Category: Reviews

rabarts-at the edgeAustralia and New Zealand are home to some of the greatest dark fiction writers the world has to offer — disturbed minds firing out shots of madness into the night. Maybe it’s our isolation from the rest of the world: island nations so far removed from the rest of society; mountainous landscapes; bone-dry deserts; and endless oceans the perfect breeding ground for horrors and monstrosities unknown.

Comprising of two dozen twisted tales, ranging from emotionally haunting pieces such as Martin Livings’ Boxing Day (a story that examines one Australian household’s traditional form of ensuring the hierarchy) to the purely creepy Carlington Black’s The Urge, where changes in the atmosphere start changing people, either physically, mentally, or both, At The Edge has something for every lover of the dark and macabre.

Every author in this collection has their own voice, their own story to tell, their own fright or ghast to let loose upon the reader. Some such as Jodi Cleghorn’s The Leaves No Longer Fall and AC Buchanan’s And Still The Forests Grow Though We Are Gone predict environmental catastrophes that we may already be facing, making these stories much harder to bear.

Others simply hold up a mirror, demonstrating that the things in our own heads are the things we should fear the most. The most eloquent of these is Joanne Anderton’s Labyrinth inspired tale of goblins and misplaced wishes, Street Furniture, and AJ Ponder’s corrupted story of the demons that hide within the stories we read, BlightSight.

At The Edge is an anthology that is best read in a well lit room, preferably during the day when sleep is far off. Each author has their own way of worming into your subconscious, nesting behind your eyes, and not letting you forget that while the things that scare you might not be real, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

At The Edge

Edited by Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray – Published by Paper Road Press

golding.Game-ChangersGame Changers is a non-fiction book that explores the videogame industry and how games culture is changing and diversifying, while also dissecting the misogyny and harassment that has permeated facets of the games community. The book tackles large issues and acts as an educational experience for those unfamiliar with what has been happening within the industry.

Simultaneously, Game Changers is a comforting and cathartic release for those who are embedded in the videogame world as developers, writers, and players, and who are familiar with the damaging harassment that has come to the fore over the last couple of years.

This dual audience is established very deliberately, with authors Dan Golding and Leena van Deventer explicitly noting they have ‘written this book for the uninitiated, the curious, and the confused, as much as for the weary and the experienced’ (p. 4).

The book’s intentional appeal to a dual audience makes Game Changers an incredibly valuable text. I want to share it with everyone I know—those inside and outside the games industry—as a means of explanation, of comfort, and of support. I feel as though Game Changers perfectly captures the intricacies of the space I am involved in—both the reasons I love the work that I do and the reasons I am sometimes scared to continue it.

I spoke with Dan and Leena about writing for a dual audience and why it was important to both of them. Leena made a point about Gamergate—a movement thoroughly covered in the book—saying that the issue ‘got a lot of attention in mainstream media and left a lot of people scratching their heads’ and that therefore it was ‘important to write the book in a way that many people can understand’.

Dan felt similarly, saying that the book should be for everyone ‘because videogames should be for everyone’. He added that ‘the terror of Gamergate is specifically about excluding people; it seems appropriate that the best way to respond is through inclusion.’

The topic of Gamergate is a difficult one to explore and a potentially dangerous one to discuss. In fact, in Game Changers, Dan and Leena advise not to ‘use the Gamergate hashtag on social media—if you do, you’ll immediately want to throw your laptop into the sea’ (p. 4). There’s a reason Dan and Leena wrote an entire book covering the topic; the ‘movement’ and the complex series of events that led up to its commencement in August 2014 are difficult to summarise.

Perhaps, for those who are unfamiliar with the topic, it is most important to consider the fear and feelings of isolation that Gamergate has caused for many people who write about videogames, particularly writers who represent a social minority group.

Game Changers is a powerful response to this fear and isolation. The book feels like a rallying cry, allowing those who have experienced harassment to feel as though they aren’t alone while also giving those outside the games industry a peek in at what has been taking place. This includes a look at the lives of Anita Sarkeesian and Zoë Quinn, who are central to the Gamergate abuse and who are also incredible voices in the mission to make the videogame world a safer space; the book features informative, fascinating, and heartbreaking exclusive interviews with them, embedded within chapters of thoroughly researched and referenced content.

No matter who you are or whether you think a book about games might be accessible for you, I recommend picking up Game Changers and reading the beautifully constructed non-fiction within. As Dan said during our correspondence, ‘this book has a lot in it for people who don’t see themselves as having anything to do with games. They might pick it up in a book store, but see the word “game” on it and decide that it isn’t for them.’ Game Changers is an incredibly informative and powerful experience that acts as a bridge between those inside and outside the game industry, and I would love for you to experience it with me, no matter who you are.


Disclaimer: I have interacted with Dan Golding and Leena van Deventer online and in person at industry events, conventions or conferences. I have great admiration for both of them and for their work within the games industry. This review is based on a copy of Game Changers that I pre-ordered with my own money and waited for like everyone else.

rowling-very good livesIn 2008 J.K. Rowling delivered a commencement speech at Harvard University. Very Good Lives is that speech, published for the first time in book format.

By turns funny, insightful and inspirational, this is the perfect book for any person starting a new chapter of their lives. Like Dr Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go; Very Good Lives is the kind of book that I want to leave on my bookshelf and revisit whenever life becomes stressful. There are so many beautiful turns of phrase; so many gems that you’ll want to remember when the world becomes frightening.

Very Good Lives is a beautifully presented book. Illustrations by Joel Holland adorn the pages, all of them in a tasteful black, white and red colour scheme to match the cover. Rather than distracting from the importance of the words, the simple, stylized illustrations highlight the more important parts.

Some people have been disappointed by how short this book is. I think it’s astounding how much Rowling has managed to say with so few words. Any longer, and I think the book would lose some of its power.

Divided into two parts, the book begins by stressing the importance of failure. This is ground that has been covered before, though perhaps not with so much understanding and humour as Rowling shows.

The second half of the speech – the part where Rowling emphasises the importance of human imagination – is the part that I love. I could read it over and over. Instead of extolling the virtues of imagination for one’s own benefit, Rowling links the worth of imagination to empathy and compassion for others.

Rowling’s focus in her speech isn’t self-improvement so much as it is societal improvement. It’s about stepping away from yourself and your own experiences to try to understand the viewpoints and lives of others. Ultimately it is about caring for the world and the people around you rather than stagnating in the narrow slice of life that each human is born to.


Very Good Lives – J.K. Rowling

Little, Brown and Company (April 14, 2015)

ISBN: 9780316369145


davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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