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Beautiful objects

Posted July 23 into Books by John Birmingham

A couple of days ago I received notice of a package waiting for me at the post office, a box containing a dozen limited edition proof copies of The Cruel Stars.

"Limited-edition proof" sounds a lot more impressive than it actually is. These are pre-release copies, usually generated from the text before the proofreader has had her evil way with it. So you get the occasional typo. But you also get to feel the book as an object in your hands for the first time. It's always exciting.

I gave a copy to Thomas (who's already told me it's a bit thinky - he hasn't got to the shooting and the swearing yet) and to some friends who were visiting for lunch over the weekend. The others will get salted around to various science-fiction fans in the city's bookshops and to a couple of journalists. I'll keep one or two copies for myself, because although proof copies are imperfect by nature, they're also very rare. A couple of dozen, as opposed to the tens of thousands of finished copies which will soon hit the bookstores.

Today, however, another package arrived. Much smaller. All the way from London. My English publishers, who have the rights to release the title in Australia and New Zealand, had emailed a couple of the finished hardbacks. Having already handed out a couple of copies of the proof edition, I didn't tear the packet open with trembling hands. In fact I put it on the kitchen bench, made a cup of tea, and went back to my work, forgetting about it for an hour or so. When I came up for lunch a bit later, I was surprised to see the parcel sitting there. My books, I thought. I should have a look at them.

Holy shit. I knew as soon I lifted them out of the bubble wrap that they were very, very different. They are beautiful. Hardback books often are of course, they have to be to justify the price. But the artwork, the finish, the fine details such as the light blue ribbon to mark your place, they all suggested an objet d’art rather than some gross commercial unit that would soon be making its way into the back of a goods truck for delivery into the retail channel.

In many ways they are the same object that arrived last week; the same pages, the same cover, the same contents. And yet holding them in my hands I am still taken, many hours later, by the way in which the aesthetics of the final artefact make it something quite different from all previous iterations. That, I suppose, is the magic of publishing.

20 Responses to ‘Beautiful objects’

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted July 23
I trust Thomas will still give a 5 star review on Amazon after all as the bard would put it "“If she must teem, Create her child of spleen, that it may live And be a thwart disnatur'd torment to her! Let it stamp wrinkles in her brow of youth, With cadent tears fret channels in her cheeks, Turn all her mother's pains and benefits To laughter and contempt, that she may feel How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is To have a thankless child!”

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jl puts forth...

Posted July 23
Yeah. There's something about a finished proof. I've got a few of them hanging around here- pretty sweet to hold your baby toward the end of the process and look it over. I've never had a hardback, though.

Ceramic mumbles...

Posted July 25
Same. To hold (or in my case, hug) something I created that didn't exist before - priceless.

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Sparty is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23
they look "class" and I know the contents are pretty outstanding....

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 23
British publishers, mate. Still setting the gold standard.

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted July 23
Gosh, they’re just SO beautiful!

jl puts forth...

Posted July 23
Agreed. First class.

Ceramic has opinions thus...

Posted July 25
They really are stunning!

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 24
The one lying flat looks like it's charging.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted July 24
Nice, but

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted July 24
no question that they look the goods. I wish i could stack my shelves with hardcovers. Paperback will just have to make do! Been on a fantasy stint lately - looking for a bit of a change and scifi might just fit the bill . . . . : )

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WA n'ker swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 24
...meanwhie, city ways,
Life goes screaming on....

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NBlob asserts...

Posted July 29
I wants the precious.

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pitpat asserts...

Posted August 2
Just a quick question. Will there be an audiobook ? Asking as a new convert.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 2
There will indeed!

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted August 16
Please Sir, can you tell us when they may be released into the wild. I have a handful of sweat stained notes awaiting.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted August 16
Magic 8Ball says 20 Aug.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 17
Noice.

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she_jedi puts forth...

Posted August 19
One more sleep until this baby drops on iBooks. I am beside myself with anticipation!

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KreepyKrawly would have you know...

Posted August 20
Has finally dropped at the beast. lucky, just finished a book. ß-Þ

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Carpe Donktum

Posted July 12 by John Birmingham

A New Yorker report on the WH 'social media summit' that is both hilarious and a little bit terrifying.

When the closed-door summit met, in the East Room, most of the seats were filled by such stalwart maga memesmiths as Bill Mitchell, whose indefatigable pro-Trump cheerleading has made him a target of mockery even on the far-right; James O’Keefe, who styles himself as an investigative journalist but acts more like an opposition researcher; Charlie Kirk, whose organization, Turning Point USA, keeps finding itself mired in racism scandals; and a stay-at-home dad from Kansas City who goes by Carpe Donktum. This was not Mr. Donktum’s first invitation to the White House. Last week, while some of the country’s top legal minds scrambled to justify the President’s mercurial and self-contradictory desires related to a citizenship question on the census, the President himself spent twenty minutes relaxing in the Oval Office with Donktum, whose job, according to his Twitter bio, is “the creation of memes to support President Donald J. Trump.” “Where is the genius?” the President asked as Donktum entered the inner sanctum of American power. “I want to meet the genius.”

