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Rosaleen Love

Aqueduct press (2005)

ISBN: 0-9746559-9-6

Reviewed by Gillian Polack (this review was originally published in September 2006)

This book is the fifth volume of a series called “Conversation Pieces” – Conversation pieces is a perfect description. It is a small paperback, barely a hundred pages. It contains seven short works by Love. Is this slim volume science fiction/fantasy because several of the pieces are? Is it satire? Is it a tribute to Bridie King and emails home? I’m not sure that it’s any of these. I found myself in dialogue with the book trying to ascertain its identity and seek its meanings. It’s a lovely little volume and I would very much like to see what happens with other Australian writers when they produce Conversation Pieces.

In Love’s case I found this book lifted a veil and I was able to see a bit further into the writer at work. My favourite piece was “In Tribulation and with Jubilee: On Pilgrimage with Bridie King”. Its structure was a little ad hoc, but I wanted to know more about the places Love and King were visiting and the people they were meeting. But I am out of order. Let me talk about the pieces as they appear. Read the rest of this entry »

Edited by Sylvia Kelso

Aqueduct Press (2010)

ISBN: 978-1-933500-40-

Reviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

I was delighted to discover the existence of The Wiscon Chronicles a year or so ago, volumes which are intended to capture something of the vibe, spirit and content of the last several WisCons through selected articles, panel reports, interviews, blog entries and ephemera. I adored picking over the first three volumes and was beyond excited to see that my review of them had rated a blurb quote on the back of Volume 4.

Notably this quote:

What I admire most about these Wiscon Chronicles is not just the collection of intelligent thought, and the best example of documenting the convention experience I have ever seen, but the acknowledgement of the bad parts as well as the good – the exposure of privilege, of negative as well as positive reactions to the discussions, and the willingness to shine a bright torch on all the grey areas, for the purpose of greater and more constructive conversation.

Which I still think holds true.

Another excitement was to see that this year’s editor of the TWC is Australia’s own Sylvia Kelso, whom I met for the first time recently. Sylvia herself talks in her introduction about the daunting challenge of trying to capture a convention she herself doesn’t get to every year (being Australian) and indeed an event that no two people experience similarly. The clever thing about these books is that instead of trying to represent the convention by being as generic as possible, they instead try to share the deeply specific and personal, from a wide variety of people.

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A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms

Helen Merrick

Aqueduct Press (2009)

ISBN 978-1-933500-33-1

Reviewed by Alexandra Pierce

“… what kind of self-respecting cabal would openly advertise its ‘secret’ existence through websites and conventions, identify its members through the wearing of garish temporary tattoos, and fund itself by the sale of home-baked chocolate chip cookies?” (p1)

I did not grow up considering myself a feminist; I have no idea whether my mother would identify as a feminist or not. That said, I grew up in the ’80s with a younger brother and there was never a time when I felt that I could not do exactly the same things as my brother, if I wanted to, so I know (now) that I benefited from second-wave feminism – and from liberal, caring parents. I was regarded as a feminist by at least some people by the time I was in my late teens (looking at you, high school teachers), probably because I was loud and everyone loves a stereotype. It’s only been over the last decade (my twenties) that I have consciously thought of myself as a feminist. And it’s only been in the last couple of years that I have consciously sought out feminist books, feminist perspectives on historical issues, and really come to grips with the idea that feminism is not a singularity.

All of this self-aggrandising is by way of contextualising my reading of The Secret Feminist Cabal, a marvellous book that has challenged the way I think about science fiction, fandom, and feminism. Merrick had me from her Preface, where she describes her journey towards writing the book in ways that resonated deeply with me, from the nerdy adolescent to the discovery of feminism and the dismay that many female acquaintances not only do not share our love of science fiction, they are completely mystified by it. Having only recently discovered the niche community that is sf fandom, the fact that so much of this book is concerned with expressions of feminism within that community – and how they impacted on sf broadly – was the icing on the cake.

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