Australian Speculative Fiction – A Genre Overview

Speculative fiction means more than just science fiction, fantasy and horror; it has to include cross-genre writing (such as science fiction romance or science fantasy…), dark fantasy, the ‘new weird’, and sub-genres…

Whilst Australian Speculative Fiction does not focus on defining just what speculative fiction is, this brief definition (from the book’s introduction) will help those who are unfamiliar with the term. In fact, many readers of speculative fiction may not even realise that is what they are reading. Speculative fiction is, as Van Ikin says in his introduction to the book, in the midst of a ‘boom time’, with more writers producing wonderful writing and more readers buying the books.

Australian Speculative Fiction: A Genre Overview provides exactly what the title promises – an overview of the Australian speculative fiction scene. The first part of the book provides biographies and interviews with some of the leading writers of the genre. In each profile there are quotes from the author, a url for their author website (if they have one), a list of some of their books, quotes from reviews of their books, and more. Following this is a section devoted to outstanding illustrators, with colour reproductions of some of their works and bookcovers. The third part of the book is devoted to short fiction – speculative fiction magazines and anthology. There are publication details for each title, some background to its publication and an exploration of its focus. The final section of the book provides slightly shorter biographies of some new and emerging authors.

This is a comprehensive guide to the genre for readers, writers and editors. It provides an easily accessible reference to those who work in the industry and could be used as a reading guide for those wanting to explore the genre further.


Australian Speculative Fiction: A Genre Overview, edited by Donna Maree Hanson
Aust Speculative Fiction, 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