Monthly Archives: June, 2016

Cyteen: abandoned

834518“Finished” does not describe what I did. “Abandoned”, sadly, does. I have simply not been able to get into this book at all. I find the Jordan/Justin naming confusing; I’ve been confused about what an ‘azi’ actually is; I don’t understand what these people are doing and whether I shoulda actually care. Since I started this book I’ve read about six others, which is a really bad sign.

My big question now is whether to actually abandon the book – physically remove it from the house – or whether to put it back on the shelf and think that I might actually get to it Some Other Time.

I’m really sad about this. I’ve always assumed that I would like CJ Cherryh; she’s been upheld as such a great part of sf history – and female, of course, as well. But at the 100-page mark I feel zero enthusiasm for nearly another 600 pages.

Music and Freedom

TL;DR: the fine print says that one of the classifications for this book is ‘psychologically abused women’. Yup. If that’s not your thing, do not read this book.

Unknown.jpegThis book was sent to me by the publisher, Penguin Random House, at no cost (RRP $32.99, out 27 June).

This is definitely not the sort of book I generally read. Partly because it’s mainstream ‘literature’ – I have nothing against it but there’s so much speculative fiction to get to! – and partly because the whole point of the story is about a woman whose life has been appalling. And I just don’t enjoy reading those sorts of stories.

My main take-away from this novel is: I am so glad that my husband is loving and encouraging. The most annoying thing he does is encourage me too much (ok, slight exaggeration there, but I’m still feeling intensely grateful). Continue reading →

Farscape episode 4


Farscape rewatchEach week on a Sunday afternoon, join Alex (of Randomly Yours, Alex) and Katharine (of the unpronounceable Ventureadlaxre), as they re-watch the Australian-American sci-fi show Farscape, notable for the Jim Henson animatronic puppets, the excellent mish-mash of accents, and the best OTP ship of all time.

Season One, Episode Four: Throne for a Loss

Summary: A plan goes wrong and Crichton, Aeryn and D’Argo all have to go rescue the little twerp, Rygel. What a surprise.

K: I do like how to a certain aspect Aeryn lets John waffle on and doesn’t tell him to shut up. And almost tries to understand him half the time.

A: I think John’s habit of just repeating Earth references as if a greater number of exemplar will help an alien understand, for example, Clint Eastwood, is embarrassing and ludicrous.

So Moya is Serenity now? Hauling cargo?

K: Big damn heroes!

A: Big. Damn. Heroes. Continue reading →


13186332I have known Kate Smith for a very long time, and I’ve been reading bits of her fiction for nearly that long. The thing about Smith’s writing is that she is often quite opaque – if you don’t get her song lyric references or her film references, you might be a bit lost. But she writes with a lot of passion and a lot of quirky description – which sometimes gets away from her but sometimes really works nicely.

Illume is set in Paris, and focusses on Thane, who works for the equivalent of UNIT or Shadow Unit or all the other not-really-police-branches who deal with the things that go bump in the night. This time, it’s about lovers who think they can make their love immortal, dangerous mirrors, and vampires. You never really get to the bottom of the characters who make the narrative tick; they’re surface, trading witty repartee and dangerous allusions and making intuitive links. That’s not to say they’re superficial – I don’t think they are – but Smith doesn’t really show us what makes even Thane tick, let alone his partner Mal or his crime-partner Genetta or any of the other odd bods who rock up. And I don’t think this is an oversight on Smith’s part; I think it’s quite deliberate. She seems more interested in the glitz and suggestive shadows than in deep psychological questions. So if you’re up for something light-hearted and fast-paced and quirky – definitely quirky – in the urban fantasy vein, this is your thing.

Galactic Suburbia 145

In which we all had a very exciting weekend. You can get us from iTunes or at Galactic Suburbia. 

Launched & pre-launched at Continuum: Defying Doomsday and Something New Can Come Into This World

Tansy & the Silent Producer totally got married!

British Fantasy Award shortlist


Alisa: The Martian, Trepalium

Tansy: The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, Cleverman, UnReal, Which Witch by Eva Ibbotson

Alex: Angela Slatter binge: Vigil, Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Sourdough and Other Stories, Black-Winged Angels. Also Revolution School (ep 1 until July 6)

Alex’s new podcast! Acts of Kitchen

Tansy’s new superhero story at The Book Smugglers: Kid Dark Against the Machine
On superheroes, kids, gender and role models: Tansy’s Inspiration & Influences

Please send feedback to us at, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook, support us at Patreon and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

FarScape: S1, e3

Farscape rewatch

Each week on a Sunday afternoon, join Alex (of Randomly Yours, Alex) and Katharine (of the unpronounceable Ventureadlaxre), as they re-watch the Australian-American sci-fi show Farscape, notable for the Jim Henson animatronic puppets, the excellent mish-mash of accents, and the best OTP ship of all time.

Season One, Episode Three: Exodus from Genesis


What appears to be a beautiful shimmering golden cloud out in space turns out to contain nasty creepy-crawlies who need to spawn, and in doing so, take over the ship aggressively.

As though that’s not difficult enough, Peacekeepers catch up with our merry crew once again…

A: Rygel, your hubris knows no bounds.

K: I do want a hover chair though. And they do really do excellent things with the animatronics.

A: Ah, more Alien Craziness! This time, Freaky Worms for Cleaning Your Teeth. Continue reading →

Kid Dark Against the Machine

30365422Another short story from Roberts set in the world of “Cookie Cutter Superhero”, from the anthology Kaleidoscope. It’s a world where there’s a machine that makes people superheroes… for a time. Where the first story looked at what might happen when a girl with a physical disability got to the machine, this one looks at the aftermath for one person – what’s it like when you didn’t choose to be a superhero and then you have to go back to being ‘normal’?

I love this story, and I love this world. I love Griff, struggling to deal with the ordinary world and how to fit in to it after a period of fame. I love how Roberts imagines super villains. And I love the hints at what it’s like to have a sidekick thrust on you when you really don’t want one.

You can read it over here. Free!

Queen of the Desert: the film

As I mentioned in my post about the book Queen of the Desert, a biography of Gertrude Bell, I finally got around to reading the book after seeing the biopic directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicole Kidman. I didn’t mind the film; my mother, having read the book, didn’t love it but didn’t hate it; having read the book I am increasingly annoyed by the film.

The good things: Continue reading →

Gertrude Bell

164972.jpgEvery now and then I come across a new historical figure and I think


Usually that person is a woman, although not always. Gertrude Bell is the most recent of these people. I don’t even remember how I heard about her – it might have been in passing in a podcast or something? – at any rate the moment I heard about her I went online to see if there was a biography about her. There are two, I think, modern biogs; this seemed to be the better rated, and so I immediately bought it. Since then my mother has read it, since I always have too many books to be read, and she loved it; then we spent some time together which just happened to coincide with Nicole Kidman’s movie about Bell being at the cinema, so we went to see it and I was pushed to move my reading of this bio to the front of the reading queue.

Gertrude Bell might be described as the ‘female Lawrence of Arabia’, but really it would be more accurate to say that he was the male Gertrude Bell, since I think she had more adventures and was more involved in the immediate post-WW1 decisions regarding Mesopotamia.

Continue reading →

Farscape: S1, e2

Farscape rewatchSeason One, Episode Two: I, ET

In the previous episode they removed Moya’s control collar – unlike other tv shows, this has some continuity where it seems like that’s only caused more problems. The removal has activated a homing signal which means Peacekeepers could be tracking them down at any moment. Although Leviathans are not known for being able to land and take off from planets, the crew risk it, and bury Moya in a bog. They then need to search for something that can dull Moya’s pain as they rip more Peacekeeper tech from her.

A: John has an excellent line in eye-facial-winky-crinkliness while the Peacekeeper alarm is going and MAN they could have turned it off faster! I love that Aeryn comments on the facial shenanigans, too, plus “I’m new to all this escaped prisoner crap” ahaha.

K: How scary would that be though – on the run, somewhere in space, at the mercy of the ship itself who is also under attack. I’d be freaking out!

A: Oh absolutely – for John – but not our Aeryn, nuhuh. Continue reading →