Cenotaph
disturbing
stephen_dedman
I met a traveler from an antique world
Who said: Four vast and trunkless legs of gold
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a fallen banner lies, whose stars
And wrinkled stripes, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its maker well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"Richard Nixon, President of the United States:
We came in peace for all mankind."
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

KILLER at GenghisCon 2016
disturbing
stephen_dedman
I enjoyed GenghisCon 2015 so much that I volunteered for two positions for GenghisCon 2016: running a Killer game, and co-programmer of panels. There will be at least one programming meeting later, but if you have any ideas for panels or want to volunteer for any that have already been suggested, please contact me, either by replying to this post, or emailing me at dedmans (at) iinet.net

Meanwhile, here are the draft rules for the Killer game to be held over the duration of the con.

KILLER: THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME

The place
: Mawson Station, Antarctica.
The scenario: An alien shapeshifter, accidentally released from ice where it has been trapped for centuries, has infiltrated the base by replacing one – and possibly more – of the personnel. The aliens are invulnerable to gunfire, knives, and other conventional weapons, but there may yet be a way to detect and defeat them before they have taken over completely…
Gameplay: On the Friday evening of Genghiscon, all players will meet with the GM, and be issued with a sticker to place on their badges. This sticker marks them as Killer players: anyone without a sticker is an innocent bystander. At the same time, 1d6 players will secretly be informed that they have been replaced by Things.
At this meeting, everyone will be told the code word that enables Things to take over their victims. The game will run until midnight, and then recommence at 8am. Some areas (such as the panel room during panels) will be off-limits for attacks. Things will also be restricted by the need to not have any human witnesses when they attack, and can’t attack when outnumbered by humans.
On Saturday afternoon, all players, including any new players who missed the meeting on Friday night, will meet again and be informed of how to identify Things and destroy them. New players will be issued stickers: a truce will be active for long enough to allow humans and Things to disperse.
If any Things remain alive at the end of GenghisCon, the Things will have won; the winning player will be the surviving Thing with the greatest number of victims. If not, the humans are victorious, and the winning player will be the surviving human with the greatest number of kills.
Weapons: Not needed.

More details will be provided at and before the con.

Coincidence?
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stephen_dedman
I was just re-watching The Godfather, and noticed an uncanny resemblance between Corleone hitman Luca Brasi (requiescat in pesci) and a certain Federal treasurer.

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As William Shatner would say, "Weird or what?"

Some modest proposals
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stephen_dedman
So, there's been yet another spree killing in the US, and as predicted, many Americans are refusing to admit that easy access to guns and ammunition facilitated this.
Unfortunately, I don't have a miracle cure for this particular sickness. People who self-identify as "good guys" want guns because the "bad guys" have them. People who will admit to being "bad guys" want them because other "bad guys" have them. I acknowledge this and understand it. These suggestions are only offered as possible ways to slowly, incrementally, reduce the number of guns and bullets available to individuals such as Dylann Roof.
(1) Close the gun show loophole, enforce the Brady Act, and repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. ASAP. Apply the RICO Act to serial violators.
(2) Reinstate some version of the Federal Assault Weapons ban, based on magazine capacity and rate of fire.
(3) Make gun licenses as difficult to obtain, and as easy to suspend, as driver's licenses: at a minimum, require written and practical tests, background checks, proof of safe storage facilities for the guns, and limit the number of guns per license-holder unless they are a registered dealer. Allow doctors to ask victims of domestic violence whether their abusers have guns, and confiscate guns from anyone who is under a restraining order.
(4) Ban the importation of firearms without the equivalent of a valid End User Permit. If a police department or military unit wants to use Glocks or Berettas or other foreign-made guns in preference to US-made guns, okay, but make them justify this in writing. Likewise for private individuals. Follow this up after some suitable length of time with restrictions on sale of these weapons.
(5) Impose production limits on American gun manufacturers - enough to meet government quotas and a reasonable expectation of demand for hunting weapons. As with the same of imported weapons, give manufacturers and dealers adequate time to reorganize so that mass layoffs of staff will not be needed.
(6) Ban the production and sale of firearms and ammunition that do not meet the needs of the military, police, or hunters: .25 and .32 caliber, for example. Again, give manufacturers and dealers adequate time to reorganize.
Would these measures stop the next Dylann Roof, James Holmes or Adam Lanza? Maybe, maybe not. Will any of them be implemented? I doubt it. But the next time there's another mass shooting of that type, Americans shouldn't need to ask, "How could this happen?" Forget all the Fox News and NRA bullshit. YOU KNOW HOW THIS WAS POSSIBLE, AND YOU KNOW WHAT YOU COULD HAVE DONE TO PREVENT IT.
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If this goes on...
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stephen_dedman
(Author's note: I wrote this many years ago, before the Port Arthur massacre and the gun buyback scheme, but despite the changes here, I've decided not to rewrite the story with the setting changed to the USA.)

