It’s only a few weeks until the main program for Sydney Writers’ Festival gets under way. This year’s program looks completely amazing, featuring writers such as Helen MacDonald, author of the frankly astonishing H is for Hawk, Daniel Mendelsohn (who will be in conversation with David Malouf about reading the classics on Thursday 21 May – be still my beating heart), Malcolm Knox (whose new novel, The Wonder Lover, is out now, and who was profiled in the Fairfax papers over the weekend) and many more.
If you’d like to catch me I’m doing a number of events in and around Sydney during the Festival. First up I’ll be in conversation with Geordie Williamson at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba on Monday 18 May at 3:00pm, where we’ll be talking about Clade, climate change and writing the Anthropocene.
On Thursday of the same week I’ll be back in Sydney, this time at Randwick Library, where I’m speaking at 6:30pm. Tickets for this event are free, and can be booked online or by calling 02 9399 6966.
And then, over the weekend, I’m at two events at the main festival. The first is a panel at 11:30am on Saturday 23 May entitled ‘Imagined Futures’, chaired by Ashley Hay and featuring Emily St. John Mandel, David Mitchell, Jonathan Lethem. I’m incredibly excited abut this panel: I’ve been a huge admirer of Lethem for years, and as I said when I posted about my favourite books of 2014, I adored both The Bone Clocks and Station Eleven. Tickets for this one are $25 or $20 concession, and although there are still some available I suspect they won’t be for long.
The second, which I’m also very much looking forward to, is with Anson Cameron and David Schlosberg on Sunday 24 May at 3:00pm, and is entitled ‘Climate Change and the New Nature’. I think this should be a fascinating and quite provocative session. Tickets are $14.
Anyway, hopefully I’ll see some of you at some of these events. And if not, take a look at the full program: it’s an incredible line-up.
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If like yours truly your adolescence (and much of your 20s, come to that) was misspent rereading old issues of The Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four, you might be interested to know Marvel have assembled a collection of their 70 greatest covers. The list, which is based upon an online poll of readers, is part of Marvel’s 70th anniversary celebrations, and is accompanied by a list of Marvel’s 70 greatest comics.
I’d have to confess to being a little non-plussed by the winner, Todd McFarlane’s cover for The Incredible Hulk #340 . I can think of half a dozen covers off the top of my head which are more iconic and, quite frankly, more striking. And while the selection seems to be less biased towards recent covers than one might expect, I’m a little surprised Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko’s work from the 1960s isn’t better represented (and, though it’s less iconic, the very striking work John Byrne was doing on Fantastic Four and Frank Miller on Daredevil in the 1980s). And how on earth how did the cover of Avengers #4 miss the cut? How can you get more iconic than the return of the original Super-Soldier himself, Captain America?
But all that said, I’m pleased to see the #2 and #3 spots go to Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spiderman) and a comic that remains one of my all-time favourites, The Uncanny X-Men #141. And as always I’m pleased to be reminded of just how much I love the old Silver Age comics, which still possess a joyousness and archetypal power the much more sophisticated work of recent years struggles to match (find me an image to match that of Bruce Banner caught in the glow of the Gamma Bomb, or the Sub-Mariner hurling Captain America’s body into the Arctic Ocean and I’ll eat my words).
And if you have a few minutes to spare after flicking through the images on Marvel’s website, do yourself a favour and read Jonathan Lethem’s piece on Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, or his wonderful essay about growing up with the Fantastic Four, or, in a slightly different vein, his bleak but to my mind accurate piece about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. I promise it’ll be time well-spent.