I was a couple of chapters in when I laughed, and then wondered if I should. It immediately reminded me of my first exposure to the film Pulp Fiction; that first inadvertent burst of laughter when John Travolta’s gun accidentally fired in the car. I was aghast at myself. Was I supposed to laugh? The scene was so over the top. So too is this novel. What is its classification: comedy horror or horror comedy, or something else? Is it supposed to be a serious novel? I finished reading without deciding.
It’s set in the modern day and everything is familiar: the world, the way ordinary people live their lives and earn their living, the traumas we face. Even the incessant killing is a reflection of our gone-mad society. But there the similarities end.
From the cover, when I bought the book, I thought it was a sci-fi story. From the title, RENAISSANCE 2.0, I thought it was a nod to the 14th—16th century European Renaissance and the author was creating a second, 21st century, perhaps global, renaissance. And although I didn’t see any evidence of one in this book it no doubt becomes apparent in subsequent books in the series.
There is a definite sci-fi element with technologies that shatter life being created in back rooms and just as quickly being disposed of by mysterious forces; there’s a beserk drug culture; in fact it’s sheer mayhem from start to finish. Multiple characters make brief appearances never to return and it’s only well into the story that I realised there is a recurring character who, by the end, is identified as the protagonist who will be taking the series forward. He’s a detective with a wife who is becoming a man, which is forcing him into thinking he should become a woman. Yes, you read that right!
The author takes you deep into the psyches of his characters. There’s plenty of esoterica as he delves into psychology and philosophy. If you’re not interested in that you can skim without losing the plot.
I have no idea how the author will sustain this level of tortuous inventiveness over a series. As five volumes have already been published I don’t have to wait to find out.
This is an exceptional read. I was gobsmacked from very early on and didn’t pick my chin up until I’d finished reading.
It’s very different. Read it and see what you think.
I’m impressed with the generosity of spirit that Julia Gillard possesses. The book is littered with the names of people to whom she gives thanks: for their enduring friendship, their casual mateship, their thoughtfulness, their support and love. What a rich life this woman has, if those she counts as friends is a guide.
And that in her official memoir encompassing her time as Prime Minister of Australia she unstintingly gives credit where she believes it’s due to her political opponents and enemies as well as the many people who sustained and continue to sustain her is generous indeed.
Generous also is her take on what is important in life: to make a difference to the lives of others through your own hard work.
Working class immigrants to Australia from Wales when Gillard was a child, her parents regretted their lack of education and the limits it placed on them. Education and hard work were inculcated into their two daughters. And Gillard has made bettering Australia’s education system her life’s work. The education sphere is where she headed immediately she left politics.
I’ve never read the memoirs of past prime ministers before. Never wanted to. But I felt the memoirs of the first female to hold that position warranted my attention. Having only read this one I don’t know if its structure follows a formula for PM memoirs. Whether it does or not it’s a good one. Rather than adopting a time sequential telling where the multiplicity of what was going on at any given time would overwhelm you, each chapter covers a different aspect of her prime ministership.
The first part chronicles the overall story. Subsequent chapters deal with individual areas such as defence, health, education, environment, tax, foreign policy. This approach makes it possible for the reader to grasp all that was done and accomplished. It makes clear the vast breadth and scope of what is expected of a country’s leader.
It’s also an intimate picture of what goes on behind the scenes. I suspect I’m no different to any other reader when I say it’s those candid moments and the humour that reveal and round out the woman.
At the end Gillard says ‘I hope my words inform, provoke, intrigue and amuse’. For me they did all of those. It was well worth the read.
SKY CITY: THE RISE OF AN ORPHAN. RD Hale’s debut novel. I’ve just finished reading this 492 page epic. Lots of labels have been attached to it by others: cyberpunk, biopunk, dystopian, sci-fi, manga, young adult, as well as a touch of fantasy. I agree with all of them, but add another one: coming of age.
There’s not much you can find out about RD on the internet, perhaps because he’s a private kind of person and likes to keep to himself, or perhaps he prefers to let his writing and characters talk for him. Whatever the reason, I aim to tease something from him today to make the day for his growing number of fans.
Alana: G’day RD, am I allowed to know what the R in RD stands for, or do you use the initials to maintain a certain mystique?
RD: The initials help to maintain a mystique and create the impression I’m smarter than I actually am! However, my friends call me Ricky (among other things!)
Alana: How about I help maintain the mystique and stick with RD then. Your bio says little is known about you other than tidbits, rumours and hearsay. I’m going to do my best to squeeze a bit of detail from you today because, let’s face it, you’ve got a lot of fans out there in book land. I think they’d like an inside peek. Your bio says you’re married and have one young child. I take it that’s fact, yes? As to your age, I’m hazarding a guess that you’re still wrinkle-free.
RD: I’m rapidly starting to accumulate grey hairs thanks in no part to my son, but I’m doing pretty well on the wrinkle side. However, I’m sure my second child will help contribute towards those when he/she arrives.
Alana: Oh, does that mean another baby is on the way? Are congratulations in order?
RD: The second boy is due in early April and already I am having sleepless nights!
Alana: There’s nothing like a new baby! You’ll look back on it as totally worth it. As you’re going for a second I guess you already know that though. Where in the UK do you call home?
