Cheeseburger Gothic

The Cost of a National Obsession

Posted March 21, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

James Brown is a former army officer who commanded a cavalry troop in Southern Iraq, served at Task Force HQ in Baghdad, and went onto to Afghanistan to serve with the special forces elements there. He's also a very thinky bloke who's written one of the best books about the creator/destroyer mythology of Anzac that I've read.

A particular bugbear is the canonization and commericalisation of Anzac worship. The extract below gives us a brief taste of that. But the book also contains the sort of granular detail of the commitment to Iraq and Afghanistan that governments of both persuasions spent a lot of time suppressing. Totally worth a read with The Day approaching.

32 Responses to ‘The Cost of a National Obsession’

BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2014

Thanks for this, I just reserved the book at my local library. Will stroll down to collect later today.

The crass nationalism that Anzac Day cloaks itself in has been a bugbear of mine for years. Might start my preparations now to be either out of the country or perched up a very tall tree when the centenary rolls around next year.

I've often wondered - how would Straya feel if there was a spot on the coast of say, Queensland, where Japanese troops went ashore in WW1, suffered massive troop losses, and have treated the site as sacred ever since? If Japanese citizens, in their thousands, made a pilgrimmage here every year, to mourn their forebears who were intent on slaughtering our forebears?. Would we treat them with the good grace and tolerance that the Turks do for us in Gallipoli? Would we hell.

S.M. Stirling has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2014

Lots of Japanese visit Pearl Harbor every year, by the way.

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S.M. Stirling is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2014

All nations need their myths.

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted March 21, 2014

The sacrifice of soldiers is used by governments to inspire the populace to overlook their own narrow personal interests and gallantly submit to the narrow personal interests of the ruling classes.

S.M. Stirling has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2014

Dude, that is such bullshit. You run across it all the time, and it invariably masks intense selfishness with a pretense of cynical wisdom. Though charitably, it may just be deep ignorance.

All nations have ruling classes, always have and always will. Revolutions generally just substitute a new (and worse) ruling class for the old one.

More often than not, and particularly in foreign affairs, the interests of the nation as a whole and the interests of the ruling class actually are pretty much the same.

They certainly were in Australia in WWI, where the spontaneous reaction of people of all ranks to support Britain and the Entente reflected an accurate appraisal of both their own national interests and the broader world's.

Germany started the war, and a German victory would have been an utter disaster. Not quite as bad as in WWII, but still very bad. Read the Treaties of Brest-Litovsk or Bucharest that Germany imposed on Russia and Rumania, or Berthman-Hollweg's "September Program" of war aims in the West for a sampler. They make the much-reviled (especially by Germans) Treaty of Versailles look like a Gandhian love-feast.

Incidentally, one of my brothers came down here from Canada and volunteered for Vietnam; another went to Royal Military College; another was a fighter pilot; I was in the militia; my father was a professional soldier for 25 years; my grandfather was gassed at Passechendaele and died of it in 1939; -his- father fought at Omdurman and in the Second Boer War; and according to unverifiable family legend, -his- father was at Maiwand and/or Ulundi.

w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

Dude, there is not much you said that I disagree with.
I was more talking about how national 'myths' (to use your term) are so often so enthusiastically promoted by governments during peace time. I thought that was on topic.

There was no irony when I started my comment with 'The sacrifice of soldiers'. Nor was it a comment on WWI or WWII. I would broadly agree with your comments there. Though perhaps not all wars in history can be so persuasively defended. What about from the German perspective? In retrospect, were the decisions of their government in the interests of the nation as a whole. I have great respect for the soldier.

Incidentally, I have never been in the military, however, my family has many people who have served. I won't list them all, but my grandfather fought in WWI with the Fifth Light Horse. Two of my uncles were wounded on the Kokoda Track during WWII. My brother's son served in Afghanistan very recently.

Funnily enough, of the people I have met, my two wounded uncles were the ones who were most angrily dismissive of Anzac Day.

Rob ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2014

My experiece of returned service men is the same. Some very angry grandparents in the mix. They fought so their kids didnt have to. and they didnt want anything to do with militarism afterwards.

S.M. Stirling would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

"I was more talking about how national 'myths' (to use your term) are so often so enthusiastically promoted by governments during peace time."

-- well, of course they are, and a very good thing too. That's a big part of a government's -job-. It's like repairing the roads.

It's a bit late if you wait for a war, and there's always going to be another war.

National consciousness is built up in time of peace, and drawn on in war. It's sort of like establishing a cash reserve.

The main reason Russia came apart in WWI, for example, was that the degree of national consciousness in the average Russian peasant was rather low. "Russia" just meant "the world". His main loyalty was to his village and, if anything beyond that, his neighborhood. Note that in that period it was the peasant armies that broke under the hammer of industrialized war, and the advanced countries that fought to the end.

Human beings are instinctively (in the literal sense of that world) tribalistic, but the "natural" tribal unit is small and based on close blood relationships. The "natural" way to regard people outside that is with intense suspicion easily tripping over into muderous hostility, and then you're back to clans and blood feud.

Something as big and distant and abstract as a nation-state requires construction and maintenance on an ongoing basis, if the average person's sense of close idenfitication is to be maintained.

You can't wait until it's -needed-. That's much too late.

Hence bonding rituals -- oaths of alliegence, July 4th, Anzac Day.

Back when I was in secondary school, I was already an atheist; I had been since I was a little kid.

But I went to chapel every morning and sang hymns with enthusiasm. It was part of the symbolic rituals of the tribe I was in, linking us with each other and with our predecessors, and to attack the symbols is to attack the thing.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted March 23, 2014

"the interests of the nation as a whole and the interests of the ruling class actually are pretty much the same."

I could not disagree more. They are frequently mutually exclusive. This a bald faced lie sold to the populace by those with the most to gain.

I'm not anti-commerce. One must accept the beast for what it is: a dynamic engine of self interest. Every business seeks to maximise profitability.

The interests of the Ruling Class are to minimise competition, costs & tax, while maximising workforce "flexibility" & access to markets. The interests of the nation state is to maximise the value of the population's toil & the tax take so as to provide services to the population.

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S.M. Stirling puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2014

Considering that the Turks spent a lot of WWI massacring about 1/4 to 1/3 of their own population (and have spent the time since denying it and trying to trash anyone who points it out) it's not surprising they've accomodated Australians and Kiwis about Gallipoli.

Gallipoli was a clean encounter between uniformed fighting men, fought with ruthless determination on both sides but on the whole honorably.

The Armenian Genocide, not so much, so by contrast Gallipoli is something Turkey has no problem with, especially since they won. Even the Allied soldiers who fought there (the Anzacs were a minority, most of the troops and the dead were Poms) came away with nothing much bad to say about the Turks.

Neither side has anything to be ashamed of, and a good deal to be proud of.

The attack was a monumental cock-up of course, but as Claustewitz pointed out, 'in war everything is very simple, but the simplest things become very difficult'. Critique by hindsight is easy. World War One was full of situations that simply didn't -have- any good solutions, and Gallipoli was one of them.

You're just as dead whether it was a disaster like Gallipoli or a triumph like Vimy Ridge, which fulfills the same role for Canadians, albeit in a more modest way.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted March 23, 2014

That would explain the cenotaph in every backwater Australian town celebrating the Hounorable Lost of the Armenian Genocide.

Guru Bob mumbles...

Posted March 25, 2014

Gallipoli was also part of the founding myth of modern Turkey, the main Turkish leader who held the Anzacs back was Ataturk who later became their first President. Over here we don't learn much about him or his acheivements, but his role in our defeat became the event which made him stand out.

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MickH asserts...

Posted March 21, 2014

As a 20 year vet, I have felt increasing isolated in my feelings about what ANZAC day should be about.

I don't get it.

Sure I get the memorial thing and the whole ' Lest we forget' dogma but the rest?

