Baggage cometh

Remember that story I was posting about, the one that kept breaking my balls, for Gillian Pollack’s “Baggage” anthology?

“Baggage”  is, in brief — in Gillian’s words — a speculative fiction anthology that examines the stories and other cultural baggage that migrants have brought with us to Australia over the last 200 odd years. She also says: “If you think Australian culture is all about neighbours and mateship, you may find Baggage distressing.”

My migrants came to Australia between 120 and 150-odd years ago — recently enough that we’re still in contact with cousins in Scotland on my father’s side, but long enough ago that we can’t claim to be anything other than Australian. And we’re white Anglo-Celts, as invisibly, pervasively mainstream as you can get. So I had to think about what kind of cultural baggage we might have, and settled for what I knew or thought I knew we had, since I wasn’t able to go back to Oz and do any research on things I didn’t know about.

This was without doubt the hardest writing job I’ve ever had. If I hadn’t agreed to do it, and if I hadn’t been so dead keen to be part of a project that dares to be about a big and complex and sensitive topic, I would have given up. I’m very happy that I didn’t give up. I’m proud to be in this anthology and I can’t praise Gillian enough for her great patience with me as I repeatedly stressed out. Hecatombs to you, Gillian.

And I’m still nervous, perhaps because I’ve been told what to think about cultural baggage by academia and the media, so that it was difficult to put a whole bunch of very educated people’s opinions aside and tell the story I wanted to tell; and there was always the terror of clumsily saying something I shouldn’t, or not saying something I should, and that terror is now echoing on, probably quite irrationally, now that I can’t make any more changes.

This story became very important to me as I was writing it; it’s by far the most personal story I’ve ever published, and there’s a fair bit of true material in it. It preserves a couple of our family tales, and I’m glad about that. And looking at the list of who’s on board (below), I can’t wait to have my own copy of what I think is going to be a great book.

Here’s the table of contents (note that Tessa is in it too!):

Vision Splendid — K.J. Bishop
Telescope — Jack Dann
Hive of Glass — Kaaron Warren
Kunmanara – Somebody Somebody — Yaritji Green
Manifest Destiny — Janeen Webb
Albert & Victoria/Slow Dreams — Lucy Sussex
Macreadie v The Love Machine — Jennifer Fallon
A Pearling Tale — Maxine McArthur
Acception — Tessa Kum
An Ear for Home — Laura E. Goodin
Home Turf — Deborah Biancotti
Archives, space, shame, love — Monica Carroll
Welcome, farewell — Simon Brown

There are now electronic uncorrected proof copies of Baggage available for review. For more info, please visit Gillian’s blog here.


Art Bits II

I’m piling up tabs full of eye candy and eye poison and curios, and Firefox is getting slow. Time to drop them here. (Forget bookmarks, my bookmarks are the black hole of Calcutta.)

Homunculus, a short movie by Hydra“Homunculus is a dark and twisted fable of spontaneous generation and untrammeled id. Taking its title from the Latin word for “Little Human”, the piece is an associative mashup between the two concepts behind the word: The first being middle-age alchemical beliefs that “little men” could be spontaneous generated from dead or decaying matter. The second being Carl Jung’s usage as a personification of pure id.” Little furry men emerging from the decay of a vanitas painting and…but I won’t spoil it.

A crochet coral reef that illustrates hyperbolic space (as does coral, and sea slugs and lettuce; but apparently no one knew what hyperbolic space might look like until mathematician Daina Taimina had the idea of crocheting it). One of the originators of the reef, Margaret Wertheim, talks about the project and its mathematics here. (As one of the commentators points out, she might not be correct in saying that “the most famous postulate in all of mathematics has been proven wrong.” But I think that’s a minor quibble in the overall awesomeness of crocheting hyperbolic coral.)

A kinda-sphinxy siren by Antony Micallef. I love both the image itself and the painting technique.

The body bakery of Kittiwat Unarrom, a Thai artist who makes hyperrealistic sculptures of rotten dead body parts out of bread. All edible!

Carmen Lozar’s glass art. Her flameworked, painted pieces are gorgeous. Although the website calls them “diminutive celebrations of the everyday”, they also celebrate the imaginary. She also makes glass couture — glass garments with nobody (or invisible bodies) inside them.

Weird illustrations by Léonard Sarluis for Voyage au pays de la quatrième dimension (1912) by Gaston de Pawlowski. I dig the things on the stairs.


The Heart of a Mouse

After rather a long break, I’ve got a story published — The Heart of a Mouse, online at Subterranean.

Jeff VanderMeer gave me the prompt that led to this story, and he was also kind enough to critique it, as was Geoff Maloney. My thanks to them both, and to Jonathan Stephens for sage advice. Check out Subterranean’s catalogue, which includes trade paperback and limited and deluxe editions of classic and contemporary spec fic.