Friday, 27 December 2013

Challenge round-up: Aussie Science Fiction

This year I challenged myself to read at least ten science fiction books by Australian authors. I managed fourteen books by eight authors, which is pretty good. I suppose ideally I would have had at least ten different authors there, but on the other hand, reading multiple books by three of them is obviously a sign that I was enjoying what I was reading. Rather than go through in strict book order, I want to talk a bit about the books in author and subgenre groupings. The full list with review links and in my reading order is at the end.

Simon Haynes writes comedic science fiction which doesn't skimp on the science (compare with, for example, Douglas Adams, who made a lot of stuff up). Of his books I read the two most recent Hal Spacejock books (5 & 6 in the series, although they all stand alone) and laughed my way through both of them. I also read the third (and most recent) Hal Junior book, which is set in the same universe but for younger readers. In general, I've really wanted to know how the Hal Junior books tie in (chronologically) with the Hal Spacejock ones, and The Gyris Mission brought me a little closer to working it out, so that was exciting. I'm looking forward to reading more Hal books as they become available.

Hal Spacejock: Baker's DoughHal Spacejock: Safe ArtHal Junior: The Gyris Mission

The next series I want to talk about is Andrea K Höst's Touchstone Trilogy. These weren't the first books of Höst's that I read but they sold me on reading everything else she writes although, with respect to this challenge, most of the rest of her books are fantasy. (I got my mum to read them too, and I think she's reread them twice now.) They're ultimately a bit more science fantasy than hard science fiction, it's hard to go wrong with psychic space ninjas.

StrayLab Rat OneCaszandra

The third author I read multiple books from is Patty Jansen, and this time they weren't all from the same series/universe. Also, there were two novellas. Charlotte's Army is set in the ISF/Allion universe, which I've read stories/novels from before. The other two, Trader's Honour and The Shattered World Within were, very distantly, set in the same universe. I enjoy both universes of Jansen's books, but I was particularly grabbed by the latter two and I look forward to reading more books in that world.

Charlotte's ArmyTrader's HonourThe Shattered World Within

The remaining five books can be loosely broken up into YA and, er, Other. The YAs are Rayessa and the Space Pirates by Donna Maree Hanson, a not-too-serious novella, When the World Was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach, and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner, the former author being the Australian one. Honestly, aside from their target audience, these three have very little in common and I would recommend them for very different reasons/moods. (Also, if you're reading this on 27/12 in Australia, then the review link for These Broken Stars won't be live until tomorrow, although I did already post it to GR and LT.) I'm interested to see what all of these authors put out next.

Rayessa and the Space PiratesWhen the World was Flat (And we were in love)These Broken Stars

And finally, we come to Other. On the one hand there's The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson, a verse novel set in the near future, which I read primarily because it was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. It was sort of stealth-SF, in that I wouldn't expect the author to ever admit that she wrote science fiction (y'know, like Margaret Atwood). I also don't particularly expect her to do it again, so I don't know that I'll be reading any of her other works in the future. On the other hand, there's Simon Petrie whose novella Flight 404 was also my first exposure to his work. It was thoughtful, hard SF and I'll definitely be reading more of his work in the future. (In fact, I've already purchased a short story collection, now I just have to get around to it...)

The Sunlit ZoneFlight 404

As for the coming year, I have every intention of continuing to read as much Aussie SF as I can manage. Although I'll be aiming for at least ten again, I've decided not to set an official number... in large part because I'm sick of having to remember to update my sliders. ;-p But I'll definitely be keeping track of the Aussie SF I read.

How about you? Will you be taking up the challenge to read more Australian-authored science fiction?

  1. Hal Spacejock: Baker's Dough by Simon Haynes (review)
  2. Rayessa and the Space Pirates by Donna Maree Hanson (review)
  3. The Sunlit Zone by Lisa Jacobson (review)
  4. Flight 404 by Simon Petrie (review)
  5. Stray by Andrea K Höst (review)
  6. Lab Rat One by Andrea K Höst (review)
  7. Caszandra by Andrea K Höst (review)
  8. Charlotte's Army by Patty Jansen (review)
  9. Trader's honour by Patty Jansen (review)
  10. When the World Was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Jonach (review)
  11. Hal Spacejock: Safe Art by Simon Haynes (review)
  12. Hal Junior: The Gyris Mission by Simon Haynes (review)
  13. The Shattered World Within by Patty Jansen (review)
  14. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meaghan Spooner (review)


  1. There's some great cover art here. I think Patty does her own. I met Amie Kaufman at Flinders St Station a while before the novel was due out - she admired my Aussiecon T shirt and we got talking. I'll look forward to reading it, though it doesn't seem to be available in ebook yet, or at least not in iBooks.

    1. Yeah, Patty also has a small side-business selling cover art to others.

      I met Amie at Continuum this year. She was lovely, but I think I put her off with my (panel-relevant) ire at another author's complete disregard for the laws of physics. Alas. By the way, iBooks link for These Broken Stars: