Welcome to the first instalment of "Scoop", a news column about Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Locally written SF is now being published both at home and overseas in greater quantity than ever before. Indeed, the last few years have seen a boom in the genre which appears set to continue unabated. Thus the reason for "Scoop": to keep Eidolon readers informed about events and new publications. As you will see from this first column, there is so much happening that it is difficult for any one person to keep up to date with everything; so much so that I need your assistance to help make this column as complete as possible. "Scoop" is keen to hear from anyone who has news about professional story sales, either here or overseas, forthcoming books, people or media news, so long as it is about Australian SF. I think you will find some fascinating and enlightening items this time 'round, and I know there are more things in the pipeline for the next issue. In addition I hope to be able to bring you some special features on Australian SF from time to time. So, until next time, here's the scoop.
David Brooks, author of the new magical fantasy novel The House Of Balthus, was a guest of the Melbourne Writers' Festival, 16-20 October.
Well known children's SF/F/H writer Victor Kelleher was a guest speaker at this year's Warana Writers' Festival, 1-5 October.
Dymock's bookstore, George Street, Sydney held the grand opening of its new specialist "SF and Fantasy Concept Store" (managed by Leigh Blackmore) on 25 July. In Attendance to celebrate the event were Terry Dowling, Bill Congreve and Robert Hood. Blackmore is keen to promote local writers and publications.
Twenty years after meeting at the SF writing workshop run by Ursula K LeGuin at the Worldcon in Melbourne in 1975, local SF writers Philippa Maddern and Ted Mundie are to be married.
Cathy Tasker, editor of the Moonstone children's fantasy series at HarperCollins, recently left in unhappy circumstances and has been replaced by Laura Harris.
An estimated 200 people attended the launch of She's Fantastical (edited by Lucy Sussex and Judith Buckrich) at Budinskis Theatre of Exile in Carlton on Sunday 27 August. The book was launched by Louise Adler (Literary Editor of the Melbourne Age). Bernie M Janssen and Ania Walwicz both reading from their work, and fellow contributors Sarah Endacott, Rosaleen Love, Allison Goodman, Petrina Smith and Maurilia Meehan were on hand to celebrate and sign books. It was a highly successful evening.
|Editors Judith Raphael Buckrich and Lucy Sussex celebrate the launch of She's Fantastical.||Sarah Endacott of Sybylla Press and contributor Rosaleen Love at the launch.|
The Dark House anthology, edited by Gary Crew, was launched at Kill City bookshop in Prahran in Melbourne on Friday 25 August. Among the guests were contributors Peter Lawrance (owner of Kill City), Arnold Zable and Carmel Bird. Numerous other readers, agents, publishers and editors were on hand to celebrate the launch.
Greg Egan's "Cocoon" appears in Gardner Dozois The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twelfth Annual Collection (St Martins Press), as does George Turner's story "Flowering Mandrake" which Dozois describes as "a tale unsurpassed by any Young Turks anywhere for the bravura sweep and daring of its conceptualisation". Listed in Dozois' recommended reading list were Stephen Dedman's "Desired Dragons", Leanne Frahm's "Land's End", Sean McMullen's "The Miocene Arrow", Lucy Sussex's "Kay And Phil" and Chris Simmons' "Moonwatcher Breaks The Bones" from Aphelion's Alien Shores, and "Our Lady Of Chernobyl" by Greg Egan.
This year's Locus Awards have not overlooked Australia. The "Best SF Novel" list ranked Permutation City by Greg Egan at 22 and Genetic Soldier by George Turner at 23. The "Best Novelette" list ranked "Cocoon" at 4 and "Our Lady Of Chernobyl" at 14, both by Greg Egan. The "Best Anthology" list ranked Alien Shores (Aphelion) edited by Peter McNamara and Margaret Winch at 18. The anthology summary also mentioned Metaworlds, edited by Paul Collins.
