Aurealis Awards Judges Reports

The reports from the Aurealis Awards Judging Panels are now up. With so many Twelfth Planet Press works shortlisted, I had to go read!

On New Ceres Nights:
The imaginative flair and broad appeal of so many of this volume’s stories is testament to the skill of its authors—a mix of both the new and the
well loved voices of the Australian speculative fiction community.

On A Book of Endings:
This is an outstanding debut by a strong and original voice. This collection of Deborah Biancotti’s stories features a cast of credible female leads whose dilemmas unfold in haunting and immersive stories of dark dystopias barely a step sideways from the urban grit of the familiar everyday.
Demonstrating truly captivating and masterful prose, each story in this collection is a gem.

On Horn (shortlisted in two categories):
This was a standout of the year and a breath of fresh air, but generated much debate in our judging panel, some of which was a consequence of trying to compare a novella against traditional fantasy epics. In the end, the merits of this short work won out. The world building is excellent, and we loved the hardboiled feel and language. The combination of classic fantasy being subverted by classic noir grittiness is original and well executed. It was wonderful to explore the possibility of unicorns as malevolent and depraved creatures who need to be stopped by a gun toting, hard drinking, fast talking PI.

Horn, with its hard boiled language and female detective gives us a book that, while short, is scary, disturbing and horrifying. The idea of turning the supernatural creature of the unicorn – which usually resonates with such a strong image of innocence – into a subject of horror, is original and sinister.

On Siren Beat:
Jaded, all-but-immortal guardian figures who help the cops solve the metaphysical cases have been done to death, so a story in this genre has to be good to be a finalist. Strong characters, with clear, distinct voices and a plot that blended real and fantastic elements in a believable alternative Hobart. Sex, desire, death: all the classics, poured from one of those Smirnoff reality-altering bottles.

On Shiny stories:
Sue Isle, ‘Paper Dragons’, Shiny #5, Twelfth Planet Press
There is excellent use of the Australian setting in this post-apocalyptic tale that connects the ‘present’ with the future.

Tansy Rayner Roberts, ‘Like Us’, Shiny #5, Twelfth Planet Press
Well crafted and surely a cautionary tale about the deceptiveness of appearances.

Some fantastic comments here, and a lot to be very pleased about. I’m delighted to have worked on each of these contributions, even if only in a small way. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors and works – a massive achievement!

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