Well the first weekend of our 2007 MWF celebrations has been and gone and we have started again with a bang - or at the very least some desperately sore feet from strolling and sore ribs from laughing.
Starting off on Thursday - we met up in the centre of Melbourne for a chocolate walking tour. This took us around a number of chocolate makers in the central area of the city, looking at chocolate making, hearing about chocolate making and EATING chocolate. Aside from a slight tendency to feel ever so slightly sicky by the end - it was great fun. That day also involved collecting Helen and her luggage from the city and heading back to our MWF headquarters (or the place where the booze is stored). Sunnie had already arrived on Thursday so we were all finally ready to go. Helen showed up with a cold even though we keep telling her we'll feed her lime margueritas even if she doesn't have a cold. So a good laugh, dinner, medications of a ranging variety and off to bed for a 6.00am start on Saturday and our first set of panels.
(Helen and Sunnie also raised Kill City on the Friday but they can tell you what they bought on their own blogs - I was too depressed they went without me to pay attention).
Saturday 25th was the first day at the festival proper. We started off the morning with a bit of disappointment as Julie Zeh had cancelled, so all 6 of us ended up at A Forensic Examination with Jeffrey Deaver - interviewer was James Phelan. Jeffrey talked a bit about his background (being a poet doesn't get the girls - writing and performing folk songs was only marginally better), through to how he studied (and ultimately practiced) law and into how he wrote his first couple of books. He also described the extensive outlining and research phase for each of his books (about 8 months) and the writing process (about 2-3 months). They then talked about the method by which he invented the central character in The Bone Collector and other books in that series, along with his new series starting Catherine (I think her surname is Dane).
Lunch then called and, well wine o'clock - so off we went for a snack and a browse through the icecream counter before returning and taking up residence in a corner of the courtyard surrounded by books, newspapers, crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, coffee cups, empty bottles, in other words - got comfy.
We then headed off to Detainee 002 - Leigh Sales, Robert Richter and Arie Frieberg discussing Leigh's book about the David Hicks case. She discussed how the book is non-fiction but written in a narrative style, and after reading out a number of passages and a fascinating and most thought-provoking discussion of the issues around the Hicks case - we charged off to the book tent to get our own copies.
Saturday night we were lucky enough to have selected Tjanabi as our restaurant for the opening night dinner - all I can say is WOW - the food was magnificent, the restaurant staff wonderfully obliging and a magnificent night was had by all - I'll post separately about this restaurant - can't praise it highly enough - they did not even get too fussed when Sunnie tried to burn the place down
Got caught in the football traffic on the way home - ICK - so very late night, very hungry puppy when we got back and another, not quite so early start for Sunday.
On Sunday, Kerrie and Bob headed off first thing in the morning to see Clive Robertson and Peter Craven. Bob finished that session saying that he could resist Clive James no more and off he went to purchase the book.
The rest of us strolled in a bit later and set up in the lovely warm sun, again with coffee or whatever whilst Helen and Adam headed off to Creative Commons or Common Theft - copyright, licensing and other issues. Both of them came out of that session talking 10 to the dozen about how much they enjoyed it (Adam owes Kerrie a paper on the subject!). Adam then went off to Future Imperfect whilst the rest of us repaired to a sandwich / salad lunch. Then Adam went to This Just In From Cyberspace and came out enamoured utterly with Cory Doctorow's philosophy and methods for working with the internet - went and bought one of his books (which he had signed), returned with the happy news that Cory's fiance uses dotProject and spent the rest of Sunday reading a few pages, peering intently at the rest of us and reassuring us CONSTANTLY that this was a fabulous book - check out his blog at http://blogs.sakienvirotech.com/random(link is external) he'll either write that up immediately because he wants to rave or you might want to give him a day or so in case he can't drag his nose out of the book any time soon. Whilst he was there the rest of us went to see People Like us with Waleed Aly which was talking about him and his book People Like Us. This was a discussion which ranged through a number of issues to do with Islam and the Muslim experience in Australia and other locations. Marvellous session, the moderator opening up the discussion after a number of well structured questions from himself to points from the floor. Waleed Aly managed to provide indepth and thought provoking answers to some hairy issues with great good humour and immense clarity. Extremely good session - thoroughly pleased that we opted to go to it.
Next up was Morbid Fascinations with Jeffrey Deaver, Helen Fitzgerald and Geoffrey Cousins - I'll have to let the others comment on that - we missed it as Adam's session ran a little over time, then he wanted to get his book signed, then Rory Ellis showed up in the festival club and I wanted to listen to his music (haven't heard him for years), and well it was wine o'clock and I needed a champagne desperately.
We finished the night with Winds of Change with Rob Watts, Mark Peal and Matthew Ricketson (moderated by up and coming 774 personality Hilary Harper) discussing the methods and shortcomings by which public policy is developed in Australia - absolutely fascinating and extremely worthwhile listening to. It raised enough issues to keep us talking for most of the 1 hour journey home.
One light dinner, tasting of the company scrumpy, and off to bed - frankly - utterly cream crackered.
El Dorado - Dorothy Porter (I was vaguely sceptical of crime fiction done in verse and all I can say is - don't listen to me - I'm an idiot - this is fabulous)
People Like Us - Waleed Aly (Saw the man, needed to read the book - badly)
Affluenze - Clive Hamilton (I heard this book discussed a while ago on the radio and I've been meaning to get it for quite a while)
Word Watching - field notes form an amateur philologist - Julian Burnside (Admire the man tremendously, love books about words)
Do Not Disturb - Is the Media Failing Australia? (Adam saw this selection of essays on the Australian media and had to have it - now he just has to get Sunnie to hurry up and finish it
Detainee 002 - Leigh Sales
The Man Who Knew Too Much, David Leavitt (Story of Alan Turing)
Over Clocked, Cory Doctorow (Needless to say I doubt this is the last one of this author we'll see in this house............. )
There is a serial child killer stalking the streets of Melbourne.
