Welcome to the second installment of "Scoop". I'm pleased to report that Australian SF (in its various guises) is still alive and well; although this time around most of the publishing news seems to be about writing and publishing for "young adults".
This edition of "Scoop" also includes a news section called "Web News", one of the special features I alluded to in the last issue. One would almost have to be a hermit not to have heard of the World Wide Web these days. It is encroaching on all walks of life--including Australian SF--and I love it. In fact I suspect we are on the brink of a proliferation of Australian SF on the Web.
"Web News" is designed to keep all you Web surfers informed and tantalize the uninitiated. And don't forget, information on the Internet is not static. Many home pages continually carry a sign saying "under construction" and most have a flag indicating when the page was last updated. So until next time around, enjoy!
People & Events
The Aussiecon Reunion Convention (ARCON) was held in Melbourne on September 22-24. Reports suggest it was a successful event. Local authors Paul Voermans, Lucy Sussex, Andrew Whitmore, Wynne Whiteford and George Turner, along with Queensland's Leanne Frahm, spoke on a number of panels.
The "opening" of Infinitas Bookshop on Saturday 14th October at its new location in Parramatta in Sydney was attended by a number of SF personalities. On hand to talk about their work and sign books were: Simon Brown, Bill Congreve, Terry Dowling, Robert Hood, Sean McMullen, Graham Stone and Nick Stathopoulos.
As part of the PR for She's Fantastical, Lucy Sussex had the Moreland Sentinel come round for photos which they insisted on spicing up with "magical props". With considerable misgivings Lucy produced a Karen Pender-Gunn red felt spangled dragon, intended as a present for a relative, and they thought it was ideal.
The Carlton La Mama Theatre in Melbourne hosted its first Science Fiction event on Monday October 16th. The evening was hosted by Robert Jan and Paula Ruzek from Zero G (3RRR) and featured readings to a full house by Alison Goodman, Debbie D, Sarah Endacott and Sean McMullen who read on behalf of Paul Collins. A lively panel discussion was held after the readings. Based on the success of this evening, La Mama are now planning future SF events.
A number of genre writers were represented at "The Literary Feast", an event organised by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen and presented by Booktalkers and Lateral Learning on November 27 at Presentation College in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran. Twenty four authors presented specially written "literary morsels" at the dinner which was the final literary event of the year for Martins Youth Theatre. Featured among the writers performing to a crowd of over 200 people were Gary Disher, Julie Haydon, John Marsden, Wendy Orr, Lucy Sussex, Arnold Zable and myself.
The 1995 Melbourne Fringe Festival included a few events which featured Australian SF writers. "Queer and Pleasant Danger" on October 8 featured Lucy Sussex speaking on lesbian SF as part of a panel on lesbian genre fiction. "Black Pepper Authors" at Mietta's on October 11 featured readings by its 1995 authors which included Nicholas Playford. "Women Write Women" on October 22 featured readings by lesbian writers including Robin Smith reading from her fantasy novel.
Monash University recently held an event called "When Worlds Collide: Science Fiction Meets Critical Theory". Speakers at the event included: Damien Broderick, Janeen Webb, Sarah Endacott and Chris Palmer. A panel discussion was also held on "Does SF Need Critical Theory" which included Bruce Gillespie, Jack Dann, Peter Nicholls, Janeen Webb and Damien Broderick.
Sean McMullen appeared on "Zero G", radio RRR's SF show compered by Robert Jan and Paula Ruzek, on 14th November. The show featured a dramatised reading from Mirrorsun Rising.
The Festival of the Imagination (Confusion '96/Swancon 21), the Australian National SF Literature and Media Convention is being held in Perth, April 4-8 1996, and will feature numerous Australian SF notables among the guests. Keep your eye out for Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling, Shannah Jay, Sean McMullen, Nick Stathopoulos and Sean Williams. They are also holding an SF short story competition (closing date 13/3/96). Anyone interested in obtaining more information should write to GPO Box G429, Perth, WA 6948 (or check out the Web page listed in "Web News").
