NIGHT TO DAWN MAGAZINE ISSUE 23

Posted in art, Australia, Barbara Custer, horror writer, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, Uncategorized, USA, Vampire author with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2013 by ROD MARSDEN

NTD23frontcover-229x300
Nice colour scheme on the front cover art.

 

Of the interior art, David L. Transue’s noble knight on page 22 is well done. Marg Simon’s sketch on page 58 reminds me of the great Gene Colan back in his Tomb of Dracula days.

Of the stories Todd Hank’s one-pager Vampire Ferris Wheel comes with a nice twist to the tale.

A Road Less Travelled by Hal Kempla has some nice atmospherics. Careful how you go about ‘seeing America.’ Careful what you take for innocent.

Oh and it was wonderful to see my Midnight Gunslinger in print. Kansas really was known as bloody Kansas back in the days just before the American Civil War broke out. Perfect locale for a gun toting vampire.

Of the poems, Twisted Nursery Rhymes by Lee Clark Zempe hit the spot. This fellow does have a dark sense of humour.

I wonder if issue 25 will be a silver issue with a silver cover and silver stories inside.

Meanwhile I’ll look forward to issue 24 and what it has to offer. 

 

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http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

QUEEN OF IRON YEARS BY LYN McCONCHIE AND SHARMAN HORWOOD

Posted in dark fiction writer, Great Britain, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Romance, Sex, United Kingdom, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2013 by ROD MARSDEN

QUEEN OF IRON YEARS BY LYN McCONCHIE AND SHARMAN HORWOOD

QUEEN OF IRON YEARS…A NOVEL BY LYN McCONCHIE AND SHARMAN HORWOOD

Queen of Iron Years is a bold move on the part of writers Lyn McConchie and Sharman Horwood. It is reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s 1969 masterpiece The Left Hand of Darkness.

In 2035 a new STD is claiming lives. It is Tensen’s virus. Transsexuals can get it and then pass it on to members of the general public. When non-transsexuals get it they die. There is panic. Plans are launched to put all transsexuals, whether they have Tensen’s or not, into camps supposedly for their own protection. Things aren’t looking good for thirty-year-old pre-op transsexual Cean Rowan and his transsexual friends. But what can be done about this situation?

A cure for Tensen’s might be years, even decades away. In the meantime transsexuals are having their jobs taken away from them, they are being bashed in the streets, and will soon be relieved of their liberty.

A plan is hatched for Cean to go back into the past and change history. But where was he to go and what was he to do when he got there?

Cean has always wanted to meet Boadicea, the iron age queen of the Iceni. She had fought against the Romans in her native Britain quite successfully for a while but was eventually defeated. The Iceni, for rebelling against Rome, were virtually wiped out. Cean is determined to stop Boadicea’s final fall at the hands of her enemies from happening and also save the Iceni from their fate.

After some difficulties in the England of his own day, Cean does go back in time and he does change the life of Boadicea and also the lives of the Iceni people. How he does this I will leave you, dear reader, to discover. Suffice to say both Boadicia and the Iceni are not quite what Cean expected to find. And Cean is not quite what Boadicia and the Iceni expected to come across in their day and age. Equipped with knowledge about the Romans, can Cean succeed in his mission and, if he does succeed, will his success have any bearing on how history will play itself out?

Much good historic research has gone into the making of Queen of Iron Years. But it is not bogged down in detail. In fact, once you pick it up its hard to put down.

Some of the subject matter may be controversial hence the boldness of it. Some readers will no doubt take this as being a dangerous book. If it is to be thus taken then it would have to fall in line with other books also considered dangerous in their day such as Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and of course Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness.

If you want a fast paced gallop into fresh, new concepts this one’s for you.

Queen of Iron Years by Lyn McConchie and Sharman Horwood

Kit Hill Publishing 2011

http://www.kitehillpublishing.com

BULLYING!

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, revenge, set in Australia, Set in Germany, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2013 by ROD MARSDEN
DEMONS OF THE MIND AND  THE SOUL - THE BULLY!

DEMONS OF THE MIND AND THE SOUL – THE BULLY!

OVERVIEW
This is a complicated subject in that bullies have often been urged to do what they do or have been bullied themselves and are seeking their own form of revenge. I came across a story in Kindergarten when I was a young kid that stuck with me. It involved a man stressed by bullying at work who hits his wife and in turn his wife hits their son and the son then hits his little sister. So who does the little sister hit? Her teddy bear. What’s the message here? It is transference of anger and hurt. It isn’t very nice but it is understandable and it is, sadly, all too human.  

