Feb 28, 2015

Aurealis Finalists Announced

So part of the reason for the blog being quiet is due to the Aurealis Awards judging I have been involved with.  The shortlist announcements were made sometime on Thursday and bar some notes I have to write I hope to be getting back to some sort of normality.  The other reason its so quite was Post It Note Poetry which ran for all of February and despite the poems only being pint sized I still felt creatively drained.

But here, in case you clicked on the post due to the descriptive title, is the shortlist:


2014 Aurealis Awards – Finalists


Fireborn, Keri Arthur (Hachette Australia)

This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

The Lascar’s Dagger, Glenda Larke (Hachette Australia)

Dreamer’s Pool, Juliet Marillier (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Books Australia)

Daughters of the Storm, Kim Wilkins (Harlequin Enterprises Australia)



“The Oud”, Thoraiya Dyer (Long Hidden, Crossed Genres Publications)

“Teratogen”, Deborah Kalin (Cemetery Dance, #71, May 2014)

“The Ghost of Hephaestus”, Charlotte Nash (Phantazein, FableCroft Publications)

“St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls”, Angela Slatter (The Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 9, Issue 3)

“The Badger Bride”, Angela Slatter (Strange Tales IV, Tartarus Press)



Aurora: Meridian, Amanda Bridgeman (Momentum)

Nil By Mouth, LynC (Satalyte)

The White List, Nina D’Aleo (Momentum)

Peacemaker, Marianne de Pierres (Angry Robot)

This Shattered World, Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Allen & Unwin)

Foresight, Graham Storrs (Momentum)



“The Executioner Goes Home”, Deborah Biancotti (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 11 Issue 6)

“Wine, Women and Stars”, Thoraiya Dyer (Analog Vol CXXXIV nos 1&2 Jan/Feb)

“The Glorious Aerybeth”, Jason Fischer (OnSpec, 11 Sep 2014)

“Dellinger”, Charlotte Nash (Use Only As Directed, Peggy Bright Books)

“Happy Go Lucky”, Garth Nix (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)



Book of the Dead, Greig Beck (Momentum)

Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier (Allen & Unwin)

Obsidian, Alan Baxter (HarperVoyager)



“The Executioner Goes Home”, Deborah Biancotti (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 11 Issue 6)

“Skinsuit”, James Bradley (Island Magazine 137)

“By the Moon’s Good Grace”, Kirstyn McDermott (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol 12, Issue 3)

“Shay Corsham Worsted”, Garth Nix (Fearful Symmetries, Chizine)

“Home and Hearth”, Angela Slatter (Spectral Press)



The Astrologer’s Daughter, Rebecca Lim (Text Publishing)

Afterworld, Lynnette Lounsbury (Allen & Unwin)

The Cracks in the Kingdom, Jaclyn Moriarty (Pan Macmillan Australia)

Clariel, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)

The Haunting of Lily Frost, Nova Weetman (UQP)

Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Books Australia)



“In Hades”, Goldie Alexander (Celapene Press)

“Falling Leaves”, Liz Argall (Apex Magazine)

“The Fuller and the Bogle”, David Cornish (Tales from the Half-Continent, Omnibus Books)

“Vanilla”, Dirk Flinthart (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)

“Signature”, Faith Mudge (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)



Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband #4, John Flanagan (Random House Australia)

Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, Karen Foxlee (Hot Key Books)

The Last Viking Returns, Norman Jorgensen and James Foley (ILL.) (Fremantle Press)

Withering-by-Sea, Judith Rossell (ABC Books)

Sunker’s Deep: The Hidden #2, Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

Shadow Sister: Dragon Keeper #5, Carole Wilkinson (Black Dog Books)



The Female Factory, Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter (Twelfth Planet Press)

Secret Lives, Rosaleen Love (Twelfth Planet Press)

Angel Dust, Ian McHugh (Ticonderoga Publications)

Difficult Second Album: more stories of Xenobiology, Space Elevators, and Bats Out Of Hell, Simon Petrie (Peggy Bright Books)

The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus Press)

Black-Winged Angels, Angela Slatter (Ticonderoga Publications)



Kisses by Clockwork, Liz Grzyb (Ed) (Ticonderoga Publications)

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Eds), (Twelfth Planet Press)

Amok: An Anthology of Asia-Pacific Speculative Fiction, Dominica Malcolm (Ed) (Solarwyrm Press)

Reach for Infinity, Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Solaris Books)

Fearsome Magics, Jonathan Strahan (Ed) (Solaris Books)

Phantazein, Tehani Wessely (Ed) (FableCroft Publishing)



Left Hand Path #1, Jason Franks & Paul Abstruse (Winter City Productions)

Awkwood, Jase Harper (Milk Shadow Books)

“A Small Wild Magic”, Kathleen Jennings (Monstrous Affections, Candlewick Press)

Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye, Tim Molloy (Milk Shadow Books)

The Game, Shane W Smith (Deeper Meanings Publishing)



For further information please visit  the Awards website.

