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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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Jul. 19th, 2007 10:10 am (UTC)
awww...no one is biting! dammit i was looking forward to some scraggin!
Jul. 19th, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)
that stuff never happens round here.
Jul. 19th, 2007 10:26 am (UTC)
no? how crap! ppl need to grow some cajones! or maybe everyone just agrees with you...
Jul. 19th, 2007 10:30 am (UTC)
nah, they don't. but most of the bitching takes place on private email lists and on other blogs. it might even be that they simply ignore me now.

Jul. 19th, 2007 11:33 am (UTC)
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)
sorry, that should be thirty.
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:47 am (UTC)
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
see, what i like about mocking the aurealis is that i always get a broad demographic to mock ;)
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:51 am (UTC)
btw, i could also have gone with, 'yes, pretty much the entire readership of australian spec fic is a judge.'
Jul. 19th, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah it's a bit amusing when the number of judges in the jury selected award outnumber the number of people who vote in the popular award :-)
Jul. 19th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
still, you've got to remember there is eleven statues to give away. you kinda need thirty judges for that ;)
Jul. 19th, 2007 01:23 pm (UTC)
Hah, so like 0.41519 of a book each then?
Jul. 19th, 2007 01:22 pm (UTC)
People give awards to writers? That's a bit crazy.
Jul. 19th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
it has always seemed a bit ridiculous to me...
Jul. 19th, 2007 11:59 pm (UTC)
But it's a serious, serious award, Ben. I mean I've got one.

Trent Jamieson
Jul. 20th, 2007 12:33 am (UTC)
do you use it to mug people with?
Jul. 20th, 2007 12:57 am (UTC)
Only occasionally,and only when drunk, mainly I use it's glittering surface to distract my enemies, then run.I'm basically a very timid man.

Jul. 21st, 2007 05:42 am (UTC)
You might have more support for your criticism of the awards if you checked your facts:

* Judges can nominate works they want considered.
* Electronic submissions may be accepted for short stories up to 7500 words.
* And small press publishers who find it difficult fronting up multiple copies can supply one copy for judges to share or submit stories up to 7500 words electronically.

Jul. 21st, 2007 08:14 am (UTC)
yes, mr/mrs anonymous poster though most possibly an aurealis award judge, i did know those facts.

prove me wrong now.

incidently, i didn't mention the cost of the small press costs, but i might make a point now how novellas do become more expensive in the printing and shipping because, like, they're bigger. good choice to exclude them (though they are likely the lesser of the published small press pieces).

and lastly, if this is your response to previous years of mismanagement, poor judges, and bad decisions, then i salute you. well done.
Jul. 21st, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
Ben, I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you have problems with the Aurealis Awards, volunteer, get in there and do the work. Help make it better. No one will criticise you for doing that.


Jul. 21st, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC)
aw, it's you, geoff. ring a bell, hey?

no, i have no interest in this beyond heckling it like the dead, lumbering thing it is. i guess i'm just like that.
Jul. 22nd, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
Been there done that Geoff. Hasn't seemed to improve much Small press can "supposedly" submit electronically but I'm having a jolly of a time getting permission to do this. I've had to beg, which is really fun and helps me garner respect for the process. And all I've been offered is stamps to post my printed out less han 7500 word online published stories.
Jul. 22nd, 2007 01:40 am (UTC)
I am waiting for you to step up and get involved in changing the awards to make them better. Seriously, Ben, I think you should! There are people out that believe in the awards(as a process -- everyone is ALWAYS going to argue the results, period), and they want to make them better, a professional recognition that can be seen around the world.

It's not easy being a judge on the AAs -- it's not paid for, it's lot of work, and you need all the help you can get. Why is nominating work bad? I've always done it.

The local shopping centre quite often doesn't have a bookshop these days, but it does have a lot of mobile phone shops. I'd hazard a guess you could ask those same questions in an American mall about the Hugos et al and get the same response from the public. We work in a niche, a fucking small niche, even on the global stage. My AA nominations and win, I feel, did help get me my short story collection. It put me in a room that connected me to Prime Books and it happened. And you know, I could shout that from the roof of every building but no one would give a fuck. Unless, maybe, if they're part of the SF scene. And aren't these awards for the SF scene rather than the general public?

Man, the general public are buying "The Secret" and sports (auto)biographies. What do they care? SF? It's an action movie with futuristic weapons and gadgets.

And with the Ditmars, well, if people don't bother to nominate or vote... how do you get around that problem? If everyone did, then it would work. But no one does.

And like ANY awards anywhere in the world, it's going to come down to the opinions of those involved in running the awards at that point of time.

Do you think we shouldn't have any awards (ditmar or aa) for sf writing in australia? Surely we can't judge it be numbers sold, like Savage Garden cleaning up at the ARIAs etc.

I think the Hugos, Nebulas and World Fantasy awards are equally prone to the same problems that we face with the Ditmars and AAs. Is it just because they are on a bigger stage that they are excused?

