The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Vol.2I am so delighted to announce that my short story, “Frostbitten”, has been selected for the second volume of The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, edited by Talie Helene and Liz Gryzb, and published by Ticonderoga Publications. It was the only piece of short fiction I published in 2011 so I feel very honoured to have it included, even more so because I judged the Aurealis Awards for horror last year so I know precisely what a strong field there was to choose from in that genre. There are some truly excellent stories in this volume — including one by a certain Mr Jason Nahrung with whom I have more than a passing familiarity 😉 — and I’m looking forward to delving into the handful from the fantasy end of the spectrum that I haven’t yet had a chance to read.

The anthology is due to be published in July 2012, but you can pre-order your copy right now. Feast your eyes on the following ToC, then just try to resist its darkly fantastical charms:

  • Peter M Ball “Briar Day” (Moonlight Tuber)
  • Lee Battersby “Europe After The Rain” (After the Rain, Fablecroft Press)
  • Deborah Biancotti “Bad Power” (Bad Power, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Jenny Blackford “The Head in the Goatskin Bag” (Kaleidotrope)
  • Simon Brown “Thin Air” (Dead Red Heart, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • David Conyers and David Kernot “Winds Of Nzambi” (Midnight Echo #6, AHWA)
  • Stephen Dedman “More Matter, Less Art” (Midnight Echo #6, AHWA)
  • Sara Douglass & Angela Slatter “The Hall of Lost Footsteps” (The Hall of Lost Footsteps, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Felicity Dowker “Berries & Incense” (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Terry Dowling “Dark Me, Night You” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Jason Fischer “Hunting Rufus” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Christopher Green “Letters Of Love From The Once And Newly Dead” (Midnight Echo #5, AHWA)
  • Paul Haines “The Past Is A Bridge Best Left Burnt” (The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Brimstone Press)
  • Lisa L Hannett “Forever, Miss Tapekwa County” (Bluegrass Symphony, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Richard Harland “At The Top Of The Stairs” (Shadows and Tall Trees #2, Undertow Publications)
  • John Harwood “Face To Face” (Ghosts by Gaslight, HarperCollins)
  • Pete Kempshall “Someone Else To Play With” (Beauty Has Her Way, Dark Quest Books)
  • Jo Langdon “Heaven” (After the Rain, Fablecroft Press)
  • Maxine McArthur “The Soul of the Machine” (Winds of Change, CSFG)
  • Ian McHugh “The Wishwriter’s Wife” (Daily Science Fiction)
  • Andrew J McKiernan “Love Death” (Aurealis #45, Chimaera Publications)
  • Kirstyn McDermott “Frostbitten” (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Margaret Mahy “Wolf Night” (The Wilful Eye – Tales From the Tower #1, Allen & Unwin)
  • Anne Mok “Interview with the Jiangshi” (Dead Red Heart, Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Jason Nahrung “Wraiths” (Winds of Change, CSFG)
  • Anthony Panegyres “Reading Coffee” (Overland, OL Society)
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts “The Patrician” (Love and Romanpunk, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Angela Rega “Love In the Atacama or the Poetry of Fleas” (Crossed Genres, CGP)
  • Angela Slatter “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter” (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Lucy Sussex “Thief of Lives” (Thief of Lies, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Kyla Ward “The Kite” (The Land of Bad Dreams, P’rea Press)
  • Kaaron Warren “All You Can Do Is Breathe” (Blood and Other Cravings, Tor)

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Fabulous Links to Free Online Fiction

Because sometimes I like to be nice, I give you the delicious swag of short fiction that has been accumulating in my browser tabs over the past couple of months:

“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal which just won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story.

“The Wolves of Brooklyn” by Catherynne M. Valente over at Fantasy magazine. While you’re at it, check out the rest of the free fiction that Fantasy showcases on their site. A new short story goes up each week, along with some tasty nonfiction. (And if you like the work they’re publishing, you can buy each complete issue in ePub format for a very reasonable US$2.99.)

“26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss” by Kij Johnson, who is currently a beloved literary crush of mine. Also, because you can never have too much Kij — no, seriously, you simply can not — here is her Hugo-nominated “Ponies”. It’s a horrible, beautiful, crawl-under-your-skin kind of story. You might feel the need to shower afterwards.

