” where issues were black and white, community consensus was assumed, and external threats were easily identified and repelled. It argues that in a postmodern world of cosmopolitanism, international migration, and global terror, places like the Caboolture Historical Village increase their appeal in an uncertain world.

Gunders, John. “Created Communities: Caboolture Historical Village.” Altitude 10 (2012).

Available here [pdf 184kb]

Nebula Award Nominees 2011

Posted 1377 days ago by John Gunders in |

Overnight the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the nominees for the 2011 Nebula awards. It was also announced that the recipient of the 2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award for lifetime contributions and achievements in the field will be awarded to two-time winner (1992, 2010) Connie Willis, who has also received Hugo awards for best novel in 1992, 1999, and 2010.

Kameron Hurley and Genevieve Valentine are the only first-time nominees for best novel. Jack McDevitt won in 2007 with Seeker.

The winners will be announced in May.

Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey; Subterranean Press)
Firebird, Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime Books)
The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)


Kyle does it again

Posted 1466 days ago by John Gunders in |

I read an interesting article on Mumbrella this morning: apparently Kyle Sandilands has said something offensive and regrettable on his terrible radio show. The station owners are in damage control and sponsors are publicly abandoning the show.

So what was it this time? Apparently he made disparaging remarks about Magda Szubanski’s weight. What? Oh, sorry, wasn’t I clear? It was an article by Tim Burrowes called “Is Kyle Sandilands’ live broadcasting career over?” published in September 2009. Read it here.

On that occasion Kyle and co-host Jackie O were taken off air for two week as punishment for a series of inappropriate stunts, most spectacluarly the lie-detector rape debacle. As I recall there was outrage on Twitter and elsewhere, advertisers furiously distanced themselves, and the man himself appeared chastened and apologetic. Sound familiar?


Queensland Speaks

Posted 1468 days ago by John Gunders in |

This website comprises a series of interviews with key players in Queensland politics over the last 40 years:

This is the first I’ve heard of this initiative: perhaps it has only just gone live, there is no copyright date on the website. As it describes:

Queensland Speaks is a free website that presents the extraordinary personal and political world of decision making in Queensland over the past 40 years. It aims to enable students, researchers and the general public to gain some understanding of political and bureaucratic decision making in Queensland from the 1970s to the end of the Beattie Government in 2007.

Each interview is clearly summarised, and internally indexed to allow easy access to key points. There is also an extensive tagging system that allows the listener to follow themes across a number of different interviews, and the search mechanism seems to work well. There is also an effective in-text glossary of terms, which provide the explanation of acronyms or background to particular events.

Given the period involved is guess it’s natural that first thing I searched was “Fitzgerald inquiry.” This brought up six pages of references, covering more than twenty interviewees from all sides of politics and including people like Russell Cooper and Wayne Goss.

Coming from the Centre for the Government of Queensland at the University of Queensland, the main drivers of this initiative are Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Danielle Miller. It is well worth a look.