Gaiman on story, Aussie fantasy on the hit list

A quick post from the wonderful Guardian, still one of my favourite book sites, in which Neil Gaiman weighs in anew on the Lit/Genre divide, and a commentator finds much to recommend in eastern fantasy, Aussie style, thanks to Lian Hearn and Alison Goodman. Great stuff on a cool day.

In other bookish news, a crime novel has won the Miles Franklin, and the Ditmar awards are now open for submissions.

In my absence

singing the dogstar blues

I’ve been away from the keyboard for the past 10 days — more on that later, once I’ve caught up — and in my splendid offline absence, folks have been busy doing stuff:

  • Trent Jamieson’s upcoming debut novel, Death Most Definite, scored a lovely review
  • Cat Sparks has launched a drive to fund writer Peter Watts’ presence at Aussiecon
  • Melbourne’s Rjurik Davidson has announced a tidy little collection, The Library of Forgotten Books.
  • While on the road, I managed to catch up with:

  • Singing the Dogstar Blues, by Alison Goodman: a thoroughly enjoyable YA read in which a misfit muso befriends a misfit alien at a school for time travellers, and family secrets are revealed. The book was so much fun, with such superbly sketched glimpses of future earth and alien culture.
  • Target 5, by Colin Forbes: this was one of my favourite novels when I was 13, the copy rather bent, and I enjoyed revisiting, but found the story about extracting a Russian defector over Arctic ice a little over-the-top, the writing not as shiny as I remembered, but the pace still as strapping.
  • The Ghost Writer, by John Harwood: what a superb Gothic tale this turned out to be, with short stories in the text providing mirrors for the current day action as a young fellow from Australia strikes up a written friendship with a girl in England that proves a catalyst for some stunning familial revelations.
  • Ditmars announced

    So the Ditmar nominations have been announced. How Alison Goodman’s Aurealis-winning Two Pearls of Wisdom failed to garner a best novel nomination is beyond me. Well, not really. Clearly, she needs more voting blocs in her corner.

    Here’s the list posted by the committee (with, I hope, the original typos and misspellings corrected; apologies if I’ve missed any) that will be voted on by members of the natcon in Adelaide next month (with members of last year’s also eligible). I’ve got a bunch of pals on this list. I hope they do well.

    Best Novel
    ———-
    Fivefold, Nathan Burrage
    Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, Simon Haynes
    Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan
    How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier
    Daughters of Moab, Kim Westwood
    Earth Ascendant, Sean Williams

    Best Novella
    ———–
    Soft Viscosity, David Conyers
    Night Heron’s Curse, Thoraiya Dyer
    Angel Rising, Dirk Flinthart
    Creeping in Reptile Flesh, Robert Hood
    Painlessness, Kirstyn McDermott

    Best Short Story
    —————
    Pale Dark Soldier, Deb Biancotti
    This Is Not My Story, Dirk Flinthart
    The Goosle, Margo Lanagan
    Her Collection of Intimacy, Paul Haines
    Moments of Dying, Rob Hood
    Sammarynda Deep, Cat Sparks
    Ass-Hat Magic Spider, Scott Westerfeld

    Best Collected Work
    ——————
    Dreaming Again, edited Jack Dann
    Canterbury 2100, edited Dirk Flinthart
    2012, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne
    Midnight Echo, edited by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
    Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine, edited Angela Challis
    Creeping In Reptile Flesh, Robert Hood
    The Starry Rift, edited Jonathan Strahan

    Best Artwork
    ————
    Aurealis #40 cover, Adam Duncan
    The Last Realm, Book 1 – Dragonscarpe, Michael Dutkiewics
    gallery in Black Box, Andrew McKiernan
    Creeping In Reptile Flesh cover, Cat Sparks
    Cover of 2012, Cat Sparks
    Tales from Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan

    Best Fan Writer
    ————–
    Craig Bezant for Horrorscope
    Edwina Harvey for Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet
    Rob Hood for Undead Backbrain
    Chuck McKenzie for Horrorscope
    Mark Smith-Briggs for Horrorscope
    Brenton Tonlinson, Horrorscope

    Best Fan Artist
    ————–
    Rachel Holkner, for Gumble Soft toy and other works
    Nancy Lorenz for body of work
    Andrew McKiernan for body of work
    Tansy Rayner Roberts for Daleks are a girl’s best friend
    David Schembri for body of work
    Cat Sparks for Scary Food Cookbook
    Anna Tambour, Box of Noses and other works

    Best Fan Publication
    ——————
    Horrorscope, Brimstone Press
    Scary Food Cookbook, edited by Cat Sparks
    Asif! (Australian Speculative Fiction In Focus)
    Australian SF Bullsheet

    William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
    ———————————————-
    Dark Suspense: The End of the Line by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (in
    Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine #3)
    George A. Romero: Master of the Living Dead by Robert Hood (in Black:
    Australian Dark Culture Magazine #2)
    Bad Film Diaries – Sometimes the Brand Burns: Tim Burton and the
    Planet of the Apes, Grant Watson (in Borderlands #10)
    “Popular genres and the Australian literary community: the case of
    fantasy fiction,” Journal of Australian Studies, Kim Wilkins

