Tag Archives: sprawl

Chronos Awards 2011 (with commentary)

The Chronos Awards were presented this weekend at Continuum 7! I really wish I could have been at the con.

* Best Long Fiction: Madigan Mine, Kirstyn McDermott (Pan MacMillan Australia)
AKA book teetering at the highest point of my to read pile and piling scorn upon me for not reading it yet, with every new accolade it gathers. Yay Kirstyn!
* Best Short Fiction: “Her Gallant Needs”, Paul Haines (Sprawl,Twelfth Planet Press)
As with most Haines stories, I both loved and hated this one in equal measures. Yay for Paul and for Sprawl, a fabulous book.
* Best Artwork: Australis Imaginarium cover, Shaun Tan (FableCroft Publishing)
Nice to see Shaun Tan continue his run of awards, large and small, in 2011… and extra hoorays for Tehani, who commissioned this cover for one of the flagship books of her new press, Fablecroft.
* Best Fan Writer: Alexandra Pierce
* Best Fan Written Work: “Review: The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick”, Alexandra Pierce
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Having followed the awards on Twitter, I only just got that Alex in fact took out two awards here. Some of us have known for some time what a smart & committed book reviewer our Random Alex is, and it’s beyond awesome to have her acknowledged by the wider community. And in her home town, no less!
* Best Fan Artwork: Continuum 6 Props, Rachel Holkner
Hooray for Rachel! She has been so committed over the last several years to making interesting fan art in conjunction with the Continuum conventions.
* Best Fan Publication: Live Boxcutters Doctor Who at AussieCon IV, Josh Kinal and John Richards
Congrats to Boxcutters! I am genuinely happy about this – while Galactic Suburbia was nominated in the same category, thanks to being 1/3 Melbournite, and it would have been cool to have awards from two different states after picking up the Tin Duck, the Live Boxcutters event was just such a highlight of Aussiecon, that I am utterly delighted for Josh and John. Being in that audience was exciting and exhilarating, and I’m sad that I will miss their contributions to Continuum’s programming this year.
* Best Achievement: Programming: AussieCon IV, Sue Ann Barber and Grant Watson
Again, losing gracefully here, as the Snapshot was up in this category – and again, it would have been lovely to win for that, though Kathryn’s crazy amounts of work and commitment to running that project (and the rest of us for participating in that high velocity fortnight or so) was already honoured by a trophy at the Ditmars. But it’s awesome to see Sue Ann and Grant honoured for the huge amount of work they had to take on at Aussiecon 4, in many cases at the very last minute, to make that event happen. So hooray.

Hooray for everyone! Hope there were some gorgeous frocks at the ceremony.

And of course don’t forget to check out Conquilt, currently up for auction at ebay, featuring the autographs of nearly 100 authors and illustrators from Aussiecon4.

Night of Necklaces, Day of Ferries

I felt like such a jet-setter, getting on a plane yesterday morning for a single night in Sydney for the Aurealis Awards. I arrived in the early afternoon and met up with Tehani, Helen and baby Max at the airport so we could taxi in to the hotel together. It felt so decadent to hang out and chat with friends I normally don’t get to see more than once every few years – twice within a month!

We went down to the hotel restaurant for a (very) early dinner, correctly guessing it would be our last chance to eat for the night. Some familiar faces were already down there, with the same idea, and we added a table on the end of theirs – and as more and more people arrived, kept doing so, until we had at least 20 people there, and the table had turned into a long L-shape!

Then of course we all had to disappear to frock up, as the new arrivals were looking increasingly glamorous.

The Aurealis Awards were held at the Independent Theatre, a lovely venue only a few minute’s stagger (a bit longer in high heels, but I was wearing flats, hehehe) from the hotel. We met and mingled at the cocktail party (sponsored by HarperCollins), many of us marvelling at how utterly weird it was to be together again so soon after Swancon – when we’re used to an 18 month separation! Of course there were people there who hadn’t been at Swancon, too, so it was a general crowd of happy reunions, gossip and hugging. With champagne. I had lots of lovely conversations with lots of adorable people, though the highlight for me was getting to meet IN PERSON the amazing Nicola, who has edited all three of the Creature Court books with me, one way or another. To get to talk to her in person about the choices we made and how much we love each other’s work was very, very cool.

