Cheeseburger Gothic

Burgertime in Canberra

Posted August 23 by John Birmingham

I’m at the festival tomorrow, doing sessions at lunch time and in the evening. The night time one is a bummer cos it’s 7.30-8.30 so it craters the evening for any catch up.

But I could be talked into a fizzy Herbert before. I’m meeting Abe after the earlier session. If you’re around let me know here or on the twitters.

2 Responses to ‘Burgertime in Canberra’

Dave W reckons...

Posted August 26
I ambushed JB at the Capital Brewery, I was sunburnt and 5 pints deep at the time. I saw him leaving with his entourage and launched out shouting JB JB JB, it's me, Dave! I hope he didn't mind.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted August 26
bahaha. I'd have to make a bloody long trip to coincide with one of these. Although i do have to go to Brisvegas next week for a work thing . . . but Mon/Tues night conference trips is usually reserved for a beer and a book in some likely pub (those types of nights don't come often). Actually - does anyone have any recommendations for me? Staying on the South Bank. Elgoog shows a place called the tipplers tap is near where i'm staying. Closed Monday (boo).

Respond to this thread

Respond to 'Burgertime in Canberra'

The Cruelest Stars

Posted August 23 by John Birmingham

After a book drops into the world I like to cast the movie. It's much cheaper than actually making a movie and you can get anyone you want. Before I even had a chance to think about casting The Cruel Stars, however, one of my handlers at the Penguin House emailed and asked if I'd like to write a blog post for Marshal Zeringue who's particular kink is casting unmade movies from just published books.

I was totally up for that and you can the entry here. One pick wasn't just obvious, it was virtually compulsory.

See if you can guess who before...

Of fuck that. No. It's just too obvious.

I dont care how much money Steven Spielberg is offering. Unless Frazer McLennan is placed by Peter Capaldi this movie is just not fecking happening...

You can read it all here.

20 Responses to ‘The Cruelest Stars’

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted August 24
10 years ago a Google search for my name might have revealed half a dozen results, then I started writing articles for work and things took off, now it's going all splodey. Some doubts but no regrets.

Respond to this comment

Rhino asserts...

Posted August 25
Book - read.

Review - submitted.

Respond to this comment

Rhino mumbles...

Posted August 25
I was thinking Batista for Jaco. But then I thought, CGI character. So, go with Serkis to bring to life and have Batista do the voice work. Or, possibly Vin Diesel.

Strom - The Austrian Oak.

The voice of Hero - Sirs Hopkins or Guinness. No, wait, Michael Caine.

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted August 26
Re Jaco- he's a tech savant. So despite the body mods, I genuinely have whoever the dude is who plays Sheldon Cooper as the voice.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 26
Rhino's Strom pick is brilliant!

Respond to this thread

she_jedi puts forth...

Posted August 26
Once you pointed out who should play McLennan I couldn't unsee it, and now it's hardwired into my head canon. Brilliant choice.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2
Capaldi definitely strikes me as the "hang your wrinkley bits out in the air like you just don't care" kind of guy.

Respond to this thread

Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 27
Halfway through the book - I keep envisaging Coto as Dave Bautista too. Peter Capaldi as McLennan (only in Malcolm Tucker mode though) is a given. Let Jay Lambright play himself! I honestly can't think of any others at present...ask me again when I've finished the book!

Respond to this comment

jason ducks in to say...

Posted August 28
I know its off topic but...
DAMN YOU BIRMINGHAM.

Do i really have to wait until 2020 for the sequel? I just can't wait that long. Sleep less, forgo any family time, ignore all other projects, get em the sequel sooner.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted August 28
I support the spirit of this comment, while acknowledging the logistical difficulties in acceding to its demands.

jason ducks in to say...

Posted August 28
If JB really loves us he will find a way.

insomniac puts forth...

Posted August 28
I concur

Respond to this thread

Therbs asserts...

Posted August 28
I think Hero also needs to be Scottish. Robert Carlyle, Ewan McGregor or Gerard Butler.

Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted August 29
I'd have thought something more Shakespearian ala Patrick Stewart or a Richard Burton imitator (as the original model is off-line). Or Micheal Caine for funzies!

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted August 29
OMG Capaldi and Stewart, can you IMAGINE? This needs to happen.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted August 29
Although Ian McKellen would give good Hero too

Respond to this thread

HAVOCK21 is gonna tell you...

