Aurealis Awards finalists announced

The Aurealis Awards are the premiere award for Aussie speculative fiction. They will be awarded in Sydney on May 12 — tickets for the glam ceremony are on sale. Last year’s ceremony absolutely rocked, a wonderful coming together of all spectra of the spec fic community. Here are the finalists, announced tonight — congratulations all*:

FANTASY NOVEL
The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon (HarperVoyager)
Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman (Hachette)
Stormlord’s Exile by Glenda Larke (HarperVoyager)
Debris by Jo Anderton (Angry Robot)
The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)

FANTASY SHORT STORY
‘Fruit of the Pipal Tree’ by Thoraiya Dyer (After the Rain, FableCroft Publishing)
‘The Proving of Smollett Standforth’ by Margo Lanagan (Ghosts by Gaslight, HarperVoyager)
‘Into the Clouds on High’ by Margo Lanagan (Yellowcake, Allen & Unwin)
‘Reading Coffee’ by Anthony Panegyres (Overland #204)
‘The Dark Night of Anton Weiss’ by DC White (More Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications)

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Machine Man by Max Barry (Scribe Publications)
Children of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy (HarperVoyager)
The Waterboys by Peter Docker (Fremantle Press)
Black Glass by Meg Mundell (Scribe Publications)
The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
‘Flowers in the Shadow of the Garden’ by Joanne Anderton (Hope, Kayelle Press)
‘Desert Madonna’ by Robert Hood (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)
‘SIBO’ by Penelope Love (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)
‘Dead Low’ by Cat Sparks (Midnight Echo #6)
‘Rains of la Strange’ by Robert N Stephenson (Anywhere but Earth, Couer de Lion)

HORROR NOVEL
NO SHORTLIST OR WINNING NOVEL – TWO HONOURABLE MENTIONS AWARDED TO:
The Broken Ones by Stephen M Irwin (Hachette)
The Business of Death by Trent Jamieson (Hachette)

HORROR SHORT STORY
‘And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living’ by Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar, Gilgamesh Press)
‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’ by Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Brimstone Press)
‘The Short Go: a Future in Eight Seconds’ by Lisa L Hannett (Bluegrass Symphony, Ticonderoga Publications)
‘Mulberry Boys’ by Margo Lanagan (Blood and Other Cravings, Tor)
‘The Coffin Maker’s Daughter’ by Angela Slatter (A Book of Horrors, Quercus)

YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Shift by Em Bailey (Hardie Grant Egmont)
Secrets of Carrick: Tantony by Ananda Braxton-Smith (black dog books)
The Shattering by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin)
Black Glass by Meg Mundell (Scribe Publications)
Only Ever Always by Penni Russon (Allen & Unwin)

YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
‘Nation of the Night’ by Sue Isle (Nightsiders, Twelfth Planet Press)
‘Finishing School’ by Kathleen Jennings (Steampunk! An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories, Candlewick Press)
‘Seventy-Two Derwents’ by Cate Kennedy (The Wicked Wood – Tales from the Tower Volume 2, Allen and Unwin)
‘One Window’ by Martine Murray (The Wilful Eye: Tales from the Tower Volume 1, Allen and Unwin)
‘The Patrician’ by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Love and Romanpunk, Twelfth Planet Press)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)
The Outcasts by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)
‘It Began with a Tingle’ by Thalia Kalkapsakis (Headspinners, Allen & Unwin)
The Coming of the Whirlpool by Andrew McGahan (Allen & Unwin)
City of Lies by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)
The Ghost of Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blabey (author and illustrator) (Penguin/ Viking Books)
Sounds Spooky by Christopher Cheng (author) and Sarah Davis (illustrator) (Random House Australia)
The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen (author) and James Foley (illustrator) (Fremantle Press)
The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor (author) and James Brouwer (illustrator) (Gestault Publishing)
Vampyre by Margaret Wild (author) and Andrew Yeo (illustrator) (Walker Books)

