Liz @ Continuum

Continuum is a fan-run Australian convention taking place in Melbourne over the long weekend from June 8 to 11. I’ve co-programmed it for the second year in a row, and I’m extremely excited about the line-up of stuff we have happening.

Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday | 7pm – Very Disco

Star Trek: Discovery brings the venerable franchise into the 21st century, with more ambiguity, serialised storytelling and fungus than previous iterations. Let’s talk tropes, tribbles and Klingon subtitles.

There is an approximately 100% chance I will be talking about Katrina Cornwell. But also gatekeeping, angry man-boys, and what “real” Star Trek looks like.

Sunday | 11am – Fannish Legal Shenanigans

OH&S on the Enterprise; suing Hogwarts for child endangerment; is that unicorn endangered?

I’m on this panel because (a) it was my idea; (b) I wrangle barristers for a living, so my whole life is legal shenanigans.

Sunday | 4pm – Out in the Open

Fan fiction used to be hidden away, subject to takedown notices, and sometimes kept secret from friends and family. Now there are successful mainstream novels about fic writers and readers, and some creators allow writers to earn money from their work. Is this legitimisation or exploitation? What has been gained and what’s been lost in the process?

This is a really interesting issue, and I’m looking forward to talking about it.

Monday | 11am – One Star

How to handle negative reviews — as an author and as a reviewer. Some forums, especially GoodReads, can foster an “Us versus Them” mentality. What’s the professional and respectful way to approach critical reviews?

So one thing I’ve found really interesting is the evolution of the idea that you’re either a reader or an author, and the two categories are mutually exclusive.

Outside of these times and places, I can probably be found lurking around the reg desk, or sitting in other people’s panels, or napping under the table in the committee room.

(If you find me in that last place, and you’re not on committee, well, that will raise some questions.)

Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)

Australian film heresy: I’ve never seen Peter Weir’s 1975 adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock. I’ve read the novel, by Joan Lindsay, several times, but mostly because I like boarding school fiction. The movie has always been on my “one day I’ll watch that” list.

But I was intrigued enough by Foxtel’s new six-episode adaptation that, to my flatmate’s dismay, I signed up for a Foxtel Play trial to stream it.

(Sidebar: Foxtel Play’s streaming quality is quite good, but every time I opened the app on our TV, The Bolt Report would come blaring out. No one needs Andrew Bolt and Peta Credlin in their living room. In future, I think I’ll just get my Foxtel-made series on DVD from the library.)

Unfortunately, the new adaptation is a bit terrible. The good news is, it’s terrible in some interesting ways.

Continue reading “Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018)”

Liz Reads: A Scandal in Bohemia by Gideon Haigh

Despite the title stolen from Conan Doyle, there are no brilliant detectives or glamorous, worldly courtesans in this account of the 1930 murder of a young Melbourne woman. The murder remains unsolved; A Scandal in Bohemia is more interested in the life of the victim, Mollie Dean, and her afterlife as an Australian literary muse.

Continue reading “Liz Reads: A Scandal in Bohemia by Gideon Haigh”

Star Trek catch up: The Next Generation (part 2)

Part 1 can be found here.

We’re now into season 5, which along with season 4 was TNG’s creative peak. We’ll cover its final years and the four TNG-era movies.

Which is to say, I watched Star Trek Nemesis so you don’t have to.

Continue reading “Star Trek catch up: The Next Generation (part 2)”

Liz reads: Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World by Michelle Scott Tucker

History is full of women who, among their other unheralded achievements, don’t get nearly enough credit for not murdering their husbands.

Such is Elizabeth Macarthur, the firs9781925603422.jpgt “gentlewoman” in the newly-formed colony of New South Wales. She grew up in a middle class English family, married a man who was only just barely a gentleman, gave birth to a son five months later, and was loyal to him as he spent the following decades trying to make his fortune and, along the way, alienating just about everyone he met.

Not that John Macarthur was a terrible person! In Michelle Scott Tucker’s account, he initially comes across as a lesser Austen villain, but his real sins are perfectly unremarkable. He’s proud, ambitious, has a thin skin when it comes to slights on his honour, and accordingly gets into duels which, had he been killed, would have left his wife and young children destitute and with little to no support network.

“Hey,” you say, having a peripheral awareness of American history via musical theatre, “that makes John Macarthur sound like Australia’s Alexander Hamilton.”

Oh dear. If only.

My real beef with this book is not with the subject, or the author, or anything that’s actually reasonable to complain about. It’s with the nature of Australian history, especially in the early days of colonisation. It’s all so small and petty and —

Put it this way: a few decades after the American War of Independence, certain Australians also sought to rise up against tyranny, which in this case took the form of Governor Bligh giving handouts of land to the wrong type of people.

(“The wrong type of people” included a Scottish farmer named John Turnbull, who was so grateful for Bligh’s support that he named his son after the governor. This became a family tradition, and that’s how the current prime minister came to be named Malcolm Bligh Turnbull. This is Peak Lolstralia, and would no doubt be a gift to satirists if the PM ever did anything decisive enough to evoke Bligh.)

Setting aside my cultural cringe around early white Australian history, Scott Tucker has done a wonderful job of finding Elizabeth Macarthur. Which is harder than it sounds — although she was a prolific correspondent, she tended towards the most optimistic interpretation of events, if not actual self-censorship.

This means there’s a lot of “she must have felt…” and “surely she thought…”, which I always find frustrating in a biography, even when the conclusions drawn are perfectly reasonable. (Which, here, they are.)

Nevertheless, Macarthur’s life is interesting, even if you’re not into agricultural or ovine history. (Ovine history is a thing, right?) Macarthur was in the right time and place to unconsciously participate in the devolving relations between Aboriginal Australians and the white invaders, from mutual curiosity to the frontier wars. Scott Tucker doesn’t shy away from exploring that, or the fact that part of Elizabeth’s social isolation came from her unwillingness to associate with former convicts.

Though her husband has traditionally been credited with the introduction of wool exports to Australia’s economy, Scott Tucker points out that it was Elizabeth who did a lot of the work, John Macarthur himself having spent extended periods in England having a sulk making connections and giving Elizabeth useless advice which she politely ignored. Because empires may rise and fall, but mansplaining is eternal.

Liz reads: The Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018

In an attempt to pivot the blog away from being just Star Trek stuff, I’m aiming for a minimum of one post a week on what I’ve been reading. But to ease us into the change … what I read yesterday was the Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018.

Continue reading “Liz reads: The Star Trek: Discovery Annual 2018”