The Best Australian Science Fiction Writing

I heard a while ago that Rob Gerrand, who among many other things was a partner in Norstrilia Press, was to edit a retrospective collection of Australian science fiction. This struck me then, and strikes me now, as both an interesting and a good thing. For some reason, though, I had the impression that the book was coming out in 2005, but word reached me today that it would be out before Christmas.

The book is called The Best Australian Science Fiction Writing: A Fifty Year Collection, and is published by Black Inc, who do a number of ‘year’s best’ type projects in Australia. According to the PR material I’ve seen so far, it includes stories by Jack Dann, A. Bertram Chandler, Sean McMullen, Peter Carey, Greg Egan, Philippa Maddern, Norma Hemming, George Tuner, Jack Wodhams, David Lake, Erle Cox, Lucy Sussex, Randal Flynn, John Baxter, Frank Bryning and others. When I have a full listing I’ll post it here, but till then you can see the PR material on the Pan Macmillan website,

I’ve read enough Australian science fiction, and been involved in the field long enough, to be fascinated in what choices Gerrand makes and why. It’s the kind of book that I wish well, and want to be terribly successful. I also like it because it becomes a talking point. I can imagine a number of conversations at conventions and similar places that will start with “he chose that Dowling story, and not that one!” and continue from there. The one thing I hope Gerrand didn’t do, though, is try to avoid famous stories. There’s nothing worse than a best of that avoids the best stories because they’re familiar or easily accessible. Kind of kills the point. I’ll post more here when I have it.

Not Melbourne…

On a more typical note for this blog, it’s been a minor (well, very minor actually) ambition of mine to attend both a World Fantasy Convention and a World SF Convention in the same year. I’d been holding out hopes for 2006, with Melbourne bidding for the WFC that year. News to hand (well, just noticed by me, actually) reveals that the 2006 convention will be held in Austin, Texas, which I am sure will be spiffy. That means the ’06 conventions are WorldCon in Los Angeles (armpit of the Western world) and WFC in Austin. I imagine I’ll be in Texas in October, and should have a great time. As to ’07, I almost certainly won’t attend the WorldCon in Japan, so I’m hoping for somewhere wonderfully exotic for WFC that year. At this rate, though, I doubt I’ll make both in a single year during this decade. We’ll have to see.

For tomorrow…

Blogs always tempt rash, ill-considered comments. I’ve certainly done that, here and elsewhere, and up to a point I accept that as what happens. I do, however, want to make a serious point about the recent US election.

I have read a lot of comments from despairing American citizens who are struggling to come to terms with the results of yesterday’s election. After all, by any measure it is an overwhelming endorsement of President Bush and his policies. I’m struggling too, but I would encourage those people not to despair. Why? Because the rest of the world needs you, each and every one of you. Again, why?

Well, writing as someone living outside the United States, it feels very much like we non-Americans are at your nation’s mercy. Your nation overwhelms us with cultural exports, influences our domestic politics, dominates our economies, and invades us when, and as, it sees fit.

Realistically, the only protection we have is a sane American electorate, a body of voters who will eventually turn back the political tide. Sure, it is possible to talk about historical precedents for the rest of the world eventually rising up and overthrowing nations that act the way the United States is currently acting, but that is unlikely, violent and too long term. The best solution is for American citizens who want a better life for themselves, their children, and for the rest of the world to appreciate that they can still make a difference, they can still organise and vote. We cannot not, and we need you to do it.

Or you could read…

My colleague at Locus, Rich Horton, is a far more productive soul than I. In addition to all of the many things he does, Rich writes ‘year in review’ overviews for most of the major magazines in the field each year. He’s just started posting them to his newsgroup, and so far he’s written about Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF.

For what it’s worth, I found myself agreeing with Rich about Asimov’s, especially his comments about the novella length fiction, not quite as sure about F&SF (I think it had a very good year, but not quite as good as Rich did), and less convinced about Analog. Actually, to clarify about F&SF, I thought that Sci Fiction was the best magazine in the field in 2004, but I would say that F&SF was the best print magazine in the field.