Belief.

It’s something in short supply these days.

I’m not talking about casual, commonplace, ersatz belief – like the belief that your pizza will arrive in 30 minutes or it’s free. Or that your favourite toothpaste will give your mouth a minty-fresh glow. Or the self-belief that motivational speakers spruik, quick fixes that last mere days because their foundations are weak and spurious.

There is no danger – or risk – in holding such beliefs.

No, I’m talking about the type of belief that our ancestors once had. The wild, fundamental belief that something is an absolute certainty despite a complete lack of proof. The belief that hundreds of years of science and technology has virtually wiped out in the modern world.

The belief that if you don’t pray to the gods, make the right sacrifice or live by the right moral code that you and your family will starve, that a rival tribe will destroy you or that your very existence will be shattered into a million pieces.

I’m talking about adamantine, rock-solid, bullet-proof belief.

As an entertainment journalist I’ve met a few A-list Hollywood stars who possessed such a bullet-proof belief. Such belief was mesmerising to observe close-up. Considering that Hollywood is one of the most competitive industries in the world, a powerful belief in one’s own star power is almost a pre-requisite.

But such belief isn’t something you see too often outside of Hollywood.

I realise now I first saw it in Billy Graham.

I was only eight when the late US evangelist visited Australia, preaching to thousands of the faithful at Randwick Racecourse.

As a mere youth I don’t remember much about that day. Certainly I stared up into the faces of all the adults and wondered why they were so mesmerised by Graham and his words. No … what I remember most is what happened when handfuls of people left the event prematurely, heading out across the track and into the distance.

Graham noticed.

I don’t remember what he said to them over the microphone, except that they should come back. And no, they didn’t suddenly turn around and return.

I found it funny at the time.

Now, as an adult, I have a different take.

No … what I now remember is the absolute certainty of Graham’s faith.

I believe he sincerely believed that the immortal souls of those stragglers were at risk if they didn’t return and embrace the Lord. He truly believed in the power and the words of his gospel. He truly believed he could make some type of difference in the world.

I’m not a religious person. The only time I attend church is Easter and Christmas, like the rest of lapsed Christendom.

As a cynical adult living in a world of technological marvels and scientific explanations, I don’t share in the belief of his gospel.

I studied postmodernism at university, which taught the belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth, religious or otherwise.

The only truth my First World generation believes in is that there are no real truths. We don’t believe in governments or corporations or even free will separated from the shackles of biological instinct. Our God is technology.

We barely believe in ourselves.

Perhaps that’s why as an adult I admire the adamantine faith of Graham because I know it’s something I could never have.

Perhaps I am like Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, who wisftully longs to be a 19th-century man seething with anger, full of the type of questions the modern world has already solved.

In the First World, we may never see the likes of Graham’s adamantine belief again.

All we can do is mourn its passing, as if it were an endangered tiger.

Which, in a way, it is.

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Forget about season eight of Game of Thrones.
The real battle in Sydney featuring majestic flying creatures is the Game Of Bins.
And the players? The legendary “bin chickens” you see every day: on uni campuses, in public parks, on the streets of our fair city.
Only one ibis will ultimately sit on the Iron Bin.
As the Battle of the Bin Chickens heats up, we take a look at the front-running ibises that just might one day perch on the Iron Bin.
Which noble house will you support?

Lord Eddard Aark
– Stupid but honourable
– Favoured among Arts students
– On the rugby union team
– Notorious for “dad jokes”

Jon Crow
– Constantly surrounded by the hottest women on campus
– Super brave: will eat a hot chip right out of your hand
– Always watching from on top of a wall
– Went to a public school and slightly ashamed of the fact

Cersei Bannister
– Hits the “bin juice” pretty hard
– Coined the phrase “you bin or you die”
– Surrounded on all uni quads by enemies
– Her inexplicably hot brother is always hanging around

Prancer Aark
– Used to be besties with Cersei until they had a fight over a necklace
– Will have those lemon cakes or cheeky Nando’s you’re eating if you’re finished with them, ta
– Member of House Jacaranda, eternal enemy of House Flametree

Daenerys Faarkgaryen
– Queen of the Law students
– Strong sense of entitlement because she grew up on the North Shore
– First boyfriend was a “westie”
– Untrustworthy around a Webber

Littlebeak
– Creepy mature-age student who always sits up the back during lectures
– Studies economics or engineering: his answers are always cryptic
– Always running for Students’ Representative Council but never elected
– Hasn’t moved for a while

Gendry Barhoppean
– On the rowing team
– Says his dad used to be a “king” or an investment banker: “same thing”
– Never around when it’s his time to buy a round

Tyrion Bannister
– Rich dad
– The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him
– Fellow “bin juice” connoisseur
– Who you really want to sit on the Iron Bin but won’t because reasons

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Designed in new, non-phallic shapes

A quieter crunch to reduce the social awkwardness of loudly crunching in public

“Lady Doritos” polled better with groups that “Suffragettos”

Optional “sparkly unicorn” packaging

Doubles as a body scrub and exfoliant

Introduces identity politics into chips

Comes in pink

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ran their ruler over it and could see nothing wrong with the concept

“This is the best marketing decision since New Coke”

Will probably cost more than “Gentlemen Doritos”

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

No one throws a sub-editor through a window, either … even when they take a red pencil to the very first line of an earth-shattering exposé

No one screams across the newsroom: “Do you have the Dalai Llama’s phone number? Or the Pope’s?”

There is no real estate lift-out featured with the headline “why it’s never been a better time to buy”

No one is asked to file 1000 words for page one and 500 “for the website”

No one is stabbed with a newspaper spike

It is journalistic tradition to ring a giant bell when you finish a story

There is no furious debate over whether to drop the Marmaduke, Hagar The Horrible or Cathy cartoons to make more room for bigger stories

Hot type and Xerox machines became obsolete in journalism at least a year ago

There is way too little smoking in the office

No one is pictured wearing a hat with a “press” card stuck in the brim

No intern is forced to do a Starbucks run for pumpkin lattes

Journalists never succumb to random monologuing

There are no car chases or action montages

Tom Hanks makes editors seem “dangerously likeable”

Bob Odenkirk is pictured using something called a “pay phone”

No one rolls up their sleeves to reveal a tattoo in an edgy German newspaper font

No one sits around trying to make puns out of the names of Thai restaurants

The latest “superfood” goes sadly unreported

In one scene, you can clearly see that someone has managed to solve the daily Sudoku

The Pentagon Papers are unveiled through cloak-and-dagger journalism rather than being discovered in a cabinet in a second-hand shop

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

The concept
In the future, the human consciousness can be digitised and downloaded into new bodies – or “sleeves”.
In the future, the rich – also known as “Meths”, short for Methuselahs – can technically live forever.
In the future, morality is for the powerless and the poor.

The story

Former military officer Takeshi Kovacs is retrieved from the “stacks”, given a new body and a new assignment – to find out who killed “Meth” Laurens Bancroft.

The world
It’s cyberpunk meets detective story meets Blade Runner … but with an even darker premise.
The Singularity never happened. But AI, off-world colonisation and societies massively divided by wealth did.
The only victory the poor used to have was that the rich died along with them. Now they’ve had even that consolation taken away from them.
Death has been conquered.
But not sin.

The visuals
Primo small-screen eye candy.
“Damned if it isn’t the best-looking series Netflix has yet produced,” wrote The AV Club.

The gun show
Primo high-tech bang bang.

The source material
I’d never heard of Altered Carbon author Richard Morgan before this, but I am now bona fide HOOKED.
A staggering achievement for a first novel, Altered Carbon won a slew of prize including the Philip K. Dick award.
Read it NOW.
Actually, read it after you’ve seen the series.

The critics
“Ambitious, dense and thrilling, Netflix’s new sci-fi epic starring Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy and Martha Higareda is a binge-worthy potential blockbuster,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter.

The actors
Did we mention James “Rome” Purefoy, Joel “RoboCop” Kinnaman and Martha “El Mariarchi” Higareda?

The binge factor
Because you’ve already watching Game Of Thrones, The Sopranos, Westworld, The Wire and everything else and you’re looking for a new series.

The satisfaction
This will go some way to filling that sci-fi-shaped hole in your heart left by the disappointment of the Blade Runner sequel.

My military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

We all know after reading the “excerpt” from Michael Wolff’s Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House that Donald Trump’s favourite TV channel is The Gorilla Channel, which he allegedly watches for up to 17 hours a day.
But what exactly is on The Gorilla Channel?
Our spies at the White House managed to get a copy of the TV guide to the world’s most exclusive TV channel …

Morning Prayers With Pastor Gary
Gary, the peaceful lowland gorilla, begins the station programming each morning by reciting the Lord’s Prayer using Sign Language.
Morning Prayers is never watched by POTUS – it screens at 9am, long before POTUSES’s typical noon rising – but the station’s reclusive owners insist it is shown each and every morning for “good Christian gorillas everywhere”.

David Attenborough Presents Ultimate Gorilla Bum Fights
Hosted by the world’s leading nature documentarian – an agreement struck after POTUS threatened to frack the Amazon – homeless and cast-out beta gorillas fight each other for big cash prizes.
In a further humiliation, POTUS insists all the fighters must have a full body wax.
Shown twice a day, morning and prime time.

