Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian science fiction writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in the cyberpunk genre and Japan.

Hamilton-abyssThe works of Peter F Hamilton are epic tomes, dense with plot and character, rife with intrigue and complex stories within stories, and among them The Abyss Beyond Dreams is easily one of the most fulfilling novels of the last year.

Building from his earlier works of the Commonwealth and Void sagas, Hamilton subverts convention by folding genres in this newest tale, wrapping space opera within a tale of survival within what could be considered Revolution 101.

Nigel Sheldon, thousand year old entrepreneur and part founder of the galaxy spanning Commonwealth, is approached by the mysterious guardians of the system-engulfing void to solve a quandary: how could the survivors of a fleet of ships, consumed by the void centuries prior, be living on within the blackness as a three millennia old civilization? And more importantly: how can the void be prevented from consuming any more of the galaxy within its abyssal pocket universe?

Within the void, civilization has prospered under the tyrannical rule of the long crashed colony fleet. In constant fear of the cannibalistic alien mimics, the Fallers, life is difficult for those trying to protect the human population of the void-stricken planet where advanced technology quickly falters and is replaced with powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

Narrative and character development stand strong in The Abyss Beyond Dreams, switching frequently between Nigel, ex-regimental officer Slvasta driven by thoughts of revenge and revolution against the creatures and bureaucracy that resulted in him losing an arm and friends to the Fallers, and the young and spirited Kysandra, rescued by Nigel just before she was sold to repay debts and gifted with knowledge of the outside universe.

Split into six books, each cataloguing a period within the chain of events originating with the first landing within the void, Hamilton has managed to avoid the sluggish pace that often accompanies novels of this length. Action fires at an often erratic pace, with periods of world building broken by sporadic intrigue and conflict, but never detracting from the story as a whole.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams is an inspired and complex web of a novel with each interaction guiding readers to possible conclusions before sudden revelations twist the story into further peaks and troughs. That being said, Hamilton has not simply relied on Deus Ex Machina to resolve his narrative; in fact, the characters themselves are often the impetus of sudden change. Readers not daunted by the size of the novel will find this a solid and satisfying read as Hamilton’s, often intense, writing style rewards the dedicated reader with plots-within-plots, and well developed characters.

The Abyss Beyond Dreams is a novel that went far beyond my expectations. Whether you’re a newcomer, or a dedicated Hamilton reader, this novel stands on its own story and will satisfy even the most critical science fiction fan.

 

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian science fiction writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in the cyberpunk genre and Japanese culture.

Moss_Fictional-Woman-Coverweb2Writer, mother, feminist, humanitarian: Tara Moss embodies these roles and more besides. This is made eloquently clear in her new autobiography\exposition on sex and gender The Fictional Woman.

In a world that frequently stifles those speaking out against the harsh realities of inequality and conformity, Tara strips away layers of long held prejudices regarding the female sex, gender roles, female and male beauty, the inconsistencies revolving around career and motherhood, and feminism. And with such a varied life story she is in an unshakable position to do so.

The Fictional Woman is a well-researched and intellectual break-down of many aspects of women’s lives as they pertain to Tara’s personal journey; from her early years as a young woman and model, to being a writer in a world where many believed that a model couldn’t do something as challenging as writing a novel (to the extent of having her take a lie-detector test to prove that she wrote her own books), to the stresses of becoming a mother, and beyond.

Many of the chapters elicit strong responses. Tara writes about and from her experiences and much of the content wrestles with long held notions of gender roles and the inequality that are still as old fashioned as the bible. But only by stripping away these beliefs and ideals can we grow as a people.

The Fictional Woman isn’t an intentionally humorous autobiography, but there are parts that may make you laugh, while others will make you cry, or grit your teeth in anger at a system that often leaves half the world’s human population in the position of second class citizens. Emotion is a very strong aspect of this book, making it all the harder to put down.

Tara Moss has been many things in this world; but if this book proves anything, it’s that she is an incredible human being.

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian science fiction writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in the cyberpunk genre and Japan.

palmer-theartofasking_imageAsking for help: it’s one of the most difficult and gut-wrenching things that a creative person can do. But in a world where the art becomes more and more difficult to separate from the commercial process, not asking can be what prevents the artist from reaching a wider audience or creating even greater works.

The Art of Asking is an autobiography by Amanda Palmer and follows a career that began with acting as a living statue, to her becoming one of the most influential artists of a generation. As you might expect from Palmer, this book is an eclectic collection of humorous and heart wrenching personal anecdotes; stories from the music and art communities around the world, private moments between Amanda and her best friend/mentor and her husband, Neil Gaiman, and lyrics from some of her most significant songs.

The Art of Asking is written in semi-erratic blog format–appropriate for an artist who has held strong connection with her online fan base for well over a decade–often bouncing between recounts of performances, to intimate moments with someone close, and to tear-jerking tales of self-discovery or endurance. Considered individually, each anecdote illustrates a small but possibly insignificant moment of a person’s life. But together they make up a patchwork kimono of many stories within a grand narrative.

The author’s voice throughout is clear and open. Amanda hides nothing as she recounts thoughts that are usually hidden, stoushes with her own personal “Fraud Police”, and personal traumas that have only been resolved with the help of those around her.

This book is an important read for any artist. Or anybody really. It deals with the difficulties of bringing yourself to ask for help–how far you can go on trust alone, dealing with hate and fear and relationships; and more than anything, it teaches that the art of asking is one of the most important skills we can develop. But it takes time and effort.

If you are or have ever been a fan of Amanda Palmer, The Dresden Dolls, The Grand Theft Orchestra, or any number of Amanda’s side projects, this book is even more powerful once you go back to those earlier projects with an understanding of what inspired them.

Even if Amanda Palmer’s music isn’t to your taste; even if you don’t agree with her stance on life, music, commercialism, relationships, or feminism; even if you aren’t an artist or someone who usually reads biographies, you should read The Art of Asking. Then you will understand what it’s like to reach out with both hands and ask someone Will you help me?

Awards

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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