Aurora Australis: Superheroes, Merfolk, and Corporate Insects

Welcome to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! In Australia, there’s been controversy over which national politicians are actual dual citizens or not (thus invalidating their election as members of parliament), and we voted yes in the optional-postal-survey on marriage equality; we’re now waiting for our politicians to make it law. You would think that a poll about the Australian bird of the year would be less controversial, but that’s before you factor in an obsession with the bin chicken (aka Australian White Ibis) and how seriously some people take getting swooped by magpies.

Anyway, onto the publishing news!

Author James Bradley and artist Melanie Cook have teamed up to create The Death of Neutrino Man. It’s a brief comic taking a look at the life and experiences of one B-list superhero, Neutrino Man, from gaining powers to the world changing ...

Aurora Australis: Stories of Witches, Leeches, and More

Art by Kathleen Jennings

Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand!

Read on to find out about new art, new stories, new collections, and awards shortlists…

9781760295134There’s a new Margo Lanagan collection in town, and the cover has just been released and we are all very excited. The collection contains ten reprints and three new stories; it’s due in May.

Christopher Rowe may not be Australian but Kathleen Jennings is, which means that this cover reveal for Telling the Map (seen above) definitely counts as interesting news! (I’m sure the book will be great too.)

Angela Slatter is very, very busy. She now has a page on Patreon, where there’s lots of different levels at which to support the writing of this award-winning author, so consider throwing some money her way. The launch of her second novel Corpselight is due for ...


A Collaborative, Global, Intersectional Art Project: Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean collection anthology book review Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean (edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy) is a collection of collaborative works between Australian and Indian creators—artists and writers both—inspired by feminist principles and the global struggle of girls in patriarchy. As the introduction notes, brutal crimes against young women in late 2012 in both countries sparked protest and activism; the world took notice, too. The anthology was born out of these conversations about “the fate of all young women,” and as the title emphasizes, it is about “impossibilities, dreams, ambitions and a connection to something larger than humanity alone.” The notable thing about this collection for young readers isn’t just that it came out of feminist principles, but also that it’s doing something I don’t see often at all: pairing up creators from different fields and cultures to create collaborative stories based on the theme. It creates a unique ...

Aurora Australis: Looking Ahead to the New Year

aurorajan-crop Welcome back to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand! Things have slowed down a bit for the holiday season, but there’s still a few interesting things to note: novels and anthologies and convention news…

Out Now

dreaming-in-the-dark-hardcover-edited-by-jack-dann-4112-pekm298x442ekmPS Publishing has put out Angela Slatter’s “first ‘proper’ horror collection” (her words!) Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales. And they’ve also released a new Jack Dann anthology, Dreaming in the Dark. It features fiction from Slatter, Lisa L Hannett, Sean Williams, Garth Nix, and a slew of other awesome Australian talent. Wise Phuul, by Daniel Stride (published by Inspired Quill). Described as steampunk-flavoured dark fantasy, it involves necromancy, secret police, and dread empires. And Phuul, who likes the quiet life and gets pulled into a web of danger that will see him lead anything but. Already out in Australia, and due in late ...

Fairy Tales Gorgeously Reimagined: The Starlit Wood

Starlit-Wood In her exceptional study on fairy tales, From the Beast to the Blonde, Marina Warner, in a single sentence, sums up the true worth of fairy tales: “for they are stories with staying power, as their antiquity shows, because the meanings they generate are themselves magical shape-shifters, dancing to the needs of their audience.” With this succinct and elegant explanation as to why fairy tales entice our continued fascination, I’ve found my entry into The Starlit Wood—an ambitious anthology collecting eighteen fairy tale retellings drawn from various traditions. Fairy tales possess an almost deceptive simplicity in the way they’re told. They’re light on a storyteller’s tongue, quick to burrow deep into memory, and infinitely malleable. It’s a chief reason we see fairy tale characters reimagined into completely different literary traditions and properties, and it’s not incidental the anthology opens with “In the Desert Like a Bone”—an Old ...

Aurora Australis: New Books, Old Books, and Musical Cues

Art by Julie Dillon Welcome back to Aurora Australis, your source for publishing news and genre highlights from Australia and New Zealand! This month we’ve got new books, old books, awards, and a RED HOT TIP. 9781925267242 First, some new books! Allen&Unwin have released the cover for the second in the Zeroes series from Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. Called Swarm, it promises to “raise the stakes” from where Zeroes left the teenagers because they’ll be confronting a “sinister power-wielder.” CUE SINISTER MUSIC. A&U also have Karen Foxlee’s A Most Magical Girl coming out soon. A girl’s mother disappears, leaving her in the care of two eccentric aunts and resulting in her undertaking a quest with a young witch, Kitty. It also involves trolls and faerie bones. CUE WHIMSICAL MUSIC. New from Hachette: James Islington’s The Shadow of What Was Lost is a debut novel set twenty years after the overthrow ...
Anna Smaill The Chimes sweepstakes
tales finnish b