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Feb 16, 2015

Ditmar Shortlist Announced 2015

shot_1402450200410 Well the preliminary one anyway ( for checking by members of the community for errors etc).  I am very pleased to see a number of folks featuring. Congratulations to all the nominees.


Best Novel
  • The Lascar's Dagger, Glenda Larke (Hachette)
  • Bound (Alex Caine 1), Alan Baxter (Voyager)
  • Clariel, Garth Nix (HarperCollins)
  • Thief's Magic (Millennium's Rule 1), Trudi Canavan (Hachette Australia)
  • The Godless (Children 1), Ben Peek (Tor UK)


I have read and reviewed three of these and an argument could be made that they are all equally good at doing something different.  Such versatility.


Best Novella or Novelette
  • "The Ghost of Hephaestus", Charlotte Nash, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • "The Legend Trap", Sean Williams, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • "The Darkness in Clara", Alan Baxter, in SQ Mag 14 (IFWG Publishing Australia)
  • "St Dymphna's School for Poison Girls", Angela Slatter, in Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 9, Issue 3 (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • "The Female Factory", Lisa L. Hannett and Angela Slatter, in The Female Factory (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • "Escapement", Stephanie Gunn, in Kisses by Clockwork (Ticonderoga Publications)

I have read all but one of these but will leave commenting until after the Aurealis Awards. Sufficed to say another strong field


Best Short Story
  • "Bahamut", Thoraiya Dyer, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • "Vanilla", Dirk Flinthart, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • "Cookie Cutter Superhero", Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • "The Seventh Relic", Cat Sparks, in Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • "Signature", Faith Mudge, in Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press)

As above.


Best Collected Work
  • Kaleidoscope, Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Phantazein, Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)

A tough selection here.  My advice, buy all of them :) and decide for yourself :D


Best Artwork
  • Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in Black-Winged Angels (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, of Phantazein (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Illustrations, Kathleen Jennings, in The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press)

I am going out on a limb and saying Kathleen Jennings The Bitterwood Bible…


Best Fan Writer
  • Tansy Rayner Roberts, for body of work
  • Tsana Dolichva, for body of work
  • Bruce Gillespie, for body of work
  • Katharine Stubbs, for body of work
  • Alexandra Pierce for body of work
  • Grant Watson, for body of work
  • Sean Wright, for body of work

I won’t comment here for obvious reasons.  But thanks to all who nominated me.  That’s a good cross section of commentary though I would have put Ian Mond in there somewhere too perhaps. 


Best Fan Artist
  • Nalini Haynes, for body of work, including "Interstellar Park Ranger Bond, Jaime Bond", "Gabba and Slave Lay-off: Star Wars explains Australian politics", "The Driver", and "Unmasked" in Dark Matter Zine
  • Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Fakecon art and Illustration Friday series
  • Nick Stathopoulos, for movie poster of It Grows!

I will have to peruse some links for these. 


Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
  • Snapshot 2014, Tsana Dolichva, Nick Evans, Stephanie Gunn, Kathryn Linge, Elanor Matton-Johnson, David McDonald, Helen Merrick, Jason Nahrung, Ben Payne, Alex Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Helen Stubbs, Katharine Stubbs, Tehani Wessely, and Sean Wright
  • It Grows!, Nick Stathopoulos
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Andrew Finch
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
  • Galactic Chat, Sean Wright, Helen Stubbs, David McDonald, Alexandra Pierce, Sarah Parker, and Mark Webb

All great projects. 

Best New Talent
  • Helen Stubbs
  • Shauna O'Meara
  • Michelle Goldsmith

All bright and shining lights who are going to make my vote difficult.

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review
  • Reviews in The Angriest, Grant Watson
  • The Eddings Reread series, Tehani Wessely, Jo Anderton, and Alexandra Pierce, in A Conversational Life
  • Reviews in Adventures of a Bookonaut, Sean Wright
  • "Does Sex Make Science Fiction Soft?", in Uncanny Magazine 1, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • Reviews in FictionMachine, Grant Watson

My thinking on the Atheling is that it should probably go to a particular project of criticism to differentiate it from general fan writing or reviewing. So my choices will be between The Eddings Reread, Tansy’s article and FictionMachine.

