Now Is The Time

Late last week on a cool and windless Summer evening, as I peered listlessly out through the narrow, scrimshawn window of my Editorial Tower, I happened to witness the tragic demise of a rare and noble bird. A great, black cockatoo pinwheeled from the darkening sky, ragged flight-feathers vainly seeking purchase in the slippery air, and crashed heavily to earth mere centimetres short of my letterbox, a tattered paper drifting to the footpath in its wake. Without hesitation, I rushed outside.

Written in a naive hand on the endpaper from The Fall of Hyperion (torn raggedly from its binding, as if in a fit of anguished disillusionment), the note the bird had carried read simply:

Dear Eidolon,
I am young and unpublished. My life is Science Fiction and I live to write it. Last year I sent the first draft of the first book of my braided meganovel, "Devotions on a Farther Star", to Gene Wolfe, who, though he loved it passionately, suggested that the world was not yet ready for such a work.

I am keen to publish my short fiction in an Australian Magazine, and even out here in Bulla Bulla East we've heard of Eidolon. However, I must ask several questions first. Do you feature a letters column and encourage discussion of what you publish? Do you critique what you reject? What I really need is some constructive criticism of my writing (which tends to become a little rich and golden if not carefully watched) and is Eidolon, therefore, the appropriate forum?

I have entrusted this note to my one and only true friend in the world, my cockatoo Mister Dark. Please feed and water him and send your reply by him forthwith,

Yours Faithfully . . .

"Splendid!" I almost shouted, ardent expectation of a Legendary Discovery blazing through my mind. But then I paused, two-fold anguish suddenly descending. Firstly, the bird thing could be messy, but more importantly, could I in all honesty claim to meet the criteria of this potential New God of Australian SF?

As this journal breaches the para-literary skyline in its upward climb towards Meanjinate significance, have we in truth left the struggling artist in our churning slipstream? Are one-page rejection letters enough reward? Have we done all we can to promote discussion of the fiction we publish (a single Letters column in four issues fails to engender significant whelmedness). These first four wide-eyed, bare-faced sallies into Darkest Oz, these earnestly journalistic kayaks paddled across the bows of onrushing mediocrity will flounder without a much-needed upswell of New Blood. If and when the Established Talent move on, having done their bit in the name of fairness and giving-em-a-go, we will be royally sunk unless we've managed to attract this ephemeral mass of natural mastery we all seem to feel is lurking out there somewhere, just beyond the feeble glow of our searchlights.

In the perfect world (he says, deftly avoiding the wide-bore deck-hoses of reality), this argument would raise mighty choruses of "Gee, what a noble pursuit. How can I help?" Well, oh idle choristers, it's simple. Eidolon wants you to criticise what it publishes, be it fiction, fact, opinion or even art. Don't hold back - let us worry about sheltering the pupating egos of our neophitic contributors. If it comes to that, even the established writers might enjoy a little feedback, and you've got to break the ice sometime. This is what we're all about, or at least this was our intention when we began. Without feedback we're just pissing in the dark, living with the fear that one day the wind will change. And you thought subscriptions were only twenty bucks . . .

With twelve months of Eidolon now complete, the Editorial Committee would like to issue the following acknowledgements and advise of certain policy changes.

Firstly, we would like to thank the membership of The 16th Annual Western Australian Science Fiction Convention for their kind and generous recognition. Such support reaffirms our commitment to what we're doing.

We would also like to thank Mark Kelly and Charles N. Brown of Locus for their recognition. It may seem small, but it counts for a lot.

The Editorial Committee also thanks Terry Dowling, Sean McMullen, Nick Stathopoulos, Peter McNamara, Grant Stone and every person who has submitted a story, artwork or article, whether it has been published or not. The reaction of Australia's creative community to Eidolon has been immensely gratifying. We would also like to thank our subscribers - the people who help to pay the bills. Without your support we couldn't do this, and we thank you for the opportunity.

Eidolon wishes to advise contributors of the following -

  1. Contributors are requested to submit disposable manuscripts to Eidolon. Effective from 1 June 1991, Eidolon Publications will cease to return submitted manuscripts, whether accompanied by an SASE or not.
  2. Fiction submissions are no longer being solicited for Issue 5 of Eidolon, due out in June 1991. Potential contributors are advised that fiction submissions received after 1 March 1991 will be considered for possible inclusion in Issues 6, 7, or 8.
  3. Artists submitting to Eidolon are requested to leave a 1.5" border around any completed A4 piece of artwork, to allow for borders and page gutters. Similarly, all advertising artwork must follow these guidelines.

Finally, the Editorial Committee wishes to apologise to contributors who may have used the Ditmar Nomination Form included with Issue 3. The SunConDitSubCom failed to advise that persons nominating for the Ditmars had to provide name and address details. Accordingly, no provision was made for inclusion of this information on the form, and this may have resulted in some nominations being declared invalid.

Originally appeared pp. 4-5, Eidolon 4, March 1991.
Copyright © 1991 Eidolon Publications. All rights reserved.