Cheeseburger Gothic

First of the freebies roll out

Posted February 2, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

After test firing the system early this week, I pushed the big red button on the mailing list today. Everyone who signed up for it should be getting their first letter with a link to a free copy of Here be Monsters over the next day or so. The release is staggered because Mailchimp's software decides when you are most vulnerable to my approach.

It's nice to see the book out in the wild, even though the story has been published before. It's not just a tease for the mailing list. Monsters was a test run for me, to shake out the process of releasing titles without a major publisher behind them. I learned something at every stage.

The next big step is to release Cairo. I'm looking at mid-March for that and then monthly releases of the other Stalin's Hammer titles and the new Dave Hooper books through until September.

I do have some real anxiety about this.

Not so much about the whole scheme failing. I have readers. They buy my books. I love them with a deep, physical intensity for this. But I also have trade publishers who are important, and I hope they can see the sense in me walking this path. By building the list I build a marketing machine to sell their books. By publishing new works in the original trilogies, they'll sell more of their backlist too.

And bottom line, I just couldn't make ebooks work across multiple contending publishers. The slot machine only pays out when you have one title released by one publisher, globally, simultaneously, at the same price. It really wasn't fair to my local ebook publishers either. Momentum, the Pan Mac imprint, would do all the work on a manuscript, take all the risks and then find themsevles locked out of 97% of the English language market.

I felt guilty even sending them manuscripts.

So, bottom line, there are new books coming in all the old storyworlds – Axis of Time, the Disappearance, Hooper – but I'm doing them myself, to industry standard, while still working on mass market trade published fiction.

Anyone who hasn't signed up to the list and would like to, can do so here: http://eepurl.com/bxdqjP

And anybody who feels like writing a review of Monsters has somewhere to go now.

67 Responses to ‘First of the freebies roll out’

balri would have you know...

Posted February 2, 2016
I read the first few pages and I like where it's going

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JG ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2016
Thank you very much, John.
Very generous of you. I'll read Here Be Monsters over the coming week or two. Ta also for the link to post a short 88-word review at Amazon, which I'll write pronto, once I'm done reading.
Cheers.
Joanna




JG has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
Done and dusted. Review posted.
Joanna

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Jbtoo ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2016
I am not worthy, but I am appreciative and I will read and review

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted February 2, 2016
I have successfully deployed the weapon in this theatre of operations but gmail wouldn't let me reply to tell you so.

Btw. I loved it. More at some stage would be good if the schedule allows.


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pmacleod swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
Ripping yarn. I would not normally read a zombie story but this was great. Almost like a Hornblower novel with a bit of scifi. Keep sending out teasers like this and I will buy the ebooks immediately you post them for sale.Thanks for a great read.PM

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Sharpy mumbles...

Posted February 2, 2016
System worked well. Cheers Guv

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 2, 2016
I can feel an epic *squeeee* coming on. Apparently Mailchimp thinks I'll be most vulnerable to your approach at 10am while at work, which oddly enough is pretty accurate.

I'm looking forward to fleeing my workplace and consuming this bad boy, then I shall write an 88 star review per my Master's instructions. Thanks JB!

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted February 2, 2016
Still a whacking good read. ( I have the original bookmarked in my browser)
I actually never expected the next part of this universe to be about their escape from Sydney.
I always imagined a longer novel where American rebels sneak into Sydney to try and find some future tech or knowlege to fight the British Empire with so that they can be independent again. Perhaps with some French supporters.

ShaneAlpha puts forth...

Posted February 2, 2016
and obviously Rhino and Boylan are involved.

Rhino mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2016
Obviously

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Peter in the bleachers asserts...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good through the dreaded IPad. Gmail said it arrived at 12.59 am. Bit early to start reading at that time! Thanks for trying something new JB. Looking forward to Cairo. Any chance of Branch McKinnon ever re-appearing in one form or another?

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted February 2, 2016
All good downloading to the heathen Nexus 7 into the Kindle app. I'll try to read soon and also come up with an appropriate set of 88 words, although my pile of shame is building up, if such a thing is possible on a tablet as it doesn't increase in height. Still have my Dan Carter biography to start, and if that can't get me going, what will?
Actually I have a vague plan to obtain, if possible, a set of biographies for numbers 1 to 22 of the 2015 world champion All Blacks.

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Sparty mutters...

Posted February 2, 2016
Forgot how good the "voice" and framing device in this story is. Review left. Steampunk next?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 2, 2016
Why not? Stoke the boilers!

GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted February 5, 2016
My lawyers are watching closely for any appearance of a U-Boat.

Mind you when I say 'my lawyers' I mean the guy PNB recommended knew their way round alternative history copyright lore.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2016
My influence on the Scribe is nill. I forcefully instructed JB to depict
Professor X Boylan as a tall and handsome babe magnet. I was quite
firm in my demand. It didn't happen.

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2016
Received.
Read.
Reviewed.
2 reviews shown on Seppo Amazon as of this morning. Mine was first (of course) and a second 5-star appeared overnight.
When you review don't forget to pimp the mailing list.
Birmo - action item for you is to get a link to sign-up on CBG. Probably in the works.
Waiting with breathe abated for #TheDave fanfic. Should do something similar for The Disappearance for late 2016. I need an excuse to return to Rhino, Agent of Echelon. LOL.
And does anyone want to read the continuation of Mutph's nuptial weekend ... The continuation of The Bachelor Party?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
I would. But only if I appear as a character in the story - a handsome, tall, sexually attractive gentleman with a full head of hair obscuring his otherwise pronounced saggital crest.

And I need to smell good. That is very important to me.

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I have read and reviewed oh Captain my Captain! If only Amazon would allow ratings of more than 5 stars. SOOO limited Bezos, get your act together!

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Surtac puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
A technical question about the book John if I may.

Does it have an ISBN or ASIN or some other pesky cataloguing id? It would make it much easier to add to Librarything if it did.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
It has both, 'Tac.
ASIN B01BBJPZI0ISBN: 9781311903174
Both numbers get assigned after submission, which is why you don't find them in the book.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
Enjoyed it again. Love the Tench voice.

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
OFF TOPIC - can PNB or Murph explain a couple of things? Why do the caucuses in Iowa & New Hampshire matter? And what is it about Ted Cruz that people in Iowa would find so appealing? Ta.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
They matter because they are the first states where real people have to make an actual decision, and because of something elusive and possibly illusory that is coveted by the political class called "momentum" - aka "the Band Wagon Effect."

The people in Iowa who find Ted Cruz appealing are fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist under educated corn farmers who want nothing more than to replace American civil law with Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Ted Cruz pretends to be an fundamentalist pseudo christian neo fascist who wants to replace American civil law with Leviticus and
Deuteronomy. And he pretends to admire corn farmers.

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pitpat has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
Thanks JB, crazy brave hope it all works out. Unfortunately I am one of the very few who uses kindle app on a windoze phone as my primary digital fiction device and after faffing around with it for a couple of minutes realize I will need to get a third party app. Not a biggie, I will sort it out when after I get through some work. Might just be the excuse I need to get a half decent tablet. Cheers and Beers ( or rum in this case)

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
You're that guy?! I wondered who that was.

pitpat puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
I just like to support the little guy who is being monstered.

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Gutz puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
Was going to write something insightful but only the word pisscutter comes to mind!

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DarrenBloomfield reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
"What Hell is this, sir?"
Sydney.
I knew it. I FKN knew It!!!
Darren (in Melbourne).

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
Jeez, the exchange rate is crap. I put in 88 stars at Amazon, and only got 5 up on the site.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I blame Vargas Llosa.

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jennicki ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
Just signed up for my copy!
*evil laugh* Smithers, grab the crochet blanket with the least amount of holes, and some sort of chocolate delight. It is time for the zombie lit.

