Archive for August, 2012

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!

NIGHT TO DAWN

Posted in art, Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Egypt, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, Teresa Tunaley, Tom Johnson, Uncategorized, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN

Night to Dawn is a semi-annual horror magazine put out by Barbara Custer. She goes to some effort to get the best stories, poetry and artwork from around the world. Though an American publication, it often contains stories from as far afield as Australia.

Starting out as primarily a vampire magazine, Night to Dawn has spread its black wings of late into other areas of horror. Tales dealing with zombies, ancient gods, and the Egyptian dead are now most welcome. Egyptian horror has, in fact, appeared in issues 21 and 22. As for what kind of story fits into the magazine, there’s everything from your classic romantic undead piece to a salute to Joe R. Lansdale’s Dead in the West.

Since 22 is the latest issue (It is dated October 2012 but I have an advance copy), I’ll pick out my favorite stories, poetry and illustrations within to give you an idea of the quality of Night to Dawn magazine.

The front cover to 22 is an eye catching red and gold. The illustration by Marge Simon appears to be reminiscent of the Roman era and puts me in mind of a female Roman vampire story I read ages ago. The back cover by Teresa Tunaley shows a female vampire with blood on her lips. The way her eye lids are painted, she might be off to some mardi gras celebration somewhere in the world.

In the editor’s section we learn about the latest round of books being published by Night to Dawn. They include Desk Job by Rod Marsden, City of Brotherly Death by Barbara Custer, and Tom Johnson and James Reasoner’s Jur: A Story of Pre Dawn Earth.

Of the interior illustrations, I am drawn to the third eye effort by David Transue (page 14), the all teeth and eyes freak out by Denny E. Marshall (page 32), and the zombied out mardi gras spectacular by Chris Friend (page 40).

In poetry there’s Tod Hanks’ splendid though traditional take on the vampire, Concubines of the Vampire (pages 6 and 7), Fatale by Cathy Bryant (page 14) which has a nice, bouncy rhythm, and Christmas Eve by Chris Friend (page 39) which is a delightful bit of fun with the spirits of the dead.

Of the tales I liked Rajeev Bhargava’s Mirror, Mirror on my Cellar Wall best. Here we have a touch of Greek mythology with a modern take on a particularly monstrous legend.

Coming up a close second is The Harlots of New Chapel Row by a writer going by the name Horns. It is a to be continued tale of bloody intrigue where lust and keeping up with your mates already goes terribly wrong.

A very close third is The Triangle by Derek Muk which hauls out the Bermuda Triangle for inspection. The suspense builds up in this one making it well worth the read.

For more information on Night to Dawn magazine and books check out these sites:

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

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/tom-johnsons-sf-and-adventure/jur-a-story-of-pre-dawn-earth/

http://bloodredshadow.com/about/night-to-dawn-magazine-and-books/

BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS

Posted in Australia, Butterflies, dark fiction writer, desk job, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, Moths, mythology, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, USA, Writer with tags , , , , on August 19, 2012 by ROD MARSDEN
BUTTERFLIES

BUTTERFLIES

 

In Desk Job butterflies flit about the office looking pretty but not actually doing much in terms of work. If they do get promoted it has a lot to do with getting to know the right people while the mules are slaving away. Butterflies are social creatures. They are also decorative.

According to sociologist Irene M. Debbie, butterflies can’t remain butterflies forever. There comes a time when they become moths. It is a natural development. No one can remain pretty forever. Moths, however, have as much of a work ethic as butterflies. The smart ones will have worked out a thing or two when they were in the butterfly phase and so can still flit around without having to do much else.

In nature butterflies and moths are far more industrious. This is understandable. It is apparently the bright lights of the city and the major towns that allows them to dance rather than sow.

Now you may want to know if all office butterflies and moths are female. The answer is no though there are offices that specialize in female butterflies and moths.

In the meantime, the caterpillar and his or her most prized hawks are the protectors of many of the butterflies and even the moths you see about. All of this is, of course, corruption but nothing to worry about, nothing new in the world of the office. Perhaps, as in Desk Job, your office has butterflies and moths? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

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