Snapshot 2014: Ion Newcombe

ion newcombe of antipodeansfION ‘NUKE” NEWCOMBE is the editor of AntipodeanSF, and the AntipodeanSF Radio Show. He is also an on-air presenter, tech-head, resident sceptic, and secretary at community radio 2NVR, the ‘Best Little Station in the Nation’. On weekdays Nuke manages his own editorial, website and IT business in Nambucca Heads on the mid-north coast of NSW. On weekends he goofs off with the best of them, and occasionally writes really odd stories of his own.
 

1. You are approaching 200 issues of AntipodeanSF. What drew you to start it, and what keeps you doing it?

AntipodeanSF was first conceived in mid 1997 as a publication venue for Down Under authors seeking worldwide exposure on the internet, and as a venue for me to hone my own editorial skills. I didn’t think computer monitors of the day were good enough for readers to stick with longer stories. Short-short stories (as they were known back then) of about 500 words seemed the ideal length. As the magazine grew month by month I discovered a lurking love of the editorial process, and AntipodeanSF became the launchpad for many first-time authors. Similarly, many of those authors came back to AntiSF from time to time with new contributions of what came to be known as flash fiction.

Over the years the e-zine has continued to work with and publish new authors, mostly from the southern hemisphere, with a continued focus on stories that turn notions of ‘what if’ on their head. Editing is still my passion. Helping writers wrangle their words into the best story possible is my reward, whether it’s making suggestions to a specfic seasoned writer or newbie.

 
2. You’ve added a radio show to the website — a sign of the rise of the podcast/audio book? Has that caused you any challenges or exposed you to some unexpected joys?

The idea behind the AntipodeanSF Radio Show lurked in my mind for years, from well before podcasting became popular. I have been a radio enthusiast since childhood, have had my amateur radio licence for many years, and I produced and presented my first show on community radio 3MDR in the Dandenong Ranges back in the early 1980s.

After my move from Melbourne to the Mid-North coast of NSW, I lived remotely and did not get involved in local radio. Nevertheless, as computer technology became more and more capable of handling audio, I put forward the idea of audio story production to some of AntiSF‘s writers and readers in March 2001. Our first audio story, published online along with the on-screen version, was ‘The Visitor’ by Garry Dean, in Issue 40 of AntipodeanSF, online in June 2001. I did not receive much feedback about the audio, and temporarily shelved the idea — for 10 years as it turned out.

In the meantime, I moved closer to a centre of civilisation on the coast and involved myself in 2NVR, Nambucca Valley Radio. I started a Sunday evening program called Scientifiction. That and the continued success of AntipodeanSF, along with the rise of podcasting, led to the compilation of The first AntipodeanSF Radio Show in April 2011. It went to air and podcast in May, and has continued since.

Because of my long involvement in radio and my background in electronics engineering, the challenges in producing the radio show are mainly organisational — getting the audio from authors or narrators, finding narrators, and in finding the time to compile the shows.

As for joys, presenting stories in the best way possible, particularly as narrated by each author, is reward without measure.

 
3. Do you think Aussie writers have found a wider audience in the time you started the site, partly with a view to broadening their exposure?

I do. This was always one of the aims of AntipodeanSF. Unfortunately, I can only measure that notion with anecdotal evidence from Aussie writers who have since gone on to publish in wider markets. I believe that at least 20–30 writers with first-time publication credits with AntipodeanSF have gone on to publish in the wider marketplace. Many of the names that graced the early pages of AntipodeanSF now appear in the pages of professional or semi-professional speculative magazines, novels and story collections.

 
4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

A list, then:

  • Magic Dirt — Sean Williams (collection)
  • The Cuckoo‘ — Sean Williams (short story in Clarkesworld)
  • Everything is a Graveyard — Jason Fischer (collection)
  • The Bride Price — Cat Sparks (collection)
  • The Bone Chime Song — Jo Anderton (collection)

    Are you getting the idea that I like short fiction yet?

  • Dimension6, Issue 1 — Spec fic magazine from Coeur De Lion, particularly ‘Ryder’ by Richard Harland, and ‘The Preservation Society’ by Jason Nahrung (cheers, Ion! from an AntiSF alumni) therein.
  • Lexicon — Max Barry

    And all of the stories in AntipodeanSF, of course.

     
    5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

    Rather than directly influencing the way I work, I see changes in the publication industry as more influencing the forms in which AntipodeanSF is now produced. The rise in the popularity of mobile computing devices, such as dedicated e-readers, smartphones and tablets introduced the need for the website to be small-screen friendly, and ushered in the introduction of AntipodeanSF in modern e-book formats.

    But to address the first part of the question more directly, I also now store all of the submission queue of AntiSF stories and do the editing, organising, and production of radio scripts etc ‘in the cloud’, so that I am not tied to single computer.

    I envisage working and publishing in a similar way in the coming years, with more focus on electronic publications, the podcast/radio show, and in the promotion of AntipodeanSF via social media.

    AntipodeanSF will continue to be the publication where speculative flash fiction belongs …

     

    2014 aussie spec fiction snapshot

    * * *

    THIS interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian speculative fiction. We’re blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at:

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