Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: Riddles, Promises, and Threads

Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand!

Southern Australia has just taken a turn towards winter, it’s nearly time for the Australian National Science Fiction Convention (Continuum, in Melbourne), and—despite not being in Europe—Australia did okay in the annual Eurovision Song Contest. And we have books! And covers! And TV! And awards!

A few new books this month… like Rachel Nightingale’s fantasy novel Harlequin’s Riddle is coming soon from Odyssey Books. It’s about the Commedia dell’Arte, in the vein of Erin Morgernstern’s The Night Circus. Mina has a missing older brother and, it transpires, a gift for storytelling—she can call visions into being with her stories. She joins a troupe of Travelling Players and, of course, mysterious things unfold…

Then there’s Paula Weston’s The Undercurrent, coming from Text Publishing in July. Julianne De Marchi has an electrical undercurrent under her skin, Ryan Walsh is part of an experimental private military unit, and they’re about to be thrown together during an attack on their city.

Also from Text, and out right this minute, is Ballad for a Mad Girl, by Vikki Wakefield. Grace Foley is known to be “a bit mad”—she’s a prankster, a risk-taker. One challenge leaves her hearing voices and seeing visions, and gets drawn into the two-decade-old mystery of a missing girl. Grace has to fight not to lose her sense of self.

Cover reveal! Trudi Canavan’s Successor’s Promise, the third in Millennium’s Rule series, has a cover now and a nicely mysterious one it is too. This book follows on from Thief’s Magic and Angel of Storms and is coming from Orbit; it features “[w]orlds… at war, torn apart by deadly machines and power-hungry sorcerors.”

And another! Twelfth Planet Press’ Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (edited by myself and Mimi Mondal) is due out in the next month or so and now has a cover.

We’ve got more speculative TV coming in the near future, which is very exciting. Netflix is producing its first Australian original content. Called Tidelands, written by Stephen M Irwin, the summary is that a former criminal as she returns home to the small fishing village of Orphelin Bay. When the body of a local fisherman washes ashore, she must uncover the town’s secrets while investigating its strange inhabitants, a group of dangerous half-Sirens, half-humans called “Tidelanders.” Don’t get too excited yet through; production is only due to start on this in 2018.

To tide you over until then, we do have other exciting news: Cleverman, which was very well received last year—featuring an Indigenous Australian superhero (well, of sorts)—is coming back for season 2 quite soon (June 29 for Australia, and June 28 on SundanceTV in the US). Meanwhile Glitch—which first aired in 2015 and featured seven characters who climb out of their own graves, seem to be alive but have no idea why they’re alive again—is also coming back later in the year, in Australia at least.

Market news for NZ and Australian authors! (Sorry everyone else, but you can still read the awesomeness that we produce.) Breach has opened to submissions, calling “SF, horror and dark fantasy short fiction” between 500 and 200 words in length. If you want to check it out, issue 1 is out now via the typical e-outlets: the front cover promises “Robots! Wastelands! Space demons and other space malarkey!” (Also the homepage has a creepy/awesome jellyfish floating around, you should check it out.)

And a new anthology, complete with crowdfunding campaign! Tansy Rayner Roberts and Rivqa Rafael are going to be editing Mother of Invention for Twelfth Planet Press: an anthology of stories about artificial intelligence created by “women, and other under-represented genders.” They’re going to be crowdfunding via Kickstarter in June, which means the campaign is live right now! The campaign will enable them to pay pro rates… and yes, there will be a call for submissions later in the year.

More awards! There’s never enough! The shortlist for the Scribe Awards—given by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers—are out, and George Ivanoff is in the Short Fiction section for “An Eye for An Eye,” from the X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology.

Another shortlist is for the inaugural Readings Young Adult Book Prize—Readings is one of Melbourne’s top independent bookstores. There are six shortlisted novels, and two of them are speculative fiction: Boone Shepherd (Gabriel Bergmoster) is about a journalist trying to get to the top of the game… in two different centuries; while Mark Smith’s The Road to Winter features Finn, surviving alone after an epidemic sweeps Australia and kills a large part of the population, who decides to help a young girl whose owner wants to re-capture her.

And the Locus finalists are here! Australians, represent: Angela Slatter in First Novel; Jonathan Strahan for three appearances in Anthology, and in Editor; and Shaun Tan in both Artist and Art Book, for The Singing Bones.

And a new award that’s just being put together: the D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award. As part of the crowdfunding campaign, the editors of Defying Doomsday and publisher Twelfth Planet Press wanted to create an award to recognise non-fiction and related media that explore the subject of disability in SFF literature; it’s named after the patron who pledged at the top level in their campaign. Nominations for the inaugural prize are open now, until July 31, for work published in 2016; the award is $200.

If you’ve got Australian or NZ news that I should know about, let me know!

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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