Christ, and then there's the Grammy's and the MTV awards!

See, this is where I think you SHOULD have been on that panel at the NatCon this year. One of the guests had been behind the World Fantasy awards several times and she indicated that it was no different to what is going on here. You have valid points, totally, so how do we fix the perceived problems in Australian awards? How do we take them to the next stage?

I'm fucked if I know, I don't want to be part of the judging process (it's hard and unrewarding), but I do like that there is at least some form of recognition for your work (or your personality).

Jesus. This sounds like a serious post from me. I don't think I've said cunt once, but I did drop in a couple of fucks just to keep the masses away.

Jul. 22nd, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
I am waiting for you to step up and get involved in changing the awards to make them better.

usually, i just make jokes about the awards here, and i still do, but here's something to consider:

you do not have to be involved in an award to make it better. making an award 'better' is a silly concept, really, and one that suggests that the only way to do so is to become involved with the party line. become a judge. read work. argue over which story to compromise on. don't blog about this. don't have a public opinion. deal with people who have no background in literature beyond the fact that they read. yeah. no thanks. i prefer what i do, since it's not really about this silly little award, but the actual content that is produced here. i don't see a whole line of people getting up to talk about local content like i've done--maybe you'd like to give that a go, haines :)

i don't actually give a shit about the aurealis, either way. the ditmar, too. or that other award here. what i do want, however, is a scene that creates interesting and good work, and which is fierce and committed to that. i don't want a whiny, bitchy scene in which everyone is fiercly protective about their work and unable and unwilling to take chances. it's a problem in this whole country, not just here, and so i work against that in any which way that i can.

in the case of the aurealis awards, they come under criticism because it's oh so easy to do so. why not do the same to the hugos and world fantasy? cause other people do that and cause none of them relate to australian literature. none of them having any bearing, in any way shape or form, in encouraging and developing a field here within this country.

anyhow, dude, rant rant rant. i'm glad you like your statue. like you, i've no problem with nominating my work for awards if i feel like it--i even considered it this year, cause i need all and any attention for BLACK SHEEP i can get, but in the end, i've just decided i can't have my cake and eat it too. awards are useless unless they come with cash, and though the aurealis now does, the double standard there is a little too much for me to bother doing it with. all i care about is the work. the literature. the feirceness and originality of it. and that there are readers for it.

no award is ever about that, and if you think it is, i guess we're just on different pages. but i'm going to keep being my little anti-award voice, cause i enjoy it, and i think it does everyone good to have a voice of dissent to say, hey, 30 judges and 12 statues is a little fucking stupid.

Jul. 22nd, 2007 12:07 pm (UTC)
I think you're anti-awards voice is important (and I dig the furore it creates), but you do realise that your voice is quite influential these days, you've got a wide readership of your blog, your work is out there and gets noticed, and so does your voice. Man, there's power there, I tell you.

Critically and intellectually I could never compete with (or do justice to) your analytical work on local content. I hope you don't stop doing it, I enjoy reading your critiques of the works nominated for the AAs each year, and for most parts I agree with them. (But then again, tastes and opinions in fiction, what are they worth?)

I guess I'm just waiting for you to start building up as many things as you tear down.

But don't stop tearing! Most people are afraid to do so.
Jul. 22nd, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC)
i dunno where this tearing down thing comes from. ain't nothing torn down: the awards still exist, people still dig them, everything goes as it once did. i'm just not that awards audience, and i'm not servicing the non-award audience here. i'd put money that most people who dig what i do don't give a shit about awards either way.

at any rate, i tend to think the not building thing is a complaint people lay at me without much thought. after all, if it wasn't for me and this blog, asif wouldn't exist. i'm--last i checked--one of the few australian authors who is actively engaging with the country. i take part with the work produced here. i treat everything here as if it were part of a professional creation, and there's other more wonderful and entertaining things i do. whereas, last time i checked, i hadn't broken anything, and the things i didn't like were still existing and going as if my opinion didn't really matter...

anyhow, i'm done doing the aurealis critiques. two years was it--i always intended for someone else to pick it up and do it after me, so the critical voice changed, and the opinions switched. there's lots of folks with doctorates here who are capable of that kind of writing, most better than me.

anyhow, is all good. i'm not much hassled what folk thing are the reasons i do shit. they'll think and do as they please--i've heard most of it, and it's all much of nothing.
Jul. 22nd, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
Except Paul that in my opinion, and with my dealings so far with the Awards, they've taken a step backwards from all the work we did last year. I stepped up. I helped. And now, I can't get electronic submission permission. I'm mocked with being offered 50 cent stamps.
Jul. 26th, 2007 01:03 pm (UTC)
Well, if you got the stamps, can I suggest you use them:) Freemail is a luiury these days.


Jul. 26th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
i didn't get the stamps and they wouldn't have covered the postage.
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