Aurora Australis: Cleverman, Crowdfunding, and Kudos

From ABC's upcoming series CLEVERMAN This month we’re mostly on about crowdfunding, trilogies, and awards shortlists. There’s some other stuff too, because you just can’t stop the anthologies. Or Cleverman. Who is Cleverman? A few weeks ago I couldn’t have answered. But then there was this incredibly exciting announcement: that Cleverman is coming to the ABC (the Australian national broadcaster)—but only after it debuts at the Berlin International Film Festival. It’s also been picked up by the Sundance Channel (I have no idea how widespread that is…). Why is this so exciting? Because Cleverman is an Indigenous Australian superhero. As someone connected to the project has pointed out, “Australia has no real experience of genre TV, so the fact that the ABC Indigenous Department embraced this is pretty radical for free-to-air.” And in case you need big names as an extra drawcard, Cleverman’s got Iain Glen—you might know him from Game of Thrones...

Midnight in Karachi Episode 35: Margo Lanagan


Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Multiple World Fantasy Award winner Margo Lanagan is on the podcast this week, talking about the intimidation that comes with winning awards, writing in a new style and genre, collaborating on Zeroes (along with Scott Westerfeld and Deborah Biancotti), and whether there will be more selkie stories or not.


Episode 35: Margo Lanagan (28:13)


On a mobile device or want to save the podcast for later?

Midnight in Karachi Episode 35: Margo Lanagan

Subscribe in iTunes

Get the Midnight in Karachi feed


If you have a suggestion for Midnight in Karachi—a prospective guest, a book, a subject—please let me know at and we’ll see what we can do for you!

Five Books Containing Traces of Witches

Art by Arantza Sestayo

Witches come in all shapes and sizes, ages, races, abilities and skills. The thing they have in common? Whether they’re ‘white’ or ‘black’, they excite fear because they’re powerful; they’re not obedient or biddable. A wicked witch is kind of boring, however, so when I wrote Of Sorrow and Such I wanted Patience to be someone who’s neither entirely good nor evil, but a human being in full. Following on from that idea, here are some witches who are more than the cardboard cut-outs you put on your house for Halloween.


Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (2012, Allen & Unwin)

sea-heartsAustralia’s Margo Lanagan is no stranger to weaving spells (although she’ll claim they’re only ‘words’) and her Misskaella Prout in Seahearts is a witch of a very particular stripe. Stout and strange-featured, it seems she’s got some selkie blood in her veins and this gives her power over the ...


Aurora Australis: The Past, the Now, the Future


Welcome back to Aurora Australis, your go-to column for book news from Australia and New Zealand! This time we celebrate the immediate past and look forward with slightly unbecoming drool to the delights of the next few months… all the way up to January 2016.

Immediate Past


This month was an exciting one, with some goodly novels arriving: Lament for the Afterlife, from Lisa L Hannet and ChiZine and the highly-anticipated Zeroes from the power team of Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti. And boding very well for the future, September gave us the news that Angela Slatter and Kathleen Jennings have signed on with Alex Adsett Publishing Services together. Together Slatter and Jennings have created some wonderful words+pictures combinations, so the idea that this means their work may more easily find homes fills me with joy.

As I write this, Conflux – Canberra’s annual convention – is ...


Aurora Australis: Scaring the World, Surviving Apocalypses

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror Ticonderoga Press

In which Aussies and Kiwis are amongst the best in the world at speculative fiction–we win at surviving the apocalypse–there are new books and a new magazine AND Australians are contributing to the Gollancz Festival. Don’t say we don’t contribute our fair share!

Here’s what’s coming up next month in the world of Australian (and New Zealand) spec fic.

New Anthologies!

Ticonderoga Press recently announced their 2014 anthology, continuing their best Australian (and NZ) fantasy and horror series. The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2014 includes work from Kaaron Warren, Alan Baxter, Janeen Webb, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Angela Slatter, Cat Sparks… it’s just generally an awesome line-up. Additionally, Fablecroft has also recently released their table of contents for Focus 2014: Highlights of Australian Short Fiction with work from Dirk Flinthart, Deborah Biancotti and Thoraiya Dyer (i.e. another excellent line-up).

Other Australians appearing in Year’s Bests: Lisa ...

Newt's Emerald Garth Nix
The Ghost of Matter Octavia Cade

Strange Antecedents: A Personal Appreciation of Margo Lanagan’s Novels


This is the story how one of my favorite novelists, Margo Lanagan, first came to my attention. Lanagan is a “writer’s writer,” which means the many excellences of her work have a great deal to teach the rest of us writers. I’ll talk some about that too, how new fiction comes to be assembled from the building blocks of prior works.

Sometime in 2010, I became aware of the controversies raging in a corner of the science fiction/fantasy bibliosphere I knew nothing about: young adult literature. “YA is wretched, poor stuff, and the young people reading it will be ruined for good books!” “No! YA is the long-awaited return of joy, action and clarity to fiction, and, indeed, the salvation of us all!” “Actually, it’s the adults who shouldn’t be reading YA. O shame, shame, shame!”

Wow, I thought: with the opinions all so extreme and contradictory, ...