The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot

Every few years our Australian friends get into a frenzy of interviewing, aiming to highlight as many of their fine writers as possible. It is a fine tradition started by Ben Peek and known as the The Australian Spec Fic Snapshot. Some information on this year’s edition can be found here.

Probably the best way to follow the whole thing is via the #2014Snapshot hashtag on Twitter. That will give you links to everything posted thus far. And there is a lot. This year they have even gone so far as to interview someone who only lived in Australia for two years. The results of that should be online some time tomorrow.

OK Australia, This Means War

Forget the cricket. That’s just sport, after all. And us Poms seem to rather enjoy losing (though we much prefer losing to West Indies). No, this is something much more serious: whisky.

Last week an Australian whisky was named the best single malt whisky in the world.

Huge congratulations to the Sullivan’s Cove company. I’d say I was looking forward to trying it, but since the Sydney Morning Herald trumpeted the news my friends in Australia tell me that bottles have vanished from the shelves (mostly to re-appear soon after on eBay).

By the way, SMH, I’m afraid I can no longer read the phrase, “puts Tasmania on the map”, without collapsing into giggles.

Scotland: I hope you will step up to the plate here. I entirely understand that jettisoning the embarrassing English people that you so foolishly annexed in 1603 is taking up a lot of your time, but surely this stain on your national honor cannot go unavenged? Being beaten by the Japanese is one thing, but by Australians, really?

Aurealis Awards Finalists

Still on the subject of awards, Australia’s juried Aurealis Awards have announced their finalists (PDF). We have a lot of the books in the store.

Congratulations first to Fablecroft who have several books up for prizes:

The Jo Anderton book is particularly recommended as it is up for Best Collection and stories from it are up for several other awards.

Twelfth Planet Press doesn’t have quite as many finalists, but they do love you because they have made all three books available as a cut-price bundle. The books are:

Individually the books are priced at a total of £11.49, but you can get them all at £7.99. Kirstyn’s book was all over the Locus Recommended Reading List. Bargain, as they say.

The Guardian Goes Down Under

I’ve been noting a lot of Australian political news on the Guardian website of late, presumably heralding a big push into that market. And now they have made a play for that culture that David Gower jokingly suggested that they don’t have. (Sledging, Lord Gower? Surely not!) Yes, there is a article in The Guardian about one of the finest aspects of Australian culture: their thriving science fiction, fantasy and horror scene. Jonathan Strahan is interviewed. As indeed is this mouthy, feminist called Cheryl Morgan. Should you wish to see what awful things I have said, go here.

Aurealis Awards Winners

Australia’s juried awards were announced at a ceremony in Sydney today. Based on their Twitter feed, here are the winners.

  • Children’s Fiction (mainly words): Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
  • Children’s Fiction (mainly pictures): Little Elephants by Graeme Base (author and illustrator) (Viking Penguin)
  • YA Short Story: “The Wisdom of the Ants” by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)
  • YA Novel: tie: Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin) and Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Graphic novel: Blue by Pat Grant (author and illustrator) (Top Shelf Comix)
  • Collection: That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
  • Anthology: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume 6 edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
  • Horror Short Story: “Sky” by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Horror Novel: Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
  • Fantasy Short Story: “Bajazzle” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Fantasy Novel: Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Science Fiction Short Story: “Significant Dust” by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Science Fiction Novel: The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)
  • Peter McNamara Convenors’ Award for Excellence: Kate Eltham
  • Kris Hembury Encouragement Award: Laura Goodin

Congratulations in particular to Margo Lanagan who picked up four awards on the night. I note that, as with the Ditmars the vast majority of winners are women. Goodness only knows what Alisa’s puppy will say on the next episode of Galactic Suburbia.

I am, of course, delighted to see another award win for Clarkesworld. If you’d like to help Neil and the crew with the expenses, you can buy that issue from my bookstore. And, of course, we have several of the award winners on sale. Here they are.

Ditmar Winners

The Ditmar Award winners were announced at the Australian Natcon yesterday evening. I can’t see an official announcement yet, but based on Twitter reports the winners are as follows:

  • Novel: Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Novella or Novelette: “Sky”, Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls)
  • Short Story: “The Wisdom of Ants”, Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld 12/12)
  • Collected Work: Through Splintered Walls, Kaaron Warren (Twelfth Planet)
  • Artwork: Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Midnight and Moonshine (Ticonderoga)
  • Fan Writer: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work including reviews in Not If You Were The Last Short Story On Earth
  • Fan Artist: Kathleen Jennings, for body of work including “The Dalek Game” and “The Tamsyn Webb Sketchbook”
  • Fan Publication: The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • New Talent: David McDonald
  • William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review: Tansy Rayner Roberts, for “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy. Let’s Unpack That.” (

Also announced at the ceremony (but Not A Ditmar) were the following:

  • Norma K. Hemming Award: Sea Hearts, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award: Nick Stathopoulos
  • A. Bertram Chandler Award for Outstanding Achievement: Russell B Farr

I’m delighted to see a Clarkesworld story winning the short fiction category. Also I note that Karen Warren’s double-winning collection is available in a bookstore near you.

