Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Flawed Mountain Goat

Just got a GREAT review from Marcus Baumgart @ The Flawed Mind. Here's a taste:

"Andrez offers us one imagined future for Melbourne, and it has to be said that things don’t look so good. The dystopian Melbourne of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, pitched at some distance into the future, has the unique distinction of being the only city left in the world. Unfortunately, things are not going terribly well in terms of civil liberties, the political climate or the environment. In fact, things are comprehensively fucked up on all fronts, and the portrait painted is of an overcrowded, polluted metropolis groaning under the control of a government vested in corporate interests and busy herding non-conformists and misfits into extramural death camps styled as ‘hospitals’.

"Despite this undeniable grimness, the novel is also pretty amusing, and it mines the noir vein with gay abandon, to use an old-fashioned phrase. Andrez wears his pop-culture influences on his sleeve, and the result is a compote that mashes up a plethora of fictional frameworks into a believable, seamless whole. Readers who know Melbourne will enjoy seeing the geography of the city rezoned and remapped, polarised by the presence of a dome over the CBD that shelters the wealthy elite. And god help you if you find yourself in Richmond, which Bergen transforms into a demilitarised wasteland; Abbotsford and other inner suburbs don’t fare much better.

"I for one appreciate someone taking the time to imagine an Australia of the future, as it is a welcome change to the ubiquitous North American setting of much popular fiction, and science fiction. Nevertheless, that wouldn’t be enough to recommend it. Happily, TSMG is also a ripping yarn in the best dystopian, gumshoe tradition.

"Oh, and on a final note, you will thoroughly enjoy the company of the protagonist, Floyd Maquina – he is ruggedly handsome and generally ruined; witty, self destructive and self-effacing with his air of gracious defeat..."

You can check out more at Marcus' website.

We have a swag of other review and interviews up at the Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat website HERE.

Personally speaking, this is wunderbar encouragement since I'm currently in the middle of writing the next novel, which goes under the acting title of One Hundred Years of Vicissitude. More about that shortly, or you can check out the Facebook page (I got in early) here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Genji: Modish Millennium Man?

As outlined here a couple of entries back, I recently slunk back to Tokyo after three of the most über-intensive days’ traveling in my life, down in the grand old capital city of Kyoto.

Despite a decade living in the newer capital (Tokyo) I'd never actually been to Kyoto before - as inexcusable as that sounds—and it was one of the best jaunts I’ve had in recent years.

At the same time I’d also started to attack a new novel, which has the current title of One Hundred Years of Vicissitude. This is, I stress, the interim title only and - yes - it is partially a cheeky reference to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude (shhh), though the main character in the novel is a centenarian and there’s a lot of change going on. If I get a letter from Señor Márquez or his lawyers I’ll probably consider also changing the name of the bugger.

Concurrently in my other job (teaching English) I’ve been yacking with a lot with students and friends about a famous 1,000-year-old Japanese tome called The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji Monogatari), and have been itching to run something about it with my mates at Forces of Geek.

Anyway, as they conspire to do, these various things got together and chewed out my brain a bit, resulting in a novel that’s shaping up - in the early stages at least; I’m only up to page 67 - as partially an inane travelogue.

I’ll probably shaft some of the passages, ditch others, find a ghostwriter, and rewrite the remainder. By the way the ghostwriter reference is a pun since a dead man narrates the story. One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is possibly going to be a five percent sequel/prequel of my other novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat - and 95 percent something else entirely.

At the moment, in the existing manuscript, this is a section/riff that gets across the whole background of The Tale of Genji so I thought I’d snatch that and share it with you, instead of writing up a fresh article from a journalistic perspective.

To be honest I also hope you don’t mind plodding through to uncover the historical morsels. This is barely edited and unnaturally long-winded stuff at times, plus I’ll probably toss out some of the dialogue/asides if I end up using it in the novel - at all.

If curious and/or at all interested, you can read more @ FOG.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tokyo Disneyland: Rodents Galore

You might know Disneyland. Then again, it's possible you may not.

The keys to this particular magic kingdom have been handed into the care of an organization of amalgamated Japanese companies best known under the alias of the Oriental Land Company (or just plain OLC), which originally contacted the Walt Disney Company in the 1960s with plans for an amusement park - but were knocked back.

The company reapplied a decade later, and this time succeeded in arranging a licensing contract.

Tokyo Disneyland opened to the general public on April 15th, 1983, and has developed into the most frequently-visited theme park in the world – with over 17 million visitors a year.

Now, with over 45 rides covering an area of 115 acres, Tokyo Disneyland continues to experience larger crowds by the day - aside from a few weeks after the March 11 earthquake, which damaged some of the carparking area - to the point that there’s barely room to breathe, let alone stroll, and queues of up to three hours are often the norm on weekends and public holidays. Right now they have the whole Hallowe'en thing happening there and it's an extremely popular time of year.

One time in October three years ago we were forced to queue for over two hours for one of the older school, more humdrum rides - Snow White's Adventures.

Tokyo Disneyland is pretty much modeled on L.A. Disneyland, except for one important omission – there’s no Matterhorn - while the Haunted Mansion here is located in Fantasyland and has the same facade as the one in Walt Disney World in Florida.

There are also attractions unique to Japan’s visitors: the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour, which features Disney villains, and Pooh's Hunny Hunt - which is a surreal and hilarious spin-out of a ride that just begs to be experienced.

And where else will you experience swash-buckling Pirates of the Caribbean rabble-rousing and carousing... in gruff jidaigeki-style Japanese voices?

If all this isn’t enough, right next door is Tokyo Disneyland Resort's second mega-attraction: Tokyo DisneySea, opened in 2001, and boasting its own array of rides, shows, dining, and so on – including Journey To the Center of the Earth, Sinbad's Storybook Voyage in the faux Arabian Coast area, Storm Rider, Ariel's Kingdom, and the Indiana Jones Temple of the Crystal Skull ride.

And, dammit, as much as I despise Mickey and I don't want to dig the place, it's downright fun.