The LeGuin Stamp

The United States Postal Service announced Jan 15th it will issue a stamp featuring one of the greats of science fiction, the late Ursula K. Le Guin, in 2021. The stamp portrays Le Guin in front of a scene from one of her Hugo-winning novels The Left Hand Of Darkness. The art for the stamp was done by three-time Hugo winner Donato Giancola.


Crit Mass: Is it time to gather again?

Several members have asked whether it might not be time to meet in person again. If we wished to meet at Kappy’s for the February meeting, they would be willing to host us.

Two questions then, for the members of Critical Mass in Adelaide:
(i) do we want to gather in person in February? or is it too soon?
(ii) who wishes to talk about something this month?

We intend to continue with a zoom component, for those interested who might not be able to meet in person.
Please respond to these questions to either Roman or Adam, so that we might make appropriate action.

Nova Mob, Feb 3rd — Gothic Architectures of the Mind

from the Nova Mob newsletter
Our first meeting of the year is on 3 February at Kensington Town Hall 8.00pm!  And also in Zoom!
Yes we are able to meet again in person, with quasi-embarrassed elbow bumps, diligent hand hygiene, and suitable record-keeping. But we’ll still be doing Zoom, running it at the same time as the in-person meeting. I’d like to introduce our guest speaker for the 3rd Feb: 

DMETRI KAKMI, who will be taking us on a reader’s, writer’s, and editor’s traverse through the gothic architectures of the mind.
Dmetri immersed himself in horror novels and films during his childhood, and those wide-ranging reading habits in the gothic have culminated in him writing in the genre and bringing that knowledge to his role as senior editor. This could lead to interesting discussions about how genre writing is perceived in major publishing houses in Australia, insights into favourite authors, digressions, etc.

Wednesday February 3rd 8.00pm – 9.30 pm or so, [7:30pm Adelaide time]
first floor Conference Room, Kensington Town Hall
30 – 34 Bellair St Kensington VIC 3031

Kakmi notes:
“To give you an overview, from the late 1970s I started reading Stephen King, Ursula Le Guin, Arthur C Clarke, Richard Matheson, Ray Russell, Alfred Bester, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, M R James, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen etc. In terms of influences on my writing, I look to Shirley Jackson (I gave an online lecture about The Haunting of Hill House at Writers Victoria mid 2020), Susan Hill, Patrick MacGrath and Robert Aikman. Certainly, these four hang heavy over The Door and Other Uncanny Tales.”

The Door and Other Uncanny Tales has just been published; copies will be on sale and can be signed or inscribed or indeed both. See below for the official bio, to which we append Lucy Sussex’s commendation: “Dmetri? He’s most amusing”.  In order to belie that reputation, Dmetri has provided a photo of himself in Serious Author mode.

Dmetri Kakmi was born to Greek parents in Turkey. For 15 years he worked as senior editor at Penguin Books. The memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards 2008, and is published in England and Turkey. He is the editor of the acclaimed children’s anthology When We Were Young. The essay ‘Night of the Living Wog’ is published in Joyful Strains: Making Australia Home, edited by Kent MacCarter and Ali Lemer. ‘A History of Violence’ is published in The Body Horror Book, edited by Claire Fitzpatrick. ‘The Tranny Horror From Outer Space’ is published in Ornaments From Two Countries, edited by Peter Polites. The short story ‘The Boy by the Gate’ was reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2013. ‘Haunting Matilda’, published in Cthulhu Deep Down Under, was shortlisted for Best Fantasy Novella in the Aurealis Awards, 2015. Both of these stories are reprinted in Dmetri’s new book The Door and Other Uncanny Tales, which was released in late 2020. He lives in Melbourne.

By Zoom:
Can’t attend in person? The Nova Mob invites you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. 
Topic: Nova Mob 3 Feb Dmetri Kakmi 8.00pm AEDT, 7:30 Adelaide time
Time: Feb 3, 2021 login after 7.20 PM Adelaide time

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193 Passcode: nova

Kathleen Jennings on Gothic

Our guest speaker from October has just published an article on called Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic:

Like most Gothics, the Australian Gothic has acquired its own distinct aesthetic—most frequently, an abject unpleasantness and atmosphere of sand-scoured horror. Personally, I’d like to blame both Evil Angels (aka A Cry in the Dark) and Gary Crew’s memorably effective Strange Objects (1990) for many of my own nightmares.

It is also, like most Gothics, tangled up with the genre’s own past, and inextricably knotted into colonial and imperial histories as well as the multitude of other mirrored and recurring histories typical of a Gothic plot. And Australia has a bloody history, with terrible things done and still being done. Yet there are also stories which, without shying away from terrors (although not necessarily innately any better at handling the true history than other varieties of Australian Gothic), manage in a variety of fascinating ways to capture a sense of great (even sublime, often terrifying, never false) beauty.

— Kathleen Jennings, “Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic“,, Jan 19th

Update on Mass Con

We’ve now added a draft program to the Mass Con ’21 post.
Here’s a link to the PDF spreadsheet:

Please have a look and tell us:

(i) if we’ve left something out;

(ii) if you’re interested in joining one of the panels;

(iii) if you’d like to suggest a panel;

(iv) if you can host the zoom site for an hour or two: this involves welcoming newcomers, helping them with the zoom, and pointing out the program and items currently happening or about to start (training will be provided for those willing to be hosts).

Mass Con Jan 31st

Critical Mass is planning another single day mini convention.
Unlike other years, this one will be online from 12noon til 8pm, Adelaide time on Sunday January 31st.

We’ve organised a reprise of Eugen Bacon’s talk on Afrofuturism, and Adam Jenkins digs deep in history to tell us about A True Story by Lucian of Samosata.