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NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
Huzzah

Huzzah for the scribe. Only criticism; far to short. I was just getting into the swing and it was over. Like when a hooker or therapist says "times up." I guess one doesn't get much in exchange for one's immortal soul these days.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2016
Not your soul anyway.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
It's sad really. There was a time when you'd get good drinking money for NBlob's immortal soul.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016
Don't listen to them, Blob. I can get you top dollar for your soul, and my commission for arranging the sale will be very reasonable.

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dweeze reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I read it. I enjoyed it heaps. I went to post a review. And got this:
"To submit a customer review: you need to use an Amazon account that has successfully been charged for a purchase."
I'm so tight that I never fed the beast of Bezos before...and I aint gunna start now. But, I will promote the link elsewhere.

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sibeen reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
I find it nearly beyond comprehension this attempt to butter me up with with freebie. Look, I know this would work on bottom feeding scum, that Boylan for instance, but an upstanding member of the community like myself - I feel sullied.
Note this may be as I'm in Canberra this week on an urgent job. I just don't have time to be faffing around, and won't get to this until next week.
SOB.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2016
Being bottom feeding scum has its perks. I got a free book! And today I'm going to get a free lunch when I tell my mate that I "accidentally" left my credit card at home.

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ChrisB asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
Got my email this morning. Been smiling all day. Thx JB!

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GhostSwirv mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2016

"A thing that might be dreamed of by a Wren in the grip of opium"

JB you are a genius ... and using the Coat Hanger as a zombie bungee-jumping staging post was just delightfully inspired.

Much more please ... Captain Tench is my new favourite.



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Miss Maudy is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
Ahhh the serendipity... I'd just closed the Kobo on my last read and was pondering what to read next, when what should pop into my inbox but a missive from JB. Click here and your reading decision is solved. Excellent work and timing, sir.

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John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2016
I'm really curious as to why Mailchimp decided to send Miss Maudy and ChrisB's letters 24hrs after everyone else. Resumable it's firing these things off according to some algorithm.

Miss Maudy would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
Oh, it arrived Tuesday I think. I was forced to do housework on Tuesday night because my minions had no clean undergarments meaning no playing on the internets for me. It wasn't until last night that I discovered it - it went to my real-life email as distinct from my futzing around on the interwebs email.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
@ Miss Maudy - best comment yet. Beautifully evocative. Sincerely. Please don't ever imagine your existence is mundane. We are made richer that, when you play on the internets, you spend some time here.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016
JB, that's what happens if you get Tony Abbott to do work for you ... oh, sorry ... wrong male chimp.

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she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
I will confess to a fatal to felines level of curiosity about how Captain Tench managed to woo and wed the kickass chick he rescued from the Opera House. How on earth an upright 18th century gentleman from a time where universal suffrage was the stuff of dreams and women were merely property managed to reconcile his upbringing and societal values with a gun toting 22nd century feminist would be fascinating to discover.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2016
Yes. Yes it would.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted February 5, 2016
Mz She-Jedi, I can only speak from personal experience but I'd guess it went something like;
This chick is So Fricken Awsm that I will lay down everything to have her at my side.
What I'd be more interested to work out is what He "brought to the table" that wooed her. I hope it isn't something as mundane as a high status protector for her & Thomas, but you know chicks are often more calculating when it comes to the care & protection of offspring. I also hope she doesn't have a *thing* for Mr D'arcy & Jane Fricken Austen.

GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted February 5, 2016
The only way we'll ever know how Captain Tench captured the heart of his good lady wife Jennifer and the trust of her son Thomas would be for someone like She_Jedi, JG or ShaneAlpha to put their not so delicate thoughts into words.

Or JB you could just get PNB, Havoc and Rhino to ghost-write it like you usually do.

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted February 6, 2016
NBlob I heartily agree on the high status protector thing, AND the laziness of a Jane Austen fetish. And that's writing as someone who has developed a Pavlovian response to Colin Firth in a wet shirt from the first time I saw that version of Pride and Prejudice.

