Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

The Grand Australian Show

Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.


Last night, I got out of bed, and glanced down to find two black cats asleep on the covers, tail to tail. In the dark, they looked like an ink blot, a test that would describe my sanity to another.


I finally listened to the latest episode of the Coode Street about the Australian SF scene.

It’s not a bad recap of the scene. The business of it and the changes in the last couple of decades is pretty fair, I reckon. And I was both pleased (and saddened) to hear Alisa Krasnostein talk about Rosaleen Love’s new collection, Secret Lives of Books. My sadness came from the fact that she said that Love had not written for a decade until she was asked for this book. I have long, long loved Love’s work – yes, I know, love Love – and I’ve always thought that she deserved a much bigger following than she has. If you take anything away from my little post today, you ought to check out her work – it’s sly and funny and often biting, and it’s quite unique. Yet while I was sad to hear that, I was not terribly surprised: there are lots of excellent authors who struggle to keep publishing and rarely is money invested in short fiction voices like Love’s.

There’s a thread in the podcast that I found interesting and that’s the one of nurture and support for authors and I think that it’s a very important conversation to be having in Australia right now. Quite often, you’ll hear people talk about Australian identity in fiction (and in this case, speculative fiction) – and they will say how it is difficult to describe, or how it is non-existent. The latter is not entirely true: George Turner’s Genetic Soldier, Anna Tambour’s Spotted Lily, and more recently, Andrew Macrae’s Trucksong, are all examples of speculative fiction books uniquely Australian. There’s more, as well – Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria and the Swan Book and I could keep going – but it’s also true that a lot of this investment is no longer taking place in the major publishing houses, but rather the small ones, and that that needs to change. The task of growing voices cannot be a burden given to the independent press alone. It especially cannot be given to them as major publishing houses go forth with the rise of the churn and burn that is electronic publishing in this country. The latter isn’t about nurturing authors and discovering voices and growing an Australian vision, but it is what I think this country needs, especially now that the Abbott years are upon us and our national identity is becoming so fractured and abused. The arts are an important measure against this kind of racism and intolerance and if we’re not investing in it, then how can we claim to be surprised when it arises and thrives?

***Anyhow, just a small post today, then back to work. The Godless is moving along, but as always, if you’ve dug it, please, let someone know, and drop a review somewhere. It helps me out.Now, back to work.

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