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Wipptee — an Australian rural romance

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A cozy mystery with a feisty enemies-to-lovers romance on the side.   A young woman wants a quiet life in a small country town, but her past crimes as an animal rights activist return to haunt her.  BUY EBOOK  Maddison returns to Australia after five years away, desperate for a happily-ever-after future with her husband. But Daniel is missing and wanted by the police. Maddie follows a lead to Rakali Springs, the town where everything first went wrong for her and Daniel. She receives a hostile reception, but the Brackton family, Grace and her four sons, are willing to give her a place to stay.   It doesn’t take long for Maddie to discover that everyone has an agenda. Grace, the family matriarch, is determined to end destructive land clearing on neighbouring Wipptee farm at any cost. Matthew guards his secrets well, Liam is sleazy and unpredictable, and Travis wants only regular work for his earthmoving business. Worst of all, Constable Theo Brackton never misses a chance to accuse, crit

Better sandcastles: the angle of repose

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My story, The Empty Quarter was inspired by the concept of the angle of repose. The angle of repose is a kind of tipping point. It's the highest slope that the pile can form without becoming unstable and beginning to slide, a point of balance. It's the reason why wet sand makes better sandcastles than dry sand — it has a much higher angle of repose. Image: Sandcastle, Dover Castle (cropped), Gaius Cornelius via Wikimedia, Creative Commons licence   Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International  ] [Read more about the science at  Wikipedia  ] What if one of the contaminants in sand was an alien species? What if, as a result, the sand dunes towered upwards at angles impossible back on Earth? In my story, the steep dunes cause an accident which is a turning point, a tipping point, for the people involved. Just like the angle of repose is a tipping point. But there's a second tipping point in my story, not for individuals but for the culture of the human colonists on my

The Empty Quarter (a short story)

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A science fiction short story about personal and ecological loss. What if your colony's glorious history was a lie? Two young surveyors travel into the desert dunes. It's been 500 hundred years since human colonists terraformed their planet. No signs of alien life have surfaced in all that time. But now, a tragic accident in the sands uncovers a long-buried secret. The early settlers lied, and the future is changed forever. A 2200 word short story. First published in 2018 in the Australian science fiction and fantasy magazine  Aurealis edition 115 , edited by Dirk Strasser. Newly published as an ebook.  BUY ebook   

Reading journal: Victory on Gallipoli and other what-ifs of Australian History edited by Peter Stanley

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Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2017 Date read: July 2018 I’m interested in alternate history. It’s a bit like studying history in reverse. In the study of history, the European approach is to examine primary sources to establish facts, and then retro-fit an interpretation onto that information. The interpretation changes as society and our current pre-occupations change. Alternate history is different. It postulates a change in “known” facts, then  tries to deduce what would have changed as a result. Of course some retro-fitted interpretation must still be present, but is usually not explicitly stated. In this volume, the authors do exactly this. I have a couple of complaints. Firstly, the events they have examined all fall into the traditional ‘famous men’ theme — military history, political events, and you guessed it, famous men. There are 24 stories, two are about women, and they are both political women (Vida Goldstein and Edith Cowan). Secondly, the interpretation. I

Reading journal: Exile by Glynn Stewart

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Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2018 Date read: August 2018 Competent science fiction tale from a solid professional writer. Isaac Gallant and a bunch of revolutionaries are exiled through a one-way wormhole to a distant galaxy, and must establish themselves on a new planet. But of course there are aliens, lots of them, and deadly dangers. Not a bad yarn. I’ll read any sequels. Great cover.

Reading journal: Ishmael by Barbara Hambly

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Genre: Science fiction Published: 1985 Series: Star Trek novels Date read: November 2018 Lovely book, almost worn out due to multiple reads. This is a cross-over book that cleverly meshes two TV series, the original Star Trek with Kirk and Spock, and Here Come the Brides , set in frontier Seattle. It has everything—evil Klingons, time travel, amnesia, gambling scenes set in old San Francisco, and romance. Barbara Hambly is a great writer and did a wonderful job with this book. Highly recommended for action, adventure, and scifi lovers and old 1960s TV tragics like me.

Reading journal: Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up by Gabrielle Chan

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Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2018 Date read: September 2018 Gabrielle Chan is a journalist who lives up the road from me, in Harden, New South Wales. This interesting book pulls apart the social structure of a country town and explores the point of view of people who feel unrepresented in Australia’s political system. It’s true that highly educated city dwellers find it hard to see things from a rural perspective. It’s a two-way street though. And Harden is only an hour away from Canberra. People travel between these towns all the time; in fact, many rural people are highly mobile, following work opportunities more than city people may do, and often have family all over the place. I enjoyed the book but was not totally convinced by the arguments. Governments in recent times have ignored everyone except their mates, and some of those mates were well-heeled country people. The argument is more one of connections, opportunities and funding than location, I think.