Category Archives: Opinion Piece

An open letter to the Australian fashion industry

Dear fashion industry: Just because it is summer doesn’t mean I want to show all my skin.

Please stop making every second blouse a ‘cold shoulder’ blouse. Only the young and fit look good in them, and they are useless outdoors in Australia – who wants sunburnt shoulders? I need a shirt that protects me from the sun.

Please stop skimping on the fabric for tops by stopping them at waist level length. I do not want to reveal my scarred tummy when I reach up for items in the supermarket. I do not want to have to pay for all the therapy for my fellow shoppers.

Please be aware that there is nothing more frustrating than finding a shirt I like, but it is only available in this year’s fashion colours, and I look ill in that very limited range of colours. Would it hurt to provide a larger range?

Australia has an aging population and an obesity problem. So how about designing clothes to flatter middle-aged, chubby women. Or I (and all my demographic) will be forced to shop in men’s clothing stores and you will lose money hand-over-fist.

No wonder I love cosplay…

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From my Facebook page

I wrote a long-winded post on Facebook, and suddenly realised that I should share this to the blog.

Rocket for SCIENCE

Reading ‘The Martian’ to understand the contrast between modern Science Fiction to the old school ‘hard’ science in fiction of ‘A for Andromeda’. I suddenly realise that there is a good reason why my mother hates Science Fiction, since she would have first encountered the over-technical ‘gosh, gee, SCIENCE!’ of the Forties and Fifties before the revolution of the Sixties caused by writers more interested in how people react to science than just the science. So many bad stereotypes.

At least ‘A for Andromeda’ tries to break away from cliches of the era and gives the women characters equal billing as protagonists and antagonists.

Yes, this is a sweeping generalisation. I do know that there are some very beautiful Science Fiction books written before the 1960s, that have fully developed characters and made sensitive observations of how science and technology could change lives. But they were the outliers. If you read the pulps from the Forties, there were rife with testosterone poisoning, but then, WWII probably influenced the tone of the era. It was an era of heroes fighting against impossible odds.

‘The Martian’ is all about fighting impossible odds. But the heroism is low-key. It is the humanity of our protagonist that defines him. Genre writing has moved away from being restricted by its genre and is moving into the realm of mainstream literature.

Yet, I’m still happy to sit down and watch ‘Rogue One’, which is all about explosions and white hats against black hats.

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Resisting Temptation

steampunk-book-as-vehicle

At the moment, I am trying to edit my Steampunk book and polish it so I can start sending it off to market. Except … I keep writing new short stories, and I finished a children’s book, and rewrote a creative nonfiction book about zombie bugs, all in the past nine months. As one of my writing compadres pointed this out to me at an informal get together, this isn’t getting my editing done.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am busy. But adding – and finishing – new projects is suspiciously like an active form of procrastination. It isn’t that I don’t love my Steampunk novel. It is just that the new projects are always just that bit shinier. Quicker to be completed and so quicker to send off to market. The structural edit seems to be dragging on, and I fear it is because I am dragging my heels.

Every time I dip into editing the steampunk manuscript, I want to add in new things. Should I blame my constant process and need for perfection? Normally, this means I am well and truly on top of a project. After all, I’ve complete books before this one. But I really want this one to be special. Magical! Absorbing! Detailed! Fascinating!

If I was listening to another writer complain about their need for perfection, I would be advising them to ease up and take it one step at a time. My staircase seems to be higher than the Empire State Building at the moment. Insurmountable!

At a meeting at my writers’ group, I did another chunking exercise today to try and get some control over the situation. All I ended up doing was coming up with some new (and excellent) ideas for adding foreshadowing to the first five chapters. *sigh*

Where will it all end?book-trunk

 

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Let’s Chat.

I haven’t visited the blog for a while because , for an unemployed, stay-at-home, my life is very busy. I have been sending off short stories and manuscripts with the goal of getting 100 rejections in this financial year. I write off applications for jobs (though I am beginning to think I am unemployable). And I write, of course.

Well, I have a bit of good news. One of my stories has been accepted for an anthology: Monsters Among Us, being published by Oscillate Wildly Press. This not only gave me a rosy glow of contentment, the acceptance letter had such treasures as “a strong plot, some magnificently striking imagery and immaculate prose structure”. I’m thinking of getting this tattooed on my arm, to cheer me up on those days I feel I can’t write a single decent word. I was pretty chuffed with “even at this early stage, a gripping page turner.”

This means my strategy to get 100 rejections is paying off. I got the idea from reading John Birmingham’s How to be a Writer, and a couple of other online writing blogs. If you don’t send off your work, you can’t get rejected … but you can’t get acceptances either.

supanova-gold-coast-2012

 

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What Orlando means to me, living here in Australia

The reason that the rainbow has become a symbol for sexualities other than straight, is because sexuality and gender are a spectrum, not a black and white phenomenon. A rainbow is a symbol of hope. It is a promise that – one day – there will be peace and acceptance. Today is not that day …alas.

