Win Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, volumes 1 & 2

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror volumes 1 and 2 are up for grabs in hardcover, via the publisher.

Edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, these two exquisitely handsome volumes collect 65 fantastic tales – the best from 2010 and 2011. There is simply no better primer on current local talent working in horror and fantasy genre in Australia.

Order any Ticonderoga Publications title at Indie Books Online this month, to go in the running to win the hardcover editions of both Year’s Best volumes.

All the details and links are over at Talie Helene’s blog here.


Damnation And Dames – review by Damien Smith

DISCLAIMER: Thirteen O’Clock is managed by Alan Baxter, Felicity Dowker and Andrew McKiernan as Contributing Editors. While the Contributing Editors’ roles at Thirteen O’Clock are editorial and critique, all three are primarily writers. It is inevitable that their own work will form part of the Australian and international dark fiction publications which are Thirteen O’Clock’s focus, and as such it is also inevitable that their work will be reviewed at Thirteen O’Clock (to prohibit this would not only be unfortunate for Baxter, Dowker and McKiernan themselves, but for their hardworking editors and publishers).

Thirteen O’Clock will always have a third party contributor review the Contributing Editors’ work. Such reviews will be unedited (aside from standard corrections to typos and grammar), posted in full (be they negative or positive), and will always be accompanied by full disclosure of Baxter, Dowker and McKiernan’s place at Thirteen O’Clock. At no point will Baxter, Dowker or McKiernan review their own work.

Damnation And Dames (Edited by Liz Grzyb & Amanda Pillar).

Ticonderoga Publications April 2012, ISBN 978-1-921857-03-4 (Paperback)

Damnation and Dames is a sixteen-story paranormal noir-themed anthology from Ticonderoga Publications.  I remember seeing it appear in April and thinking that it sounded like a great read, but since I’d only recently got to Base Camp One of my pile of unread review books I had to sadly let it pass by.  Seeing another opportunity arise recently to review it, I couldn’t resist any longer.  Paranormal noir sounded like a really interesting spin.

What the heck is paranormal noir?  Well you know noir: private eyes, prohibition, mystery, dames with dangerous curves, characters narrating to the fourth wall.  Take that and mix in a bunch of ghosts, vampires, zombies, legendary creatures and at one point an undead king kong and you have paranormal noir.  Given the dark nature of noir it seems only natural that the unnatural creepies would creep in eventually and this collection certainly delivers what it advertises.

The collection kicks off by plunging straight into the vampiric underworld in Jay Caselberg’s Blind Pig with a full complement of dangerous (and damned) dames and collisions of the normal and paranormal worlds, and delves deeper from there.

There is an ebb and flow between paranormal and noir, with many stories being a solid mix of both.  Brian G Ross’ Hard Boiled only touched the surface of the paranormal, but with gems like “I knew never to trust a broad with a naked flame that close to my face, even one who seemed like she’d been poured out of a lingerie catalogue and dipped in perfume” you can almost hear the saxophone spilling quietly from the gramophone in the background.  Contrasting that are tales like where humans are the second-class citizens doing their supernatural superior’s bidding like M.L.D Curelas’ Silver Comes the Night or merely a background theme as in the excellent One Night at the Cherry by Chris Large, where a zombie detective has some problems with a genuinely dangerous doll.

Robert Hood’s Walking the Dead Beat is one of the only stories not written from the first person perspective and deserves a special mention if only for including a Playdead magazine in an undead bordello.

There are also two collaborative works in the collection: Burning, Always Burning by Alan Baxter and Felicity Dowker, and Prohibition Blues by Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, both of which warrant a mention because although I’ve read many offerings from all four authors, both stories were so seamless I couldn’t pick who had written what, despite the authors’ differing styles.  One bone I would pick with Burning, Always Burning though is that it hinted enough at a much wider world that it felt like a prologue to something larger, and I found myself flicking through the anthology looking for the next instalment.  Hopefully it’ll come at some point.

Which brings me to about the only fault I could find with the collection: due to the nature of the format several of the stories finished up right when I felt they were just getting good.  I’d love to see some of the authors take the worlds they’ve hinted at here and let the various beasties rampage across a longer format.

I’ve picked a handful of the sixteen stories to mention for no real reason beyond the fact they stuck in my head for a particular line on theme.  Damnation and Dames brings together a bunch of stories from authors international and local, experienced and fledgling (Three Questions and One Troll is Chris Bauer’s debut work of fiction and he should be justifiably proud of the company it’s keeping) and it’s difficult to find a weak link amongst them.

Damnation and Dames can be found over at Upon finding, be sure to add it to your collection.

Reviewed by Damien Smith.

Damien Smith is a regular reviewer for several publications, most frequently online zine The Specusphere. Whilst usually content with being an armchair expert on other people’s work, he recently had his debut publication in SQ Magazine. Observing the social dynamic between his young daughter and two dogs provides endless inspiration, so there will no doubt be many more stories to come. Some of them may even get published.


Ticonderoga Year’s Best cover revealed – News

The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011Ticonderoga Publications have revealed the cover for The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2011 in all its glory over at their website.

The collection is now available for pre-order, and the full table of contents will be announced soon by editors Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene.

Click on the image to see a larger version, or go straight to the Ticonderoga article at

Dreaming of Djinn Submission Call – news

Ticonderoga Publications have announced submission details for the forthcoming anthology Dreaming of Djinn, to be edited by Liz Grzyb (Scary Kisses, More Scary Kisses, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010).

The editor says in the submission guidelines:

Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights stories have captured imaginations for a millennia. Fairy tales and fables abound, telling of the fantastic and mysterious, the comic and dramatic.

This anthology, with the working title Dreaming of Djinn, will look at romantic Orientalism through a speculative fiction lens. You might find lost cities, magical lamps, mummies, thieves, intrepid explorers, slaves, robotic horsemen, noble queens, sorcerers, outcast princes, harems, dancers, djinn, assassins and even smart-talking camels and cats, set in exotic Persia, Egypt, Arabia, the Ottoman Empire, or a modern incarnation of these.

The anthology will be published by Ticonderoga Publications in 2013 and submissions are open between 1st March and 15th October 2012.

Full submission guidelines can be found at:

Bloodstones Submission Call – news

Submissions are currently open for Ticonderoga Publications‘ forthcoming Bloodstones anthology, edited by Amanda Pillar.

The editor says in the submission call:

This is the first in a series of anthologies from Ticonderoga Publications that will focus on non-traditional horror. I want stories that are horrific, but that also fit within other genres—let’s look beyond the borders. This year’s anthology will focus on non-traditional urban fantasy. This means that I don’t want stories that feature vampires, witches or werewolves; if you send one, it probably won’t make it through to the final cut.

Give me tales of Sirens, Harpies, Bunyips, goblins, djinns, Mesopotamian demons, deposed gods…characters that spill from mythology and into modern suburbia.

Any stories involving cultural borrowing from indigenous cultures should be respectful of the beliefs of the traditional owners.

Romantic elements are acceptable, as long as the story is dark and has horrific themes/elements.

The story must be set on contemporary Earth, but it can take place in a fictional city.

The anthology will be published by Ticonderoga Publications in late 2012.

Full submission guidelines can be found at: