Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

Jamie’s Top Reads for 2015:
  1. robinson_auroraThe Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett
    A beautifully tearful and satisfying end to the stories from the Discworld from one of the greatest writers of our time.
  2. Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson
    The chillingly harsh depiction of the struggles of the space ship Aurora as she travels through the empty void of space in search of a new planet to call home.
  3. Luna: New Moon – Ian McDonald
    When every breath you take costs you money, and every step could cost you your life, sometimes it seems that the moon wants to kill you. There are a million ways to die on the moon; just working to stay alive is only the first of your challenges.
  4. A Crucible of Souls – Mitchell Hogan
    A world of fantasy and intrigue with plenty of incredible surprises in store. With more books to come in this series, it’s is only going to get better and better.
  5. The Girl Thing Who Went Out For Sushi – Pat Cadigan
    Defying outdated social constructs such as gender roles and identity, this short story is perfect in its succinctness and form, leaving the reader questioning what/who they are and where they fit in this universe.
Jamie Marriage

Jamie Marriage is an internationally published Australian cyberpunk author with a taste for the dangerous and obscene aspects of life. His work ranges from the sarcastic to the satirical. Links to his work can be found at www.JamieMarriage.com

robinson_auroraFar beyond the glow of mighty Sol it soars; patient, purposeful, determined. The Ship swims across the galactic emptiness with a single objective; a new home.

Aurora is true space opera told in one of the most classic themes, that of voyage and return. A tale oft told but rarely with such attention to the minutiae of life.

Slowly decelerating from a fraction of the speed of light the Ship settles towards its end goal, a new solar system. In this system are new worlds that can sustain the delicate balances of life, the possibility of starting afresh on a planet light-years from earth the sole purpose of the Ship and its two thousand strong crew. But where life has a chance to bloom, it’s possible that something might already be there, dormant.

Aurora is not a typical tale of bold colonization. This is not a story from the golden age of Science Fiction where every other-world presents no less than dramatic encounters with strange life and inevitable romantic endeavors. This is a story about survival.

Narrative for this novel is written in two parts; that of the perspective of the Ship, already nearing two-hundred years since creation and launch from the solar system that birthed it, already starting to fall apart. And Freya, descendant of the original starfarers who volunteered to travel the interstellar void in a metal ark. Elements told by Freya are emotional and erratic; her perceived inadequacies against the exploits of her engineer mother made up for a deep need for social connection. Those told by the ship are analytical, yet adaptive: an intelligence born of quantum computing and behavioral conditioning by Freya’s mother. Together, the chapters are filled with cause and effect, possible against impossible, hope against fear.

Summing up one of Robinson’s novels is always a difficult challenge; while only one destination is clear, the journey itself is never a direct one. Disaster and desperation are most readily defeated with hope and ingenuity. But when the crops are failing, and disease runs rampant, where is a civilization that’s alone in space to find salvation?

A awe-inspiring read that is often both depressing and uplifting, Aurora is a novel both of and beyond its time. While many of us are wonder if we can make it out among the stars, what would we do to come home again?

A question unasked, until now.

 

Reviewed by Jamie Marriage

Life between the ice ages is a desperate battle for survival. While a tribe may feast in summer, it may also starve through the vicious winter months. For shaman in training, Loon, starvation is only one of the hardships.

Taken on as an apprentice shaman when his father (originally chosen to be the next in line) dies, Loon is brought up by Thorn, the clan’s resident shaman and storyteller, and the crone-like medicine woman, Heather. And while both care for the boy they each have very different expectations as to whose footsteps he should follow.

Beginning during his First Shaman’s Wander (a coming of age for a young shaman), Loon is forced into the cold winter naked and alone, fighting harder to survive the freezing snow, aggressive animals and worse, than ever before. Much to Thorn’s aggravation and Heather’s amusement, Loon’s near-death experiences leave him with a fire in his heart to fight against the Shaman way of life.

It’s not until, however, the yearly festival of the Eight-Eight that Loon truly defies his upbringing by taking a wife from another tribe. Life is far from easy after their blissful union though. Loon is in a constant state of struggle between the wishes of his tribe, his own desires, and the brutal outsiders who believe Loon’s wife to be their property.

Shaman is told from the curious perspective of the Third Wind; a spiritual force that comes only to those in great need, to push them through the pain. Its tone is direct and emotionless, but far from detracting from the story this deadpan voice emphasises the brutality of the world and in turn makes the happy moments that much more prominent. In suffering there is always hope.

The  writing style is direct and harsh. There are no spare words; the settings are described just enough to fill your mind with images but not enough to overcomplicate, and language is short and tribal. This is a very utilitarian novel; like the animals hunted by the tribe, nothing goes to waste.

Shaman is a story about the passing down of knowledge, the wisdom of the tribe, and how culture changes from one generation to the next. As the experiences of each character shapes them, so in turn do the stories of the tribe change and flow. There are lessons to be learned from this novel. Seasons change, people change, stories change. And stories are often the most important thing of all.

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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