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Friday Photos

As promised I’m repeating Friday Photos from last week.

Dymocks Prahran wide

Dymocks in Chapel Street, Prahran. As of a week ago they had a special advertised in the window. It’s lovely to see a book shop back in Prahran.

Dymocks Prahran

Dymocks are on a corner so I get to give you two photos, including another special, but it was from a week ago.

The Avenue

The Avenue Bookstore in Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick. They used to be Sunflower Bookshop with a small shop, but select range. Still a small shop…unless they go into L-Space.


A is for K. A. Applegate

Having successfully navigated myself from one end of the alphabet to the other with male science writers I’m now embarking on another journey, that of female science fiction writers. I fully expect to encounter both the familiar and the unfamiliar names with some of the more challenging letters being filled by people from interesting countries. To kick off this new set I’m looking at K. A. Applegate.

Katherine Alice Applegate is a fairly young American author being born in 1956, the same year we hosted the Olympic Games in Melbourne (not that there’s any relationship but I thought I’d throw that in to give you value for money). She’s well known for both Remnants and Everworld but I know her more for her Animorphs series.

Animorphs 2: The Visitor

Animorphs 2: The Visitor

I’ve read Animorphs from beginning to end. They’re an enjoyable series but some of it grossed me out somewhat such as when they were morphing into an animal and we see and feel the changes happening. But I’m not here today to talk about the content. In doing some research on Applegate I noticed her prodigious output with Animorphs. In the first year she published five books, in the second nine books and the third year 12 books. Either she’s an incredibly fast writer (bearing in mind none of the books are very thick) or she’s having help via a ghostwriter…sure enough, in the fourth year I notice ghostwriters are starting to be credited which brings an idea for another possible series, the Alphabet of Ghostwriters. Anyway, it means 64 books were published over a five year period!!! And this is while she’s publishing 12 books in the Everworld series as these were published between 1999 and 2001. She then went onto 14 Remnants books from 2001 to 2003. I’m just amazed at the prodigious output of her writing.

Having scribbled a few words about her output I’m going to give you some links to her books on Booktopia and potentially earn myself some commission. All of these books are for 8-12 years and have some violence and death in them.

Animorphs 1: The Invasion

Animorphs 2: The Visitor

Remnants 7: Isolation

The One and Only Ivan winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal

Studies progressing

It’s now the middle of May and I haven’t given you much of an update with my studies. I’ve managed to attend each class and disrupt the lessons on occasion but the teachers know how to get things back on track…I do try not to digress away from the topic too often but the mind being old and grey tends to wander far too much. Classes are good for this as the teachers bring everyone back to the topic at hand and I then need to focus my brain again so I’m learning how to get the little grey cells working for many hours longer than normal. When I’m at home I don’t need that kind of discipline as there are so many other things to do that I can always find an excuse to be distracted and leave the computer for a while. I believe the brain takes several minutes to refocus on a task after an interruption so being in classes all day is a good thing as I’m retraining my brain to be able to concentrate for much longer…excellent for a writer, actually excellent for life in general.

I’ve felt some solidarity with everyone doing their VCE this year, I’ve been sitting SACs as well without any special arrangements and have been doing reasonably well. I’m on track to get 60% in both classes at the end of the year.


English has not been a doddle as I’d hoped, I have been challenged to write longer and better. The feedback I’ve received ensures my marks are increasing. We’ve been marked for two SACs (School Assessed Coursework) and an oral presentation.  My analysis piece got the credible mark of 14/20, my essay on Medea received the nice mark of 22/30 while my oral presentation was 16/20, watching those marks increase is a lovely thing. Those poor people, my oral was on the Benefits of Cosplay so I took in some things for show and tell. The other students have been talking on some rather thought provoking topics.

English Language

English Language is a totally different thing and I’m really struggling, we need to answer everything using metalanguage and I’m finding it really challenging to remember the concepts, the names of the concepts and then apply them. I’m going to keep working on this throughout the year but the SAC results I received last week showed I’m roughly on the right track as I got 60%! I did spend most of the week prior to the SACs studying English Language, I had two SACs on the same day (I felt like a real student) but I put much more time into English Language and it didn’t really show. Every class I’m in just proves me right in choosing the class, though, even the homework proves I made the right choice. I’m learning so much about the English Language, how the sentences are put together, why we choose the words we choose and how to read a piece of text properly to understand the message they’re really trying to get across.


This is the General Achievement Test. Everyone who is doing any Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) or scored VCE VET (Vocational Educational Training) Units 3 and 4 study needs to sit the GAT. It’s a three hour exam on a range of subjects: written communication; mathematics, science and technology and; humanities, the arts and social sciences. If you want more than that you can look it up yourself, I regard it as a waste of time but some people support it and I can see their point. So, Wednesday 10th June you will not see me as I’ll be at CAE doing my GAT and not stressing about it as it doesn’t affect my scores.

