Ditmar shortlists announced

The shortlists for the Ditmar awards, fan nominated and fan voted, have been announced. Interesting to note that, outside of the novel realm, small press dominate almost exclusively, and that fan publications has four podcasts to one paper newsletter; the Atheling, too, is heavy on the blogs. Hilarious and also exemplary is that Robin Penn’s ‘Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar’ is in there, summarising pointedly yet with tongue in cheek a stoush in the community about, wonderfully, the Ditmars. The novels show a wide spread of genres and the novellas are particularly strong, showing perhaps a resurgence in the form. With e-publishing’s growth, I’d expect that to continue. The winners will be announced at Continuum 8 in Melbourne in June. Here’s the shortlist:

Best Novel

  • The Shattered City (Creature Court 2), Tansy Rayner Roberts
    (HarperCollins)
  • Burn Bright, Marianne de Pierres (Random House Australia)
  • Mistification, Kaaron Warren (Angry Robot Books)
  • The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood (HarperCollins)
  • Debris (The Veiled Worlds 1), Jo Anderton (Angry Robot Books)
  • Best Novella or Novelette

  • “The Sleeping and the Dead”, Cat Sparks, in Ishtar (Gilgamesh Press)
  • “Above”, Stephanie Campisi, in Above/Below (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt”, Paul Haines, in The Last Days
    of Kali Yuga
    (Brimstone Press)
  • “And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living”, Deborah Biancotti, in
    Ishtar (Gilgamesh Press)
  • “Julia Agrippina’s Secret Family Bestiary”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in
    Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Below”, Ben Peek, in Above/Below (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Best Short Story

  • “Breaking the Ice”, Thoraiya Dyer, in Cosmos 37
  • “Alchemy”, Lucy Sussex, in Thief of Lives (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Last Gig of Jimmy Rucker”, Martin Livings and Talie Helene, in
    More Scary Kisses (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “All You Can Do Is Breathe”, Kaaron Warren, in Blood and Other
    Cravings
    (Tor)
  • “Bad Power”, Deborah Biancotti, in Bad Power (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “The Patrician”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Love and Romanpunk (Twelfth
    Planet Press)
  • Best Collected Work

  • The Last Days of Kali Yuga by Paul Haines, edited by Angela Challis
    (Brimstone Press)
  • Nightsiders by Sue Isle, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet
    Press)
  • Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth
    Planet Press)
  • Love and Romanpunk by Tansy Rayner Roberts, edited by Alisa
    Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Ishtar, edited by Amanda Pillar and K. V. Taylor (Gilgamesh Press)
  • Best Artwork

  • “Finishing School”, Kathleen Jennings, in Steampunk!: An Anthology of
    Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories
    (Candlewick Press)
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for The Freedom Maze (Small Beer Press)
  • Best Fan Writer

  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Australian
    Speculative Fiction in Focus!
    and Not If You Were The Last Short Story
    On Earth
  • Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews in Australian
    Speculative Fiction in Focus!
    , Not If You Were The Last Short Story On
    Earth
    , and Randomly Yours, Alex
  • Robin Pen, for “The Ballad of the Unrequited Ditmar”
  • Sean Wright, for body of work including “Authors and Social Media”
    series in Adventures of a Bookonaut
  • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work including “The Golden Age of
    Fanzines is Now”, and SF Commentary 81 & 82
  • Best Fan Artist

  • Rebecca Ing, for work in Scape
  • Lisa Rye, for “Steampunk Portal” series
  • Dick Jenssen, for body of work including work in IRS, Steam Engine
    Time, SF Commentary
    and Scratchpad
  • Kathleen Jennings, for work in Errantry (tanaudel.wordpress.com)
    including “The Dalek Game”
  • Rhianna Williams, for work in Nullas Anxietas Convention Programme Book
  • Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • SF Commentary, edited by Bruce Gillespie
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Chat, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Sean Wright
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Alex
    Pierce
  • Best New Talent

