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August 10th, 2007

A Bit of Retro

A few years back, I did a series of interviews that ended up being called The 2005 Snapshot: Australian Speculative Fiction. Some of you might remember it, some of you not. It was the week I interviewed forty three people.

It was a little hectic, that week.

Last night, I was talking to a friend about all things local, and I made reference to the interviews, since in them, a lot of the authors and editors are critical of the local scene (or they admit to not reading it), and it always makes me laugh the same people turn round and tell me what an asshole I am for saying that I didn't like something. Oh, opinions change, and all of that, but it's fun to remember the tone that some people took two years ago. A few people are even positive, and a couple even dodge the question entirely so as to carefully say nothing at all. It's the usual kind of thing for interviews. Anyhow, this morning, I decided to have a flip through them, and what is of interest now, mostly, is to go back and look through the list of people that I interviewed.

When I did the interviews, Ben Payne and Robert Hoge were just set to begin editing Aurealis, of which they'd get one issue out. Nigel Read never released Superliminal. I'm not sure what Chuck McKenzie or Brendan Duffy are doing now, but they're not nearly as prolific as they once were. I heard Duffy had a novel on the go, since he'd gotten a grant. Based on her blog, it looks like KJ Bishop has had a few fits and starts at new novels, but nothing has made it to the end. There's more authors there that have either dropped in profile or just disappeared. Jonathan Strahan has pushed his editing into a more solo show with original anthologies from Nightshade. Robert Hood and Robin Pen are doing a second (and third) Daikaiju! The Prime collections by Trent Jamieson, Lee Battersby, and Paul Haines came and went without much notice. Kaaron Warren's Grinding House, however, seemed to do well. Shadowed Realms closed down. Margo Lanagan won two World Fantasy Awards and released Red Spikes and everyone in the world loves her (and her part of the Shimmaron series is set to be released soon). Sarah Endacott has done another issue of Orb, and it seemed to be drawn from Endacott's friends, making it a niche project within a niche community (or not, see comments). And Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt are up to their third volume of the Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It's an interesting retro moment, at any rate.

If you did one of these now, you could pull a whole different view of the Australian scene, though a few people would repeat, of course; but in two years there has been the rise of ASif, the move of Brimestone Press into books, a bit of a rise in local horror, the start--or the bit before the start--of Grant Watson's press, an indie horror group in Tasmania, award fights, Coeur de Lion, and the rise of new writers such as Rjurik Davidson and Steph Campisi and Kim Westwood and others. Anyhow: part of me was tempted to do another snapshot this morning, just for the laugh, but the truth is, I've gone beyond a point where I could pull off something like this off with the local scene, and if I was to put in the effort, I'd be more interested in just grabbing authors and editors and publishers from around the world, and seeing what they said. That, however, kind of defeats the purpose of the whole thing, which was to just give a burst of content to the local scene about what they were producing, and a quick, rough and almost real snapshot of what was happening here, ego, books, and all of that.

Update: girliejones and ASif are going to new a snapshot. If you want to sign up for it this year, follow the link.

John Rambo

I swear to fucking God, all I can think is, "It's the remake of the original Predator, but with an old Rambo!"

Book Cash, Part Three

From Dave Fenlon, Chief Operating Officer at Angus & Robertson:

Firstly, I would like to assure you that the negotiations that are taking place between Angus & Robertson and our suppliers are not intended to have any impact on Australian authors and are purely about reaching a commercial arrangement with publishers.

Angus & Robertson is a major retailer of Australian titles, with 30% of top selling lines made up by Australian authors. It is vital that we have a sustainable business that can continue supporting Australian authors over the long term.

Over the past three years we have invested over $14 million in the growth and expansion of our business to bolster the industry and ensure accessibility and value for our customers. Despite our best efforts, we too are under increasing pressure to survive as we are squeezed by major department stores and online stores, resulting in our company-owned stores making an operating cash loss this year.

As a commercial business, we have the right to make decisions about which suppliers we do business with. In our negotiations with suppliers, we are the customer. Unfortunately we cannot work with every publisher in Australia, particularly if the relationship is not commercially viable for us.


I can't imagine that anything about this so far has given Angus & Robertson good press. However, a company can't be seen to fold so quickly, so they must issue a stick to your guns kind of statement, coupled with a but the door's not closed kind of attitude which allows them to fold later. This is that kind of letter.