Catacomb Categories


G is for Mary Gentle

I decided to write about Mary Gentle as I love her name and then in doing more research I found a very interesting blog, the author positively loves Gentle and thinks she’s awesome, the article made me want to write about her for much better reasons.

Born in the UK in 1956 Gentle started writing fantasy but became known for her Orthe sequence. The protagonist comes to Orthe to try and open up the planet for exploitation, sort of like the early days of Avatar.

The book the blogger thinks is so awesome is Ash, it’s alternate history and the protagonist has been genetically engineered so she hears a computer in her head.

So, onto the blogger. She’s quite enthusiastic and almost makes me want to read the book. She’s meant to be talking about Black Opera but starts gushing about Ash and how it’s choc-a-bloc with excellent female characters, those who do stuff and kick butt and basically don’t need men around to get stuff done for them. In case you want to read this article you can find on Tor.

I couldn’t find Ash for you but here’s Black Opera and Grunts which seems to be a parody of fantasy novels with orc heroes and racist elves…although most of the elves I’ve read about are racist.

F is for Leanne Frahm

When I first started researching this letter I thought I’d have great trouble as I couldn’t find females writing science fiction. Where are the women authors in the science fiction genre? Then I found a list, clicked on all the authors and whittled down the 30 something entries to eight likely suspects only to have to go to bed.

Another day, another few words. I’ve finally settled on Leanne Frahm, an Australian author born in Queensland who lived in America for a few years before coming back here to find her fellow students going to school in bare feet, what a strange concept to her.

She tends to write short stories and has has quite a number published in anthologies including one by Paul Collins, Distant Worlds. I hope to read a novel by her one day.

Frahm has been nominated and indeed, won, several awards including the Ditmars and Aurealis. This link is an interview by Lucy Sussex published in Borderline and the entire website looks to be a fascinating place to spend some time.

I couldn’t find any place to buy Frahm’s works so will just have to rely on waiting and watching the books that come past me to find one of her stories.

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

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.

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!

Friday Photos

For the first time in a while I’m stuck without photos for you so I’m dredging through my archives of photos and have found some Chalet School books for you.

The Chalet School books are a series of around 60 novels written from 1925 to 1970, just before I would have started reading them. They’re lovely little books with adventures and a moral but lots of fun.

The bulk of them were written by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer but there have been some written by others to fill in gaps.


Carola Storms the Chalet School


The Chalet School and Jo


The Chalet School in Exile


X is for Xu Zhuodai

X is a very interesting letter and I wondered to myself last night who I could possibly find to fill today’s void. My first stop was SF Encyclopedia where I found five entries, they all appear to be pen names, one is female and the person who seemed to fit the bill for me is Xu Zhuodai as this is the pen name of Xu Fulin. I felt there was some serendipty there.

Xu Zhuodai born in Shanghai around 1880 and died in either 1958 or 1961, I get both years when I google him. Xu seems to have done many different things including film and science fiction, I realise there’s a great deal of overlap there. He was the first person to write down the elements of film theory in Mandarin and a film script of his in 1940 was an early treatment of zombies and vampires. There were many references to Xu in google but I couldn’t be certain which ones were him, I’m pretty certain this blog has a reference to him part way down the page.

W is for Jack Wodhams

Jack Wodhams is Australian! I’ve found another Australian science fiction author…I know there are plenty of you out there but I’ve never really worried about the country of the author when reading so finding out where they live has been an interesting experience.

Wodhams wasn’t actually born in Australia but came here at a youngish age. He was born London and either came here as a child or a youngish adult, I’ve seen various stories and they don’t agree.

But you’re really after his writing. A lot of it can be found in Analog although he has written a few stand alone books which some people feel don’t hang together as well as his short stories. I have read Looking for Blücher but couldn’t find it despite looking for it on my shelf. Can you get a more clunky sentence? I was looking for Looking for Blücher on my shelf. At one time he was Australia’s premier science fiction author.

Wodhams did write for other publications and this issue of New Writings in SF-11 proves it.

New Writings in SF-11

New Writings in SF-11

Despite being such an important author I couldn’t actually find any new copies for you to buy. What I did find was a reference book Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction which looks absolutely fascinating and wonderful, you should look at it.

Friday Photos – Nullus Anxietas 5

A few photos from the Australian Discworld Convention in Sydney last weekend. Have I really been back less than a week? So much has happened it feels like a month.

Badges Loot

I raided the Dealers Tent and bought badges for my collection. One was given me for my volunteering work. The Be More Terry was was to every attendee by Rob Wilkins and there’s a little one of Rincewind played by Troy Larkin in Run Rincewind Run comes from the Adelaide Mini Con in 2012, they were only issued to attendees but Danny knows I have a collection so he gave me a spare. My joy knows no bounds!

Death in crochet

I took some wool and a crochet hook, while I got little useful done it served as an introduction to some people (I was also waving at people I didn’t know and saying hello but that’s rather beside the point). This amazing scarf was displayed to me by the owner on the Friday, she’s made Death into a scarf! Such amazing talent.


This is my reading loot. The top book was in my con bag, donated by Galaxy Books. The other four I bought from the ASIM table. I have so much Simon Petrie as he kept adding in more books and giving me discounts, I put in an Edwina Harvey as I didn’t want to buy only one author. They had lots of ASIM magazines for sale which I neglected to buy as I have them all…except for the first issue and that’s out of print.

Portfolio cover

It was decided to publish a very special portfolio to be given to everyone who attended the full convention. We had to line up for signing by both Rob Wilkins (Terry’s PA) and Stephen Briggs (massager of Terry’s books into play form). It’s only a little book but I will treasure it.


Here is the inside of the Portfolio. I was near the beginning of the queue when Rob was still asking people if they wanted one stamp or two. I couldn’t make up my mind so I copied the person in front of me who asked for random stamps and we were given both, I think he used both stamps thereafter. Rob signed this page while Stephen signed another page.

V is for A. E. van Vogt

The World of Null-A

I thought van Vogt would be a good person to do today as I have some of his books on our shelves…yes, well, I still need to find them. I have memories of seeing them in the dim, dark past but I cannot find them today and today is what counts.

Van Vogt is a name from my childhood and that makes perfect sense as he commenced his publishing career in the late 1930s, somewhat before my time. According to everything I can find his book The World of Null-A was an ‘interesting’ novel which became a classic despite everything being totally wrong. You can read an essay by Robert Silverberg on this subject which mentions an essay by Damon Knight both of whom are now competent science fiction authors in their own right, although Knight wasn’t when he wrote his essay.

Something I didn’t know is that van Vogt wrote some stuff for TV; some documentaries and parts of TV series. The one that pokes a hole in my memory is The Outer Limits from 1999 and 2002; some of them being screened after van Vogt’s death in 2000.

He’s got an interesting name and I found this webpage talking about the pronunciation. They vacillate between rhyming with vote or pronouncing every single letter. My money is rhyming with vote purely because it’s easier to say. One pronunciation mentioned only once is voite which is how I’ve said it all my life for no good reason.

Anyway, you need to read him yourself in order to make your own judgement as he is one of the giants of the science fiction industry. Here is The World of Null-A and The Voyage of the Space Beagle. I’ve always found this second title a rather strange one for no reason I can actually remember.

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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.