The victims are killed gently, lovingly, a gold mark traced on their forehead.
This killer doesn't hate children. This killer believes in childhood innocence at any cost.
Unflinching and morally uncompromising, El Dorado is the story of a friendship under siege, and the very long shadows that jealousy and betrayal can cast. It is both a complex thriller and a compelling reading experience from Australia's maverick and most versatile poet.
No two civilisations have spoken so many words about each other in recent years as those of Islam and the West. And no two seem to have communicated less. People Like Us confronts the themes that define this chasm head-on: women, jihad, secularism, terrorism, Reformation and modernity. Its piercing examination of these subjects reveals our thoughtless and destructive tendency to assume that the world's problems could be solved if only everyone became more like us. The result is deep mutual ignorance and animosity, reinforced by both Muslim and Western commentators.
As a Muslim born and raised in Australia, Waleed Aly stands at the intersection of these two civilisations. In this book, he draws on his knowledge of Western and Islamic intellectual traditions to present an analysis that is surprising and challenging, but always enlightening.
Anyone concerned about the level of their personal debt or frustrated by the rat race of aspiring to an affluent lifestyle will appreciate this critique of the effects of over-consumption. This analysis pulls no punches as it describes both the problem and what can be done to stop it. Analyzing the increasing rates of stress, depression, and obesity as possible effects of the consumption binge currently gripping the Western world, this report tracks how Australians overwork, the growing number of things thrown out, self-medicated drugs, and the real meaning of the word choice.
A bonzer (p. 288) discussion of the strange but dinkum (p. 289) pedigree (p. 224) of the naughty (p. 202), nice (p. 212), and, sometimes, obscene (p. 217) English language.
We live in a torrent of words — from radio and television, books and newspapers, and now from the internet. But, as Julian Burnside reminds us in this new edition of the bestselling Wordwatching, words are a source both of pleasure and power, and can be deployed for good or for ill.
Some of these essays explore curiosities in odd corners of the language simply to remind us of the extraordinary richness of the English language. Other pieces use small matters of language to illustrate larger processes of cultural borrowing and change. Burnside’s musings remind us that we should not be alarmed at the instability of the language; rather, we should see its wanton borrowings as a source of its strength and vitality.
Wordwatching also reminds us of the need to be aware of the misuse of language in the service of sinister purposes — whether political, ideological, social, or personal. An ear well-tuned to the nuances of vocabulary inoculates the hearer against this epidemic of deception.
At a time when the Howard government in Australia has radically narrowed the national vision, the mainstream media has failewd to notice or to hold it to account. Do Not Distrub offers diverse and enlightening explanations for this failure. Eric Beecher gives reasons for the decline of quality journalism, and Guy Rundle charts the rise of the attack-dog commentators. Margaret Simons goes inside the ABC, while Jon Faine lifts the lid on the unruly democracy of talkback radio, and so on. The contributors to this book are all independent insiders.
In a remote American military base at Guantanamo Bay, 385 enemy combatants sit waiting for their day in court. Among them is David Hicks, who was detained for five years until the March 2007 hearing where he pleaded guilty to the charge of providing material support for terrorism."Detainee 002" reveals in unprecedented detail how an Australian citizen wound up in the War on Terror. Based on more than five years of reporting and dozens of interviews with insiders, Leigh Sales explains the intricacies of Hicks' case, from his capture in Afghanistan, to life in Guantanamo Bay, to the behind-the-scene establishment and workings of the military commissions.Sales' impeccable research takes us from top-secret negotiations at the White House and Pentagon to the domestic fallout Hicks' incarceration has had on his family, to the campaign that Major Michael Mori, the marine who becomes his greatest advocate, waged on his behalf.David Hicks' case is emblematic of some of the greatest challenges facing the world today: the rise of Islamic extremism, terrorism and the accountability of governments towards their citizens. It is a chilling reminder that, in a war with ever-changing rules and no end in sight, there are no limits.
To solve one of the great mathematical problems of his day, Alan Turing proposed an imaginary computer. Then, attempting to break a Nazi code during World War II, he successfully designed and built one, thus ensuring the Allied victory. Turing became a champion of artificial intelligence, but his work was cut short. As an openly gay man at a time when homosexuality was illegal in England, he was convicted and forced to undergo a humiliating "treatment" that may have led to his suicide.
With a novelist's sensitivity, David Leavitt portrays Turing in all his humanity—his eccentricities, his brilliance, his fatal candor—and elegantly explains his work and its implications.
Have you ever wondered what it's like to get bitten by a zombie? To live through a bioweapon attack? To have every aspect of your life governed by invisible ants? In Cory Doctorow's collection of novellas, he wields his formidable experience in technology and computing to give us mindbending sci-fi tales that explore the possibilities of information technology — and its various uses — run amok. "Anda's Game" is a spin on the bizarre new phenomenon of "cyber sweatshops," in which people are paid very low wages to play online games all day in order to generate in-game wealth, which can be converted into actual money. Another tale tells of the heroic exploits of "sysadmins" — systems administrators — as they defend the cyber-world, and hence the world at large, from worms and bioweapons. And yes, there is a story about zombies, too.