April 13th, 2007


You Think We'd Be Beyond This

Books and movies that "advocate" terrorism are to be outlawed under new Federal laws to be unveiled today.

Material deemed likely to glorify terrorism will be pulled from the shelves and banned from entering the country in the "zero-tolerance approach", Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said yesterday.

There's nothing quite so heart warming as watching the Howard Government begin another campaign of hidden racism--this one, if you can't pick it straight away, is aimed at targeting the Muslim community and their literature.

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Bill Congreve Time

Dead = first collection by unknowns, especially if poetry
Not quite as dead = literary first novels by unknowns
Less dead = collections by well known writers
Comatose = stand alone genre novels by unknowns
Barely alive = good anthologies with a couple of name authors which are backed by publicity
Mostly alive = repeat novels by name authors
Thriving = series novels by name authors

That's my experience of where anthologies versus novels lies. Of course, the exceptions prove the rule and others may have entirely different experience.

That's Bill Congreve, publisher of MirrorDanse Books, and editor of the Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, among other things. He's talking about the state of the market, of course.

When I first met Bill, he was working in a bookstore called Infinitas, which was, at the time, run by Graeme South (if I remember rightly). It has changed hands a couple of times now, as these things do. Anyhow, I was about seventeen at the time and he was the first person connected to any writing/publishing community that I ever met, and he introduced me to things like Aphelion Press, Eidolon , and the Mentor, which was one of those old school photocopied and stapled zines that you don't see so much these days. The thing that people sometimes forget, I think, is that in Australia, the independent press community is often something that works best when you are introduced to it--it can, at times, look like a secret society for which you need the key to the door and someone to show you the secret handshake to get into. At any rate, what I'm saying is I've known Bill for a long time, and I was once in a writing group with him; I really don't dig writing groups these days, but they have their time and place, and I was introduced to a bunch of people on the Sydney scene through it, which makes me just a touch nostalgic for those days when I had hair (before I was twenty). I haven't seen Bill in person for a while, but then I haven't seen anyone in person for a while, but he got married, recently, to Michelle Marquardt, and that was nice to hear.

Returning to MirrorDanse, in the time that I've known Bill through it, I've seen the press go up and down, based on some good choices and bad choices. In the late nineties he published a novella co-written by myself and Chris Mowbray called The Enigma Variant. I've mentioned it in passing before, but in hindsight, it was one of the bad choices, but none of us knew that at the time--sometimes it ends up that way. Besides, only a hundred ever existed. I imagine if you have one now, it's a tiny little collector's item from the past, in which we can all be glad of moving on from. You gotta laugh, though, huh?

At any rate, you can talk to Bill on ASif for a while, and you might find, if you hit the right topic, that he's a touch on the outspoken and opinionated side.

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