ILLUSTRATED BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL
Hidden by Mirranda Burton (author and illustrator ) (Black Pepper)
Torn by Andrew Constant (author) and Joh James (illustrator ), additional illustrators Nicola Scott, Emily Smith (Gestalt Publishing)
Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops (author and illustrator) (Pecksniff Press)
The Eldritch Kid: Whiskey and Hate by Christian Read (author) and Michael Maier (illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)
The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor (author) and James Brouwer (illustrator) (Gestault Publishing)

ANTHOLOGY
Ghosts by Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (HarperVoyager)
Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010 edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
Ishtar edited by Amanda Pillar and KV Taylor (Gilgamesh Press)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 5 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
Life on Mars edited by Jonathan Strahan (Viking)

COLLECTION
Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti (Twelfth Planet Press)
Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines (Brimstone Press)
Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L Hannett (Ticonderoga Publications)
Nightsiders by Sue Isle (Twelfth Planet Press)
Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts (Twelfth Planet Press)

* I was a judge in this year’s awards so no commentary from me, and nothing here should be seen as anything other than my personal opinion.

Brisbane Writers Festival dates announced

The calendar of literary events has been updated, including the dates for Brisbane Writers Festival (Sep 5-9), the Sunshine Coast’s Reality Bites in June (recently seeking submissions for attendees) and the Aurealis Awards ceremony in Sydney in May. Additions and corrections to the calendar are welcome.

Aurealis Awards tickets on sale, Chronos nominations open

aurealis awards logoJust in case you hadn’t noticed, tickets for this year’s Aurealis Awards ceremony are now on sale. The ceremony will be held at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney on Saturday May 12. Last year’s awards, organised by the same organisation, SpecFaction NSW, and held in the same venue, were enormous fun. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends from across the country, rub shoulders with some damn fine writers, maybe meet some editors, agents and publishers … The staff at the nearby Rydges, which became the default ‘con hotel’, were wonderfully accommodating when it came to the post-awards ceremony. They might have a few more bar staff rostered on this year. Heh.

WHILE we’re on awards, the Chronos Awards are calling for nominations. The awards recognise excellence in speculative fiction arising from Victorian residents. A fairly comprehensive list of eligible works is available, and welcomes additions. I take my hat off to the person/s who assembled this list! (I note that Paul Haines’s The Last Days of Kali Yuga and his short story from that collection, ‘The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt’, is absent, and I’ve let the organisers know that my listed story ‘Mending the Fences’ isn’t in fact eligible — it’s publication has been delayed till next month.) Nominations are due by March 18 and will be voted on by members of Continuum 8, the national science fiction convention being held in Melbourne in June.

Aurealis Awards celebration: a grand night

I’m home again after a flying visit to Sydney where the spec fic clan gathered at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney for the 2010 Aurealis Awards, recognising excellence in Aussie spec fic published last year.

There were some extremely strong fields with some diverse entries — on the home front, the good news is that Kirstyn’s Madigan Mine brought home the very attractive trophy for Best Horror Novel. The full list of winners is below. Other highlights included the special awards — the Peter McNamara Convenors Award to Helen Merrick and the (non-AA, Fantastic Queensland-sponsored) Kris Hembury encouragement award to Jodi Cleghorn (the driving force behind 100 Stories for Brisbane) — and a breakthrough SF Novel award for Marianne de Pierres. Rob Hood provided some wonderfully Pythonesque animations to introduce the sections and Garth Nix was a superbly dry-witted and engaging Master of Ceremonies.

Cat Sparks has put her photos from the night up onFlickr

There were several elements that really came together on the night. The first was that Rydges North Sydney, which served pretty much as the awards hotel, was on the same block as the theatre. The second was that the theatre was the right size for the crowd, who dressed up to make the occasion LOOK like an occasion, and that the bonhomie was fostered with a generous cocktail reception I believe largely thanks to sponsor HarperVoyager, who also provided novels in the awards bag. The third was the after party, first with another round of free drinks at the theatre, and then discounted basics at Rydges. The fourth was Rydges itself, where the staff were very accommodating indeed. The buffet breakfast went down a treat this morning, with a few of us lingering till the harried staff really DID have to change over for the lunch crowd. The awards themselves were handled efficiently and respectfully, and the organisers appreciated the fact that folks had come from across the country for this, so the chance to socialise was high on the agenda.

So, as 2 o’clock rolled around last night, the bar having been shut since midnight and the staff preparing the breakfast tables, we closed the curtains on a great night of meeting old friends and making new ones, which often entailed a Facebook face or Twitter name finally resolving in the flesh.

Great venue, deserving winners, awesome company. Well done, Sydney. Book me in for next year!

THE AUREALIS AWARD WINNERS FOR 2010

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)
The Keepers, Lian Tanner, Allen & nwin
CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)
The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett (writer) & Lucia Masciullo (illustrator), Penguin Viking
YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
• A Thousand Flowers, Margo Lanagan, Zombies and Unicorns, Allen & Unwin
YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin
BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK/ GRAPHIC NOVEL
Changing Ways Book 1, Justin Randall, Gestalt Publishing
BEST COLLECTION
The Girl With No Hands, Angela Slatter, Ticonderoga Publications
BEST ANTHOLOGY
• Wings of Fire, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Marianne S. Jablon, Night Shade Books
HORROR SHORT STORY
• The Fear, Richard Harland, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears,
Brimstone Press
HORROR NOVEL
Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott, Pan Macmillan
FANTASY SHORT STORY (joint winners)
• The February Dragon, LL Hannett & Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications
• Yowie, Thoraiya Dyer, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
FANTASY NOVEL
Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins) [Tansy notably won a Ditmar with this novel earlier this year! I reviewed it here.]
SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
• The Heart of a Mouse, K.J. Bishop, Subterranean Online (Winter 2010)
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
Transformation Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)
PETER MCNAMARA AWARD
• Helen Merrick

Aurealis Awards finalists announced

The finalists for Australia’s premier speculative fiction awards have been announced. The Aurealis Awards recognise excellence by Australian writers and editors across the spectrum of fantastic fiction: science fiction, fantasy, horror and all points in between. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in Sydney on May 21. The judges had a bumper year to contend with — I judged for anthologies and collections, so I have an inkling of the array of quality shorts the other panels had to choose from — and the lists show some wonderful diversity, with newcomers rubbing shoulders with much-published authors, and a self-published fantasy novel making the final running, which is great to see. And of course, also great to see is Kirstyn’s Madigan Mine in the shortlist for horror novel, along with the most deserving Death Most Definite, by Trent Jamieson, and Jason Fischer’s After the World: Gravesend.

2010 Aurealis Awards – Finalists
CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)
Grimsdon, Deborah Abela, Random House
Ranger’s Apprentice #9: Halt’s Peril, John Flanagan, Random House
The Vulture of Sommerset, Stephen M Giles, Pan Macmillan
The Keepers, Lian Tanner, Allen & Unwin
Haggis MacGregor and the Night of the Skull, Jen Storer & Gug Gordon, Aussie Nibbles (Penguin)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)
Night School, Isobelle Carmody (writer) & Anne Spudvilas (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Magpie, Luke Davies (writer) & Inari Kiuru (illustrator), ABC Books (HarperCollins)
The Boy and the Toy, Sonya Hartnett (writer) & Lucia Masciullo (illustrator), Penguin Viking
Precious Little, Julie Hunt & Sue Moss (writers) & Gaye Chapman (illustrator), Allen & Unwin
The Cloudchasers, David Richardson (writer) & Steven Hunt (illustrator), ABC Books (HarperCollins)