In the movie The Breakfast Club starring Judd Nelson (1985) a youmng man is urged to pick on a brainiac because his dad is a jock and so hates brainiacs. The young man doesn’t want to do it but he does want to please his dad. Later on in the film he says he is sorry to the kid he picked on to please his dad and they decide that they can be friends after all.

RELIGION
Religion can be a factor in bullying. In a doctumentary I saw a while ago a high school girl living in the Bible belt of the USA was picked ion by teachers as well as students because she was Jewish. I just hope that since that film was made the particular school in question plus its teachers have managed to clean up their act. Even so, that it should happen in the USA where freedom of religion is assured by the constitution is scarey.

In New South Wales, Australia a small group of Muslim youth decided to pick on Australian girls on Australian beaches because they were wearing bikinis and not tents. To add fuel to the fire, a life guard was hit after he had saved a life. Was this bullying on the part of this Muslim youth? You bet it was. The result? A peaceful demonstration against this abuse got out of hand and turned into a riot. Unfortunately the media today only remember the riot and not what caused it.

RACISM AND SEXISM

Racism and sexism exist. What’s more, they have been with us a very long time. Wars have come about because of racism. Dictators have been put into power because of fear and hatred for the other whoever the other might be.

hitler

Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany because the democracy created in the last year of the First World War had, in the eyes of the people, failed. Its failure in the eyes of the people could be linked to the bullying the German people suffered from the English and the French after the First World War. The people had gone through shortages of food and medicine. Jobs were hard to come by and for years inflation made life very difficult. The USA calmed things down with loans to Germany but, when the Great Depression hit, those loans were called in. It seemed obvious that a strong leader was needed. Hitler seemed to be that leader. The Jews, Gypsies and what Hitler thought of as other non-Germans living in Germany were blamed for Germany not winning the First World War. Communists and strong union leaders were also seen as the enemy of the developing Nazi state. In a sense those who had felt bullied were now becoming the bullies. The result of all this? Concentration camps, death camps and all out war.

SCHOOL BULLIES

Nowadays in countries like the USA guns are too easy to come by and there are strong divisions within schools. A kid picked on by jocks because he isn’t a jock can too easily get a gun to get even. A jock humiliated in class by a brainiac might turn to violence but will most likely use his fists. Women are not cut out of this business. Young women don’t seem to be as yet responsible for hands on violence in schools to the extent of young men but they have been known to egg bullies on. This I believe is worse than ascting the bully. The answer? Weaken the divisions in the schools. Make guns hard to come by. Make sure bullioes are properly punished for what they do and also have them come to terms with the wrongness of what they have done. Also punish any cheer leaders of violence by at least making them aware of the damage they do.

RACISM AND SEXISM IN THE OFFICE

I am with Franz Kafka on this one. I am also with Lewis Carroll. Governments may do their best to address these issues but it is really up to the people in whatever office. I know about political correctness. I know it doesn’t work. What you end up doing is substituting one form of racism wirth another, one form of sexism with another. I make this clear in my novel Desk Job.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

AN ENGLISH SUMMER IN SCOTLAND BY NEIL. K. HENDERSON

Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Scotland, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

A HOLE IN THE FLOOR

Neil K. Henderson’s An English Summer in Scotland and Other Unlikely Events does have more than its fair share of the unlikely and also the just plain demented. Each story takes you on a trip into Henderson’s imagination and it is some imagination.

 

It seems that no one can put meaning to butter and parsnips the way this wild Scot from Knightswood can. Also, no one can put together a dream girl, a birthday and a quiet time at home with a hole in the kitchen and creepy-crawlies doing their thing quite the same way. The hole is so deep it may reach all the way to Australia! What’s more, there’s a candle of all things shedding some light at the other end, making the hole even more of a wonder.

Colour explodes. There’s a kind of magical mystery tour going on amidst ancient grim even though no one is going anywhere fast except the crepy-crawlies. Then the scene changes.

Does Bunchie Nuttall get Ali Butterfield in the end? Does he even want her in the end?

Also, what’s with this dead, demented zombie cat? Is witchcraft afoot in Scotland or is it just the heat?

Can you have a quick draw thing happening in Scotland? Well, there is a Quick Draw at the Lazy B.  Laundrettes are places where apparently a mamn has to do what a man has to do.

