Tag Archives: history

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.

 

2017: My Writing Year in Review

When 2016 came to a close, I was very happy with my writing year. A new novel, a new one-shot erotic spy adventure, several short stories and a poem all published! Who knew 2017 would get better?

The biggest writing news of 2017 for me was winning the ‘Body in the Library’ category of the Scarlet Stiletto Awards with my ghost/crime story, ‘Jane’.

I’ve been nominated and shortlisted for recognition before, and it really is wonderful to have my work highlighted alongside brilliant writers. But I have to say, winning an award is also pretty damned lovely.

The success of ‘Jane’ is cherry on a wordcake this year. My eighth novel, Ravenfall, was released in September – it’s currently in paperback, but the ebook is being prepared and will be out soon.

I also wrote more lesbian romance this year, with the one-shot romance set in Melbourne, Near Miss.

I didn’t neglect horror either, with ‘Passive Aggressive’ appearing in Myths, Monsters, Mutations in December – just in time for me to enter it into the Aurealis Awards (along with ‘Jane’ and Ravenfall.)

My epic-best-friends Sherlock Holmes short stories have also come both halves of the year, with ‘The Adventure of the Temperamental Terrier’ in MX Publishing’s sixth volume of Sherlock Holmes stories in May, and ‘The Mystery of the Miner’s Wife’ appearing in the already widely acclaimed Sherlock Holmes: The Australian Casebook, an anthology of stories set in Australia in 1890.

Coming in 2018

I’m not done with 2017 yet, and already I have projects underway for the new year!

Beginning with the confirmed publications, in April 2018, ‘The Problem of the Three Journals‘ is in the Table of Contents for the fabulours Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot anthology. It’s the second in a series full of alternative universe stories. In mine, Holmes and Watson are a pair of Melbourne hipster cafe owners, serving superb coffee and solving crime!

You can pre-order Baker Street Irregulars: The Game is Afoot at Amazon.com.

A release date hasn’t yet been set for Jay Henge’s Wavelengths anthology, but it will contain my foray into SF, ‘Earworm Armageddon’.

The rights for The Opposite of Life are mine again, and I’m negotiating with Clan Destine Press to re-release it as an ebook, as they already publish its sequel, Walking Shadows. I’ll also be working on a third book in the series, though I have other commitments in the first half of the year so it may not be seen until 2019 or later.

I have Holmes♥Watson works underway for Improbable Press, short stories in a modern setting. I have a fantasy-romance to be expanded and resubmited to an interested publisher, and a few other story irons in fires that may come to fruition during the year.

Patreon

My biggest project for 2018 is the launch of my Patreon to re-release and then right more of the novellas that formed my first book, Fly By Night.

I”m in the process of having a new cover created for the first novella, Fly By Night – as soon as that’s done, I’ll be making it free to all my Patreon supporters. I’m also re-editing the second, Sacrifice, which will be released first there too. After that, I’ll be writing three more novellas in what is now called the Duo Ex Machina series – named for the two-man band featuring the lead characters, Frank and Milo.

You can find a bit more about the original stories on my site here, or go to Patreon. Depending on the supporter level, Patreons will receive story chapters, sneak peeks at works in progress or soon to be published, writing tutorials, character naming rights and other free books. Visit my Patreon.

Thanks for being with me this year, and I hope you’ll stick with me for the next!