The Big Bang Theory, RevisitedCollapse )
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GenghisCon 2016 - panel suggestions and panelists wanted!
Bathrobe, by chaosmanor
stephen_dedman
I enjoyed GenghisCon 2015 so much that I was inspired to volunteer for two positions for GenghisCon 2016: running a Killer game, and co-programmer of panels.

More details of the Killer game will be released closer to the time of the con, but I will say that it's based on John Carpenter's The Thing. Right now, I'm looking for panel suggestions and panelists. I'm particularly hoping to attract local sf/f/h writers for some panels about writing, in part to make up for the lack of a KSP mini-con this year. I'm also hoping to feature panels and discussions about gaming, films, comics, etc.

Possible panel/discussion topics include:
Visions of the next century: utopia, dystopia, or a bit of both?
Manned space flight: when will we get to Mars/back to the moon/etc.?
Exoplanets and the search for extraterrestrial life/intelligence (the "Rare Earths" hypothesis)
The future of... (robotics, entertainment, publishing, politics, warfare, religion...)
Sf/f/h stories and characters that have endured, or will endure, or are past their use-by date.
What sf/f/h films does it make sense to remake? (or series to reboot?)
What is the worst sf/f/h film ever made?
RPGs: the best and worst features of different systems.
"Read dating": enthuse for three minutes about a particular book/movie/game/comic/series.
SF/f/h themed music videos.
Editing songvids.

Let me know what you'd like to see. (Suggestions involving Season 6 of Game of Thrones, a Black Widow movie, zero gravity sex, or Tony Abbott's head on a platter are beyond our budget, though we might manage the platter.)

ATTENTION WA SF, FANTASY AND HORROR WRITERS: THE RETURN OF THE EDITOR STRIKES BACK
disturbing
stephen_dedman
At Swancon 40, on Saturday April 4th, a panel of publishers and fiction editors – Kylie Chan, Cat Sparks, Andrew Harvey and Stephen Dedman – will be doing a blind reading of first pages of anonymous submissions from writers, and vote/comment on whether they’d be inclined to continue reading and what has interested them or turned them off. Work will be read aloud, but authors not identified unless they speak up.

We have the time, the place, and the editors, but we need submissions: first pages only, with titles but no author names, of stories that you would consider submitting to professional or semi-pro sf magazines (i.e. original fiction only, no fanfic). A4, 1.5 or double spacing, 12 pi, standard margins, readable font. Hand these in at the con registration desk, and please come to the panel to hear our feedback and stand up for audience applause (or not, as the case may be). All welcome!