Bath-time in Hell can be a bad scene especially when the number one bad guy turn up.  Again there are the creepy-crawlies to consider.

There are The Cat with the Inside-Out Head and The Cheesey Buscuit Goblin to make you wonder or at least push you in that direction.

Henerson’s style isn’t quite like fantasy writer Terry Pratchett but, then again, Terry Pratchett is English and loves his swords as well as his sorcery. Also in style Henderson is definitely more over the top and a dozen or so valleys away.

This book could be compared favourably with The Steam-driven Boy and Other Strangers (1973)  by Englishman John Stadek. Also An English Summer in Scotland is Henderson’s salute to british writer Lewis Carroll in that it has a mysterious hole, a girl like Alice in Ali and creatures best read about in the context of this fiction. Be warned though that this is experimental stuff. If you want further comparisons than try A Spaniard in the Works by John Lennon (1965).

An English Summer in Scotland and Other Unlikely Events by Neil K. Henderson was first published in 2005 by Skrev Press. For further information on grabbing a copy go to:

www. skrev-press.com

or write to:

Skrev Press

41 Manor Drive

Hebden Bridge

HX7 8DW

Scotland

UK

 

A COOK’S TOUR OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE by Rod Marsden

Posted in Australia, France, Great Britain, London, United Kingdom, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
THE PEN MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD!

THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD!

 

The earliest known example of English literature is the epic poem Beowulf. We can tell by its complexity and execution that it’s not written by a beginner. We know by its structure that it harks back to a long oral tradition of tale spinning. Strangely enough, there is much in common with Beowulf and the tall tales produced in the USA in the 18th and 19th Centuries. The stories associated with Davy Crockett are a great example of this sort of thing. Certainly poems and stories produced by Australian author Banjo Paterson in the 19th Century have a powerful Beowulf like feel to them.

It was through Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th Century that English as a written language made its first big step. Even at this stage it was far from being a pure language. In Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales he used words that had their origins in Ancient Greek, Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norman French and what was then regarded as Modern French. If he wanted to say something in a blunt, straightforward way most Englishmen would understand he would use Anglo-Saxon. If he wanted to be eloquent then he would use either Norman French or Modern French.  French in those days was very much a language of nobility and the European courts. Latin was a more universal language and was tied in with English grammar. Ancient Greek had a lot to do with the natural sciences as well as its connections to great writers of a past age.

Geoffrey, in his writing, brought new words into the English language and revived words that had been around for some time but had fallen into disuse. He was playful with language but also a great craftsman with it. He had his cast of characters on a holy pilgrimage to Canterbury. They were a good social mix of high and low. Possibly the most famous or infamous was the wife of Bath.  Sometime after Geoffrey’s death this feisty fictional female was still alive in song. There’s a ballad in which she goes to the pearly gates and St. Peter refuses to let her in. She of course kicks up such a stir that he has to eventually open the gates for her just to keep the peace. Did Geoffrey in his life time actually know someone like the wife of Bath? I would say so but we’ll never know for sure.

Understandably, Geoffrey feared that his writing, being in English, would not survive the test of time. He knew that the pronunciation of English differed greatly throughout the kingdom as did the spelling.  To this day there are still variants in dialect but perhaps not as pronounced as in his day. For example, a place of worship near the Scottish border was known as a Kirk. In London, however, the same place of worship went by the more French influenced name of Church. Chances were good that a person living on the border would not know what a Church was and a person living in London wouldn’t have a clue about a Kirk. So there wasn’t really a common English language in Geoffrey’s day and, as far as The Canterbury Tales were concerned, he could only hope that it would be understood by enough people throughout the land for it to keep on keeping on.

Before The Canterbury Tales there was The Decameron. It was written by Giovanni Boccaccio. This was the first great epic poem written in the growing language of Italian rather than in the then more conventional Latin. It dealt with a group of well off young people who had gone into the country to escape the plague. To pass the time until they could return to their city they told each other stories. Like The Canterbury Tales, these stories were not confined to the author’s place of origin.  They roamed with the writer’s imagination which makes them quite readable even in translation today. By the end of the 14th Century, between The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron, literature was flourishing in England and Italy in ways it had never flourished before. For a start, it was doing so in the common languages of the people and not just the languages of scholarship such as Latin and Ancient Greek.

