I was fucking chuffed to have received my first (and shit, maybe last) Aurealis Award nomination a few days ago. For the uninitiated, the Aurealis Awards are the juried prize for best genre fiction in Australia.
The short story – Flame Trees – started as science fiction, as with everything I write, but ended up being sci-fi/horror. It ended up that way because the plot involves a Vietnamese protagonist suffering PTSD after a future war with China. PTSD in Vietnam is in some ways recognisable to a westerner (insomnia, social isolation, explosive outbursts of violence) and completely different – in part because it is bound up in a Vietnamese cosmology that includes ghosts.
Which is a long way of saying my first ever horror story got nominated for an Aurealis. Sweet.
The other awards just around the corner at the Ditmars. These are popular awards voted on by Australian fandom. This being the case, some recommendations in no particular order:
- Science Fiction Short Story – Samantha Murray: Of Sight, of Mind, Of Heart (Clarkesworld #122)
- Fantasy Short Story – Thoraiya Dyer: The Rock in the Water (Lightspeed – People of Colour Destroy Fantasy)
- Science Fiction Short Story – Leife Shallcross: Breathing (Aurealis #95)
- Science Fiction Short Story – Ian McHugh: The Baby Eaters (Asimov’s Science Fiction)
- Best Horror Novel – Kaaron Warren: The Grief Hole (IWFG Publishing Australia)
I should add that I didn’t read nearly enough Australian fiction this year (I never do), so I have zero doubt I missed some great stories. I’m also endeavouring to read all the short stories nominated for an Aurealis.
Now to the self-pimping.
My two best stories in 2016 were:
- Science Fiction / Horror, Short Story: Flame Trees (Asimov’s, April / May 2016). As noted above, nominated for an Aurealis.
- Science Fiction, Novelette: A Strange Loop (Interzone #262). Chosen by Neil Clarke in his ‘Best Science Fiction of the Year’ for 2016.
Finally, as I was nominated last year, this is my last year eligible for a Best New Talent at the Ditmars. I’ve had a good and lucky run in my first four years as a writer (you always need both): 12 sales, 4 of them professional, a further 5 to Interzone, and translations into Hebrew, French, and German. A couple of award nominates, a Writers of the Future win, and I signed with an agent – Piers Blofeld of Sheil Lands Associates.
So vote for me, unless DK Mok is still eligible this year, in case vote for her. She’s great.