As politicians rush to make political hay out of this tragic event in Orlando, let us remember that this tragedy wasn’t about politics, it was about hatred.  Hatred is born out of fear, and fear is born out of ignorance. He was an ignorant, fearful, hateful man who perpetrated this atrocity upon all those innocents. He felt threatened by the freedoms enjoyed by those precious young people who were dancing, and who were happy in a way he could not understand. So he washed that freedom away with bullets and blood.

The dead and maimed, and their friends and families, are not the only victims. The survivors will never be as carefree or happy ever again. The whole LGBTQIA community is shaken and more fearful than they were before the atrocity occurred in Orlando. This is community that is already under siege, fighting for their right to be accepted. They have to watch as haters gleefully celebrate the deaths of their innocent friends and relations.

Living in Australia, one might think it would be easy to put a comforting distance between this massacre and myself. Not true. To paraphrase John Donne:

Any person’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

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My Satisfaction and Disappointment in the 2016 Oscars

Jenny Beavan Oscar 2016

Jenny Beavan at the 2016 Oscars

Oh dear … my news accounts are full of the scandal that a woman didn’t dress up in a gown for the Oscars. There is a clip of men flinching away from her as she walks down to the stage to collect her Oscar. What is everyone’s problem. She dressed stylishly and for comfort, and I support her wholeheartedly. She designs costumes, that doesn’t mean she has to be a model for her designs. Not everyone likes to dress up in a ballgown (says the woman who wears trews to the Steampunk Charity Ball for two years in a row).For the haters … build a bridge and get over it.

The horror ... she isn't in a frock.

The Horror! She isn’t wearing a frock!

On the other hand, I’ve never been a huge fan of Leonardo DeCaprio. However, that might change after his awesome acceptance speech. This is a superhero move, using his powers for good. (I wasn’t too keen on his movie, but let’s ignore that.)

Leo

 

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Science as Hero and Villain

First posted on the HarperCollin’s Voyager Blog

A real scientist sees and considers all the facts…whereas a bad scientist deliberately ignores the facts that don’t support his or her theory.

Lynne Lumsden Green

Bad Science. Bad science infuriates me because it is so often used by Pseudoscientists to back up their pet theories. It is easy to make statements that sound valid and appealing, without having packing evidence. However, the supporters of pseudoscience, bad scientists, turn their backs on the truth and make facts jump through hoops. By blurring the truth, they give all science a bad name, so the honest, hardworking researchers are tarred with the same brush.

Over the years, I’ve brought up this issue before on the Science Page. I’ve shown how statistics can be manipulated or misunderstood, how small sample sizes can skew a result, how biases are formed simply by how a scientist picks a topic and design her experiment. This may have given you all, my readers, the incorrect impression that most scientific research isn’t something to be admired and supported. If I have, I do apologise; Science is always working to improve the human condition, improve society, and save the planet.

This isn’t because every scientist is a selfless individual devoting themselves to the greater good (though some are exactly that sort of person). Being a scientist is like any other job … just as a plumber follows the career path suggested by his or her education interest and abilities, so do most scientists. It’s a job. Some days are good days, when the boundaries of knowledge are expanding and a theory is finally proven, and other days are a dull slog through mountains of reference reading or results. It isn’t a job that suits every one; and you have brilliant and mediocre scientists just like in any other field of human endeavour.

But even a mediocre scientist shines like a diamond when compared to a bad scientist.

You see a lot of Bad Science on the internet as well, usually sprouting up on the Internet. And Bad Science hates proper science, because it might reveal the fallacies and inaccuracies in the pseudoscience rubbish. One of the things about haters is that they only see the facts that they want to see. They will shout down anyone who disagrees with them or questions them, and they are often much louder than the real deal. This high profile means that everyone hears about it when their claims are disproved. And so, because they paraded their ‘facts’ as science, the reputation of all scientists gets a little more tarnished. (I am ignoring here the actual Luddites who won’t even accept proven scientific facts.)

So, it is time we put Science back on its pedestal and the scientific community the recognition and respect it deserves.

Personally, I’ve always felt that the ordinary, everyday scientific advances have benefited women. Who has the most to gain from plumbing? It was the women who carried the water from the wells, heated the water for laundry, cleaning, washing and bathing, and scrubbed the chamber pots after throwing away the contents. Few men were ever involved in these chores; they probably thought it built character, or kept the women too busy to gossip, or some such patriarchal bunkum. However, a clever woman is very good at making a man think he has had a good idea. Like internal plumbing or flushing toilets…

Historically, Science has been womankind’s knight in shining lab coats. These days, Science provides all sorts of toys for the girls and boys.

This article was inspired by the Australian government’s decision to no longer have a Minister for Science. I don’t like to get too political, but I think that is quite a frightening step backwards for our clever country. It is up to us to keep Australia a clever country.

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