No!!

Gallipoli was a disaster, organised by a callous British Army as a canon fodder exercise. We shouldn't be celebrating it.

The whole commercialisation of the centenary event disgusts me to the core!

S.M. Stirling mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2014

"Gallipoli was a disaster, organised by a callous British Army as a canon fodder exercise. We shouldn't be celebrating it."

-- this is a complete myth.

No serious historian of the period has taken that "lions led by donkeys" or "chateau generals" stuff seriously for decades, though it clings on like a shambling undead zombie meme.

I suggest you take a look at some recent works, like Hew Strachan's.

The British commanders were mostly competent military professionals doing their best in a situation with very few good options.

All combat in WWI involved heavy casualties, and nobody was surprised: everyone involved had been predicting that for years. Everyone knew that modern weapons would be very destructive and that attacking dug-in defenders would be hideously expensive.

They had the lessons of the Boer War, the Russo-Japanese War and the Balkan Wars in front of their eyes, all of which were intensely studied.

The career soldiers were told to go out and win by the politicians, and did their best.

They weren't "callous" either, they were just doing their jobs in a field in which casualties were a cost of doing business.

74 British generals died in action in 1914-18; you had to get above lieutenant-colonel before it wasn't more dangerous to be an officer than an infantry private. And the junior officers most at risk were quite likely to be the sons of the senior commanders. Several British generals lost their only sons in the first couple of months.

The problem was that the only alternative was to surrender.

If anyone's to blame for Gallipoli, it's Churchill, who forced through the operation against Kitchener's repeated warning that the odds weren't good.

In both World Wars Churchill had a tendency to let romantic fancy and a gambler's attitude to risk to take precedence over sober professional advice; see Greece/Crete in 1941.

Churchill was perfectly ready to put his own precious pink personal buttocks where his rhetoric was, of course; he'd fought on the NW Frontier and in the Sudan (he charged with the 21st Lancers at Omdurman) and was a battalion commander on the Western Front for a while.

MickH would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

It was Churchill I was referring to. Maybe I should have mentioned him.

And as to it being a complete myth, that is your apinion, I still hold to mine.

My Grandfather was a stoker on the Sydney and he told my father an entirely different story.

S.M. Stirling mutters...

Posted March 21, 2014

"My Grandfather was a stoker on the Sydney and he told my father an entirely different story."

And my grandfather was gassed at Passchendaele; his lungs were scarred, he was never really healthy again, and he died slowly of pneumonia 22 years later. His opinion, according to my parents, was that it was a dirty job but that there was no easy way to beat the Germans, so it had to be done, and Haig had done about as good a job as could be expected.

So?

What sort of perspective on a war as a whole do you get from being a stoker, or for that matter an infantry subaltern like my grandfather? Every battle is a disaster from a grunt's point of view.

And as anyone with legal training could tell you, there's absolutely nothing more completely unreliable than eyewitness testimony.

It takes a century or so before a really major war can be considered objectively.

ShaneAlpha would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

Have to disagree here.

Major General Alymer Hunter-Weston was a raving loon.

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S.M. Stirling mutters...

Posted March 21, 2014

On a more general level, keep in mind that human life is not a melodrama. It's not White Hats and Black Hats, for the most part. Nor is the presence of evil the result of Bad People doing Bad Things to drag events away from the course of Natural Goodness (or -potential- Natural Goodness).

Human life is a -tragedy-. We exist in a world not made for us, and as members of a species whose evolutionary imperatives have absolutely nothing to do with individual happiness.

The intervals may have a lot of humor, but as the man said, "the last act is over, a little dirt upon our heads, and all is done forever."

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2014

In this country it is all about Tony's "goodies" and "baddies"

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S.M. Stirling mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2014

The strategic -aim- of Gallipoli was perfectly sound; establishing a shipping route to the Black Sea and the Russian ports was desperately necessary.

The lack of it was a large factor in Russia being knocked out of the war, and that put the Allies in desperate peril. It very nearly won Germany the war, and if it hadn't been for their own stupidity in wantonly driving the US into belligerence, it would have.

The -execution- was deeply flawed, but nobody knew the full difficulties of a large-scale amphibious operation under modern conditions until it was tried. Kitchener did warn the political leadership that it was a very risky proposition, but he was overruled.

And remember that the Anzacs weren't going to sun themselves on the beaches of Egypt (or catch VD in the souks of Cairo) much longer.

The alternative was going to the Western Front to chew on barbed wire and breathe chlorine.

NBlob mutters...

Posted March 21, 2014

Wow Mr Stirling. You're like some kind of savante.

I wonder which kind?

ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2014

The land campaign was a half-arsed desperate attempt to capture the Dardenelles Forts after Churchills retarded attempt to force the straits using only the Navy and small Marine detachments went tits up with heavy losses.

There were so many mistakes of so many kinds on the Allied side in this operation it hard to pick any one and say that this was the reson it failed.

BTW, Kitchener was way past his use-by date by the time of WW1.

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Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

(Tin Foil Hat Alert-Contains Science and Facts- Creationists and Cretins look away!)

I wanna start with da last War that the Australian Politicians sent kids to die and get maimed in- Afghanistan. Look up the causulties now if you don't know them.

Seriously look them up and come back here when you know them off by heart.

OK Good.

The reasons Politicians don't hold the Flag at the Frontline?

Don't get me wrong I am all for a good War and will get to one eventually but I want to start with the last one Afghanistan.

'We' went there because Skyscrapers fell down almost at free fall into the path of most resistance. Fact.

The third Building WTC 7 did in fact fall at free fall for some of it's collapse.

WTC 7? I hear you say. That's not in the Media very much I here you say. Anyway it has been proven by Scienztists and the MSM that OBL did it from in a cave.

Check out Russia's gift to the 9/11 Memorial. It is a droplet, a droplet of molten metal, a very large droplet to show the USA and anyone else no one with half a brain believes in the Phoney 9/11 story and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan.

And start me on Iraq.

Ask Gwyneth Todd about Iraq etc.

Mr Stirling you should really study Ezra Pound(AKA Gandalf)

sibeen asserts...

Posted March 21, 2014

Clean up in aisle four...stat!

Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 23, 2014

I just found this quote on a website I have never seen before.

The quote is cool-

http://americanfront.info/2012/04/02/ezra-pound-on-modern-warfare/

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damian mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2014

Australia's transition from colonies to Commonwealth was a culmination among many peacefully achieved social advances of which we, speaking on that nation-building level, could be appropriately proud. There was no real need for weirdly fatalistic military adventures to create a national identity: it unquestionably already existed. If anything ANZAC damaged Australian identity, certainly the hoopla leading up to the centenary will do. The only salvageable story from Gallipoli is Sampson and his donkey (itself almost certainly mostly mythical).

On commemoration: we have a terrific opportunity to advance reconciliation now by acknowledging the military history of our own war of invasion, occupation and the eventual eradication of resistance that continued for more than a century. Historians are able to name individuals who engaged in organised armed resistance. These people can be recognised and we have much to gain by celebrating their heroism and rare successes. Many people think that the Australian War Memorial ought to embrace this work. The recent book by historian Henry Reynolds I was pushing for bookclub the other week has some pretty good material on this topic.

I haven't drunk enough yet to engage Mr Stirling on his own level, so I shan't. I do see one notable combination of "no true scotsman" with a straw man, a few strident calls to biology (vaguely reminiscent of Hayek), a slightly orthogonal reference to Clausewitz (Moltke might have been a more apt quote) and a circular argument about the value of nationalism. Maybe later: I have plenty more to drink. Best not though, it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

sibeen reckons...

Posted March 21, 2014

Dude, that is such bullshit.

I think someone may have used that quote earlier.

damian would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

Yeah maybe a couple more drinks :)

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Bangar reckons...

