Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! It’s officially spring in the temperate parts of the Southern Hemisphere, while in the tropical parts of Australia it’s that delightful period sometimes called the build-up where it’s getting hotter and more humid but there’s not much rain to relieve the tension.
In my old hometown of Darwin, October was the month for going troppo (ie mad)…
Hachette Australia and New Zealand has just launched The Realm, an online community for science fiction, horror and fantasy readers. Hachette says that its goal is to be a place for readers to “discover new talent, engage with a range of SFF content and interact with fellow fans.” At the moment it’s on Facebook and Twitter; a dedicated web page should be coming in October. I’m really hoping that they highlight their excellent Australian and New Zealand authors, so that ANZ readers get more of a feel for homegrown talent.
Also from Hachette this month is the announcement that Maria Lewis’ Who’s Afraid Too? will be out in ANZ in January next year, and the rest of the world in July. It’s the follow up novel to Who’s Afraid, which introduced the blue-haired, frequently angry Tommi Grayson who leaves Scotland, goes to New Zealand, and discovers a whole lot more about her heritage than she expected. Hint: the tagline is “All bark… all bite.”
When Garth Nix tweeted about ‘film news’ large parts of Australia would have started hyperventilating… except that he added “no, not about those books”—his Old Kingdom series is getting a lot of extra love at the moment with the imminent release of the fifth book, Goldenhand, from Allen&Unwin. The film news is nonetheless very exciting: his Frogkisser!, which will be released in February next year, is set to be turned into a hybrid live-action/animation with MUSIC! by Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios.
Speaking of non-book things, the creator of the Aboriginal superhero series Cleverman recently tweeted that season 2 has just started filming. There’s a lot of excitement about this show in Australia, and I hope it’s catching on internationally too…
Back to the books: Rachael Craw’s Shield is now out, concluding the young-adult Spark series which began with Spark and then Stray, centering on the adolescent Evie whose world was turned upside down in the first book when she discovered she was part of a genetic experiment and that she now has no choice but to follow the rules of a shadowy organisation…
At the opposite end is Mary Brock Jones with Torn, the first in a new romantic science fiction series. Here, two ecological engineers are tasked with saving their world—potentially at enormous cost.
At the children’s end of the market, Bren MacDibble’s How to Bee is set for release from Allen&Unwin in May 2017. It imagines an Australia without bees, where children have to do hand-pollination of fruit trees—as happens today in China. I really like this idea of exploring environmental issues in children’s literature, giving kids a way of thinking through some of the issues.
From lost bees to we-thought-they-were-gone: if you want dinosaurs, or dino-like critters, in your fiction, get Lee Murray’s Into the Mist, wherein NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna has to escort civilian contractors into a national park and things go very, very pear-shaped.
If being chased by dinosaurs doesn’t concern you, it sounds like Cally Black’s first novel might. Called In the Dark Spaces, it’s a YA science fiction thriller and it won the Ampersand Prize last year. It’s due out in April 2017 and focuses on a young stowaway who ends up becoming a translator for terrifying aliens.
And still on the horror train is The Refuge Collection. This is a shared world anthology set in the mythical world of Refuge. While the stories stand alone, they also interleave and are internally consistent across the world. Stories are available individually but have also been collected in volumes: the first set, called Heaven to Some…, was published in August; the second set, called … Hell to Others, will be out later this year. The first volume includes stories by people such as Kaaron Warren, Martin Livings, and Lee Murray, and each story is illustrated, too, for maximum effect. The big point of difference with this anthology is that the profits go to charities supporting refugees: mostly to Sanctuary Australia Foundation, some also to Refugee Action UK.
Taking a crazy left-hand turn: Tansy Rayner Roberts started out her writing career with the very funny Mocklore Chronicles—Splashdance Silver and Liquid Gold. That was… some time ago (1998!). Now, however, there’s a new addition to this world: Bounty: A Mocklore Collection, being published by Fablecroft. It includes “six stories of adventure, magic, chaos and chainmail lingerie.” I mean, just look at that cover. Fablecroft also recently launched In Your Face, an anthology of provocative and confronting stories. Which is awesome, but also bittersweet, because Fablecroft have announced that they are on “indefinite hiatus” as of the launch of Bounty, due to changing circumstances. Happily, editor Tehani Croft isn’t ruling out a Fablecroft resurgence sometime… .
This column would of course not be complete without mention of awards. The British Fantasy Awards were announced in September, and amongst other winners Letters to Tiptree (edited by myself and Alisa Krasnostein, published by Twelfth Planet Press) won Best Non-Fiction.
Finally, two reminders:
The Aurealis Awards are for speculative fiction works by Australian citizens or permanent residents. Entries need to be in by the start of December but judges would REALLY like it you got them in earlier! (I speak from experience.) So if you published something by an Australian, or know someone who did, make sure it’s entered.
Got any Australian or New Zealand news? Send it my way!
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.