There’s a panel on the New Doctor Who; talks on interesting new SF&F in print and on air; a talk about the Adelaide Uni SF Association, formed fifty years ago in 1971; and an assortment of podcasters to talk about their art. Add a few games, a reading of The Frankenstein Burlesque and time to chat with fellow fans in a virtual bar or two, and it should be an interesting day.

If you are interested in attending, or have an idea for a talk or panel you’d like to see, please contact roman (, We’re also looking for volunteers to host the zoom and welcome guests (in one hour shifts, training provided).

Login details:

Time: Sunday Jan 31, 2021 12noon Adelaide, 12:30pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 860 1369 3109
Passcode: MassCon

Draft programme as at wed 27th below: updates posted here.

Time (Adelaide)The FoyerMunden’sCallahan’sSpace barThe PatioThe loungeThe BronzeTaffey’s
12 noonOpening welcome (15mins)       
12:20  New Written SF
with Kate Treloar, Tony Thomas, Roman Orszanski, ??? (40mins)
1pm “Afrofuturism, Speculative Fiction, genre boundaries and interfaces”:
Eugen Bacon (30mins)
1:40   Quiz (movies) (20min)    
2pm  Early days at AUSFA
2021 is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Adelaide Uni SF Association (AUSFA), we thought it might be interesting to have a panel on the origins of AUSFA.

Alan Sandercock, Jeff Harris, Joy Window??, along with a few fans from later years. 40mins
2:40   Treasure Hunt (20min)     
3pm From Fan to Pro:John D Berry (30mins)      
3:40 A True Tale
Adam tells us about a very old SF story: Widely hailed as the first science fiction story, A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata is a voyage to the edges of the universe and reason. The title is the first clue that this will be a tall tale. 40mins
4:20   QuizSteampunk tea party/panel 40 mins   
5pm  Best new SF on TV
Terry Frost & Roman Orszanski & ??40 mins
6pm Audio/radio drama
Roman + ?? looks at some of the interesting audio pieces out and about 30mins
6:40 Jewish SF in Australia
Gillian Polack (30 mins)
7:30pm  Podcasting
David Grigg [Two Chairs Talking], John Coxon [Octothorpe], Terry Frost [Martian Drive-In/Paleo-Cinema], Christina Lake [This Never Happens] and Roman Orszanski [KRAM-StuFf] talk about how & why they podcast. 40mins
8:20 New Doctor Who Panel:
Chris Pyman, Karen Carlisle ???? 40mins
9pm   Frankenstein Burlesque
A reading of the script from 1864 We are looking for volunteers to help with the reading…
Draft Program for Mass Con ’21 4:20pm Wed 27th Jan

Upcoming titles in 2021

Liz Bourke, in her recent Sleeps with Monsters column, lists some highly anticipated new titles, including:

Winter’s Orbit by Everine Maxwell (February 2)
Two princes have to make an arranged marriage work, or their empire will fall. Secrets, lies, misunderstandings, romance, and space opera politics. I read an advance copy of this accomplished debut, and I look forward to seeing it out in the world.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard (February 9)
I read an advance copy of Fireheart Tiger, a new standalone fantasy novella from the author of Tea Master and the Detective and In the Vanishers’ Palace, and yes, 2021 is sure to be improved by it. A jewel of a novella, concerned with power and affection, colonialism and independence, and complicated interpersonal interactions, it’s a delight to read.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine (March 2)
Sequel to the award-winning A Memory Called Empire, A Desolation Called Peace revisits Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass as a crisis on the Teixcalaanli empire’s borders—and on the borders of Lsel Station—calls for diplomatic skills. Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is faced with an alien threat that she can’t communicate with and that she can’t easily destroy. Mahit and Three Seagrass share an impossible task while negotiating the boundaries of an empire that, like all empires, is difficult to work for without being consumed by.

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (April 27)
Murderbot and a murder mystery. Who in the world could turn that down?

— read the full list at Sleeps With Monsters: Most Anticipated Books For 2021 at

interzone taken over by PS Publishing

PS Publishing has announced that it will take over publication of Interzone magazine from TTA Press, which also produces the Black Static and Crimewave magazines. Ian Whates of NewCon Press will replace Andy Cox as editor.

PS co-founder Peter Crowther said, “The call came on the Saturday before Christmas Day, from Andy Cox, Main Man of Interzone magazine who wanted to know if I fancied taking on IZ’s production reins, thereby giving Andy a well-earned break.”

— Locus Online,

MassCon 2021: end of January

As in previous years, we’re holding a small one-day convention to review and repeat some of the talks we had over the past year. The only difference is that this time, it will be online via zoom.

So if you have any bright ideas, talks you’d like to revisit, workshops you’d enjoy, or games you want to play, get in touch. We’re looking for ideas for talks, panels, discussions, games and workshops. And, of course, people to help organise the event!

Crit Mass on Fanzines: Sat Dec 19th

As part of our end-of-year celebrations, Critical Mass is convening a zoom panel on Fanzines.
At 8pm Sat Dec 19th (Adelaide time), we will convene a zoom panel with guests from overseas to discuss the intriguing world of fan magazines. The panel features Bruce Gillespie, Alison Scott, Christina Lake and LynC, with Roman as moderator. Come along, listen to the panel, ask awkward questions and satisfy your curiousity.

Details of zoom login:

Meeting ID: 824 6710 5925
Passcode: 420646

Panel starts at 8pm Saturday Adelaide time, 8:30pm Melbourne time,
9:30am London time and 1:30am San Francisco

A miscellany of fanzines