I look forward to seeing long, angry articles from male fans complaining that the Ditmars are “broken”, and blaming it all on Alisa Krasnostein with her radical lesbian separatist politics. 😉

Update: Added the Chandler Award. See Sean the Bookonaut for a Storify record of the ceremony.

GUFF Deadline Approaches

James Shields reminds me that the deadline for voting in the current GUFF race is midnight on Monday. Details of the race are here, along with instructions on how to vote. Personally I’d love to see Mihaela win, but I know that Julie would make a great GUFF delegate too.

And remember, fan funds rely on the income from voting fees to help fund the travel. They need more people to vote.

New Aussie Podcast

Thanks to Kirstyn and Mondy of The Writer & The Critic I have been altered to a new podcast by prolific Australian blogger, Sean Wright. The podcast is named after his blog, Adventures of a Bookonaut, and Episode 1 is very interesting.

It contains three interviews. The first is with Luke Preston. He’s a thriller writer, but well worth listening to as he has come to novel writing from a screen writing background. Consequently he has some interesting views on how to write (which I suspect are better-suited to his chosen genre than to other types of fiction).

Next up is Joelyn Alexandra from Singapore who introduces us to her own writing, and to several other writers from her part of the world.

Finally there is an interview with Helen Merrick, author of The Secret Feminist Cabal. This is a must-listen for anyone with an interest in feminism and science fiction.

Thanks Sean, I’m looking forward to more episodes.

Europe Goes For GUFF

Here’s me going on about European fandom again. GUFF, the fan fund ostensibly operating between Europe and Australasia, often ends up actually operating between the UK and Australia. There are been a couple of non-UK winners from the European end, but I don’t think any Kiwis have won. And in the past the visiting Aussies generally went to Eastercon, or a UK Worldcon (an honorable exception being Roman Orszanski’s trip to the Dutch Worldcon). I was delighted last year to see Kylie Ding travel to Finland as part of her GUFF trip. And this year I am even more delighted to be sponsoring a Croatian candidate for the fund.

Mihaela Marija Perković is one of the leading lights of SFera, the Zagreb fan group that staged last year’s excellent Eurocon. I have an interest here, of course, in that Mihaela is one of the people who decided to make me a fan guest of honor at that convention. But she did far more than that. She took me too and from the airport, she put me up in her home, she introduced me to some great Croatian food and drink, she got me onto a chat show on national TV, and we had some great conversations about books. I loved it so much that I’m planning to go back next year.

And my point is that someone who can do all of that stuff is exactly the sort of person you want as a fan fund delegate. Fan funds are all about promoting international fannish cooperation, and Mihaela already has a an excellent track record. Indeed, Zagreb fandom thinks so highly of her as an ambassador that they awarded her a grant so that she could attend Worldcon in Chicago. And she’s a staff volunteer for the forthcoming London Worldcon.

I note also that Mihaela’s sponsors include Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf from Sweden and Cristian Tamas from Romania, so it’s not just me she’s impressed.

I’m also pleased with the trip that Mihaela has planned. She intends to see a lot of Australian, and make it to New Zealand as well. I’m not sure what her husband and little Iggy make of his, and I suspect that Grandma may be involved with the Iggy-minding plans, but it is great to see someone wanting to do a big trip.

If you want to vote, instructions are available here. The voting fee is GBP 5/EUR 6/AUD 8 and these days you can vote by PayPal. The money, of course, goes towards funding the trip.

I should add that the other candidate, Julie McMurray, is a friend, and I have already apologized to her for backing the opposition. I’m sure she’d make a great delegate too. But I owe Mihaela big time, and I’m very keen to see European fandom taking a wider role in the English-speaking fan community.

Finland, yes, you can vote, and it is your turn next (that will be 2015). And Australia friends, I’m sure you’ll find Mihaela as fun to be with as I did.

New From Twelfth Planet

And speaking of fabulous Australians, as we just were, here is something else to be thankful for today. I have not one, not two, but three new books for you from Twelfth Planet Press. Worth a squee? Just wait until you see who the authors are.

Well actually you may not have heard of Jason Nahrung, but he is the spousal unit of the very wonderful Kirstyn McDermott, she of The Writer and The Critic fame. Like Kirstyn, he writes horror, and our first TPP book is his novella, Salvage. “Isolated beach house on a remote Queensland island”? Oh dear…

Horror is going to be something of a constant theme here, because next up we have the very wonderful Kaaron Warren, who has a book in the Twelve Planets series of short collections. The blurb for Through Splintered Walls says, “These are stories inspired by the beauty, the danger, the cruelty, emptiness, loneliness and perfection of the Australian landscape.” Yeah, that’s Australia alright.

And finally, as if that wasn’t enough to creep you out, we have Cracklescape by the very wonderful Margo Lanagan. This is another Twelve Planets book, and also full of very Australian stories. Margo is a four-time World Fantasy Award winner. I am so happy to have a book of hers in the store.

