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Nigel Read, editor of Superluminal 1

Nigel Read is the editor of Superluminal 1. That beautiful cover has been created by none other than Nick Stathopoulos.

1) Superluminal 1 marks your entrance into the Australian field as a publisher and editor in an anthology that is billed as science fiction. There's been some discussion (and Bill Congreve noted it) that science fictions presence in Australia has diminished. Was the urge to do the anthology generated by this absence, or by other reasons?

There's a good reason why the Australian mass market publishers don't publish much science fiction -- virtually every other genre sells better. There's no point in denying it, the readership for science fiction in Australia is small. And yet a small readership isn't _no_ readership. Superluminal 1 is intended to satisfy that small readership. I don't have a fannish interest in science fiction. Of course I read it and enjoy it, but my primary interest is in _variety_. That should, in my opinion, be the main purpose of the small presses -- to provide the variety that the mass market publishers cannot (or will not).

2) What I find interesting about your anthology, actually, is the number of reprints you're carrying. Out of the 17 stories in your collection, 5 are reprints from names such as Greg Egan, Sean Williams, and Jack Dann. It's an unusual practice to see reprints in original anthologies these days, so what lead you to them?

I'm not sure I can answer that one properly, since I don't fully understand why original fiction should be considered inherently superior to reprint fiction. Why _not_ publish reprints? It brings quality stories to readers who may not have read them before. I'm still reading heaps of old novels and short fiction -- Robert E Howard stories, Philip K Dick novels, Roger Zelazny novels, Wild Cards anthologies, any retrospective anthologies I can lay my hands on...

3) What is your impression of the quality of the fiction being written in the Australian scene, both pro and con?

Ah, the million dollar question! ;)

I don't have a good opinion on the fantasy novels being published by the mass market publishers in Australia. I don't have a bad opinion either. I simply haven't read many of them. With only a few exceptions, they simply haven't appealed to me. Thus, my comments below refer primarily to the other sub-genres of speculative fiction and to short fiction. It seems to me that the best Australian speculative fiction writers still have some ground to make on the best in the US and the UK scenes. And there's an awful lot of absolute crud being written and published. But there's a lot of promising signs too: the emergence of K J Bishop and Margo Lanagan, Cat's Agog! anthologies, the resurgence of author collections... I think the next step is to bring down the fairly artificial barriers separating the Australian speculative fiction scene from the rest of the world. We are too insular, too parochial. This is, in my opinion, holding some very promising writers back. We should be competing with writers from the US and the UK and elsewhere. It's time to stop being content with being a big fish in a little pond. Evolve or die! :)

4) You're dead. The parachute didn't open. The ground didn't move. It was a black plastic trash bag they buried you in. Still, you go to Heaven and you see God. What do you say?

"Err, you know I'm not baptised or circumcised, right?"

5) Favourite swear word?

I tried swearing for a while, but everyone kept laughing at my futile attempts, so I stopped. My characters swear, for the sake of verisimilitude, but _I_ almost never do. Blame my parents.


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Apr. 14th, 2005 11:15 pm (UTC)
in case anyone is wondering why i did ask about reprints... well, i like the new. i'm not much into the old. sure, the reprints read notes in novels are a good thing, and i wouldn't say otherwise. but ive always seen short fiction as a throwaway medium. create, jettison into the world, let it go. new short fiction is created every hour, is read in twenty minutes... give me the new.
Apr. 15th, 2005 03:53 am (UTC)
I'm with you on that one, sir peekenstein...

i don't have any real or valid reason.. i'm just an mtv child entranced by new shiny objects... i guess i've long ago given up trying to read all the good fiction ever written... i'm just trying to keep up with the new stuff... which is hard enough...

so i skip most reprints in anthologies...

but then again in a certain mood i like them...

Apr. 15th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC)
i buy reprint anthos like year's bests, and individual authors that i like. especially since in most cases i haven't seen the majority of the work. but one of the things i dislike about literature is this sense that it 'has to last'. what killed off poetry, i think, was that everyone made it out of be this culturally important thing, and thus it became a chore to read and enjoy.

i don't reckon literature should be lost, or forgotten, i just think we should be a little less precious about it. we've not yet cured cancer, you know?

and short stories are just like tv shows to me. they should be consumed like that.
Apr. 15th, 2005 09:47 pm (UTC)
I never read reprints in collections or anthos because for YBFH I'm only looking for new stories and don't have the time to read those published previous to the year I'm currently working on.
Ellen Datlow
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