Readers Feedback and Forum

Dear Editors
I would like to congratulate you all on a wonderful magazine. Unfortunately, Issue 10 was the first copy of Eidolon that I've had the pleasure of reading. I can only guess at what I've been missing! In terms of content, style and layout, it is one of the best small press publications that I have come across. I recently finished reading Issue 11 and was suitable impressed. "The Moral Virologist" by Greg Egan, and "White Christmas" by Sean Williams were very well executed, and Jeremy Reston's illustrations were excellent: quite a change from the more traditional styles of artwork. Everything about the magazine, from the cover (absolute class, guys!) to the stories, illustrations and non-fiction articles, was exceedingly impressive. Keep up the good work! Once again, well done.

Yours sincerely

Kirstyn McDermott
Woodberry, NSW.

Wow Kirstyn; thanks very much. Not much more I can say, really.

Dear Jeremy, Richard, Jonathan & Co.
Sorry, for not writing to let you know how impressed I was by all the issues of Eidolon that I've had the pleasure of reading so far. And I was impressed. Has it occurred to you that the main reason why you don't receive as much feedback as you'd like might be because Eidolon is already so professionally and carefully put together that most readers probably assume that any feedback or encouragement they might offer would be redundant? This was true for me, in any case.

Would you please convey my inexcusably belated thanks and appreciation to Liesl Yvette for the brilliant magic she worked on "Elroy's New Routine". Having a story of mine illustrated for the first time made me almost obscenely proud, and my cronies soon got quite sick of my constant: "See the picture? See the picture?" Ms. Yvette quite obviously doesn't need me to tell her that she's got a bright future, and will be doing splendid things long after I've given up extracting my own teeth for no defensible reason, and have resigned myself to short-wiring my braincells on a riverbank somewhere.

Best wishes

Duncan Evans
Casterton, VIC.

See the letter? See the letter? Thanks Duncan. Gee, shucks. Really though, we're always glad of feedback, whether encouraging or not. And I know Liesl appreciates it as much as we do.

Dear Eidolonites
I am just reading a borrowed copy of your Spring 1992 issue and am impressed by the quality of the stories I have read. Actually, I have a two-fold reason for wanting to peruse the magazine. The first was to check out the writing style of Leanne Frahm who was a guest speaker at the Mackay Writers Group workshop meeting in March. As president of the group, I invited her to speak to us about writing science fiction, at least her approach, and she proved to be most interesting. Her story "The Lamadium Affair" was a most enjoyable read and I was through her 10,000 or so words in no time at all. The second reason for wanting to look at an issue of Eidolon was to familiarise myself with the current work of SF/Fantasy/Horror writers in Australia, and the quality of the magazine. I wasn't disappointed.

As a writer of fantasy novels I feel I need to gauge what is happening in the fantasy and related genre and your magazine gives me one 'eye' on the market, not to mention the enjoyment of quality work which can only spur me on to greater efforts in my own endeavours. I look forward to receiving your upcoming issues of Eidolon.


Paul M. Vander Loos
Grasstree, QLD.

Well Paul, you picked a good issue to start your subscription with. If we've ever had a "Fantasy Special", this would have to be it. Thanks for the compliments too.

Dear Jeremy, Richard & Jonathan
I've been hanging out for Issue 11 for what seems like ages - but it was worth it, as always. Loved the Egan story, naturally, but was disappointed to see that it was an old reprint; I can't wait to see some of his post-Quarantine work. Duncan Evans' "Elroy's New Routine" was highly (and quirkily) enjoyable, for all that it left a lot unexplained. And the last two, Steve Woodman's "Empathy" and Chris Lawson's "Metacarcinoma", were fascinating for their divergent treatments of similar themes.

All in all, fiction-wise, a fabulous read with lots of humour. (Not counting my own story, of course.) There were, however, a couple of disturbing elements:

1. To quote Mary Gentle (Interzone), Where are the women??? Issue 11 arrived on International Women's Day, and yet there was only one female contributor in the whole thing. I know this isn't the norm for Eidolon, just bad timing; next time I'm sure it'll be back on track.

2. Shaun Tan's illustration for "White Christmas" was even better than I had imagined that particular scene (which was pretty damn well, let me tell you).

3. Loved your editorial. Thanks Jonathan, for the push. I don't know whether you get press releases from the WOTF [Writers of the Future - Ed] Contest, but the similarity between something they said and what you said is frightening:

Eidolon: ". . . laid claim to the title of hottest new kid on the block . . ."

WOTF: ". . . shows all the signs of becoming one of Australia's hottest new [sf] authors . . ."

Two "hottest's in seven days . . . Seems I have a reputation to live up to, at last. Terrifying.

4. This may be unfounded, but I think you omitted one (or two) of my stories from the "In Print" listing. I was surprised to see "Twist of the Knife" from EOD on the list, but not disappointed (the longer the list the better, for my ego). So why was "Woman's Revenge", from the same magazine earlier in the year, omitted? (If it was on its artistic merit, then I agree with you: the story's crap.) Also, what about "Light Bodies Falling", which was reprinted in Aboriginal SF 35/36?

I know I'm just being greedy (perhaps even petty), and I'll admit to being more than a little uncertain about what qualifies for a Ditmar and what doesn't, and I'm positive I'm not going to be nominated (let alone win) - but I thought I'd just ask the questions anyway.