I’m also delighted to continue to be able to bring you ebook editions of these books, because it costs an arm and a leg to mail them from Australia. In US terms they are about $6 for the ebooks, and over $18 for paper.

Eastercon – Sunday

Another day survived, and this one was a lot better.

I spent a couple of hours following the Australian awards ceremony from Swancon. I was astonished at the number of women winning awards. They dominated in all categories, but particularly notable were the Ditmar Awards. Out of 11 categories, only one was won by men, and in that case the wining work already had an Oscar (well done again, Shaun Tan). Every other category went to the ladies.

My one panel today was on nuclear power and it went very well (in marked contrast to all of my previous panels). Many thanks to Nige Furlong and Vincent Docherty for being excellent co-panelists.

Of course you absolutely cannot complain about a day on which you get a Hugo nomination. I’m a very small part of the Clarkesworld operation, and I have several Hugos already, but I am hoping we win this one because Kate Baker’s name is on the ballot this time and she’s a major part of our success. Kate Deserves a Hugo.

I’m also very pleased to see Peter Watts’s story, “The Things”, on the ballot. It was very popular with readers, with “Best Of” editors and now with award voters. Thank you for letting us publish it, Peter.

Of course it would be rather ironic if two of the Hugo winners were unable to accept their trophies because they are barred from entering the USA.

I’ll doubtless have more to say about the Hugos later, but as it is 1:00am here at Eastercon I really need sleep. I’d like to conclude with a quick shout out to my friends Ian Watson and Robert Quaglia for their nomination in this year’s Seiun awards. There are at least three Hugo nominees on the translated short fiction list, so they should be very proud to be there too.

SF Library in WA Needs Funds

I got a press release today from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. Apparently they have discovered a large collection of SF&F-related material in a basement. It dates back over 30 years and comprises “rare books, comics, fanzines, t-shirts and personal writings that relate to the science fiction community of Western Australia and Australia.” This includes, “copies of the Norstrilian News from 1972, Western Australian Science Fiction Association papers from 1977 and the complete personal collection of Leigh Edmonds which includes just about everything pertaining to fandom from 1972 onwards.”

Obviously such a collection needs work to catalog and preserve, and the university is reaching out to the SF&F community for help. They don’t have PayPal sorted yet, but hopefully they will do that, or something similar, soon. In the meantime you can learn more, and find out how to donate by mail, from their website.

Good News From Queensland

Those of you following the news from Australia may be wondering what is happening to our friends Jean Weber and Eric Lindsay, who live near Townsville, right in the path of the cyclone. I am much relieved to report that I have just had email from Robin Johnson. He has spoken to Jean and Eric on the phone. They and their home are OK, though communication will be patchy for a while until the utility companies clear up the mess.

Cultural Difference (Stereotyping)

The Adelaide Oval cricket ground has built some large new stands recently. When the test match took place there last year the English commentators on Sky and the BBC were in full flow whingeing about how the look of the ground had been ruined by hideous modern architecture. There’s a one-day international taking place there today, and Nasser Hussain just asked Greg Blewett whether there had been any complaints by the locals. “There were some complaints during the test match…” replied Blewie, “…because one of the new bars ran out of beer.”

A Melbourne Mystery

The Ashes resumed today in one of the world’s great sporting events: the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Tens of thousands of holidaying Aussies had packed into the famous ground to see the old enemy ground into the dust. They were sadly disappointed, and no one seemed to know why.

England won the toss and elected to field, but although there was a certain amount of help for their bowlers there did not seen to be too many terrors in the pitch. After a few minutes of play, Sir Geoffrey Boycott, commenting for the BBC, said he could see no way that England were going to win. The pitch was too friendly. The game, he confidently predicted, would be a draw.

Four hours later, Australia were all out for 98, a performance that racked up so many “lowest” and “worst” records that I have lost track of them all.

Cricket pitches do get a bit better during the day, but not by orders of magnitude. The fact that England’s openers cruised to 157 without getting out in the evening session suggested that Sir Geoffrey’s assessment of the wicket was correct. So what happened?

“Australia are batting without any care and attention,” Lord Gower noted on Sky. And he should know, as batting without a care in the world was something he was rather good at during his career. Such behavior, however, is not normally expected of the fiercely competitive Australians. Had they partaken of too much Christmas cheer, or was some other factor to blame?

“It was as if their brains had gone out of the window,” commented a bemused Sir Geoffrey at the end of the day. Missing brains? Well, that could explain a lot. And I happen to know that this person is a keen cricket fan.

Fluff Cthulhu

Holiday Gifts 2: Aussie Photos

It being very cold here, I have been spending some time reviewing pictures of the vacation that Kevin and I took in Northern Queensland after Worldcon. As many of you are also in the middle of winter, I thought I would share some photos.

To start with, here’s a look at Cairns itself.

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Next up, our rail trip up to Kuranda, complete with fruit bats and butterflies.

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And finally, the Great Barrier Reef. Kevin got some really great underwater photos.

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