Saturday, August 18, 2012

Friends of Phyllis Wong

Phyllis Wong cover

Today, at The Children's Bookshop, Beecroft, Paul Macdonald introduced the irrepressible author Geoffrey McSkimming, of "Cairo Jim" fame, to a young audience who'd come to celebrate the start of Book Week with some magic! Geoffrey read from his new novel, "Phyllis Wong and the Forgotten Secrets of Mr Okyto", the first in a projected series of six books. His professional magic adviser on the book, Sue-Anne Webster, performed some wonderful feats with the help of members of the audience. There were autographs and collectible lapel badges for all!

Paul Macdonald introduces Geoffrey McSkimming
Paul Macdonald introduces Geoffrey McSkimming

Geoffrey 1

Geoffrey 4

Sue-Anne Webster

Geoffrey and Sue-Anne

Geoffrey's imagination
Author Geoffrey McSkimming is about to unleash his "Saturday imagination",
and magician Sue-Anne Webster prepares to catch it in a paper bag
at The Children's Bookshop. (For his weekday imagination, Geoffrey
would need a bigger container.)

Geoffrey 3whiteGeoffrey 2

A highlight of the event:
Geoffrey: "Any questions?"
Comment from audience: "What's behind that black cloth?"
Geoffrey: "Books I didn't write."

Monday, August 13, 2012

To kill a mockingbird in 2012

State Theatre - To kill a mockingbird
Old and new: 1963 Sydney premiere of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and today's presentation
at the same theatre (2012), to celebrate 100 years of Universal Studios.

Yesterday, I was off to kill a mockingbird. In glorious black and white.

What a coincidence that this movie played a reprise screening. I am deep into the original novel at the moment, in preparation for a course in creative writing with author Jeni Mawter, at the Sydney Writers' Centre, Milson's Point.

The State's publicity blurb said, "Screen legend Gregory Peck stars as courageous Southern lawyer, Atticus Finch - the Academy Award-winning performance hailed by the American Film Institute as the 'Greatest Movie Hero of All Time'. Based on Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about innocence, strength and conviction and nominated for eight Academy Awards."

And it was a great film. The little boy beside me was quaking in his seat, but watching through his hands. So much of the music was familiar, especially the suspense theme.

To kill a mockingbird (2012)

Prior to the screening of the main attraction, a b/w Cinesound newsreel from 1963 was shown. It started with the Christmas Parade of 1962, down the main street of Adelaide, then a gala day for the fire brigades, the triumphant return of the new Miss Australia to her home atate (SA), and included a festival on the Great Barrier Reef. Quote of the newsreel: "After [tennis champion] Rod Laver declares the [Great Barrier Reef] festival open, all the towns go gay."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

R.I.P. Gene DeWeese


Awww. Sad.

I just heard that "Star Trek" and science fiction novelist, Gene DeWeese, passed away last March.

If I recall correctly, Margaret Wander Bonanno (garamet on the TrekBBS message board) was a friend of his. Certainly, Gene himself briefly joined several conversations on the old Psi Phi bbs if/when anyone began discussing his books, sometimes only minutes after someone mentioned his name.

I swapped a few email exchanges with him about his contribution to "Star Trek" over the years. Always witty and chirpy. I'd really enjoyed the early "The Peacekeepers", the second orginal novel featuring "The Next Generation" characters, although "Chain of Attack", an original series novel, felt a little too techy to me; I was thrilled to notice it was actually a followup to Lee Correy's "Abode of Life". I know that, for many fans, "Chain of Attack" was their first original ST novel experience, being part of a major design rejig by Pocket Books - the first on shelves after the release of the much-hyped, international hit, "ST IV: The Voyage Home". "Chain of Attack" was released in the UK as Book #1 of a new publishing program (Titan Books).

For many ST fans, "Chain of Attack" is as revered as Vonda McIntyre's "The Entropy Effect". Or James Blish's "Spock Must Die!" Or Mack Reynolds' "Mission to Horatius".

The most memorable aspect of Gene's "The Final Nexus", a direct sequel to "Chain of Attack", was the feisty female guest character depicted on the cover, plus his very welcome reuse of Ingrit Thomson, the non-canonical female security officer shared by several other TOS writers of the day. "Renegade" I read, but don't really remember much about it now.

I do recall expressing my frustration, once, on Psi Phi, with how frustratingly dull and slow "Into the Nebula" was - so slow that I'd quite forgotten any details of the plot. To my initial embarrassment, Gene suddenly popped up - from a long bbs absence - to admit that he, neither, could remember anything about that novel's plot, except that the Enterprise-D crew went into a nebula.

Discussions by the regulars on Psi Phi and TrekBBS about the mysterious "Engines of Destiny" (listed in Steve Roby's online "Lost Star Trek books" archive after someone noticed several unpublished draft manuscripts that Gene had donated to a public library's reference collection), led to garamet summoning Gene to the bbs again to tell us more about it - and, ultimately, to then-Pocket editor Marco Palmieri reactivating Gene's contract to publish it.

R.I.P. Gene.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hold on to your pointed ears!

How does fifteen discs of soundtrack music from the original series of "Star Trek" sound?

For more about STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION, visit now and join the STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES SOUNDTRACK MAILING LIST to receive important forthcoming information and announcements regarding the release, such as the official release date, the number of units pressed, pricing and much more!

It is "licensed by CBS Consumer Products and produced in cooperation with GNP Crescendo Records, the longtime home of pioneering classic Star Trek television and film soundtracks. GNP Crescendo’s Neil Norman has allowed for episode scores previously and exclusively released by Crescendo to be newly expanded and remastered for this box set, in order to make the collection as comprehensive as possible."

How cool is that?