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3rd December 2008 - Not if You Were the Last Short Story on Earth
lastshortstory
ex_benpayne119
Good tidings, eye kin.

It's that end of the year again we in the "shop" refer to as the "end" end... the part where the review team at last short story hastily assemble a robot from discarded felt hats and bottle tops and force it to calculate the "averages" and other assorted miscellany. I don't understand any of it myself, but I'm happy to report its findings, translated from bottle-top to writey-talkey for your convenience.

A couple of caveats: we are mostly involved in publishing in various ways our good selves, and thus this entire reviewing caper may be calculated consciously or subconsciously to dupe you all to our own advantage. Hence our legal team advises us to declare our more obvious biasi. Alisa and I edited 2012; I edited Dog versus Sandwich, Alisa edited Angel Rising. Neither of us voted on the stories in these particular projects, but our colleagues may have been influenced by our good looks and power to vote them up. Make up your own minds.

Also, we don't allow stories by our team into the list, else Tansy's story "Fleshy" would have been in there. But as it is she has to make do with this caveat.

So on with the list: these are the stories that we, as a group, considered the Year's Best stories by Australian authors. International lists will follow.

The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga...Peter M. Ball (Dreaming Again)
On the Finding of Photographs of My Former Loves... Peter M. Ball (Fantasy)
As We Know It... Lyn Battersby (Borderlands #10)
The Metawhore's Tale... Lee Battersby (Canterbury 2100)
Seven Ages of the Protagonist... Deborah Biancotti (Scary Food)
Watertight Lies... Deborah Biancotti (2012)
Oh Russia... Simon Brown (2012)
The Empire... Simon Brown (Dreaming Again)
A Thousand Natural Shocks... Simon Brown (Borderlands #10)
Neverland Blues... Adam Browne (Dreaming Again)
The Glass Girl Looks Back... Stephanie Campisi (Shimmer)
A Pox on All Your Houses... Stephanie Campisi (Dog vs Sandwich)
The Gnomogist's Tale... Matthew Chrulew (Canterbury 2100)
Crystal Nights... Greg Egan (Interzone #215)
Angel Rising... Dirk Flinthart (Twelfth Planet Publishing)
This is Not My Story... Dirk Flinthart (ASIM #37)
Her Collection of Intimacy... Paul Haines (Black #2)
Creeping in Reptile Flesh... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
Unravelling... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
The New Deal... Trent Jamieson (Dreaming Again)
Machine Maid... Margo Lanagan (Extraordinary Engines)
The Goosle... Margo Lanagan (Del Rey Book of SF/F)
The Janus's Tale... Penelope Love (Canterbury 2100)
The Constant Past... Sean McMullen (Dreaming Again)
The Funeral, Ruined... Ben Peek (Paper Cities)
David Bowie... Ben Peek (2012)
I Love You Like Water... Angela Slatter (2012)
The Hummingbird Heart... Angela Slatter (Shimmer)
Palisade... Cat Sparks (Clockwork Phoenix)
Ass-Hat Magic Spider... Scott Westerfeld (The Starry Rift)

Current Music: Cat Power - Breathless

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lastshortstory
ex_benpayne119

And so we come to my personal list of Australian fiction I've loved this year.

My picks:

The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga... Peter M. Ball (Dreaming Again)
Never Grow Old... Lee Battersby (Aurealis #40)
The Empire... Simon Brown (Dreaming Again)
A Thousand Natural Shocks... Simon Brown (Borderlands #10)
Neverland Blues... Adam Browne (Dreaming Again)
Twilight in Caeli-Amur... Rjurik Davidson (Dreaming Again)
Crystal Nights... Greg Egan (Interzone #215)
Lost Continent... Greg Egan (The Starry Rift)
Angel Rising... Dirk Flinthart (Angel Rising)
This is Not My Story... Dirk Flinthart (ASIM #37)
Creeping in Reptile Flesh... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
Machine Maid... Margo Lanagan (Extraordinary Engines)
The Constant Past... Sean McMullen (Dreaming Again)
Ass-Hat Magic Spider... Scott Westerfeld (The Starry Rift)


Honourable Mentions

On the Finding of Photographs of My Former Loves... Peter M. Ball (Fantasy)
As We Know It... Lyn Battersby (Borderlands #10)
The Metawhore's Tale... Lee Battersby (Canterbury 2100)
, Rabbit, Run... Lee Battersby (Scary Food)
Heere Be Monsters... John Birmingham (Dreaming Again)
The Glass Girl Looks Back... Stephanie Campisi (Shimmer)
Painting Walls in the Town of N___... Stephanie Campisi (Fantasy)
The Gnomogist's Tale... Matthew Chrulew (Canterbury 2100)
Adaption... Stephen Dedman (Aurealis #40)
Rick Gets a Job... Jason Fischer (ASIM #37)
Her Collection of Intimacy... Paul Haines (Black #2)
Unravelling... Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh)
The New Deal... Trent Jamieson (Dreaming Again)
The Twilight Year... Sean McMullen (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
Horse of Souls.... Jarrah Moore (Aurealis #38/39)
The Funeral, Ruined... Ben Peek (Paper Cities)
Through a Black Breeze.... Miranda Siemienowicz (Wet Ink #9)
Palisade... Cat Sparks (Clockwork Phoenix)
Champagne and Ice... Cat Sparks (Aurealis #38/39)
Down to the Silver Spirits... Kaaron Warren (Paper Cities)

As always, it's just my opinion. Feel free to love your own choices!