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Poems - The collected poetry of Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod

poemsIt’s rare that my two major literary interests intersect in such a spectacular way i.e. poetry and speculative fiction.  But here we have it, a collection of poems by the late Iain Banks and friend and fellow speculative fiction writer Ken MacLeod.

Here’s the official description of Poems:

Iain Banks the literary novelist and Iain M. Banks the science fiction writer are too well known to need introduction, but Iain Banks the poet has hitherto been almost undetected: a single poem was published in a magazine and three short pieces within the novels. But he took his poetry seriously and worked on it carefully, though he shared the results mainly with friends.

Readers of Iain's novels will find in these poems many aspects of his writing with which they're already familiar: a humane and materialist sensibility, an unflinching stare at the damage people can do to each other, a warm appreciation of the joy they can give to each other, a revel in language, a geologically informed gaze on land and sea, a continued meditation on what it means for us to be mortal embodied minds with a fleeting but consequent existence between abysses of deep time. Ken MacLeod, Iain's long-time friend and collaborator, has collected his poems according to his wishes, and they are published here - most for the first time - alongside a selection of Ken's own poetry.

The Guardian newspaper featured one of Iain’s poems here.

Booktopia has the hardcover available for pre-order. Release date is the 24th of Feb.

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Feb 8, 2015

On reviewing poetry

shot_1423012846770 I have been struggling a little on reviewing poetry.  Part of this stems from expectations and examples.  A good proportion of the poetry reviews written in Australia are formal, multi page essays that do a fine job of interrogating the text, placing it in its context etc.  They are great and at times even enjoyable for what they are; which is mainly very educated and well read poets talking to other educated and well read poets. 

I find them less helpful in helping me choose who I might like to read. I am willing to suggest that there’s a good segment of the community (and I’m not talking about the wider non poetry reading community here either) that are in the same boat.

To write reviews of the calibre of a university paper is too much of a drain on my resources.  I’d rather spend time writing poetry than reading enough poetry to be confident in critiquing it. 

Note, this is not an argument against reading poetry, more not reading poetry that I have limited interest in or understanding of.   I expect to grow as a poet but I want that growth to happen as a result of a concerted effort at writing as well as reading.

What I want to do as a reviewer of poetry is to share good poetry (or poetry I like) with other people who don’t necessarily read it.  I think there are potential readers (and writers) or poetry who are lost because the entrance exam is too high (be this real or imagined).

The first modern/contemporary poetry book that I bought came not as the result of a long essay on its merits and comparing it to the rest of the field but from a blog and a link to the poet performing on YouTube.

I want to be able to give the reader of this blog in under 500 words a good sense of the poet’s work and why I think they should read them.  My greatest aim would be to grab a non poetry reader and get them reading poetry for life and a stretch goal would be to get them to start writing poetry.

To that end I am interested in suggestions for what you might think makes for a good review of poetry aimed at the non poet. 

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Book Review - In the Company of Cowards by Michael Mori


I have been interested in the story of David Hicks for some time.  In the Company of Cowards should convince all but the the wilfully ignorant and those that have some political advantage to gain or maintain, that there was a gross and blatant miscarriage of justice in his incarceration and plea deal under duress. 

This book is also lesson from history of what the powerful can and will do to suite their cause.  As an Australian this book scares the life out of me.  It says that should the Australian Government of the day decide it, my citizenship means nothing compared to their personal or party wishes.  The law is no particular obstacle, especially when you can outsource its neglect to an ally. 

In the Company of Cowards outlines from beginning to end the legal case against Hicks(or lack of one), the blatant and extreme ends to which the American and Australian administrations went to, the rigging of the Military Commission system, the failure to do anything but the most cursory investigations to obtain evidence, the list goes on and on. 

Mori does a good job of injecting humour and biography into what could be a very dry and depressing subject. Mori outlines in plain English, the abandonment of the cornerstones of legal practice and tradition, where the convoluted machinations of the hastily rigged commission system strikes at the very heart of American values and he is continually baffled at the abandonment of Hicks by his own government.

You may find this book hard to get through.  I was repulsed and depressed by the actions of Australian government ministers but morbidly fascinated by the unfolding of events.

I was buoyed be the fact, that in the end it was political pressure that came from regular Australian Citizens that turned the tide.

In the Company of Cowards isn’t a comfortable read but its a necessary one.

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