January 26, 2012
We were in Wollongong, New South Wales, for Australia Day in 2006, and it remains one of my most vivid memories from our year in Australia. It was a great day — heaps of fun. Amusement park rides and a crafts fair at the waterfront, good food, some interesting entertainment, and then, once the sun went down, a spectacular fireworks display supplemented by fire-eaters and people juggling torches. It was reminiscent of Fourth of July celebrations here in the States, and yet it was thoroughly Australian and different from anything I’d experienced before. Wonderful times.
To all of my friends Down Under, Happy Australia Day! Hope it’s a great one!
September 3, 2009
Dave Freer, a fine writer and one of my friends on SFNovelists, is undertaking a major move from his home in South Africa to Australia. The move is a complicated one, particularly because Dave and his family have many pets, and the cost of transporting them and getting them through Australia’s stringent pet quarantine is substantial. As a way of raising money for the move, Dave has started an online story project. Please visit the site and check out his work. http://savethedragons.nu/
April 2, 2009
Today I have another guest post up, this one at the blog of my friend Alan Baxter, an Australian speculative fiction writer and all around great guy. His blog can be found at http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/. So stop by Alan’s site, read the post, and enjoy!
February 10, 2009
During our year in Australia we spent nearly three weeks — glorious weeks — exploring the state of Victoria. We drove the Great Ocean Road, we visited Ballarat and spent several days in the lovely town of Healesville. (The picture is from a cottage we stayed at in the Yarra Valley, just outside of Healesville.) The people we met there were kind and welcoming; the landscape was beautiful, at times breathtaking.
Watching the news for the past several days, seeing the devastation caused by the wildfires that are sweeping across that same landscape, we have grieved for those who have died and for all who have lost their homes. We share the pain of so many who have had their lives destroyed as the fires have spread, and we despair at the great harm done to this magnificent part of a country we consider our second home.
To all in Victoria, and throughout Australia, you are in our thoughts and our hearts.
January 22, 2009
Alan Baxter is a friend of mine from Australia who has recently published his second book, MageSign. I first met Alan at the Magic Casements Speculative Fiction Book Festival in Sydney, Australia back in early 2006, and we hit it off from the start. He has a great sense of humor and a thoughtful approach to his craft. He also has followed an interesting career path thus far that should be of interest to new writers everywhere. Recently I asked Alan a few questions about his approach to writing, his novels, and his life:
December 14, 2008
So, been a few days. Had to focus on the rest of life for a little while there, Every year Nancy and I throw a big party — an Australian Christmas Party. What makes it Australian? you ask. Well, in Australia, Christmas is a summer holiday. It’s hot and sunny, and the year we were there we spent Christmas at the beach eating shrimp and fresh strawberries, boogie-boarding in the waves, and playing cricket. So we get a ton of shrimp, we get Tim-Tams and Mint Slices (our two favorite Aussie cookies), as well as a ton of other food (cheeses, satay chicken, chips, etc.) we have our friends bring plonk, and we light a fire in the fireplace and crank up the heat so that people will come in shorts and t-shirts and be comfortable, despite the 30 degree (Fahrenheit) weather outside. Great fun. But also a lot of work. So I spent the last half of the week shopping for food, as well as for holiday gifts for family. Then yesterday we were getting the house ready for dozens of guests. And, well, blogging and work kind of fell by the wayside.
The party was last night, and it was a great success. And now I can get back to work for a week before traveling for the holidays.
August 12, 2008
On July 30, Nancy, the girls, and I hiked the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park. We got up early to avoid some of the heat (at least as much as you can in the Utah desert) and took all of the side trails so that we wouldn’t miss a single arch. It was a terrific hike — six miles or so through some of the most beautiful country you can find anywhere in the world.
Five days later, one of the largest of the Devils Garden arches, Wall Arch, collapsed. No one was injured, thank goodness, and no one actually saw it fall. But at dusk on August 4th it was there. The next morning it was gone. All that was left was a pile of rubble and two very unstable rock spurs on either side. That part of the trail is now closed until the rest of the arch falls and the danger of falling rock is passed.
We were lucky that we got to see the arch at all — my photographs of Wall Arch are probably among the last ever taken. Sure it was five days. But in geological terms, we missed the collapse by the blink of an eye.
In a way, this was a very sad event in the history of the park, which has long been one of my favorites. (I first visited Arches in 1985, returned there in 1987, and then finally got back again this year.) Each of the arches is like a museum piece: unique, irreplaceable. On the other hand, the fall of Wall Arch is illustrative of something fundamental to the personality of this park, and, in a larger sense, the entire Moab area. The desert appears static at first glance. It’s rock and sand and stunted trees. But Arches and Canyonlands, as well as Zion and Bryce and Capitol Reef and all those other desert parks in southern Utah are constantly changing. Wind, rain, snow, temperatures that range from winter lows in the single digits to summer highs in excess of 110 degrees are continually reshaping the landscape. When you look at the fragile beauty of Landscape Arch, the graceful curve of Delicate Arch, the complexity of Double Arch, you start to realize that these things could come down at any moment. It’s not surprising that Wall Arch fell. What’s truly amazing is that these others are still standing. The same processes that created the arches destroy them. And these same forces are constantly creating more arches. That’s a slower process, of course, but it’s happening all the time.
For my Aussie friends, it’s much like the collapse of one of the 12 Apostles a few years back. We got to the Ocean Road too late to see that one, and also too late to see London Bridge (another coastal rock formation) in its original glory. Those cliff faces are constantly eroding. There will be more apostles to replace those that are lost.
I’m sad that the arch is gone, that I’ll never see it again. But I also find it reassuring in a way. I want to go back to Arches — I intend to return there again and again. It’s kind of cool to know that a place that seems to be utterly static year after year, is actually changing all the time.