Home/Tag: australia

Foods from Australia.

What to try if you’re just passing through, and need to return with comestible gifts for friends and family. Those who’ve read Liesmith should recognize Fantales, which are amazing awesome sinfully delicious sugar-hunks it’s a crime you can’t get elsewhere.

Gotta confess, however, that I do love a Mint Slice more than a Tim-Tam.1 Either way, Americans? If you’re wondering why no-one in Australia except pretentious hipsters gives a shit about your piss-weak Oreo nonsense, it’s because we all grew up eating real chocolate cookies.

  1. Basically because I ate a lot of Tim-Tams in college, a.k.a. senior high. I used to be in the nerd club that ran the school’s IT network, and the librarians we “worked” for paid us in Tim-Tams. Apparently you can get enough of a good thing, go figure. []
2016-11-09T08:10:08+11:0011th November, 2016|Tags: australia, food|

It’s tasty AND it makes racists angry!

So if you’re from a country where you don’t have access to what are apparently now called Halal Snack Packs (HSPs), I feel bad for you. You remember when Avengers came out and everyone suddenly got into shawarma? Yeah, like that. But even better.

The HSP is basically a takeaway box of shaved kebab meat, with some kind of sauce (e.g. tahini), served on chips. Or pilaf, if you prefer.1 Also sometimes cheese, which I guess makes the HSP a bit like the Australian version of poutine, except better, as opposed to poutine, which is terrible (fight me, Canadians).

Anyway. HSP’s have been the favored comestible of drunk and/or high Australians pretty much forever. In the last year, however, they’ve become a way for not-otherwise-particularly-politically-motivated people to push back against racists whining about halal foods (there’s a huge conspiracy theory among racists here that halal food certifications fund militant Islamist groups). Because who doesn’t like meat and carbs and making racists angry, amirite?

But seriously, though. HSPs are so fucking tasty. Put it on your “must-eat Australian foods” list alongside the flat white, Tim Tam, and Vegemite next time you’re in the country.

  1. And I do, since pilaf is proof the Food Gods love us and want us to eat carbs. []
2016-11-17T21:10:01+11:0011th September, 2016|Tags: australia, food|

The truth about kangaroos.

There are few things more amusing than foreigners realising just how shit fucking scary kangaroos are.

Seriously don’t go near those things. They’ll fucking destroy you.

2017-07-17T11:39:59+10:0029th August, 2016|Tags: australia|

The truth behind drop bears.

It’s true. We’ve been lying to everyone all this time. There’s no such thing as an Australian drop bear.

It’s actually more accurately described as a “drop lion“.

2016-11-17T21:03:49+11:0013th May, 2016|Tags: australia, nature|

Australian slang 101.

Take note, non-Australians.

(Though obviously there would be a point of disagreement over the vehemence of the term “ranga”. It is an insult, in the context that “baldy” and “dag” and “nerd” are insults. It’s not a weapon of structural oppression, and I actually get kind of mad at the conflation of the two…)

2016-05-14T11:08:06+10:0020th September, 2015|Tags: australia, language|

The Invisible Spear of Australian racism.

An celebrated Indigenous Australian sportsperson performs an Indigenous Australian victory dance at a major event in order to honor the young Indigenous Australian sportspeople who taught it to him. White Australia loses its collective fucking shit.

Thanks, White Australia. Way to make us look great, you snivelling racist fucks.

When I first heard about this, I heard it in the context of “people are angry at a footballer who did an Indigenous war dance.” So my initial reaction was, “… because he wasn’t Indigenous and it’s appropriative?”

A-har har har har har. Dream on, Alis. If only.

2015-11-25T16:29:13+11:0012th August, 2015|Tags: australia, culture|

Australian racism: professional booist edition.

Are you a racist? A quick handy quiz in cartoon format.

My “favourite” response to the booing thing was someone who decided that if Goodes didn’t like being booed he should “go back to where he came from”.

Mm. “Post-racial Australia”, indeed.

2016-11-17T20:58:03+11:0010th August, 2015|Tags: australia, culture|

Specfic Australiana.

Australians seem to be well represented in the fields of science fiction, fantasy and horror, given our relatively small population base. […] I wonder if marketing a work as ‘Australian’ (or, indeed, as actively representing any particular diversity group) might sometimes be doing that work a disservice, in that the ‘Australianness’ of the work might then shout louder than other story elements potential readers would find more compelling or relevant. […] I guess my question is whether a work actually needs to be marketed as being Australian, if that’s only going to conjure up images of kangaroos and gum trees, when that might not have much, if anything, to do with the story.

–Leife Shallcross on Aussie specfic.

Leife is the president of our local specfic writer’s group, and she’s lovely.1 I love this interview with her for a lot of reasons, but this quote in particular resonates with me.