4 Responses to ‘Carpe Donktum’

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted July 12
oh no - i googled donktum in Chrome (to see if it has some meaning like 'seize the donkey anus' or something). Now the profile they are building on me is messed up and i'm going to get recommendations for the wackos. Damn it. Rookie mistake at my age.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted July 12
You poor damn fool.

savo ducks in to say...

Posted August 3
So what does it mean? You have sacrificed yourself for the greater good you should let the rest of us know. I certainly don't want that query on my profile history.

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Dave W ducks in to say...

Posted July 15
I'm only just starting to realise that there is a whole other definition of genius/expert out there. This is around a dismissal of expertise based on booklearning and experience.

So if that traditional view of expert is out, then what is in? What is valued? What is the redefined version of 'correct'?

But what this also does is sweep the rug out from underneath those with the traditional view. Yes, I am out of touch, obviously. I can't grasp the value of a Kirk, Mitchell or Donktum. But I also don't understand what Ivanka, Kelly-Ann Conway or even Trump himself have that makes what they say ring true to a segment of the population.

Obviously that ill defined (and perhaps undefinable) concept of Truthiness. But in a related sense, is there trustiness?

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Did an interview. Did not disgrace myself

Posted July 11 into Books by John Birmingham

I spoke to Pete Wells from the Herald earlier this week abut writing for audio. I seem to recall meandering through the convo like a complete mofo.

But he has some pretty sharp editing chiops, so it came out all right.

Considering the very bleak premise of Zero Day Code, I asked if Birmingham is optimistic about the future of humanity.

“Look it depends what time of the day you catch me. Whether I've had a cup of coffee or not,” he laughs. “There are times, like everyone, where I feel pretty bleak about the future.

“But then I see some of the work that's being done, some of it by technologists, some of it by activists, some of it by people who were bad guys and became good guys … There's an awful lot of people who used to work in petroleum who've left it and they are working very, very hard to repair the damage they've done.

“And of course, you know, once we develop a carbon-free energy market there will be trillions of dollars to be made out of it. And never, ever underestimate the motivational power of human greed to solve the problems that human greed has created.

“But right now I'm in my nice office, looking out into the forest. It's a sunny day. So today, I'm optimistic. Ask me in an hour.”

Full report here.

6 Responses to ‘Did an interview. Did not disgrace myself’

insomniac puts forth...

Posted July 12
Sometimes I wonder what sort of world my young grandchildren will have to grow up in. Yeah there's lots of good stuff happening out of sight but I still think it's going to be a shithole with widespread and catastrophic population declines.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted July 12
I'm a pessimistic optimist : ) but i must say i have caught myself in the dark wee hours thinking about my kids future. Not the usual "are they going to be successful, will they get on okay" but more "is there going to be a future". Terminator 2 is seeming more like an instruction manual on what to teach your kids. Although i think the "AI is going to kill us all" is a red herring with years we have left. We are going to do it ourselves way before AI is smart enough to do it for us.

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she_jedi mutters...

Posted July 12
That was a great piece from Mr Wells, you did more than simply not disgrace yourself!

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pitpat reckons...

Posted July 14
Just finished it . Fantastic Thanks for the effort in research writing, and editing. This is only my second audio book ( first was World War Z) and it was a right up there with that. I loved the Rupert Degas's narration although I found some of the dialogue didn't mesh with my mental image of the accents and intonation. I'm not sure the medium is suited to wordy, snappy, info dense conversation - for me at any rate.

Hope it kills it and that you have a follow up ready to roll.

Will get a five star review on audible once I've bought a gen set, some long life supplies, cans of beans, some seeds. Have the Hilux and a good little petrol driven pump, need a winch tho - a manual one-, some decent fishing kit, maybe another compound bow and a fletching kit, a couple of flints, epoxy resin and a few other things that might come in handy. The rest can be sourced during the early days of the pillaging. Getting peeps out of the kill zones will be the tricky part.

Generally a bit of an optimists simply because the alternative seems such an interminable drag on the very limited time we have on this watery rock and enormous enjoyment can be had simply by sticking your head in some nature and sucking back. But love a good catastrophe novel to bring it back to the mean.

Cheers and Beers, Get Some Fun.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted July 15
Thx mate. I'm taking notes on your To Do List.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted July 15
If there's one thing which Zero Day Code tells us is that go-bags need to be really handy. One in the car, one at home, one at work.