And oh, the fashions! We are a gorgeously dressed bunch. Tehani referred to it as the ‘night of necklaces,’ and there was certainly some spectacular jewellery on display. Kirstyn wins the prize, of course, for her bird skull necklace that made people go ooh, and then, erkhhhh when they looked more closely…

The theatre itself was the perfect size for an event like this – grand but cozy at the same time, if that makes sense? Tehani and I decided to start a trend by sitting in the front row, since we knew I had to go on stage at some point to present (and we knew Helen would be going up too, but more on that later!). Spec Faction deserve a huge amount of kudos for the event – it ran smoothly, with any dramas rendered pretty much invisible to the rest of us. Cat had put together a hilarious and touching montage of Aurealis Awards photographs (the overall theme was people we knew looking overheated, a bit drunk and terribly happy) which broke the ice marvellously, and there was a really good vibe in the theatre, all that community spirit stuff.

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Nice Things

Power and Majesty is now both an Aurealis Awards shortlisted book AND a Ditmar shortlisted book. How awesome is that?

I’m also rather pleased to be on fan shortlists for my Modern Woman’s Guide To Classic Who blog posts, and especially for Galactic Suburbia. How exciting! The Fan Production category has turned into a podcastapalooza which is marvellous (the only non podcast there is ASiF, another project I love). Listening to podcasts has become one of my primary interactions with fandom and criticism, and it’s really special to see the Year of Aussie SF Podcasts honoured in that shortlist.

In other news, some of my favourite fiction from last year is on the shortlists too! I loved Trent’s book, and all the other novel nominees are teetering near the top of my To Read pile. I’m glad to see Cat Sparks’ “All The Love In The World” on there, which was one of my favourite Aussie stories last year. Nice also that Thoraiya Dyer’s “The Company Articles of Edward Teach” made it on, as it was a very late release in 2010 and I thought people would miss how great it was. Thoraiya made Best New Talent, too, which I wanted to see last year, though admittedly I was in the position of having read some of the great stories she hadn’t published yet. Since then she’s not only had some good stuff published for Twelfth Planet Press but also sold a story to pro market Cosmos! Looking down the lists, there are people I love and respect all over these Ditmars. How wonderful!

Congratulations to all the nominees. I look forward to seeing most of you at Swancon for the ceremony!

In other Nice Things News, a few reviews have flitted past my screen this week: a very thoughtful review analysis of Power and Majesty (it’s so nice when readers completely get what I was doing with my characters, and I love how she described Ashiol as being a Bruce Wayne type) and a nice little teaser review of “Relentless Adaptations” from Sprawl.

Full Ditmar Ballot below:
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Relentless Adaptations and Seamonsters and Vampires and a Latte Please

@Fangbooks tweeted today: bloggers… would love to see an opinion piece on whether the trend towards rewriting/adding to ‘classic’ works is good art or lazy writing

As it happens, I have very strong opinions on this topic, and my answer is: yes.

Of course it’s good art. Of course it’s lazy writing. Of course some of the works that have emerged from this trend are cynical, shallow texts. And of course some of them are pure brilliance. This is what books do, that is, EVERYTHING.

I wrote the story “Relentless Adaptations” (currently available from Aussie suburban fantasy anthology Sprawl, and podcasted here) in response to this topic. While writing the story, I realised that I didn’t come down squarely on one side or another – and ultimately when I did (my honey, critting the story for me, was absolutely right to tell me it wouldn’t work unless I picked a side) it was not the one I thought I was supporting when I started the story.

There are many reasons why the Classic-Work-and-Horror-Trope fad is exactly that, a fad, and many reasons why it is problematic. These mashups generally (to my mind) never get better than their concept, and once you’ve giggled at the title, or in the case of Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters, the awesome booktrailer, it seems unnecessary to wade through the actual book.

I do believe that part of the reason these books have become such a hot trend in the last year or two is not because people want to read them, but because they want to HAVE them, or gift them to people, and sadly selling books to people who don’t really read or buy books that often is the key to becoming a bestseller.

When these literature-as-gimmick books first started, I thought it was a giggle, though I giggled rather less once someone smart (whom I no longer recall) pointed out that what was actually happening was modern male writers appropriating literary works by women, and once you’ve had your brain opened by a thought like that, it’s hard to put it back in the box. Also, and I appreciate that I haven’t read more than two pages of any of these books (S&S&S was in my opinion unreadable, a grave disappointment to me) the thing that it reminds me of most is that awful Red Dwarf episode in which Robert Llewellyn (who wrote it) thought he was parodying Jane Austen when in fact he was serving up an embarrassingly ignorant “parody” of what people who have never read or even watched a Jane Austen story think they are all about.