  • Steve Cameron
  • Alan Baxter
  • Joanne Anderton
  • William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, for “2010: The Year in Review”, in The
    Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2010
    (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Damien Broderick and Van Ikin, for editing Warriors of the Tao: The
    Best of Science Fiction: A Review of Speculative Literature
    (Borgo Press)
  • David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely for “Reviewing
    New Who” series, in A Conversational Life
  • Alexandra Pierce and Tehani Wessely, for reviews of Vorkosigan Saga,
    in Randomly Yours, Alex
  • Russell Blackford, for “Currently reading: Jonathan Strange and Mr
    Norrell by Susanna Clarke”, in Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
  • Campbell Newman, subsidised arts and the popular vote

    Sadly, today’s editorial in the Australian doesn’t surprise. Had it not been self-published, an editor would’ve have a field day cutting out the tired old tropes. The piece shows as little awareness of the reality of publishing in Australia, I can’t help but wonder if the editor was a board member of Borders.

    Good on Campbell Newman for cancelling the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. They deserved it. How dare they short-list a bio from that terrorist David Hicks? What do they think this is: a democracy?

    Scary stuff, literature, especially that high-falutin’ stuff that goes to pains to use big, fancy words and literary balderdash to criticise and question today’s society and the people who run it.

    First ones against the wall, that lot.

    ‘If (Newman) restores the awards in future, as he has hinted, he would do well to ensure they reward the best-quality writing, including that which appeals to the broader public.’

    What is clear from the editorial is that the editor has fallen for the PR from his own circulation department and believes that quantity is a measure of quality. He hasn’t eaten at McDonald’s lately, it appears. See, books aren’t one size fits all. It’s what makes them such an interesting product to try to market. There’s no accounting for taste. Clearly, the work of the Qld Premier’s Lit Awards hasn’t been to the editor’s taste, nor that of the LNP. Tough.

    As Nick Earls said in his response to the axing:

    While I’ve had little personal reason to love the Premier’s Literary Awards, I’ve been glad they’ve been there.

    It might not be my cup of tea, either, but I don’t doubt for a second that it’s important. Just as important as the popular fiction that I write. Maybe even more important, at certain levels.

    I wouldn’t mind if someone was throwing cash awards around for the stuff I write. Hey, here’s an idea. How about the Oz step up, take the editor’s philosophy and run with it. Out with the old men like Patrick White, a recent front-page feature of the Oz’s venerable lit pages, and in with the popular fiction. The crime, the romance, the YA. Dare I suggest, the horror? And before the movie gets made. That’d be a bonus.

    ‘Newer writers will also build loyal readerships, if they are good enough,’ the Oz says.

    Define good enough. And then tell me how they build that readership. I would’ve thought the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards with sections for unpublished manuscript and unpublished Indigenous manuscript was a perfect avenue for that new writer to be noticed. It’s back to the table outside the local bookstore, huh?

    Maybe the Oz can up the Vogel to remove the age restriction — after all, those young guns have got an entire lifetime ahead of them in which to make their career – if they’re ‘good’ enough. Maybe the Logies can add a book category and the Oz can print the ballot. Twilight for the win.

    Here we sit in 2012 still arguing about what makes a great read, and how to recognise the practitioners who provide it. The bean counters still treat books like tins of pineapple and tell us homegrown or imported, it doesn’t matter.

    The Oz is appalled at writers, and artists in general, sucking on the public tit. This ‘vocal minority’ should be standing on its own economic two feet.

    That’s an interesting precedent to set, isn’t it? No seed funding for industry, is what it amounts to. No subsidy for innovative new tech. Government-funded apprenticeships? You want a library? Better start charging admission and rental fees. Reading’s a luxury, after all, not a right. You want an oval? Build it and maintain it yourself — stand on your own two feet. If you build it, they will come.

    In a separate article in the same day’s Oz, the comment is made that Campbell isn’t planing to cut other government awards, not even for drama. I guess there’s something appealing about taking one’s lobbyists and business pals out to see a show, maybe do some deals in the intermission. No, he’s singled out the lit awards, and why?

    Because he knows that the ‘vocal minority’ that is the country’s writers don’t have a lot of support in the wider community. Not even in newspaper offices where economic rationalism reigns, and the idea of a good read starts at the back of the paper, where ‘good’ is measured by dollar signs. Campbell’s looking for easy money to bolster a bottom line, hoping those pennies he loves so much will become pounds. What a bleak hole he’s digging for Queenslanders.

