Jamie MHow long have you been writing for MDPWeb, why did you join the group, and what do you like about being part of it?

I’ve been lucky to have been writing for MDPWeb since the start in 2010. Originally I was reading and blogging for a Young Adult audience but over time moved into reading adult speculative fiction, mostly science fiction.

What creative piece are you working on, and what author would you liken your work too?

At the moment I’m working on a short story collection. In the past I’ve been likened to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams (Rest in Peace this pair of literary giants), but in the end I would rather consider my work to have its own voice.

What book have you most enjoyed reviewing for MDPWeb?

Tough call. I’d had to give it a top five in no specific order: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer; The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss; Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman; I Shall Wear Midnight, by Terry Pratchett; and Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson

What’s your favourite thing to do in your downtime?

Photography, video games, plotting my next trip to Japan

Is there somewhere else online/in bookstores we can find your work?

Links to all my work are available on my website at www.JamieMarriage.com. And Anthologies containing my work can be found on Amazon.com

What’s your favourite TV series?

At the moment, House of Cards.

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.

 

Alayna Cole

Alayna Cole is an MCA (Creative Writing) candidate who loves to write stories when she’s not studying.

far-from-the-madding-crowd-film-2015-habitually-chic-001I was recently presented with the opportunity to watch a preview of Far from the Madding Crowd (Australia is slow, I’m sorry) and, when promised a period piece with feminist themes, I couldn’t refuse. I must preface this review by saying that it’s uncommon for me to watch a movie based on a book without first reading that book, but I am yet to read this famous Tom Hardy novel—I blame good intentions and a lack of time.

Time is my primary issue with Far from the Madding Crowd; the movie simply doesn’t use it well or, perhaps, doesn’t use enough. The entire film feels like an abridged version of a longer, more intricate story, jumping between key and well-known plot points without giving enough attention to character development. As such, the audience is unable to form a bond with Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors—Gabriel Oak the shepherd, William Boldwood the mature bachelor, and Frank Troy the sergeant—or become invested in the relationships that form between them. There are several moments in the movie where I knew a period of time had elapsed between scenes, but it was difficult to determine whether it had been days, or weeks, or even months. This stripped away the significance of each event and caused the story to lack suspense.

The rushed narrative wasn’t the only part of this movie that fell short for me. Early reviews suggested Far from the Madding Crowd was a feminist flick about an empowered female protagonist, but I was disappointed. The opening voiceover by Bathsheba—played by Carey Mulligan—and her refusal to ride side-saddle were a promising start, highlighting her wildness and independence in a time where women were expected to be subservient; however, when she turned down the first of several proposals by suggesting that, if she were to marry, it would be to someone who could tame her, I was bothered.

far from the maddingThis is the part of my review that will paint me as a raging feminist, but let me be clear: I’m not against romantic movies where a woman’s sole intent is to marry a man, particularly when those movies are set in a time when that was the societal norm. My disappointment doesn’t stem from Bathsheba’s apparently constant thoughts about men and marriage—contributed to by the movie condensing the events of the source material so that she doesn’t have time to think about other topics—but the fact that Bathsheba denies her interest in such things, claiming independence and female empowerment while failing to enact it.

On the surface, Bathsheba suggests that she could never belong in a world where women are deemed inferior to or different from men, but her actions conflict with this belief. Throughout the film she constantly requires reassurance and opinions from the predominantly male array of characters, particularly Gabriel. She frequently tells him that she needs him, not only for his farming expertise, but also for his ‘objective’ views about her personal decisions.

The scene where Gabriel leaves the Everdene Farm at Bathsheba’s insistence, only to find that she needs him to return to save their flock, has been altered for the movie in a way that further strips Bathsheba of the independence and empowerment she is supposed to exude. When Bathsheba sends another worker to ask for Gabriel to return, he insists that she ask herself; in the movie Bathsheba rides to see him and essentially begs for him to come back to the farm, while my research shows that in the book she simply writes him a letter. This change makes Bathsheba seem more desperate and less distant, sacrificing the character’s independence for the sake of the scene’s visual appeal.

Visuals are the one thing Far from the Madding Crowd does exceedingly well; it is a beautiful film. In the opening scene, the way shadow and light are used to frame Bathsheba is phenomenal. The costume choices carefully tread the line between period and modern, placing the story in a space connected to the source material while still relatable for a contemporary audience. Shots of picturesque landscapes are reminiscent of travel brochures, while images of manor interiors look as though they are taken directly from home décor magazines.

But, while Far from the Madding Crowd makes me want to pack my bags for England, sadly the scenery is not enough for me to forgive the movie’s shortcomings. The film felt rushed and, as a result, failed to construct complex characters or meaningful relationships. I look forward to reading the novel, as I’m certain its epic length will allow for the narrative depth and pacing that this film failed to achieve.

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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