And, while we're on the subject, why doesn't The Mentor qualify for inclusion in "In Print"? The fiction is as good as EOD's, and it has at least as wide a distribution as Eidolon. (Besides, I had three stories in there in the last year!)

Lastly, why was Paul Voermans' And Disregards the Rest not on the list of Long Fiction Definitely sf, definitely Australian, definitely eligible (I would have thought), but absent entirely . . . (Or did I miss it?)

5. What's happening with Robin Pen? I still love reading his column, but there's so much less of it than there once was. The more the merrier I say.

And I think I've taken enough of your time, again. A corker of an issue - nothing less than what I've come to expect from my second favourite sf magazine (after Interzone). I'm already looking forward to Issue 12.

All the Best

Sean Williams

PS. Pass on to Greg Egan that I read "The Vat" and didn't miss the irony. Of the bucket-loads he's had printed in the last few years, this one is one of his most memorable stories, if only in my mind.

Sean modestly requested that the personal references in the above letter be deleted for publication. Sorry Sean; you deserve the praise, there's no need to be coy. I'll answer your questions in order. Firstly, have a look at my editorial in this issue with regards the gender-breakdown of our published authors. "In Print" lists what we know about. It's very difficult to discover exactly what's been published by Australians in the international genre scene in a given year, but we do our best. We almost never see publications like EOD and The Mentor, although they're certainly eligible for listing in the "special Ditmar edition" of the column (which was all we printed last year, by the way). Critical merit has nothing to do with eligibility. We gleen what we can from sources like Steve Paulsen's invaluable Australian SF Writers' News and various catalogues, but we miss a lot along the way. Any help we can get in this regard (eg. contents pages of hard-to-find publications) would be much appreciated. The exclusion of And Disregards the Rest was due to a regrettable confusion with the publication date: it certainly appeared on the final ballot for the Awards. Robin is still around, though he's busier than ever these days (see this issue's "Critical Embuggerance"). As mentioned in the editorial, he won the 1993 Ditmar Award for "Best Fan Writer" for the column.

Dear Editors
Looking at the stories [in the Summer 1993 Volume of Eidolon], I was particularly impressed by the reprint of Greg Egan's "The Moral Virologist" and by Sean Williams' "White Christmas". The latter story was reminiscent of HG Wells' Red Weed theme in War of the Worlds, but Williams' use of nanotechnology was remarkably up-to-date and he captured an evocative, apocalyptic tone from the first paragraph to the last.

My greatest accolades, however, go to the artists who make Eidolon such a handsome publication. Jeremy Reston's illustration for [my own story] "Metacarcinoma" was exactly the style I had imagined would complement the story. Such wonderful graphics can only enhance the pleasure of reading the stories - they certainly enhance the pleasure of having the story published. I should add that, on going through a few back-issues, all of the illustrators have been first-class, and I would have been delighted had any of them provided a companion piece to my story. Shaun Tan's double-helix cross for "The Moral Virologist" was a work of graphic genius.

The major US magazines seem to pour all of their graphic resources into the cover, and supply the interior with uninteresting, static illustrations, usually drawn with a peculiarly flat tone, so that no single feature of the drawing stands out. These illustrators should study Liesl Yvette and Shaun Tan to learn how to pick out the dramatic highlights of a picture . . . although in defence of those US illustrators, I have misgivings about the editorial policy of printing the introduction to the story right over the artwork.

As to your own editorial policy . . . I've noticed you copping a fair bit of shrapnel for publishing the American (can you hear the boos and hisses?) Harlan Ellison when this is supposed to be "The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy". Well, I don't give two hoots. An editor's job is to publish material that he believes will appeal to the reading audience. If it just so happens that the most-awarded writer in science fiction submits a story - if it just so happens this author has been so afflicted by illness that his short story output has dropped from Warp Factor Nine down to Wading Through Molasses - if it just so happens this man writes a short story specifically for the magazine because he likes it so much . . . well, you'd have to be terminally stupid not publish. Provided you like the story, of course. Perhaps if you called yourself "The Australian Journal of . . ." rather than "The Journal of Australian . . ." you would be able to shoo off the pedants.

Anyway, congratulations for building such a consistently interesting and well-presented journal. Being Australian is merely the icing on the cake.


Chris Lawson
Kew, VIC.

Thanks Chris. It's great to see so much feedback for our illustrators. I know they appreciate it; we certainly do. As we've said before, we do take the job of publishing Australian material seriously (the title choice was quite deliberate), but we will publish overseas material if it's of high enough calibre. With luck we'll bring some back from our forthcoming "World Tour" (see my editorial).


On the matter of length, I found Leanne Frahm's story well worth the effort. Slow in places, with questionable conclusions, it was certainly a piece that demanded an airing. It's a pity we don't see more of her work here - I can only afford to buy Australian publications at this stage.

Tim Fairchild

It's bad enough when someone sets an end-of-the-world story in your own backyard ("White Christmas" by Sean Williams in Eidolon 11), but Sean mate - next time use the postcode book to get the place-names right. It's Port Germein. Cheers

Stephen Stanley

Sean recently sold "White Christmas" to Aboriginal SF in the US. Maybe it's not too late to fix the oversight.

Originally appeared pp. 93-95, Eidolon 12, April 1993.
Copyright © 1993 Eidolon Publications. Individual contributions are copyright to the respective authors.
Reprinted with kind permission of the authors.