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Norstrilia Press Norstrilia Press i(A37252 works by) (Organisation) assertion
Born: Established: 1975 ; Died: Ceased: 1989
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BiographyHistory

Founded in Melbourne in 1975 to coincide with the first Aussiecon world science fiction convention Norstrila Press was a pioneering publisher of science fiction in Australia. The idea for the press came from its founders, Bruce Gillespie and Carey Hanfield in response to the difficulties they and their peers had in raising money to keep publishing SF Commentary (SFC). They wrote to Genevieve Linebarger, the widow of Paul Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith), and gained permission to use the name 'Norstrilia,' the name he gave to his fictional world Old North Australia. Rob Gerrand joined the team about a year later.

The first publications to be released were the Aussiecon I Souvenir Book and the non-fiction essay collection Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd (1975) which comprised all the material Gillespie had published in SF Commentary about Dick. It also featured an introduction by Roger Zelazny, a cover by Irene Pagram, and articles and letters by people such as Stanislaw Lem, George Turner, and Phil Dick himself. The press was initially funded in part through donations by fans and science fiction writers - mostly from Sydney and Melbourne.

For its first few years the entire output of original science fiction from Norstrilia was short fiction. In 1976 the press published The Altered I. Edited by Lee Harding, and containing stories from an Australian writing workshop led by Ursula LeGuin, it was the first anthology to be published by a local SF small press. It had a print run of 2,000 in Australia and was later republished in the USA. Sean McMullen tl)writes in his 1993 Eidolon essay: 'While it is probably fair to say that much of the SF in The Altered I was promising but generally lightweight, it did make people aware that there were no fundamental barriers to Australians writing good SF' ("Suffer," n. pag.). View From The Edge (edited by George Turner%2b4)) was published in 1977 with the assistance of the Literature Board. Comprising. Comprising stories from a second writers' workshop (run by Vonda McIntyre and Christopher Priest), two of its stories received Ditmar nominations.

In 1979 Norstrilia (and the Literature Board) assisted a mainstream small press, Outback, in publishing the anthology Transmutations, edited by Rob Gerrand. That same year the press published Keith Antill's Moon in the Ground, the first novel from an Australian SF small press. It was nominated for a Ditmar the following year.

By the early 1980s Norstrilia was starting to blur the boundaries of genre fiction. Sean McMullen notes that of their 14 books 'only six qualify as original SF: four were poetry, autobiography or criticism, and the remaining four novels could be better classed as mainstream fiction using genre icons and devices.' He further argues that Damien Broderick's The Dreaming Dragons "was the closest that Norstrilia ever got to the leading edge of SF as such" ("Suffering," n. pag.). In 1983 Greg Egan%5d%5d)'s An Unusual Angle and the anthology Dreamworks (edited by David King) were published. The book did well for Norstrilia, selling about about 600 copies (which was enough to cover costs when added to its Literature Board grant), while one of its stories won a Ditmar award.

In 1984 Norstrilia published George Turner's autobiography In The Heart Or In The Head (it won the 1984 William Atheling Award). The following year, Bruce Gillespie won the Ditmar Award for Best Australian SF or Fantasy Editor. Although Norstrilia's titles had been selling reasonably well up to this time, 1985 also marked the publication of press' last book - Gerald Murnane's Landscape Within Landscape. McMullen indicates that the problem was partly amount of time required to run the press. 'Hanfield got married and became a father a little later in the decade - one of the surest ways possible to renounce the time needed to run a small press - and Gillespie and Gerrand also began spending more time with their private lives and careers. He also notes that 'the Literature Board had a shift of emphasis in the allocation of grants in the second half of the Eighties' which had a marked impact on Norstrilia. 'Bear in mind that two-thirds of Norstrilia's books... had Literature Board assistance and [that it] had to sell about twice as many books about three times faster just to stay where [it] was' ("Suffer," n. pag.).

Most Referenced Works

Personal Awards

1984 shortlisted Ditmar Awards Australian SF or Fantasy Editor For Bruce Gillespie, Corey Handfield, and Rob Gerrand, via Norstrilia Press.
1983 shortlisted Ditmar Awards Australian SF or Fantasy Editor For Bruce Gillespie, Corey Handfield, and Rob Gerrand, via Norstrilia Press.
Last amended 12 Jun 2014 13:09:25
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