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Steam Engine Time

 Why Steam Engine Time?

If human thought is a growth, like all other growths, its logic is without foundation of its own, and is only the adjusting constructiveness of all other growing things. A tree cannot find out, as it were, how to blossom, until comes blossom-time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until steam-engine time.

Charles Fort, Lo!

Steam Engine Time was born in the fevered minds of Paul Kincaid and Maureen Kincaid Speller (from England) and Bruce Gillespie during Aussiecon 3 in September 1999. We aimed to specialise in longer articles about science fiction and fantasy literature, rather than short reviews. Paul edited the first three issues in England, after which he and Maureen changed the direction of their personal and professional lives. It seemed as if Steam Engine Time had died by 2002.

During 2004, Bruce Gillespie and US fanzine editor/publisher Jan Stinson began discussing SET. Jan said, ‘Hey, let’s bring it back!’ and Bruce also said, ‘Let’s do it!’ Paul and Maureen, unable to join the effort, generously gave their consent to let the mad American and the slightly-off-kilter Aussie get SET back on track.

Steam Engine Time was then jointly edited by Bruce Gillespie and Jan Stinson. Nos 11 and 12 appeared during 2011, and No 13 appeared in 2012. All issues are available in electronic form at\ . Some printed copies are still available, at $60 for 5.

In 2012, Jan Stinson found that she had to retire as an editor, so Bruce Gillespie decided to shut down the magazine with No 13. However, No 14, including an index to the magazine and final letters of comment, should appear soon.

Science fiction

 A radio serial, The Moon Flower by G. K. Saunders, broadcast on the ABC Children’s Session in 1952 or 1953, began my interest in science fiction. I didn’t realise it was ‘science fiction’, but I knew I wanted more of the same: stories that got people up and off dull old Earth. During my first years at school I read huge amounts of children’s fantasy, but the first books I discovered that I now realise are ‘science fiction’ were Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘Mars’ books (John Carter didn’t need a spaceship; he just stared at Mars in the sky, thought great thoughts, and suddenly he was there. Dry sea bottoms, flying ships, thoats and beautiful princesses). I read all the ‘Mars’ books twice before I was eleven (1958). At our library, I discovered real SF at the age of twelve, with Philip K. Dick’s first novel Solar Lottery (called World of Chance in the British abbreviated edition). The same year, I discovered the SF magazines (the English New Worlds and Science Fiction Adventures). The rot had set in.

I’ve wanted to edit magazines since primary school days. In 1961, when I was in Year 9 (Form 3), my friend Ron Sheldon suggested we publish a magazine together. His father had a duplicator, and both of us had access to typewriters. In the summer of 1960-61 I taught myself to touch-type. We published 26 issues in 1961. Where are you these days, Ron?

In 1963 or 1964 I read Lin Carter’s columns about fandom in If magazine. He described the world of fanzine publishing. I knew what I wanted to do — publish magazines that included what I wanted to write. In 1968, thanks to John Bangsund and Leigh Edmonds, I published my first magazine in ANZAPA, and in 1969 began publishing SF Commentary.

The Melbourne SF Club was the centre of all SF activity in Melbourne when in early 1968 I joined fandom and became involved with the people who published Australian Science Fiction Review (John Foyster, John Bangsund and Lee Harding). Merv Binns, president, secretary and librarian of the Club, imported American books that could not officially be bought anywhere else in Australia. The Club library was already huge. And the Club’s headquarters was the old McGill’s storage loft in Somerset Place, a back alley of Melbourne, the ideal refuge for SF dropouts from the rest of Melbourne’s sports-mad culture.

My first science fiction convention was the 1968 Melbourne SF Conference, as it was called, held at the Melbourne SF Clubrooms and a scout hall in Boronia. I knew almost nobody. The only person I talked to was David Penman, representing the Melbourne Grammar SF Club, who in recent years has became Jim Penman, the bearded boss of Jim’s franchises.


Most people know me for SF Commentary, whose first issue appeared in January 1969. It had three Hugo nominations and a fair few Ditmar wins. I began The Metaphysical Review in 1984, but it hasn’t appeared for awhile. I’ve been a member of ANZAPA (Australia and New Zealand Amateur Publishing Association) since 1968, and was a member of Acnestis, the British apa for fans who (still) read, from 1995 to 2006. I was also a member of FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association, the grandaddy apa of them all) from 1984 to 1994. In 2000 I began Steam Engine Time with ace British fans Paul Kincaid and Maureen Kincaid Speller, but it seemed to have fizzle out until Michigan fan Jan Stinson suggested we revive it.

To me, fanzine publishing is the one true pleasure left in life. It is also an expensive pleasure, which is why I get to indulge infrequently. Fortunately, the great Bill Burns has set up a website where any fan is welcome to post his or her fanzine in PDF format. Most of my fanzines published since 1991 are already there.

From 1975 and 1985, Carey Handfield, Rob Gerrand and I formed Norstrilia Press, a cooperative to publish books, especially SF, that were not likely to find a publisher elsewhere in Australia. Our most successful publications included The Plains and Landscape with Landscape by Gerald Murnane, Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd, edited by Bruce Gillespie, Greg Egan’s first novel An Unusual Angle, and George Turner’s In the Heart or in the Head, his literary memoir. Our one book of poetry was Roger Zelazny’s When Pussywillows Late in the Catyard Bloomed. Small quantities of some of these books are still available, and Gerald Murnane’s books have been since reprinted.

About Gillespie & Cochrane

Gillespie and Cochrane Pty Ltd (ABN 42 005 425 749) was established in 1992 to provide editing, proofreading, indexing, writing and other publishing services to a wide range of clients.

We are Bruce Gillespie and Elaine Cochrane.

Between us we have over 70 years of experience in editing. Bruce became a professional editor in 1971 and went freelance in 1974. Elaine started as a proofreader in 1982, became a fulltime editor in 1984, and went freelance in 1992. At various times we have also been typesetters; we are no longer in that field, but our experience informs our services as editors, proofreaders and indexers.

To enquire about our services, email us here.

Bruce Gillespie

Bruce Gillespie (BA, DipEd) earns his living as an indexer and writer.

Since 1969, Bruce has been known as a publisher of magazines about science fiction, fantasy and other subjects that interest him. These magazines have never turned a profit, but have kept him in contact with the Australian and worldwide SF community for nearly 50 years. His magazines include SF Commentary (begun 1969), The Metaphysical Review (1984), Steam Engine Time (with international co-editors) (2000-2011), and *brg* and other small-circulation magazines since 1968. Bruce has also written many reviews and articles about SF and other subjects, and was a partner (with Carey Handfield and Rob Gerrand) in Norstrilia Press (1975-1985), one of the first SF small presses in Australia. The SF world has been kind enough to give Bruce many awards over the years, including 17 Ditmar (Australian SF Achievement) Awards, three Hugo (World SF Achievement) Award nominations, the position of  Fan Guest of Honour at the 1999 World Convention (Aussiecon 3, held in Melbourne), the A. Bertram Chandler Award (2006) and the Peter McNamara Award (2007), each for lifetime achievement, and a trip to America (the Bring Bruce Bayside Fund, 2004-05) financed by donations from fans throughout the world.

Elaine Cochrane

Elaine Cochrane  (BSc (Hons)) specialises in editing maths, science and medical books, but she is happy to edit and proofread almost any area of non-fiction.

Web diva for this site: Jean Hollis Weber