Paul Haines is offering his acclaimed novella Wives in free electronic copy for anyone who asks. This is an awesome, epic piece of Australian horror/post-apocalyptic science fiction from last year, and if you’d like to see some Australian content on the Hugo ballot, this would be a marvellous one to support.
Wives isn’t just a great piece of fiction, it’s an important piece of fiction.
Here is what I said about it in Last Short Story last year:
For me, the brilliance of Paul Haines is that he writes stories I hate, about people I hate (and I don’t mean mild revulsion, I mean actual HATE), and yet I can’t pull my eyes away. “Wives” is his best work to date, an utterly hideous vision of the near future, exploring issues that are already very relevant to many people – the lack of women sticking around in country Australia, the sociological effect of preferring male children to female and, oh yes, the ingrained misogyny that hovers just out of sight in our culture. Haines exposes the ugliest sides of human nature in this epic story of “Bridal Services,” rape and slavery, told through the eyes of a narrator so utterly screwed up by his circumstances that it’s hard to blame him for the despicable, thoughtless way that he speaks, lives and acts. This is post-apocalyptic fiction at its best and worse, because there is no apocalypse. There’s just us.
(in discussion with my fellow LSSers about “Wives,” I said “I don’t know whether I want to nominate it for the Tiptree or BURN IT TO THE GROUND.” Yeah, that. Just that.)
I’d love to see Australian representation in all the categories of the Hugos – Peter M Ball’s Horn alongside “Wives” in the novella category, Kaaron Warren’s Slights as novel, Jonathan Strahan and Alisa Krasnostein as Best Editor (short form), Robert Hood as best fan writer for Undead Backbrain… Peter M Ball for the John W Campbell (Robert Hoge suggested Lezli Robyn for this category too, great idea)… My favourite Margo Lanagan story of the year was “Ferryman” in Firebirds Soaring, though her novella “Sea-Hearts” (in X6, the same antho as the Haines novella) was also excellent. I also loved “Seventeen,” by Cat Sparks, which won the Aurealis for YA short story.
If you’re Australian and want to see some Aussie works on the ballot, or if you’re from overseas and are coming out here for Aussiecon or otherwise eligible to vote for the Hugos (or just you know, interested in what the best Australian spec fic is right now), it would definitely be worth your while to check out some of the above people/works. But, you know. Start with Wives.
I haven’t decided all the novels, short stories and novelettes I want to nominate myself, but there will certainly be some Australian names alongside some internationally brilliant pieces like Kij Johnson’s “Spar,” Holly Black’s “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” (available free online), Karen Joy Fowler’s “The Pelican Bar” and Sara Genge’s “As Women Fight.”
For ‘best related book’ I will be nominating: On Joanna Russ by Farah Mendelsohn, The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick and The Wiscon Chronicles 3 by Liz Henry.
(meanwhile my honey has recommended both Logicomix and Pluto in the graphic novel section, and I plan to catch up with both of these before the time comes to nominate)
About Aussiecon 4 and nominating: www.aussiecon4.org.au
About the Hugo Awards: www.thehugoawards.org