Archive for the New York Category


Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Love, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, revenge, Romance, set in Australia, Sex, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN


“Make Love, not war” was the catch cry of a generation. Growing up, it meant everything to Paul Priestly but nothing to those who owned and managed The Blue, an inner city Sydney disco.

When Paul became a vampire, he swore to avenge himself on the destroyers of make love, not war. In many cities of the world, such as London, New York, and San Francisco, he would seek them out and take their blood. He would recruit from the living to aid him in this great work. In other words, as a walking cadaver, a mobile corpse, he had made a stand – a dead man’s stand.

Night to Dawn

P.O. Box 613

Abington, P.A 19001


Posted in Australia, dark fiction writer, desk job, horror writer, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, Romance, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
art by Rod Marsden

A fanciful medieval style set of glass panels in an ancient church

Bio: Rod Marsden

Rod Marsden was born in Sydney, Australia. His very early influences were his father, Charles, who taught him how to fish and how to appreciate nature and his mother, May, who helped him to value the written word. Other early influences include writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Gene Colan. He has three degrees; all related to writing and to his other passion, history. His stories have been published in Australia, England, Russia and the USA. His written work includes short stories in Cats Do it Better. Undead Reb Down Under and Other Vampire Stories is a collection of his stories on vampirism. His novel Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand is his first venture into the vampire novel. His  Ghost Dance is his first go at a dark quest style novel. His Desk Job is a salute to Lewis Carroll and some indication of how insane life got in the office in the mid-1990s.

Back in the 1970s, Rod took a trip to the USA and still has fond memories of his time in New York and San Francisco. He also visited Bali way back in the 1970s.  He would love to visit Britain and this desire does appear in his work.

Rod Lives on the South Coast of NSW, Australia and still occasionally puts a line in the water. He has a fondness for the Wollongong area but an abiding love for the more northern Clarence River region of his home state.


Posted in art, Art Deco, Australia, Cleopatra's needle, dark fiction writer, Egypt, France, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, London, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, set in Australia, Set in italy, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Evil in the night...


When artifacts from Ancient Egypt turn up at at major city in Australia, such as Melbourne, Sydney or Canberra there is always great excitement. It seems as if there has always been a lot of interest in things ancient and Egyptian.

Ancient Greek travelers made a fuss about Egypt describing it as a place of wonders. They were right on the mark. Then, some time later, the Romans came along and were impressed by what they saw. They also took home with them artifacts they felt said something about power and majesty.

For a while Egypt was the bread basket of the Roman Empire. This was so to the extent that if there was a famine in Egypt or the grain ships from Egypt would not sail, then there would be starvation in Rome.

Today, in Rome, there are still ancient Egyptian artifacts on display that are left over from the Roman Empire days.

Ancient Egypt appears in the Bible and hence has that connection with at least the Christians of the western world. Then there is the alchemy connection and also what Hollywood studios and British studios have made, since the 1930’s, of the possibilities of walking mummies. The notion of ancient evil rising to attack the present world has been the bread and butter of many a writer including American pulp genius of the haunting,  H. P. Lovecraft.

Everyone loves a good mystery and fiction writers adore a great locale for their fiction. Agatha Christie, for example, made much of Egypt as a backdrop for her murder mystery, Death on the Nile (1937).

The present day fascination with Ancient Egypt really began with Napoleon and his scholars wandering through what was then modern Egypt in the 18th and early 19th Century (1788-1801). British warships made the complete conquest of Egypt by the French impossible. In face Napoleon was lucky to get out of Egypt without getting captured by the British. Even so, some spin had to be put on the Egyptian campaign in order to save face but how to go about doing so was the big question. What the campaign lacked in military value it could, to some extent, make up for in scientific and historic value. Hence the craze to know and understand Ancient Egypt swept France in a way it had never done before.

Note here that Napoleon adopted the symbol of the bee, thinking it was an Egyptian symbol for power. Later it was discovered that it was actually a symbol for one of the two Egyptian kingdoms.

