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Encounters: An Anthology of Australian Speculative Fiction
edited by Maxine McArthur and Donna Maree Hanson
CSFG Publishing, 213 pages

Maxine McArthur
Maxine McArthur's first novel, Time Future, won the 1999 George Turner Prize. The second, Time Past, is a sequel, and was published in February 2002. She lives in Canberra, the capital city of Australia.

Maxine McArthur Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review:Less Than Human
SF Site Review: Time Past
SF Site Review: Time Past
SF Site Review: Time Future
SF Site Review: Time Future

Donna Maree Hanson
Donna Maree Hanson has had short stories published in Redsine, Alternative Realities Ezine, Antipodean and in two CSFG anthologies. Her story, "The Doctor's Pill," published in Redsine, received a special mention in the Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, 2002.

ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect explains the concept of buzzing to an incredulous Arthur Dent. According to Prefect, aliens "find some isolated spot with very few people around, then they land right by some poor unsuspecting soul whom no one's ever going to believe and then strut up and down in front of him wearing silly antennae on their head and making beep beep noises." This is a concept which is played up in the first two stories in Maxine McArthur and Maree Hanson's anthology Encounters.

In Lee Battersby's "Vortle," the unsuspecting soul is the title character and the buzzers are humans, while in Kate Eltham's "Davey's Gift," the positions are reversed with Australian children being subjected to a weird alien in a cave.

Not all encounters are with alien races, and Richard Harland presents a safari to find the elusive vampire in "The Souvenir." The story is told in a clever manner with a hint of a sense of humor which doesn't overwhelm the story. The second vampire story in the anthology is by Dirk Flintheart. "The Flatmate From Hell" is set in a multi-resident household in which the newest member is believed by the narrator to be a vampire. Things aren't always as they seem, however, and Flintheart does a good job in portraying his characters and they various foibles.

Trent Jamieson has a bitter tale in "Don't Got No Wings" about a young man whose routine is upended in the name of progress. Rather than an encounter with another person, this is the tale of an encounter with a faceless bureaucracy which puts the good of the whole above the needs of the individual.

Stuart Barrow's "Crazy Little Thing" is a tale of a forbidden love which spans the galaxy. Given the intimacy of the subject, Barrow's selection of a distancing voice is interesting and doesn't allow the characters to fully come to life.

While the theme "Encounters" leads the seasoned science fiction reader to think in terms of encounters with aliens, these authors took a much broader view of the theme to provide stories about meetings of all types, between different races, between people and animals, and between various people. Many of the stories are humorous, if not laugh-out-loud humor than a more subtle humor. Even more of them will induce the reader to think about how encounters occur and what about an encounter sets the stage for any future relationships between the two (or more) parties.

Over the past several years, Australia has been exporting numerous speculative fiction authors, from Greg Egan and Stephen Dedman to Sara Douglass and Sophie Masson. Aurealis, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and other periodicals help to bring these fresh voices to the rest of the world. The anthologies of CSFG (the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild) provides another outlet for these talents, some raw, some seasoned, to make their voices heard.

Copyright © 2005 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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