The Amazing Invisible Man!

There are people born every day to a life of blending in with the ordinary. Sure, they look like everyone else; they sound and act and think like everyone else. Yet these people are invisible. Not in the literal sense of course. They blend in. No one notices them.

This type of person has a voice that matches the tone and pitch of background noise – they’re never heard, no matter how loud they shout. The extreme ordinaryness of their faces act like visual teflon. The casual observer’s eye slides right off.

I am one such guy. I am the amazing invisible man!

You wouldn’t think so, not by reading this blog anyway. But the signs have always been there.

The cases in point that spark this little insight:
I have scoured the net looking for reviews of my stories in Borderlands #4 and Aurealis #33-35 and I came up with one each.

The first, a review of Aurealis magazine by Rich Horton, mentions three or four good stories in his review, and expresses his proclivities towards hard SF, but doesn’t mention my story Sobek’s Tears. Fair enough, given there are 20 stories in the mag.

So then I read the comprehensive review of Borderlands #4 on our very local Ticonderoga Online. Our intrepid reviewer, Russell B Farr, doesn’t pull his punches in expressing disappointment with the issue. In that, I certainly agree with him. I love Borderlands and consider it a slick (if slow) publication, otherwise I’d have never submitted to them in the first place. However, there are a number of stories in the issue I just can’t read. It’s the Clarion South critiquer in me – still too fresh to subdue right now.

After Russell espouses the value of the non-fiction and a couple of the stories, he mentions a fistful of stories that didn’t work for him. Perhaps it’s a blessing that my story was not considered in this group, but then again, neither was it mentioned with the best of the issue. Leaving it right in the unnoticed middle.

Not that I’m complaining (not really), but geez, I have a reviews page on my website just yearning for extracts of reviews to be placed there, especially now as my stories are seeing the light of day in the major Australian magazines. I certainly don’t want to be in the ‘bad’ bunch, but just rating a mention would be a novelty. 😛

Given that little hissy fit, I was pleasantly surprised, nay, even shocked, when the Peter Cowan Writers Centre called me up yesterday to ask me to judge a horror fiction contest they’re running. My first thought (as always, given the ‘under the radar’ aura I’ve battled with most of my life) was ‘how the hell do you know who I am?’ quickly followed by ‘who set you up to this?’. But no, it was a serious request and someone had ‘mentioned my name’ at the centre as the ideal judge. Yeah, given my recent Clarion and Shadowed Realms experiences, they’re probably right, but it still sounds funny to hear it come from a total stranger. Needless to say, I’ve agreed – the stories are already on their way and I have been asked to rig up a judges report and all, which lends the contest that air of authenticity I suppose.

On the subject of fortuitous phone calls, Clarion buddy Mark B spontaneously called me tonight. It was weird but familiar hearing a fellow Clarionite’s voice again, even after a month. I know I’m in the minority on this, given that most of the CSers are on the East coast and have a stronger network going on. The timing couldn’t be better for the call – the coming weeks will demonstrate why.

Finally, hot on the heels of the Tin Duck nominations, I’ve revamped my website (check it out people – www.jiraiya.com.au – this blog isn’t really my main site!). The site has been cleaned up (images and code), font re-embedded, and updated for public consumption. Some sections still need a polish, but the Clarion South photo gallery should distract attention long enough for me to do so.

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