YOUNG ADULT Short Story
Inksucker, Aidan Doyle, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing
One Story, No Refunds, Dirk Flinthart, Shiny #6, Twelfth Planet Press
A Thousand Flowers, Margo Lanagan, Zombies Vs Unicorns, Allen & Unwin
Nine Times, Kaia Landelius & Tansy Rayner Roberts, Worlds Next Door, Fablecroft Publishing
An Ordinary Boy, Jen White, The Tangled Bank, Tangled Bank Press

YOUNG ADULT Novel
Merrow, Ananda Braxton-Smith, black dog books
Guardian of the Dead, Karen Healey, Allen & Unwin
The Midnight Zoo, Sonya Hartnett, Penguin
The Life of a Teenage Body-Snatcher, Doug MacLeod, Penguin
Behemoth (Leviathan Trilogy Book Two), Scott Westerfeld, Penguin

BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK/ GRAPHIC NOVEL
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nicki Greenberg, Allen & Unwin
EEEK!: Weird Australian Tales of Suspense, Jason Paulos et al, Black House Comics
Changing Ways Book 1, Justin Randall, Gestalt Publishing
Five Wounds: An Illustrated Novel, Jonathan Walker & Dan Hallett, Allen & Unwin
Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators, Rocky Wood & Glenn Chadbourne, McFarlane & Co.

BEST COLLECTION
The Library of Forgotten Books, Rjurik Davidson, PS Publishing
Under Stones, Bob Franklin, Affirm Press
Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter, Tartarus Press
The Girl With No Hands, Angela Slatter, Ticonderoga Publications
Dead Sea Fruit, Kaaron Warren, Ticonderoga Publications

BEST ANTHOLOGY
Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Dr Marty Young, Brimstone Press
Sprawl, edited by Alisa Krasnostein, Twelfth Planet Press
Scenes from the Second Storey, edited by Amanda Pillar & Pete Kempshall, Morrigan Books
Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan, SF Book Club
Wings of Fire, edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon, Night Shade Books

HORROR Short Story
Take the Free Tour, Bob Franklin, Under Stones, Affirm Press
Her Gallant Needs, Paul Haines, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The Fear, Richard Harland, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press
Wasting Matilda, Robert Hood, Zombie Apocalypse!, Constable & Robinson Ltd
Lollo, Martin Livings, Close Encounters of the Urban Kind, Apex Publishing

HORROR Novel
After the World: Gravesend, Jason Fischer, Black House Comics
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott, Pan Macmillan

FANTASY Short Story
The Duke of Vertumn’s Fingerling, Elizabeth Carroll, Strange Horizons
Yowie, Thoraiya Dyer, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press
The February Dragon, LL Hannett & Angela Slatter, Scary Kisses, Ticonderoga Publications
All the Clowns in Clowntown, Andrew McKiernan, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, Brimstone Press
Sister, Sister, Angela Slatter, Strange Tales III, Tartarus Press

FANTASY Novel
The Silence of Medair, Andrea K Höst, self-published
Death Most Definite, Trent Jamieson, Orbit (Hachette)
Stormlord Rising, Glenda Larke, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)
Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier, Pan Macmillan
Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts, HarperVoyager (HarperCollins)

SCIENCE FICTION Short Story
The Heart of a Mouse, K.J. Bishop, Subterranean Online (Winter 2010)
The Angaelian Apocalypse, Matthew Chrulew, The Company Articles Of Edward Teach/The Angaelian Apocalypse, Twelfth Planet Press
Border Crossing, Penelope Love, Belong, Ticonderoga Publications
Interloper, Ian McHugh, Asimovs (Jan 2011)
Relentless Adaptations, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press

SCIENCE FICTION Novel
Song of Scarabaeous, Sara Creasy, EOS Books
Mirror Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)
Transformation Space, Marianne de Pierres, Orbit (Hachette)

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.

