The Outcast – An Anthology of Exiles and Strangers, edited by Nicole R. Murphy

‘Foxes and cat; rats and mice moved their legs and twitched their whiskers. Pigeons, seagulls, sparrows – not a single magpie – flapped their wings. They couldn’t speak – she sniffled – but they could understand. There were enough of them. Between them all, they held the memories of the City, the memories of everyone who’d thrown something away. “Now dig,” said the Witch. “Find anything that was once mine.” The Rubbish Witch

The Outcast is a themed anthology featuring twenty stories from Australian writers, edited by Nicole Murphy for the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. All stories explore the notion of being an outsider, whether voluntary or involuntary. There are stories of women on a train, rural monsters, criminals, returned soldiers, conjurers, tribal curses and of spiritual awakening. There are stories that make comment on our world and those who would lead us; stories that warn us about the future and other stories which just make the reader laugh.

Works for inclusion in this themed anthology were chosen following a call for submissions. Stories range in genre from fairy tale and fable through fantasy and scifi to comedy. Each story is quite different although all explore aspects of loneliness and choice, individual and collective expression. From the sublime to the intentionally ridiculous, there is something here for all readers of spec fiction.

The Outcast, edited by Nicole R Murphy
CSfG Publishing 2006
ISBN: 0977509201

The Grinding House, by Kaaron Warren

Over the past twelve years, Kaaron Warren has made a name for herself as a writer of quality speculative fiction stories. Her tales are a diverse blend of science fiction, horror and fantasy, but the common thread running through them all is their impact and the quality of the writing.

Now, nineteen of Warren’s best stories are brought together in this anthology. Fans of her stories will be delighted to have the best of them – including some previously unpublished – together in one volume. For those new to her work, or even the speculative fiction genre, this anthology is sure to make you a fan.

From the first story, The Fresh Young Widow, with images of bodies being interred in clay cases , to the last, Working for the Love of the God of Money, with a frightening image of a malicious god, Warren’s stories are richly woven and confronting. No story is predictable and all leave the reader thinking.

Warren’s stories have been published in Australia and overseas, and A-Positive (included in this anthology) won an Aurealis Award in 1998. The writing skills demonstrated in this anthology leave the reader with little doubt about the reasons for Warren’s success.

The Grinding House, by Kaaron Warren
CSFG Publishing, 2005

Encounters, edited by Maxine McArthur and Donna Maree Hanson

A good anthology offers range, depth and surprises. Each new story should offer something different. Encounters is an anthology which offers all these things – and more.

Encounters is the fourth annual anthology of the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild and, as with previous antholgies, focusses on a single theme – encounters. The twenty stories in the book are the cream of the 95 submissions the Guild received from around Australia in response to its call for submissions.

The use of a theme does not make this a narrowly focussed collection. Rather, it provides an opportunty to see just how diverse responses to a theme can be. As well as the anticipated alien encounter stories which the theme seems to lean towards, there are encounters with vampires, ghostly visitors and more. As well, the settings offer variety – encounters occuring in space, on far-away planets, as well as at home or at school here on Earth. What really gives the anthology variety, however, is the range of styles offered by bringing together stories by twenty different authors – from known names like Richard Harland and Cory Daniells, to those for whom this is a first publication, such as Ben Payne.

Each story is complemented by an illustration by Les Petersen or Shane Parker and provides a brief biographical note about the author.The length of the stories makes them easily read in a single sitting.

A nice blend.

Encounters: An Anthology of Australian Speculative Fiction, edited by Maxine McArthur and Donna Maree Hanson
CSFG Publishing, 2004