Awards & Recognition
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: 8th Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, listed the following Australian works in their Honorable Mentions: "The Lady of Situations" (Little Deaths) by Stephen Dedman, "Love, Pain and Self-Will" (Bloodsongs #1) by Kate Humphrey, "Kill Me Once" (Alien Shores) by Sue Isle, "The Bath" (Bloodsongs #2) by Richard Harland, "Rough Trade" (Aurealis #13) by Robert Hood, "At Rain's Grey Remembering" (Alien Shores) and "Watching the Soldiers" (Borderlands 4) by Dirk Strasser, "Mary" (Bloodsongs #3) a poem by Kyla Ward, "Willow Cottage" (Interzone #81) by Cherry Wilder, "New Flames for an Old Love" (Doorway to Eternity) and "Reluctant Misty and the House on Burden Street" (Doorway to Eternity) by Sean Williams. Bloodsongs was also mentioned favourably in the introduction.
Two Australians featured this year in the Interzone 1994 Story Poll results: Greg Egan was placed 5th with his story "Our Lady of Chernobyl", while Sean McMullen was placed equal 28th with his story "Ring of Green Fire".
Chimaera Publications have announced a new set of Australian SF awards to be called the "Aurealis Awards". They have solicited judges from the fan and professional community for eight proposed awards (a novel and short story in each of 4 divisions): Division A, Science Fiction; Division B, Fantasy; Division C, Horror; and Division D, Young Adult. Prize details are unknown at this time.
Derek Hansen, author of the thriller novels Lunch With the Generals and Lunch with Mussolini, has crossed over to SF with his latest book. Dead Fishy (Reed, tpb, $15.95) is a collection of short stories all with fishing themes. A few of the stories also have supernatural elements and one even has killer crabs.
Alan Baillie's new collection, Dream Catcher (Omnibus, $9.95), includes a number of his supernatural and horror stories such as: "Bones" (Spine Chilling), "Silent Night" (Bizarre), "Castle Hawksmere" (Dream Time) and "Dream Catcher" (Into the Future).
Brian Caswell's latest book Deucalion (UQP, $12.95) is a young adult SF novel.
The Bent-Back Bridge (Lothian, $9.95) written by Gary Crew and illustrated by Gregory Rogers is the first book in the "After Dark" series of heavily illustrated horror/dark fantasy books for 8-12 year olds from Lothian. The series will be distributed in both Australia and the USA and initial sales are impressive: The Bent-Back Bridge sold out its initial 8,000 print run before publication and has already been reprinted. Further books in the series will be: The Barn written by Gary Crew and illustrated by Tom Jellett, The Well written by Gary Crew and illustrated by Narelle Oliver, The Red Shoes written by Isobelle Carmody and illustrated by Ann Spudvilas, The Crow written by Peter Lawrance and illustrated by Tom Jellett, The Desert written by Jonathan Harlan and illustrated by Tom Jellett, The Jetty written by Gary Crew and Illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, The Island written by Michale O'Hara and illustrated by Greg Rogers, The Wombat King written by Philip Neilsen and illustrated by Celia Bridle, and The Spiders (working title) written by Stephen Measday. Gary Crew is the series editor of the line.
Two books by Anna Fienberg were released by Allen & Unwin in November 1995. Power to Burn (Little Ark, $12.95) is a novel for children aged 12-14 which blends fantasy and humour with a dramatic mystery. Madeline the Mermaid and Other Fishy Tales (Little Ark, $18.95) is a collection of four stories for younger readers up to 12 years of age told with the magical quality of folk tales of old.
Robert Hood and Bill Condon (a children's writer) have been contracted by Hodder Headline for a series of kids' horror novels. They will initially write three books for the series which is called "Creepers" and is aimed at 9-12 year olds. Rob describes the books as very bizarre, monstrous, gory, and funny. The first three books in the series are: Ghoul Man, Freak Out! and Loco-Zombies. The series will be launched at the Children's Book Council conference in Brisbane in May next year.
Haunted Too (Mammoth, $9.95) by David McRobbie which was published in October is the follow-up collection of ghostly stories to his earlier This Book is Haunted. It contains the following stories: "Elder Wood", "1912", "Talk About Funny", "Harvest", "A Little Learning", "Out", "The House", "Ship In A Bottle", "Tom Red", "Wimp Out" and "Performance".
The Third Day The Frost (Pan MacMillan, $19.95) by John Marsden, which I mentioned last issue, features an impressive cover illustration by Nick Stathopoulos, and was launched in October during the Youth Literature Days at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.
Spellbinder: Paul's World (Hodder Headline, $9.95) by Mark Shirrefs and John Thomson is the second novelisation of their joint Film Australia/Polish children's SF television series of the same name. The first book in the series was Riana's World. The series, which has just been shown nationally on the Nine Network, has now been sold to a number of other countries and a second series is currently under production.
