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Terry Dowling

mp Books (1999)

ISBN: 0-646-37533-4

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

Terry Dowling has often struck me as one of the most distinctively Australian speculative fiction writers around. In large part, this is because of his Captain Tom Rynosseros stories. It’s not just the setting that makes these so distinctive; Dowling has also extrapolated what’s happening between Indigenous and White Australians to create a very believable political future. The result is memorable, unique stories with a strong Australian flavour.

Although I associate Dowling strongly with those stories, he has written a great many other stories on a wide variety of themes. Antique Futures collects a selection of these. It’s a whopping great book, and as a result I dipped into it over the space of a couple of weeks, rather than attempting to read that many short stories in a sitting or two. I think this may be the best way to read this collection; it’s powerful and challenging, and some space between stories to digest them was good. Although Dowling is a writer I have long enjoyed, I had not fully realised either the length (years) or breadth (styles) of his writing. One of the very good things about this book is that both readers unfamiliar with Dowling and those who know his work are likely to find stories they haven’t read before.

As a collection, I’m not sure that Antique Futures has a theme, other than excellence. The stories are diverse, and range from quite hard science fiction to at least one story that wouldn’t look out of place in a crime anthology. The stories do share things in common, though. Although this anthology includes stories published over a twenty year span, none have dated noticeably. All include strong and interesting characters; and every one was worth reading. Although I enjoyed some stories more than others, that’s primarily a matter of taste. They’re all of remarkably consistent quality. It makes it a little challenging to write a review – I couldn’t possibly mention all the stories, and in my opinion none are weak. Read the rest of this entry »

Terry Dowling

Cemetery Dance Publications (2006)

ISBN: 1-58767-123-9

Reviewed by Leigh Blackmore (this review was first published in September 2006)

Terry Dowling is a modern fabulist who, as an Australian, has always held the locus, or sense of place in his work as one its central features. As Jonathan Strahan points out in his perceptive introduction to this book, “the winds of Australis blow through each of these haunting tales, adding a scent of gum leaves here, a slant of light there…”.

Basic Black contains eighteen stories by a writer whose career has spanned science fiction, horror, award-winning computer games and wondrous tales of all kinds. There are many stories collected here that devotees of Dowling’s darker work may have encountered before; it’s thrilling to see them collected in hardcover for the first time. There are also two previously unpublished tales, making the volume a must-have for Dowling completists. First-time readers of Dowling’s creepy dark fantasy will find here a treasure trove of chilly delights. Read the rest of this entry »

Terry Dowling

Ticonderoga Publications

ISBN: 978-0-9806288-3-8

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Make Believe is another high quality collection from Terry Dowling, containing twelve previously published short stories. They span a period from 1985 to 2003, underlining just how long Dowling has been publishing quality fiction.

The majority of the stories sit in that area of speculative fiction that enable people who love categories to argue violently about whether they’re science fiction or fantasy. I’m not sure it really matters; Dowling’s worlds are fully realised and entirely believable, and the stories he sets in them are often fascinating.

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Terry Dowling

Ticonderoga Publications

ISBN: 978-0-9806288-2-1

Reviewed by Lorraine Cormack

Basic Black is a collection of dark fantasy stories by Terry Dowling; it won the 2007 International Horror Guild Award for Best Collection, but I believe was not published in Australia until 2009. This is surprising, as Dowling is one of Australia’s more prolific speculative fiction authors; but then again, if you read short fiction at all you’ve probably come across at least some of these stories before. First publication dates range from 1984 to 2006.

So, is it worth picking up a collection with contents that date so far back, and where you’ve likely read some of it before? Absolutely. Dowling is an excellent writer, and one who flexibly covers a wide range of themes, styles and ideas. The older stories haven’t dated and remain powerful, and the newer stories continue to explore new territory.

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