Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: Cool Weather and Fine Writing

Welcome back to Aurora Australis, your go-to column for book news from Australia and New Zealand! Did you know it’s winter here (well, in those places that get winter—looking at you, Darwin and Cairns)? We did. Do. Whatever. ANYWAY, there’s anthologies and provocative speeches and all manner of things to read about, so I’m fine.

June saw Continuum XI happen in Melbourne, with guests RJ Anderson and Tansy Rayner Roberts. There were a few book launches (Gillian Polack’s The Art of Effective Dreaming from Satalyte; Jason Nahrung’s Vampires in the Sunburnt Country and Mary Borsellino’s Thrive from Clan Destine), many interesting panels (live podcast recordings, a couple of debates, lots of Doctor Who and Marvel/DC smackdowns…), and of course guest of honour speeches. You can read Roberts’ “Fantasy, Female Writers and the Politics of Influence” over at SF Signal; I was in the crowd and at the time I wished I had a pen and paper so I could take notes on all the female fantasy writers I’ve missed out. But then I was glad I hadn’t, since my to-read pile is already a teetering pile of guilt. And now I have lost that excuse. RJ Anderson has also posted the speech she gave: “Why I love books for children and teens: the whole story.” Which once again is unhelpful for my to-read pile.

hear-me-roar-webWhile I’m on the topic, Continuum X’s guest of honour Ambelin Kwaymullina has written some thought-provoking essays on the need for diversity in literature and being an Indigenous writer in Australia—and how power structures and privilege work against them. These essays are not directly related to speculative fiction but they’re vitally important for Australian audiences and producers to consider. And while the issues faced in Australia won’t map directly to other countries, I hope that the ideas and ways of thinking about the issues might translate to other places with, shall we say, problematic relations with indigenous peoples. (Kwaymullina’s guest of honour speech from 2014 can be found here, in which she talks about her influences and science fiction and Indigenous perspectives.)

I’ve mentioned Ticonderoga Publications in past columns; they really are having a great 2015. In July, The Emerald Key by Christine Daigle and Stewart Sternberg is coming, a novel featuring Allan Quatermain’s daughter as well as alt history, horror, mystery and urban fantasy. In August, an anthology edited by Liz Grzyb, Hear Me Roar, comes on the scene, featuring “tales of real women and unreal worlds” (which seems entirely appropriate in a year that gave us Mad Max: Fury Road). And in October, their anthology called Bloodlines and described as “non-traditional dark urban fantasy” will be appearing. Edited by Amanda Pillar, it’s got some awesome names attached: Joanne Anderton, Dirk Flinthart, Kathleen Jennings, Alan Baxter… Seanan McGuire…. Busy. Beavers.

UnknownAnother Aussie publisher doing good things at the moment is Satalyte. They had Polack’s launch at Continuum, which I understand involved morris dancers (I was on a panel so I cannot confirm this). At Sydney Supanova, they’ll be relaunching Jack Dann’s The Rebel: Second Chance, which originally came out in 2004. This new, expanded edition is to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of James Dean’s death; the novel is an “alternate history of American pop culture.” And right about now Satalyte is also publishing TB McKenzie’s The Dragon and the Crow, a YA fantasy set in a world where the use of magic is normal—so the fact that Brin can’t use it makes him strange and just maybe the answer to a prophecy.

Did you want more books? Text Publishing has two coming out soon that might appeal. Sonja Dechian’s An Astronaut’s Life is a collection of short stories that “examine out inability to control the world around us.” Her writing has been compared to Kelly Link’s. You can also get Rebecca Lim’s Afterlight, to uncover just what “a beautiful ghost in black” might demand from the girl that she is haunting.

If that’s not enough, Kaaron Warren’s The Gate Theory is now available in hard copy from Cohesion (that’ll be horror); Escape Publishing is publishing SE Gilchrist’s seventh Darkon Warriors novel, Touring the Stars (SF romance); and Hachette is publishing the final book in A.L Tait’s children’s series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, to be called Breath of the Dragon (fantasy).

Meanwhile: calls for submissions! Paper Road Press is looking for contributions (by 31 July) to an SFF anthology to be edited by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray. While it’s only open to NZ and Australian authors, this will be one to look out for on publication if you’re interested in seeing how we make Aotearoa/NZ, Australia, and the South Pacific as dark and twisted as any New York street.

AngelofStorms-648x1024Other things to look forward to include July 18 seeing a Speculative Fiction Festival at the NSW Writers’ Centre; organised by Cat Sparks and featuring guests like Isobelle Carmody, Garth Nix, Marianne de Pierres and Ben Peek, it’s bound to be an excellent day—and who knows, maybe some interesting collaborations will result.

Also in July: volume 5 of the free and DRM-free e-mag Dimension6. This one has stories from SG Larner, David McDonald, and Jessica May Lin.

Trudi Canavan’s Angel of Storms is coming in November, and Orbit has just revealed the cover (so pretty). And in news of Australians rocking it overseas, Horrorology: The Lexicon of Fear is due out in October. Edited by Stephen Jones, it’s got a story from Angela Slatter, as well as Robert Shearman, Lisa Tuttle, Pat Cadigan and other luminaries. (Wait, given the subject matter, they’re probably not luminaries. What’s the darkness equivalent?)

That’ll do for now, right?

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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