Posted August 28
FK THAT SHIT!...WHEREs HAVOCK!!

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted August 29
No room for magical time travelling submarines in this one Hav.

Respond to this thread

Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted September 1
5 stars. 5 cruel cruel stars. Thank you, Mr Birmingham.

Respond to this comment

balri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 11
I pictured Stellan Skarsgard as McLennan. And I’m thinking a young Lori Petty, a la Tank Girl as Sephina

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'The Cruelest Stars'

The sci fi machinery of publishing

Posted August 22 into Books by John Birmingham

Jason Lambright has a really lovely piece over at his Interstelar Valley blog pondering the wonder that is the production and release of a book...

A book launch by a major publisher is an astonishing display of logistics, marketing, programming, and execution.

As I stood in the little book store thousands of miles away from the author, these thoughts went through my head. I picked up a copy, leafed through it, and carried it to the register. It seemed that I wanted to purchase another hardcopy as a gift to my old Team Sergeant, so this book, copy XXXX of who knows how many thousand, left the store with me.

It rode on the back seat of my car. As I drove, I marveled at all the threads that came together to make the book’s journey complete. Had the idea to write this article, put the book in front of some Indian corn and took a picture. Sent the picture via my phone to the computer. This is another technological marvel that we take for granted.

Totally worth a read at the Valley.

2 Responses to ‘The sci fi machinery of publishing’

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted August 22
That was a really lovely piece, I enjoyed reading that.


However, is Jay Lambright mostly sensible space tourist related in any way to Jason Lambright author? :)

jl mutters...

Posted August 22
Maybe. If so, I wear my redshirt with pride.

Respond to this thread

Respond to 'The sci fi machinery of publishing'

Nice interview and TCS extract at SyFy

Posted August 21 by John Birmingham

I did an interview with these guys (while trying to get a grumpy teen out of the door and off to school), and they grabbed and extract which you can find here.

3 Responses to ‘Nice interview and TCS extract at SyFy’

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted August 21
"The Cruel Stars is a decapitation strike on a star-spanning society in more ways than one..."

So you've moved on from destroying the world, and now you're destroying galaxies??? Overachiever :P

Respond to this comment

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted August 21
surely you have the hang of getting a moody teen out the door by now, you have years of experience and treachery to rely on.

Respond to this comment

jl has opinions thus...

Posted August 21
Nice that SyFy's getting the word out; good little piece.

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Nice interview and TCS extract at SyFy'

The Cruel Stars released

Posted August 20 into Books by John Birmingham

Today The Cruel Stars began to appear on bookshelves around the country. They'll magically pop up in stores across the US and the UK tomorrow, progressively rolling out through the week. Of course anyone who ordered the digital version will have their's by now. I'm confident they'll enjoy it.

I'll start pimping hard in the morning. I've learned there's not much point jumping the starter's gun.

To everyone who helped with the beta read, sincere thanks. It's a much stronger book for your assistance. I'm very happy with it. All of the various editions look great, but the British hardback in particular is stunning. A real tribute to the bookbinders art.

The audiobook should also drop overnight and I'll grab copy for myself. One of the things I do enjoy about the audio versions, it's just a little bit like getting to experience the story for the first time. That is something special.

Now of course, I'll have to fire up the anti-matter drive and fold into the sequel.

23 Responses to ‘The Cruel Stars released’

KreepyKrawly mutters...

Posted August 20
Yup, the beast dropped the ebook into my email this morning, getting into it tonight ß-Þ

Respond to this comment

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 20
I have been in a state of eternal *squeeee* ever since my ebook appeared on my devices last night. Cruelly I have been stymied from diving into The Cruel Stars completely due to having to turn up to my job and actually, you know, work. It is an OUTRAGE.

jason has opinions thus...

Posted August 21
I think Mr Birmingham needs to address this terrible oversight. I too need to go to work, do family stuff, all of the things which stop me from hunkering down for a serious reading session. I believe Mr Birmingham should show some consideration and time book launches to coincide with my holidays, or at least weekends. Sadly all he thinks about is providing for his family and not a skerrick of consideration for my needs.

NBlob reckons...

Posted August 22
Wrong. Mr Birmingham artfully times his releases to coincide with my birthday. Making gift from daughter most excellent.

