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edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt

MirrorDanse Books (2007)

ISBN: 9780975773628

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was first published in May 2008)

“Best” anthologies are always tricky, because there’s so much room to argue about the choices; about the authors, about the stories, about the publication dates… Here Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt have put together a high quality anthology with less room for argument than usual. The collection covers the year 2006, and includes stories by some of the best – and best known – Australian speculative fiction writers who are currently publishing.

The anthology opens with a short introduction by the editors which provides a very brief overview of Australian speculative fiction in 2006. It may remind you of some things you meant to read and didn’t get around to; it may tantalise you with mention of something you didn’t know about before. It’s a good quick overview of what was published in 2006.

This is an exceptional anthology, and although I didn’t love every story in it, that’s a reflection of the diversity of stories in it – one or two didn’t suit my personal tastes. There are no dud stories, in the sense of poorly-written or boring stories. I felt that almost all of the authors here have published better stories, but again that’s partly a matter of taste – the stories contained here are universally well-written and crafted, and are generally original, lively and entertaining. Read the rest of this entry »

edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt

MirrorDanse Books (2006)

ISBN: 0975773615 

Reviewed by Alisa Krasnostein (this review was first published in October 2006)

If you only buy one book this year, then this is the book you can’t live without. Congreve and Marquandt have found the cream of over 500 Australian SF and Fantasy stories from 2005 and whipped them into a solid, absorbing anthology. They have made Australian specfic look live and vibrant and paint 2005 as a rich and mature year for local publishing. Read the rest of this entry »

edited by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt

MirrorDanse Books (2005)

ISBN: 0975773607

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

Year’s Best volumes always have significant introductions. I am an evil person who reads the stories then goes back and thinks “Should I read the introduction?” Yes. Read the introduction. Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquadt give an overview of how current Australian speculative fiction fits into an historical trail. There is a kangaroo story told in snatches throughout. Not my kind of story, but it solves the problem of a technical introduction to a book of short stories. The interlacing of story and explanation eases the transition between a formal introduction and short stories and puts the stories in perspective. As some of the stories date (as some stories always date in anthologies) the introduction will be there to remind readers of the particular environment in which they were created.

The first story is the best in the volume. ”’Singing my Sister Down” is as close to perfect as a short story can be. The narrator’s sister is punished for a crime by drowning in a tar pit. The story is about her death. Such a slim narrative for such a big story, and yet it works. Margo Lanagan’s gift of bringing the reader into the emotional moment is amazing and this story is the outstanding example of her gift. Read the rest of this entry »

Michelle Marquardt

Bantam (2002)

ISBN: 186325 251 7

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack (this review was originally published in 2007)

Blue Silence is a confident and assured science fiction novel, which I enjoyed a great deal.

The novel focuses on Senator Maya Russini, and is told from her point of view. Maya is a strong character; I realised at the end of the novel that Marquardt had given little indication of Maya’s age or appearance, and not a great deal of information about her past. Despite this, I had a strong sense of her personality and who she was, and I was definitely on her side for much of the novel. Marquardt has an eye for characterisation; her major characters were all strong, distinctive and interesting.

Maya and her Senatorial colleagues on Colony Two have been embroiled in negotiations with their sister colony (Colony One). The two Colonies are both space stations orbiting earth, but have very different lifestyles; Colony One is highly reliant on nano-technology and makes no attempt to create a natural environment. Colony Two has rigorous legislation banning nano-technology, and ensures that parks, gardens, and greenery exist throughout their station. In the past, One has supplied water to Two through their mining operations. But now, One is blackmailing them; they will only sell them water if they also agree to allow nano-technology onto the space station. Colony Two has options, but they’re limited, and if just one thing goes wrong in their attempt to get water from elsewhere, they will be at Colony One’s mercy. Read the rest of this entry »

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