SF books feature prominently among the winners of this year's Children's Book Council of Australia Awards. The "Book of the Year for Older Readers" was Foxspell by Gillian Rubinstein. Parkland by Victor Kelleher was shortlisted in this category. Somewhere Round The Corner by Jackie French, a timeshift story, was named an "Honour Book" in the Younger Readers category. Shadow Of Time by Patricia Wrightson was named a "Notable Book". The "Picture Book of the Year" was The Watertower by Gary Crew and Steve Woolman. The winners were announced during Children's Book Week, 19-26 August.
Damien Broderick has recently returned to writing fiction, receiving an advance from AvoNova in the USA for a new novel, The White Abacus, which was funded by the Literature Board fellowship Damien was awarded last year. Two other novels, Zones and The Book of Revelation, written with Rory Barnes, are currently with publishers in the USA. Most recently, Damien had a radio play, "Schrdinger's Dog", performed on Radio National in July as part of a series of plays dramatising the coming millennium.
HarperCollins' thrust into Australian science fiction and fantasy continues with new books for both adults and children. The adult line was launched in July, with BattleAxe, the first book in the "Axis Trilogy" by Sara Douglass. Distribution of this book has been incredible, with one Angus & Robertson store in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne alone displaying more than 100 copies in prime position by the front door. The Enchanter, second book in the series, is planned for publication in April 1996 with the third book to follow. HarperCollins' first science fiction title will be Privateer, a "space opera" by Simon Brown planned for publication in April 1996, followed in June by Sean Williams' Metal Fatigue. The message from HarperCollins is that they are open to submissions of both science fiction and fantasy by Australian writers which will appeal to a broad range of readers. Their horror line seems to have stalled and they are not seeking submissions in this area.
|Metal Fatigue, the new novel by Sean Williams, co-author of The Unknown Soldier, is scheduled for release in June 1996.|
Sydney University lecturer David Brooks, whose short stories have been compared to the likes of Borges and Calvino, had his first novel The House Of Balthus published by Allen & Unwin in October.
Pan Australia continues its fantasy line with more new novels. In July they published Martin Middleton's The New Dawn, the sixth and final volume in the "Chronicles of the Custodians" series. This was followed in September with Shannah Jay's Shadow Of The Serpent, "Book Three of the Chronicles of Tenebrak". The fourth (and final?) book in the Tenebrak series, The Price Of Wisdom, is due next year. Also expected from Pan in 1996 is Dirk Strasser's new novel Equinox and the first novel in a new series "The Living Towers Trilogy" by Martin Middleton.
Greg Egan's short fiction has rightly earned him an enviable reputation and, with two highly-praised novels now under his belt, he is set to carve a similar reputation for longer works with two new novels, Distress and Diaspora from Millenium. Meanwhile, he has sold Italian, German, French and Romanian rights for Quarantine and Permutation City.
Following the success of the first three MirrorDanse chapbooks, Bill Congreve intends to publish more local SF with a collection of short stories by Leanne Frahm, followed in 1996 by collections from Robert Hood and Simon Brown. In addition to these single-author collections, Bill is planning to co-edit a year's best Australian horror anthology with Robert Hood, to be launched at next year's national SF convention in Perth. To be considered, your story must have been published during 1995 and should be sent to MirrorDanse Books, c/- PO Box 3542, Parramatta, NSW 2124. The editors are considering all types of horror including "literary" and children's fiction.
Paul Voermans' novel The Weird Colonial Boy has just been published in German translation.
Lucy Sussex's book, If I Eat Your Soul, a 19th Century ghost/detective/voodoo novel, is due to be published by Tor Orb in the USA in July 1996.
My Beautiful Friend (Random House) by Venero Armanno, described as an erotic horror story of chilling intensity, was written with the assistance of a Writer's Fellowship from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, which is rather timely given the current criticism of the lack of grants for horror books.
