The Aurealis Australian Genre Fiction Award – I

Everybody who writes likes to have their work acknowledged, and awards and prizes are a major acknowledgement. Even if your work doesn’t actually win, it’s a thrill just to reach the short-list. (Publishers also like this, because it adds lustre to their offerings. And readers can use awards and short-lists as another steer to hitherto unknown writers they might like.)

I’ve just been lucky enough to be short-listed – for the second time, which is a real surprise – for the Australian genre fiction award, the Aurealis, in the category of best fantasy novel, for my book Amberlight.

The Aurealis Awards were established in 1995, and have developed steadily ever since. They use volunteer judges drawn from industry, academia, authors and readers, and the system supporting the awards has become steadily more efficient as it goes along. I’ve been an Aurealis judge myself, 3 or 4 times, in the Horror category, before I managed to get published and could enter work of my own.

Judging used to be complicated by all sorts of administrative problems about receiving nominations, actually physically receiving the work, keeping track of who had it and where it had come from, but the web-site and databases have made the process much smoother. Judges still have the fascinating task of actually reading the nominations in their particular category, arguing, um, conferring over what works they consider should make the short list, and then choosing the winner. It’s a most invigorating if often complex process.

The Aurealis has a regularised short list, of five works or less in each category, which is very straightforward cf. to some SF and F awards like the James Tiptree, where each year’s jury decides if it will have a short list of what length, or a short list and long list, or even a long, long list, and whether individual judges’ comments on each list will be publicised. As with the Tiptree, the Aurealis judges’ reports on the shortlisted work appear after the award has actually been made, at the Awards Night in January of the succeeding year.

By now I expect the judges in my category have either chosen their winner or are in the final stages of negotiation. The decision will be known, amid much bated breath, at the Aurealis Awards night, this time on 24th January 2009, at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts, 480 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland.

If you happen to be in Australia, or even Brisbane, and feel like coming along, tickets are $27.50 incl GST and are available from Pulp Fiction Books, Anzac Square Building Arcade, Brisbane. Phone (07) 3236 2750. You can also buy tickets online at the Judith Wright Centre’s online box office. I’m hoping to go myself.




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