Posted March 22, 2014

D Simson and his donkey.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted March 22, 2014

Bah, Simpson. Calling it "mostly mythical" is probably an overstatement too: it would be more accurate to say "often exaggerated".

It's always interesting to see where it comes up in Gallipoli celebreation when people are talking about honorable foes and warrior mystique and all the other bullshit that goes along with that. The type who enjoy talking like that don't usually have much respect for the very human reaction to the stupidity and horror that the Simpson legend embodies.

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yankeedog ducks in to say...

Posted March 23, 2014

I didn't know James Brown was in the Australian Army. Last I heard he was Living In America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6_o03YOm18

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Guru Bob mutters...

Posted March 25, 2014

A lot of people in the history trade have a big problem with how the government has imposed the 'Centenary of Anzac' branding (25 April 1915) upon what should actually be called the Centenary of WWI (1914-18).

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Respond to 'The Cost of a National Obsession'

George R.R. Martin's dog ate his manuscript

Posted March 20, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

At least that's what it feels like in this interview snippet published at the AV Club when he was asked about the TV series catching up with his books. I love this because it sounds just like slightly panicked voice in my own head as deadlines loom.

GRR: I’m hopeful that I can not let them catch up with me. The season that’s about to debut covers the second half of the third book. The third book [A Storm of Swords] was so long that it had to be split into two. But there are two more books beyond that, and A Dance With Dragons. A Dance With Dragons is itself a book that’s as big as A Storm of Swords. So there’s potentially three more seasons there, between Feast and Dance, if they split into two the way the did [with Swords]. Now, Feast and Dance take place simultaneously. So you can’t do Feast and then Dance the way I did. You can combine them and do it chronologically. And it’s my hope that they’ll do it that way and then, long before they catch up with me, I’ll have published The Winds of Winter, which’ll give me another couple years. It might be tight on the last book, A Dream of Spring, as they juggernaut forward.

11 Responses to ‘George R.R. Martin's dog ate his manuscript’

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted March 20, 2014

Fantasy . . .

Man, for the life of me I just can't get into Fantasy.

As for this series, if they'd take the height challenged guy and string up a series of montages of him on YouTube, I'd watch that over and over again. Or better yet, just make a stand alone series with that dude.

The Woman I Love and my mom, on the other hand, love this series. But then they like that Abbey thing too.

Respects,

Murph the Grouch

On the Outer Marches

Babes puts forth...

Posted March 21, 2014

My husband and I love the show, so I bought the first book but then wanted to poke my eyes out every time it was Sansa's chapter to the point that I stopped reading.

I guess in general I prefer watching fantasy, so I don't have to keep track of all the crazy names of shires or whatnot and exhaustive descriptions of odd places and creatures or learn made up languages as I go.

Murphy reckons...

Posted March 21, 2014

Yeah, you never have to worry about made up names and languages in fantasy.

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20, 2014

And for the Bad Idea of the Day* we have a possible GoT movie mentioned on the BT site. Most books suffer when made into movies but a series like that? Appalling.

*other contenders were "I'll just see what that is hanging out of Moko's shorts" as described on Facebook, "I'd better see what Nowhere Bob thinks" and a special mention for Enjoy Medway and Jennicki "Why don't we get married".

NBlob reckons...

Posted March 20, 2014

On yer bike wrinkly, we don't need your type 'round these here parts.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted March 20, 2014

I think Marto gets a bit more done at this time of year, as the Gridiron isn't on.

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Miss Maudy mumbles...

Posted March 20, 2014

Chaos (aged 11) would like to be reading the series. However, he's not keen on kissing books, let alone shagging books. There's a chance that by the time he gets over his dislike of kissing books, the whole series will be written and he doesn't need to wait for years and years and years like his mother does.

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tqft would have you know...

Posted March 20, 2014

The Stark's are going to have to start breeding if the meme above is true.

I suspect there is too much industry/ecosystem around this now for it to ever die completely.

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Coota has opinions thus...

Posted March 21, 2014

He isn't looking to crash hot, what happens if he keels over before he's finished!

she_jedi asserts...

Posted March 21, 2014

I'm sure I read somewhere that the guys producing the TV series have been given the borad brush strokes of where the whole thing will end up, and will be able to finish it off if GRRM carks it before he's finished. He's at least aware of the risk and put a sucsession plan in place.

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Jarrod asserts...

Posted March 21, 2014

If I had made as much cash as GRR I might be inclinded to put my feet up and tell everyone to just piss off.

The books are great but soooo bloody long.

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Respond to 'George R.R. Martin's dog ate his manuscript'

Hey! Look what I found in my post box!

Posted March 19, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

I didn't even realise Flinthart had a book out! What's more, it came out in September last year, so the slovenly laggard is due a sequel!

Haven't even cracked the spine yet, and I'm thinking I might buy myself a Kindle or iBook version (assuming there is one of the latter) because the cover feels like it was made from human skin.

I assume that was done on purpose given the write off:

Michael Devlin is the first of a new breed. The way things are going, he may also be the last.

Being infected with an unknown disease is bad. Waking up on a slab in a morgue wearing nothing but a toe-tag is worse, even if it comes with a strange array of new abilities.

Medical student Michael Devlin is in trouble. With his flatmates murdered and an international cabal of legendary man-monsters on his trail, Devlin's got nowhere to hide. His only allies are a hot-tempered Sydney cop and a mysterious monster-hunter who may be setting Devlin up for the kill. If he's going to survive, Devlin will have to embrace his new powers and confront his hunters. But can he hold onto his humanity when he walks the Path of Night?

Who cares? As long as he kicks arse!

I feel kind of creepy posting two Amazon links in a week, but damn it, people.

THIS! IS! FLINTHART!!!

20 Responses to ‘Hey! Look what I found in my post box!’

PaulC reckons...

Posted March 19, 2014

Indeed there is an iBooks version. $7.99.

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damian is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19, 2014

I read it on Kindle. It's fun, and reads like the start of a series.

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Anthony has opinions thus...

Posted March 19, 2014

I found it on Amazon a while back. At the time I didn't realise it was our Flinthart.

It's not a bad book actually. I've paid more money for books I've enjoyed less and it's got lots of kick-arse action and blood and guts and no more plot holes than you'd find in most novels.

Definitely a recommendation..

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted March 19, 2014

Be careful when you post reviews. When I wrote a review which directed quoted from the book (you will no doubt guess from which bits) Amazon didn't allow it to be published.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted March 19, 2014

Here is my unexpegated review that I tried to post on Amazon

[5.0 out of 5 stars] Not at all sparkly, November 4, 2013
By Michael J. Barnes (Melbourne, Australia)
[(REAL NAME)]
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Path of Night (Night Beast) (Kindle Edition)


The recent Zomgeist has been shadowed by a reassessment of the vampire, updating and inhabiting the modern world of the 21century. Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s eminently filmable Strain Trilogy (The Strain, The Fall and The Night Eternal), the UK’s Channel 4’s Ultraviolet (never to be confused with the unwatchable 2006 film) and Justin Cronin’s literary The passage trilogy (The Passage, The Twelve and The City of Mirrors) are joined with the first in what is hoped on-going series.

The same elements which made those updated reflections of the Vampire so engaging are all there: a viral/medical basis for the ancient vampire; hi-tech solutions and myths combine; Tetrodotoxin & silver; specialist human agents charged with dealing with monsters who must become monsters and a hidden global conspiracy. Though at one point someone says “not one person in a million who knows what you have already heard about” which would put that at around 7100 people in the world who know about these mysteries.

At least in this story they use the word Vampire, though it follows the current fashion of using other descriptors. Most of these other modern tales seem to consider using the V-word as gauche as though over a hundred year literary tradition never happened.

The treat for Australians is the local settings, if you can call a tale spanning the eastern seaboard ‘local’. Mr Flinthard successfully evokes the Australia locations, revealing his previous talents as a travel writer in his descriptions.

