Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: Cleverman, Crowdfunding, and Kudos

This month we’re mostly on about crowdfunding, trilogies, and awards shortlists. There’s some other stuff too, because you just can’t stop the anthologies. Or Cleverman.

Who is Cleverman? A few weeks ago I couldn’t have answered. But then there was this incredibly exciting announcement: that Cleverman is coming to the ABC (the Australian national broadcaster)—but only after it debuts at the Berlin International Film Festival. It’s also been picked up by the Sundance Channel (I have no idea how widespread that is…). Why is this so exciting? Because Cleverman is an Indigenous Australian superhero.

As someone connected to the project has pointed out, “Australia has no real experience of genre TV, so the fact that the ABC Indigenous Department embraced this is pretty radical for free-to-air.” And in case you need big names as an extra drawcard, Cleverman’s got Iain Glen—you might know him from Game of Thrones—and Frances O’Connor in it. Get a first look at the series here.

Crowdfunding has done really interesting things for publishing in the last couple of years, and Australia has been no slouch in getting on board. Ticonderoga Publications is running a Kickstarter for the sixth volume of their Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror—it’s running until March 12. Apparently no Australian-focussed year’s best has ever got to a sixth volume, which seems remarkable, and Ticonderoga are determined to be the first. Over in New Zealand, Woelf Dietrich is now on Patreon—there’s links to his past work and his hopes and plans for upcoming projects on the site. And podcast The Writer and the Critic, hosted by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, have just started up a Patreon to help cover their hosting fees and equipment upgrades.

cover-daughter-usaOver in NZ, Helen Lowe’s third book in The Wall of Night series has been released. Daughter of Blood, out from HarperVoyager, follows on from The Heir of Night and The Gathering of the Lost. It’s set in a world complete with an ancient war, where the enemy could be all around you, and there are many “lost powers and undiscovered secrets”. Lowe’s blog has sample chapters of the books in case you want to try-before-you-buy.

Another third in the series: Juliet Marillier’s Official Fan Page, on Facebook, tells us that the publication date for Den of Wolves (third in the Blackthorn&Grim series) is October 2016 in Australia, and November for the US. There’s also this glorious cover art!

PS Publishing is releasing a new novella from Deborah Biancotti, who was last mentioned in this column with Margo Lanagan and Scott Westerfeld in writing Zeroes. Waking in Winter takes place on a frozen desert world, where explorers find an ancient artefact and each person has a different reaction—each seeing a different god. Sounds totally creepy.

A while back you might remember Twelfth Planet Press doing a crowdfunding campaign for Defying Doomsday, and anthology featuring protagonists with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and other impairments. Well, now we’ve got a table of contents, and it is a thing of beauty. Australian/New Zealand names include Tansy Rayner Roberts, Thoraiya Dyer and Octavia Cade, while international types include John Chu and Seanan McGuire. (Additionally, editors Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnsotein are now reading for the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2016; email [email protected] if you’ve got something that should be considered.)

Also on the anthology front, Altair Australia, run by Robert N Stephenson, compiles an anthology each year. While the authors are paid, the ebook is free and the print version is “as close to cost price” as Amazon allows through their POD service. This year’s group includes five New Zealand and Australian names (including Lyn McConchie and Tony Shillitoe), and thirteen internationals—some established in the field, others on debut.

perf6.000x9.000.inddFebruary saw a multiple book launch for IFWG Publishing, with three new books aimed at children and young teens. The Adventures of Teddy and Karl: Bedtime Stories (words by Rolf Svensen, illustrator Jeffery E Doherty) features a young boy, his magical bear, and many Australian animals. Olivia Stone and the Trouble with Trixies (Jeffery E Doherty) sees a girl, crippled by injuries, “on the front lines in the battle between Good and Evil.” And in Drums and Power Lines (Rowena Evans), a small-town boy has unexpected adventures when he “finds himself in a place where everything is disturbingly the same, and yet unnervingly different.” That must have been an epic launch.

Not content with that, IFWG has just announced that Kaaron Warren’s novel The Grief Hole will be published as part of their Dark Phases series. It’s a “dark exploration of grief, manipulation, malevolent ghosts, a monstrous, charismatic man and the woman who needs to venture deep into a place called The Grief Hole in order to stop him.” In other words, classic Warren (which means I probably won’t read it… sorry, Kaaron, I just like being able to sleep with the light off). Finally, one of IFWG’s American authors, David Bowles, recently received the Pura Belpre Award for his novel The Smoking Mirror. The award was for a children’s/middle grade book with the “best portrayal, affirmation and celebration of the Latino cultural experience.” It features twins whose mother disappears, seeing them shipped off to relatives in Mexico, where they discover their mother is a nagual—a shapeshifter—leading to all sorts of dangers for her children.

UnknownSince we’re talking about awards—well, at this stage of the year it’s mostly shortlists—let’s keep going! The Locus Recommended Reading List for 2015 (I know it isn’t an award, but it is a form of recognition) featured a few Antipodeans: novels included James Bradley’s Clade, Zeroes (Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti), Sean Williams’ Hollowgirl and Jackie Hatton’s Flesh and Wires. Collections featured Garth Nix and Anna Tambour; Jonathan Strahan’s anthologies Meeting Infinity and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Nine were among the Anthologies. In the non-fiction Letters to Tiptree (edited by Alisa Krasnostein and myself) featured, while the shorter fiction included Greg Egan, Tamsyn Muir, Anna Tambour, Lisa L Hannett, Nike Sulway, and Kaaron Warren. Not a bad showing!

The British Science Fiction Association released its shortlist for the BSFA Awards earlier in February, which also features Letters to Tiptree (Alisa Krasnostein and myself) in its non-fiction section.

The Nebula shortlist came out, featuring Tamsyn Muir’s story “The Deepwater Bride”—it just keeps on getting love.

Australia’s National Convention, this year, in Brisbane, is going to be an Awards Extravaganza, with the Ditmars—Australia’s popularly voted awards—and the Aurealis Awards (Australian juried awards) both announced that weekend (Easter). The Ditmars have released their ballot and the Aurealis have released their shortlist, and they’re very exciting reading. It’s especially exciting to see the very first shortlist for the (not-an-Aurealis-Award) Sara Douglass Book Series Award! (I can’t imagine the work that went into reading all of the possible entries for that.) There’s a couple of other awards to be given then too, including the Norma K Hemming Award, for “race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in Australian speculative fiction”; their shortlist has been announced, although it doesn’t appear on the site yet. It includes Skye Melki-Wegner, Francseca Haig, Catherine Jinks, Louise Katz, Andrea K Höst, Jane Rawson, and Marlee Jane Ward.

To my shame I did not know that there was a set of awards for audiobooks—although of course there is, it makes perfect sense. But I know NOW because Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, got turned into one and it’s now on the shortlist for the 2016 Audie Awards in the Multi-Voiced Performance section (and having read it, yes it must be an epic cast).

PLUS nominations for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards will have just closed as you read this, so next month we’ll likely have that shortlist to ogle too….

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Alexandra Pierce reads, teaches, blogs, podcasts, cooks, knits, runs, eats, sleeps, and observes the stars. Not necessarily in that order of priority. She is a Christian, a feminist, and an Australian. She can be found at her website, and on the Galactic Suburbia podcast.

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