Readers Feedback and Forum

Dear Jonathan
Some feedback on Eidolon #7, if you're interested. I thought "Traffic" was taut and economical, an effective slice-of-urban-mayhem piece. One question nagged me, though: Terrorism aside, why should there be so many accidents? Why should the navigators fail? If the guidance technology was so unreliable, why would it be in use at all?

The Nick Stathopoulos cover for "The Mars You Have In Me" [a pressbook provided free to subscribers - Ed] was absolutely stunning, really beautiful work . . . but the story within, of nice nurse Connie and her secret schoolgirl passion, was straight out of 1970s Mills&Boon - right down to: "she finally surrendered her last bargaining piece in the game with men, her virginity." The screenplay was talky, all Voice Overs and lines to camera that even veterans of Australian soaps would blanch at: "I have noticed, you know. The gentle, patient warmth of your presence, the slow burn of your smile . . ." This is Naked Gun material.

"Bird Species of the Indian Subcontinent" was okay, but could have been a bit more bizarre and inventive. The stolen railway sleepers didn't seem enough: I kept hoping for more, and stranger, details.

"In the Depths of His Eyes" was well-written first-person psycho-veteran; it said nothing new, but reminders of the obscenity of transforming people into weapons are, unfortunately, always timely.

Geoffrey Maloney is the only Australian SF writer I know of who regularly tackles political themes; I don't think he's yet succeeded in dramatising his subject sufficiently, but I certainly admire his ambition. "Requiem for the General" was flat in places - and the small town publican's bored, laconic daughter who tears off her clothes is a bad outback movie cliché - but the central idea of the staged defeat of a counter-agent hero of the counter-revolution rang true.

It's hard to know how to respond to Robin Pen's column, except to say that I'd be delighted if he abandoned any sense of obligation to discuss action movies that are laughingly referred to as science fiction, and wrote about gems like Jesus of Montreal, The Nasty Girl, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, etc. Even Prospero's Books if necessary. (Actually, things may be looking up; January's Locus reports that Greg Bear has been signed to write an original screenplay for Tristar/Columbia. Whether the subsequent, ahem, script development process will leave anything intelligent or original intact remains to be seen, but you never know . . .)

Best Wishes

Greg Egan

The Editors, Eidolon Magazine
Just received Summer 1991 and skimming through, it looks as good as the rest. Glad to see that you dropped the idea of breaking up text blocks with pictures.

Am I imagining it or is there very little Fantasy in Australia? Both Eidolon and Aurealis have been publishing lots of Science Fiction and not much Fantasy. Even though I understand that Fantasy is hard to define. I understand that your high standards won't permit you to publish poor quality writing, but surely there must be someone out there writing good fantasy. There were masses of aspiring writers at the "Legends '91" seminar in Sydney. Some of those people must be good enough to print.

Best Regards

Louise Milward

We can only publish what we receive (quote, unquote). In fact, we see far less fantasy - including horror - than we do SF. Believe me, there's no prejudice involved! Look out for the Martin Bridgestock story in Issue Nine.

Dear Eidolon
I am writing primarily to thank Robin Pen for his uncanny ability to get me giggling while on the bus to work (a rather long and otherwise boring trip).

Usually a fan of good storytelling, I have to admit that upon receiving any issue of Eidolon I turn first to "Critical Embuggerance" (maybe even a whole bus trip before I get to the SF) for a good laugh and some kindred spirit!

Not only is it great to see some blood red opinion on paper (thank god for the demise of pseudo-intellectual, fence-sitting reasonableness) but it has given me the wonderful idea that henceforth I should put my 'insanities' down on paper, rather than upset people at dinner parties.

The trouble with mainstream blockbuster mush (as dealt with in Eidolon 7) is that, like rice pudding, if you have enough often enough, you get to think that you like it. For example, I really thought I enjoyed the film Ghost (not a bad flick, I'll take a shot of Patrick Swayze in the arm anytime, and Whoopie Goldberg can act) until I saw Truly, Madly, Deeply and realised that you can still tell a refreshing and entertaining tale without bad guys, killings, special effects and lots of hit music. Wonderful!

On the subject of trends in promotional hype, I'm afraid that it's not only the movie moguls who are moving in disturbing directions. Increasingly in the publishing world you can find first run prints of books sporting the raised gold letters "Bestseller". In fact, the other day I bought (stupidly) the "premier issue" of a magazine that featured Letters to the Editor commenting on how great the publication was. Just how thick do they think the reading/viewing public is?

To close, I'd just like to say to you all at Eidolon that I have thoroughly enjoyed each issue received, and offer only one (small) criticism (Aaah you say - Here we go).

I think (wait for it) a little more variety in your contributors wouldn't go amiss.

The market for Australian SF writing talent is not extensive (a bit of understatement for light relief) so I imagine you are inundated with hopefuls, and I had expected to see many different names credited. Maybe you could give Geoffrey Maloney a break (send him off on hols or something). His writing is both entertaining and thought provoking, but he has starred in every issue I've received (I discovered you at Issue 4) and another scribe should be given a chance.

I hope no one is offended by this opinion on paper (especially Geoffrey, who I'm sure is a nice chap).

All the best

Janet Fennell

This issue marks Geoff Maloney's sixth consecutive appearance - his consistent quality is very hard to ignore. (Robin, of course, has been with us since the beginning of time). Unfortunately, Geoff has been unwell recently, and won't be appearing in Issue Nine. We hope to see him back to form soon.

Dear Sirs
I have just finished reading your Summer, 1992 issue, and I felt I should write and congratulate you on an excellent read.

I though Sean Williams' "Traffic" was very well written and, although short, was well constructed, including the ending, which was not telegraphed, unlike other short stories I have read lately. The illustration was appropriate, though a little plain.

The Stathopoulos was also worth the time reading, and I enjoyed it, though I haven't read the story it is based on. It would be a good movie, especially if directed by Orson Welles.

"Bird Species" was a bit of a filler - I don't think much of stories that end with a petering out. I did like the illustration, though - you were lucky the pencil reproduced so well.

Sean McMullen's article on Australian Art was wide-ranging enough to satisfy most readers, I am sure, though he could have mentioned in more detail the colour artwork in Omega.

Geoffrey Maloney's "Requiem for the General" shows that Australian short stories, with Australian settings, can stand up to the best of those from overseas. The best story in the issue.

Robin Pen's effort should have been beeped! at the post. Though I suppose it could be thought of as a kind of self-introspective.

Alan Shore's story is a bit short to convey much; however it appears to me to be a trifle too slight for publication without more work to bring out the latent violence and (obvious) craziness of the perpetrator.

All in all well worth the price of the magazine.

And what do you think of being nominated for Best Fanzine for 1991?

Looking forward to even more issues

Ron Clarke

How do we feel? Well Ron; when people we don't know nominate us for a National Award, it's hard not to feel honoured. Given our small distribution and very low payment rate, it's probably not that unreasonable a classification. Thanks for your comments.

Originally appeared pp. 86-87, Eidolon 8, April 1992.
Copyright © 1992 Eidolon Publications. Individual contributions are copyright to the respective authors.
Reprinted with kind permission of the authors.