Rosemary Nissen-Wade: Aussie poet and teacher of metaphysics – a personal view
My bestie nicknamed me SnakyPoet on her blog, and I liked it. (It began as
'the poet of the serpentine Northern Rivers' and became more and more abbreviated.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Communicant and Other Stories

A new book, a new treasure

Helen Patrice's new book, THE COMMUNICANT AND OTHER STORIES, is being launched on Sunday 7th May 2-4pm at Knox Library, 425 Burwood Hwy, Wantirna South (Melbourne).  If you can't get there, look for it on Amazon, where it is already available.

I had the great pleasure and privilege of doing some copy-editing of this book – a sheer delight to read, a very easy edit, and she paid me as well! So I am able to tell you it's a little masterpiece of 'speculative fiction', with stories ranging from sinister through both funny and sad to downright beautiful (sometimes all at once). I am one of many who has been urging her for decades to PLEASE publish a collection of her wonderful stories. I’m ecstatic that she finally did. 

I don't love and admire Helen's writing just because we're close friends – but the fact that do I love and admire it so much is surely one of the many reasons we are close friends. The short story is my favourite form next to poetry; Helen excels at both. And spec fic (comprising both Science Fiction and Fantasy) is my favourite fictional genre to read, and hers to write.

When she finally did publish this collection, she did it professionally: using a great cover designer for instance, and asking for a blurb from a writer renowned in the genre, Elizabeth Moon, whose response was enthusiastic. Moon describes the stories as 'weird, strange, and absolutely brilliant' and the book as a whole 'as un-put-downable as your favourite pastry'.

It is also available in a Kindle edition for those, like me, who prefer ebooks. But I actually have it in paperback too as one of my perks for the editing, and I must say it doesn't disappoint. The tactile quality of physical books, which can't be reproduced on a screen, is one of the things we most love about them. This one feels very satisfying, from the glossy cover to the matte texture of the pages. It’s just nice to pick up and hold, and even caress. 

One of the things I love best about ebooks, on the other hand, is not having to struggle with print that's too small and/or pale. I'm glad to say the font in this paperback, though neither unduly large nor aggressively black, is both aesthetically pleasing and easily readable.

Can I find no fault or flaw in this book? Well, no, actually. It's a work of dazzling originality and rich variety. Even though I have been so closely involved in it and know it rather well by now, it's one I already delight in re-reading. I hope it gets the wide readership it so thoroughly deserves.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Woman of Mars by Helen Patrice

A fascinating tale beautifully told

When preparing to write a review of Helen's latest book, THE COMMUNICANT AND OTHER STORIES, I realised I'd never reviewed this earlier book – instead I did an interview with her at the time it was published – so here goes: 

This is the most beautiful verse novel I've ever read. I don't mean a beautiful physical production – though it is that too, a nicely designed little hardback with artwork by Bob Eggleton. I mean that it is full of beautiful writing. And it tells a fascinating tale.

Perhaps I should call it a verse novella, as it's not very long – however, it does complete justice to its subject matter: a young woman in Earth's future who marries a famous astronaut and goes with him to be among the first colonists on Mars.

She experiences excitement, fear, homesickness, struggle, tragedy, love and wonder. The details of the colonists' survival on such a different world are entirely convincing.

Helen is an accomplished writer of speculative fiction as well as an excellent poet. Her combined talents make this an exquisite, haunting and very believable read. You don't have to appreciate poetry to enjoy this book – though those who do will be all the more delighted.

The back cover blurb is by the late great SF writer Ray Bradbury, who read this book not long before he died, and clearly loved it. As I do too. I don't know any reader who doesn't.

It was a limited edition by Stanza Press, on whose website I can no longer find it, but there are some used copies on Amazon. It has clearly now become a collector's item (deservedly) so the used copies are priced higher than the original price! But it is still affordable from some sellers.