    Best Achievement
    —————-
    Angela Challis for Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine and Brimstone Press.
    Marty Young and the AHWA Committe for promoting horror through the
    Australian Horror Writers Association
    Talie Helene for her work as AHWA News Editor
    Steve Clark for Tasmaniac Productions
    Damien Broderick for fiction editing in Cosmos Magazine
    James Doig for preserving colonial Australian horror fiction and his
    anthologies Australian Gothic and Australian Nightmares.
    The Gunny Project: A tribute to Ian Gunn 1959-1998, Jocko and K’Rin,
    presented MSFC

    Best New Talent
    —————
    Peter M. Ball
    Felicity Dowker
    Jason Fischer
    Gary Kemble
    Amanda Pillar

    Tron, Depeche Mode and Fox Klein (and SF stuff at the end)

    What, I hear your cyberbrains muse, do those three things have in common? No, wait, that’s not you at all, it’s the rickety desk fan making that peg-leg rattle because it’s set on 2 and the little pin that stops it from rotating isn’t working quite right. But it’s a fair question, just the same.

    Thursday. Another dull day at the sausage factory. Cut, paste, upload. Repeat. And then Sean Williams, bless his love of 80s electronic music, sent me this. It is essentially a trailer for Tron, set to one of my favourite Depeche Mode songs, Suffer Well. And done very nicely, too.

    And where does the comedian Fox Klein fit in? Well, nowhere, except that he, and the two Coronas I had with dinner, were the highlight of the evening at the Sit Down Comedy Club. A charismatic comedian, offering a storyline or at least a consistent theme with moments of absolute cleverness, and lots of relationship/sex talk without resorting to smut.

    Which goes to show how music, fantasy and a sense of humour will overcome šŸ™‚

    Meanwhile, check out this download from ABC Radio’s Book Show, featuring Aurealis Award winners Jonathan Strahan, Alison Goodman and KA Bedford talking about the importance of the awards, speculative fiction’s ability to compete for attention in the wider market place, and other stuff.

    Aurealis Awards 2008

    It was a big night for Perth’s Adrian Bedford at the Aurealis Awards in Brisbane last night.

    Bedford, writing as KA Bedford, has had all four of his novels published by Edge in Canada make the finalist lists of the awards, and last night he scored his second win: for best science fiction novel, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait. The novel is also a finalist for the Philip K Dick award.

    The awards, recognising excellence in Australian speculative fiction, were presented in a sold-out Judith Wright Centre, with Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley in the audience.

    Other winners were:

    Children’s fiction

    Illustrated work/picture book: Richard Harland and illustrator Laura Peterson, The Wolf Kingdom series
    Novel: Emily Rodda, The Wizard of Rondo

    Illustrated book/graphic novel: Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia

    Young Adult
    Short story: Trent Jamieson, “Cracks”, Shiny #2
    Novel: Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock

    Collection: Sean Williams and Russell B Farr (ed), Magic Dirt: The Best of Sean Williams

    Anthology: Jonathan Strahan (ed), The Starry Rift

    Horror
    Short story:
    Kirstyn McDermott, “Painlessness”, Greatest Uncommon Denominator #2
    Novel: John Harwood, The Seance

    Fantasy
    Short story: Cat Sparks, “Sammarynda Deep”, Paper Cities
    Novel: Alison Goodman, The Two Pearls of Wisdom

    Science fiction
    Short story: Simon Brown, “The Empire”, Dreaming Again
    Novel: KA Bedford, Time
    Machines Repaired While-U-Wait

    Peter McNamara Convenors Award: this special award was presented to Jack Dann for his incredible lifetime of achievement in the genre.

    This was the first year that prizes were awarded for best collection, anthology and illustrated book/graphic novel.

    Fantastic Queensland chairman Damon Cavalchini announced that 2010 would be the last year that FQ would host the awards as their contract with awards founders Chimaera Publications will expire, and a new team to organise the awards for 2011 and onwards is needed.

    Aurealis Awards

    The Aurealis Awards’ list of finalists have been announced and it’s very exciting. Some highlights include seeing Sean Williams in four categories and Trent Jamieson in three, and a bunch of stories from Dreaming Again — and the anthology itself — being nominated.

    There’s a summary story here and the full details here.

    I was a judge on the horror division so can’t say too much, except I feel the finalists’ list, from what I know of the stories involved, is a very strong one. The ceremony on January 24 coincides with the running of the Clarion South writers workshop; having someĀ of the tutors and the Clarion young guns at the ceremony should add some extra energy to the night.

    I’m glad I wasn’t on the fantasy novel panel. Trying to decide on a winner when the field includes Two Pearls of Wisdom and Tender Morsels would’ve been way too hard! (Read my review of Tender MorselsĀ andĀ Two Pearls.)Ā 

    I’d encourage anyone interested in Australian spec fic to attend the awards. There’ll be plenty of writers from around the country there, and no doubt some agents and publishers as well.