|Sean McMullen's Guest|
|Records, Achievements, and Damn Statistics!|
Since Eidolon #2 in mid-1990 I have written a series of articles on such subjects as getting published overseas, Australian SF films, Australian SF art, local female authors, the role of small presses and so on. Glancing back through these articles tonight, I am continually struck by the optimism in my writing. Australian genre professionals were really achieving in the first half of the decade, and things seemed to be getting better all the time. Was that optimism justified? In a word, yes.
In 1985-89, the average annual output of original Australian genre books was eight, with three of those published overseas. For the first half of the 1990s, the average doubled to sixteen books, but with only two published overseas. In short fiction, the late '80s saw forty three professionally published stories per annum, but this climbed to 76 over the next five years. Again, however, while six of these stories were published overseas in the late '80s, only an average of seven were published each year overseas in the early '90s.
Thus nearly twice as much Australian genre fiction is now being published. Both small press and commercial ventures have been making profits ranging from modestly encouraging to unbelievably good, and even though our share of the overseas market remains static, Australian genre fiction has been getting a lot more critical acclaim overseas.
The signs are also good for other aspects of Australian genre fiction in the mid-'90s. In the late '80s, local women were 32% of our genre authors, and wrote 13% of all such works. In 1994, that had climbed to 52% of the authors writing 27% of all works. Strangely, most of that increase has been in book-length fiction: Australian women still write only about 15% of the short genre fiction published. This puzzles me, because getting into book-length fiction is harder! In the media, there have been increasing numbers of locally-produced TV series and films. Many of these have been quite sophisticated, and most have made good profits and been widely distributed overseas. Having the Warner Studios on the Gold Coast has opened up yet more possibilities, of course.
Although Australian authors are well regarded both at home and overseas, and are showing greater potential than ever before, the step from having potential to being great is a big one. The early 1990s have shown what can be done in Australia but we still only have a tiny share of our own market. In 1994 the previous record for genre books published in a single year was more than doubled, to 42. Is that good? Yes; but now survey the sf and fantasy on sale in your capital city: 0.2% of the books will be by Australians, yet we have 5% of the population of Britain and America, the main sources of our genre literature. Thus we support overseas authors 25 times more than our own (per head of population), and so still have a long way to go to achieve equity.
What gives overseas authors and magazines their advantage? I
say that it is decades of reliability and stability in overseas
markets. Eidolon, Aurealis and Aphelion Publications
have started us down that path by providing five years of reliable,
high-quality, well-patronised local markets, and even the commercial
sector is improving. Lose a magazine or publisher and all that
expertise has to be relearned by those who follow. Eidolon,
Aurealis and Aphelion have certainly given their readers
some great fiction, but their greatest gift to us is that half-decade
of reliability and stability, without which our genre fiction
would be forever promising but seldom great. Happy birthday editors,
and have many, many more.
Welcome to our party! We're five years old, and we're celebrating. When Eidolon began in June 1990 we had few expectations. Still to be here after all this time is a credit to our readers and our contributors. We'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to the magazine over the years, and offer special thanks to those who have given of their talents for this double issue: Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling, Greg Egan, Harlan Ellison, Martin Livings, Penelope Love, Rosaleen Love, Keira McKenzie, Sean McMullen, Gavin O'Keefe, Robin Pen, Lucy Cohen Schmeidler, Nick Stathopoulos, Shaun Tan, George Turner, Andrew Whitmore and Sean Williams. Thanks also to those who came before, especially Chris Stronach and Scot Snow, who are seldom mentioned these days. Without all of you, there would be no party. We would also like to thank those who have helped us with our editorial tasks in recent times. Recently, Shaun Tan and Martin Livings have assisted us as art editor and reviews editor respectively. The improvement in those areas of the magazine speaks to the depth of their contribution. We would also like to welcome Stephen Dedman as Associate Editor. Stephen has generously agreed to help us and we look forward to working with him for some time to come.
We hope that you enjoy this special issue. We've relaxed a number of our rules to make it something a little different. Observant readers will note that the stories by Sean Williams, Terry Dowling and Andrew Whitmore greatly exceed the usual length of stories published in the magazine. We felt that we could take this unique opportunity to give you, our readers, a chance to see these stories, but do not expect to publish work of this length in the future. And the future? We have an Internet address (firstname.lastname@example.org) which is open to letters of comment, queries and general e-mail (though not story submissions). Plans are well-advanced for the third and fourth issues during 1995, and we've even been thinking about 1996! Eidolon is probably healthier now than it has ever been. Who knows, maybe we'll still be doing this thing in the year 2000. If we are, it will be because of people like those listed above and because of people like you, our faithful readers. Thanks.
|Richard Scriven, Jonathan Strahan, Jeremy G Byrne|
Originally appeared pp. 4 -5, Eidolon 17/18, June 1995.
Copyright © 1995 Sean McMullen and Eidolon Publications.
Reprinted by kind permission of Sean McMullen