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