Five Questions for Jason Franks

Today, Jason Franks answers five questions about his new book.

For our interview, Franks is wearing a pair of classic-cut Levis that are probably Costco fakes. His black t-shirt is frayed at the collar but the Black Sabbath logo looks crisp as if it had just been printed. He hasn’t shaved in a couple of days and his glasses are smudged. He has terrible posture and a very small head.

(Descriptions supplied by Jason Franks.)

Jason Franks

  1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how did you choose the title?

The book is called FAERIE APOCALYPSE. Originally it was going to be LOVERS, POETS AND MADMEN, which sums up the seed inspiration for the story, but does not give much of a clue as to what the book is about. So I went looking for some other options.

The book is set mostly in the fairy realms and deals with the nature of the place and the people who venture there, so FAERIE seemed like an obvious place to start.

I was reading about Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian—a key influence on my book—and I came across the phrase ‘apocalyptic prose’. That immediately seemed to fit not just the style of my own work, but also the story. So there it was.

Faerie Apocalypse.

  1. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

I have this one already sussed from IFWG and I were working out the cover art. In the end we opted not to show any characters on the cover, but here’s what I came up with. There are five leads, as follows:

  • The Veteran: Contemporary Christian Bale. Long hair, bearded, a bit haggard, a bit spaced-out.
  • The Magus: Contact-era long-haired, crazy-eyed Jake Busey.
  • The Warrior Queen: Carey Lowell circa 1990.
  • Malo: A teenaged Benicio Del Toro.
  • The Engineer: A CGI rendering of a youngish lady, designed not to stand out in a crowd. A bit pixilated and well inside the Uncanny Valley.
  1. What five words best describe your story?

Dense, circuitous, violent, occulted, and reflexive.

  1. What faerie creature would you most like to meet – or be?

Out of all the creatures in the book I’d most like to meet the Queen of the Ore-lands. She wouldn’t have much time for me, but she’s also less likely to try to trick, murder or eat me than any of the other characters.

  1. What song reflects a theme, character or scene in your book?

The book references a number of songs quite explicitly. There’s a couple of Hendrix songs that flag key plot points. One of the monsters is a Blue Oyster Cult song given flesh. But the last part of the story is called Black Wings, after the Tom Waits song, and I think that perfectly sums it all up.

If you want a second helping, try Earth Died Screaming, also from the Bone Machine album:

About Faerie Apocalypse.

Over the centuries the Faerie Realms have drifted away from the mortal world. But for some, the Doors will open. For some, there is a Way to travel there, if they want it badly enough.

If they dream it hard enough.

In this era, only lovers, poets, and madmen can access the Realms of the Land—and for good reason.

A succession of mortals travel to Faerie: a veteran seeking beauty; a magus seeking power; an urchin seeking his wayward father; an engineer seeking meaning. These mortals bring the horrors of our age to the Land, and the Folk who live there respond in kind.

About Jason Franks

Jason Franks is the author of the novel Bloody Waters, the Sixsmiths graphic novels, and the Left Hand Path comic series. His work has been short-listed for Aurealis and Ledger Awards. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he is widely known as a person of low character and wicked intent.

Follow Jason

Buy Faerie Apocalypse

 

Review: Langue [dot] doc 1305 by Gillian Polack

One of the things I enjoy most about Gillian Polack’s books, besides their quirky sense of humour, is how wonderfully she explores the everyday and the ordinary, giving them texture and depth so that they’re not ordinary or mundane at all.

In Langue [dot] doc 1305 Polack marries her deep knowledge as a Medievalist to a favourite SF trope – time travel to the days of knights, lords and peasants – and then does her usual magic of transforming the ordinary into the profound.

Artemesia Wormwood (a name she chose for herself) finds herself a last-minute addition to a team of Australian scientists travelling back in time to  Languedoc, France, to the year 1305. She’s taken on the task of team historian for the money – her sister needs it for cancer treatment – but when she goes back in time she finds the scientists generally don’t have interest in, let alone respect for, her expertise.

The team is meant to be studying the era without interacting with it, and especially not with the inhabitants of the local town, St-Guilhem-le-Desert. You can imagine how successful that turns out to be.

The inevitable folding together of medieval humanity and the time team is subtle and slow, and Polack interleaves the lives of both groups of people with a gentle but inexorable rhythm.

We see parallels and echoes of each group in the other. The mischief makers and the leaders; those who are arrogant and those who are quietly trying to keep their society functioning; the friendships and the growing emnities.

Artemesia keeps trying to warn the time team that the people out there are real and that these are dangerous times. As the two groups begin to interact in small ways, however, even Artemesia may be getting complacent through her role as liaison with the knight Guilhem, himself an outsider looking for his place in the community.

Langue [dot] doc 1305 has many delights, from the superb low key characterisation that develops such wonderful, fully human people, to Polack’s equally low key yet pointed storytelling which points out how many fallacies people retain about what it is to be human in the medieval era.

Some characters are more sympathetic than others, though Polack’s compassion in drawing out human frailty and strengths means that your sympathies may wax and wane until the last few chapters. Artemesia’s playful academic humour and the way she’s often relegated by her colleagues to ‘pointless, useless irritant’ ensure you’re on her side from the start.

The build up to the confrontations of the conclusion is steady but never dull. When the final events take place (within the caves that are temporary home to the team, within the village, and where those two connect) they have a strong impact on both characters and reader.

I love the texture, intelligence, compassion and craft of Gillian Polack’s writing. I love her quiet women finding their strength and her wit. I love her perspective as a Jewish Australian and her great humanity as a writer.

And I loved Langue [dot] doc 1305.

Since the sad demise of Satalyte Publishing, Langue [dot] doc 1305 is  out of print. Happily, it’s due to be rereleased later in the year. (I’ll blog again then when it’s available.)

In the meantime, if you can’t wait, you can try Abe Books or contact Gillian Polack directly on Twitter or through her website for one of the first edition copies she still has.

 

Words are like oxygen

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