Matthew Chrulew has had stories in Aurealis, ASIM, The Workers’ Paradise,Canterbury 2100, and Midnight Echo, which esteemed quintumvirate would qualify him for the exclusive Australian SF cabal, except he has also had the bad judgement to slum it in Dog vs Sandwich. The first of his Androphagi stories, “Between the Memories” (Aurealis 38/9), was shortlisted for the Australian Shadows award and reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror.
1. So, what have you been up to lately? And what’s coming up next – what will we see from you in the next year or two?
Six months ago (i.e. basically yesterday) we moved to Sydney, so I could take up a postdoc at Macquarie Uni. What with the settling (again), the family, the life-enveloping (dream) job, and the rest, the writing’s been rather slow of late. Last year I really only published “The Beast-Machine Fableaux” in the art journal Antennae, which has also just been podcast at TISF, read by me, disappointingly, as I was hoping to hear how it sounded in a Scottish drawl. (An earlier podcast may or may not have seen me lay down the whitest raps since tramlines made it big among 1990’s most hairstylish.) Appearing soonish are “Head 2” in the recently randomly maligned Ben Payne’s latest potato-themed project (the public, comprising three, if not four fans of “Head”, having begged for more, as I interpret their gestures); “The Nullarbor Wave” in a book you might have heard of calledWorlds Next Door; and “Schubert by Candlelight” in Macabre. I do have some other projects nearing completion – a UFO apocalypse novella, a novel about touch – but most of my creative time is likely to be spent on academic work. I’m writing Mammoth for Reaktion Books, a cultural and natural history of, well, the mammoth. (It’s actually quite a small book – you have no idea how frustrating all those Mammoth Book of X volumes are. Why hasn’t somebody invented a search engine capable of factoring out metaphor?) I dream of simultaneously writing a novel, The Lay of Mamont, which expands on my story “The Gnomogist’s Tale” from Dirk Flinthart’s underappreciatedCanterbury 2100, although some were of the opinion that story was already 100% (or is that infinity percent?) too long, so perhaps I should rethink that idea.
I also note, purely as an interesting fact, that other SF writers to have written a nonfiction book on the mammoth include Robert Silverberg. Just sayin’, as they say.
2. Your story in The Workers’ Paradise, “Rapturama,” was co-written with Roland Boer. How did you find that experience? Do you have any further collaborations planned?
Roland, apart from being my PhD supervisor, is an annoyingly prolific arsehole who publishes salacious essays of Marxist biblical criticism in reputed academic journals, when not posting rude pictures on his blog. We’re both pretty laid back, so the collaboration process was seamless really, though it probably resulted in a more sprawling piece than might have been the case, where we each thought the other was watching the child. We haven’t discussed anything further – the story was written in response to Russell and Nick’s call, as is often the case. If the right market or idea comes up, over the right beer, I’m sure it will happen again.
3. Looking further to the future, what are your long-term writing goals? Where would you like to see your writing in the next five years or so?
If you had asked me this question at Clarion in ’04, I’m sure I would have provided a naively ambitious answer. Reality having organised numerous interventions since, I’m happy to just keep my hand in the game for now. I certainly have a heap of long-term projects, but am increasingly unable to think in terms of goals or stages when it comes to fiction. The other stuff I get paid for, in a roundabout way, so it gets done.
4. Which Australian writers or work would you like to see on the Hugo shortlists this year?
All I can say is, if that overrated hack Paul Haines makes it in, it will be testament only to the bankrupt hive-mind of the local scene. I mean, has anyone actually bothered to read this stuff before squeeing ejaculate all over the internet? Clearly the guy is an unhinged lunatic, a self-obsessed perpetrator of sins and felonies. In the interests of the public good, there ought to be a moral clause that demands such work be removed from consideration. And don’t get me started on that cheap trick of self-tuckerisation, causing uncareful readers to confuse the protagonist with the author. It’s hardly even a trick, really, just the unreflexive expression of a monstrous ego, fictional autofellatio that gives a whole new meaning to the term “self-insertion.” It’s even infected his own life, which he now spends profiteering off illness and the hardship of his family. Talk about bad taste. It makes me sick.
5. Will you be at Aussiecon 4 in September? What are you most looking forward to about it? What do you think Aussiecon might do for the Australian publishing industry as a whole?
We’ll be there, sans our children who we love very much, and I don’t think I’ll be condemned to too nasty a level of hell if I quietly say, that answers both the first two questions. As for the last, and this probably reflects on me, but all I can think of is a record mass hangover.