This typically whimsical sketch by great Australian artist and illustrator Shaun Tan adorns the cover of Aussiecon 4 Progress Report #2, celebrating the fact that Shaun is one of three Guests of Honour at this year’s 68th World Science Fiction Convention, which is being held in Melbourne on the 2nd to the 6th of September. The other Guests of Honour are American SF writer Kim Stanley Robinson (known for such books as Red Mars, Green Mars and The Wild Shore) and Robin Johnson, who has been a major figure in Australian fandom for nearly four decades.
Having the Worldcon in Australia is always a major boost to local writers and speculative fiction enthusiasts generally, and has in the past heralded an upsurge in the genres. With so many Australian authors already riding a wave of popularity, prospects for the future really do look good.
Meanwhile Shaun Tan has just added to his already staggering list of honours by winning the children’s category Festival Award for Literature in Adelaide on Sunday, as well the Premier’s Award. If you’ve seen his books — such as The Rabbits, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing, The Arrival and Tales from Outer Suburbia — then his presence at Aussiecon should be incentive enough to get you signing up. If you haven’t, then do yourself a favour and check them out at once — then sign up for Aussiecon 4.
Back before he was famous, Shaun illustrated the first story I sold to the Australian SF magazine Aurealis (in 1991) — “Groundswell” — and subsequently several others, and every one of those illustrations was informed, thoughtful and beautifully rendered. His work since then has been literally breathtaking.