Travel in a time of Covid 19

Machinery, Albion station

Earlier this year but still during lockdown, work sent me over to the gritty industrial west of Melbourne to a station where I’d never been before. I’m from the middleclass eastern suburbs and grew up regarding this place as very much the wrong side of the tracks.
On this cold misty morning it’s all grit and grime.

Against a cold grey sky huge trucks roar as they belt over the bridge above. Derelict wheat silos loom across the tracks, rotting industrial machinery strewn at its feet. The only other person in sight is a man in a black hoody crossing the weed pocked car park. Of course. Maybe a drug dealer?
Here be dragons.


silo at


Except that someone has decorated the platform with planters of flowers.
And I’m somewhere new! During the Covid lockdown I’m somewhere new. Woo Hoo!
As I watch the man in the black hoodie begins to skip.

Flowers, Albion station
Flowers, Albion station

A Guest Post at Sue’s

Today I’m guest posting over at The Great Raven blog of my friend Sue Bursztynski

Sue’s one of the hardest working bloggers I know. She says:

“I’m a writer, librarian, book reviewer, educator. I live in a beachside suburb of Melbourne with a lot of pot plants, but no cats. I slush fiction for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and hope that each one that arrives is going to be a potential Hugo winner.”

If your interested in how I did the world building for Shadow in the Empire of Light Check out my guest post here.

And then stay to see what other things Sue is writing about.

Guest Post for Mary Robinette Kowal

Hugo Award winning Mary Robinette Kowal, author of the Lady Astronaut series has been kind enough to host me on her blog My favorite bit

Here’s the link if you’d like to find out about my debt to Georgette.

Try Amazon if you’d like to know more about Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars



Due to the Covid -19 for the first time in history the SF Worldcon will be on-line. So do come!
This is my schedule with a book launch at the end.  

My  Schedule for CoNZealand


Sandman at 30: The Enduring Influence of Neil Gaiman’s Creation


30 Jul 2020, Thursday 16:00 – 16:50, Programme Room 1 (Webinar) (Programming)

Neil Gaiman created the Sandman series a bit over 30 years ago, in 1988. It had a profound influence on graphic SF and fantasy, winning awards (including a World Fantasy Award) and paving the way for other graphic works. What makes Sandman stand out and endure? 

Getting Your Book Edited and Ready for Self Publishing

31 Jul 2020, Friday 12:00 – 12:50, Programme Room 4 (Webinar) (Programming)

Publishing a good independent book involves more than writing it and then putting it online. What’s involved in producing a good self-published book that readers will enjoy and will sell well. 

The Regency Today: On the Continuing Popularity of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer

31 Jul 2020, Friday 15:00 – 15:50, Book Launches (Programming)

The panel discusses all things Austen and Heyer. 

Reading: Jane Routley

31 Jul 2020, Friday 16:30 – 16:55, Reading Room 1 (Programming)

Book Launch: Shadow in the Empire of Light

with cat-related give away.  

 1 Aug 2020, Saturday 20:00 – 20:50, Book Launches (Programming)

Get a preview of award-winning author Jane Routley’s latest novel, Shadow in the Empire of Light, due out soon.


Publishers Weekly like it !


Routley (The Melded Child) unravels a complex web of familial politics in this eccentric fantasy. It’s Blessing time in the Empire of Light, an annual tradition in which the Matriarch of each family ensures fruitful crops for the following year. As always, Shine and her Auntie Eff, both mundanes without magic of their own despite their noble lineage, are expected to host a clan of their condescending, magical relations for the duration of the festival. Shine’s usually monotonous life as a mundane is plunged into chaos as she must put out fires at every turn, from curbing her cousins’ inappropriate seductions to stopping a burgeoning plot to overthrow the Matriarch. To further complicate matters, Shine’s exiled cousin, Bright, asks her to hide Shadow, a foreigner caught in a crystal smuggling scheme that somehow involves their wicked and violent cousin, Illuminus. Though readers will struggle to keep track of Shine’s many relations, even with the help of the family tree Routley provides, Routley’s whimsical tone lends a dark comic quality to this intricate fantasy, and the outlandish characters and captivating worldbuilding make up for occasional confusion. This is a bumpy but entertaining ride. Agent: John Jarrold, John Jarrold Literary. (Aug.)

Back at work

The staff at Richmond cheer strutting their stuff to “Funky Town” during Covid-19


Although I work in an “essential service,” I decided to use up some of my holidays at the beginning of lockdown because I knew there’d be nothing to do. The Zoo is closed, there are no tourists and we are 88% down on customers.  But I went back to work this week.  And there are still customers.

An infectious diseases specialist was working on his laptop in the waiting room while waiting for a train and told me that the hospitals were all ready for a second wave of infections with a ward full of prepared beds and plenty of spare ventilators in ICU. “ Keep washing your hands” he said. “And don’t touch your face.” We were interrupted then by another less respectable looking man who told us that the Covid-19 tracing app was compulsory, Big Brother was upon us and that we wouldn’t be able to use hospitals or get into Bunnings unless we had the app on our phones.  He waved his fist and kept crying “Resist! Resist!” until the train fortuitously rolled in and took him away.

One of the Zoo volunteers dropped by to have a walk around the outside of the zoo.  It’s closed tight and she said she was missing the animals terribly.  According to the on-line Zoo keeper chat the animals, especially the monkeys and apes are also missing the entertainment of the visitors.

Those of my regulars who are still working were happy to see me.  Probably my return is a sign of normality.  I missed my Burmese hospital cleaners who apparently are now driving to work because it’s safer from infection, but my Vaccine makers from Sequirus labs were there in force.  They hard at it making more flu vaccines.  The uptake has been tremendous this year and the government has asked for an extra million and a half vaccines for our southern winter, which must be made before they can get their start on the regular flu vaccines they always make for the northern winter.  If you are run down from having the flu it increases you chance of catching Covid-19.  They don’t have any news on a Covid-19 vaccine.

Although the station was very quiet, the Park itself was like a high street.  It was one of those golden autumn afternoons when there is just a tinge of chill in the air and a constant stream of people went past on foot or on bicycle, including the many happy golfers.  Their club house was opened last week.  One of my regulars stopped and told me how happy he was, all was back.  He’d had to make do with a putting machine in his living room for the past 6 weeks and as he lived alone it had been very lonely.

I suspect this is also true of the man with out of control hair who is still using the train to carry all the timber for his new shed bunker/ and still likes to stop and tell me ALL the details of everything.

The person I most wished to speak to did not stop and talk.  Why is a man in high vis, walking through my railway station with a such a huge hole torn in the back of his work pants that I can see half of his blue star spangled boxer shorts underneath?  Alas I will never know.