“Darling harbour was a decent place to meet.. At one time, at one time the place had been a working, heavy-industry harbour full of forklifts and longshoremen, decorated with concrete and chain-link fences and cargo containers.. ‘Now it was a tidy monument to the transformative powers of money. Broad concrete boulevards edged the turbid waters. The convention centre was another concrete and glass confection, a space-age cylinder rising over the waterfront like the middle finger of a Godzilla-sized investment banker”.

His insights are not confirmed to Australian Architecture

“For the bogans themselves it was a matter of pride, but for pretty much everyone else, bogans were a tragic embarrassment, like and inbred cousin with toilet-training issues”.

His accomplished use of Australian vernacular will raise a smile.

“So really, I don’t give a flying fu*k in a fartstorm what you want, you turd-ugly piece of raper-mangled ar*se meat”.

and full of wry observations by the hero that will resonate with Australian readers

“if his life had been reduced to a set of Cold Chisel lyrics, he was truly in deep sh*t”

But mostly what comes across is that this book was fun to write with a joi di vie and so a similar joy to read.

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WarDog puts forth...

Posted March 19, 2014

Happy days. But Flintheart you're in big trouble for keeping this to yourself. We still have assets south of the strait.

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Murphy reckons...

Posted March 20, 2014

Gonna put that on the Summer Reading List.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted March 20, 2014

Excellent. The bloke has been commuting to work via train, an hour each way, so he's finally worked his way through your books, JB, and a few of Matthew Reilly's, and another of Richard Flanagan's. I will load this up on the kindle for him, now that Khan Greybeard has kindly fuxed it for me.

Don't ask. You know I'm the kiss of death to technology.

God damned Tech-Destroying force field.

damian ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2014

Ms Q, let me also suggest Matter by Iain Banks. It has some oddities and it's one of Banks stranger and darker works, but some elements may appeal to Mr Q's sensibilities

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Dave W would have you know...

Posted March 20, 2014

Tried to comment using my galaxy s2 last night, to no avail. Unsupported tech already?

Anyway, how did I come across this a few months ago, if it wasn't from a recommendation from you or the other nice people here? It's a good 'un and I can only hope that it a) gets a wider readership; and b) that it is #1 in a series.

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Bangar mutters...

Posted March 20, 2014

It was a great read get to it folks.

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2014

It haz been kindled. The Bloke was very happy with that news so thanks to Mr. Flinthart for all future distractions he offers from the lint-pickers of Coomera.

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2014

I only read it about 3 months ago due to some comments on a thread here. Enjoyed it and looking forward to the next one.

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Therbs would have you know...

Posted March 20, 2014

Yep, he's not bad at the scribbling caper is Mr Flinthart.

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted March 20, 2014

OK, I've just purchased this tome and it is winging its way down the wires to my kindle as I type.

What does impress me is the surname of the major character. It is a manly name, a name you could find comfort in. A name just oozing debonair, sophisticated, charming, intelligent and obviously very brave.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted March 23, 2014

That's why I name all of my protagonist male characters Randolf Mantooth.

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sibeen would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

OK, about half way through and thoroughly enjoying it.

I do have a minot quibble. Why don't authors, who have never had any military experience, get someone who has worn a funny uniform for a job to do a quick read over any chapters that involve the military.

Standing at attention in the scrub...FFS!.

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sibeen ducks in to say...

Posted March 21, 2014

OK, finished that one, when is the next one due out?

One thing I particularly enjoyed was the way Mr Flinthart had the good sense to bring in Brmingham as a character, and rip his throat out very shortly afterwards. This contrasts wildly with a certain unnamed sycophantic writer who brings him onstage and makes him fucking royalty.

All in all a very enjoyable read...despite my ranting quibble over matters military.

Therbs mumbles...

Posted March 21, 2014

James Phelan had him captured, tortured and killed. Think it was in "Fox Hunt".

Sudragon puts forth...

Posted March 22, 2014

Is John Birmingham destined to become the Australian Joe Buckley?

Stay tuned!

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David Weber’s Safehold series

Posted March 18, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

Safehold

Continuing with our series of JB’s deadline reading picks, I wanted to write a little about a series I’ve been enjoying hugely even as one recurring fault annoys the bejesus out of me. The Safehold series (First three titles: Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, and By Heresies Distressed. There are more).

I’ve been listening to the first two on Audible, but will switch to iBooks for the third because the narrator changes for some reason and I can see from the reviews that everyone lost their shit. Doesn’t mean the stand-in narrator is bad, just different and with audiobooks that can be enough to bump you out of the imagined world.

I picked up Armageddon Reef because I liked the name.

There, I said it.

Weber is a prolific author, and I’ve always meant to read his Honor Harrington series because space ships and sexy space ship captain.

But for some reason I found myself drawn to his other main sci-fi series – there’s another five or so besides Safehold. Reef started ‘zactly as I expected and wanted, with an enormous and unstoppable fleet of star faring space lizards bearing down on gallant little humanity and…

Destroying us utterly.

Wait!

What?

That’s not the book I bought. I wanted to see those space lizards carved up into handy bite sized casserole chunks. By laser beams!

But no. They defeat the hell out of us and a small convoy of ark ships scuttles away to rebuild the human race somewhere in farthest reaches of the galaxy. Okay. That was cool, I can wait a few books for those space lizards to get what’s coming.

But no!

I won’t go into plot spoiling details but the ark experiment goes a little off beam and next thing you know you’re reading a … fantasy novel. And not just a fantasy novel, but one set in a medieval theocracy with a rather uncompromising chapter dropping you right into the middle of some arcane point of Church politics. Verily did it vex me.

But stay with it. As jarring as the transition is, and as much I didn’t want to read a fantasy novel set in a medieval theocracy, the Safehold story does become so compelling that more than once I’ve found myself driving a few extra blocks to finish a chapter of the audiobook.

One surviving representative of old high tech Earth… er… survives. A woman, whose mind state is uploaded into a very, very lifelike android, which she has to reformat as a male android because, you know, medieval theocracy. Armageddon Reef then becomes the story of ‘Merlin’ (geddit?) guiding the young monarch of a tiny kingdom in revolt against the hoopleheads of the Church of God Awaiting.

Lots of splodey, lots of running around with swords, and lots of very enjoyable scenes of bad guys with swords getting carved up by a robot moving at inhuman speeds with inhuman strength. It asks the same questions that frame so much of the AoT books: how do you bootstrap technology and can you even do it if you don’t first change everyone's world view.

I will read the whole series in one form or another, even though I can now see it might take a long time to get back to those damned space lizards. I have but one qualm. A writer’s tic that afflicts Weber’s prose so much it actually jolts me out of the story a couple of times a chapter. It’s also personally cringe-making because it’s something I do enough in my own writing to feel very uncomfortable calling him out on it. (In fact, having identified what was annoying me so much in Armageddon Reef I went back through the manuscripts of all the books and ebooks I’m currently working on, wielding a very sharp knife).

It's characters laughing when they should just be talking.

And chuckling, when they should just be talking.

And smiling, when they should just be talking

And smiling when there’s no reason to smile because that tells us the character is being all ironic.

ENOUGH WITH THE FUCKING LAUGHING AND CHUCKLING AND IRONIC SMILEY FACES, DAVE!!!!

Gah!!!

Elmore Leonard was a bear for this sort of thing. He said the only verb a writer needs for dialogue is ‘said’.

That’s a bit hard core for me, but if I could go through the Safehold books (and presumably all of Weber’s work), and make one small change that would amp up the awesome to 11, I'd do this one thing.

No character would ever smile, or chuckle or laugh unless they were sitting in the front row of a very good comedy show.

Other than that. I love these books. You should too.

This linkypoo goes to a hard copy sale page, not Kindle.