Respond to this thread

Blarkon reckons...

Posted August 20
Ordered the UK HB from Forbidden Planet as "Them Across The Lake" (as the Redmondians call them) don't ship to Oz from their UK outpost.

NBlob mutters...

Posted September 11
Your Scalyness, it has been some time.

Respond to this thread

Barnesm mutters...

Posted August 20
My e-book is loaded and ready for the train ride tomorrow, good luck and godspeed Birmo on the sequel.

Presume the usual threats to provide 5 star reviews to the Bezo's beast.

Respond to this comment

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 20
I ordered mine from the US Amazon purely to use my stranded gift card. Actually I ordered three (for obvious reasons). I feel like ms insomniac is going to question my sanity even more than usual. It will be nice to re-read after such a long time.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted August 20
OMIGOD. I HAVE NO OTHER FAVOURITES.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 29
UPDATE: The precious has arrived and there was no questioning of the sanity. In fact some acknowledgement of a good decision having been made. And she likes the cover art, so bonus.

Respond to this thread

jl would have you know...

Posted August 21
This process of watching TCS unfold has been excellent. Very sweet to see it on the shelves!

Respond to this comment

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted August 21
I think i'm going to pick this one up at an actual brick and mortar and have some enforced "reading time for dad". I have a huge blackberry patch that i have been carving a tunnel into with the plans of making a nice cool arbor for summer (and, well, it relieved the boredom of pulling the stuff out if i had a goal other than "lets just rip all this stuff out"). I have dreams of sitting down in the cool shady tunnel and picking blackberries nonchalantly off the canes without getting up whilst reading a book where the kids can't find me. The reality of course will be the thorns ripping a gash in my head because i didn't duck enough on entry and the juiciest blackberry is juuuust out of reach and if only i could poke through that gap... ouch! And then when i get up for another one i tread on a tiger snake because he came in to get out of the blaring sun as well and found a nice shady spot and some rude bugger just trod on him and it won't be a dry bite because that guy was asking for it anyway treading on an unsuspecting snake trying to relax.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 21
Spookily, this scene, or something like it, is in the book.

Respond to this thread

Vovchara has opinions thus...

Posted August 21
I like it. I was a bit apprehensive when I've read the excerpt before. All that fancy-schmancy technology is something I actively avoid in sci-fi, but you turned it around. Making something which is often a weakness in fictional storytelling into a strength.
Besides, I love the characters you create. In every single book up to date. This one is no different.
The only minor complains, would be Navy personal, and the way they behave, not quite Jack Campbell and H. Paul Honsinger :P But still good characters.

Respond to this comment

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted August 21
As a practicing Luddite* I intend to hie myself to purveyor of Paper Books forthwith to get me a copy.




*not really - I just prefer a paper book because the batteries never run out, and also as an Up Yours to the phone junkies on public transport (although I tend to ride my motorbike these days, and reading is bloody hard when riding)

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 22
+1

Respond to this thread

SAS is gonna tell you...

Posted August 22
JB nearly finished my kindle copy, you mentioned an Audio version any idea when the UK Audible will be out? want to listen at work :)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 22
I've asked my agent to get on it. The audio rights were sold for the US but not outside. Audiobook available on American store, if you have an account there.

Respond to this thread

Dave W asserts...

Posted August 22
OT- Canberra visit?

Respond to this comment

thetick reckons...

Posted August 22
This is the best fucking thing you've ever written. I am so jealous at the tech stuff you've thought up, the way the action simply explodes off the page.

I mean, it's fucking great. You cannot write the next one fast enough.

Respond to this comment

Marccarno asserts...

Posted August 23
Picked up email this afternoon (Thursday), downloaded and read in 3 hours (I know, but what can I say - I was supposed to be working and that slowed me down a tad).

I’m not going to blow smoke up your proverbial because, after all, I am a fan and love everything automatically. So hurry up with the next book please!oh. And while I’m here, did you get a kick out of your melange of the classic monologue from Blade Runner? I loved it and because I love the monologue so much, am shamelessly putting both here...

"Vikingar attack ships burned among the glittering wreckage of C-Beam fortresses. A Tannhäuser Gate, shattered by kinetics, tumbled off the shoulder of Odin’s World;"

“I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die”

Your fab. Don’t stop.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted September 4
Thanks, Mac. I'm on it.