The main treasure of the French Egyptian campaign, the Rosetta stone, fell into the hands of the British and still rests in a museum in London. Even so, this clue as to how to read Egyptian  Hieroglyphics first came into French possession after many centuries of  either being buried or ignored by the locals, and it was the French who first took the necessary 19th Century steps in figuring out the ancient writings that had puzzled visitors to Egypt for centuries. The British, Germans and Italians took their best shots at working out the meaning of Egyptian Hieroglyphics but it was a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Francois Champollion who eventually succeeded. Also thanks to Champollion and his predecessors, the Louvre in Paris has a fantastic Egyptian wing.

Both the French and the British went wild  for things Egyptian in the 19th Century much the way the Romans had gone wild for things Egyptian in earlier centuries. The British moved the obelisk known to them as Cleopatra’s needle from Egypt to London. Not to be out done by the British, the French also moved an obelisk they thought of as Cleopatra’s needle from Egypt to Paris. Then there is the obelisk known as Cleopatra’s needle which was moved from Egypt to New York also in the 19th Century.

Incidentally,  the London obelisk was falsely named Cleopatra’s needle but still stands as an incredibly old and powerful symbol of what the Ancient Egyptians were capable of doing. Moving these giant obelisks without smashing them up was and is considered some feat by the engineers who did so in the 19th Century.

Meanwhile Australia wasn’t to be completely left out when it came to obelisks. At the entrance to Hyde Park in Sydney (intersection of Elizabeth St and Bathurst Street) there stands a most unusual but still impressive obelisk. It was modeled on the obelisk the British took to London but the materials used in construction are very much 19th Century and of the country where it was made rather than of ancient Egypt. It is primarily made of sandstone with a bronze pyramid on top.  It is also adorned by sphinxes and serpents. It was meant to serve as a sewage vent to eliminate noxious gases from the sewer underneath though it has never fulfilled this function very well.  It was first unveiled to the public in 1857 and today it is in need of some maintenance. Even so, it is still a magnificent sight and well worth checking out if you are visiting Sydney.

In 1922 the discovery of the burial place of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in Egypt caused a great stir of excitement and new interest in Ancient Egypt. Among the treasures found there was a magnificent golden mask.  The discovery coincided with the art deco movement which began in Paris in the 1920s and spread out from there. Ancient Egyptian symbolism and hieroglyphics tended to go well with this new art form. Pyramid designs became popular everywhere as did the ankh which appears in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics but also on its own as the symbol of life. It remains today a popular symbol worn by many people throughout the world.

Today, outside the Louvre in Paris, there is a rather strange and controversial glass pyramid.  It was completed in 1989 proving that even toward the end of  the 20th Century interest in Ancient Egypt remained solid at least with the French. In Dan Brown’s 2003 novel, The Da Vinci Code,  you will find more than passing mention of this glass edifice.

Every now and then the subject of pyramid power arises. Does the very shape of the pyramid evoke forces we have yet to fully understand? Can even sitting under a makeshift pyramid meditating lead to better health? In A Country Practice, an Australian television soap set in a country town in the 1980s, a doctor’s receptionist, Shirley Gilroy (as played by Lorrae Desmond), believed in the healing powers of the pyramid. It was a sort of running joke with always the possibility that it might indeed be true. Mind you, as far as I am concerned, the major benefit, if the is one, to sitting under a makeshift pyramid is the belief factor that it will do you some good.

In 1986, just to prove that there was still some excitement to be generated by anything even remotely to do with Ancient Egypt, the band The Bangles had a hit with the song, Walk like an Egyptian. It was a silly, fun bit of business with none of the American girl members of the band coming anywhere close to looking and, for that matter, actually dancing like what an egyptologist might envision how ancient Egyptians dance. Here, of course, the operative word is fun and it is obvious there was no desire to even attempt to get it, let along keep it, real. Sometimes you need to let people have their fantasies and their fun.

In 2011 one of my nieces came back from Egypt and presented me with a small glass pyramid from Egypt. It doesn’t date back to ancient times but I do feel good when I look at it. I think this has more to it being a treasured gift than anything else. Mind you it would really be something if it did, in fact, have mystical powers of healing and promoting good health. Well, this particular niece used to walk like an Egyptian before visiting Egypt and, at times, she still walks like an Egyptian.

Among present day Australians with an interest in ancient Egypt there is television personality Molly Meldrum.  In recent times Molly has shown enthusiasm for Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s story plus the golden age of Pharaohs.