I’m Australian and I write Australian urban fantasy set in Australia. I set it in the Australia I know, which is highly urban, educated, white collar, and cosmopolitan. In other words, it’s basically the antithesis of version of the Australia we tend to sell overseas: rural, “rustic”, working class, male, and very, very white.2 This was a deliberate choice, and it was a deliberate choice because it’s not an Australia that foreign markets tend to see very often.

Still, it’s… irritating when I get U.S. readers ((And it’s always U.S. readers, not ones from Britain or Canada or continental Europe or any of the other regions my stuff’s available in.)) telling me my Australia isn’t “authentic” enough because it doesn’t conform to some Mad Max-esque mental image they have of what my country looks like.

Yeah, about that.

It’s other, little, things as well. The biggest one I tend to notice is U.S. readers complain the affect of my characters is too flat. To which I say: uh, yeah. Duh.

The thing about emotional affect is that it’s cultural. USians have a very exaggerated emotional affect that, frankly, reads as histrionic to a lot of other people, Australians included. This is particularly true in media originating from the U.S.3

Australia, meanwhile, is notoriously the land of the laconic. Our national motto is “she’ll be right, mate“… up until the point where things aren’t, in which case it becomes “bugger“. In other words, large showy displays of emotion are often considered gauche, pretentious, or childish here.4

So, yeah. When I write characters like Sigmund, Em, and Wayne they do, indeed, tend to undersell their reactions to startling events. In Sigmund’s case in particular it’s because he’s, yanno. A dude, and the pressure on Australian men to maintain flat affect is even heavier than it is on Australian women. Which is also one of the reasons Em, who works in the male-dominated tech industry, has a flatter affect than Wayne, who works in the arts.5

This is the stuff that, I think, non-Australian readers miss. Hell, probably even Australian readers miss it, but perhaps they miss it in the sense that fish “miss” water.

Anyway. It’s little things like that–those little, semi-invisible cultural assumptions–which make the Wyrd series “Australian urban fantasy”, as opposed to “urban fantasy… IN AUSTRALIA!!!”. Whether people notice them or not, whether they’re “effective” or not… eh. I guess that’s up to other people to judge. But they are things I think about.

  1. This is writer code for go read her stuff. So, yanno. Go read her stuff. []
  2. Unless someone needs a scene with some “Mystical Aborigines”, that is. []
  3. One of the reasons every Australian I know hates the “Australian” characters in Pacific Rim is because they “read” like USians, particularly the young bloke whatshisface. “They care too much to be Aussies,” is how my husband put it. Also their accents are terrible. And their names. And their dog is British. Seriously. So. So fucking bad. []
  4. This occasionally makes dealing with people from the U.S…. interesting, shall we say. I got this a lot when I was first signing deals for Liesmith, both with my agent and with the publisher. There were these phone calls where I’d get something like “so we’d like to offer you representation!”, followed by an expectant pause. And I’d be thinking, Oh… okay. I guess this is the part where I shriek and scream excitedly? Except what I said was more along the lines of, “Awesome. Thanks.” It’s not because I wasn’t excited, it’s just that I’ve been brought up in a society that values understated reactions. But I think I threw a few people with my lack of externally visible squee. []
  5. Em’s other reason, for the record, has to do with her schizophrenia, which is only alluded to in the first couple of books–Em mentioning doctors and her “meds” in Liesmith, Sig and Wayne assuring her she’s not hallucinating when Hel appears in Stormbringer–but is confirmed in the third. []
2016-05-14T11:05:25+10:004th August, 2015|Tags: australia, LIESMITH, sff, STORMBRINGER, writing, wyrdverse, xp|


I don’t think the public really understand what it means to us to finally be believed and listened to respectfully, and that we’re not getting interrogated. People have tried to get justice for themselves, and have had to put up with the most appalling statements like ‘oh that couldn’t have happened to you.’ But two more people have decided today they want to register for the royal commission. That’s the story the public needs to hear. It’s so important.

–Leonie Sheedy, co-founder of the Care Leavers Australia Network.

There’s currently a royal commission going on in Australia over the institutionalised abuse of children. It’s in the process of interviewing survivors of institutional abuse, and is getting more and more applications by the day, partly because word is getting out that, yanno. The commission is actually listening rather than aggressively interrogating survivors and denying their experiences.

Of course, the right wing loathes the commission, and is actively trying to discredit it–which is what the above-linked Guardian article is about–in no small part because the original mandate was investigating specifically Catholic abuse of minors (by priests, in schools, and so on), and the Catholic Church still has quite a lot of sway over that side of Australian politics. Meaning the remit of the commission has since been broadened after a campaign of apologists basically making the super-compelling argument of, “Oh yeah, well… other people sexually molest children too! So nyyah!”

The commission’s findings are due at the end of next year.

2016-11-17T20:09:27+11:0019th October, 2014|Tags: australia|