Respond to this thread

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2
Really enjoying this. Got through a good chunk during my purgatory in airport space today. Even finished beers early tonight so I could get back and read some more. Can I ask if the XD chamber that Booker is destined for is a juxtaposition on the emoji XD and the function of the room? Or did I miss the obviousness of that during turbulence? (cause that's all I see when I read it and I chuckle each time)

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'The Cruel Stars released'

Burger Lite. The last twelve months

Posted August 8 by John Birmingham

I stepped on the scales yesterday (for my birthday) and had a pleasant surprise. But first some context. I stepped on the same scales about a year ago and had another surpise, not so pleasant. And really not much of a fucking surprise. It was more a confirmation of what I already suspected. I was a mess.

Some of you will remember that I took the death of my dad pretty hard. It's tipped me into about six months of depression, which had physical as well as psychological consequences.

Before that happened, however, I had other problems. Specifically a couple of the discs in my lower back were starting to grind together, trapping nerves between them. I first became aware of it at a genre fiction festival in Sydney. I was standing around enjoying a drink at the Saturday afternoon cocktail session, as you do, when I started getting shooting pains down my side. Electric tingling in my feet and legs. With about a quarter of an hour, I had to sit down. It was agony to keep standing.

I'd had similar issues over the previous couple of months with my standing desk, finding it more and more unpleasant to remain on my feet for any length of time, eventually returning to just slumping into my chair for six or seven hours a day. It caught up with me in Sydney.

Just over 12 months ago I hopped onto my scales, which are these fancy digital magic boxes that measure not just weight but a whole bunch of other stuff, including, gulp, body fat. Apparently they pass a small electrical current through your body to measure resistance. The current travels through fatty tissue and muscle fibre at different speeds. Or some shit. Anyway the results weren't good. I weighed 98.3 kg and 32.9% of that was fat.

I'll jump to the spoiler. Hopped onto the same scales yesterday and I was down to a touch over 92 kg, but more importantly only 18% of that was fat. I'd dropped about 16 kg of fat and packed on about 10 kg of muscle.

How?

The usual way. Eating less crap, doing more exercise. Specifically I've been doing a lot more strength training. I'd always try to throw some weights work into my gym routine, but I'd never been particularly directed about it. I never really improved.

About nine or ten months back I started working with a personal trainer, a mate from the dojo, Darren Rae, one of our black belts who had switched careers from moving stuff around a warehouse, to torturing fat bastards like me into shape.

We spent the first couple of months, yes months, building up my lower back strength, creating a sort of girdle of muscle mass around the degenerating spinal discs. This had a pretty spectacular and immediate effect on my lower back pain. It mostly disappeared. I still get twinges every now and then, especially if I'm slumped into my chair on a deadline for seven or eight hours a day. But the chronic, debilitating pain seems to have been banished.

Having laid the foundation we then started to build out the rest of my frame and build up some endurance with boxing and kickboxing work. I still have a fair way to go. There's another seven or eight kgs of body fat to burn off and at my age I have to be careful not to overdo it, particularly not with my knees which I trashed many years ago doing hill sprints.

I aim to get back to my fighitng weight by Christmas. But again, I'm an old bugger now, so I wont actually be fighting anyone or anything other than the desire to eat donuts at every meal.

20 Responses to ‘Burger Lite. The last twelve months’

Naut reckons...

Posted August 8
Nice work JB, this stuff doesn't get any easier.

I have been experimenting for cutting sugar for a month at a time.

It's tough to do both physically and practically, but it makes a serious difference. Especially if you can train in a glycogen depleted state.

The challenge is not losing all the gains when you reintroduce sugar back in.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted August 9
Yeah, I’m not an anti-star fanatic, but I did recognise it as White Death. And I love it so.
My main source of sugar was cups of tea. I’d drink heaps of them during the day, each with one tea spoon. I cant come at tea without it, so I switched out 7-8 cups of Yorkshire Gold for green or Jasmine tea, both of which I dont mind. I dont love them. But I dont mind them either.
That one small tweak took about 700-800 calories a week out of my diet.

Respond to this thread

Dirk ducks in to say...

Posted August 8
Congrats JB on the gains.