  • The Queensland Writers Centre has compiled a great list of responses to Campbell’s axing of the awards. The centre has taken a very reasonable, proactive approach to the debacle. You can plug into it here.

    And there’s this thoughtful piece from TLC Books about just what lit awards offer, and why they’re good things to have, both for the community and for writers.

  • Swancon, Ditmars and a darn fine time

    dead red heart australian vampire stories

    Swancon, the annual get-together of Aussie spec fic fans held in Perth — usually at Easter — doubled as the country’s national science fiction convention — the 50th — this year. It’s a four-hour flight from Melbourne and worth every frequent flyer mile.

    This year’s convention was held in the Hyatt and the venue was a good slab of the reason the con went so well — chiefly, the foyer, which offered a raised lounge encircling a non-functioning fountain featuring elephants, lions and a Cleopatra’s needle aimed like a rocket at the lofty atrium roof. The foyer also had a bar which featured a Hyatt-priced drinks list and some of the most harried bar staff I’ve ever had the pleasure of waiting to be served by. Honestly, if you’re a hotel hosting an SF convention, you need to heed the warnings about our thirst levels. Sure, some folks wander around dressed as giant chipmunks (I’m told it was a raccoon, but I truly believe it was a chipmunk, or possibly a squirrel: just he or she was in disguise because it was masquerade night), but we do like a drink when we haven’t seen each other for so darn long. Especially our pals in the west, who have churned out 36 Swancons so far but don’t get to come east anywhere near as often as they should. (That four hours can be a costly trip.)

    more scary kisses paranormal romance anthology

    The beauty of the foyer was that it provided a natural gathering place. I’m not sure the various bridal parties, holidaying families and Eastering businessman appreciated the confluence, but I thought it was grand: here was the perfect alternative panel of writerly types drawn from all around the country, and overseas (very happy to hear that Glenda Larke has designs on returning to her native West!).

    The guests were Sean Williams, Justina Robson and Ellen Datlow — Sean and Ellen are always great value and Justina proved so engaging I bought her book — Lila Black has been “tortured and magic-scarred by elves, rebuilt by humans into a half-robot, part-AI, nuclear-fuelled walking arsenal”, and that’s just part of the blurb for Selling Out.

    Some organised highlights included the delayed appearance of the Paul Haines collection The Last Days of Kali Yuga, a gorgeously produced title from Brimstone Press; Paul’s reading of a new story proved a very emotional moment.

    Another enjoyable launch was the Ticonderoga Publications double — More Scary Kisses and Dead Red Heart — in which I’ve got some yarns. The launch also marked 15 years for TP — not a bad achievement at all!

    There were panels of interest covering the craft of writing, the business of writing and all manner of stuff relating to fandom and movies and conventions.

    We ate far too much curry — Anzac Day and Easter combined to keep sleepy Perth very snoozy indeed — but the curry at the little place across the road was damn fine and they did a respectable breakfast as well, bless their holiday-defying work ethic.

    There was a masquerade ball — it went off, I was told, and there was a most excellent Japanese lantern girl costume and a ginormous lizard and Little Red Riding Hood and the aforementioned squirrel-in-disguise — but I was late back from the dinner hunt and, you know, there was a great impromptu panel being conducted in the foyer at the time… followed by a room party! Yes, the sound proofing at the Hyatt meant we could squeeze 20 people into a room and spill chips and some truly, um, intriguing confectionary puddings around the place.

    Cat Sparks has posted her Swancon photos

    There was also awesomeness at the Ditmar awards — fan-nominated and voted on by members of the natcons — which started with the decoration of mighty pillars in the auditorium as rocket ships and finished at the last announcement. I’ve listed them below, but draw attention to my wife’s win for her short story, ‘She Said’ (a tie with the inimitable Cat Sparks!), and the special awards (not listed below) won by Paul Collins (A Bertram Chandler) and Lucy Sussex (Peter McNamara award) and Anita Bell (the Norma K Hemming award for her novel, Diamond Eyes).

    Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann must be reeling — a Ditmar on top of their Oscar for The Lost Thing!