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Digital siege

Posted July 9 into Blunty by John Birmingham

It's book launch time, it must be thinky column time too.

At the Instrument.

Cod, Mark Kurlansky’s enjoyable history of the big mouthed Atlantic all rounder, is just as much a history of human politics, economics and warfare, ranging from the murderous adventures of maximum Viking Eirik the Red to the three strange and mostly bloodless "Cod Wars" between Iceland and Great Britain in the decades after the Second World War.

A thousand years of human folly and conflict, with the cod swimming through it all; European colonisation, the American War of Independence, the rise of the slave trade.

The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions.
The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions.
In living memory, Germany lost two wars in part because of that fish. While first the Kaiser and then the Führer’s Volk suffered privation and malnutrition in the First and Second World Wars, their English enemies harvested the North Sea for megatons of protein to feed millions of soldiers and factory workers.

Crediting an Allied victory to plentiful supplies of fish and chips might seem an amusingly hot and salty take on such a grim topic, but it does go to a hard truth in the history of human conflict. Starving your enemy can be just as effective as bombing, shooting or stabbing them.

In any future global conflict involving the post-industrial West, siege and starvation, the most medieval of tactics, are likely to be among the first deployed.

And the more advanced the belligerent, the more vulnerable they are to digital disruption of real-world supply chains...

6 Responses to ‘Digital siege’

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted July 9
Invest in paper, typwriters, and analog.

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Therbs mutters...

Posted July 9
I can see a book coming on. One about the end of civilisation. Erm, hang a bit ...

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NBlob reckons...

Posted July 9
"The seemingly porous state of Australia’s defences against cyberattack has been exposed by serious intrusions or attempted intrusions."
Are they? Have they been significantly interrupted?
Hodgepodge, Jerry Rigged, post-Hoc? yes, indoubidably.
But, vulnerable ?
Every target of $ value, or just worthy of a "digital wristy in an anonymous chat-room" has been atacked 9 wise west of Tuesday for the past decade.
Possibly by Corrupted Nerds of the spotty oik variety, not weaponised hackers with Skillz.
But Shirley said services have mirrors, redundancies, fail safes?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted July 10
They haven't been interrupted because the purpose of a probing attack is to probe. Not to attack. You establish you can penetrate the system. You survey the weaknesses. And you leave. There's no point collapsing anything until you need to.
They do it to us. We do it to them. It will end badly.

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 10
Having not read Cod, I don't know how much it goes into the whole supply chain logistics of feeding a war with only (or mainly) northern European resources v a global opposition.

But there's a reason that the word ersatz entered the anglo lexicon: so many German items were. From memory, everything from painkillers to rubber had to be fabricated rather than harvested.

And yes, break today's supply chains and we're in trouble, I believe. Three weeks of fuel. No domestic car manufacturing capability (because why would we need to think about retooling to a military capability when the US is on our side, right?).

In a way, though, I think Aus is better off than a place like the UK. I believe that if we could solve the fuel issue, we can at least feed ourselves. The UK's food supply chain is based on just in time from across Europe, North Africa and the Americas. Oops.

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wyvernsridge swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted July 24
1. I hope that Alvin Toffler's "War and AntiWar" is in your reference bookcase. TL:DR "Societies make war the same way they make money".
2. "Effects based Operations" or "Effects-based Strategy" depending on the level you are working on. lots of reading out there - good examples from WW2 - lots of more wonkish stuff from the US think tanks. The problem is how to do BDA (ie. "Bomb Damage Assessment) meaning how to check that your actions actually had the effect you envisaged.
3. If you ever get a chance to, talk to the author of the NRMA paper on Fuel Security in Australia (AVM John Blackburn Retd) - if you do, take your notebook, you'll need it!

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Frank Grillo is doing some really cool shit for Netflix

Posted July 8 by John Birmingham

I loved his last film about the getaway driver scammed into an underworld shakedown. This looks even better.

(And yes, I'm trying very hard not to post shit on Twiiter and da Book that should really go here. Which means everything).

5 Responses to ‘Frank Grillo is doing some really cool shit for Netflix’

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted July 8
Netflix has a budget B grade saturday matinee type alien invasion movie called ‘Beyond Skyline’ starring Frank Grillo that is quite enjoyable.

On the subject of Netflix Sci-Fi, there is a movie on Netflix called ‘Spectral’ with hard-nosed military people fighting supernatural beings. It didn’t get a cinema release because I think it was perceived as crap. It’s a quality entertainment if you like that sort of thing.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 9
Yeah, seen it. Top shelf B grade. Loved it.

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Thalesian reckons...

Posted July 15
Have you seen ARC on Netflix? It's a one-room 'time resets' movie, which is surprisingly riveting. Each reset has a different twist.
4-stars, would recommend

Thalesian asserts...