About the classes

They’re far less regimented than in regular schools. CAE treat us like adults. There’s a lot of behaviour we’re allowed to get away with that wouldn’t be tolerated in a regular classroom, things like leaving for the toilet or to make a phone call or even just using the internet in class are all just ignored. If you need a five minute break you just quietly walk out, the teaching continues as if you haven’t moved. Sometimes the teacher will ask a student to google a word. An example from yesterday was orthophemism, any other school the teacher would have had a definition handy or come back the next week with it. I sit there and crochet when I’m not writing…I’m making a lot of scarfs. We’re allowed food and drink, so I have a cup of Peppermint Tea on my desk in my Nullus Anxietas cup. The risk of having chips is having one pinched by my English teacher.

NAV mug

Last but not least

While you’re reading about updates I’m going to slip in about my 6th anniversary competition from last month. I suddenly realised I hadn’t announced the winner. It was a tight run thing but Karen Carlisle won and I’ve now arranged her prize.

Update number whatever

Today I’m apologising.

My webhost had a server problem last Thursday and when they got everything working again they restored everyone’s website back to their latest backup from Thursday. I was in the middle of doing a backup of my own as I don’t rely on my webhost, I’ve heard too many horror stories about people losing an entire year’s worth of work because the webhost was unreliable about backups. It’s a pity my backup didn’t work.

Anyone who gets their update of this website by email would have received Friday’s article with photos of Dymocks in Prahran and if you’d then come here you would have found it missing.

What have I lost?

One Friday Photos from last Friday and emails sent to me on Friday, I did manage to get my morning emails but nothing after that until Saturday. I can’t help but wonder if there were any emails sent to me on Thursday wandering around in cyberspace never to be released to me.

What has this taught me?

I have a good webhost who actually does daily backups as they promise.

Maybe I should consider saving some of my longer and more involved articles on my computer before I put them on my blog. Not sure about that one, it’s quite a bit more work but I’ll consider it.

Moving forward

I’m planning on repeating Friday Photos this Friday, just because and for no other reason.

I’ll follow up the one email I know has gone missing and reply to any others that appear.

I’ll also endeavour to do backups more regularly but this will depend on our download limit as we’re really close to that this month.

I’m not going to lose any sleep about this as in the general scheme of things it’s a terribly minor glitch

Z is for George Zebrowski

Last, but certainly not least in the Alphabet by Author, is George Zebrowski. Born Jerzy (pronounced Yerzhee) Tadeus Zebrowski in Austria of Polish descent which for some reason explains the Polish name in 1945. He’s been published since about 1972 and has a respectable body of work to his name. Some of this includes some of the Star Wars books, while this doesn’t mean he writes in English he actually does as he’s in America and not Austria or Poland.

This We Are Not Alone keynote address by him published by the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction is interesting. Pity I’m running late and can’t read it all but it’s from 2006 and seems to be about royalties and contracts. I will put the link on the I Like Books Facebook page so I can remember to read it all later.

He’s written a couple of non-fiction books and this one looks very interesting. Beneath the Red Star: Studies on International Science Fiction (1996) not that I can actually find it in print as a new book yet but I’ll keep an eye out for it. One of his anthologies is available at Booktopia, Swift Thoughts and looks fun. What also looks good is another anthology by him with his partner, Pamela Sergeant and Jack Dann, Dream of Venus and Other Science Fiction Stories / Decimated.

I found a well written article on Zebrowski on SF Gateway. The writer say this about Zebrowski:

His best known novel is Macrolife (Harper & Row, 1979), which Arthur C. Clarke described as ‘a worthy successor to Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker.  It’s been years since I was so impressed.  One of the few books I intend to read again.’

I figure if Arthur C. Clarke says Zebrowski is good then I’ll have to check him out again.

You can buy Macrolife on Angus & Robertson in paperback form or ebook.

The Portable Door – Tom Holt

Portable Door by Tom Holt

The Portable Door by Tom Holt

This was one of those lovely op shop finds that I just had to have. I originally found Tom Holt some years ago before I started blogging, wanting to expand my reading I was trying out new and different authors in the library on spec without doing more than checking if the book was romance or not. Some of them worked well and others didn’t but that’s the nature of doing a lucky dip like that. The Portable Door by Tom Holt worked well and I now have a number of his books on my shelf.

Paul Carpenter is fairly clueless, he has no skills except for the ability to fall deeply in love with every female he meets within moments of setting eyes on them. He begins working for J. W. Wells & Co. along with a new female recruit. They don’t get along despite his only ability but they do the work together until the night they don’t manage to leave on time and their world is turned upside down. Paul finds a door and uses it to travel, not quite like a TARDIS as the instructions are fairly simple and anyone can follow them. But what about their new employer? Why does their name sounds suspiciously familiar as I read the book?