A horror/comedy novel that almost escaped my attention is The Invasion of the Monsters (Puffin, $8.95) written and illustrated by Paul J. Shaw.
Paul Jennings has just unleashed his latest offering, Uncovered (Puffin, $9.95), subtitled "Weird Weird Stories". It includes the following tales: "For Ever", "Too Many Rabbits", "A Mouthful", "Listen Ear", "Picked Bones", "Just Like Me", "Ringing Wet" and "Pubic Hare".
Lothian are also launching a new junior fiction (8-12 year olds) which includes two SF/F titles: Twice Upon A Time by John Pinkney and The Grandfather Clock by Anthony Hill.
Shinkei ($9.95) by Gillian Rubenstein, book three in the popular "Space Demons" trilogy for young adults, was released by Omnibus in December.
Sean McMullen's story "Ring Of Green Fire" has been selected to appear in the new Interzone Anthology. This will be published jointly by HarperCollins in the UK and St Martin's Press in the US and is to be "a sort of retrospective celebration of Interzone's first 100 issues".
For all those bibliophiles out there, I need to correct a couple of the items mentioned in the last column about the UK magazine Beyond. The simple fact is that editor David Riley appears to have changed his mind. Issue #3 is now available on Sydney and Melbourne news stands, but it appears Sean Williams' story "The Jackie Onassis Swamp-Buggy Concerto" (originally published in Eidolon 14) has been held over to a later issue. Also, "Research Project" has been published by Shannah Jay and not by Sherry-Anne Jacobs as previously advised.
The OZSF pages (which are part of the Perfect Strangers Australian Youth Culture Project) provide a reasonable starting point for newcomers to Australian SF. They are maintained by SF writer Aidan Doyle and reflect his likes and dislikes. The "Australian SF Authors" section contains informative, though not exhaustive, overviews of 17 writers, including book lists. The "Australian SF Magazines" section provides cameo overviews of Aurealis, Eidolon, Sirius and Bloodsongs. "OZ SF Book Reviews" provides book reviews of ten important books, most of which Doyle has previously published in Voiceworks. Information is also provided for potential SF writers.
Sara Douglass Home Page
Sara Douglass did not lose any time putting up a home page. Anyone interested in her work should check this out. Sarah provides us with some biographical information, notes on Battleaxe, Enchanter and Starman (for those readers who want to know what's in store in the "Axis Trilogy"), plus a variety of reviews of her work. Not only that, but Sara reveals she is in fact Dr Sara Warneke, current Head of History at La Trobe University in Bendigo. Links to her Alter Ego's Home Site reveal, among other things, her translation of Robert Mannyng of Brunne's 1338 "Story of Arthur".
The Greg Egan Fan Page
This is the place to be for information about Greg Egan. Here you will find a complete bibliography of Egan's short stories and novels (both published and forthcoming), a list of Egan's awards, and book reviews of his work. This page is diligently maintained by Philipp Leonard Keller and is a must for Egan fans.
Kate Orman's Page
No doubt all the Doctor Who fans already know about Kate's page because it contains heaps of stuff about the "The Doctor" but, like the Tardis, there is more here than meets the eye. Kate provides us with much more, including photographs of herself, plus her views on gun control and feminism, amongst other things. SF readers and writers will find the draft blurb she submitted to Virgin for her forthcoming novel Sleepy and a guide for submitting to Virgin publishing. Kate has also broken new ground in Australian SF by being the first professional writer to make her fiction freely available on the Web. Surfers will find a number of her short stories posted here.
VicNet SF Page
The VicNet Science Fiction Pages are maintained by well known Melbourne SFfan Marc Ortlieb. Here you will find swags of information about Australian SF including: Awards, Clubs, Conventions, Fan Funds, Fanzines, Bulletin Boards and listings of Australian SF novels and short stories published in 1994 and 1995.
The Festival of the Imagination
I would also draw your attention to the home page for "The Festival of the Imagination" (Confusion '96/Swancon 21) which is maintained by Martin Livings. This is an excellent source of up-to-date information about this event which will include a number of Australian SF personalities, as mentioned in the "People & Events" section, plus a short story writing competition.
Eidolon : SF Online
Last but not least, our own Eidolon is also at the forefront of Internet publishing. On our home page you will find the latest news about the magazine, information about our Mailing List, and old Eidolons from the past available on-line. But there is more to come here so stay tuned for the scoop.
Originally appeared pp. 25-29, Eidolon 20, January 1996.
Copyright © 1996 Steven Paulsen.
Reprinted with kind permission of the author.