January 31st, 2005


Haruki Murakami's Sleep.

"Considered by many to be Japan’s most popular and influential author, Murakami tells the story of a woman who ignores conventional wisdom by embracing more than two weeks of sleeplessness (with the aid of Anna Karenina). Composed in Dante types by Michael and Winifred Bixler of Skaneateles, New York, the fifty-six pages of Sleep have been printed at Kat Ran Press on handmade Twinrocker papers. The four etchings by John Gibson, whose paintings may be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Museum at the Rhode Island School of Design (among others), have been printed by Peter Pettengill and his exemplary staff at Wingate Studio in Hinsdale, New Hampshire. The entire edition has been carefully bound in full leather and boxed by Claudia Cohen at her Seattle, Washington, bindery."

Of course, it's $1500, and limited to 46 copies (not including the fifteen not available at any price).

At a much lesser cost, however, are limited slipcased copies of Kafka On the Shore, Murakami's newly translated novel. Limited to a thousand, they're about a hundred and fifty on ebay. That's about the only place anyone not in the UK is going to find them at a competitive price, mind, since they were apparently only able to be purchased in person at selected Waterstone's.* It's somewhat more if you manage to find a copy signed by Murakami in Japanese.

What I want, however, is a copy of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle with the twenty thousand words that were cut out put back in. Why isn't anyone doing this? Assuming it wasn't done for some ridiculous price (see fifteen hundred bucks for a short story as example), I'd be all over that.

* Isn't that the place that fired a guy for blogging? Anyhow, that said, I'm sure you can snag a copy from an online UK store, somewhere. For example, try here. It's only a hundred pounds...

** And this is Murakami's new webpage. Lots of people like it, but I reckon it's kinda ugly.
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Regular readers will have seen this before. New ones, well, welcome to the Ditmar Post.

The Ditmars, if you've not heard of them, and there's the large possibility you haven't, are an Australian award for speculative fiction. It's a bit more wild and woolly than the Aurealis Awards, in that the nomination round is open to anyone in fandom. That being a rather nebulous term, I tend to just say it's open to anyone who actually read a story by an Australian writer. Of course, such an open field has the obvious vote stacking, faction forming issues, but then, in opposition to a judged award like the Aurealis Awards, that can actually mean that stories that people liked and read can be nominated and voted on in the democratic fashion. You opinion on if this is good or not will likely depend on your type of poison for the day.


My opinion of awards, in case you're curious, is that they're good for one thing: publicity. Get an award nomination and a few people who haven't paid attention to your work do so.

This is how, in voting for awards, I structure my opinion. I'm not necessarily interested in promoting well established authors with built in audiences. That doesn't mean that I won't vote for established author's, only that they have to do something unique for me to do this. This years pick of short fiction, Margo Lanagan's 'Singing My Sister Down', which won an Aurealis and has been loved by many, won't be my pick and won't be on my list of nominations. This is not because I have anything against the story or Lanagan, though her work doesn't interest me much, but rather because nominating Lanagan and her story, no matter it's quality, won't bring her any new readers for her audience. The love given to Lanagan already* has ensured that the people who pay attention to awards have gone out and read 'Singing My Sister Down' and Black Juice and my opinion is that nominating the story would simply mean that a lesser known and interesting story would continue to go under appreciated.

There are people who will disagree with that, which is fine. If you want to vote for what you consider is the best, that's obviously your right. It's a perfectly valid thing to do. It is, perhaps, more valid than my opinion of voting for authors who are continually ignored... but the simple truth is that I see more worth in voting for one of Trent Jamieson's pieces than I do Margo Lanagan's. Both are fine writers in their own right, but Jamieson, who has had a steady stream of publications this year** is someone who should have a larger audience.

I guess it's all how your slice your politics, in the end. That's the other thing about awards: there is always politics, judged or not.


Of course, that's my politics. I began this post thinking I'd just write a small intro and tell you to vote for me, because I'm selfish like that, but I got carried away. Do I think you should vote for me? Well, sure. I can do with the publicity. If you liked my stuff, vote for it. I've snagged a couple of nominations in the previous years and I don't think they've hurt any, and indeed, I think it meant a few people who wouldn't have read my work actually did. But, like many others, I could do with the growth in audience. Writing is a lonely, harsh kind of thing, and you have to fight to reach an audience, using whatever means you can. Of course, that said, if you don't want to vote for my stuff, that's fine. But I'd like you to take into account what I said before this--give the thought of nominating authors other than the same old boys and girls. Of course, if that doesn't work for you, just go with whatever you enjoyed.