The next great step forward for the English language took place during the reign of Elizabeth the first. She was, among other things, the first really good ruling queen the English had ever had. What’s more, England had a fleet of war ships capable of excellent defense against aggressive neighbors. The queen also understood good P.R. She commissioned playwrights such as William Shakespeare to not only entertain and inform but also to create excellent propaganda for her.  When Britain was threatened by the Spanish Armada, she spoke personally to some of those tasked with defending her realm. What comes down to us as her speech on this occasion may not be verbatim but it is still quite stirring. She understood how we can be moved by words, especially words in our own language.

At the time William Shakespeare was writing, the world was in transition. Old superstitions were beginning to die away to be replaced by a new emphasis on the various sciences.  This was made clear in his play, The Tempest. In his writing, Shakespeare sometimes turned what were traditional nouns into adverbs. He also invented new words and put old words to new use with new meanings.

(On a side note, there is a wonderful moment or two in an episode of Star Trek: The next Generation between the android Data and Captain Picard over lines from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.)

England, in becoming more a seafaring nation than ever before, was taking a great many words into its own  language. The French, in doing business with Arab people, adopted Arab words for the new spices such as pepper coming into common use in Europe. They of course gave the Arab words a French slant. The English, in doing business with the French, also came to adopt both these new words and goods. With new, improved commercial vessels able to travel further than ever before the language expanded greatly. It was also becoming more international though it would be a long while before it could compete successfully with French and Latin.

  There still wasn’t a dictionary for English that everyone could agree on. Even the name Shakespeare wasn’t always spelt the same way so spelling was also problematical.  Even with the printing press coming into use in England in the 15th Century, the issue of how to spell the most common of English words had not been resolved and was still to be resolved centuries later in Shakespeare’s day. From the 15th Century to well into the 17th Century a word in print might be spelt several ways in the same document and retain the same meaning. This, of course, was confusing to anyone attempting to read English.

When Englishmen first set sail to colonize parts of America there wasn’t a dictionary that encompassed the entire English speaking population so the style of English that went with the colonizers was the style the colonizers had grown up with. By the time there was a definitive English dictionary celebrated in England, time and distance meant that it could no longer be definitive for the people of English descent living in America. Then there was the War of Independence and the United States of America became a separate entity from the British Empire. Even so, the Constitution of the United States is written in concise and precise English that every Englishman and American to this day can understand. In this regard, it is a testimony to the strengths of the language and its general robust nature.

     In places like Boston there were attempts to keep the emerging American version of the English language pure. As in England, such attempts were doomed to failure.

The USA expanded and, with every new territory and then state added to the union, came new ideas and new words. How, for example, can you keep Spanish out of the language when California and New Mexico are part of the USA? How can you lock the door on further French influence when cities such as New Orleans are in the country and you have some French influence floating down the Hudson from Canada, your northern neighbour? Was the adoption of foreign words into the language democracy in action? There were those who would make this argument. It was certainly made in England in the 19th Century when English scholars were examining their language.

Some of the words that came from Spanish into English from the cattle trade are rodeo, lasso and hacienda. I believe Mustang is also Spanish. The guitar has its origins in Spain. San Francisco is a city named after a Spanish saint. Los Angeles is Spanish and has the meaning of city of Angels. Did the Spanish language add a certain type of richness to the American version of English? I would say so.

There had to be a definitive dictionary for the USA. It came out of a small blue book written by Webster in the 19th Century that could be purchased cheaply by anyone in the USA. Earlier attempts had been made but it was Webster who had the right handle on what the USA was about and what would work best in the USA. As the work expanded, certain areas of English were modernized to make the written language more palatable for everyone. Colour, for example, became color. Defence became defense. Centre became center. Gaol became jail. It was very much a case of making the written language more phonetic. This of course was not always easy or even possible. For example, in Davy Crockett’s part of the USA, thanks to Scottish and perhaps German influence, the word bear is actually pronounced bar. Compromises then had to be made.

Also words used by Americans could have a different meaning to the way they were used in England. Store, for example, was similar in meaning to warehouse to the English. In the USA store came to mean shop. Today, in Australia, you can use either the word shop or store to mean basically the same thing.