Aurealis Awards, judges’ reports now online

Further to my musings about the nature of horror, as a literary genre, as evidenced at the recently announced and fabulously conducted Aurealis Awards in Brisbane, the judges’ reports are now up at the awards site. I’m still grappling with the horror content of the winning novel, I confess. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the bush, but I don’t share the sense of menace supposedly posed by the landscape in Red Queen at all. And I wasn’t aware of the characters reacting that way. Why would country boys respond like that? The only thing they were frightened of in the Australian bush was other people — in this case, plague carriers. I think it’s very cool that a book like this can nudge ahead of a field with comparatively quite strong horror tropes; it certainly broadens the horizon. Anyway, food for thought, and I’ll continue to digest. (I certainly concur with other comments in this report, though not all.) (My musings shouldn’t detract in any way from the decision, by the way, nor the fact that Red Queen is a solid debut novel with plenty to recommend it; that’s not the purpose of this blog. I write ‘horror’ stories, call them what you will. I’m always interested to know what other people think of as horror.)

Aurealis Awards, Leviathan and Red Queen

Brisbane’s run as host of the Aurealis Awards appears over, with the end of Fantastic Queensland’s tenure as organisers of the awards, and the likely replacement coming from down south. In that time, the awards have gone from being a drab adjunct to an insular convention to an event in their own right, with sponsorship, attendance and attention from major publishers. It’s a hell of an achievement; FQ have earned their rest.

This year’s awards ceremony was another packed event at the Judith Wright Centre and didn’t disappoint, hosted by FQ committee members, and featuring readings from seminal books published outside the awards’ timeframe. Book seller Justin Ackroyd (of Slow Glass Books) was acknowledged, and in an emotional moment, late Brisbane writer Kris Hembury’s contribution to the community was memorialised with a new award for emerging talent, awarded to artist and writer Kathleen Jennings.

red queen by honey brown

The awards were also expanded to include picture books. A list of finalists and winners is here.

I was most interested in the horror finalists this year, because the breadth was large: paranormal romance, ghosts, witches, noir unicorns. And Red Queen, by HM (Honey) Brown, the one title I had not read, and the winner. It’s a good, solid debut thriller. Set in the Victorian bush, two brothers are living in isolation while a virus devastates the Earth. Into that scenario enters a woman — one with secrets that are not fully revealed until an action-packed ending. The bush, the characters, the situation are all well-drawn, and the prose is accomplished, but I found myself wondering: where’s the horror?

This is always an argument with the old horror beastie – it’s a mood, an emotion, where other genres within the speculative fiction umbrella are easier to qualify based on content. If the story is set in the future, chances are it’s science fiction. If it is otherworldly, with magic, well, it’s probably a fantasy. But horror lends itself to many stories.

Unfortunately, the judges’ reports aren’t online yet, so it’s hard to know just what it was about Red Queen that swayed them to choose this book over the other four, which to my mind are all identifiable as horror stories (menace, suspense, fear, a dark slant on what we accept as the real world). Red Queen has some suspense and a touch of the Gothic — it’s an effective thriller — but seems pale by comparison.

Andrew McGahan’s win in science fiction might offer a similar genre-bending experience, based on its synopsis, but I’ve yet to track it down to make my own opinion.

That’s the beauty of awards, I guess. They stretch our perceptions, challenge our biases, and introduce us to new stories and writers and ways of thinking about our craft and our stories.

leviathan by scott westerfeld

I had no such qualms with the best young adult novel, Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, a rollicking steampunk novel set in an alternative Europe at the outbreak of World War I. It follows the adventures of two teens thrust into the conflict, one English, one Austrian. There are mechanical marvels such as tanks on legs and bio-tweaked creatures such as zeppelin-like whales. Some pushed my limit of disbelief, but mostly I was able to sail along and enjoy the action and the likeable hero and heroine, and the adults around them, as they are pushed together by the vagaries of war and politics.

I hope next year’s awards provide not only a similar level of professionalism and camaraderie, but also enhance my reading list as equally.

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 🙂

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.