Readers Feedback and Forum

Dear Jeremy
Most of Eidolon 6 was very enjoyable, however I must wait to pass judgment on page 102 as it was not included. Nonetheless, it was a superb read, especially the Nick Stathopoulos story.

[I've just received] a replacement copy. It has all the pages, however Roadsong has not come out very well - it is offset and has some streaks. Oh well, you can't win them all.


Karen McKenna

Karen's correspondence was more of a personal note than a letter, but I've chosen to publish it because it raises an important point. Eidolon is a small publication with a small print run. Economies of scale work very much against us, and we have little control over the final product from the moment it leaves our hands as page proofs to the time we pick it up as a finished magazine. Sometimes, in the several stages through which it passes between these points, things go wrong.

Our first issue sported an interesting but decidedly disruptive page-transposition error. Issue Four was trimmed about five millimetres too far, with unpleasant effects on the internals. Every single issue we've produced has had production problems of one sort or another, and Issue Six was certainly no exception. Amongst the menagerie of minor monstrosities, we've found copies with pink pages mysteriously bound in, missing pages, huge sections bound upside down, and numerous print flaws, most notably a roller problem that marred every single copy of Nick Stathopoulos' magnificent artwork for his "Linear Perspective".

Errors like this strike us like a knife to the heart, often severely dampening our enthusiasm for a newly printed issue. Accordingly, we're always on the lookout for ways to minimise these problems, and yet we've really very little control over the process. These problems obviously detract somewhat from the experience of reading Eidolon, for which we apologise most sincerely. If your issues have severe printing problems, send them back and we'll happily swap them for new copies. I'm afraid it's the best we can do.

Dear sir/s
Despite having received some value from your magazine, and however well or badly other things may be for you, I am in this letter simply going to criticise you.

The dinky little mass-produced illustration panels that some benighted fetish for decoration has led you to insert right in the middle of the blocks of text serves [sic] mainly to reinforce my impression that you aim only to be yet another magazine intended to be looked at, put on ones [sic] bookshelves, possessed and referred to in pretentious company; rather than READ. They make reading the text quite awkward.

Your faithfully

Justin Moore

Ah, Justin. Your point is well taken; certain of our experiments with layout in Issue 6 served only to bring home to us the limitations of our A5 format, and we won't be repeating those. Yet for all that, must you be so harsh? We all make mistakes at times. Aesthetics may be very dear to our hearts, yet if we did not intend that Eidolon be READ, we would surely be producing something with less WORDS in it. But then, there would no doubt be much for you to criticise in that, too . . .

Dear Richard
Something of an enigma exists in the publishing world of Australian SF. We have two magazines, Aurealis and Eidolon, competing for the crown of fandom; the supreme position atop a mound of defunct publications, some long-dead but fondly remembered. The former calls itself "The Australian Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction", the latter "The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and fantasy". Please note the 'the's; it is obvious from this alone the degree of rivalry that exists between the publications, between East and West.

As both a fan and a writer, I must express some concern over this sometimes bitter game of ascendancies. We have a situation where two magazines of professional quality are either "in good health" or "running at a profit" - surely this alone demonstrates that there is room for both of them in our newly revitalised Oz-SF market? Isn't it time that a truce was negotiated, a pact of friendly competition - instead of the present state wherein one will perhaps distantly acknowledge the existence of the other, but go no further?

And I feel strongly that neither publication can truly be called professional, in the international sense. Aurealis, with its shoddy artwork and appalling covers, is concentrating solely on the stories and paying its contributors almost reasonable rates. Eidolon, on the other hand, with its tasteful presentation, its non-fiction articles and hard-hitting fiction, is unable to do more than cover postage when rewarding its Australian genii.

A merger of the two is impossible, for obvious reasons, but I sometimes dream of the day when either (or both) will take on the challenge of being professional in all respects. Then, and only then, will we have an Australian publication of F&SF of international standard, able to compete with the moguls of the UK and the US.

P.S. [For Eidolon only]

Received #6 yesterday; absolutely outstanding. Nick Stathopoulos' artwork and [story] are blindingly inspired. Non-fiction columns stimulating and informative, especially Pen's latest offering for CE (and I would be very surprised to learn, in response to Peter McNamara's letter, that Pen is a woman; running the risk of being labeled 'sexist' (which I most assuredly am not), I feel that only a man could be the author of such twisted prose). May the day come soon when you can pay these people what they deserve, for you run the risk of losing them if you don't.

The only criticism I can make stems from the letters column: Ian Nichols' outraged response to Peter's criticism suggests the sort of childish spite normally found in a Kindergarten playground (although considerably more lucid). Is this related to the subtle dig, "Hard luck Aphelion"? Does Eidolon's rivalry extend, not only to its Eastern competitor, but to publications that no longer exist? One can take a chip on one's shoulder a bit too far, I think . . .

But, despite this, I am enormously impressed. Keep up the good work.


Sean Williams,

Sean sent this letter to both Aurealis and Eidolon, and we've already replied directly. Nevertheless, he raises important points that bear open discussion. Firstly, the "crown of fandom" isn't really something we've got our eyes on - we're kept busy enough simply publishing the magazine - and while we could have called ourselves "A Journal", that would have sounded just a bit underconfident. We hope we've never come across as lacking in self-appreciation!

Secondly, and more importantly, there is certainly no bitter enmity between Aurealis and ourselves. We've been impressed with the impact they've made, and our discussions and correspondence with Steven and Dirk have been very cordial. We list their fiction in "In Print" and mention them in appropriate context in Editorials and other non-fiction. We wish them only the best.

Thirdly, we plead guilty to underpaying our authors. While our $10 to cover P&P constitutes a professional sale, it's not exactly serious money. The reality of the situation is that we can have either a non-paying Eidolon or no Eidolon at all (and the disappointing lack of State or Federal Government support, at least for this year, hasn't changed things). We share Sean's dream of a day when can pay for everything at professional rates.

Lastly, Peter McNamara is a personal friend and supporter. The "Hard Luck" comment was simply a somewhat in-jokey way of noting that we'd passed the five-issue publishing limit of Aphelion itself - a great Australian magazine of the middle eighties.

Sean's letter had us a little concerned at first, but we hope we've cleared the air a bit.

Originally appeared pp. 90-91, Eidolon 7, January 1992.
Copyright © 1992 Eidolon Publications. Individual contributions are copyright to the respective authors.
Reprinted with kind permission of the authors.