Aurealis Awards – Fantasy Novels; my musings on the category I’m NOT judging.

When I first started judging for the Aurealis Awards, I was lucky enough to snag the very best possible category for me – Fantasy Novel. I convened that panel for two years, but the rules say you can only judge a category for two years before you have to have a break of at least two years. So last year I judged YA (novel and short story) and this year I’m convening the Fantasy Short Story category, both of which I’ve enjoyed. But Fantasy Novel is definitely my first love. As I said to one of the lovely HarperVoyager people at Aussiecon 4, I AM their target demographic! And even though I’ve been reading six zillion other things this year, I’ve still managed to snavel up a bunch of the 2010 novel entries for the Fantasy category. Because it’s what I like to read. And I’ve got to say, the judges this year have their work cut out for them! Not only do they already have almost 45 entries (and there’s still a couple of months until entries close!), but the standard is really really high. 

Below is the list of entries to date (from the Aurealis Awards website) – I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read so far (or have on my near future To Be Read shelf…) and italicised those I’ve read previous instalments of the series but not this one.

ANITA BELL DIAMOND EYES
SAM BOWRING DESTINY’S RIFT 
SAM BOWRING SOUL’S RECKONING
TRUDI CANAVAN AMBASSADOR’S MISSION
KYLIE CHAN EARTH TO HELL
KYLIE CHAN HELL TO HEAVEN 
BEN CHANDLER QUILLBLADE: 01 VOYAGES OF THE FLYING DRAGON
ROWENA CORY DANIELLS THE KING’S BASTARD
ROWENA CORY DANIELLS THE UNCROWNED KING

ROWENA CORY DANIELLS THE USURPER – next on my TBR shelf!
SARA DOUGLASS THE INFINITY GATE
ANTHONY EATON DAYWARDS
WILL ELLIOTT PILGRIMS
KIM FALCONER STRANGE ATTRACTORS
KIM FALCONER PATH OF THE STRAY
ANNE HAMILTON MANY-COLOURED REALM
TRACI HARDING UNIVERSE PARALLEL 
TRACI HARDING BEING OF THE FIELD

VIRGINIA HIGGINS FAERYTALE
TRENT JAMIESON DEATH MOST DEFINITE
TRENT JAMIESON MANAGING DEATH – will be VERY excited to get this book!
SYLVIA KELSO SOURCE – I really enjoyed Amberlight, because it challenged me as a reader of fantasy.
KEVIN KLEHR DRAMA QUEENS WITH LOVE SCENES
GLENDA LARKE STORMLORD RISING
DUNCAN LAY THE RISEN QUEEN
DUNCAN LAY THE RADIANT CHILD
BEVAN MCGUINESS SLAVE OF SONDELLE
FIONA MCINTOSH KING’S WRATH
KAREN MILLER WIZARD SQUARED
KAREN MILLER THE RELUCTANT MAGE
NICOLE MURPHY SECRET ONES – will definitely get to this one by the end of the year, promise!

G. L. OSBORNE COME INSIDE
CHRISTINA PHILLIPS FORBIDDEN
MICHAEL PRYOR LAWS OF MAGIC 5: MOMENT OF TRUTH
TANSY RAYNER-ROBERTS POWER AND MAJESTY
KENNETH JAMES SHEERIN MYVANWY AND THE HOUSE OF DRAGON
JOEL SHEPHERD HAVEN
ROBERT N STEPHENSON UTTUKU
K J TAYLOR GRIFFIN’S WAR – am really looking forward to reading this – loved the first book (which was on the AA shortlist last year), but was disappointed in the second, so am keen to find out how this one goes!
K J TAYLOR GRIFFIN’S FLIGHT
REBECCA (R.J.) TIMMIS DAVID AND THE HEART OF AURASIUS
MARY VICTORIA TYMON’S FLIGHT
JESS WEBSTER THE SECRET STEALER: A GRAND HISTORY OF THE CURSE AND ITS ACCURSEES, VOLUME 267: JAMES WINCHESTER IV

I was interested to note that Madigan Mine, by Kirstyn McDermott, is only nominated for the Horror Novel category. It could just as easily slip into a dark fantasy categorisation, for my mind. There seem to be quite a lot of self-published works on the entry list, which is interesting – I’ve not yet come across a self-published work that comes anywhere near hitting all the right buttons to make it even to my top 10 for the year, but there’s always a first time, so it’s never something you write off. A few of the entries are entered as both Science Fiction Novel AND Fantasy Novel – that is always a worry for me, because if the publisher and/or author don’t know what category something belongs in, it will usually mean that entry will fall down in genre markers for one or the other, which drops its standing in the rankings. And it’s rare that a book that’s entered into the Children’s category will have enough depth to match adult Fantasy novels. However, Young Adult novels can stand up quite well, and it’s always interesting to see which YA entries make both shortlists!

To conclude, I’ll be very interested to see what the final shortlist for the Fantasy Novel category of the Aurealis Awards turns out to be, and wish the judges all the very best in their decision making – it’s not an easy job!

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Aurealis Awards – Fantasy Novels; my musings on the category I’m NOT judging.

  1. Anonymous

    Looking at the size of that list I am very relieved i did not sign up for it! 🙂
    Dunno if I disagree about the slipstream works though, I don’t think it’s always the case that judges count that against the work. Our SF winner last year for instance was a book that could probably have straddled genre boundaries.

    • Anonymous

      Part of our judging is Fantasy Elements – if the elements are minor, then the score for that section is lower. I agree, it doesn’t mean it can’t win, particularly if it’s an overall excellent book, but against a pure fantasy novel that is equally as good, it will suffer.
      It’d be more likely to suffer in SF though, surely? The elements there would have to be more obvious?

    • Anonymous

      Yeah but when it’s GREAT, you DON’T CARE!
      (I always buy the SF and F novel winners afterwards. Sometimes I love the judges for leading me to treasure. Sometimes I hate them for having different taste to me. I LOVED Wonders of a Godless World. LOVE LOVE LOVE. And I would never have found it if not for that extremely tasteful judgement!)
      Thoraiya

      • Anonymous

        Well thanks, Thoraiya, I’m glad! And yes, we worked on the premise that the overall quality of the work was the most important thing, rather than how closely it fit into genre boundaries…

    • Anonymous

      Forgot to put this in the post, but one other thing I’ve noticed (and it’s particularly an issue in the Fantasy section because of the nature of the genre), is that it’s very difficult for series books to win awards (not just the AAs, this is a general observation). It’s hard for a series book to stand up on its own merits (although some certainly do), which makes them harder to read as an entity within themselves. I know in the past, category judges have fudged this issue by awarding a SERIES the award (and interestingly, the King Rolen’s Kin series could be in this situation this year, as all three books are eligible). Do you agree with that?

  2. Anonymous

    🙂

  3. Katey Hamilton

    I have read only one from the list here, Faerytale, my husband had it and I stole it from him because I couldn’t put it down. It’s a series book as you said it has more to come. I liked it because it allowed me to use my imagination so well I became the story. It reads differently from anything I’ve ever picked up, and I can’t wait for more, how did this one rate to you?

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