Friday, May 11, 2012

My Writing Week: Issue 19, Year 5

Ten Aussie Books You Must Read Before You Die.

First Tuesday Bookclub is trying to find Australia’s ten favourite books by Aussie authors. They have created a list of 50 books and you can vote for three of them. I was surprised to find I had read nine of them. The list is well and truly dominated by historical novels.

I voted for The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey, Capricornia by Xavier Herbert, and The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes.

I wasn’t surprised at the lack of science fiction novels on the list, but it did get me looking for a list of the best Australian Science Fiction books. I could not find one. If you know of one, please let me know.

Australian Science Fiction I Have Read.

As far as I can remember, I have only read 39 books written by Australian science fiction authors. In the list below, I attempt to place the books from best to not so good. This is an update of a list I first posted in May 2008. Most of the books I have read since then have been recently published and appear near the top of the list, which means either Australian science fiction is much better now or my reading selections have improved.  

1) The Sea and Summer, George Turner, Grafton Books, 1989. Probably the best science-fiction novel I have read. It takes place in a Melbourne ravaged by global warming.
2) Genetic Soldier, George Turner, Avon Books, 1994. Aborigines fight off a second invasion – nearly as good as The Sea and Summer.
3) The Dark Between the Stars, Damien Broderick, Mandarin Australia, 1991. The best one author speculative fiction anthology I have read. Most of the stories are memorable.
4) Quarantine, Greg Egan, Legend Books, 1992. Once I got into the jargon it was a great read.
5) Red Queen, H.M. Brown, Penguin, 2009. Won that years Aurealis for best horror, but could easily be called science fiction.
6) Things we Didn’t See Coming, Steve Amsterdam, Sleepers Publishing, 2009. It is a series of excellent stories with the same character, set over 40 years. Won the Age Book of the year in 2009.
7) Machine Man, Max Barry, Scribe 2011. A funny and thought provoking satire.
8) Time Machines Repaired While U Wait, K. A Bedford, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, 2008. A complex and amusing story, where time machines are the new car, it is set in Perth.
9) Hydrogen Steel, K.A. Bedford, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2006. Hard science fiction at its best. An AI tries to stop humanity finding out what happened to Earth.
10) The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood, Harper Collins, 2011. A transgender drug courier attempts to save her bosses business.
11) Souls in the Great Machine, Sean McMullen, Tor, 1999. Fantasy/science-fiction. Set around the area I live. Why can't he get published in Australia? It's the first book in a series which I hope to eventually finish reading.
12) The Sea's Furtherest End, Damien Broderick, Aphelion Publications 1993. My favourite Broderick novel as God plays games with humanity.
13) Turing Evolved, David Kitson. A self-published ebook with a few typos, but a wonderful story about what it means to be human.
14) Timesplash, Graham Storrs, Lyric Press. Time-travelling thrill seekers attempt to cause massive destruction.
15) Echoes of Earth, Sean Williams and Shane Dix, Ace, 2002. I loved the technology involved in this story.
16) The Destiny Makers, George Turner, Avon Books, 1993. I know I enjoyed reading it but it's not the most memorable of Turner's books.
17) Incandescence, Greg Egan, Gollancz, 2008. A very difficult book to read. Great ideas though.
18) The Year of the Angry Rabbit, Russell Braddon, Wm Hienman, 1964. A very funny satire.
19) I have forgotten the author and title of this collection of four novellas. One was a chilling story about people with disabilities being forced into machines to fight wars.
20) Blue Silence, Michelle Marquardt, Bantam, 2002. A bit Babylon-fiveish.
21) Teranesia, Greg Egan, Eos, 2000. Not as grand in ideas as the other two books of Egan I have read.
22) The Zeitgeist Machine, Ed by Damien Broderick, Angus and Robertson, 1977. Peter Carey's story Conversations with Unicorns was a standout.
23) Year's Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy, Volume 1, Ed Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt, Mirror Dance Books, 2005, an especially memorable opening story Singing my Sister Down by Margo Lanagan.
24) Worlds Apart, Chuck McKenzie, Hybrid Publishers, 1999. I tend to avoid reading science fiction humour, but this was amusing.
25) Year's Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy, Volume 4, Ed Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt, Mirror Dance Books, 2008. Includes a great story by Greg Egan.
26) The Deep Field, James Bradley, Hodder Headline Australia, 1999. It is set in the near future. I liked his speculations on the near future, not so much the story.
27) Parkland, Victor Kelleher,Viking,1994. Why were all the bad guys male?
28) Sapphire Road, Wynne Whiteford, Ace, 1986. Australia and India involved in a space race? I think that this was the first Science Fiction book by an Australian writer that I read.
29) The Judas Mandala, Damien Broderick, Mandarin Australia, 1990. I can remember being disappointed with this novel.
30) Year's Best Australian Science Fiction & Fantasy, Volume 3, Ed Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt, Mirror Dance Books, 2007. Too much fantasy.
31) And Disregards the Rest, Paul Voermans,Victor Gallancz, 1993. A nothing climax let the story down.
32) The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 2, Ed by Jonathan Strahan and Jeremy G Byrne, Voyager, 1998. I remember enjoying it, but none of the stories rushed out at me when I read the table of contents.
33) Matilda at the Speed of Light, Ed by Damien Broderick, Angus and Robertson, 1988. A disappointing collection of stories.
34) Zones, Damien Broderick and Rory Barnes, HarperCollins, 1997. Too preachy.
35) The Last Albatross, Ian Irvine, Simon and Shuster, 2000.I found the characters way too materialistic and a bit stupid. I did not care that much if they lived or died.
36) Pacific Book of Australian SF, Ed John Baxter, Angus and Roberston Ltd, 1968. Most of the stories were fantasy, saved by the multiple character and idea novella, There was a Crooked Man, by Jack Wodhams.
37) The Dreaming Dragons, Damien Broderick, Norstrilla Press, 1980. The last quarter of the book was one long info dump.
38) Time Future, Maxine McArthur, Bantam Books, 1999. I had worked out what was going on halfway through this novel. I found the main character too much of a martyr.
39) Salt, Gabrielle Lord, McPhee Gribble, 1990. All the male characters were morons.


Anthony J. Langford said...

Wow, youve certainly read a lot of sci-fi Graham. That's very impressive. I'm afraid I've been out of the loop since I hit my twenties.. I'll get onto that Tuesday Book Club.. Now that the answer was no, I can tell you that I contacted Jennifer Bryne to possibly appear at my book launch.. She politely said no, she doesn't do them...


Graham Clements said...

And that's just the Australian Science fiction. One day I might try to rank all the science fiction I have read. Which would dominate: Australian, British, American, Canadian?