GhostSwirv, I had not choice but to accept your challenge. I can't begin to write in Tench's voice, so I had to take a more neutral narrative. Hope this helps:

Captain Tench was staring at his mother again. Thomas felt sorry for him; the captain usually stared at his mother with a look that could only be described as baffled admiration. “Poor Tench,” Thomas thought with slightly malicious sympathy. “He’s got it bad.”

“Do you think my mum’s hot?” He sidled up and asked the captain innocently. Right on cue a look of instant concern crossed Tench’s face as he turned to look at Thomas.

“I... Is the heat distressing her?” Tench asked doubtfully, swinging back to look at Jennifer, who looked considerably cooler and unruffled by the suffocating heat of Sydney in January than did the captain, clearly dissolving in the heavy wool and linens of his uniform. “Perhaps she’d like a parasol to shade her? I’m sure one of the ladies would have a spare.”

Thomas started to laugh at the misunderstanding, then sobered at the politely baffled expression on Tench’s face. “Not, hot, as in the weather,” he explained. “But...” and here his ten year old vocabulary started to fail him. “You like her, right?”

Tench’s face brightened. “Oh yes, I admire Madam Jennifer greatly. She’s an extraordinarily brave and resourceful woman. You must be very proud to be her son.”

“Um, yeah. She’s awesome.” This wasn’t going quite the way Thomas had expected. He WAS proud that his mum was a total kickass gun toting super babe, although that dive into the harbour with an army of the walking dead after them may have taken ‘total kickass’ a tad too far. It was Thomas’s turn to brighten, as inspiration struck. “Even before the zombie apocalypse, all my friends thought she was a total MILF.”

“A what?” Tench gave Thomas that look that adults do, when they don’t know the meaning of the lingo, but they know there’s something suspicious about it.

“Oh yeah,” Thomas was warming to his subject. “That was a couple of years ago though. She appreciates a man who thinks she’s still got what it takes to be one. You should go talk to her about it.”

“Oh.” Tench looked apprehensive. “A... MILF, you say?”

she_jedi reckons...

Posted February 6, 2016
And part two:

Jennifer had finished cleaning her gun and was scrounging through a bucket of spare bullets to reload it, when a shadow fell over her. She looked up, to find Captain Tench hovering at her elbow with an open parasol that was suddenly shading her, and proffering a hip flask. She reluctantly took the vessel from him and took a cautious sip. It was water, which briefly disappointed her, although she’d swear she tasted a trace of leftover rum.

She raised an eyebrow at the captain, wondering what this latest bout of chivalry was about. She knew he meant well, but damn this boy had some strange ideas at times.

“Master Thomas was concerned that you were feeling the heat,” he explained, waggling the parasol in explanation. “And I tried to get you some milk, but the goats still haven’t recovered from the journey. Although, I’m not sure how milk would assist with relief from the effects of this weather....”

“Milk?” Jennifer repeated in astonishment. “What made you think I’d want milk?”

“Well, Master Thomas said that even before the advent of the Scourge, all his friends thought you were.... now what was the phrase?”

Jennifer froze as a sudden wave of rage overtook her. “He didn’t say ‘MILF’ did he?”

“Why indeed! I believe that was the phrase.” Tench stopped at the look on her face, and took a step backward as Jennifer got to her feet and advanced on him.

“Tell me EXACTLY what my son said to you,” she demanded.

“Er...” Tench clearly knew something was up, and clung to the bro code a second too long before he quailed at the look on her face. “He inquired as to whether I believed you to be ‘hot’....”

That meddling, shit stirring little twerp. She should have tossed him in the harbour and left him there.




Tench stared in baffled astonishment as the murderous look on Jennifer’s face suddenly lost focus, and she turned away.

“THOMAS!” She called for her child in a shout that would have done a Highland Grenadier sergeant proud, in that it carried clear across the encampment, with just the right mix of a summons and an inherent threat of extreme violence should that summons be ignored.

“Will you excuse me Captain?” Jennifer asked, taking the parasol from him and closing it. In her hands it suddenly acquired a more sinister shape. “I need to talk to my son.”

