Showing posts from February, 2010

Save our Semicolons

I read somewhere that we don’t need the semicolon in fiction. The semicolon is a has-been, a left-over of the nineteenth century. Only gets in the way. Readers can’t hack it, it disrupts their race to the end. Editors don’t like it because writers don’t know how to use it.

But what if we don’t want to read to the pace of the average cops and robbers tale? If we don’t want to write the increasingly choppy rhythms of shorter and shorter sentences? This because most people seem to think that the semicolon can very well be replaced with a full stop. There can’t be just action action action. We also need the rhythms of a long lazy swell. We can’t have a storm on every page.

My primary informant on this issue is the Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, published in 1966, republished in 1992. The argument will probably be that the language has changed, and that we’ve moved on. Here we are already in 2010. Get used to it. Nevertheless …

'6.24 The semicolon separates parts of …

Non-Fiction: Deep Survival

I had an image here of the book, but Google in its wisdom has disallowed it. 

Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzales is one of my favourite books and one that I re read yearly. It's a perfect example of how reading can allow speculative fiction writers, with a bit of empathy imagination and plenty of extrapolation to write realistically about being caught by an avalanche on the Moon, being in a ski-ing accident on your nearest icebound planet--Pluto maybe--trouble at sea, perhaps on the methane seas of Venus?

Getting lost in mountains, how to get ready for take-off from an aircraft carrier, wherever you take that one, and the myriad other death defying situations necessary to their stories.

Deep Survival is a good read also because Gonzales is a good writer. Exciting. Fast-paced. Good first sentences, something I've been studying this week. Every action-packed instance is explained clearly and analysed with regard to physical and neurological influence…

A Novel: The Spell of Rosette

I’ve been very involved this week in The Spell of Rosette by Kim Falconer, a Voyager title published in 2009. Given the title and front cover illustration I was expecting fantasy. Even the back cover blurb does not give the secret away, speaking as it does of witches, spells, a shape-shifting high priestess, wolf-like Lupins and witch familiars such as Drayco the temple cat.

another missing image, Google's doing
It was when I read the prologue that my jaw dropped. JARROD is a sentient quantum computer? What’s a sentient, quantum, computer doing in a fantasy tale? Or is it science fiction? Science fantasy? A new cross-over genre?
Probably all of the above, with fantasy definitely in there too. Very comfortably under the speculative fiction umbrella, I quote from the back cover, Rosette is a child of two worlds: Gaela, steeped in magic, and an Earth choked with failing technology. The key to their survival is literally in her blood, a spell passed down through her family line to pres…

Inventing the World

The anthropological take on making a story resonates for me. As well as creating our own stories we do it in groups and families and tribes. We superimpose a grid of common knowledge and understanding on a landscape. In the far past we did this to enable our survival. It’s how, anthropologists tell us, early humans travelled the world – by making it part of their story as they traveled over it.

Now we do it because it’s in our genes. How often have you been told the way to somewhere like this? “Cross the street where Aunty Viva broke her leg. Watch out because cars don’t like stopping there.” In the past this kind of knowledge was told and retold. It became myths and legends. It became the instructions to get to the next waterhole.


Back at the story in the making - still no title - Evan swallows down his breakfast convulsively. It wanted to come up when he saw the eye of a string again, even more lurid than the previous day.  After all, as garbage-boy in his first job, he had to …