29 Responses to ‘David Weber’s Safehold series’

DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted March 18, 2014

*chuckles* and says "see what I did there?"

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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted March 18, 2014

The space lizards thing just seems like a set up for the medieval thingo, which also sounds a bit The Sparrow-y as well as Merlin-y.

"Let it go; they're gone", he smiled.

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2014

"No laughing, smiling or chuckling?" he chortled.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted March 18, 2014

Excellent. The planets have aligned - i just finished a book and was looking around for something to read. Check my library, and wow, four books listed under Weber. Even better, the books are the ones in the series. . . . . but then my arch nemesis raises his oversized ugly head. All borrowed. Not due for . . . . 2-3 weeks? There goes my theory he was a fellow Burger reader getting in ahead of me. Just some nerdy guy ahead of the curve. We could even be friends seeing they have some common interests, except for that little thing of always borrowing ahead of me (i refuse to entertain the notion that it is more than one person borrowing books in a smallish town library. Much prefer to think of them as some shadowy pimply guy dressed in a trenchcoat and wears a big hat to hide a misshapen face)

JB are you perchance slipping any pre reading info to someone living in Bathurst?

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Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted March 18, 2014

I would have preferred "Armageddon Reefers". (Waits for smiles, chuckles, laughter. Not a sausage. Armageddon outta here.)

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted March 18, 2014

Those terms 'he chuckled' etc are called "said bookisms" and they do warn against them. They particularly advise against the use of "he ejaculated".

However, it is interesting that John " mutters, asserts, puts forth, reckons, mumbles, mutters, has opinions thus, would have you know, ducks in to say, is gonna tell you,
swirls their brandy and claims" Birmingham has come out so strongly against the practice on his excellent blog.

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JBtoo puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2014

There is a journo (alleged) on my paper who writes like this. I always sub him back to said. He hates me.

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Phil puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2014

Maybe I'm overcome with excitement about something new to read, but I can't find any link to the book above.

Of course I will google / search amazon myself easily, but if a few cents from a JB affiliate link would be a painless way to put something back to this blog

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 18, 2014

You don't get the little Amazon advert?

damian mutters...

Posted March 18, 2014

Phil, if you run the adblock plugin, just click on the red stop sign and pick "don't run on pages from this domain" in the menu, then click "Exclude" on the popup window. You will then see Birmo's infrequent, topical and appropriate handful of Amazon links.

Phil mumbles...

Posted March 18, 2014

Yep, you sprung me, thanks for the tip. I have disabled Adblock for this site, and now see the link. Birmo, you could check in with Renai over at http://delimiter.com.au He put some cleverness in over there that borked the layout if you were running adblock, just the kind of reminder ingrates like me need to remember that some sites deserve the ad displaying support.

Bunyip ducks in to say...

Posted March 19, 2014

Seconded thanks, Damo.

Was wondering why I couldn't see anything. Techno-laggardness strikes again.

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2014

I believe that Blarkon, should he still exist, is our resident expert on alien space lizards. What with him being Galactic Lizard Emperor and all. Though I must say that I found his human disguise quite unconvincing.

Bunyip reckons...

Posted March 19, 2014

Wolfcat and Orin assured me he exists, but he's just got really good chameleon tech on his spacelizard battle armour. Which is why we never actually see him at any physical burgerii events.

But I think he had a hand in getting me home once after an unfortunate accident involving a bottle of whiskey and Therbs.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted March 19, 2014

Blarkon once saved me from a mob of angry hippies somewhere in the vicinity of St. Kilda. I will forever be grateful.

Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2014

St Kilda hippies! Just yuppies wiht pretensios.

They only have pretend ones there. You need to come to the north of Melbourne for serious industrial-strength hippies.

Ours are so tough they wear stinging-nettles in their hair. And that's just the women.

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Legless has opinions thus...

Posted March 18, 2014

Read them all - including the one just published. Enjoyed them...

You can get the no-DRM ebook, in several formats, from Baen books.

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-601-off-armageddon-reef.aspx

Cheaper than Amazon.

As the books progress they get more and more 'splodey and the battles get bigger and bigger and the neat twists of the plot get twistier. Can't recommend these books enough.

Cheers

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Peter in the bleaches reckons...

Posted March 18, 2014

I haven't read the Safehold series but have read the Honor Harrington series (11 books to date). Lots of good splodeys and tech. His core characters get a bit predictable by book 7 however this is offset by the introduction of new characters. Some of his other series with other authors also have interesting story lines and splodeys.

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S.M. Stirling puts forth...

Posted March 19, 2014

"I shall try them," he chuckled with an ironic smile.

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Rhino mutters...

Posted March 19, 2014

Yeah, the Rhino harummphed, I started out loving these books too but stopped reading the serie. Though, I still look at them longingly whenever they appear in my Amazon recommendations.

But by the 4th one I just kept thinking, C'mon Dave, can we move it along here a little bit? Are we ever going to see The Next Generation(s)?

I kept doing the "pace of the story" + "Weber's age" + "Weber's committments to other series" arithmetic and decided that we'll probably never see the end of the story.

Almost as if he fell so in love with this set of characters that he just can't let go.

I wanna laugh ... but there is no joy in this.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted March 19, 2014

Didn't Dave Weber once comment here without anyone recognizing him until King Birmo pointed him out?

Or was that John Ringo?

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19, 2014

I thought that was Max Weber.

Anthony puts forth...

Posted March 19, 2014

That was John Ringo I think. Another good 'splodey writer whose politics are totally wrong but whose books are bloody good.

The Weber series ae also damned good. If you want another good series, try the "Destroyermen" series by Taylor Anderson. Another series where ships go though a portal to an alternate world. his time an old destroyer to a seriously differnt world.

It's a genre that I'm particularly fond of and while JB is one of the best, you could try The "Lost Regiment" series by William Forstchen or even "The Ship that Sailed the Time Stream" by GC Edmondson (a Nebula Award nominee back inthe 60's).

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 20, 2014

Alt History is my favorite genre. I am a big fan of the Destroyermen series and, Along with the Emberverse and Axis of Time, I hope it runs forever. I'll check out the other two you recommend.

Guru Bob asserts...

Posted March 26, 2014

Ringo is totally addictive reading but his politics are horribly wrong on so many levels. Haven't they collaborated on a couple of series?

Quite enjoyed Weber's Hell's Gate series but still waiting for a conclusion.

The alien invasion book Out of the Dark was also really, really good until some characters inexplicably developed super powers... I think he had written himself into a corner on that one.

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 19, 2014

I tried the first Harrington book some years ago but was put off by the pivotal space battle being conducted in two dimensions only.

damian would have you know...

Posted March 21, 2014

I read most of the Honor and Offer series as it was about 10 years ago. The battle tactics derive from it basically all being a kind of tribute to C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower novels. All the worldbuilding physics, the applied phlebotinum and handwavium lead to space battle tactics being exactly like 18th century naval tactics (except Weber seems to lack the concept of the weather gage, so you would have have to say it's exactly like *his understanding* of 18th century naval tactics... you should read Patrick O'Brian if you are interested in novels actually depicting 18th century naval combat tactics well). Then he moves on to wanting to replay the way aircraft carriers superceded battleships in WWII.

Having said all that, he seems to do bildungsroman quite well and is pretty good at character in general, only going wrong in his earlier novels where he tries a sort of political caricature... he lays it on so thick that unless you share his (in the early novels markedly right-wing) views it becomes basically incomprehensible. It's a common problem with writers getting used to being able to say whatever they like, I think with the good ones who eventually understand this effect and learn how it works with their writing... they generally end up changing their politics in the left direction markedly too.

