Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: Superheroes, Merfolk, and Corporate Insects

Welcome to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! In Australia, there’s been controversy over which national politicians are actual dual citizens or not (thus invalidating their election as members of parliament), and we voted yes in the optional-postal-survey on marriage equality; we’re now waiting for our politicians to make it law. You would think that a poll about the Australian bird of the year would be less controversial, but that’s before you factor in an obsession with the bin chicken (aka Australian White Ibis) and how seriously some people take getting swooped by magpies.

Anyway, onto the publishing news!

Author James Bradley and artist Melanie Cook have teamed up to create The Death of Neutrino Man. It’s a brief comic taking a look at the life and experiences of one B-list superhero, Neutrino Man, from gaining powers to the world changing around him. I’m very interested to see whether this collaboration goes further!

Peter M Ball’s short collection The Birdcage Heart & Other Strange Tales is available electronically now, with a print edition next year. Ball’s stories involve wizards, merfolk, public servants, and Isla Tortuga. Ball has won an Aurealis Award and printed in numerous different venues, so it’s exciting to see a collection out there.

William Cook also has a new collection available, Dark Deaths: Selected Horror Fiction, bringing together work previously published elsewhere.

There’s a special issue of Text out with a focus on Australasian fairy tales, edited by (Tiptree-Award-winning) Nike Sulway, as well as Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario and Belinda Calderone. It’s got pieces from Kate Forsyth, Kirstyn McDermott, Danielle Wood and many others and is well worth checking out if fairy tales are your jam.

The Dimension6 Annual Collection for 2017, featuring work from Rjurik Davidson, Natalie Porrs, and Bryce Stevens, among others, is available now as an ebook for a reasonable sum.

Twelfth Planet Press has announced the results of their open-call acquisitions, for their Mother of Invention anthology, including pieces from Stephanie Lai, Octavia Cade, DK Mok, and seven other authors. That’s on top of the previously-announced work from John Chu, Rosaleen Love, Nisi Shawl, Justina Robson… and many others. This is shaping up to be a fabulous anthology!

Speaking of Kickstarter projects: Sword and Sonnet—an anthology of of female and non-binary battle poets edited by Aidan Doyle, Rachael K Jones, and E. Catherine Tobler—will hopefully be funded by the time you read this.

Allen and Unwin have a new Penni Russon children’s story coming in February next year called The Endsister. The description explains the titular endsisters as siblings that “bookend” the family, “with the three boys sandwiched in between.” It sounds pretty rambunctious, and that’s before you get to the resident ghosts…

Also for children, J Rackham’s debut A Dash of Belladonna is available now. It’s a fantasy novel: Lottie finds a tutor to help her use her magic, but soon finds herself the target of a magician looking to harvest the blood of magical children.

A debut we missed back in July (sorry about that!) is EG Wilson’s, Voiceless. The book features a young woman who loses her voice due to disease and is set in Wilson’s home, Timaru, 50 years from now.

Hachette Australia has announced their Highlights for 2018, including A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising, by Raymond A. Villareal. The blurb described it as a “deeply intimate fictional oral history” from the points of view of people on all sides of the vampire uprising. It’s coming in June and I look forward to more details! Hachette also has Zana Fraillon’s Wisp coming in September. Published through the Lothain Children’s imprint, it follows Idris, a child refugee, who finds the Wisp—which reawakens memories and hopes. But Idris has no memories…

Shaun Tan has a new book coming from Lothian Children’s Books (an imprint of Hachette) called Cicada. It focuses on an office-worker bug, and “all the people who don’t love him.” I immediately want to email said bug and reassure him that people do love him, honest! I’m so excited to see new Shaun Tan work—both the pictures and the story itself.

Many congratulations are in order for Australians at the moment. Let’s start with Jack Dann, whose Dreaming in the Dark won Best Anthology this year at the World Fantasy Awards! Then there’s Angela Slatter, whose Vigil was nominated in the Dublin Literary Awards for 2018. There’s ten other Australians there too—Anita Heiss, Jane Harper, Toni Jordan and others—but not, as far as I can see for speculative works; there are also three New Zealanders: Catherine Chidgey, Fiona Kidman, and Emma Neale. And the CILIP Carnegie Medal nominations for 2018 are out, too, featuring Garth Nix (twice! For Frogkisser and Goldenhand). Other, non-speculative Australian nominees include Zana Fraillon for the Carnegie, and four books in the Kate Greenaway Medal category for distinguished illustration in a book for children and young people.

In other award news, looking forward to next year, the Norma K Hemming Award is now open for entries for works published in 2016 and 2017. With a new website to answer all your questions (what’s eligible? Who was Norma?), you have until 25 January 2018 to enter works by an Australian from the last two years that explore race, gender, sexuality, class or disability.

And in 2019 you will get to see Australia’s own Margo Lanagan, if you get to the World Fantasy Convention in Los Angeles! She’s going to be fabulous so I hope people get along to see and hear her.

Finally, in sad news, Cohesion Press has announced that after four years of operation, they will be closing immediately. By the time you read this, it may already be too late to access their books, even electronically (sorry about that).

If you’ve got news from New Zealand or Australia, please let me know!

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