Orb Speculative Fiction

Tagged: Publication

Australian low-paying Semiprozine published by Orb Publications, South Preston, Victoria and edited by Sarah Endacott; eight issues to date, Spring/Summer 1999 to #8, 2010; began with issue #0 but had a combined issue #3/#4, 2002. Issue #8 is a huge (420 page) "best of" retrospective of the previous seven issues. Orb is amongst the elite of Australian magazines, originally published annually, but with only two issues since 2004, it is published in a distinctive review format, often substantial, and influenced to some extent by Eidolon, on which Endacott worked for a while. Each issue is also priced quite expensively, adding to expectations of quality, which each issue invariably delivers. The final story of the first issue (#0), though, was somewhat depressing for a fiction magazine. "Romancing the WWW" (Spring/Summer 1999) by Tansy Rayner Roberts depicts a future where fantasy and sf have vanished, as had all books, because of ecological concerns. Endacott almost fulfilled the prophecy. Issue #2 ran a writing competition but, as she reported in issue #3/4, some of the submissions were very poor, showing a lack of understanding of the sf and fantasy genres. The contest winner was "To Change God" (2002 #3/4) a first-story sale by Mina Athanasopoulos which explores a human-Alien confrontation in space. Surprisingly the double issue was the only issue of Orb which failed to have at least one story nominated for either the Aurealis or Ditmar awards. The two that won awards were both fantasies, "The Woman on Endor" (Autumn/Winter 2000 #2) and "A Lady of Adestan" (2007 #7) by Cat Sparks, this despite the fact that these issues featured sf of equally high quality by Lee Battersby, Stephen Dedman, Terry Dowling and Robert Hood. There is no doubt that Endacott sets high standards. The fiction in all issues of Orb is challenging, often defiant, always rewarding, but never complacent. [MA]

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