Tuesday, June 14, 2005

2005 Ditmar Awards
The 2005 Australian National Science Fiction Achievement 'Ditmar' Awards were presented at Thylacon, the 44th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, on Saturday 11 June 2005, in a ceremony at the Wrest Point Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania. The awards were presented by Cary Lenehan. The winners were:

Best Novel
The Crooked Letter, Sean Williams (HarperCollins Australia)

Best Collected Work
Black Juice, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin Australia)

Best Novella/Novelette
"The Last Days of Kali Yuga", Paul Haines (NFG Magazine, August 2004)

Best Short Story
"Singing My Sister Down", Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)

Best Professional Artwork
Kerri Valkova for the cover to The Black Crusade (Chimaera Publications)

Best Professional Achievement
Clarion South committee

Fan Achievement
Conflux convention committee

Fan Artist
Sarah Xu

The SF Bullsheet, eds Edwina Harvey & Ted Scribner

Fan Writer
Bruce Gillespie

Best New Talent
Paul Haines

Also at Thylacon, two non-Ditmar awards were presented:

William Atheling Jnr Award for Criticism or Review (tie)
Robert Hood, for his review of Weight of Water at HoodReviews; and
Jason Nahrung for "Why are publishers afraid of horror" (BAM, Courier Mail, 20 March 2004)

The Peter McNamara Achievement Award (presented by Mariann MacNamara)
Jonathan Strahan

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thylacon is eight days away. I'm actually starting to look forward to it, and not just because I'll be getting my life back afterwards. Last time I went to a science fiction convention, I wasn't pregnant yet. Now I have a nearly-five-month old beautiful baby girl, and a new house (more rooms than we actually need right now!!!) and an entirely different life.

Not that the old one was bad, it was actually pretty damn good, but the new one is on another plane. I love being a mum.

Now I just have to finish my PhD thesis, get back to The Creature Court and use it to get me an agent and a three-book contract...

But before then, I have a convention to put on. Come along and see us - day memberships are $50 at the door. I recommend Saturday, as that includes the Masquerade and Ditmar awards, which are something of an extravaganza. But the programming on Sunday is pretty good - you'll get the widest range of choice with nearly three streams plus gaming & trading.


and watch this space to find out what happens next. :)

My new housemum existence (as opposed to the old gadabout bookshop-haunting student existence) means that I don't get out much. The upshot of this is that I am spending less money on impulse-buy books from actual bookshops, and spending more on buying books online. Funnily enough, it works out that overall I spend less money on books, because I'm a lot choosier when lashing out for postage.

I have less time for everything these days, except reading (while breastfeeding). And soap operas, but that's another story. :)

I've recently been indulging in a pile of Locus-recommended fiction, and enjoying myself immensely.

The Family Trade by Charles Stross was a bit of a disappointment, but only because I have read so many reviews that built it up so highly. I don't think it's quite as fantastic and original and amazing as so many other reviewers seem to thing, although I should add that it is a) pretty good, b) reasonably original, and c) far better than most of the mass market fantasy out there. The character and set up is interesting, and I'll certainly read more in the series. I'm generally not a fan of US-based 'portal' fantasy but this is a quality example of the sub-genre.

Even though I was prepared for it not to have a proper conclusion (having been warned by various reviews) I wasn't really prepared for it to stop *so* suddenly and when the story had only just gotten started. Apparently this is another publisher-slashes-book-in-half casualty and I'm getting so tired of those! Unfortunately there's no way to protest this without doing further damage to the author. The female characters are fantastic, very developed and interesting, not only the heroine but her various friends and companions also. Conversely, the male characters are very uninteresting and uninspired. The central 'dangerous man/villain/father figure' never gets beyond the oft-mentioned Godfather metaphor, and as for the 'romantic interest' Roland - well, he *could* be wetter, but it's hard to imagine. I didn't mind Miriam falling into bed with him in an attempt to manipulate him, but I couldn't for the life of me see why/how she was falling in love so suddenly. It didn't fit in with her character.

I wish I'd waited until another volume or two of this was out, because the pace does build up and I'm keen to see what happens next. I did enjoy this - particularly the various travel descriptions, usually the bane of fantasy - and will be following future installments. My high expectations worked against me with this one.

Not so with Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link, which I also came into prepared to love. In this case I did, unconditionally. Kelly Link writes exactly the kind of stories that I love to read - and the kind I'd love to write. She constantly surprises me with my favourite themes and characters that I enjoy spending time with; even the nasty ones! I'm looking forward to Magic for Beginners.

The third on the list was Trash Sex Magic by Jennifer Stevenson. I admit that I read it because of the title more than the various awards it's garnered, but I was overwhelmed by how much it exceeded my expectations. It's a beautiful, literate story about brash, lively characters. It doesn't patronise or over-explain (or confuse). It doesn't need a sequel or a prequel or a map or twice as many pages as the plot allows for. It's tight and clever and more fantasy should be exactly like this (only different of course, which is the point).

So two out of three books this week that made me want to be a better writer. Not bad at all.