The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s National Science Fiction Awards. Presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand, the award is open to works written by citizens or permanent residents of New Zealand. Anyone in New Zealand can nominate but only members of the national convention can vote—much like the Hugos, the Auroras, and the BSFA Award. The winners were announced at Au Contraire on Sunday, August 29th.
The award for best novel went to Russell Kirkpatrick’s Beyond the Wall of Time. The award for best YA novel went to Brian Falkner’s Brain Jack. For the full list, scroll to the end of the post or visit the excellent Science Fiction Awards Watch.
One of the purposes of awards is to draw attention to what’s out there in particular categories. If you’re looking to widen your horizons, they can be a very good way of finding new things to read. New Zealand is an English speaking country, so there’s no translation issue, and these are fan-voted awards. The winners are widely available. I hadn’t heard of either author, so I thought I’d take a look at the shortlist for best novel.
Beyond the Wall of Time is book three in the Broken Man fantasy series. (It seems the Vogels, like the Hugos, define science fiction broadly to include fantasy.) The first of the series is Path of Revenge. I have no idea whether Beyond the Wall of Time stands alone. The descriptions sound exactly like generic fantasy of the kind I have a problem with. But all fantasy gets described that way, that’s part of the problem. The fans of New Zealand have given this their nod, so I shall put Kirkpatrick on my list.
The shortlist (excluding the winner) was:
- Returning, Pat Whitaker
- Heart’s Blood, Juliet Marillier
- Branded By Fire, Nalini Singh
- Angel’s Blood, Nalini Singh
I have read none of these authors, and have heard only of Marillier, who is fairly widely published and pretty well known. Heart’s Blood is fantasy.
Singh appears to write paranormal romance of the kind you’d normally find shelved with romance rather than with SF. I think it’s an interesting sign of the difference between New Zealand and the fandom I am more familiar with that two of her books made the shortlist.
Whitaker is the most interesting to me—Returning is published by a New Zealand small press, it’s available very cheaply as an ebook, and it appears to be science fiction. If I liked ebooks I’d buy it right now, as it is, I shall keep an eye out for it, and for other books by Whitaker.
The Vogels award in lots of categories—as well as YA, short work, and various fan awards, they also honour collections. I was interested to see that this year’s winner was Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry From New Zealand. One of the editors, Mark Petrie, was also honoured as best new talent. It’s great to see a poetry anthology winning. I find that refreshing and exciting.
I’m not recommending any of these things specifically—they’re as new to me as they are to you. But I’m heartily recommending the concept of checking them out if they sound appealing. Thank you fans of New Zealand for letting us know you think these are good!
The full list of winners:
- Best Novel: Beyond The Wall Of Time, Russell Kirkpatrick
- Best YA Novel: Brainjack, Brian Falkner
- Best Novella / Novellete: Wives, Paul Haines
- Best Short Story (tie): “Corrigan’s Exchange,” Ripley Patton; “The Living Dead Boy,” Grant Stone
- Best Collected Work: Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand, Mark Pirie and Tim Jones
- Best Artwork: The Test, Serena Kearns
- Best Dramatic Presentation: Under The Mountain
- Best Professional Publication: Semaphore Magazine, edited by Marie Hodgkinson
- Best New Talent: Simon Petrie
- Best Fan Writing: Simon Litten for SJV Watch and SFFANZ Reviews
- Best Fan Production: Coals to Newcastle (Short Film), Yvonne Harrison
- Fan Publication (tie): Phoenixine, John & Lynelle Howell; Time Space Visualiser, Adam McGechan
- Services to Fandom: David Lee Smith, the founder of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club
- Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror: Philip Mann
Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published eight novels, most recently Half a Crown and Lifelode, and two poetry collections. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here regularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal where the food and books are more varied.