Musketeer Space – Tansy Rayner Roberts

Musketeer Space – Tansy Rayner Roberts

Buckle your swashes!

First revealed on Roberts’ Patreon, I bought this ebook using Kickstarter some time later. There are perks for giving people money using Patreon. I’m not sure what I was thinking as there were several books in the mix and my To Be Read Pile was totally out of control. But, it seems this was a worthwhile purchase.

Roberts reveals her love of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers with the publication of this book. Here the traditional Musketeers are taken into space and given a face lift. Not just a face lift but also a body transplant and indeed everything else possible. Only one of the Musketeers is male, the others are all female.

Apart from updating various details, this is reasonably true to the story Dumas wrote in 1844, the Musketeers are absolutely true to the crown, they are rebels, they drink to oblivion, fight everyone in sight but are fiercely loyal to each other. There are the twists that we’ve learned to love, such as Athos hiding the fact that he is actually the Comte de la Fère.

I was rather surprised by the adult themes running throughout. I’ve met Roberts and she seems so innocent, but then she pops in the swear words and the sex scenes. I admit to being slightly confronted by this, how much of it is because I was reading this while sitting in a public setting with men either side of me is uncertain. I’m no stranger to adult themes in writing so I’m surprised I was confronted. And this paragraph is your warning.

While you’re thinking about the previous paragraph, I also want to mention some of the LBGTQI themes through this book. Thinking about it I’m actually surprised there’s no trans action in this book. Maybe that’ll come later in the sequel. There is enough of some of the other letters to bring this book into line with modernity.

It is nicely put together. You can tell how much Roberts enjoys the original by Dumas, it comes through at every point possible. I tentatively suggest this is actually a love story to Dumas’ book. But speaking of love stories, I didn’t enjoy the romance scattered throughout, although I suggest you ignore me saying that as that’s certainly to be me not enjoying romance.

Unless you dislike romance as much as I do I truly suggest you buy this book. It is really good, despite the soppy-lovey-dovey stuff.

Mac’s Hotel

I had lunch at Captain Melville’s the other day. It was a lovely lunch and today’s thoughts pay tribute to the staff there as I could eat several dishes with absolutely no changes being made. This doesn’t happen often and I enjoyed every mouthful.

As I walked towards the building this is what I saw.

Mac's Hotel

Mac’s Hotel

You can’t see the colour of the bricks but I’ll show you another photo shortly and you’ll get some idea of why I thought it might possibly be an old building. It’s two stories amongst a plethora of high rise buildings and has such character, I loved it.

Old sign

Look at those bricks. They’re bluestone bricks and many of the old buildings in Victoria are made from them. You can visit the Old Melbourne Gaol and also pass by parts of the building that used to be Pentridge Prison and see these bricks still in place. Those two buildings were built by prisoners, there’s some irony there in that they were cutting the bricks that built their own prison.

Have another look at the photo and you can see someone’s gone to a great deal of trouble to make that stone smooth, some of the buildings have been left much rougher.

If you want more information I found a blog focussing on these bluestone blocks. The author is planning a book on the subject, I await it eagerly.

Going back to this building, though. It was built in 1853/4 so it predates my family entering the country. Bearing in mind Melbourne was only starting to be settled around 1835/6 this is one of the very early buildings.

Two other photos for you before I abandon this day’s attempt to be a tourist in my own town. These are horse troughs or possibly stock troughs. I’m sure they’re not the original ones as they were made out of stone but they’re colourful. They always take me back to the earlier days in Melbourne before cars when horses and cattle would have been common sights around the streets. I’m prepared to bet that native animals would have used them too.

Horse Trough

Horse Trough

from a different angle

from a different angle

Penelope Bungles to Broome – Tim Bowden

Penelope Bungles to Broome - Tim Bowden

Penelope Bungles to Broome – Tim Bowden

Tim Bowden, Australian journalist, born in Tasmania (but we shouldn’t hold that against him). I remember him for two things. Backchat was a wonderful programme on the ABC which was full of correspondence to the station, it was only a few minutes but was pure gold, he was the presenter. And the other is rather more nebulous, I must have seen him in passing as a journalist as I knew his name and face long before Backchat.

This book is the story of his journey to and around Western Australia with his wife, Ros. They’re both avid campers, enjoying camping with only a few luxuries and mostly being self-sufficient so they can find a small track and pull over in a suitable spot. This can lead to such interesting encounters as having a bush shower when a busload of tourists arrive.

Some of the roads they travelled were very quiet. Bowden was able to demonstrate this by placing his chair in the middle of the road and having a leisurely cup of tea there, he’s even put a photo in the book to show us this event. When you look at the photo you see a really wide and unsealed road, made out of the beautiful orange soil from that district.

