Thursday, April 3, 2008

what's happening

Hi all,

Well let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. The catscan of my father’s brain revealed some broken small blood vessels which indicate he has suffered a series of small strokes, hence his current lousy memory and difficultly in putting words together when speaking. He called a bag a book the other day, and couldn’t remember the names of his brothers and sisters and his birthplace when asked by a memory nurse who visited. He also couldn’t remember how to turn on the gas heater, something he has done thousands of times before.

For those out there who smoke, let this be a warning: my father never drank and was very good cricketer and footballer when young and still very fit into his fifties, playing golf and walking and riding a hike for hours, but he smoked a pack a day until he gave up in his mid-forties. His heart started acting up in his late fifties and he had to have a heart bypass operation and a pacemaker installed. He should have taken more care when out in the sun because he had to have a large cancerous growth removed from his neck in his early seventies. After he had recovered from all the anti cancer drugs they made him take and radiation therapy, he got shingles, which really knocked him around. Now this. The joys of getting old. I try not to think that this is what I’ve got to look forward too. But it is motivating me to get fitter.

The Private hospital rang the day after my father had been in the Base Hospital, asking where he was as he was late for an appointment made by the Base Hospital to check his pace-maker, pity the Base Hospital had not told him or my mother. He went, they checked it and it was working fine. My father’s doctor said that he most likely collapsed because of a combination of low blood pressure and dehydration. Both me and my mother are sure the Wang Base Hospital told us the problem was high blood pressure. So I continue to be totally unimpressed by the Wang Base Hospital. If you are wondering, my father was admitted as a private patient to the Wang Base Hospital, which is why they probably kept him for eight hours before suddenly deciding he was okay, to get paid! Well the Wang Base Hospital wont be getting any more donations from my father for a while.

On a lighter note, I was totally sucked in by an April Fool Day’s joke on the Pet Dragons game on Facebook. The game is a little five minute time waster that I usually fiddle with every day - so I have a bit of a commitment to it - and when I got a message that my dragon, Kevin (named after Australia’s glorious leader), was about to come under attack by 14 different dragons I thought he could die and lose all of his gold. So I quickly sent him on a shopping spree - yes dragons shop, they shop for things like potions and armour - and spent as much as he could so the evil attacking dragons would get very little for their efforts. I only realised that the application is American based and it was still April Fool’s Day there the next day, when all the attacks had miraculously failed to eventuate. I was extremely careful with my gullibility for the rest of the day.

I am reading the Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, volume 3, published in 2007, and full of stories published in 2006, and I am starting to wonder whether a family member or relative of one of the editors died last year as out of the 9 stories I have read, in a collection of 11, four have had dying or the afterlife as a major element. So far there has only be one story with science fiction elements, and I would call it more of a science fiction/fantasy story, so either 2006 was a bad year for Australian Sci-fi, or the anthology editors could not get the rights to a lot of stories or the editors have very different tastes to mine. I read vol 2 in the same series and remember it as a much better collection - mainly because of the lead off story "Singing me Down", by Margo Lanagan, incidentally also about death, this time a very stylised execution.

I rejoined in the hope of critiquing more science fiction. Most of the writing on the Sydney based Infinitas, which I am a member of, is fantasy. Not that I mind critiquing fantasy, as I have read and critiqued quite a bit of it and I am currently reading Fatal Revenant by Stephen Donaldson, the eighth book in his Chronicle of Thomas Covenant series. I want to critique more science fiction because I know that helps my own understanding of what works and doesn’t in science fiction. Incidentally one of the main characters in the chronicles is dead, he may be an omnipresent god like entity - sort of like Buffy - but he is dead. What’s up with all the dead characters? Should I start writing a science fiction novel where everyone is dead? Well now that I think of it, the last second last science fiction story I critiqued was set on a world where everyone was dead. Is this glut of death because most writers of speculative fiction are old and worried what will happen when they die?

I have a theory about Americans and their fascination with death shown by the popularity of crappy TV shows like Medium and Ghost Whisper and other not so bad shows like Dead Like Me and The Collector, and with that best selling book The Bones... (I forget the title) about a teenage murder victim looking down on her family from heaven, and their willingness to be sucked in by utter frauds like John Edwards and co. I think deep down Americans know they have stuffed up the world and live selfish greedy lives and they are hoping to hell that they don’t end up in hell. This is why some are seeking other alternatives like John Edwards while most of the rest hope they can buy their way into heaven by attending church.

Well that’s enough for today. Time to do some writing, and I have still written every day of this year.


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