Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: Blue Quandongs and Magenta Cherries

Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! After a quiet-ish March, April has exploded everywhere. I’ve got anthologies and collections, novels and trilogies. I’ve got awards news. My hometown of Melbourne is diving headfirst into winter, and Sydney recently experienced a not-cyclone (annual rainfall in 24 hours!). Read on to hear about small presses and large presses and blue quandongs, and watch me take a pot-shot at George RR Martin fans.

Finest Ass in the Universe Ticonderoga Publications, based out of Perth, made two exciting announcements this month. Firstly, Anna Tambour’s collection The Finest Ass in the Universe will be released in August. Tambour is one of those writers who writes carefully and exquisitely and slowly. Her novel Crandolin was shortlisted for a World Fantasy Award in 2013; she’s written one other novel, Spotted Lily, as well as a number of short stories. To have twenty six short stories collected in one place (including five originals) is seriously exciting.

As if that weren’t enough, Russell B Farr and Liz Grzyb will also be editing an anthology this year. Opening to submissions on 1 June (just for the month), the anthology is looking to focus on the idea that “seeking refuge in a new land can be a good thing, both for the migrant and for the place that becomes their new home.” The call for submissions also states that the editors are looking for stories examining “the inhumanity of indefinite detention of refugees, of allowing them to be stripped of their dignity and sanity.” This is a particularly hot topic in Australia right now, with both sides of politics wanting to be seen to ‘stop the boats’ (that is, prevent refugees from seeking asylum in Australia after arriving by sea), and serious controversies over the conditions in which ‘asylum seekers’ are being held. While the anthology will be paying writers SFWA pro rates, all profits will be donated to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Definitely one to watch out for.

NZ’s Paper Road Press is going down the subscription track, with six novellas coming out electronically once a month for six months (starting in April) for their Shortcuts series. The novellas are described as “stories of the future, the past, and the uncanny, all of which wind in some way back to the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand.” The first story is from Lee Murray and Piper Meija; May brings AC Buchanan and June has Grant Stone, all for NZ$3.33 a month.

SNAFUMeanwhile, Cohesion Press is going military with the release of SNAFU: An Anthology of Military Horror, collecting “stories of ancient myths, time travellers, horrors in the old west… and the soldiers who fight them.” It features stories from Weston Ochse, Greg Beick, and Kirsten Cross. Cohesion are also releasing a collection of war stories from Weston Ochse, FUBAR, with both electronic and limited print copies (including numbered and lettered versions) being available.

There were two awesome trilogy announcements this month. Thoraiya Dyer, winner of numerous Australian awards, has sold a “magic rainforest trilogy” to Tor, and promises that it will feature “blue quandongs and magenta cherries.” Meanwhile, another multi-award winner, Angela Slatter, has also scored a trilogy deal: Jo Fletcher Books (Hatchette International) will be publishing the Verity Fassbinder series. Verity first appeared in “Brisneyland by Night,” from the Twelfth Planet Press anthology Sprawl (Brisneyland=Brisbane, in Australian slang; that link is to its reprinting in Lightspeed). The only problem with both of these deals is the waiting time until I get to read them.

… I’m still waiting….

Red QueenAlso in I’m-still-waiting: Isobelle Carmody has announced that the final book in her Obernewtyn saga will be released in November this year; she’s even kicking free of the internet shackles to make sure it really does get written in time. The Red Queen will be the seventh book in this fantasy-or-is-it-post-apocalyptic YA series, which started in 1987. George R.R. Martin fans, you know nothing of delays. Happily, I am not one of the people who have been waiting for the series completion for 28 years; I know some of those, and they wear tragic faces and treat this sort of news with mournful skepticism. No, I’ve only been waiting for this series to be finished for about 17 years.

Still. Waiting.

Ugly children's bookIt’s not speculative fiction itself, but it features one of Australian fandom’s own: last year, Robert Hoge’s memoir Ugly came out to much acclaim. Born with a tumour in the middle of his face and “legs that weren’t much use,” the book explores Hoge’s life and attitudes towards his ‘ugliness’. Hachette Australia has announced that come August, a version for younger readers will be released, with the tagline “A beaut story about one very ugly kid.” Hoge is a wonderful human being and this is a wonderful story, and I’m really glad it’s going to be accessible to a younger age group.

Finally: more awards! If the Ditmars are sort of the Australian-based Hugos (fan-nominated and voted), then the Aurealis Awards are a bit more like the Nebulas: each shortlist and winner is determined by a panel of judges. The full list of winners is over here, showing that the Aurealis Awards go into quite a lot of depth: separate awards for Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror novels and short stories, as well as Young Adult and Children’s categories, not to mention collections, anthologies, and graphic novels. Then there was the Australian Shadows Awards, specifically recognising excellence in Australian horror. The announcements came out via Facebook, and included Alan Baxter and Shane Jiraiya Cummings. Finally, not entirely speculative but still of interest: the Children’s Book Council of Australia released its shortlists (Older Readers, Younger Readers, Early Childhood and Picture Books) this month, including the magnificently named The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil (published by Hardie Grant), which I hadn’t heard of and am now delighted to learn about.

And I’m still waiting for those trilogies.


Alexandra Pierce reads, teaches, blogs, podcasts, cooks, knits, runs, eats, sleeps, and observes the stars. Not necessarily in that order of priority. She is a Christian, a feminist, and an Australian. She can be found at her website, and on the Galactic Suburbia podcast.

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