    But most of all, the best thing about Swancon was the people: my buddies from Brisbane — I miss you guys! — and all over the place, all coming together to congratulate and commiserate and enjoy the camaraderie of those who value imagination as one of the most prized of human faculties.

    DITMAR AWARDS

    Best Novel: Power and Majesty, Tansy Rayner Roberts (HarperVoyager)
    Best Novella or Novelette: ‘The Company Articles of Edward Teach’, Thoraiya Dyer (Twelfth Planet Press)
    Best Short Story (tie): ‘All the Love in the World’, Cat Sparks (Sprawl, Twelfth Planet Press) and ‘She Said’, Kirstyn McDermott (Scenes From the Second Storey, Morrigan Books)
    Best Collected Work: Sprawl, Alisa Krasnostein, ed. (Twelfth Planet Press)
    Best Artwork: ‘The Lost Thing’ short film (Passion Pictures) Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
    Best Fan Writer: Alexandra Pierce, for body of work including reviews at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus (Twelfth Planet Press)
    Best Fan Artist: Amanda Rainey, for Swancon 36 logo
    Best Fan Publication in Any Medium: Galactic Suburbia podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Tansy Rayer Roberts, & Alex Pierce (Twelfth Planet Press)
    Best Achievement: Alisa Krasnostein, Kathryn Linge, Rachel Holkner, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, & Tehani Wessely, Snapshot 2010
    Best New Talent: Thoraiya Dyer
    William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for ‘A Modern Woman’s Guide to Classic Who’

    Australian Shadows shortlist announced

    The Australian Horror Writers Association has announced this year’s finalists for the Shadows award, presented in the categories of (eclectic) long fiction, short fiction and edited publication, and I can safely say I’m happy I’m not trying to judge such a strong field — leastwise because my wife has two works in the running! I’ve read all but one of the final field, and they’re all darn fine yarns. Congratulations to all for making the final cut!

    The Shadows are announced in April, just ahead of the fan-based Ditmars at Swancon at Easter, and the country’s premier genre awards, the Aurealis Awards, at a gala bash in Sydney on May 21. Last year offered a bumper crop of tales spilling from Aussie pens: if you’re looking for some reading material, the shortlists make a great place to start.

    Awards and more book covers

    Ticonderoga has released the book cover of its limited edition reprint of The Infernal by Kim Wilkins, her first novel and still one of my favourites.

    Ticon has also recently made available two anthologies: Scary Kisses, involving paranormal romance, and Belong, speculative tales with a migration hook.

    And in awards news, Jonathan Strahan, Justine Larbalestier (Liar) and Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan) are Aussies all in the running for Locus Awards. This follows the excellent news that Margo Lanagan is up for a Shirley Jackson award for her novella Sea-Hearts, published in X6.

    Here’s a cool trailer for Scott’s Leviathan, a very fun take on the outbreak of World War I:

    And one for Liar, a compelling if infuriating read!

    And not to be overlooked is this new offering from Rowena Cory Daniells, a fancy trailer for her new (and much awaited) trilogy. Rowena has been a stalwart of the spec fic community in Queensland for many a year, helping to found both the Vision writing group (going strong) and the EnVision writers workshop (now defunct, but in a way living on in the Queensland Writers Centre’s year of the novel program): two things that have been of massive benefit to me as a budding author.

    KRKhd from Daryl Lindquist on Vimeo.

    Awards news

    Good news on two fronts today regarding excellence in Australian fiction.

    Firstly, several Australians have made the finalists list for a Hugo, to be awarded at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne in September:

    Jonathan Strahan (best editor, short form), Shaun Tan (best pro artist), Helen Merrick (best related work) and Lezli Robyn (best newcomer, though it’s not strictly a Hugo, the John Campbell is run as an adjunct). See the full list of Hugo finalists here.

    Secondly, the Australian Shadows awards have been announced. This year, the award was split across three categories and the finalists presented a solid slice of Aussie horror writing.

    The winners were:

    Slights by Kaaron Warren (Long Fiction); Grants Pass, ed. Jennifer Brozek & Amanda Pillar (Edited Publication); “Six Suicides” by Deborah Biancotti (Short Fiction). The judges’ reports are available here.