Bible of Australian fantasy fiction
If you're even vaguely interested in fantasy, science fiction or speculative fiction, you must get your hands on Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann (Harper Voyager)
World-renowned author Jack Dann has put together a compendium of the best genre fiction in Australia with offerings from established authors like Garth Nix, Trudi Canavan and Sara Douglas as well as up-and-coming new authors.
The anthology, Dreaming Again, contains stories about aliens, Australian myths, ghosts and zombies; each a great example of their genre in quality, originality and imagination.
Dreaming Again is the companion volume to Dann’s original anthology Dreaming Down-Under, published ten years ago to great acclaim.
A number of first-time authors in that book went on to become best-sellers and it’s hoped, by both the authors and Dann, that this year’s new crop will be just as successful.
Some of the stand-out short stories include Old Friends by Garth Nix, The Jacaranda Wife by Angela Slatter, Robots and Zombies, Inc. by Lucy Sussex, Troll’s Night Out by Jenny Blackford and Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn by Jason Nahrung.
As Dann says, there is a phenomenal amount of talent in Australia.
“Australian authors have always been good in both speculative fiction and straight fiction, but the have often been running under the radar,” says Dann.
“Australia has very fine mainstream writers and crossovers like Pete Gold, but I can’t really explain why we have so many quality fantasy authors.
“Fantasy is really just fiction in a fantastic mode, it’s just another way to describe the world,” says Dann.
“So I think it’s natural for Australians to be good at it … Australia is a very educated, very open and very multicultural society. Perhaps that explains it.”
As to why it took so long for the anthology to be put together, Dann states that he wanted to wait long enough for the established authors to move on to something new and for the new writers to develop.
“I didn’t want to do a ‘sequel’,” says Dann, “I wanted something really fresh. I had to wait until the time was right.”
Dann says that the only criteria for inclusion in Dreaming Again was excellence in ‘wildside fiction’ and that he was looking for work that was ‘on the edge’.
Dann laughs and admits that he was surprised by the quality of the new writers and laughs about the number of ‘zombie’ stories but insists that every story in Dreaming Again is worth its place in the book.
The concept that science fiction and fantasy literature can direct ‘reality’ is a very true concept for Dann who has seen fantasy become reality.
“I was there in the 1970s when ‘cyberpunk’ was written and I’ve seen those ideas manifest in the internet,” explains Dann.
“These days the tropes of science fiction have been taken over by popular culture … you just have to look at the success of the Lord of the Rings films, Star Wars.
“Science fiction and fantasy can direct reality. When what is real is so out of bounds, like the Vietnam War for example, the only way to describe it is to use magic realism,” says Dann.
While the acceptance of fantasy, science fiction, supernatural fiction and speculative fiction becomes more common, at the end of the day it’s all about quality reading.Dreaming Again offers readers an excellent way of entering the fantastic world and more importantly allows readers to support Australian skill and ingenuity.
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Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann (Harper Voyager)
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