January 7th, 2007


Reading - the end of, they say

He was wrong, there are 406 stories eligible for our consideration but luckily I've read the addition. So I (still) have two Peek stories and one Borderlands 8 story to go and I am done. Yesterday I could read nothing. Well that's not entirely true. All (well two) of the AA panel convenors are raving about one of the winners of a different panel. I don't see it myself so I am pressing on with a book I kinda hate to see if that will change (no change so far).

Other than that, I am reading The Weather Makers. It's so fantastic - like stretching in the sunlight after 8 boring lectures on chemistry in a row. I should definitely make sure I intersperse reading this year with lots more NonFiction.

Later today, I will publish my personal faves from last year's reading, as long as the bf goes waterskiing and I have time to finish the 20k words mentioned above.

There's no additional flash to add to it, even though I did read a bit more after my infamous comment.

In the meantime, you can see cassiphone's list over at the Reviewers thread on the ASif! Discussion Forums.

My Year's Best Aussie Specfic Reading

In alphabetical order

  1. The Dying Light by Deborah Biancotti (Eidolon 1)
  2. The Imprisonment of Marianne by Lee Battersby (Borderlands 6)
  3. Dark Ages by Lee Battersby (Through Soft Air)
  4. Love Affair by Jacinta Butterworth (C0ck)
  5. Sacrifice for the Nation by Monica Carroll (The Outcast)
  6. The Subtle Hand of Gpd by Jay Caselberg (Borderlands 6)
  7. Aftermath by David Conyers (Agog Ripping Reads)
  8. Down to the Tethys Sea by Stephen Dedman (Science Fiction Chronicle 266)
  9. Riding the Crocodile by Greg Egan (One Million AD)
  10. One Night Stand by Dirk Flinthart (Agog! Ripping Reads)
  11. Father, Father by Paul Haines (C0ck)
  12. Going Down to Jennifer Aniston's Breasts by Paul Haines (Ripples 5)
  13. Burning from the Inside by Paul Haines (Doorways for the Dispossessed)
  14. Pet by Richard Harland (Tales of the Talisman)
  15. Empire of the Willing by Sean McMullen (Future Washington)
  16. Spare Parts by Emma Munro (Borderlands 6)
  17. The Pain Threshold by Jason Nahrung (Agog! Ripping Reads)
  18. Mono by Ben Peek (Phantom)
  19. The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds not Little Boys by Ben Peek (Agog! Ripping Reads)
  20. Rosebuds by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Agog! Ripping Reads)
  21. In Infinite Night and Memory by Andrew Sullivan (Potato Monkey 4)
  22. An Offer too True to Be Good by Andrew Sullivan (The Outcast)
  23. Woman Train by Kaaron Warren (The Outcast)


  1. Silk and Pearls by K J Bishop) (Shadowed Realms 9)
  2. The Gift by Brendan Duffy (Potato Monkey 4)
  3. Child Care by Katie G (AntiSF 99)
  4. Scream by Adrian Gibb (AntiSF 101)
  5. The Cross Talk by Rick Kennett (AntiSF 100)
  6. You May Wish to Fall Asleep by Geoffrey Maloney (AntiSF 100)
  7. Snow Puppies by Joan Malpass (AntiSF 93)
  8. An Open Letter to the WWWorld by Natalie J Potts (AntiSF 93)
  9. The Doctor by Brenda Steedman (AntiSF 96)
  10. The Cat Story by Anna Tambour (ASIM 24)

Honourable Mentions

  1. Stealing Free by Deborah Biancotti (Agog! Ripping Reads)
  2. The Blow off by Stephen Dedman (Brutarian 47/48)
  3. Obituary Boy by John Dixon and Adam Browne (ASIM 26)
  4. The Red Priest's Vigil by Dirk Flinthart (ASIM 25)
  5. The Crying Man by Richard Harland (Sinister Tales 1)
  6. Hieronymus Boche by Chris Lawson (Eidolon 1)
  7. The Seventh Letter by Sean Williams (Bulletin Summer Reading)
  8. Dying for Air by Sean Williams and Simon Brown (ASIM 23)
  9. Sepulchra by Tony Williams (Borderlands 7)
  10. Dead Sea Fruit by Kaaron Warren (Fantasy 4)


Novels I'm glad I read last year:

Kmachines by Damien Broderick
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
26 Lies/1 Truth by Ben Peek