Bambada Press has just released Skin Tight, a chapbook collection of horror stories by Bryce Stevens illustrated by Kurt Stone (cover plus three internal illustrations) with an introduction by Chris Sequeira. It is a saddle-stitched, 76-page production. Skin Tight contains seven stories, two new and five reprints which have been completely rewritten. The contents are as follows: "Horseriding In Paraguay", "Pray For Prey", "Dangerous Games", "Lesions" (previously "Pollen"), "Alone In Pelorous", "This Little Piggy Gets . . ." and "Visions Of Torment" (previously "Sedative For Bosch").
Kate Orman's third Doctor Who novel, Sleepy, the second part of the "AI Cycle", is scheduled for publication in March 1996.
John Marsden is the latest Australian children's writer to have his work repackaged for the adult market. The first book of his near-future SF trilogy, Tomorrow, When The War Began has been published for adults as When The War Began (Pan). The third and final book in this highly-regarded series, The Third Day, The Frost (Pan), is now available in hardcover with a startling cover by Nick Stathopoulos.
HarperCollins continues to publish a number of SF/F titles for kids outside its Moonstone line. Beyond The Boundaries by Jackie French (a sequel to the recent Walking The Boundaries), due mid-1996, explores new boundaries of time and space. Six of Garry Disher's supernatural/ suspense stories have been published in a collection, Restless, by Angus & Robertson. It is a thin volume, sub-titled "stories of flight and fear". Blame The Wind, a "Masterpiece" book, is a story with ghost elements based on an earlier short story of Disher's and is due to follow in August 1995.
Allen & Unwin continue to publish kids SF/F as part of their "Little Ark" imprint. Mike Dumbleton's Pumped Up, a novel for ages 6-10 which introduces the "fly sky-high basketball boots", was published in August. Windrider by Pamela Freeman is a sequel to The Willow Tree's Daughter for kids 8-12 and Antonia Barron's Jeremy Jeremia is an adventure across time. Also published was Sue Bursztynski's non-fiction Potions To Pulsars-Women Doing Science for kids aged 8-13.
Gary Crew seems to be turning up everywhere with new horror/dark fantasy for children. His anthology Dark House was just published by Mammoth in August, and his innovative book, The Watertower (ERA), won the Children's Book of the Year Award for "Best Picture Book". This is a horror/mystery story for older readers (ages 9-14) and is designed and illustrated by Steve Woolman based on the notion by Crew that "older children still love looking at pictures but are generally intellectually insulted by the childish fare they are served up". In a similar vein, Crew and Woolman have another horror book Caleb (ERA) due out in March 1996, aimed at readers of all ages. Also watch out for Rookie Cop, an anthology of ten macabre stories for late adolescent to adult readers edited by Crew. In October or November, Gary will also publish two horror/dark fantasy books for younger readers, The Barn and The Bentback Bridge.
In 1994 Random House Australia introduced the "Hair-Raisers" horror series by "Lee Striker" for younger readers. This is the first Australian attempt to cater for readers of horror books by the likes of RL Stine. The interesting thing is that "Lee Striker" is a pseudonym for well-known Australian children's writer Margaret Clark. The first two books in the series are Evil At Camp Star and House Of The Living Dead. Two new novels followed in July 1995, Dead Kids Tell No Tales and Revenge Of The Vampire Librarian.
Dave Luckett continues to crop up. Night Hunters (Omnibus) and The Adventures Of Adam (Omnibus) are short SF novels for young children.
Also planned from Random House is the new Glyn Parry novel, Mosh, a rock and roll fantasy on the Internet, planned for publication in February 1996.
Victor Kelleher has published a new SF novel for young adults called Earthsong (Penguin). Following Parkland, this is the second book in a loosely-linked trilogy about humanity, responsibility and freedom. Kelleher's The Beast Of Heaven was re-released in a special young adult edition by UQP in July.
Paul Jennings has published a sequel, The Gismo Again (Puffin) which, like the original Gismo, is illustrated by Keith McEwan.
Witch Bank (Puffin) is the latest fantasy novel for children by Catherine Jinks.
