Damien Broderick splits his time between Melbourne and Texas. He has nearly twenty novels, countless short stories, and numerous nonfiction works to his name. Currently, he is the fiction editor for Cosmos Magazine.
1. You have the distinction of being the fiction editor for Cosmos Magazine. How do you approach the issue of choosing stories for the magazine – do you look for a connection with what the magazine as a whole is addressing?
I look for the best of what’s submitted, with one eye cocked for Aussie writers and especially Aussie women (who have traditionally been shortchanged). Depressingly, not a lot of Australians are submitting; I’m told this is because 2000-4000 words is considered a difficult length to work at. As it is. It’s probably worth mentioning that I don’t make the final decision; this is the province of editor Wilson da Silva, who tends to be somewhat more traditional in his tastes–no doubt a good thing, since COSMOS is marketed to a broad general audience of all ages, many of whom are not especially in synch with dangerous or cutting-edge sf. That doesn’t mean we publish only *safe* stories–far from it. But I want to see more from established, professional Aussie sf writers.
And has it changed the way you approach your own writing?
Not really. My tastes were formed by reading the great classic sf of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s (and I lived through the first publication of the latter), with added vitamins from the stylistic innovations and broadened range of subsequent decades. I’m more likely to turn for inspiration to Theodore Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith, Alfie Bester, Philip K. Dick, Joanna Russ, Roger Zelazny or Samuel R. Delany than to Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who, or even Bujold, Asaro, Zahn or McCaffery.
2. You have an impressive bibliography of novels, short stories, and non-fiction works. Do you see an overall theme or idea in your work, or has it changed as you, and the world around you, have changed?
The theme seems to be time and change, and increasingly an awareness of accelerating innovation. The experience of sneaky or galloping changes in the midst of cycles of excitement and fearful backpedaling is something that pokes you in the eye after 50 years of staring at the world.
3. What’s next for you? Do you have exciting projects planned for 2010 and beyond?
In 2009 and 2010, I’ve been getting a lot into print, with more in the pipeline. I did two anthologies of essays from AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW (Second Series), from a couple of decades ago: CHAINED TO THE ALIEN and the forthcoming SKIFFY AND MIMESIS, both for Borgo who also did my critical book UNLEASHING THE STRANGE and are n the process of typesetting a sort of memoir/retrospective, CLIMBING MOUNT IMPLAUSIBLE: The Evolution of a Science Fiction Writer.
The new publisher Fantastic Books did a handsome trade paperback of my longer fiction (from 1964 to 2009), UNCLE BONES, and will be releasing a short story collection. THE QUALIA ENGINE, later this year; they also brought out revised editions of THE DREAMING and THE JUDAS MANDALA, with two other novels in the pipeline: DARK GRAY (with Rory Barnes) and POST MORTAL SYNDROME (with my wife, Barbara Lamar).
I had a burst of short fiction in ASIMOV’S, with more stories in ASIM #41 (with Paul Di Filippo) and on Tor.com and one forthcoming in Jonathan Strahan’s guest-edited SUBTERRANEAN. I’m working with Professor Van Ikin on a selection of the best from his journal/fanzine SCIENCE FICTION. Then there are critical or academic essays in various books such as one on Sir Arthur Clarke and another on parapsychology. I guess that’s excitement enough, but I might manage another book or two before the year is done!
4. With Aussiecon4 coming up this September, there’s a lot of buzz about nominating Australians for Hugo awards. Which Australians do you think ought to be nominated for Hugos this time around?
Living in Texas at the moment, I find it hard to keep up with all the sf, fantasy and horror coming out in such abundance from Australia. I gather that sf is fairly thin on the ground right now, proportionately–and that’s my special area. Glancing at the latest LOCUS recommended short fiction for last year, it looks as if the Aussie names and stories thought worth noting for 2009 are
“Hot Rock”, Greg Egan (Oceanic)
“Wives”, Paul Haines (X^6)
“Sea-Hearts”, Margo Lanagan (X^6)
Horn, Peter M. Ball
“The Qualia Engine”, Damien Broderick (Asimov’s 8/09)
“This Wind Blowing, and this Tide”, Damien Broderick (Asimov’s 4-5/09)
Siren Beat, Tansy Rayner Roberts
“Ferryman”, Margo Lanagan (Firebirds Soaring)
“Living Curiosities”, Margo Lanagan (Sideshow)
Apologies if I missed any other Aussies. I’ll be conservative and go along with those expert suggestions. 🙂
(Since I’m flagrantly touting myself by doing so, I might as well add that “The Qualia Engine” has been selected for one Year’s Best volume (Rich Horton’s), and “This Wind Blowing, and this Tide” for two (Jonathan Strahan’s and Gardner Dozois’s). If anyone cares to nominate me for a Hugo or Nebula, I’d be very pleased if they picked “This Wind Blowing, and this Tide”.)
5. Will you be attending Aussiecon4?
I’m afraid not (unless some unlikely sponsor offers me a free business class ticket). My health has been a bit dodgy in the last year or so, and I don’t think I could cope with a day or more being stuck in one sardine can after another, interspersed by officious specimens scrutinizing my underwear for explosives. It’s positively… Phildickian!