Ian Mond is notable for being one of the last of the great Jewish podcasters (cf Josh Kinal, Alisa Krasnostein). His solo podcasts Writer and the Critic and Shooting The Poo not only demonstrate a breadth of knowledge on a vast array of subjects, but also an astonishing vocal flexibility – who knew that Kirstyn McDermott, Mitch and Dave Hoskin were just facets of Mond’s personality.He also wrote a couple of Doctor Who and Bernice Summerfield short stories, but no-one talks about them much.
1. The Writer and the Critic has become an integral part of the Aussie spec fic scene very fast – and you don’t even talk about spec fic books all the time! What does podcasting offer you, as a social medium or a creative one?
Thanks, it’s nice to feel integral.
As a social medium podcasting provides me with an excuse to catch up with Kirstyn every month. Which I know sounds like I don’t make enough time for my friends – but, well, that’s actually the truth.
I’ve also enjoyed the twitter exchanges directly following a podcast, usually involving Cheryl Morgan, Charles Tan and Jonathan Strahan (in the case of Jonathan it’s usually bemoaning how long the podcast is). The chat on the twitters makes the podcast feel alive and organic and part of a real time dialogue between us and the people who listen.
From a creative perspective, well it might be laziness on my part, but I’ve discovered that I love talking about books rather than writing reviews about them. And if you’re talking about a book with someone whose intelligent (and possibly smarter than you) then it just makes the experience all the more interesting and thought provoking.
2. You’re now a part of the Last Short Story crew – how has reading so much international short fiction changed your perspective on the SF scene?
I’m not sure it has. That’s because I’m not sure I had a specific perspective or prejudice when I started reading for LSS. That said, if I did have one expectation going in, it was expecting to hate a whole bunch of stories. But what I’ve discovered is that while the truly brilliant story is a rare thing, most of the fiction I read last year and this year is at the very least mildly entertaining and competently written. Yeah, I know that’s damning with the faintest of praise, but I did expect there to be far more stories I’d be unable to finish. And that’s not been the case.
Also, I think I’m in love with Ken Liu.
3. Writers tend to get most of the attention in the spec fic scene, unless there’s a flame war going on… what are your goals as a critic? What would you most like to achieve over the next couple of years?
That’s so true about critics only getting noticed, flame war style, if they say something controversial or rude about a book. Even the best critics out there – a number of whom you’ll find on Strange Horizons – get very few comments.
At the moment, I’m pretty content with voicing my literary /genre opinions on The Writer and the Critic and the Last Short Story blog. At some point, when I have some time and am able to read more books then just those for the podcast, I may go back to actually writing reviews again. Actually, I have been thinking of dropping out of LSS in 2014 (sorry guys… ) and spending that year just reading and reviewing novels of all stripes and persuasions.
But we shall see.
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?
The Couriers New Bicycle by Kim Westwood is fantastic, both for its gender politics and its dystopian Melbourne. It’s also the sort of book that needs be taught in schools across the world.
Bad Power by Deb Biancotti made me wish she had a novel out set in the same world. Actually, any novel by her will do.
Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa Hannett. I did a happy dance when I saw that Lisa had won two Aurealis awards a week or so back. I also think the collection – and not a single dud story to be found – deserved more Ditmar-love.
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan. This book is going to be cropping up on a whole lot of awards lists next year and deservedly so. It should also win a bunch of those awards.
5. Two years on from Aussiecon 4, (and the last Snapshot) what do you think are some of the biggest changes to the Australian Spec Fic scene?
Two words: gender recognition. Not parity. Not equality. But recognition. In my opinion these last two years have seen Australian fandom and genre literature lead the way in terms of recognizing the substantial role female writers, publishers and administrators play in the local scene. And this has been emphasized in the recent Ditmar and Aurealis award ballots.
Arguably this recognition started before Aussiecon 4, but it’s definitely been cemented in the last two years. And may it continue.
This interview was conducted as part of the 2012 Aussie Spec Fic Snapshot. In the lead up to Continuum 8 in Melbourne, we will be blogging interviews for Snapshot 2012 conducted by Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Ian Mond, Jason Nahrung, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Tehani Wessely and Sean Wright. To read the interviews hot off the press, check these blogs daily from June 1 to June 7, 2012.