As for ancient evil, this is really something that belongs in western fiction beginning in the 1920s and continuing to this day. It started with the belief in the mummy’s curse attributed to disturbing Tutankhamun’s resting place and went from there. Mind you, the old gods of Egypt are rather fierce and not to be casually mucked about with.

The symbol of Life – Egyptian style!


Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, dark fiction writer, desk job, Glasgow, Great Britain, horror writer, Knightswood, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, Lyn McConchie's friend, mythology, Neil K. Henderson, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, USA, Vampire author, Writer with tags , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN


I grew up in a suburb of Bankstown in New South Wales, Australia. My fondest memories of childhood, however, were those Autumn holiday trips up north. Every year my dad would travel further and further up north until he came to Iluka, in NSW. My parents fell in love with this wonderful fishing village and, when they retired, that’s where they moved to.

Nowadays my youngest sister lives at Maclean, not far from Iluka. She is married with three kids that are not really kids any more. One will some day soon become a primary school teacher.

In my novels and short stories the Clarence River area of New South Wales gets some mention. It remains a beautiful part of my home state and I can’t see this changing much in the future. Look for references to Maclean, Iluka, Yamba and the Clarence River region in Disco Evil, Ghost Dance, and Desk Job. My latest work, Desk Job, is my salute to Lewis Carroll.

And speaking of up north, I have friends in Scotland and also in the USA. Hence Scotland and the USA also feature in my writing. I visited the USA way back in the ’70s so I do have some personal experiences there. Mind you I have friends in the USA who do tend to keep me up to day as much as news reports, fresh new novels by American writers, and the internet. And my Scottish friends do keep me informed of what is happening in Britain.


Posted in Australia, Barbara Custer, desk job, Great Britain, Japan, Lewis Carroll enthusiast, mythology, New York, Night to Dawn, Night to Dawn author, Published in the USA, pulp fiction writer, set in Australia, Sex, Tom Johnson, United Kingdom, USA, Writer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by ROD MARSDEN
Evil in the night...


Today, thanks to e-books and modern technology in general stirring up the imagination, there’s a lot of science fiction around. Some of it is very good. Check out Starship Invasions and also Alien Worlds by Barbara Custer and Tom Johnson.

Let us now look at the pioneers that kick started it all.

Science fiction as we know it began in the late 19th Century. It was spearheaded by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. This does not mean, however, that the notion of landing a man on the moon belonged completely to either Verne or Wells. The playwright Edmond Rostrand in his 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac, had Cyrano, as a pretend madman, tossing around various notions on how to get a man to the moon. These notions were comical but they were there.  Also, Verne may have come up with an almight submarine in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) but there had been submarines in action during the American Civil War.  In his novel, The Shape of Things to Come ( 1933), H. G. Wells was speculating on the possibility of a very long war in which modern weaponry devastates our world. There had been such long wars in the past that Wells could easily draw comparisions with. It is our good fortune that such a war, lasting many decades, did not come to pass.

In the Back to the Future series of American films, both Jules Verne and H. G. Wells were honored. It can also be said that in one episode of the long running British television series, Doctor Who, H. G. Wells was, for a short time, a traveller in the TARDIS.

In 1898, H. G. Wells depicted trouble from outer space in his novel, The War of the Worlds.

The developing moving pictures added something special to science fiction. In an early silent colour film, men are depicted landing on the moon. In the silent movie J’accuse (released 1919) the dead of the First World War rise up in protest to the development of a new weapon and quite possibly the creation of a new war.

In 1901 an Australian woman by the name of Anne Moore-Bentley wrote A Woman of Mars which was in praise of an outer space culture in which intelligent females have more say than they do on Earth.  In science fiction, however, martians have had a tendency to be hostile rather than friendly possibly due to the fact that their planet is named after the god of war.

In 1901, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan made his entrance into the world of fiction. He was followed by John Carter, an Earthling having adventures on Mars. Burroughs is best known for his Tarzan stories but his stories about Mars were also quite spectacular.

During the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, movie serial based lightly on science fiction became popular. The 1939 Buck Rogers movie serial starring Buster Crabbe was popular. So in fact were the two earlier Flash Gordon serials which also starred buster Crabbe. In the movie serials and also in the comic strips there were unfriendly as well as quite friendly aliens out there. Hence the Earth had a need of her champions to combat the not so nice aliens.