The gold rush and the push west in the 19th Century added lots of words to American English. Red-neck, for example, originally meant the migrants who could not afford passage on riverboats and so traveled by raft. They got red necks because they didn’t have much protection from the sun and, when they turned to farming, they got red necks in the fields they ploughed as well. ‘Slap leather’ was a call to fight a duel with guns. ‘Honest Injun’ as well as ‘you speak with forked tongue’ either came directly out of the west or the eastern chap books connected with the west. ‘Get along little doggie’ came from the cattle trade. Cowboys were once nothing more than common workers but all that was changed with eastern publications and then Hollywood cinematography. Stories about gunfighters like Billie the Kid and Wyatt Earp also had their influence on the language. Slowly but surely Native American words also made it into American English. There were words such as wampum and wigwam.

By the end of the 19th Century, new ways of working with steel were developed in the USA. This led to buildings being constructed. first in Chicago and then in New York. that could literally scrape the sky. Yes, the skyscraper (an American term) was born. From the mid-19th Century onwards there was a great influx of migrants from Europe into the USA. There was the Irish escaping famine. There were European Jews fleeing persecution from countries such as Russia. There were also the Italians and the Chinese.

  During the American Civil War (1861-1865) there were Irish migrants in American army uniforms. Some fought for the north and others for the south. At times a regiment made up of Irish in blue would be lined up against a regiment of Irish in gray. Regardless, the Irish whether protestant or Catholic (both came to the USA) have had a great influence on American life, on the American belief in liberty and justice and on the language.

In 1917 an American writer of Irish Catholic descent by the name of George M. Cohan wrote a song called ‘Over There’. It is an inspirational piece known the world over. It was sung in both World Wars and is why many people throughout the world still prefer to refer to Americans as Yanks.

The words:

Over there, over there,

Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming

The drums rum-tumming everywhere.

So prepare, say a prayer,

Send the word, send the word to beware -

We’ll be over, we’re coming over,

And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.

As for the Jewish migrants that settled in the USA, their influence on the language and those of their descendants has been most profound. Entertainers such as the Marx Brothers brought a form of craziness and also a form of sophistication in comedy to first the stage and then the screen. The actor who first played Spock in Star Trek, Leonard Nimoy, is of a Jewish American background. The Vulcan salute that comes with the words ‘Live long and prosper’ comes out of his Jewish this background. When people think of peace they often think of that Vulcan salute with the thought that it is only logical to do so. Other Jewish Americas include Jerry Lewis, Barbara Streisand and Jack Benny (In his career he pretended to be a skinflint but in real life he was a very kind and generous fellow). Here perhaps I should note that skinflint is a purely American term.

The Italians that settled in the USA certainly did their bit to transform the language. They possibly began with the American diet. The introduced the word pizza and also the food. I don’t know why but New Yorkers have this tendency to call a piazza a piazza pie. Throughout Australia, where there has also been Italian influence, we just call a piazza a piazza. Where does pie come into the equation? I have no idea. In any event, there were forms of Italian coffee such as espresso and cappuccino that became popular and whose names were added to the American dictionary.  Famous Italian Americans include Liza Minnelli and Jimmy Durante who is better known as Shnozzles Durante because of his big shnozzola (nose).  Possibly his most famous line was: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It was the Chinese migrants that often did the dirty and dangerous jobs in the building of the American railway system in the 19th Century. Chinese style food came with the Chinese and so did Chinese names such as Chow Mein for it.  Chinese fireworks came to be used for America’s Fourth of July celebrations.

In the 20th Century, thanks to radio and movies then television, both American and British style English have expanded their influence and, as a consequence, been influenced by the rest of the world. New technical terms have also arisen for new technical devices. Meanwhile, old terms have been put to new use. The term computer was around before the 20th Century but our ideas of what a computer is and what it is capable of doing have grown enormously. Laptop is very much a late 20th Century and early 21st Century term referring to something that didn’t exist in previous centuries. The space race with the Russians in the 20th Century brought about a revolution is thought and in word usage. Many people use aluminium or what the Americans call aluminum cookware. Non-stick pans came out of NASA experimentation.

In Australia there has been continual influence, both English and American, upon the Australian version of the English language. As with the USA, the separation in time and space from England also meant that Australians would and, indeed, did develop their own style of English.

Back in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, London cockney could be heard in the streets of Sydney along with the rhyming slang familiar to Londoners.  Example: Apple and pears, stairs, trouble and strife, wife. A man might say that he’s going up the apples and pears and those in the know would take it he was about to go up the stairs. A man might say I’m having lunch with my trouble and strife and those in the know would take it he was going to have lunch with his wife. By the 1920s, however, cockney and rhyming slang was considered old fashioned and was on the way out. Hence when you have an American playing the role of an Australian in a show like MASH, which is set in the 1950s,it is somewhat laughable when the fellow comes out with this very English but no longer very Australian cockney accent.