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Deadline reads

Posted February 3, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

I've been smashing out this deadline since about early December, which means I'm way behind on my TV watching and video game playing, but strangely enough I've managed to do some quality reading. I find it helps when you're pushing through your own words to occasionally dip into someone else's. Maybe it's just a break from the imagined world in which I have to spend 12 hours a day. Could be it's just nice to see that somebody else finished the job.

I've gone through five novels so far this deadline; two of them brilliant, one of them pretty good, one a bit of a dud, and one that I'm only about a third of the way through and beginning to enjoy after some initial misgivings.

The brilliant picks I owe to Orin, I think. I seem to recall him mentioning a couple of space operas by a guy called James SA Corey awhile back, but if it was somebody else I apologise. Unlike most of the space operas I read, these are quite constrained. Humanity has got off this damned rock and colonised Mars, a couple of moons around Saturn and Jupiter, and big chunks of the asteroid belt. Faster than light travel is still impossible. Damn You, Einstein. But the Epstein Drive (invented by a guy called Epstein!) has allowed ship designers to build spacecraft that can get out to the edge of the solar system in mere months, as opposed to years. It gives the politics of the solar civ a wierdly nineteenth century feel.

This is the sort of thing that would normally piss me off, but Corey (a pen name for a couple of other writers who wanted to collaborate on a big splodey space project) does a very good job, Douglas Adams style, of reminding us just how big space is. Even our little solar system. It's really big. The tech is sweet, the science seems very scientific and the story rocks along. I won't give away too many spoilers other than to say an ancient evil from the cold reaches of intergalactic space reaches out and threatens to destroy the human race who are too busy squabbling amongst themselves to present a united front.

It was a joy to read these books because quality shoot-em-ups between the stars are increasingly hard to come by. The characterisations are great in both novels with an ensemble cast of four or five players led by a couple of main actors, who I won't discuss here because it would be difficult to lay out the story arcs without giving away massive spoilers. If you like your space opera with lots of splosions and infamy and space zombies, I recommend a buy.

The Long Earth, another collaborative effort, this time between Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, is the sort of book I would normally be all over like a cheap Chinese suit, since it's about the multi-verse. In the first of the series – there are a few more to come apparently – a scientist discovers a way to step between parallel earths, an infinity of parallel worlds, each one only slightly different from the one before. Of course when you push those differences out towards infinity, the differences become infinite. I found The Long Earth to be a fascinating if occasionally frustrating travel log as narrated by "Joshua Valienté (a natural 'Stepper') and Lobsang, who claims to be a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as an Artificial intelligence." There’s good fun to be had following them through world after world and watching the repercussions play out on Datum Earth, or Earth version 1.0 I guess you could call it.

There isn't much of a storyline, though; it's really more a book of exploration with the challenges of pushing deeper into the increasingly different worlds providing what passes for a narrative arc. There's a bit of mystery involving some of the life forms which have evolved up and down the contingency tree, and these sort of feed into what passes for a plot in the second book in this series, The Long War. I didn't enjoy War nearly as much as Earth, and wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to anyone. The whole thing seemed half baked. But if you like your alternate reality stories, there's nothing wrong with The Long Earth and I don't mind fessing up to having enjoyed it.

Finally I was in at Pulp Fiction the other day and saw that Peter Corris had a new Cliff Hardy novel out, Silent Kill I'm a sucker for Pete's work, and I've bought every Hardy book he's ever written; the only crime writer of whom I could say that. It took me a couple of chapters to get into this latest one which starts off with a large info dump about one of the principal protagonists and suffers in its early stages from a lot of characters being introduced a bit too quickly. But then somebody dies and we get back to Cliff doing what Cliff does best, driving around Sydney knocking heads together.

I picked up my copy of Silent Kill on iTunes and have been reading it on my pad and phone, rather than my Kindle. (I saved my Pulp Fiction purchase for a hardback called The Suicide Exhibition, because Nazis and Demons. Or something. I'll drop the link in below). Amazon forced the change on me when they opened the Australian-based Amazon store and tried to make me reset my account locally, where the selections are much thinner and the prices much higher. I'm happy to pay for my digital content, but I'm not willing to get shaken down for it. So, perversely, although I pay a little more per title on iBooks, and the selection is complete arse unless I use my US account, I've decided that's the price I'm willing to pay to chip away at Amazon's monopoly. The link above goes thru Amazon, where the kindle copy seems to be a reasonable seven or eight bucks. If Apple had an associates program, I'd link to them instead.

I'm getting pretty close to the end of the second Hooper book, and I suspect Cliff will see me through. I'll have a couple of days off then before charging into book 3, which I've got plotted out scene by scene and ready to go. At that point I'll need to give me a few more deadline titles in reserve.

36 Responses to ‘Deadline reads’

Spanner mutters...

Posted February 3, 2014

Bugger, I've just used up my audible credits. I was looking at that Terry Pratchett colaberation but went with a Discworld novel.

Soooo JB about book club?

(please let it be Irvine Welsh's Glue)

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

I'm not the only fan of James S.A. Corey here - so it might have been me, it might have been someone else. The other one I want to promote is Lexicon by Max Barry which is flat out FKN AWSM. Other burgers that have read it seem to agree.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

I'll add it to my deadline list.

damian mutters...

Posted February 3, 2014

I've noted the existence of the James S.A. Corey series for a while and figured I'll be reading it sooner or later. It was a toss up whether I'd start that or the Alastair Reynolds I've been reading... might actually start this after On the Steel Breeze.

I'd still like to plug the historian Henry Reynolds' latest book, The Forgotten War in the non-fiction list for book club...

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

The third book - Abbadon's Gate has been out a while. The forth is written. The fifth is in production. There is also a green lit script for an "Expanse" series pilot.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

Oh. My. God!!!

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insomniac mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2014

a little OT but we received some Audible credits for Christmas, and spent the first one on Crime and Punishment. It seems to me that listening to some Russian stodge makes the book much more enjoyable than having to read it, although I've never tried reading P&C. Are more readable books such as those mentioned above even better in Audible form or should I stick to stodge, and keep the others to paper or ebook?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2014

We listened to Patrick Stewart reading A Christmas Carol over Christmas. I'd never bother reading it, but his performance was the business. Really brilliant.

As for popular fiction, it depends a lot on the narrator and the production values. I've loved the shit out of Steven Pacey's read of Joe Abercrombie's series. Just awesome. OTOH I have an audiobooks of Stephen King's Dr Sleep that I'm worried about starting in case I hate it.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2014

I've really enjoyed the Expanse series it was my favourite thing to read last year. In a science fiction lately I have been hitting a lot of post apocolyptic, or dytopias and while the what you delightfully termed 'ancient evil' is indeed a terrifing one the future itself has a postive feel.

Io9 has been all over this series singing its praises as well

The crew of the Rocinante had a wonderful Firefly vibe to the adventures, and my favourite character was from the Marine Bobby and her interations with the UN politician Avasarala.

Great read.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 3, 2014

Yeah, the Rocinante comes to feel like home and you get nervous when they're off the ship.

damian would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2014

There's a rather wonderful canoe-yawl design by a famous Amercan yacht design of the early 20th century called the Rozinante, likewise after Don Quixotte. Not sure that's exactly the classic yacht I ever wanted to build, but it's a nice accessible size. I think if it had worked out that I build many boats in my life I'd have done one of those at some point, but things didn't work out that way.

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2014

I will hold judgement on The Long Earth/long War series until all five are out, liked the way the Long War was ended and will read the next ones.

Saw The Suicide Exhibition reviewed and am interested, would like to hear what you thought of it first. Personally if its Nazis and Demons you are after might I recommend The Milkweed Triptych by Ian Tregillis; Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

Suicide Exhibition was described to me as the sort of book Tregillis would have written if he had any sense of fun at all.

I'll read and review in a few weeks.

damian would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2014

I put off reading Long War for quite a while because of that thought it would seem contrived. And it did a bit, sort of like the best ideas went in the first book. But I have to say I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next.