“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky, which was on the Hugo ballot this year for Best Novella, and The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, which took out the gong in that category. Need I say more?

Those last two links came from Subterranean Press Magazine, which has been publishing free online fiction, reviews and articles since 2007 — with all the back issues archived on their site for your reading pleasure. Nom nom nom. Allow me to point you towards their recent Special YA Issue as a starting point. All the stories are seriously good, but I particularly loved  “Younger Women” by Karen Joy Fowler and “Valley of the Girls” by Kelly Link.

Everyone's Just So So Special

And finally, Robert Shearman has just published a new short story collection called Everyone’s Just So So Special. No, it’s not available for free. But — and this is a massive, insane, mind-boggling BUT — Rob has undertaken to write a personal, fictional history for every single one of the hundred people who purchased a copy of the leatherbound limited edition of the collection. Yes, that’s right. One hundred new stories, penned at a rate of one every few days or so. And we’re not talking 200-word throwaway vignettes here; some of these babies are thousands upon thousands of words of fully fledged fiction. Madness. Sweet, wonderful, absurdly talented madness. Sadly, the limited editions of Everyone’s Just So So Special have sold out already, so your opportunity to star in your own Shearman history — would that be a “Shearstory”? — has passed. But they are all going to be posted here for all of us to read and marvel at. Now that’s accountability. And madness. Did I mention the madness?

So, once you’ve done reading and marvelling, perhaps you might like to wander over to wherever you satisfy your bibliographic tendencies and consider purchasing a (non-limited-bound-in-leather-written-in-blood-and-the-tears-of-mad-writers) copy of Everyone’s Just So So Special. Or another of Rob Shearman’s amazing, poignant and so so brilliant collections, Tiny Deaths or Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. Because he’s a truly astonishing writer. And because this latest project might just render him a gibbering mess, fingers worn down to stumps, incapable of producing another word beyond redrum redrum redrum. Actually, in Rob’s case, that would more likely be aetfopuc aetfopuc aetfopuc.

Robert Shearman: genteel to the bitter, bloody-fingered end.

Shoo now. Sally forth and read!

Writers on Writing

Australian writer of “rollicking adventure fantasy”, Rowena Cory Daniells, has written a lengthy and entertaining overview of the fantasy genre for the Australia Literature Review, with an emphasis on Australian authors. She includes several thought-provoking quotes from notables in the field, of which my favourite is from Ursula Le Guin on the function of fantasy in contemporary society:

Fantasy is a literature particularly useful for embodying and examining the real difference between good and evil. In an America where our reality may seem degraded to posturing patriotism and self-righteous brutality, imaginative literature continues to question what heroism is, to examine the roots of power, and to offer moral alternatives. Imagination is the instrument of ethics. There are many metaphors beside battle, many choices besides war, and most ways of doing good do not, in fact, involve killing anybody. Fantasy is good at thinking about those other ways.

“Imagination is the instrument of ethics.” That is simply awesome. I think I need to get it tattooed somewhere.

Meanwhile, David Barnett of The Guardian has penned a column concerning the “ongoing endless war between ‘literary’ fiction and ‘genre’ fiction”, sparked off by the Neil Gaiman’s introduction to Stories — the anthology Gaiman co-edited with Al Sarrantonio. Worth a read for its musings on story, plot and character, as well as its reminder that “literary” fiction is indeed a genre in itself. If you have the time, make yourself a cup of tea and peruse the lengthy comments section. There’s a fascinating discussion going on there.

And just the other day, in his acceptance speech for the Carnegie Medal (awarded to The Graveyard Book), Neil Gaiman himself spoke about the role of libraries — those made from bricks and mortar — in the digital age:

We’re now in an age of ‘too much information’. Libraries and librarians are more important than ever. . .  Children want stories. They want information. They want knowledge about the strange world they’re in. Saying that the internet can be that is like setting a child free in a jungle and expecting them safely to find things to eat.

Yes indeed, there has been many fine words of wisdom from the interwebs the month. Mmm, crunchy.