March 12th, 2008


On Australian Voice

I was just slushing something for Shiny and one of the comments that came up is that it might be "too Australian for overseas audiences". It's an interesting comment and I thought I might hash out my thoughts here.

I read a lot of Australian specfic, as you may know. And I think the one thing the majority of it lacks *is* Australian voice. Or even some kind of voice at all to distinguish it from the thousands of other pieces written in a year. I guess that's a funny thing to say in some ways. The majority of SF, at least, has a very American voice about it - well, it would, more Americans than anyone else get published. The nature of it is that more Americans publish thus there are more Americans who get published. I spose too, more Americans write than anyone else. But the downside of that is this very homogenous output. And I think in some ways, that gives non-American writers an advantage when they submit to American outlets (providing the quality is up to scratch).

There's been lots of discussion since I've been around about Australian voice in science fiction and in horror - do we have one and if we do, what is it? I think that's why I was so excited when Sue Isle submitted "The Sun People" to Shiny - it's set in my own city, Perth. She writes of places in the CBD that I know so well I can wander around with my eyes shut. Sooooo often I read other writers' work set in their own cities. And you know, that works too - I have a love and familiarity with New York and Paris that I may otherwise not have done. And that's the cool thing about reading - travelling overseas and seeing new places for the price of the book and not the airfare. And so with "The Sun People", we bring y'all out there to our little city. Kind of. Cause of course she's set it post-apocalypse but whatever. I wonder though if that's how other people read that story - can they relate to something that is very Australian, very Western Australian? Do they just read it as a random unfamiliar city - and not that there is anything wrong with that, if they do?

Should Australian publishers be looking to create a strong Australian voice, stories set in our cities, using our jargon and idioms and dealing with our own problems? Or should we be trying to appeal to a more mainstream sf readership (is there such a thing) and homogenising our works so that they fit in with the crowd and get swept along in the wake?

I know which I'd rather read. What about you?

2012 Sneak Peek: Skinsongs by Martin Livings

There's something like a car accident that you just can't look away from about the offering to 2012 from Martin Livings. It starts off ominously, as shown below, and just continues walking down the path of gruesome all the way to the horrific ending that smacks into a wall.

It was just a door, tucked down an alleyway in Soho, with an unmarked buzzer beside it. All but invisible in the dark, the light from the nearest lamppost a faint and distant star. If Ra’Faella hadn’t been given explicit instructions on how to get there, she’d never have found it. She wore a heavy coat against the winter chill, scarf wrapped tightly around her neck and lower face, woollen hat pulled down low. Her ensemble was almost as anonymous as a burkha, which was just what she wanted. She pressed the button, hand shaking. Somewhere inside, a noise like an electric shock jangled. After a short silence, muffled footsteps approached. The door opened on a dimly-lit hallway, and the man standing in it.

The man was huge, dressed in chrome and leather, and his face… his face was a junkyard, a tangle of interlacing metal, like the spikes used to keep birds and suicides off railway fences.

“You Agatha?” His voice, from somewhere inside the steel labyrinth, was incongruously soft.

She nodded. She’d given her real name in the online conversation. It was less recognisable than the one she was better known by.

“C’mon in,” Nigel said, and held the door open wider.

Ra’Faella hesitated. She knew she could still turn around and go home, back to the relatively cheap west end apartment that she could no longer afford. Turn her back on the madness. Turn her back on Ra’Faella, return to Agatha.

The hell with that. She stepped inside and allowed Nigel to close the door behind them.

Be among the first to read 2012 - still available for prepurchase at $20.

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