Aurora Australis

Aurora Australis: An Awards Bonanza! (And a Few Novels, Too)

Welcome to Aurora Australis, a monthly round-up of publishing news and highlights from Australia and New Zealand!

Last month in Australia and New Zealand we saw a round of resignations and at least one cringe-worthy interview on the political front, but it’s not all bad because a scientist in Queensland used the bin chicken (properly known as a white ibis) and other birds to help understand the gait of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. In the literary world, though, it’s an awards bonanza!

Let me tell you about some of our exciting news. Firstly, chronologically, there was the Locus Recommended Reading List—which I know isn’t an award but it kinda feels like it. Six Australians had novels on different parts of the list: Jane Rawson, Foz Meadows, Angela Slatter, James Bradley, Garth Nix, and Cat Sparks. The collections included Jack Dann and Angela Slatter, while anthologies had two from Jonathan Strahan. The non-fiction included a book edited by me and Mimi Mondal; in the shorter works categories there was Greg Egan (twice!), Garth Nix and Angela Slatter (again!), and Octavia Cade. These are linked to the Locus Poll and Survey, which is open until April 15, so I hope lots of people will head over and vote for their favourites!

Then there was the Aurealis Awards shortlist, for Australian speculative fiction. There were over 800 submissions in 2017, which is a great sign of the strength of Australians writing and getting published. The Aurealis Awards covers children’s and YA as well as horror, science fiction, and fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories. While there are some names and some works that appear a couple of times across the shortlist, there’s a welcome variety and some new names that indicate a strong field this year. Congratulations to everyone on the list; winners will be announced at Easter at the Perth convention, Swancon.

The Aurealis Awards are peer-judged; the Ditmars, on the other hand, are a popular award more like the Hugos, for Australian works—the preliminary ballot for them also came out recently. There’s some common works between the Aurealis and the Ditmars, but it’s not completely the same. And the Ditmars also has art and fan categories (publication, writer, artist), recognising other important parts of our scene. Voting for the Ditmars is open now; they too will be announced at Swancon.

And! The New Zealand popular awards, the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, have also announced their shortlist! Like the Hugos and Ditmars, this too recognises professional and fan achievements; there’s also awards for services to fandom, and to science fiction, fantasy and horror. The Vogels will be given at ConClave on April 1.

And finally, on the topic of awards, don’t forget to nominate for the Hugos, if you’re eligible… the above lists might give you a starting point….

Awards are for past performance. Let’s look forward to future performance as well!

SpecFicNZ have revealed the cover for their inaugural anthology showcasing NZ speculative fiction, Te Kōrero Ahi Kā—To Speak of the Home Fires Burning, which is due out in March. It’s been edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, and Aaron Compton and includes stories, poems, and interior artwork.

David Versace has announced his upcoming collection, Mnemo’s Memory and other Fantastic Tales. It includes nineteen short stories, with a few of them original to the collection, complete with “high adventure and low humour, from mythic lands to the universe next door.” It will be available as an ebook as you read this.

In novels, Alan Baxter’s Hidden City is out now from Gryphonwood Press: “when the city is sick, everyone suffers.” After some weird events, Steven Hines’ city is being sealed off from the rest of the world, and you just know that’s going to lead to some serious problems. And Robert Mammone has a limited-run Doctor Who novella out called Travers and Wells, in the Lethbridge-Stewart series from Candy Jar Books. It features HG Wells and is a twist on Wells’ War of the Worlds.

Meanwhile, coming soon: Jay Kristoff has a new book coming: Lifel1k3. It’s described as “Romeo & Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-Men, with a little bit of Bladerunner cheering from the sidelines.” Which sounds like one of the most epic mash-ups I can imagine. There’s a robot gladiator and skies glowing with radiation, gangsters and mind powers and forgotten pasts. Coming in May this year, all I can say is that Allen and Unwin sure can pick them. I can’t wait to see the cover.

Another novel coming in May from Allen and Unwin is Lynette Noni’s Whisper. The blurb begins: “For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four—‘Jane Doe’—has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.” So if that’s not terrifying I’m not sure what is. Jane knows that her words have power, so what’s going to happen when does start to talk? Colour me very intrigued indeed.

And finally, a while back Karen Healey and Robyn Fleming ran a Kickstarter, and the result is now here: their Empress of Timbra is available for purchase! It’s “thrilling high fantasy adventure in an intricate world of magic and intrigue,” with two bastard children in the court of an empress with enemies all around. It’s got good reviews so far, with comparisons to Tamora Pierce and Trudi Canavan, so if that’s your bag this will be worth checking out.

That’s it for another month! Got some Australian or NZ news for me? Let me know!

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