They took their four wheel drive, attached a camping trailer and were able to travel hundreds of kilometres including some off road driving where they’re told they should reconsider taking the trailer. The trailer was fine, they got out with some wonderful photos and stories.

Bowden often gives Indigenous information and details his obsession with the Indigenous rock art. We get some history and debunking of myths such as Captain Cook being the first white discoverer of Australia. He has plenty of evidence to back this up, evidence happily provided by the Indigenous rock art.

He also relates a story about Olive Pink, I’ve provided the Wikipedia link for you so you can read about her yourself, from what Bowden writes she sounds like a colourful character. Pink had a hobby of planting trees and naming them after federal politicians, if she disagreed with them she stopped watering them. Apparently Paul Hasluck felt he was doing well when he visited in the 1950s and found his tree surviving nicely.

They did their travelling in the earlier days of the internet when you needed to plug your computer into a phone socket. Bowden happily packed his laptop, making daily diary entries and writing emails getting them ready for sending next time he was online and every so often booking into a motel room for 10 minutes in order to send and receive emails. I remember those days… He mentioned this in an email to a friend along with the challenges inherent in explaining about the need for a 10 minute booking, this email went astray as he made an error in the address. The recipient was kind enough to bounce it back with the added message:

Sent to wrong address…try a new medication if you can only last ten minutes in a motel room. Regards…

Bowden’s quite comment on this was “Quite so.” He has a rather laidback style of humour.

I loved this book. It was rather laidback but it gave me much of the information I wanted about his trip. It included many camping details, and thoughts about correct tyre pressure. It helps give a picture of what it’s like to camp with just a few luxuries while going totally away from the track. Bowden talks about being respectful to the Indigenous, their culture, lifestyle and their need to be asked if we might enter their land. This last is something we would do for anyone’s house, we don’t just open the door and barge in but we knock and ask politely, leaving if we’re not given permission.

I do recommend this book to everyone wanting to get some idea of what an alternate lifestyle is, or for people wanting to get a flavour of being in the west without being able to go there, or for people wanting to get some idea of the distances involved in travel in Australia. We have a very big country and in their three month trip they only covered some bits around the western edge.

Who is Penelope? The car. They decided the camping trailer was big enough for a manor so they named that the Manor and the car Penelope. Those of a certain age will remember the BBC TV series of To The Manor Born starring Penelope Keith.

X is for Xanthé Mallett

I’m stretching a point here as I really can’t find a female Australian author with a surname beginning with X. I’ve tried and friends have tried and Xanthé is the best we can come up with. And just to push the point I’m breaking my unwritten rule of using the surname as reference.

Xanthé is a forensic anthropologist currently working at the University of New England in Armidale. I guess that makes her Australian despite being born in Scotland. She’s got a pretty interesting job and has helped police break a paedophile ring in Scotland. She did this by comparing pictures of hands between offenders and suspects, minute details could make the difference between jail or freedom and she had this under her control.

As I type I’m listening to an interview and I find her accent is far more Australian than Scottish. I was expecting something more like Peter Capaldi or David Tennant but on the whole she sounds Australian.

Her book looks absolutely fascinating, you’ll find a link to it in the photo. We expect mothers to be nurturing but sometimes we’re pushed to the limit and you can’t go further than murder.

W is for Edel Wignell

Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson

Edel Wignell, her name caught my eye and when I googled her story caught my brain. Read on MacDuff!

Some little facts

Her first name rhymes with medal.

She lived on a sheep farm in northern Victoria when she was little.

She was born in Echuca. It’s a lovely little town, my first memories are of one of the most beautiful trees…but I digress.

She’s bequeathed her writing earnings and copyright to the Australian Society of Authors who have created the Edel Wignell Mentorship for new writers for children.

Wignell has written 100 books for children. Her writing for adults can be found in more than 100 journals!

Now for the big stuff

Wignell has been in pain for 30 years and while she’s done as much as she can she’s decided she’d like to be able to end her own life when she chooses. Just like Terry Pratchett she’s a full advocate of dying with dignity and as this is a topic dear to my heart I looked no further for an author to write about today.

So, here she is on the ABC website in July last year. Eloquent and covering the pain well, she looks like she could be the poster girl for any dying with dignity campaign. If you read the article you’ll notice the last paragraph talks about the End of Life Choices inquiry, it’s due to report this month and with a little googling I found it has until the 31st May. They’ll have to get their skates on, and I’m sure Wignell will be watching with great interest. The government then have six months to respond.