Polymer by Sally Rogers-Davidson has been published by the Melbourne-based Cardigan Street Publishers. Sally described the book to me as a racy, fast-paced space-adventure/romance for young adults.
Hodder & Stoughton have returned to young adult SF/F with the release of Spellbinder: Riana's World by Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson, a novel where a teenager from Earth suddenly finds himself in a parallel world.
Patricia Wrightson's latest children's fantasy novel Shadow Of Time was released in paperback by Penguin in October.
Paul Collins' anthology of bizarre/horror/ outré stories called Strange Fruit was published in July 1995 by Penguin books.
Dark House (Mammoth) subtitled "stories compiled by the master of the macabre" is an anthology of horror stories for young adults edited by Gary Crew. The contents are as follows: David Mcrobbie's "Album", Jenny Pausacker's "The Princess In The Tower", Garry Disher's "Dead Set", Victor Kelleher's "Aunt Maud's Bequest", Gillian Rubinstein's "The Dog At The Door", Phillip Nielsen's "Rock And Roll Has To Die", Arnold Zable's "Beyond Night", Carmel Bird's "The Conservatory", Peter Lawrance's "All The King's Men", Marion Halligan's "Like A Kiss", James Moloney's "The Cat And The Crow", Isobelle Carmody's "A Splinter Of Darkness" and Gary Crew's "The Staircase"
Stephen Dedman continues to place stories in professional markets around the world. "A Sort Of Walking Miracle" appeared in the September issue of Science Fiction Age, "Tour De Force" sold recently to Asimov's Science Fiction and "A Single Shadow" sold to Beyond.
Over recent times Greg Egan has found it necessary to curtail his prolific output of short stories to concentrate on novel writing. Some recent Egan stories to watch out for include: "Mitochondrial Eve" (Interzone #92); "Wang's Carpets" (New Legends, ed. Greg Bear, Legend); "Luminous" (Asimov's Sept. 1995); "Mister Volition" (Interzone #100); "TAP" (Asimov's Nov. 1995); "Silver Fire"(Interzone #102).
Rosaleen Love has placed a story, "Alexia And Graham Bell", with Pamela Sargeant's Women of Wonder anthology.
Stephen Proposch (editor of Bloodsongs) has sold a poem, "Hard", to US magazine Palace Corbie.
Lucy Sussex appeared in Melbourne's Accent AGE on Friday 15 September with a short commissioned story on the Beijing conference and the future of women. It appeared as "A Fit Future for Women with Vision", although Lucy's original title was "Walking Backwards into the Future".
As of Issue #2 the new UK magazine Beyond is being distributed by Gordon and Gotch in Melbourne and Sydney. In his editorial David Riley says he has consistently received many really excellent stories from Australia. Issue #1 included Rick Kennett's "The Road To Utopia Plain" (originally published in Eidolon 15). Riley said it was "undeniably the most popular story in our first issue" (beating the likes of Ramsey Campbell and Karl Edward Wagner). Issue #2 includes my story "Two Tomorrow" (originally published in Eidolon 3). Issue 3 will include "The Jackie Onassis Swamp-Buggy Concerto" by Sean Williams (originally published in Eidolon 14) and "Research Project" by Sherry-Anne Jacobs (not writing as Shannah Jay!) Other Australian stories sold to Beyond include: "The Government In Exile" by Paul Collins, "Sleight Of Mind" by Paul Collins and Jack Wodhams, "The Stranded Biped" by Shane Dix, my own "Art Critic", "The Dark Under The Skin" by Dirk Strasser, "Timelines" and "Time In A Rice Bowl" by Rick Kennett (originally published in The Reluctant Ghost Hunter, ed. Rosemary Pardoe, "A Single Shadow" by Stephen Dedman and "On The Road To Tarsus" by Sean Williams (originally published in Eidolon 15). It's interesting to note almost a quarter of these stories were previously published in Eidolon.
Originally appeared pp. 26-31, Eidolon 19, October 1995.
Copyright © 1995 Steven Paulsen.
Reprinted with kind permission of the author.