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Lee Battersby

Prime Books (2006)

ISBN: 0-8095-5646-4

Reviewed by Kathryn Linge (the review was first published in November 2006)

Lee Battersby has been on the Australian speculative fiction scene since 2001. Since then he’s racked up an impressive publication history, with over 40 stories in print, mostly in Australian magazines or small press anthologies. Through Soft Air is his first collected work and includes 25 stories, of which eight are either completely new or have not seen publication before. There’s no doubt that Battersby is an ambitious and prolific short story writer. However Battersby himself acknowledges that regular short story sales are not enough to sustain a writing career [1] and that financial security probably hinges in publication of longer works (i.e. novels). From that perspective, the publication of Through Soft Air can be seen as a first attempt toward garnering recognition outside the Australian scene. Through Soft Air has been published by Prime Books, a US small press publisher, and this should provide exposure in markets outside Australia that would have otherwise been unavailable. The downside of this ‘international’ publication, however, is that the book has limited sale outlets within Australia itself and so Battersby’s established fan base may find themselves having to order the book from the US in order to obtain a copy.

From my own point of view, reviewing Through Soft Air has been a good opportunity to find out what all the fuss is about. I came to the book having read less than a handful of Battersby’s stories – two of which are in this collection. I read and reviewed Through Soft Air from a .pdf copy, and so am unable to comment on the physical book itself. This is a pity, because I get much more pleasure reading from a book than a computer screen (although I don’t think this has affected my opinion of the collection). I would also liked to have seen the book ‘in the flesh’ to get a proper look at the cover by Gary Nurrish. From the images on the Prime website, the artwork looks stunning. Read the rest of this entry »

edited by Nicole R Murphy

Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild (2006)

ISBN: 0-977519-20-1

Reviewed by Lee Battersby (this review was first published in May 2006)

This is the seventh anthology from the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, and conforms to their traditional format: stories by a range of members based around a single theme. Previous anthologies have focussed on fantastical beasts, machines, places that can be considered ‘other’, and even the act of cooking. In this instance, the anthology concerns itself with the notion of otherness in the individual: the outsider, the pariah, the exile.

This instalment in the CSFG’s annual output contains 20 stories, and in keeping with the Guild’s policy of rotating the editorship, is edited by Nicole R Murphy. Its production values are relatively high for a small press volume. The cover is appealing, unlike the last CSFG collection to cross my desk (the otherwise excellent Kaaron Warren collection, The Grinding House), the paper is of a good weight, and the layout and font choice makes for easy reading. Small points to raise, perhaps, but the small press scene in Australia is crowded, and effort is necessary to stand out from a crowded shelf. The Outcast will look good in your hands. For me, that’s a pleasant part of the reading experience. The fiction inside, however, is a mixed bunch, ranging from well told stories by experienced professionals, to flawed and uninspiring choices. Read the rest of this entry »

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