Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Aurealis Awards

It is Aurealis Award time, yet again. I swear, it comes around every year.

In previous years, this blog has been involved in the mockery of this well respected Australian award for speculative fiction. Hmm. Even saying that feels like I'm gearing up to start kicking it. Well, shocking. Anyhow: there are people who only read this blog, waiting for me to begin mocking the Australian Awards, and indeed, to keep those in Western Australia and Queensland happy, I would like to get in early, to prepare the way for the end of year mockery, because once again, the Aurealis Awards are only considering fiction that you nominate.

That means you, gentle reader, gentle editor, gentle author, and gentle publicist, are responsible for the nomination of a piece of work to the Aurealis Judges. Yes, rather than have pro-active judges that scour the published world for work that they believe should be considered, the thirty judges, and one convener, are saying, "Fuck that, we be respected--they can come to us." Which is an interesting concept, because in previous years, that's worked really well. Surely, no one has forgotten how stories that appeared on the obscure Sci Fiction website, edited by the unknown Ellen Datlow, were completely overlooked? We haven't forgotten, have we? In fact, if I remember right, Datlow even said she didn't even know she had to nominate the stories, since no one had told her of this, her being difficult to think of and find and all, since anyone overseas is obviously a dirty foriegner. Oh, of course, we had authors standing around and saying, "Well, you have to be responsible for your own career," and people seemed to miss the fact that it made the Aurealis Awards somewhat of a joke, at least in the short fiction categories. Good novels were missed that year, too, if I remember rightly--I seem to remember getting an email for Lucy Sussex with a few novels she knew of that had simply not been considered. The novel sections of the Aurealis Award are nearly always a joke, anyway, what with their nominations of picture books, but that was, like, last year.

At any rate, you can argue that other award shows work by nomination, and I believe that is true, but it only seems to work when you have an award that is respected. The funny thing about the Aurealis Awards, is that the years of missed work, idiotic nominations, golden shower statues and an endless line of judges who have either had conflicts of interest or whose background appears to be I-Can-Read-And-Thus-Have-Every-Right-to-Judge-a-Literature-Award, have left the Aurealis Awards as nothing more than a tiny local award that services a tiny, tiny pool of men and women, and which has not outside credibility--and very little internal credibility--that translates into sales or respect within the global literature movement that we all find ourselves in. Want to run a test? Go out into your local shopping centre and stop someone and ask them if they've heard of an Aurealis Award or if they've ever heard of anyone being pissed on for sexual gratification. I assure you, the second will get you more yes' and more expressions of interest than the first.

Last year, the judges--in response to the previous year's mockery--actually went out and searched for work, thus resulting in a respectable take of the field as a whole. You can argue the results, and you can argue, once again, some of the judge choices, but last year's Aurealis Awards were run with a clear grasp on the fact that work was needed to be done on the award, and that to make the award respectable, and to lift the respectibility of the Australian scene, the people involved in it had to go out, find work, read things electronically, and generally work it to make it good.

And this year?

Well, maybe I'll be proved wrong this year.

Maybe, this year, I won't be able to mock the lists that are pulled up. Maybe I won't be able to mock the obvious misses in the nominations and the resulting selections that will force, one again, small subgroups to hijack the Ditmars with block voting to ensure that the forgotten fiction in professional markets is noted.


If not.

If not, I am getting my I Told You So Banner ready. I think it's going to be pink this year.
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