Aurealis Award ceremony tickets now on sale

The Aurealis Awards for Australian speculative fiction will be awarded at a gala ceremony in Sydney on May 21. Tickets are now on sale, with earlybird discounts on offer. The venue looks fab!

Shortlists are due out soon. This will be the first year the awards will be presented in Sydney, following a stint in Brisbane which really saw the awards rise to being a calendar event.

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Librarians take HarperCollins to task

Here’s a video from a library in the US, suggesting that HarperCollins’ plan to limit e-book loans to 26 times (ie approximately a year’s worth of lending, based on a fortnight’s turnaround) before libraries have to re-buy the title is more than a little misguided. It’s interesting that libraries are reinventing themselves as not just providers of reading matter, but social hubs; publishers are struggling to reimagine their profit models in an e-age, so this won’t be the last bullet through the foot thanks to a trigger-happy beancounter.

With the ‘shelf life’ of e-books a factor, could libraries end up functioning like video libraries, where e-books are rented rather than loaned? Or should publishers simply forsake the income from backlist replacement copies, and be happy that their authors are getting exposure through the public lending system and hope that borrowings translate to purchasing? I wonder what types of inducements we’ll see added to e-books to encourage upgrading — deleted scenes? commentaries? maybe some discount coupons for the gorgeously bound hardcover collector’s edition?

Pseudo Echo love an adventure at the zoo

lion at melbourne zooThe lions enjoyed Pseudo Echo. At least, that’s how I interpreted the wonderful roars and coughs coming from the nearby enclosure while the veteran synth pop band sang the night down at Melbourne Zoo.

The zoo’s Twilight concert series proved the perfect accompaniment to a cloudless evening as we sprawled on the grass and munched on fair-priced and tasty Asian meals with pinot noir and cheese platter chasers.

Children gambolled in the dark as the crowd sang along to a parade of hits: ‘Listening’, ‘Love an Adventure’, ‘Funky Town’, ‘Living in a Dream’ and more. No sign of the ’80s hairdos, but the music was as vibrant and fun as ever, with a short-haired, bearded Brian Canham out front on vocals and guitar, and some wonderful drum work.

pseudo echo

Pseudo Echo at Melbourne Zoo

Before support The Hiding signalled it was time to hit the turf, unroll the picnic blanket and pop the cork, we had an hour and a half to wander a large portion of the zoo, taking in the giraffes, seals and aformentioned lions. It’s always a bittersweet visit, zoos: cats prowling their petty slice of turf, living the easy life but seeming to simply not belong behind the wire. The zoo is beautifully landscaped but, especially having seen many of the animals in the wild, I couldn’t help but feel a touch of sadness. It’s the price of conservation and, in some cases, preservation, I expect.

Regardless, it was great to Pseudo in the wild. Let’s hope they continue to prowl!

Rob Zombie truly animated in Melbourne

Rob Zombie headlined a Shockwave sideshow at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on Thursday night, unleashing an hour and a half of metal goodness in the suitably bare bones venue.

With a fence between our seated area and the central floor, it felt like being in a boxing arena — funny that — and it was left to Zombie to deliver the knock out performance on a bill including Dommin, Monster Magnet and Murderdolls.

Extra lights and three screens — a big one at the back and two smaller ones for the sides, showing horror movie montages and raunchy anime — were rolled out, along with a small raised stage from which Zombie held court. It was an impressive rig — there was even a mirror ball, and inflatable beach balls! — that set the mood for a thumping sound and entertaining act involving several costume changes for the four-piece band. Joey Jordison provided some impressive drum solos, John 5’s guitar laid the soundtrack for a crowd walkthrough.

The set list — a song for every year since Zombie last toured, he promised, so that’d be about 16 — went way back to White Zombie and came up to the present. Highlights included More Human than Human, Living Dead Girl, Dragula spearheading the encore, and the Grindhouse faux trailer for Werewolf Women of the SS.

The crowd showed the range of Zombie’s influence: rockabillies, rock pigs, metalheads, goths, and a higher proportion of female fans than what might usually be expected at a metal gig: all bouncing shoulder to shoulder. Wicked fun, wickedly entertaining.

Kirstyn on the Stoker ballot! Oh how Macabre!

macabre an anthology of australian horror stories

The finalists for the Bram Stoker horror awards have been announced, and Kirstyn’s short story Monsters Among Us is on the list. As far as I know, the only other Aussie to make the final cut is the anthology Macabre, edited by Marty Young and Angela Challis, which includes Kirstyn’s story in its overview of the history of Australian horror short fiction. Both entries have come as a surprise: neither was on the preliminary ballot, but it seems the Stokers jury considered both worthy of consideration. It’s a big achievement for Aussies to get on to the US-based awards list: Huzzah!

The list is:

2010 FINAL STOKER NOMINEES

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
HORNS by Joe Hill (William Morrow)
ROT AND RUIN by Jonathan Maberry (Simon & Schuster)
DEAD LOVE by Linda Watanabe McFerrin (Stone Bridge Press)
APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD by Joe McKinney (Pinnacle)
DWELLER by Jeff Strand (Leisure/Dark Regions Press)
A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (DoubleDay)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)
A BOOK OF TONGUES by Gemma Files (Chizine Publications)
CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)
SPELLBENT by Lucy Snyder (Del Rey)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
THE PAINTED DARKNESS by Brian James Freeman (Cemetery Dance)
DISSOLUTION by Lisa Mannetti (Deathwatch)
MONSTERS AMONG US by Kirstyn McDermott (Macabre: A Journey through Australia’s Darkest Fears)
THE SAMHANACH by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)
INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
RETURN TO MARIABRONN by Gary Braunbeck (Haunted Legends)
THE FOLDING MAN by Joe R. Lansdale (Haunted Legends)
1925: A FALL RIVER HALLOWEEN by Lisa Mannetti (Shroud Magazine #10)
IN THE MIDDLE OF POPLAR STREET by Nate Southard (Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology)
FINAL DRAFT by Mark W. Worthen (Horror Library IV)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
DARK FAITH edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications)
HORROR LIBRARY IV edited by R.J. Cavender and, Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press)
MACABRE: A JOURNEY THROUGH AUSTRALIA’S DARKEST FEARS edited by Angela Challis and Marty Young (Brimstone Press)
HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)
THE NEW DEAD edited by Christopher Golden (St. Martin’s Griffin)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
OCCULTATION by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books)
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books)
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY by Stephen Graham Jones (Prime Books)
A HOST OF SHADOWS by Harry Shannon (Dark Regions Press)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)
THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press)
WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE by Jonathan Maberry and Janice Gable Bashman (Citadel)
LISTEN TO THE ECHOES: THE RAY BRADBURY INTERVIEWS by Sam Weller (Melville House Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY collection
DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)
WILD HUNT OF THE STARS by Ann K. Schwader (Sam’s Dot)
DIARY OF A GENTLEMAN DIABOLIST by Robin Spriggs (Anomalous Books)
VICIOUS ROMANTIC by Wrath James White (Bandersnatch Books)