You vote in Ditmars like this.

Take one email, addressed to lenehan@our.net.au with the word ‘Ditmar’ in the heading. In that email, write down nominations in these categories:


Best Novel:

Best Novella or Novelette:

Best Short Story:

Best Collected Work:

Best Artwork:


Best Fan Writer:

Best Fan Artist:

Best Fan Production:

Best Fanzine:

Special Award (for works not eligible in existing categories)

Best Professional Achievement:

Best Fan Achievement:

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review:

Best New Talent:

You can nominate as many things as you want. If you want a list of what was published, there is a list here. It might be a bit incomplete for odder things, but I'm sure that'll get fixed up in enough time. Remember to put down the publication that the work came from, if it's a short story, and publisher if it's a novel. There's a bit more detail up here.

Personally, I usually leave the fan category blank. I've just got no idea what to put there. So, you know, if there's a category you don't want to vote in, just skip it.


This post is fucking huge, isn't it?

Anyhow, since this is my blog, and I'm all about my self importance and how the world should love me and lick my Docs clean, this is the work of mine you can vote for.

In the novelette/novella category:

'The Dreaming City', in Leviathan 4: Cities, edited by Forrest Aquirre, published by the Ministry of Whimsy, which is part of Night Shade Books.

In the short fiction category:

'R', in Agog! Smashing Stories, edited by Cat Sparks, published by Agog! Press.

'The Lost World of the Stranger' in Amazing Heroes 2, edited by GW Thomas, published by CyberPulp.***

'Black Sunday Month' in Antipodean Online, edited by Ian Newcombe.

You could also, conceivably, vote for this livejournal/me in the William Atheling award, because I spend my time ranting about how speculative fiction is too white and childish and telling you what movies to avoid. On a more serious note, I've come to the realisation that the criticism and reviewing of interest/worth these days is being done mostly on blogs. Take a tour through the Australian writers you can find online, and if they have 'writing or editing of criticism or review pertaining to the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror' then nominate them. A good blog, to my mind, is more honest and detailed than some publications and newspapers.****

You could also nominate me for best new talent, since I got nominated for that last year. You can only be nominated twice, however, and then you're not new anymore, I guess. I would've figured having sold fiction since 1995 would have done that, but hey...


Okay. So. The end of this post. If you think it's all wank, fair enough. It did go on for a bit, and I filled it with my complete and statistically unfounded insights, which you're free to kick around as much as they amuse you. Or not.

Voting closes up on March 1st. See what stuff you can find online for free or in reviews and purchase, should you wish. Like any kind of genre by any kind of people, some of the stuff is utter shit and not worth one red cent of your money, some are a mixed bag, and others are total purchase joy.

* For 'Singing My Sister Down', she's won a Golden Aurealis for Best Short Story, an Aurealis for Best Young Adult Short Fiction, the story has reportedly been picked up by Ellen Datlow for her Years Best Fantasy and Horror, and the collection Black Juice won a State Award recently. I forget the name of it, though, I'm afraid.

** Indeed, Jamieson has been around for quite some time, producing fine work that has gone largely unrecognised. The first piece I read of his was a short story called 'Threnody' in issue fifteen of the now defunct Eidolon, which was published in 1994. In total honesty, I didn't like it, but I tell you what: I can remember that story eleven years later, and liked or disliked, that's the mark of an author. Anabiosis, a satire about the being one of the illegal immigrating dead, is a piece you should read, however. Welcome to Australia. Vote for it.

*** Yeah, I know, like more than two people read it. But you know, I'm trying to find a sword and sorcery audience for a part of my work, and this is how it begins. Occasionally. I'll let you know if it works out.

**** The first is a matter of opinion, but the second has more to do with economics, both in marketing departments and page space. Detailed critiques of the failure of a fully credible Lesbian relationship in Buffy the Vampire Slayer are not something a newspaper has time or desire to run, and which a magazine, assuming they wish too, will keep down to fifteen hundred words or so.
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