Tag Archives: felicity banks

Heart of Brass

If you listen to my podcast, you might recall that a couple of episodes ago I interviewed local Canberra author Felicity Banks about interactive fiction and her project “Murder in the Mail“. A while ago, by coincidence, my partner bought me a copy of her book at CanCon, completely unaware that Felicity and I had already been chatting!

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“Heart of Brass” by Felicity Banks is the first book in her pre-Federation Australian steampunk series “The Antipodean Queen”. The story is about a young upper class Englishwoman called Emmeline whose family has a lot of secrets but not much money. One of those secrets is that Emmeline, a keen inventor, has a steam-powered heart made of brass. When her attempts to save her family’s financial situation through a strategic marriage go very awry, Emmeline is sent to the colonies on the last convict ship and finds herself in Victoria. In this strange new land, she realises that she has a lot more freedom and opportunities than she perhaps had at home, but also has a lot more enemies.

This is a very fast-paced book full of action and intrigue. Banks introduces a very diverse range of characters that give a really holistic sense of the kinds of people who made their way to Victoria during the gold rush. This steampunk book involves a little bit of magic, and I really enjoyed the subtlety of Banks’ magic system and the way people can interact with metal. I think that it worked really well in a steampunk setting, and particularly well in a goldrush setting. I liked the way that people tapped into the properties of metal and used them to express themselves and enhance themselves in the clothing that they wore.

Now, I absolutely have to mention something about this particular book that really made it enjoyable for me. At the end of the book is a short choose your own adventure-style story called “After the Flag Fell” about a true historical figure called Peter Lalor, but set in Banks’ own steampunk reimagining of the Eureka Stockade. This was such a fun and cleverly done little story, and I was flipping through trying to achieve all the goals and collect all the items with absolute delight.

I think maybe the only thing I found a bit challenging in this book is that there is a lot going on, and Emmeline and her two new companions Matilda and Patrick are on the run for the majority of the book. Sometimes this made it a little bit difficult to keep up with all the action, but I think for people who really enjoy adventure fiction, this isn’t going to be much of an issue.

A fun story with an especially fun choose your own adventure bonus at the end, Banks’ novel is a fresh look at Australia’s history and blows apart some of the dark areas of our past with explosions, metal and lots and lots of steam.

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Filed under Australian Books, Book Reviews, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, interactive fiction, Signed Books

Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday

I received an early review copy of “Murder in the Mail” courtesy of the curator Felicity Banks, and you can hear her talk about this project in detail and interactive fiction generally on the latest episode of my podcast Lost the Plot. You can also sign up to “Murder in the Mail” yourself by checking out the Kickstarter campaign, which closes on 14 April 2018.

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“Murder in the Mail: A Bloody Birthday” by Felicity Banks is an interactive fiction series of letters, postcards, artwork, photographs and objects that are posted to you over the course of 8 weeks. You are Hachi, a university student whose cousin Naomi was murdered at her own birthday party. There were six people aside from Naomi who attended the party: you, Naomi’s mother and four art student friends from university. They all agree to send you letters and their artworks about what happened that night, and it’s up to you to interpret the clues and figure out who is the murderer.

This is a really fun, engaging way to experience a murder mystery. As a reviewer, I received nearly all the parcels in one hit and I was racing through them to find out more information and read more clues. However, I think stretching them out over 8 weeks would be even better way to experience the anticipation and intrigue of what is coming next. The other benefit to stretching it out is the opportunity to discuss your theories on the messageboard with other readers between installments.

The story itself was really enjoyable. I love a puzzle, and I really liked the twists and turns and how each character’s motives and idiosyncrasies emerged over time. There are plenty of red herrings and plenty of interesting social issues jammed into this story, and it’s quite incredible how invested I became in the characters over each installment of the story. The artworks are a great touch to bring life to the story and to give the characters and extra dimension of reality. This is a great example of how a number of authors and artists can collaborate together to make something really interesting.

As I mentioned above, it’s currently only available via Kickstarter but it is an all-or-nothing project, so if it doesn’t its funding goal, you won’t get an opportunity to experience it. If you love murder mysteries and want to support local Canberra authors and artists, I really encourage you to check it out and find out what happened to Naomi.

 

 

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Filed under interactive fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Uncategorized

Lost the Plot – Episode 22

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Stella Prize 2018 Shortlist
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“Welcome to Country” by Aunty Joy Murphy
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“Marvelous Miss May: Queen of the Circus” by Stephanie Owen Reeder
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“Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier – 80th Anniversary edition
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“Silent Invasion” by Clive Hamilton
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“Growing Up Black in Australia” by Anita Heiss
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“A Miniature Christmas Anthology”
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“The Outsider” by Stephen King
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“The War of the Worlds” by H G Wells
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Picnic at Hanging Rock Date Reveal
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An Epic Tale of Redwall Computer Game
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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” – Kindle in Motion
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The Crimes of Grindelwald – Dumbledore’s Sexuality
The Independent’s article

Rose McGowan book event controversy
The Independent’s article

Book Censorship in Western Australian school
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Lionel Shriver on ‘political correctness gone mad’
The Guardian’s article

Claire G. Coleman on ownership of stories
The Guardian’s article

Terry Goodkind publicly criticises own cover art
Screenshot
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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on reading to his grandkids
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Drag Queen Story Hour
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Interactive Fiction

Felicity Banks
Author website

Choice of Games – Felicity is writing an official story for them but is not associated or affiliated with them in any way
Website

Felicity’s Interactive Fiction
The Interactive Fiction Database

Hosted Games
Webpage

Choice Script
Webpage

Penguin Qantas Somerset College National Novella Writing Competition for School Age Students
Website

“Heart of Brass” and “After the Flag Fell”
Odyssey Books website

Peter Lalor
Wiki

Other Steampunk
Della Mortika series
Madeiline D’este
“Ichabod Hart and the Lighthouse Mystery” by James Roy
Richard Harland
Michael Pryor

Choices that Matter, Tinman Games
App in Google Play store

Odyssey Books
Website
Publisher Obscura

Hunt A Killer Boxes
Website

Laura E. Goodin
Website

Murder in the Mail
Kickstarter campaign
murderinthemailstories@gmail.com
Messageboard

Book Events

World Read Aloud Day
Website

Library Lover’s Day
Australian School Library Association post
Books on the Rail Blind Date with a Book
Queanbeyan Library Event

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Canberra Times article

Canberra Lifeline Book Fair
Canberra Times article

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Upcoming book fair dates

Stephanie Parkyn at Harry Hartog
Event

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“Egyptian Enigma” Book Launch
NLA Event

50 Years of the Library Building
NLA Event

The ANU/Canberra Times Meet the Author Series
Upcoming events

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Filed under Lost the Plot, Uncategorized