Yes those hard working judges have narrowed down the selections from hundreds (750 or so) of hopefuls to a handful of worthy works. Judging co-ordinator Tehani Wessely (of Fablecroft fame) noted that the standards remained very high this year and that there were a record number of entries. The amount of quality e-published fiction continued to rise as well [source]
A close field, which I note is 80% women. I have only read what I would consider the big guns; Bitter Greens and Sea Hearts. With the recent short listing of Sea Hearts for the Stella I’d have to say I think it has the edge in this race(which is based entirely on my subjective impressions of Buzz over these books).
Fantasy Short Story
The field dominated by women and by small presses, with only one from the big publishing houses. I have only read the Lanagan and despite the fact that Margo is on fire this year I can’t rule out any of the others. Very tough field.
Science Fiction Novel
I have only read one in this selection, the field again showing a strong contingent of female writers and a self published work, which is a pleasant surprise. No idea who is the front runner here. On reputation; a Nix versus Anderton ticket maybe?
Science Fiction Short Story
I have only read the Lanagan in this field, but a strong showing from others whose works I have read. Significant dust was my favourite of the Cracklescape stories so my heart goes there.
A field that’s received an injection of works compared to last year. And I have read 75% of the entries. Of those three entries read, all are different kinds of Horror. I think possibly its a race between Salvage and Perfections.
Horror Short Story
A good showing here from old hands and new blood - Hood and Warren flying the flag for established Australian Horror writers. I liked Sky and its observations about small town country life.
Dowker, Anderton and Cleghorn with strong showings from writers beginning to really flex their muscles. I read and REALLY liked Elyora ( which may have some non-Awards news related to it). I think Cleghorn’s the dark horse here, but its a very solid field. And I note again 80% women.
Young Adult Novel
I have only read the Lanagan, so won’t comment any further. Other than to say that if Margo doesn’t take home at least one award I’ll be surprised.
Or should I say the Jonathan Strahan Field. Jonathan has been very busy, brining us top quality anthologies but Pillar, Grzyb and Helene are all damn fine anthologists too. The numbers are on Strahan’s side perhaps, giving him a slight edge, but hmm too close to call.
I am going to say a Warren vs Hannett & Slatter competition based on Buzz Such different books though.
Feel free to ruminate below. I think in terms of storytelling this years Aurealis Finalists shows that the Australian Speculative fiction scene continues to have a depth of talent.