“Of... of course, Madam,” he replied, bowing to her, and then executing a retreat that was definitely bordering on hasty, but not yet tipping over into undignified. He took back all the instances that he ever thought the women of his own time were baffling enigmas. They had nothing on the mystifying Gorgon that a woman of the 22nd century was capable of becoming.

GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted February 6, 2016

Excellent prose She_Jedi ... how indeed will Tench overcome a meddling Thomas to win the heart of fair maid Jennifer?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 7, 2016
Filed under U for Useful.

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Steve asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
I was hoping Samuel Marsden (the flogging parson) would make an appearance. Nothing like a good dose of violent sadism for those thrice-damned zombees.
Love your work.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
He's a good pick for the sequel.

AKM. has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2016
<pricks up ears> .....Sequel....? Noice. Swoit; even.

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nick mutters...

Posted February 5, 2016
i loved it , although i can imagine writing in the voice of Tench would make life hard for you.be very interesting to do the story from other characters view points , almost like a oz version of world war z , uptimers , aboriginals , french explorers who may sail past ect . perhaps lotsa opportunities for fan fic , although i would not horrify you with my spelling / grammar....again thanks heaps

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DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5, 2016
I really enjoyed it. Thanks.

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AKM. would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2016
Received my copy, much obliged. Privileged to be in on the ground floor of such an adventure.
The evolution of publishing- 'tis a wonderful thing to watch.

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JG puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2016
Hi. Just wondering if others can see all the reviews for Here Be Monsters. Last week there were seven (when I posted mine up on 2 Feb), but today I could only see one there (one by Peter O, posted 8 Feb). Strange. Was looking forward to reading all the reviews - all five star reviews.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2016
Huh! That's weird.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2016
disappeared for me too

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TL has opinions thus...

Posted February 17, 2016
Haven't read it yet but blown away by the audacity and effort of the whole venture (um, hope it works out). Even for a novella that's a serious amount of time invested. Will buy a paid book to assuage feelings of guilt.Confession: I only occasionally stumble across Cheeseburger Gothic but do you have a more detailed outline of the Kafka-esque mess that online publishing seems to be? (If not, blog post topic suggestion?)Cheers

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MuttsInc ducks in to say...

Posted February 23, 2016

Got my copy today (thank you) and did a security scan on the computer (no malware installed or hacking tools piggy-backed in) and still have some (small, insignificant) amount of money in my bank account and all my naked pictures (and yours) remain on file.

Not that I'm untrusting; if everything was free we could all stop this 'work' shit and get drunk(er). That's not it at all.

I was reading your scribing's on feeling physical love for your readers; I looked over at my bookshelves, saw the spine of Weapons of Choice and my balls did this weird little retraction thing in my pants. Dunno if they were happy or freaked out, but I thought you should know before you write anything else about free and love.

Sir, thank you for the literature, my apologies for what's beyond my control.

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MuttsInc puts forth...

Posted February 29, 2016

Just finished reading Here Be Monsters; thank you the freebie.

How I (personally) differentiate 'good writing' from a 'good story' : The inside of my skull becomes one of those small plastic dioramas - the liquid filled ones depicting a fixed scene (usually contains tiny pseudo-snowflakes) that when shaken, allow the contents to swirl around before settling slowly upon the base.

When I read Monsters, the floor of my head was Sydney Harbour, and I stood on the ship's deck. The sky was a dome (as is the inside of my head and the aforementioned diorama) and the writing painted pictures; sound and smells were added; emotions made manifest and I didn't know which direction to turn, such was the spectacle - a problem solved by the narrator. I was inside the diorama, and it was somewhat of a surprise to discover that Sydney Harbour fits quite comfortably inside my head.

That's not being pretentious and I hope your pockets don't smell of urine when they dry out.

Simply saying "I enjoyed it" seemed rather pithy and abrupt; especially considering for a short time there, I actually was a member of the ship's crew (though nobody passed me a shot of rum, more's the pity)

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