'The Time-Ball Tower of Tempuston houses the worst criminals in history. Given the option of the death penalty or eternal life, they chose eternal life. They have a long time to regret that choice.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'An almost deserted town in the middle of nowhere, Nebulah's days of mining and farming prosperity – if they ever truly existed – are long gone. These days even the name on the road sign into town has been removed. Yet for Pete, an ex-policeman, Milly, Li and a small band of others, it's the only place they have ever felt at home.
'One winter solstice, a strange residual and mysterious mist arrives, that makes even birds disappear. It is a real and potent force, yet also strangely emblematic of the complacency and unease that afflicts so many of our small towns, and the country that Murphy knows so well.
'Partly inspired by the true story of Wittenoom, the ill-fated West Australia asbestos town, Soon is the story of the death of a haunted town, and the plight of the people who either won’t, or simply can’t, abandon all they have ever had. With finely wrought characters and brilliant plotting, it is a taut and original novel, where the people we come to know, and those who are drawn to the town's intrigue, must ultimately fight for survival.' (Publication summary)
'There are many grief holes.
'There's the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.
'There's another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.
'And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre.
'Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love.
'Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you'll die by the spirits haunting you. If you'll drown, she'll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women.
'She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn't let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'My brother stumbles through the back gate while I'm still in the hen-house, plucking smooth, warm eggs from dirty straw.' (Introduction)
In a future Australia, Chi suffers from PTSD. But when a doctor offers to remove the bad memories, he refuses.
'The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials. Look to your pride: it will eat you alive.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'Caroline’s son returns to home and hearth at last. She’s a good parent or so she tells herself. She did everything a mother could to bring Simon back, even lied for him. The only problem is that Caroline’s not sure she actually wants him here anymore.
'Has Simon changed? Or is he still a danger? And does it matter now that the shadows are beginning to stir in the empty rooms of Caroline’s house?'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'The setting: 1932, Razorhurst. Two competing mob bosses - Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson - have reached a fragile peace.
'Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.
'Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson's 'best girl'. She knows the highs and lows of life, but she doesn't know what this day has in store for her.
'When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna's latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie's new protector. But Dymphna's life is in danger too and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy's ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living.
'Gloriana Nelson's kingdom is crumbling and Mr Davidson is determined to have all of Razorhurst - including Dymphna. As loyalties shift and betrayal threatens at every turn, Dymphna and Kelpie are determined to survive what is becoming a day with a high body count.' (Publication summary)
'A girl with anime hair. A boy with a sketchbook. A forest possessed.
With a motley pack of possibly imaginary friends watching over her, Isola Wilde feels safe, loved. But even her protectors can't save her from the anguish of watching her mother's illness take over their house. Friends Grape and James help her to feel normal. New boy Edgar makes her forget for a while. But always Isola comes back to wondering: will I be next? The ghost at the window would steal Isola's last breath, and it will take all of Isola's strength to stop her.
As her magical world collides with the real one, Isola strikes a Faustian deal with a cute and fluffy gargoyle to protect herself from the fairytale evils of her world.'
'Two sisters. One wish. Unimaginable consequences. Not all fairytales are for children.
'Antoinette and Jacqueline have little in common beyond a mutual antipathy for their paranoid, domineering mother, a bond which has united them since childhood. In the aftermath of a savage betrayal, Antoinette lands on her sister’s doorstep bearing a suitcase and a broken heart. But Jacqueline, the ambitious would-be manager of a trendy Melbourne art gallery, has her own problems – chasing down a delinquent painter in the sweltering heat of a Brisbane summer. Abandoned, armed with a bottle of vodka and her own grief-spun desires, Antoinette weaves a dark and desperate magic that can never, ever be undone.
'Their lives swiftly unravelling, the two sisters find themselves drawn into a tangle of lies, manipulations and the most terrible of family secrets.'
(Publisher's blurb: Twelfth Planet Press)
'Zed has been haunted by the disappearance of a teacher who went missing not long after Zed brought the oddest item for 'show and tell' to school. Now 23, Zed decides to take matters into his own hands and goes out to search for answers. His search takes him to the small town of Sky, somewhere north-west of Sydney. It's known for its 'Cat Food Factory'. It is here that he meets a number of very strange individuals and undergoes experiences that will change him forever... and not for the better.'
'Alex doesn't know what he wants to do, how to connect with people or what's good for him. He drifts his way through dead-end jobs and fumbled relationships, unable to find a way out of the rut his life has become. Then he runs into Madigan Sargood and everything changes.
'A ray of light shining from an almost-forgotten past, Madigan is beautiful and impulsive, enigmatic and passionate beyond measure. This is what it means to live, Alex realises, and to love. Never mind that she can be somewhat possessive. Never mind that his best friend thinks there's something wrong with her, something dangerous even. Never mind that the creepy band of misfits she attracts have all but taken over his home. Madigan fills Alex's life with significance; he will put up with anything to be with her.
'Until, without any warning, she kills herself.
'Now Alex can't seem to get her out of his head, and his world - along with his sanity - begins to disintegrate. Black outs and missing time, conversations he can't recall, people he can't remember. Is this the product of a diseased and lovesick mind, or can Madigan really be trying to communicate with him?
'When the past threatens to obliterate the future, Alex is forced to take action. To save himself and those he loves, he must discover the sinister reason why Madigan took her own life - and why she won't lie still in her grave.' (From the publisher's website.)
In a future Australia ruled by criminal cartels, women are vastly outnumbered by men, leading men to go to haunting lengths to procure (and subsequently utterly control) a wife. One of Paul Haines's most anthologised works, 'Wives' is also rather contentious for the brutality of the world that it shows.Joint winner with 'Slice of Life - a Spot of Liver', also written by Paul Haines.
'Shannon and Rohan Scott have retreated to their family's cabin in the Australian bush to escape a virus-ravaged world. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there's nothing he doesn't know about his older brother, or himself - until a stranger slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns.
'Reluctantly the brothers take the young woman into their fold, and the dynamic within the cabin shifts. Possessiveness takes hold, loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.' (From the publisher's website.)
Jamie is plunged into the horrific alternative universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between hell and earth from which humankind's greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place peopled by the gruesome, grotesque and monstrous, where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself - for when he applies the white paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead... (back cover)Joint winner with Edwina Grey's Prismatic.
'In the newly-formed penal colony of Sydney, plague and starvation are a constant threat. But this time isolation has a more sinister edge. In 1919, a reclusive Sydney doctor with a dark history and a fear of treating patients is drawn into a situation beyond even his control. Beneath the bustling noise of present-day Sydney, Jacqueline's accidental discovery while on an archeological dig unearths more than just a rotting corpse.'
Source: Back cover.Joint winner with Will Elliott's The Pilo Family Circus.
'Lee Battersby’s "Pater Familias" is an example of the flash fiction medium at its best. In it, a retired surgeon meets with a young visitor and describes an archaic form of late-term abortion called "craniotomy" .... The story moves with a crackling economy of language and, when its inevitable surprise ending appears, it’s not as a punchline-style twist, but as a slowly dawning sense of horror that will leave you gutted' (Tim Kroenert, Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus).
This darkly comic story takes place in 1894, 'and tells of a Hungarian bank clerk, Basil Smorta, who falls hopelessly in lust with Volusia, aka 'the Australian Songbird'. He follows her across Europe in company with a group of Fundamental Darwinists led by Lord Malicide Sain. They pursue their 'Black Crusade' at first by cart and carriage, then in Ingel Brankel's Mobilator. One bizarre and gruesome adventure follows another. The Ordeal of the Five Senses in the monks' lavabo, the excruciating apotheosis of Brother Dragorian, the doting love of the Love-Vampires, the bomb-throwing police force of Orblast, the sleep-tranced villagers in Morbol Villica and the sarcophagus of the Great One, the legendary marquis himself.'
Source: Author website http://www.richardharland.net/ (Sighted 07/01/2010)
'A great Gothic tale revisited. In Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the monster's unfinished "bride" is destroyed by Dr Frankenstein and cast into the sea. But what if she had survived? What if she had gone on to seek out her maker, her origins, her would-be husband?
Madeleine Sauvage is a creature with a beautiful face attached to a grotesquely assembled body. She has a loving heart but a murderous hand, and a heart-wrenching longing to belong. Born of the sea, Madeleine begins a journey that takes her from Scotland, through revolutionary France, to Frankenstein's door and beyond. Her search ends in a sense where it began: with Mary Shelley, the true author of her soul. And it is at Mary's deathbed that she confesses all, about her life, her love, and her need for revenge... '
Source: Publisher's blurb.
'When an author sits down to write the linking pieces for the stories in his new book, planning to do it by the hours of the night observed by medieval scholars, he is interrupted by phonecalls from his eccentric yet harmless friend, Raymond, a former mental patient with whom he shares some curious notions about the perceived world. At first casual and interested, even helpful, these calls soon become increasingly tense and strange, until the author realizes that what started out as an innocent fun idea - a shared all-night vigil on the autumn Equinox - is actually serving some other vital purpose, becoming by stages part therapy, party incantatory process, part vindication of those very theories which will change forever the way he sees the world.' (Source: bookseller's website.)