It seems like a good time to link to a Youtube video here.

What do I like about this book?

There’s not really any romance, it does look like it’s there but you have to read one or two books into the series to understand why it doesn’t bother me. I won’t mention the word ‘magic’…promise.

I enjoy the characters, even the nasty ones. Mr Tanner feels ” being a really evil bastard isn’t just a job, it’s a vocation.” and he does a really good job of it.

I love the way Holt has brought Gilbert and Sullivan into a fantasy book and made everything sound normal.

Holt has also woven other books and stories into this book quite casually as if they really do fit, while slightly subverting them to fit his own needs. Sword in the stone, anyone?

Do I recommend it?

Of course. There is always a but and this one is the language. If you’re not fond of swear words or you’re under age then don’t, just don’t.


Yes, here’s the link to buy it. It won’t make me heaps of money like the really expensive books which I don’t recommend but it will make me a little.

Mothers’ Day

I never know what is going to happen on Mothers’ Day. Is it going to be one of those days where they all get it absolutely right and I’m going to be in tears or is it going to be the total opposite? There never seems to be a happy medium.

Yesterday was somewhere in between. I did receive a book:

Serenity: The Official Visual Companion by Joss Whedon

Serenity: The Official Visual Companion by Joss Whedon

Which I can’t find on any of my usual haunts to give you a link so you’ll just have to suffer without. I did find the DVD of Serenity on Angus & Robertson so you can buy that and relive the excitement, something I can’t do as we borrowed it the first time.

You know those extras you get on DVDs? The ones where you get the commentary by various people including the director, the main actors and some of the etceteras? Or where you get extra notes, outtakes and deleted scenes? This book is some of those extras. It has the screenplay alongside various stills and it has an interview with Josh Whedon. All hail the Whedon! And you lot have to suffer without the book, it’s mine! All mine!

Friday Photos

Today is a Doctor Who day for no reason at all. I’ve had a few Doctor Who books cross my desk over the years and these are some I’ve chosen mostly at random. And in case anyone wants to make me a few cents, and get the books at the same time, I’ve included links for buying.


Doctor Who and the Curse of Peladon by Brian Hayles seems to not be listed for sale, it might be out of print but then again, most of them were until recently.


Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars by Terrance Dicks is from my childhood but it doesn’t seem to be listed either.

I could have given you so many more as I have about a dozen photos on my computer and access to almost the entire set of original Target novelisations but I won’t bore you any more.


Y is for Nir Yaniv

I found three people for today’s article, I decided I’d leave the two Japanese men for the moment and have a brief look at the Israeli guy.

Nir Yaniv is pretty young having only been born in 1972. He’s pretty talented being an author, editor and musician. If you visit his blog you’ll be able to get a feel for his music and see some info about his writing.  He founded the webzine Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy in 2000 and edited it for seven years.

Part of this society’s work is to present awards for best translations of science fiction and fantasy, the latest results they have on the link are a little old being from 2008 but the first two books are two favourites of mine: I am Legend by Richard Matheson translated by Yael Inbar and Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett translated by Yonatan Bar. They also have several conventions throughout the year focussing on different areas of science fiction and fantasy. How awesome to attend one of these! Pity my Hebrew is so poor, but how awesome!

The Love Machine & other contraptions by Nir Yaniv

You can buy The Love Machine & other contraptions here. It’s a collection of Yaniv’s short stories and it’s in English!

Gullible’s Travels – Billy Connolly

Gullible's Travels by Billy Connolly

Gullible’s Travels by Billy Connolly

Just for something completely different I had a read of Gullible’s Travels by Billy Connolly. It’s not quite the same as watching him recount the same stories on TV but it’s not too bad. Connolly seems to write the same way he interviews, by the seat of his pants, and that helps to give the flavour of the man himself. The only way this could be better is if he was here in person. What is missing is the accent and the speech patterns, if you weren’t familiar with Connolly then you’re likely to be entertained by this.

This book is anecdotes and observations about Connolly’s travels throughout the world. It’s roughly divided up by country, sometimes has a lot to say and sometimes very little. South Africa is a good example of very little, partly as he’s never visited. Apparently a previous book was banned for being morally degenerate so after two paragraphs he leaves the rest of the chapter blank to show all the good things South Africa has done. Bear in mind this book was first written in 1982 when their problems were just in the first throes of being solved and also bear in mind that Connolly doesn’t mind being controversial. I’m sure many people disagree with him, such as some of my South African friends.

I had a number of other things marked to point out to you but that won’t be happening as I’ve lost my piece of paper. This book may be hard to find, it’s something I’m struggling to find in a new bookshop so instead I’m presenting you with one of his other travel books Billy Connolly’s Route 66: The Big Yin on the Ultimate American Road Trip as being a reasonable substitute.

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I want to thank the Koolin people for their thousands of years of guardianship and caretaking of the area where I live.