Many things begin with F...
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stephen_dedman
Woke up to learn that Leonard Nimoy is dead, and Tony Abbott is still PM. It's been that sort of month.
So, the good things about this February. Um... because it's the shortest month, it's nearly over?
Actually, most of the good things about this February did begin with F - highlights provided by the Fringe Festival and PIAF, particularly the Writers' Festival. That gave me the chance to catch up with some old friends, including Lee and Lyn Battersby, Sean Williams, and Teresa Anns. There were also some fascinating speakers, most notably Kate Forsyth, who told us about piss boys in the court of the Sun King and the love lives of the Brothers Grimm. Some moderators did a fantastic job of keeping the conversations on-stage interesting; others seemed to believe that the entire festival was merely a long advertisement for the books in the dealer's room (and yes, that apostrophe is in the right place). Unfortunately, the only moment that reminded me of why I write (wrote?) was when an audience member asked Erik Jensen why he'd continued interviewing Adam Cullen and writing his biography after Adam had shot him in the leg, and I thought, "How could a writer not want to write a story like that?"
(Note: this is not a request for anyone to shoot me in the leg. I had enough health problems this month. More of that later.)
The only Festival of Perth extravaganzas I saw this year were The Giants and 'The Rabbits:' both were enormously impressive, though 'The Rabbits' definitely had much better music as well as a stronger plot and message. I went to many more Fringe events: I'm much more inclined to take a chance on shows when tickets are in the $20 - $30 range, and while a couple of the events were disappointing, I didn't regret seeing any of them. Highlights, for me, were Sophie Joske's one-woman show 'Become a Functional Adult in 45 minutes' and Sugar Blue Burlesque's 'Empire of Desire'. I probably would have enjoyed some of the other shows in the last week more had I not come down with a stomach bug and asthma, probably brought about by stress.
By Friday the 13th, the silence from both UWA and Murdoch about work in first semester was starting to worry me. On the 16th, I was told that there was no sessional tutoring available at UWA, and that I hadn't made the shortlist for a position at UWA Publishing, either. So I emailed my boss at Murdoch to ask what was happening and waited for a reply.
And waited.
And waited.
Semester's started now, so unless someone quits, it looks as though I'm not going to get any tutoring work. Fortunately, I have enough savings to get me through first semester without having to go crawling to Centrelink (I've had enough difficulty trying to get a low income earner's health care card from them that the bureaucracy scene in Jupiter Ascending seemed like the most plausible part of the movie, not that that's high praise), and it will give me time to add the necessary extra material to Future Forces, the book based on my PhD thesis.
Speaking of PhDs, I did have the pleasure of seeing Laurton graduate, with accompanying fireworks and a brief performance by Divalicious - presumably to compensate us for the demotivational speech by a National Party member who seemed to be channeling Gina Rinehart as she told us to go and work on minesites and not worry about the low wages - and not to FIFO, either, because some of the regions "now have suburbs" (!). That's when I finally gave in and took out my iPad and read a David Drake novel until she was finished.
So. February was not the worst of times, though it certainly wasn't the best. And though I never had the privilege of meeting him, I will miss Leonard Nimoy.

I've got a little list...
Godot by coffeem
stephen_dedman
For the benefit of everyone who's asked me "What would you like for Christmas?" and hasn't been satisfied with my standard answers of "World Peace", a movie deal, or the resignations of any or all of Tony Abbott's wretched hive of scum and villainy, here are some alternative suggestions.

Elmstock English Breakfast tea-bags.
Signed copies of any of my favourite books.
Gift vouchers for Diabolik Books and Records or JB Hi-Fi.
Or anything on this list (and it needn't come from amazon: buy from local bookshops if you can).

Crime Scene
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stephen_dedman
This weekend (October 11th-12th), I will be a guest at Crime Scene WA, talking about writing when I can tear myself away from the fascinating presentations on forensic science by experts including Professor Simon Lewis, Associate Professor Hadyn Green and Associate Professor Guy Hall, as well as presentations on writing and publishing by GoHs Michael Robotham and Livia Day (aka Tansy Rayner Roberts), as well as Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Tony Cavanaugh and Alisa Krasnostein. among others.

If you're willing to drag yourself out of bed early on a weekend morning, I'll be at the opening ceremony at 8.45 am on Saturday, and a panel on The Writing Process and What You Should be Doing Once You Are Published with Lee and Alisa at 9.00 am on Sunday. I'll also be giving a presentation, Red Herring, Blue Herring: Look, a clue!, and appearing at the Sundowner, 6pm to 8pm on Saturday night. Hope I see you there!

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