Maybe riding a bike instead of driving the beast for the small trips in and around Bris might help, but that depends what other kinds of risk using pedlepower would have.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 9
I do have a bike but I live in a very hilly neighbourhood and never quite figured out how to work the gears. Instead I walk. I figured that if I walk to my local bar and have two glasses of wine, I’m still in calorie deficit when I get home, up the big hill.

Doccs ducks in to say...

Posted August 21
Walking makes your legs lean -but the middle not necessarily.
Steps don’t translate well to calories.

If you’re training that’s better but cycling is good as well.

As my fitbane tells me -I walked the Nile and back ....

Respond to this thread

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted August 8
Glad it went well.

You have a weird arse birthday ritual in my opinion.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted August 9
It is a little odd, yes.

Respond to this thread

insomniac mutters...

Posted August 8
I wish I had done as well as you. I'm stuck around 115 and I have no idea what percentage of me is fat. I have lower back issues too and it's paradoxical that exercising actually makes it better.

With a standing desk I was told that you need to alternate between sitting and standing on a regular basis, ideally every half hour. Now when I work from home I always stand, and when I'm in the office I always sit.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 9
The back pain is a killer. It demotivates you for anything other than eating lots of donuts. It was a little frustrating working only on my lower back strength for months, but it did finally start to pay off.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted August 12
Apparently you can get standing desk stools (yes, it's exactly as irrational as it sounds) but it means you can remain active and engage your core muscles and legs muscles and lean while using your standing desk. They have a low back profile to force you to sit up properly, and you can rock or wobble while you're working and engage muscles differently throughout the day:

https://au.varidesk.com/en-au/products/standing-desk-chair-varichair

This might be an option to keep your different muscles groups active and take some pressure off your back?

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted August 12
By odd coincidence I've just come off two hours of standing desk usage without problem.

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted August 12
Wonderful! *Virtual high five*

Respond to this thread

jl mumbles...

Posted August 8
Excellent! Makes me feel like a piker.

Respond to this comment

beeso ducks in to say...

Posted August 9
The really interesting thing I've found is hitting what seems to be my body wants to be its natural equilibrium. I am sitting at 82kegs and 16% and I don't think it would be healthy to reduce my intake any more (fasting twice a week). I could completely cut the red wine and coffee I guess, but I don't see the trade off worth it.

Instead i'm trying to learn a few athletic skill that keep me playing around physically at home outside of structured training, the boys are trying them as well and it is good fun.

Respond to this comment

she_jedi reckons...

Posted August 12
This is a great result JB, very inspiring. At Easter I took up reformer Pilates, and I'm now doing 4 sessions a week (Mon - Thurs, and then I recover over the weekend). I've not weighed myself, and I'm not sure if I'm seeing any results in dimensions yet, but I'm definitely getting my flexibility back, and I feel a lot stronger and capable. I shattered my right ankle about a decade ago, and my balance was shot after that, but that's definitely improving.

My main issue has been my hips and lower back being stiff and painful (hello office job!) and both have improved out of sight. Now everything hurts because I'm exercising, not because I'm sedentary. I'm still calling it a win.

I remember after my first session, I rolled over in bed the next morning and my abs all went "OH HAI!". I'm still finding muscles I didn't know I had lol.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted August 12
Yeah, Pilates is supposed to be great. I can't come at it, because I'd just want to be at a jujitsu class, but I hear it's really good for core and flexibility.

she_jedi mutters...

Posted August 12
It's brilliant, and it's a way harder workout than one would think, although it's easy to scale to your fitness level and flexibility. Every now and then a gym junkie will rock up to give it a go and they stagger out after a 45 min workout wondering WTF they just went through lol.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 12
I had an osteopath once who just had his hands fingers up underneath my back as I was lying down, apparently doing nothing, but the next day I'd be aching as if I'd done something much more physical.

Respond to this thread

FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted August 13
As i get older i appreciate tales of people able to make gains like that. (still in the 40-50 bracket age wise and in the lower end of the 90-100 weight bracket). I discovered over the weekend that playing with the kids in the snow (all weekend) reminds you that yes there are some muscles in there and over there and that one round the back you don't think of often . . . and don't you even think of limboing under the snow jackets drying out hanging from the door lintel.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted August 13
That makes me ouch just reading it!

Respond to this thread

Respond to 'Burger Lite. The last twelve months'