Fictional pulp heroes with scientific knowledge also arose. There was, for example, Doc Savage, the man of bronze. He was a genius on many levels and also an adventurer. Here we’re talking about special bullets that don’t kill, special surgery on the brains of criminals to make them into honest citizens (a little creepy this one), a unique helicoper, plane and submarine. Doc’s men are all experts in their own fields. Monk for example is a chemist and Ham a top-notch lawyer. There also Doc’s cousin, Patricia Savage whom you might consider to be the woman of bronze. Doc was in the pulps for a long time and made appearances in the comics in the 1940s. In the 1960s, the adventures of Doc savage came out in paperback. Marvel Comics revived Doc in the 1970s and, some time later, D. C. Comics took over the character for a while before independent comic publishes tried their hand. There has been one Doc Savage movie made that I know of and it was not a great success.

During the pulp magazine boom, which started in 1901 and came to a close in the 1950s due to a paper shortage, there was lots of inexpensive science fiction around. A lot of big names such as Issac Asimov and Ray Bradbury got their start in these magazines. Asimov is perhaps best know for his ideas concerning robots. Bradbury may best be known for his novel Fahreheit 451 ( 1953) in which fireman don’t put out fires but burn books. His book people, though implausable, still bring a tear to this writer’s eye. Fancy becoming the essence of a book so that the book won’t die. He is also known for The Martian Chronicles (1950).



In 1949 republic released the movie serial King of the Rocket Men which starred Tristram Coffin. In this serial a scientist invents a jet pack and uses it as Rocket Man to foil the dastardly deeds of Doctor Vulcan, a fellow scientist gone wrong. There are some nice cinematic moments here of Rocket Man in flight plus, like all movie serials of the time, there was plenty of action. There followed a whole slew of Rocket Man like adventures in other serials such as Radar Men from the Moon (1952) and Commando Cody: Sky Mashal of the Universe (1953). Today only King of the Rocket Men remains worth watching.

Paperbacks took over from the defunct pulp magazines as the major written source of science fiction.

In 1951 Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham saw publication. Here the plants are in revolt against humanity. In this same year The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal, saw release. Here humanity is on trial and must somehow rise above its own pettiness to take its place evenually among the other civilizations out ther in space.

In 1953 the American comedy duo Abbott and Costello end up out of this world in the hit movie,  Abbott and Costello Go To Mars.

In 1956 Forbidden Planet, starring Walter Pidgeon and Anne Francis, came out. It featureed the mechanical wonder, Robby the Robot. Here the wonders of an alien race prove to be rather deadly to humans. This is great science fiction that was not appreciated as much as it should have been when it was first released. In fact, when released in Australia, some scenes were censored. It is possible today, however, to see this movie everywhere in its full glory.

In 1957 The Invible Boy, starring Richard Eyer and Diane Brewster, made it debute. This was the second outing for Robby the Robot. A super computer with delusions of grandure decides to take over the world. Before commencing, he instructs Robby on how to, yes you got it, turn a boy invible.

Robby the Robot also made appearances in the television show, Lost in Space.

In 1959 an Australian children’s show involving an alien from the moon whose nose was a pencil was born. Every episode he’d travel from the moon to the earth just to draw. The show was Mr. Squiggle and it lasted until 1999. It was light but fun science fiction for younger viewers and, as noted by its long run, it was highly successful.



In the 1960s television started to take science fiction a bit more seriously than it had in the past. In Britain there was Doctor Who. It was a show about a mysterious other worldly time and space traveler and his companions. When William Hartnell, the original Doctor, needed to retire for health reasons (he loved the show too much to retire from it for any other reason) the notion that the Doctor could regenerate into another body when his body was no longer any good was born. There have been many Doctors since Hartnell and most of them have given excepionally fine performances. The Doctor and his TARDIS, which is shaped like an old fashioned police call box, have reached legendary status. Darlek, the name of the Doctor’s number one enemy race, has gone into the Oxford Dictionary because of its popular and continuing usage. The Darleks were, are, and will be creatures inside machines who lack feeling for others and wish to become the dominant, if not the only living crreatures in the universe. There have been recent references to the Doctor in American shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds.