RD: A lively place called Newcastle upon Tyne where beer is known as ‘breakfast’ and religion is called ‘football’.
Newcastle upon Tyne pics: Angel of the North, fireworks over the city, Tynemouth Priory.
Alana: Sounds like a tough place! Is it where you want to be, or is there somewhere you’d rather be if money were no object? Does the grittiness of SKY CITY stem from there or do I have completely the wrong impression of your home town?
RD: Medio city is a (greatly exaggerated) representation of the council estate where I grew up. Sky City represents the sights and sounds that were out of reach to a jobless, disenfranchised youth.
My home town has its qualities, but unemployment has been a problem for many. And then there is the perma-grey sky which only adds to the misery! I understand your part of the world is lit by a golden disc called “the sun”. We’ve never seen it!
Alana: Yes, we’re blessed here in Australia. It’s the best place on the planet. I was born in the UK but wouldn’t live anywhere else but here.
RD: Maybe one day we’ll get to move somewhere warm and cheerful like Australia.
Alana: You’d be very welcome. Let’s talk about your writing. It sounds as though the genre you write in is the one that’s always appealed to you. Is that right, and why?
RD: I’ve always liked sci-fi for many reasons, not least because once interstellar travel is invented I plan to become a space pirate! I spent my childhood preparing for this role by playing videogames, and now I fill the waiting time by writing books!
Sci-fi is a great tool for self-expression because you have more creative freedom than in other genres. The aspect that most appeals is the world building. With SKY CITY I wanted to create a microcosm of the world in which we live, where the problems are amplified so we can take a closer look at poverty, inequality and indoctrination. My aim was to give a voice to the voiceless and to challenge pre-conceived ideas.
Alana: I’d say you’ve well and truly succeeded in that. And Arturo Basilides, SKY CITY’s young hero you’ve built that world around; what brought about his creation? He’s an immensely charismatic character.
RD: He’s a combination of many factors; he has some of my traits but I was conscious about making him fit into his awful world. He had to be highly intelligent and physically adept for the rebellion to take an interest in him, but he also had to be reckless. He could not have emerged from his childhood untainted so he is a very flawed protagonist. I wanted to get away from the heroic stereotype and create a character who was complex and unpredictable.
Alana: You originally published the book as a series of six smaller books but have now removed them from sale. What’s the thinking behind that?
RD: The book was originally serialised on Wattpad and I wanted readers to experience the instalments as they were initially intended, but their removal from Amazon was ultimately a commercial decision. It was confusing my readership as Amazon kept listing the complete edition as part of the series. I didn’t want people to mistakenly purchase twice in the belief they were buying the latest instalment. Plus the complete edition has a reasonable price so there’s no need to break it up.
Alana: I commented in my review of SKY CITY that there are several aspects of the story that were unfinished. I speculated that more is to come of Arturo. Am I right? And if so, do you have a release date in mind? Perhaps you might also like to whet our appetite for where you will be taking Arturo and his mates in it.
RD: I have a couple of spin-offs in the works starring other characters which are available on Wattpad. Both are in their early stages so everything, including the titles may change.
The Formation of the Rebellion stars Leo Jardine and is a prequel explaining how the rebellion came to be. It’s intended to be hard sci-fi—darker and more complex than The Rise of an Orphan with a similar feel to Gibson’s Neuromancer.
The Sister of a Rebel Soldier stars Emmi Basilides and continues on from events at the end of The Rise of an Orphan. It’s intended to be a more accessible addition to the series. The rebellion really gets under way in this one and you’ll discover what the more interesting characters are capable of.
Alana: And Arturo?
RD: I haven’t started the next part of Arturo’s story just yet, but it’s definitely coming. I’ll likely serialise it on Wattpad and then release six instalments as one book on Amazon as I did with The Rise of an Orphan. I expect Arturo’s saga will become a trilogy at the very least.
Alana: What about after SKY CITY is completed, do you have any other stories in mind and are they in the same genre?
RD: I would love to write in another genre, maybe fantasy but I can’t see myself doing this for a long time!
Alana: RD, thank you so much for talking with me today. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know the writer behind the book.
Lalla Bains—ex model, 5’10”, blond and extremely easy on the eye teams up with cousin and budding PI Pearlie and cop fiancé Caleb Stone to solve two murders, not least because Lalla’s dad is the chief suspect.
This is the 4th book in the Dead Red mystery series and at the end the author expresses the hope I enjoyed reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it. I can assure her I did!
I haven’t read the previous three in the series, not knowing about them until coming across this one, but I didn’t feel the lack of any essential knowledge about the characters. There was some economical back story to fill me in but essentially I think it’s complete enough in itself to stand alone.
Told in a deceptively easy-to-read style everything about it engages you: the storyline, the characters, the descriptions and the humour.
I say ‘deceptively easy to read’ because that style isn’t as easy to accomplish as some may imagine. It brought to mind one of my all-time favourite authors, Dick Francis. He had a similar writing style and he was a master with it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that RP Dahlke is another author who has finessed it.
I found myself comparing it to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and I’m betting that if you like Stephanie you’re going to really like RP Dahlke’s Lalla Bains.