World Wildlife Wrestling Federation
In the wild, gorillas are peaceful creatures who form complex societies and who rarely get involved in physical violence. Of course, that wouldn’t make for very entertaining TV, particularly for the current POTUS.
Led by a mysterious Vince McMahon-type impresario who is never seen in public without a mask, the World Wildlife Wrestling Federation employs Modified Ludovico techniques and electroshock treatment to turn peaceful vegetarians into meat-eating killers. The resultant “participants” are dressed in ill-fitting wrestling outfits and are forced to battle under such pseudonyms as Donald “The Terrible” Trump, Hillary “Benghazi” Clinton “and Kim “The Killer” Jong-un.
POTUS will often call and complain about the winner of particular fights, which is why two ending are always filmed, with the “correct” ending screened after POTUS’S call.

Gorilla Friends
Six young mountain gorillas try to make it in the urban jungle of Manhattan, the classic lines from the human version “signed” by “Rachel”, “Ross”, “Joey”, “Phoebe”, “Chandler” and “Monica”.
Fun fact: Beta “David” is often killed by silverback alpha “Joey”, leading to a hasty replacement.

Gorilla Seinfeld
The only thing that can make POTUS cry.

Gorilla Fox News
Two hours of ageing silverbacks beating their chests in an attempt to intimidate their rivals. POTUS much prefers this to the “FAKE NEWS” of rival GNN (the Gorilla News Network).

Gorilla Saturday Night Live
A right-wing rebuttal to Alec Baldwin’s left-wing simian version. Will be a “go” project once the CIA kidnap Baldwin for his live showtrial.

Gorilla Gilligan’s Island
To this day POTUS remains baffled as to why the US Navy can’t find Gilligan’s Island. SAD!

The Apprentice Gorilla
POTUS only knows two words in Sign Language: “You’re Fired”.

Jackie Collins’s The Gorilla Stud
Dallas Fontaine, a single female lowland gorilla, rises to the top of the jungle by mating with the tribe’s alpha male, Rex Acropolis, in this high-stakes, winner-takes-all thriller. This midday movie is shown at least five times a week.

Are You Stronger Than A Gorilla?
Roided-up professional MMA fighters pit their strength against male silverbacks that can bench-press over 4600 pounds. Hilarity – and dismemberment – ensues.

Gorilla Home Buyers Network
Female gorillas dressed like Southern belles sell bamboo shoots, termite nests, leaves and copies of Trump: The Art Of The Deal via Sign Language. Usually watched by First Lady Melanie Trump when POTUS announces he has to leave the room to Tweet, sabre-rattle with North Korea or “have a shit”.

The Gorilla Wellness Hour
After a full day of leading the Free World and/or watching gorillas fight, POTUS likes to wind down with 60 minutes of watching gorillas reinforce their social bonds by grooming each other.

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a spy?
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service is looking for a few good men and women.
Confidently dubbed “The Most Interesting Job Interview”, its online quiz will ask you a series of questions about the qualities needed to become an ASIS operative.
We reckon the interview needs a few tweaks. Here’s the questions they should be asking.

Being an intelligence officer is an exciting profession that requires a very specific skill set. What do you think the phrase “very specific skill set” means?

a) I’m good at recognising faces in a crowd
b) I can repeat overheard conversations verbatim
c) I’m a good communicator
d) I’m like Liam Neeson’s character from Taken

Did you really think we were referring to Liam Neeson’s character from Taken?

a) Yes
b) No
c) “If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.”

There was a clock on the wall when you came in. Did you see what time it was?

a) Noon
b) Zero Dark Thirty
c) Quitting Time
d) That was a trick question. In the age of the iPhone, no one uses clocks any more

As an intelligence officer most of your assignments will take place in the airport. Do you find that knowledge depressing?

a) Yes
b) No
c) Yes

We need to you to persuade this flight attendant to give you an aisle seat. How will you do it?

a) Tell her you work for ASIS
b) Talk to her and read her facial reactions until she smiles at you, suggesting sympathy to your plight. Then ask her
c) Beg
d) Throw a hissy fit and threaten to put your tantrum online so it will go viral and shame the company

Now we’re on the plane. Please try to spot the terrorist on the plane. Is it?

a) Tom
b) Dick
c) Harry
d) The only person on the plane not hunched down over a smartphone. Clearly they’re an oddball

ISIS officers are good at noticing small details. Did you recognise which flight was cancelled back at the airport?

a) New York
b) London
c) Canberra
d) Bali. Totally gutted

In intelligence, it’s important to have sharp ears as well as sharp eyes. Listen to this crowded conversation and tell us what the woman on the left ordered.

a) It was too difficult to follow
b) She had linguine on Bourke Street
c) She had penne arrabiata on the Death Star
d) No need. I’ll just read her Yelp review

Can you do us a quick impression of Sean Connery as James Bond?

a) No
b) No
c) “Morning, Mish Moneypenny.”
Results
We can’t actually tell you which answers you got right or wrong (except for when you answered D – that was always right). But our overall results suggest that being a spy might be right for you. Now if you can just figure out where to send your application …

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and a paperback.