THIS ALL COME BACK NOW
Introduction by Mykaela Saunders
There were only a few ways to find new music when I was a teenager, growing up in a small town in a pre-internet world.
I found old music easily enough, flipping through the old girl’s records and listening to them with headphones plugged in to the speakers in the lounge room, studying the cover art and liner notes and lyrics as I sang along. But finding new music was a different, more difficult quest. There were not yet any music blogs to scour or YouTube rabbit holes to get lost in. Radio sucked, even the few alternative stations that we picked up in Tweed. I was too poor to just go out and buy albums whenever I wanted, and CDs were pretty hard to flog, so if I wanted an album I had to be sure I loved it, to justify spending my meagre, illegal wages I earnt cooking brekky at the local markets.
And so mixtapes and compilation CDs were my gateways to finding new music that excited and moved me.
I loved receiving the gift of a mixtape made by someone whose taste I relied on to open up my world. I could count how many of these people I absolutely trusted on one hand: mostly older, cooler mates, and my older brother. I loved making my own mixtapes too: the craft of taping songs off other songs, nailing the precise timing of starting and pausing, and carefully transcribing the song list – sometimes whiting-out an old tape sleeve that had already been whited-out and written on dozens of times over.
I found real joy and pride in making a mixtape that was coveted by people I respected. I loved the ritual of swapping mixtapes with others, always hoping to hell that you all recorded the song names and artists accurately, and wrote them down in the correct order of their position on the playlist, lest you begin telling people how much you love the wrong band. There was no greater shame than in being a poser.
Later on, I discovered small punk and metal labels that would put out compilation CDs seasonally, to showcase forthcoming samples from their bands. There were music magazines that did this too. And when I belatedly got the internet, I found blogs dedicated to making playlists of seminal bands in whatever genre you could think of. Thank god for all of these pedlars and purveyors of new music; listening to their offerings felt like being at some mythical overseas music festival where you could check out hundreds of bands and find new favourites from the comfort of home. These compilations were hit and miss, but sometimes it felt like a powerful and prescient god had tapped into your mind and curated this gift especially to your tastes.
Short story anthologies are like mixtapes, and I want you to think of this book as a burnt CD from me to you, a way for you to sample new worlds, a mishmash of styles gathered together that speak to similar themes, and an opportunity to find exciting writers you might not have otherwise come across.
In 2004, Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehan edited the anthology So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial science fiction and fantasy. In 2012, Anishinaabe scholar Grace L Dillon edited Walking the Clouds: An anthology of Indigenous science fiction. I read both North American anthologies in 2016 and they excited me so much they set me off on my current path of researching and writing my own speculative fiction (spec fic), in both creative and critical work.
Closer to home, over the last few years we’ve seen a rising tide of ‘un-Australian futurism’ anthologies, and the more the merrier, I reckon – this is the way that nascent movements grow strong and interesting, and that new ideas and approaches begin to unfurl.
But until now we had yet to see an anthology of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander speculative fiction, written and edited entirely by us. And with the jaw-dropping cover art created by Jessica Johnson at Nungala Creative, and the book itself designed by the talented Jenna Lee, this has been a one-hundred-percent First Nations project (well, besides owning the means of production).
This is an edited extract from the introduction to This All Come Back Now edited by Mykaela Saunders and published by UQP, May 2022.
This All Come Back Now is available online and at your local Dymocks store.