The hard sf geek in me wants answers to some difficult questions about some of it... But it's not really a hard sf story, at least as credible as most space opera so I'm inclined to give the very respected authors a break.

On that, you don't get much impression of Pratchett's voice in the prose. Not saying that is bad, just noting it.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted February 3, 2014

The Milkweed trilogy also starred all the folk we met when we read Operation Mincemeat, instead of trying to conduct espionage in this story they are dealing with nazi experiments and trying to develop Britian's wizards to employ horrors beyond space and time. With a bit of multiworld hypothyisis and time travel.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

That. Sounds. AWSM!

Blarkon asserts...

Posted February 3, 2014

Pratchett's "voice" has been increasingly wavering - even in his own stuff. That's partly because he's gone from typing to dictating. The upcoming Gaiman/Pratchett colaboration will be intersting - if only to compare with Good Omens.

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Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

When you get back to some TV watching, Generation War is worth a look (and might still be up at SBS on demand).

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2014

You mean "Generation Kill"?

NBlob asserts...

Posted February 4, 2014

Incorrect oh scaly one.

gen kill = Iraq Gulf War II

Gen war= Wehrmacht World War II

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2014

Are they nearly as creative when it comes to expletives?

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Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

Hey JB

Get ready for me to cancel my subscription to Fairfax.

There is some story about Woody Allen and stuff and Cate Blachshett.

OMG Cate Blancshett!

Omg!

Better than Keilly in naybors!

Yeah anyway Kate has a really nice Mercedes but after working with 'Woody' she may upgrade to a newer model.

Do you know how much it costs go go around the world getting awards?

POOR cATE NEEDED THE MONEY.

pOOR CATE.

nOTHING TO DO WITH wtc 7 AND 'WOODY'.

pOOR CATE.

No you don't, so shut up you and don't say anything negative about 'our 'Cate''.

She is priceless...

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Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

I read the first Corey when it turned up on the Hugo nomination list in 2012. Haven’t yet got to the next ones, but am now suitably reminded so will pick them up at some stage.

If you want something else in a similar vein, I’d recommend Neal Asher’s The Owner sequence, just concluded with Jupiter War. Solar system spaceflight, Mars colony, future totalitarian government dystopia with lots of cool technology (spiderguns are shiny) and lashings of explodey goodness for thems that like that sort of stuff. Page-turning entertainments for those of us who might be twiddling their thumbs waiting for monsters to arrive and show us their protocols, hmmn?

Oh yes, and Bookclub? I had half a memory you’d mentioned Peter Brett’s The Painted Man, which by coincidence I got for Christmas from the kidlets. But no pressure – just pick a title and a (post-deadline?) date.

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Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

i DID NOT SIAY SHE IS WHORE!

i DID NOT SAY DAT.

mUST A BENN SOMEONE ELSE!

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

aNYAWY pOLANSKI AND hELTER SKELTER AND SUCH.

And Such.

Sleep tight Munshckins.

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Vovchara has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2014

I could recomend "Dread empire's fall" series from Walter Jon Williams. It starts with The Praxis. Hard core sci-fi with a lot of 'splosions :)

Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

Happy to second this recommendation - this is a good series.

Also, WoJo/DubJay had some very good hard sf (almost cyberpunk) books early in his career which got some attention but probably not as much as they deserved: examples are Hardwired, Voice of the Whirlwind, Angel Station, Ambassador of Progress and suchlike.

And if you like a touch of farce in your space opera, I highly recommend his Drake Majistral series about a celebrity Allowed Burglar. The books are The Crown Jewels, House of Shards and Rock of Ages. Very funny in places, and reminiscent of the Francis Sandow stories by Roger Zelazny - another series where you sense the author is having way too much fun putting the words together for you to read.

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Matthew K would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2014

testing

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Matthew K has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2014

I massively reccomend John Courtenay Grimwood's "Arabesk" trilogy (Pashazade, Effendi, Felaheen) for those who haven't read it: Alternate history North African cyberpunk noir, really beautifully written even if the what if history does seem a bit too close to ours considering that the Kaiser's Reich, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires are still alive and well since Britain failed to win the WW1.

And I just today bought Long War damnit.

Also, this website likes me again.

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Lobes puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2014

Thanks JB et al. I love a good tips thread.

I'll almost certainly get Leviathan Wakes and going to try watching at least part I of Generation war as well. I've got the first book of the Milkweed Triptych loaded on my e-reader but havnt started it yet.

For my contribution I can recommend Ready Player One. Cant remember the author* but its a fairly believable portrayal of a dystopic near future where widespread addiction to MMORPG combined with schmancy advances in VR goggles have changed the structure of society somewhat. It has some action, comedy and a bit of romance lying on the intersection of virtual and real. Give it a look.

*The author is Ernest Cline

Blarkon asserts...

Posted February 4, 2014

Ready Player One is fun - but it's not particularly believable. It works well for a nerd with a particular level of 80's pop-culture awareness.

Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2014

Yes it lives and dies on the pop culture references. I imagine unless you are of a certain age theres a lot will fly over your head.

Its believeable in the sense how some projections of the evolution of current society seem to ring true whereas the technology not so much.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2014

I just read 'Agent to the Stars' by John Scalzi. It's a free book on the internet. It was good fun.

"

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster."

'

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2014

I must read this book.

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sibeen is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

OK, on the reccomend I downloaded Leviathan Wakes and have now read it. Yep, enjoyed it; but as science it sucks. If the Epstein drive existed, the stars our ours.

The drive could blat at 15 gravities and keep on keeping on. Fuck me, with that sort of grunt you don't require a generational ship.

Ignoring relativity effects and mass, accelerate for one year at one G and you're at light speed. The beauty is, even getting up to decent percentage light year speeds and reletivity becomes a bonus. You'll get there in fuck all time. OK, you're relatives back on the home world may be well blowing around as dust, but it's not as if you were going back for a visit anytime soon.

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All Hail King Birmo

Posted January 27, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

Steve Stirling has a rockin' little extract from his next new Change novel, The Golden Princess. Four juicey chapters, including one featuring your new overlord, His Awesomeness, King John.

Darwin
Capital city, Kingdom of Capricornia
(Formerly northern Australia)
May 10th, Change Year 46/2044 A.D.

“Huzzah! Huzzah for King Birmo!”

“Good on you, JB!”

Prince Thomas frowned at the informality: “Cheeky fucking peasants.”

The King of Capricornia snorted at his son as the carriage rumbled slowly through the crowd over pavement that had started out as tarmac and been patched with whatever came to hand over the generations since. He turned a wave to the crowd into a mime of a clout over the ear.

“You were born a peasant, or a bloody commoner at any rate, and don’t forget it, you little prick. The whole fucking realm is only as strong as the lowliest peasant. They carry us all, in the end, the poor bastards. Remember that, and respect the truth of it.”

The King was eighty-two, unbelievably ancient in this new world. There were a couple of hundred thousand people in Capricornia, counting everyone from his family to the ones living on grubs, roos and other assorted bush tucker in the outermost outback down towards Uluru. Out of all of them there probably weren’t more than a dozen older than he was, and most of those had been on remote cattle stations when the Change came and spent the first year comfortably eating the beef they couldn’t sell any more. He’d been in bloody Brisbane, ninety-nine percent of whose population hadn’t survived those twelve months.

The full extracts start here, if you want everything in context. I'm very much looking forward to this new branch of the story. I've been wondering for a long time what happens on our side of the pond, besides, you know, y'all worshipping me. Even that Maddog Lord Havoc.

35 Responses to ‘All Hail King Birmo’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted January 27, 2014

"I do like me a fish finger sandwich..."

Damn, that Canadian bloke does some deep research, don't he?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2014

Yes. Yes he does.

