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?

Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an Australian SF writer who lives Sydney. He has a keen interest in cyberpunk and Japan.

Stevenson_Horizon_C2D2Half a century from earth, six explorers sleep dreamless sleep on a journey to explore a planet that could lead to either salvation or destruction for humanity. That planet; Horizon.

Decades after the events that caused the formation of a few, all-powerful mega-nations, Cait Dyson emerges early from deep sleep aboard the star ship Magellan to find one crew member dead, another in a coma, and the shipboard artificial intelligence turned off. A fearful situation in a crew of those you know and trust; but far worse when your ship contains a half dozen people from other nations cobbled together in a feigned display of camaraderie.

In very short order, Cait is confronted by a crew that doesn’t trust her, no way to call for support, and in a ship many light years from earth and plunging towards possibly the only habitable planet within humanity’s reach. To top it all off, the events taking place back on earth are rapidly forcing her hand to make decisions she is far from comfortable with.

Horizon is a masterful novel set in the cold void of space between solar systems, where trust is as much a valued resource as air or food. The premise behind the original mission is simple enough and pretty standard for Sci-Fi; a group of explorers are sent on a deep space exploration mission to investigate a near-earth planet that could one day be suitable for habitation. This mission quickly degrades in the light of new orders and differing opinions. As each of the characters come from radically different cultures, background tensions become readily apparent, and interactions turn hostile rapidly in such a close environment. As a result, conversation is tight and abrupt, but Stevenson manages to keep the short dialogues relevant and concise; making up for lack of quantity with sharp efficiency.

Stevenson has taken to the harsh reality of space with the tools of a craftsman. The cold ruthless efficiency of space travel is accented with distinct and descriptive technology: deep-space engines, near-human artificial intelligences, and cybernetic design that is not quite viable at the moment, but feels so real in prose. Every character has his or her own flaws and agenda- evidence of a life that is no longer possible so far from everything they know and love. And the bitter reality of what is happening far behind them is a stark reminder of what humans can do.

All that said, Horizon isn’t a depressing novel. It’s cold and terrifying at times, sure, but tinged with purpose and beauty. Not quite hard Sci-Fi, but far from soft, Stevenson has written about a world like our own, in a future that could almost be, with people very close to us. True science fiction, and a true pleasure to read.

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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