Out of Japan in the 1960s came some fantastic animation. The first to hit television in Australia was Astro Boy, the little robot with plenty of heart and get up and go. The fast paced opening number by Tatsuo Takai and Don Rockwell to the 1960s mainly black and white television show (one colour episode) went like this:

There you go, Astro Boy,
On your flight into space
Rocket high,
through the sky
For adventures soon you will face!
Astro Boy bombs away,
On your mission today,
Here’s the countdown,
And the blastoff,
Everything is go Astro Boy!
Astro Boy, as you fly,
Strange new worlds you will spy,
Atom celled, jet propelled,
Fighting monsters high in the sky!
Astro Boy, there you go,
Will you find friend or foe?
Cosmic Ranger, laugh at danger,
Everything is go Astro Boy!
Crowds will cheer you,
you’re a hero,
As you go, go, go Astro Boy!
The 1980s colour series of Astro Boy was a let down in opening lyrics, sound track and action. It was basically awful. The 2003 colour series was a much better effort. The 2009 animated Astro Boy film went back to basics and
had the fast pace older as well as younger viewers wanted.

After Astro Boy, the huge robot operated by the son of a scientist, Gigantor, came to Australia.

In 1962 a visitor from Mars (Ray Walston) came to stay with a young American reporter ( Bill Bixby) in what had probably been up to then a quiet suburb. The television show? My favorite Martian.

In 1965 the Robinson family, with Robot and sinister then silly Doctor Smith, came to be Lost in Space.

Then in 1966 there was Star Trek. The introduction to this show spoke of space being the final frontier. It also came with a fantastic new design for a ship that moves between the stars and various exciting aliens, The star ship Enterprise. It was on a five year exploratory mission. The star ship Enterprise had its own resident alien in the half Human and half Vulcan,  Spok. There have been a whole slew of off-shoot movies and television series.

One of the most confronting novelists of the 20th Century was American science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin. Her novel, The left Hand of Darkness, first came out in 1969. Here the nature of the roles of the male and the female are explored in strange, alien ways. When Le Guin first started as a writer it was suggested to her to write under a male name. This she refused to do but became a well known and respected science fiction writer anyway.

In 1970, a not very successful Australian science fiction outerspace television show, Phoenix Five, went to air. It not only looked cheap but came with dialogue and characters that didn’t help much. It starred Mike Dorsey and Patsy Trench.

In 1977 the long running British comic paper, 2000 AD was launched. Here Judge Dredd first saw the light of day and creative forces such as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman first got their chance to shine. In 1995 a Judge Dredd movie, starring Sylvester Stalone, came out. Apparently Stalone practiced looking at himself in the mirror just to get that famous Judge Dredd scowl right.  Now there is a new 3D Judge Dredd movie out starring Karl Urban. So all you citizens who smoke where you shouldn’t watch out, the Judge is back in town.

In 1977 Star Wars starring Mark Hamill changed the face of cinematic science fiction forever. It was a space opera, a cowboys and Indians epic only in white costumes and ultra-modern space craft. A great deal of money was spent and it paid off. The franchise of films, etc created by this superb effort continues to this day. As I am sure the director, George Lucas would have it, may the force be with you.

In 1978 it was no longer safe to got to your average video arcade. It had been invaded. Yes, Space Invaders had arrived. First this game took Japan by storm then it spread out and eventually engulfed the USA, Great Britain and Australia.

In 1984, Starman,  a rather unusual slant on the alien on earth came out. This movie starred Jeff Bridges as an unusual but sympathetic creature from out there.

In 1993 Babylon 5, a show set to challenge the Star Trek franchise, came out. It was about the last of the Babylon stations and it was the last great hope for peace in a troubled universe. An off-shoot of Babylon 5 was Crusade which took off for a short run in 1999. Why it had such a short run I don’t know because the episodes that were made are great science fiction.

In 1994 Ocean Girl made its debute. This Australian effort about a girl from outerspace with special gifts marrooned on Earth touched a nerve with people living in Germany and Great Britain. It was shot in some truly amazing locales in Queensland and that remains part of its charm. It also came with excellent scripting and  great acting on the part of Marzena Godecki, David Hoflin and Jeffrey Walker.

Recently my novel, Desk Job, came out. It is my salute to Lewis Carroll. Since in the last chapters it does touch upon string theory it can be labeled in part science fiction.