Posted July 15
Dammit... ARQ with a Q...

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted July 16
Yes, it was one of the first Netflix movies I watched. Very much enjoyed it.

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Listening to ZERO DAY CODE

Posted July 8 by John Birmingham

It's a weird thing, listening to somebody read something you've written. Not at all like re-reading it yourself. By the time a book is published I've usually read and re-read the manuscript so many times that I'm wordblind to it. It cant see errors. I an't really see anything any more.

But listening to Rupert Degas's reading of Zero Day Code for Audible was like encountering the story for the first time. That's often how it feels with audiobooks, at least for me. But the effect was exceptionally pwoerful with this title, probably because Degas is an exceptionally powerful reader. I'm in awe of how he manages to craft so many different voices. His Jonas Murdoch in ZDC is even better than the Jonas in my head when I write him.

<u>Jason Lambright has a nice post over at his blog</u> about the experience of listening to a book being akin to sitting by the camp fire with your favourite garrulous uncle.

I started listening last Friday and kept sneaking away form the family over the weekend to find more opportunities to revisit the story. It realy helped get my head back into the narrative world for book two. I think I'm gonna restart the narration and just keep replaying it until I've finished the draft of the new manuscript.

<u>If you're not an Audible listener, you've got about a year and half to wait for the paper and ebooks to come out. Or you could get yourself a free copy with a trial account, right here.</u>

13 Responses to ‘Listening to ZERO DAY CODE’

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted July 8
I've been so impressed with Degas' reading of ZDC. Not just for smashing it out of the park on characters like Jonas and Damo (OMG the Damo voice! *kisses fingers*) but C level characters like Mikey, Jonas' flatmate. Degas captures EVERYTHING you've written about Mikey in his voice; we know that while Jonas is biased in his contempt for Mikey, there's a solid foundation for that contempt because Mikey IS that contemptuous sort of guy. And all of that is conveyed through the voice Degas gave him, and all in a single scene. Just amazing.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted July 8
Yeah, I'm beginning to understand just how narration is a strange, obscure but utterly amazing ART form.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted July 8
i have this queued waiting for a day of burning blackberry canes and biddy bush (headphones in, a log to sit on and a bottle to sip and watch those buggers burn). I got sucked into audio books because of long car trips and the kids. Best thing to zone them out was to put on a book and let them get involved. The best ones were ones we could get into as well. Miriam Margolyes and her effort in Matilda was transforming. Simon Callow does a damn good job too. Then i got an audible account. But we also supplement with a library one. Current cracker is a YA fantasy by DM Cornish, Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling. Damn fine job they did on that one.. . . . but i just need that weekend to watch a fire burn whilst listening to the world burn : )

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted July 8
Have you got into Borrowbox? It's a library based audiobook app from Bolinda.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted July 9
Yeah Bolinda is the one our library uses . . . i think there is another one as well. We rack the kms up on the car living rural and the radio is always a constant battle: "i want to listen to this topic on RN, well we want to listen to music, no not that one the other one". Audiobooks are the sanity restoring middle ground.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted July 8
Listening to an audio book after having read is almost like experiencing a new book. I find that the voices I construct while reading are rarely the same as those on audiobooks. .
It's almost like experiencing a new book and with a skilled narrator such as Degas it adds another depth.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted July 8
It really is!

she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted July 8
My inner head 'canon' voices are nothing like Degas', so listening to this I've had a bit of "Oh! That's what Damo/Jonas/Mel/Rick sound like." Like it's official now that Degas has voiced them. It's weird but immensely pleasing all at once.

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Vovchara is gonna tell you...

Posted July 10
I honestly hope it will come out in written form. Audiobooks are just not for me. I was trying to listen for almost a week, just can't remember characters, and my imagination is also completely idle. Got through the first interlude, if you ask me what it was about I wouldn't be able to tell. Don't get me wrong, it is a good book, just need it in writing.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 10
It will eventually drop in print/ebook. But Audible bought exclusivity, so they get exclusivity. The upside is that when it expires in about 18 months, the entire series will be written. No waiting for sequels.

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Thalesian puts forth...

Posted July 15
Got a copy, listened to it, loved it.

I really thought Degas' accent work was well done, and the story itself was great.
Kudos.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted July 16
Cheers Guv

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Leftarc has opinions thus...

Posted July 29
Just bought the audible ZDC to listen to as part of a long weekend of driving and camping.
The narration and editting was very good. The book was great, and hand in hand there are several call outs I want to mention:
The introduction of Nomi was a curveball.
When the NSC tells you to eat your pancakes, eat your pancakes.
The epilogue was a nice little homage to the King.

Well done JB, Well done.

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