In contrast, as I mentioned recently, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Jane Austen-inspired Shades of Milk and Honey is a smooth and elegant novel of which only one facet is the subtle parody of Austen’s books, characters and tropes. It is a work that invites people who love Jane Austen to share the joke, rather than inviting people who think Jane Austen is stupid to laugh at how stupid she is. In Doctor Who terms, it’s the difference between Steven Moffatt’s sublime “The Curse of Fatal Death” and the rather awful Victoria Wood Doctor Who sketch from the 80’s.

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Suburban Sprawl

In far more cheerful news, Alisa at Twelfth Planet Press has opened for pre-order sales of SPRAWL, a unique anthology of Australian suburban fantasy which will be released next month (aaargh so soon!) at Aussiecon.

It’s one hell of a line up of awesome local writers, and will be the perfect souvenir of the convention for those attending, and those who will be waving folornly to us from afar. I’ve read almost all of the stories and it’s full of weird and wonderful interpretations of that most mysterious and elusive of Australian settings, the humble suburbs.

And you know, there’s a story by ME in it! I’m very attached to “Relentless Adaptations,” my story inspired by the espresso book machine, the literary mashups trend, and the future of bookselling

Sprawl is an exciting new original anthology, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and published by Twelfth Planet Press, that will give readers from around the world a unique glimpse into the strange, dark, and often wondrous magics that fill the days and nights of Australia’s dreaming cities and towns, homes and parks, and most of all, its endlessly stretching suburbs.

Table of Contents

* Liz Argall/Matt Huynh – Seed Dreams (comic)
* Peter Ball – One Saturday Night, With Angel
* Deborah Biancotti – Never Going Home
* Simon Brown – Sweep
* Stephanie Campisi – How to Select a Durian at Footscray Market
* Thoraiya Dyer – Yowie
* Dirk Flinthart – Walker
* Paul Haines – Her Gallant Needs
* L L Hannett – Weightless
* Pete Kempshall – Signature Walk
* Ben Peek – White Crocodile Jazz
* Tansy Rayner Roberts – Relentless Adaptations
* Barbara Robson – Neighbourhood Watch
* Angela Slatter – Brisneyland by Night
* Cat Sparks – All The Love in the World
* Anna Tambour – Gnawer of the Moon Seeks Summit of Paradise
* Kaaron Warren – Loss
* Sean Williams – Parched (poem)

Sprawl will be released in September 2010.

For a sneak peek of some of the stories, don’t forget about the Twelfth Planet Cast which has five of them available as podcasts!

Suburban Sprawl

I’ve been seeing the table of contents for upcoming Twelfth Planet Press anthology Sprawl pop up on various author blogs. I feel particularly invested in this anthology, not just because I’m in it (with the only short story I’ve written since Jem was born!) but because GJ was staying with us as she sifted through the stories, finding the ones that would fit together to form the anthology (or something like it) that she had in her head. And yes, I managed to peek at some of the other stories as she considered them, and talked about them.

The question that GJ seemed to chew over most often – and it was a question I had about my own story, back when I was writing it – was “is it suburban enough?” The idea of an Australian genre anthology that focuses on suburbia rather than the more often-seen country/bush/outback and even urban settings of Australian spec fic was an important one, worthy of being embraced rather than skirted around as a theme. We ended up having many conversations about Australian identity, and suburbia, as well as the kind of fantasy people are writing in Australia and internationally. The most interesting thing is that there is no single universal experience about suburbia – some are more urban, some more rural, some are stories about drugs and sharehouses, some are stories about families and maternity. Suburban fantasy, in other words, is not something that can be summed up in a single story, but the anthology is the perfect medium for it – building the idea through many stories, many characters, and many settings.

Australia is just so damned big – and so different, from place to place. There may be common themes in stories told about Brisbane suburbs, or Perth suburbs, or Hobart suburbs, but there’s a lot different too. It seems to me that one of the best ways to talk about cultural identity in a wider sense than just an individual’s experience is to gather a variety of stories and hope that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

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