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Strange that Darwin should manifest in two apocalyptic novels. Why, it is almost as if Ava Gardner got it wrong when she was down Mel-bin way back in the 1950s.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2014

On the Beach was just a film, Murph. Make believe.

Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2014

Ah . . . okay.

;)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

tqft has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Darwin - not quite feral.

The place has a feel about it. If civilisation collapsed I suspect many in Darwin wouldn't quite care.

Besides the First Australians who I will not and cannot speak for, the place has a trading/frontier feel about it.

Plenty of people coming and going (including me). Lots of them tourists but plenty of backpackers, itinerant workers and fly in/fly out (fifo) types.

I am reasonably sure I could leave where I am staying and do deal for about anything. Maybe not but the place has a wheel dealer feel about it. Lots of people doing lots of things.

However, the Top End is wide open anda 30 minute drive get you so far from anyone you wouldn't be sure if you were the last person on Earth.

Or get on a boat and go. 3/4 surrounded by water.

Only minor point about Stirling story is plenty of buildings now above 4 floors. Heaps of residential construction going on.

Note to SM Stirling: If you need gold in your story a vaguely reliable source has indicated Timor Leste. Serious mining banned, so plenty of alluvial gold to be had. And a short boat ride from Darwin.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2014

Might be plenty of high buildings now, but probably not much back in 1998 when the Event changed everything.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Bit like wandering in to a 70s British caricature, which probably isn't a bad thing given the aim appears to be a pretty camp, hammy style. Needs more urine-hardened leather loincloths and really big swords, of course. A few tall building are about the least burden to place on suspension of disbelief :)

Murphy mumbles...

Posted January 28, 2014

JB, when you get back to the Disappearance Series that will be something to remember since we froze most of the United States around 2003.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

S.M. Stirling mumbles...

Posted January 29, 2014

There weren't many tall buildings in Darwin in 1998; I checked. Some, but those are mostly disassembled in the ensuing 50 years because they're a safe source of raw materials for things like the city wall, and of metals and glass for recycling. Living in them isn't really practical. The few surviving older buildings from before the cyclone are still in use but it becomes, uniquely, almost entirely a city of post-Change buildings.

Darwin in King Birmo's old age is low-built, brick-timber-bamboo-rammed earth, with a few of the older buildings still sticking up above the mass. Sort of like a low-tech, low-rise version of the Troppo Architects stuff.

Including satellite settlements/suburbs fairly close to the main city, it actually has nearly as many people in CY 46 as it did in 1998, which makes it much larger relative to the (vastly reduced) total population of Australia. Capricornia is the most urbanized part of the continent, though that isn't saying much.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 30, 2014

It is the location that intrigues me. I can't remember if anyone suggested Darwin when JB and SMS opened the topic up for discussion here. I was pushing for Brisbane (comparing it to Portland), secretly hoping for the result we now see, but Darwin seems perfect, and the obvious choice. Steve's vibrant description reminds me of what I've read about Athens at the end of the Persian wars (markets, temples, ships, hub of maritime commerce). And it reminds me of Nantucket at its bustling height in Steve’s Island in the Sea of Time series – a very, very good thing. A very good thing.

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beeso reckons...

Posted January 27, 2014

I have no words.

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sibeen mutters...

Posted January 27, 2014

Fucking gobsmacked.

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Brian mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

Wonderful.

Stevo spent time on getting the food and drink right.

Say it again . . .bloody hard to get Steve's stuff as ebooks..

Wonder if the inbred idiot from Cairns is nicknamed Havock? Just seems a fit.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2014

I have it on impeccable authority that Havoc is the Cannibal King of Sydney.

Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2014

LOL.

Then . . .would he be married to the Queen of Kings Cross?

Just thinking out loud here.

damian would have you know...

Posted January 27, 2014

Married to... he should BE the Queen of Kings Cross!

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Rob mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

reminds of when Judge Dredd went to Australia to solve crime in the Radback. all the Judges were called Judge Bruce and Judge Brett. It was a nicer place to live in the sydney/melbourne conurb as well.

ShaneAlpha asserts...

Posted January 27, 2014

Chopper for Oz!

"They'll no longer call us a bunch of criminal descendants. They'll call us a WINNING bunch of criminal decendants."

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Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2014

Alright Already!

I fkn Hail.

I hailed ages ago FFS.

How many times do I have to Hail?

(Back off dumbfuck I am talikin here!)

There was never a question of 'Hail' was there?

I am takin the Renmark/Victorian region and producing Proscuitto and snags now.

That's all I ask.

FKN Hail.

I said Hail!

I would have prefered a FTL Starship but that's just me.

FKN HAIL CAPTAIN.

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Maddoug has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

So does this mean your next limited edition beer will be called Saltie Bites?

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Guy reckons...

Posted January 27, 2014

Scratch a republican and find a monarchist!

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Ok, I'm irked; not that JB has been made a literary King, like that's going to make any differenece at his age. The bragging rights are just that. He puts it on too heavily and his wife will just roll her eyes and ignore him.

It's young Thomas that I'm concerned about. Here is a teenage boy given a Princedom on a fucking platter. The bragging rights become considerable, and I'm not sure that this amount of power should be handed to a young man entering the prime of his life. I can only hope that he uses this boon for good, and not evil.

By the way, someone should inform Mr Stirling that it just don't get to 100 degrees in Darwin. At the end of the wet a 90 degree day is the norm.

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ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2014

"Hey baby, want to make out with a dude who's a Prince?"

Thomas is soooo set.

And with a slightly less weird family then Wills and Harry.

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2014

Damn it all to hell ... I gave up on this series and now I'm going to have to go back and pick up the last one.

Was there a watery tart involved with this acension?

senatormckinneytexas asserts...

Posted January 28, 2014

Yep, we have a new market here. All of JB's fans who aren't Stirling fans now have 13 books to catch up with (at a minimum) and Stirling's fans who don't read JB likewise have some catching up to do. Genius, really.

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senatormckinneytexas would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2014

Pretty damned billiant. From many different angles.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted January 28, 2014

Mmmmmmm...Saltie Bites

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 28, 2014

will there be a emberverse/ axis of time cross over? Perhaps the son of Harry Meets King Birmo?

One thing I don't get with the emberverse is why everyone suddently turns Welsh? I would expect if I got down with my Renfaire self. I would be painting myself blue and getting totally tattooed. or maybe grow a gnarly Asterix style moustache (by Toutais!) but releasing my innner Terry Jones is not on my horizon.

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S.M. Stirling reckons...

Posted January 29, 2014

His Majesty John the First of Capricornia is doing a story for the shared world anthology THE CHANGE which will be out next spring. I leave any teasing revelations about that to him.

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AKM. mutters...

Posted January 29, 2014

I'll dedicate my best pointed stick to the service of King Birmo.

"Go you good King" Epic.

I'll swear allegience just for that line.

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w from brisbane reckons...

Posted January 29, 2014

Well, it's been a big week for our genial host.
First, it was his shock coronation as King Birmo of Capricornia.
Now I read that Guardian Australia has said that 'B is for Birmo' in the A-Z of Australian comedy!
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/jan/29/australian-comedy-a-z-b-is-for-the-big-gig-and-birmo

I don't know what is going on. Are we approaching a Charles Stross Singularity? Frankly, I'm starting to feel a little scared.

Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2014

Yeah W,

The teenagers are here.

It's been nice knowing you but now that CBG, JB and the Burgers are 'cool' I am outta here.

It was good while it lasted, you have to admit that.

But now there will be a channel 10 appearance or a shopping channel segment and honestly I just don't have the time.

I am a working man.

Got shit to do.

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Shermpotter puts forth...

Posted January 31, 2014

Um, I got the impression that his son Thomas was NOT a youngster...

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Myles would have you know...

Posted February 20, 2014

Looking forward to hearing more about what's going on in Cairns under Bad King Joh...

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Respond to 'All Hail King Birmo'