Andrew McBurnie was born in Hull, UK, and emigrated with his family to Australia in 1966. He lives in Sydney.
Starship Walker grew out of my desire for a mode of interstellar travel which seems more believable to me than warp drives, stargates or any other of the other current SF means of bypassing the dismal fact that the enormous distances between the stars are very unlikely to be crossed by human beings. I also wanted to include as part of the story some more recent discoveries of astronomy, particularly the fact that our home system exists in an enormous, safe bubble inside the galactic clouds, from which it will depart in a few million more years into a much more hostile environment. Much SF seems oblivious to this.
Fear Week is about the city where I grew up, Hull, in the Yorkshire East Riding. It was the second most bombed city after London, but was always kept secret during the war. Hull was only referred to as 'a north-eastern city'. This is not widely known. As children, we were accustomed to bombed-out ruins: in the way of children, we thought it was normal. The early sixties was an era when all young people knew that at any moment, their lives might be ended by a nuclear war, a threat that was just called 'The Bomb'. The phrase, 'press the button', was widely used to mean the end of the world. The Cuban missile crisis was very nearly it. It's surprising that many people nowadays don't know how close we came - and aren't aware that the danger still exists.
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by Andrew McBurnie
By foot across the galaxy: Walkers pilot starships, but few people have the mental talents to control the weird quantum technology that powers a star-drive. When an enigmatic force disables the two Walkers on board the Xinglong Hao, novice Walker Gillian Berry is thrust into the role before her training is finished. But she has problems that could cause disaster for the ship.
by Andrew McBurnie
Kids: Have you realised your parents are insane yet? Teenager Adrian Thorby is about to experience a week of embarrassing and comic incidents. He's scared: it's 1962, the week of the Cuban missile crisis, and nuclear war menaces the world. Adrian is a science-fiction fan who fears he won't live to see a futuristic world of space travel and robots. And he will never have a girlfriend.
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Smashwords book reviews by Andrew McBurnie
on May 27, 2011
I enjoyed this: a science-fiction novel depicting a London whose streets, buildings and people undergo regular and unexpected shifts and disappearances that only the apparently autistic Graham Smith notices.
The suggestion here that those who don’t seem to fit into our world _really_ might not be quite in it is an interesting story device. Without revealing too much of the plot, this is a “many-worlds” tale, although the nature of the many worlds does not become clear for a while. There is a (naturally) evil multi-national company, which has been able to profit from other parallel worlds. Graham Smith is fundamental to the success of the evil multi-national, so we get a “caper” story, but with unusual twists.
If I had a criticism it would be the title, which is singularly uninformative until you have read the book. I would have gone for something like, “Graham Smith’s war of the worlds”. Well, that’s corny, but the idea is to focus on the hero.
If you are tired of bookshops whose so-called “science-fiction” shelves are laden with great fat multi-volume sword and sorcery novels, and if not that it’s vampire books, this science-fiction tale is for you (sorry if my prejudices are showing).
on June 15, 2011
I recognised and enjoyed the "hard-boiled" genre style of this book. It has all the frequent characteristics of such tales: a disillusioned law-man, in this case an ex-prosecutor, Andrew Giobberti, separated from his wife, their dead child. Giobberti is living an idle life with his pregnant girlfriend, he has a half-hearted attempt at an affair with a neighbour and takes a generally gloomy perspective on everything. Walking his dog, he keeps running into a strange man in the park, some antisocial drop-out whom he names "the golem", a person he wants to avoid who seems to know his girlfriend, and is in general all "wrong". This stranger pays no part in the plot, and is probably somebody the author has actually run into, but in this book the golem-man may symbolise the protagonist's own fears of what he may become.
To the plot: of course, there is a suspicious character, in this case a millionaire rapper, a beautiful but possibly dangerous woman, some murders, etc, etc, but I don't want to talk about it. What I want is to give two quotes:
"Talking to me on a Friday morning is like watching a motorcycle crash while you’re mailing a letter: somewhat horrifying, to be certain, but at least it’s a change of pace."
"There I am, a big idiot lawyer on the steps of Supreme, encircled by the hungry mob. My necktie is crooked, my hair is too long, my face is too tanned - in other words I look just about right for the job, even if I don’t look like myself."
The real point of this review is one observation: Reuland can write.
