Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The First of the End of Year's Lists

The Last Short Story crew have released a list of stories they consider the Year's Best by Australian authors.

The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga...Peter M. Ball (Dreaming Again)
On the Finding of Photographs of My Former Loves... Peter M. Ball (Fantasy)
As We Know It... Lyn Battersby (Borderlands #10)
The Metawhore's Tale... Lee Battersby (Canterbury 2100)
Seven Ages of the Protagonist... Deborah Biancotti (Scary Food)
Watertight Lies... Deborah Biancotti (2012)
Oh Russia... Simon Brown (2012)
The Empire... Simon Brown (Dreaming Again)
A Thousand Natural Shocks... Simon Brown (Borderlands #10)
Neverland Blues... Adam Browne (Dreaming Again)
The Glass Girl Looks Back... Stephanie Campisi (Shimmer)
A Pox on All Your Houses... Stephanie Campisi (Dog vs Sandwich)
The Gnomogist's Tale... Matthew Chrulew (Canterbury 2100)
WinterCrystal Nights... Greg Egan (Interzone #215)
Angel Rising... Dirk Flinthart (Twelfth Planet Publishing)
This is Not My Story... Dirk Flinthart (ASIM #37)
Her Collection of Intimacy... Paul Haines (Black #2)
Creeping in Reptile Flesh... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
Unravelling... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
The New Deal... Trent Jamieson (Dreaming Again)
Machine Maid... Margo Lanagan (Extraordinary Engines)
The Goosle... Margo Lanagan (Del Ray Book of SF/F)
The Janus's Tale... Penelope Love (Canterbury 2100)
The Constant Past... Sean McMullen (Dreaming Again)
The Funeral, Ruined... Ben Peek (Paper Cities)
David Bowie... Ben Peek (2012)
I Love You Like Water... Angela Slatter (2012)
The Hummingbird Heart... Angela Slatter (Shimmer)
Palisade... Cat Sparks (Clockwork Phoenix)
Ass-Hat Magic Spider... Scott Westerfeld (The Starry Rift)

Of more interest, however, was Ben Payne's (benpayne) commentary on the Australian scene earlier:

This year saw, if anything, a further diffusing of Australian short fiction. If the last few years weren't enough of an indicator, 2008 continued the trend toward anthologies and overseas markets and a further weakening of any regular short story markets on a local scale.

The year was always going to be dominated by Dreaming Again, the first mass market anthology of short stories we've seen for some time. How did it stack up? For my money, the results were mixed. The anthology lacked consistency, but was so large that it still managed to pull out a good number of worthwhile stories despite that. Worth buying, certainly. Whether it managed to hook any new converts to the cause of short fiction in this country is something time will, perhaps, tell. I suspect history will remember it most for the emergence of the promising new authors contained within (although there was some good work from more experienced hands too). As far as the authors contained within, I don't think it stands as an accurate snapshot of the scene, but then, should we expect it to? Anyway, it's a good book, when all's said and done.

Beyond that, stocks looked thin for much of the year. There was a late flurry of books released at Conflux, in Canberra, including the excellent Canterbury 2100, a labour of love project for editor Dirk Flinthart which contained many high quality stories and which will no doubt become a cult classic. Probably the standout, along with Dreaming Again, of the year. Conflux also saw the growing Morrigan Books' release of Voices, an anthology containing a number of up and coming local authors, as well as Robert Hood, who also released his collection, Creeping in Reptile Flesh, with some fine new work in it. In childrens' fiction, Trust Me, an anthology of stories, appeared. Also noted without comment is Twelfth Planet's 2012, a selection of science fiction and fantasy set in 2012, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and myself.

As I mentioned above, the magazine market appeared somewhat depleted, a continuing trend. The best news was that Aurealis managed to produce two issues, one a double, keeping, if not quite to schedule, at least respectably regular. I thought both issues had some excellent stories in, maintaining Aurealis's place as one of the top markets in the country.

ASIM had a good year last year, and I thought this year they fell away a bit, but still produced some good stories. Once again, they kept to schedule, releasing six issues. Borderlands started the year well, with a strong Issue #10 following on from a weaker Issue #9 in December 07. Regularity again proved troublesome for them, with no further issues appearing as yet. The Australian Horror Association released their first issue of Midnight Echo late in the year. I thought it was promising, without delivering any real standouts, while other readers have been more keen. Certainly worth checking out if you're a horror fan. And speaking of horror, Brimstone Press released three issues of their ambitious mass-market magazine Black, with a small amount of space allotted to fiction. The second issue in particular contained some strong stories. Brimstone also released another anthology of flash fiction. Noted without comment: my own webzine Dog versus Sandwich published a number of fantasy stories.

Last but not least, Australian authors continue to grow as a presence in international magazines. There have been some particularly impressive inroads made in terms of fantasy and new weird, with authors like Stephanie Campisi, Angela Slatter, Ben Peek, Kaaron Warren, Deb Biancotti, Cat Sparks and others now appearing quite regularly in international magazines. Peter M Ball is a very promising new author who is making a name for himself quickly. And authors such as Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Sean McMullen and Greg Egan continue to appear in the top markets with regularity.

Look down the list to some of the (ahem) less impressive international markets, and those in between the two poles, and you'll see a lot of local authors emerging, and appearing with greater regularity. It's possible that this explains, to some extent, the decline in local markets. The growing globalisation of the marketplace, especially through the growth of webzines and electronic submissions, means that more and more writers are turning to overseas markets as a first point of call, rather than working their way up through the local small press first. Whether this is a good or bad thing, perhaps only the perspective of time will tell.

It's an interesting commentary, because, from my point of view at any rate, this has been a very quiet year on the local scene. There seemed to be less publications, just as there seemed to be less people doing things. It's the way it goes, of course: the ebbs and flows of a tiny scene reliant on the moods of individuals and how much spare cash they've got.

However, what seemed to be missing, for me at least, was the spark of something exciting, something new, that I wanted to read. This feeling I have--because it's not gone yet--is one of a general apathy with a lot of 'art' out there, be it a film, music, and piece of fiction. A lot of it just seems tired, rehashed, and uninvolving. I watched less films this year, read less, heard less, and while I don't expect that to be any kind of empirical evidence that the world seemed to become a tiny dull thing in concern to the emotions that people were putting out in their work, it's what I felt. But, honestly, the truth in this is that it might have been me, just going through a phase where I kick round, looking for new things and not finding what it is that I exactly want, and that indeed is how it goes at times.

Here's hoping I'm not feeling that way this time next year.


  • Leviathan’s Blood Film

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. The paperback release of Leviathan’s Blood is very soon and to…

  • A Bit of Bolano, Schafer, and Cooke.

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. Here are a few more reviews of books I’ve read recently: 2666,…

  • Interview, A Few Books Read

    Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there. Just a small update today. If you’re interested, you can get a whole…

  • Post a new comment


    Comments allowed for friends only

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded