From the Lands Beyond the Hill

We occasionally receive communications of such pressing and immediate concern that they demand to be dealt with more prominently than our Letters Column allows. The following arrived by Express Courier, marked Especially Urgent, three days after the last issue left our offices. Or maybe I'm making it all up. Anyway:

Dear Sirs

I've noticed a disturbing trend in Eidolon of late, and feel I simply must express my concern. According to recent advertising, your eighth issue will feature a story by Harlan Ellison. I would hasten to point out that Mr. Ellison, while showing considerable interest in this country, has yet to take up residence. Beginning with Issue One's "Reader's View" of Lois McMaster Bujold and continuing in Issue Two's interview with George R. R. Martin and reviews of Glen Cook's "Garrett" fantasies, Issue Three's dull and impenetrable "Turkey City Lexicon", Issue Five's stylistically repugnant Pacific Edge review and Issue Six's gratuitously confusing essay by Eric S. Rabkin, you have repeatedly and shamelessly flouted your subtitle "The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy". Do not make the mistake of assuming an incontrovertible right to that title. You hold a tenuous mandate for its use! Thus far, only Issues four and seven remain wholly "Australian" (the foreign content amounting to well over seven and a half percent, excluding advertising) if, that is, one ignores the truly disagreeable propensity for your columnist Robin Pen to discuss foreign films. The trend is especially distressing in these economically unstable times when our concerns about the Australianness of everything we buy should be paramount, and I must ask "what exactly is going on here?"

Incidentally, I've also noticed a mortifying decline in your use of that most valuable of punctuation marks, the comma. As you'll note from the series of graphs I've included [not shown - Ed] Eidolon's comma-count has fallen steadily since Issue Three: Further evidence of slipping standards? I should like a response before I renew my subscription,

Yours in utter seriousness and not inconsiderable dismay

Matt Singleman


Four issues ago, at the close of the first volume of Eidolon, I wrote another Editorial which featured a letter from an imaginary reader. That essay called for feedback, especially concerning the fiction we publish. Each subsequent issue has included a Letters Column - in contrast to the single preceding instance - and much useful comment has resulted. Thank you all, and please keep it coming. My aim in this final Editorial for our second volume is not to tackle a problem we're having now, but to head off a problem which might arise in the future.

Science Fiction (and, just for argument's sake, I'll include Fantasy and Horror within that category) is an international genre. In fact, it tends to be dominated by the United States. Eidolon has never tried to ignore this international nature of the beast and, although we've not gone out of our way to seek overseas material, we're starting to see submissions from the US and the UK with increasing regularity. Actor's Equity - this country's Union for the Performing Arts - has "local content" rules which enforce minimum levels of Australian involvement in all relevant projects on Australian soil. Perhaps fortunately, the only rules which bind us are those we impose on ourselves. Nevertheless, we're certainly aware that if you, our readers, were simply interested in "good writing", exclusive of the nationality of its authors, you'd probably subscribe to F&SF or Asimov's. Also, we carry a burden of responsibility, albeit self-imposed, to our contributors. After all, there aren't many "slots" for Australian SF in the world, and we represent a considerable proportion.

We'd love to be larger, both in terms of circulation and length, but we seem to have "hit the wall"; we need to generate a wider interest in order to expand and improve. One avenue open to us would be to include high profile overseas material, assuming we can get it. To some degree at least it's up to you to let us know whether we're on the right track. Treat this as an informal "Readers' Poll". Tell us what you've liked in our first two volumes, and what else you'd like to see included; are you interested in seeing high quality fiction from overseas in Eidolon, for instance? It's likely some aspects of the magazine will be changing in the near future, and if you're interested in shaping what you read, please write.

Incidentally, congratulations to all our friends who won Australian National SF ("Ditmar") Awards at the recent National Convention: Best Novel or Collection - Terry Dowling for Wormwood; Best Short Fiction - Sean McMullen for "Alone In His Chariot" (Eidolon Issue 4); Best Fan Artist - Nick Stathopoulos (principally for work in Eidolon); Best Fan Writer - Bruce Gillespie; Best Fanzine or Fan-Related Publication - Eidolon; and the William J. Atheling Award - Sean McMullen for "Going Commercial and Becoming Professional" (Eidolon Issue 6). Thank you to everyone who supported us.

Jeremy G Byrne

Originally appeared pp. 4-5, Eidolon 8, April 1992.
Copyright © 1992 Eidolon Publications.