Just to recap

Reviews are the opinion of the reader who read your work. You write something, you send it out into the world and people read it. Maybe, if you are going to get offended by the way people interpret it, you could add some disclaimers:

- not to be read by people who aren't me
- not to be read by people who are going to say they don't like it/get it if they don't
- not to be read by girliejones - that's fine by the way, if you don't want me to read your work, chances are that I don't want to read it either

You cannot control how someone reads your work. If they misinterpret it or don't get it or don't get it the way it was intended THAT IS YOUR FAULT AS THE WRITER not the reader's. Get on with it and write better stuff, don't whinge to me. Cause every single time I get one of these, I'm forced to go read the material and agree with my reviewer (haven't found an example yet where I didn't but heck, now I have to check the latest one out).

PS I'm also getting sick of having to read bad things said about my reviewers in your whiny emails. We put up on ASif! the background of our reviewers as a courtesy. Don't you think everyone reads them and makes their own judgements? Reading a whiny email where you point out this reviewer said they were X on their bio does not make me want to take your side over theirs. After all, they sat down, read your work and wrote me up a review in their spare time. And you're taking up some of my spare time with your whining. I'm not going to take down reviews after their published.

The Post Completion Guilt

So I got that feeling you get after you finish a high pressured task - where you keep forgetting you've finished and keep getting up to go back to the slog.

And maybe I'm so wired I'll watch The 4400 and Battlestar Galactica although I would be better to tape them.

The best bit about having read for my Year's Best list, aside from being able to say I did it, was having a buddy to chat it over with. benpayne and I would shoot emails every day: have you read this? what did you think of this? I can't wait to discuss this one with you.

What I am most surprised about in the specfic community is the low level of intelligent discussion on published works. There's much talk about how Aussies have trouble breaking into markets. There's much pointing out of reviews made of one's work or noting of works enjoyed. And there's also the odd outcry at a comment made by someone else. What there isn't is a lot of discussion on why something was good or was not good and not a lot of room allowed by writers for discussion by onlookers.

I must admit I am likely in a privileged position - my mother and uncle are avid readers and are always up for discussion on works. Often I will come to the Friday night dinner table and say outrageous things to start a discussion, like, "I hate Charles Dickens, I think he's a misogynist and he writes boys books" and a healthy discussion will ensue. I might be completely wrong but I never entered the debate so married to my position that I am unable to hear the other side of the discussion. Ideas and perspectives are cool. If we all thought the same thing, there would be no need for democracy and elections.

Thus you can understand my surprise at the reaction to my comments on hating flash fiction. In retrospect, I still really hate flash fiction. I've read a lot of response to my comments about the place thanks to lots of emails pointing me in various directions. The one that amuses me the most is: "clearly she doesn't know what she is talking about". Heh. I thought about this a lot and ... I pretty much do know if I hate something. It's much the same as how I know I hate peppermint icecream, nails down a chalkboard, peanut butter, swimming at the beach and the West Australian newspaper. I can't describe it ... when you hate something, you just *know* [1].

What noone has actually asked me is .... why I hate flash fiction. Talk centred on whether it was appropriate for me to make the claim or whether I was qualified to make the claim [2] and whether you *could* hate a form (I've hated poetry for years and noone told me that was wrong) but noone ever asked me why. Also noone gave actual examples of really brilliant short fiction and dared me to hate it. It makes me sad that we exist in a community that doesn't embrace debate openly. I get to discuss with a lot of people privately (in person or via email) what I think of what they write or what they publish. Those people have learned to accept critism and most of them have learned an important skill - how to improve by taking advice because they are fallible. And they are the ones who have broken into the overseas markets. And they are fun because I will say "I hated that story in [blah]" and they say, "Oh yeah? why" and off we go. They are also open to explaining things because, heck I'm fallible too (no!).

It can be a fun place about these parts, putting egos aside and realising there is room for everyone. The room we need to make though is for the sideline critics and commentary. You know, to let those who read what is written a chance to participate. If you keep making fun of the kid at the back of the room when he answers the teachers questions differently to you, eventually he'll stop putting his hand up.

I guess the question that I am most interested in asking is, is the last story you got published the best one you want to have ever written?

[1] In case you're not sure, I'm still joking.
[2] If writing makes you a writer, then reading makes you qualified to comment on what you read