Terms common in Australia but perhaps not common elsewhere are Bloke (man), Sheila (woman), Mate (friend), Cobber (friend you work with) and Bludger (someone who relies on other people to do the work ). Words that had to be added to describe animals not found elsewhere in the world include emu, koala and platypus. These words come from the Aborigines, the Native Australians. In Australia a ranch is a station and a cowboy is a jackaroo. A cowgirl, incidentally, is a jillaroo. Someone from England is still often referred to as a Pommy. Australia has its own dictionary, the Macquarie dictionary.

My grandfather was born in England and as a young man came to Queensland, Australia. He got a job on a cattle station as a jackaroo. He may in fact have been the Pommy Jackaroo of legend. In any event, when the First World War broke out, he had the choice of going back home to join up or going with his mates. He ended up joining the Australian light horse. It should be noted that the only successful cavalry charge I know of during the First World War was made by the Australian light horse at Bathsheba.

The term Pommy I believe is an old cricket term and in my mind has always been connected with the Ashes. The Ashes has quite a history. It was once theorized by an English critic that if ever an Australian team of cricketers beat a British team it would spell the death of cricket. When this did happen there was an obituary for Cricket in an English newspaper and the leader of the British team burnt part of the equipment used in the game  and put the ashes in a little funeral urn. We’re been playing against the British ever since for these ashes.

The idea of fair play is very much entrenched in the game of cricket to the extent where one can say ‘it’s not cricket’ to mean that something is unfair.

There is the theory that, because of television and computers, English throughout the world will become more and more standardized. This may happen and indeed it could be happening but I can’t see such a thing being completed in the near future.

The term Cook’s tour came about in the 19th Century but works today in referring to travel that is somewhat short and limited. Obviously, I could go into a lot more detail about the English language and how it has developed and is developing in various countries. I could write several books and not tell the complete story because, truth to tell, such a project will never be complete until the language dies and I can’t see that happening in the near future. No doubt there will be future efforts to purify to language which will inevitably fail.  I hope you have enjoyed the read.

WATTLE

Posted in Australia, Great Britain, Lyn McConchie's friend, Night to Dawn author, Romance, set in Australia, United Kingdom, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
WATTLE IN BLOOM IN AUGUST

BLOOMING WATTLE IN AUGUST

If I were to ask someone from Britain or the USA if they know of a plant that, when its flowering, is bright, cheerful and yellow they’d probably say the buttercup. This is fair enough.

In Austria, near Germany the bright, cheerful flower is basically white instead of yellow but does nevertheless lift the spirits of those who live there. It is edelweiss. Mind you there is a little bit of yellow in the flower just to keep botanists on their toes. There’s a popular song about edelweiss that came out of the 1959 musical, The Sound Of Music.

If you were to ask the same question of someone living anywhere on the coast of New South Wales they’d probably say the wattle. It is definitely bright, yellow and cheerful.

It is August as I put pen to paper and, eventually, type this up on computer. I am on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia traveling from Wollongong to Sydney. Green bushes with bobby dazzler yellow flowers are everywhere along the train tracks coming into and going out of most stations. Fellow passengers on board the train don’t seem to notice. They’re busy with their I-pads, their tablets, their mobiles, and their newspapers. It is their lose.

For those who do notice and appreciate this wondrous flowering, it is the sign of the coming of spring and then summer. Blossoming in the cold, the wattle is there to remind us that winter cannot last forever. Even in the cool winds of August that cut right through you there is hope.

Back in the early 1990s some idiot politician by the name of Ros Kelly moved Wattle Day from the 1st of August to the 1st of September. As far as I am concerned this was not a good move. There is even some wattle that blooms before August and, even if there is some still blooming in September, to discount the blooming in August is just plain wrong. To me and my family the 1st of August will forever be Wattle Day regardless of what some politicians and busybodies might think.

Green and yellow are often put forward as the colors most representative of Australia. This is a good thing. I believe in hope for a better future. If it comes in the guise of a bush or tree flowering yellow along the train tracks as I ride to work on the train then so be it.

DESK JOB REVIEW FRESH FROM SCOTLAND

Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, birds, Butterflies, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, Scotland, set in Australia, Teresa Tunaley, Uncategorized, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
DESK JOB

DESK JOB BY ROD MARSDEN

Review by Neil K. Henderson

Knightswood, Glasgow G13 4SB, Scotland, U.K.

DESK JOB: SARAH IN OFFICE-LAND by Rod Marsden, ISBN 978-1-937769-14-7 Night to Dawn Books, P.O. Box 643, Abington, PA 19001, USA (www.bloodredshadow.com) 243 pp.

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/rod-marsden-supernatural-thriller-vampire-lore/desk-job/

Set in the offices of a big Sydney business concern in the 1990s, DESK JOB, by former Masque Noir editor Rod Marsden, reads like staring through a hothouse window at a weird menagerie of mismatched captive fauna. Among the exotic and nightmarish metaphors for office ‘types’ – such as praying mantises (women ‘of a certain age’ out for blood at a sniff of male impropriety), dung beetles (sycophants to the mantises), hawks (upwardly mobile managers), caterpillars (semi-comatose top brass), mules (disregarded drudges) and butterflies (pretty young do-nothings) and their older, drabber moth counterparts – real human souls live out daily dramas in this infernal inversion of Alice’s Wonderland. Animal behavior is controlled by the government-imposed political correctness dictates of the period. No-one dares infringe the rights of a ‘protected species’. On the other hand, it’s open season on the native wildlife. Tensions mount. Fear, paranoia and madness ensue, until one employee is murdered by another while most are too busy watching their own backs to notice. It‘s the kind of mess you’d need a psychic investigator to work out.

Enter Sarah Hollingsworth, who’s seen it all already in a dream. She can read people’s minds to present the reader with psychological profiles and biographical insights into the group of characters under the microscope. (She even interviews the victim!) This lets her give the kind of non-judgmental overview that keeps things nicely in balance and stops the reader (and some of the characters) from totally losing the plot. She also provides a few surprises along the way with her own interaction among the forces of the mystical realm. It’s a testament to Rod Marsden’s easy style, that the whole unfolding kaleidoscope of animal imagery, social comment and dark fantasy reads with a page-turning immediacy that keeps the attention gripped until a satisfactory conclusion is reached. (Not so much a Who Dunnit, this, as a Why Dunnit.)

But that conclusion is not the end of the book. What Marsden does with the remaining third is to literalise the previously metaphorical types as living dream creatures, in a totally fantastical coda  section reflecting back the Lewis Carroll motifs from a new perspective. Sarah here ventures through an interdimensional portal, like Alice’s looking glass, to interact with real mantises and beetles and a Queen of Hearts who wants to psych out the office workers visa computer consoles and hand-mirror gateways. A fast and furious fantasy adventure follows – ensuring the novel achieves a flying finish.

Sandwiched in between the episodic close-ups on specific cases in part one, collected quotes from contemporary Australian books on office psychology provide a comic Greek chorus to the developing drama. These interludes continue as a unifying factor through the second part. Here, the lika-lika bird (every conversation starts or ends with “Like a…”) rears her gorgeously plumaged head. She’s still young and uncorrupted, prior to landing that fatal office job. Her outside view is refreshingly alternative. There is also the graffiti-spraying mall rat, destined to become a mule, or even a hawk, someday.

It is difficult to encapsulate in a brief review the complex interplay of fantastical dream situations, figuratively represented actuality and actualised fantasy contained in DESK JOB. Odd magical moments come to mind, such as the vision of several ‘brown-nose’ dung beetles lining up to boil themselves in a cauldron because the praying mantis they worship likes soup. There’s also the annoying whistling man who appears in the office every so often, and is perfunctorily assaulted by a member of staff. Then there’s the cats which periodically pop through mirrors or get their tails pulled by startled mortals. Particularly amusing is the scene near the end of lika-lika birds all crowding round one such hand-mirror, convinced that the cat which just appeared was cleverly programmed in by the manufacturers. I can just see them haunting all the shops in Sydney asking for the mirrors with the pop-out cats.

Does that make sense? Not maybe on the face of things, but in the context of this curiously individual and delightfully engaging novel it makes perfect sense. If you don’t believe me, I recommend you take a psychic trip through the portal of its covers and experience it for yourself. DESK JOB is a book with “Read Me” written all over it.

 

Note: Neil K. Henderson cleverly ends his review with an off hand reference to the Alice books. Meanwhile Neil is busy on his own novels which are most curious and fun to read.

 

 

A TAIL TO TELL

BOTH A TAIL AND A TALE TO TELL. WHAT FUN!

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