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cassiphone
lastshortstory
cassiphone
[check out the LSS combined Best of the Best Aussie Spec Fic List here]

Awesomest of the Awesome
Angela Slatter "I Love You Like Water" 2012
Dirk Flinthart "This is Not My Story" ASIM #37
Laura E. Goodin "The Miner's Tale" Canterbury 2100
Margo Lanagan "Machine Maid" Extraordinary Engines

Pretty Damn Good
Ben Peek "David Bowie" 2012
Deborah Biancotti "Watertight Lies" 2012
Dirk Flinthart "Angel Rising" TPP
Ben Bastion "The Doctor's Tale" Canterbury 2100
Lucy Sussex "Ardent Clouds" Del Rey Book of SF/F
Adam Browne "Neverland Blues" Dreaming Again
Peter M. Ball "The Last Great House of Isla Tortuga" Dreaming Again
Margo Lanagan "The Goosle" Del Rey Book of SF/F
Sean McMullen " The Constant Past" Dreaming Again
Deborah Biancotti "Seven Ages of the Protagonist" Scary Food
Bren MacDibble "Being Bella Wang" Shiny #4
Scott Westerfeld "Ass-Hat Magic Spider" The Starry Rift

Honourable Mentions
Simon Brown "Oh Russia" 2012
Trent Jamieson "The Lighterman's Tale" Canterbury 2100
Cat Sparks "Palisade" Clockwork Phoenix
Stephanie Campisi "A Pox on All Your Houses: a tale of Singh and Daughter" Dog versus Sandwich
Nathan Ballingrud "North American Lake Monsters" Del Rey Book of SF/F
Kim Westwood "Nightship" Dreaming Again
Cat Sparks "Piper" ASIM #36
Stephen Dedman "Adaption" Aurealis #40
Kim Wilkins "The Forest" Dreaming Again
Penelope Love "The Janus's Tale" Canterbury 2100
Trent Jamieson "The New Deal" Dreaming Again
Peter M. Ball "On the Finding of Photographs of My Former Loves" Fantasy
Angela Slatter "Dresses, Three" Shimmer
Angela Slatter "The Hummingbird Heart" Shimmer


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lastshortstory
ex_benpayne119

This year saw, if anything, a further diffusing of Australian short fiction. If the last few years weren't enough of an indicator, 2008 continued the trend toward anthologies and overseas markets and a further weakening of any regular short story markets on a local scale.

The year was always going to be dominated by Dreaming Again, the first mass market anthology of short stories we've seen for some time. How did it stack up? For my money, the results were mixed. The anthology lacked consistency, but was so large that it still managed to pull out a good number of worthwhile stories despite that. Worth buying, certainly. Whether it managed to hook any new converts to the cause of short fiction in this country is something time will, perhaps, tell. I suspect history will remember it most for the emergence of the promising new authors contained within (although there was some good work from more experienced hands too). As far as the authors contained within, I don't think it stands as an accurate snapshot of the scene, but then, should we expect it to? Anyway, it's a good book, when all's said and done.

Beyond that, stocks looked thin for much of the year. There was a late flurry of books released at Conflux, in Canberra, including the excellent Canterbury 2100, a labour of love project for editor Dirk Flinthart which contained many high quality stories and which will no doubt become a cult classic. Probably the standout, along with Dreaming Again, of the year. Conflux also saw the growing Morrigan Books' release of Voices, an anthology containing a number of up and coming local authors, as well as Robert Hood, who also released his collection, Creeping in Reptile Flesh, with some fine new work in it. In childrens' fiction, Trust Me, an anthology of stories, appeared. Also noted without comment is Twelfth Planet's 2012, a selection of science fiction and fantasy set in 2012, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and myself.

As I mentioned above, the magazine market appeared somewhat depleted, a continuing trend. The best news was that Aurealis managed to produce two issues, one a double, keeping, if not quite to schedule, at least respectably regular. I thought both issues had some excellent stories in, maintaining Aurealis's place as one of the top markets in the country.

ASIM had a good year last year, and I thought this year they fell away a bit, but still produced some good stories. Once again, they kept to schedule, releasing six issues. Borderlands started the year well, with a strong Issue #10 following on from a weaker Issue #9 in December 07. Regularity again proved troublesome for them, with no further issues appearing as yet. The Australian Horror Association released their first issue of Midnight Echo late in the year. I thought it was promising, without delivering any real standouts, while other readers have been more keen. Certainly worth checking out if you're a horror fan. And speaking of horror, Brimstone Press released three issues of their ambitious mass-market magazine Black, with a small amount of space allotted to fiction. The second issue in particular contained some strong stories. Brimstone also released another anthology of flash fiction. Noted without comment: my own webzine Dog versus Sandwich published a number of fantasy stories.

Last but not least, Australian authors continue to grow as a presence in international magazines. There have been some particularly impressive inroads made in terms of fantasy and new weird, with authors like Stephanie Campisi, Angela Slatter, Ben Peek, Kaaron Warren, Deb Biancotti, Cat Sparks and others now appearing quite regularly in international magazines. Peter M Ball is a very promising new author who is making a name for himself quickly. And authors such as Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix, Sean McMullen and Greg Egan continue to appear in the top markets with regularity.

Look down the list to some of the (ahem) less impressive international markets, and those in between the two poles, and you'll see a lot of local authors emerging, and appearing with greater regularity. It's possible that this explains, to some extent, the decline in local markets. The growing globalisation of the marketplace, especially through the growth of webzines and electronic submissions, means that more and more writers are turning to overseas markets as a first point of call, rather than working their way up through the local small press first. Whether this is a good or bad thing, perhaps only the perspective of time will tell.





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