- Death and the Dream
on Sep. 30, 2011
This is a collection of short stories about womens' experience of death and loneliness. There is an intriguing use of scientific themes. One story, about a female laboratory worker, is partially in the form of an experimental report. The final story, "Rain Dream", introduces marine biology in its depiction of a female scientist struggling with loneliness and a drinking problem. (The description of her bad behavior in a restaurant as that of an apparently different character is effective.)
I'm not sure if "Rain Dream" is successful in its use of lobster biology as a means of delineating the woman's fears - lobsters spend much of their lives hiding away, amongst other things. But maybe it's just that this is a novel approach. There is a suggestion via the obsessing on lobster biology that the woman is pregnant and is frightened of a male who may be violent to her.
I'd call the collection interesting, however it didn't engage my emotions. But then, neither does Chekov, though I love his stories.
- The Convict Maiden
on Jan. 27, 2013
This is a tale about the brutal life of a young convict woman, Julia Hannaway, in 1820s’ Australia. The historical background has been very well researched: I’ve lived in Sydney for many years and it’s an odd feeling to see familiar suburban and country centres, Cabramatta, Parramatta, the Blue Mountains and Bathurst depicted as ghastly wildernesses. I suppose nobody now knows what New South Wales actually felt like then, but this novel creates a convincing, and gloomy, milieu.
The author also succeeded in making me care about Julia Hannaway, to the extent that every time she made one of her several disastrous decisions, I found myself thinking; don’t do it you fool! He depicts compellingly her transformation from an educated, respectable English county girl into a traumatised survival machine, driven to abandon her former manners, and her religious faith, but finally achieving a life.
The author is a criminal lawyer from Brooklyn, New York City, whose other works are modern day crime novels. Why does his authorship of The Convict Maiden surprise me? The United States was founded by people fleeing oppression to reach freedom. Australia began as a prison and was effectively a police state, with added gangsters (just google “Rum Corps”). Is this what makes some Americans curious about Australia, or perhaps for this author, its legal system?
I fully recommend The Convict Maiden.
- Lethal Inheritance
on Sep. 26, 2013
The story commences when the teenage heroine of Tahlia Newland's "Lethal Inheritance", Arial, is hurtled into a new life, discovering that she has a unique inheritance when her mother is kidnapped by demons. To rescue her mother, Arial must venture from her apparently safe, suburban world into a hidden realm.
"Lethal Inheritance" is a fantasy novel, the first in a series called "Diamond Peak". I purchased and read this novel to dip into the booming field of fantasy. Previously, my fantasy reading was only LOTR and Phillip Pulman. I'm otherwise a lapsed science-fiction fan.
The author classifies her "Diamond Peak" series as metaphysical fantasy: "the characters’ experiences, though cloaked in fantasy, are the journey we all take through life whether we know it or not." This set me, in my possibly somewhat nerdy way, watching for metaphors: of course, there is a mountain to climb; the demons that must be defeated feed on fear and negative emotions and can only be defeated by managing these emotions. (At one point, the demons are described as being more like weeds than truly autonomous, sentient creatures, though their malevolence as depicted does seem to me to give them more agency than this. There is a detailed "natural history" of the Hidden Realm to work out if you're that sort of person.)
For me, the most arresting images were those of a man drowning in mud while denying that it was happening, the "Lures" and finally a path of shifting stones. The Lures are simulacrums of aspects of the real world: beach resorts, shopping centres, fairgrounds etc, where, “If you start believing everything’s real, you might want to stay, and once the Lures become your reality, you can’t see the way out.” The shifting stones tilt and twist and attempt to tip walkers off. The only way to survive is to put your feet "according to how things are now, not how they were a moment ago or how you think they will be."
This is interesting, however I'm of course not suggesting that "Lethal Inheritance", and its followers in the series, should be read the way I did it: somewhat self-consciously on the watch-out for metaphorical allusions - because I happened to read what the author said about it. The story's images seem good enough to be absorbed unconsciously.
"Lethal Inheritance" also has a few romantic "oo-er" moments for young girls, eg, "Fire blazed in the pit of her belly and raced through her body" and "… she glimpsed his finely muscled chest through his open necked shirt." Well, fair enough.
I suggest the novel and the series as a whole offers an alternative to the "Dr Who" assistant model: you know, where the girl always falls and twists an ankle during the chase scene ("Oooh! Aaagh! Doctor - DOCTER!") and then has to be rescued from the monsters by a bloke. The Diamond Peak series should be great for teenage girls, offering via its heroine an active, engaged role model.