Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Pull Quotes from the Judges in the Aurealis Awards

Science Fiction

From the Science Fiction Panel of Ian Nichols, Steven Burgess, Dan Tidman, and Carol Wical:

"The panel looked for originality, language skills, appropriateness of language to category, use of essential identiying charachterisistics of the genre, and engagement with the reader... very many of the novels could have demonstrated a better final edit. It seemed as if some of them had been rushed out into the world without their coat and tie, and, in some cases, without their trousers."

"Overall we looked for a book that had all of the above, but was also a bloody good read."

"Indeed, one novel which was considered worthy was also considered to lean too far towards literary fiction, and was short on science fictional' content, originality, contribution to the genre etc. Another was a racy and rumbling action all the way, but not terribly original. In the final analysis, we looked for a good compromise between the literary qualities, 'science fictional' qualities, originality, contribution to the genre, and overall readability."

Winner: David Kowalski, The Company of the Dead.

Panel review: "It was a very original take on temporal dislocation, which had an absorbing narrative and a great range of characters. It achieved the highest consensus among the judges."*

The Science Fiction short story panel, Helen Merrick, Jervina DOrney, Jon Doyle, and Robert Stoner.

"As a panel, we were looking for originality, quality of writing and characterisation, depiction of setting/world; innovative ideas or approaches; engaging plots and entertaining or gripping stories."

"There were a number of stories that came very close to being short-listed, but in the end a few stood out above the rest, generally for their originality, or the quality of their world-building. Also interesting in this years group of stories were the number utilising sf to convey serious messages and views about issues such as the environment."

Winner: Cat Sparks, 'Hollywood Roadkill'.

"A powerful, emotive, and vividly written story. Most impressive is the fact that its power lies not so much in the tightly plotted foreground and events but in the dark message of the world intimated in the background. In a short space this story creates a vivid world, marked by substantial themes, and inhabited by very real characters. It projects a darkness and desperation in an environment of uncaring techno-culture that mirrors much of the real world's broad tendency towards vapid capitalism, consumerism and hedonism. The twist in the tale leaves the reader fascinated and defeated in equal amounts--a story that drags you under and spits you out at the blinking in stupor."**


From the Fantasy novels Panel, Tehani Wessely, Lynne Green, Sharron Campbell, Kira Sampson.

"The judges used both a scoring system for each novel as well as discussion points to make their decisions. Scores were given in the following areas: Originality. Contribution to the Genre. Characterisation. Plot. "X" Factor."***

"The judges also took age appropriateness and fantasy elements under consideration in their decision. Books that contained no fantastical elements or were clearly aimed at a non-adult audience were still considered, but their scores in these areas drew them down."

Winner: Lian Hearn, Heaven's Net is Wide.

"This book was an absolute standout from the field in the sheer elegance of the writing and completeness of the world it examines. The characters are compelling and real, and the story itself polished and gorgeously written. The refinement of the language, the grace of the setting and the utter beauty of the writing, without being prose or overbearing, as well as the stand alone nature of the novel, in that while it is a prequel to an already published trilogy and a fourth novel completing the works, it has an innateness about it that permits it to stand as a self contained work. At the same time, with the style of the writing and the dimensionality of the characters and plot, persuading the reader to find the other four books and devour them."****

From the Fantasy short story panel, Bill Congreve, Deonie Fiford, Joseph B. Hewitt IV, Michelle Marquardt.

"What the panel looked for is quite simple: we looked for the best story... any possible method, or process, or set of criteria, is as imperfect and compromised as any other -- putting ticks in boxes and trying to reduce art to a process of fitting square pegs in round holes. We chose what we considered to be the best story from those submitted -- the story which most strongly engaged us as readers, for the reasons that were important to us."

"We found few truly dangerous stories, or stories which were adventurous in theme, plot, concept or execution. Many of the stories which did off this kind of originality ended up on the list from which our shortlist was drawn."

Winner: Garth Nix, 'Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz go to War Again.'

"Congratulations, Garth!"*****


Panel members for both short story and novel were Shane Cummings, Anna Hepworth, Toni Johnson Woods, Siall Waterbright.

"An encouraging sign of the horror field's strength was the number of works entered into this year's awards. Although short stories were down slightly from last year, novels were on the increase."

"Aside from the usual judging criteria of plot, characterisation, style, quality of writing, world building, etc, the panel found the level of horror in each story was a deciding factor in determining a shortlist -- particularly in light of the high number of cross genre works present in the field. While quality was the ultimate consideration in deciding the winners in each category, the horrific elements and tone of the shortlisted nominees set them apart."

Winner, Novel: Susan Parisi, Blood of Dreams.

"Set entirely in 17th century Venice, Blood of Dreams is a rich tapestry of style and ripperesque intrigue. The novel was a delight to read, especially coming from first-time novelist Parisi -- her love of Italian culture brings the story to life. The novel was complemented by an excellent presentation and layout (a credit to the publisher for investing in a first-time novelist), which enhanced the sophistication of the prose."******

Winner, Short Story: Anna Tambour, 'The Jeweller of Second-Hand Roe.'

"The 2007 horror story winner is more a disturbing look into unsavoury eating habits in 19th century Paris than traditional horror, but the concept is well-researching and the story has flashes of wit, charm, and creepiness. The story is well-paced, with a clever rate of reveal, the characters are interesting and sympathetic, and the writing is engaging. The true horror of Tambour's story is houw the author shows the bizarre side of human nature and juxtaposes it with a richly detailed world that is similar to our own yet slightly bent."*******

Young Adult

Panel members for both short story and novel, Angela Slatter, Alex Adsett, Dianne de Bellis, Karen Miller, Gillian Polack.

"The nominated work needed to continually engage the reader's interest and have content appropriate to the YA category."

Winner, Novel. Anthony Eaton, Skyfall.

"The panel loved Skyfall... the characters are interesting with timeless concerns of family, relationships and growing up."

Winnder, Short Story. Deborah Biancotti, 'A Scar for Leida.'

"Beautifully written, moving and darkly imaginative. This is a sits-in-the-back-of-your-mind kind of story that doesn't want to leave. The Complexities of love, deceit, revenge and the consequences are laid out for the reader."********


Panel for both novel and short story, Katherine Phelps, Merian Crase, Emily Philip, Cynthia Rohner.

"A note to people submitting stories. Because a book has pictures does not automatically make it for children. For many years we have received some stunningly beautiful books, real works of art, whose stories were far too sophisticated and subtle to be of any interest to a child. The children's division cannot award these books, even though they deserve awards."

Winner Novel, Kate Forsyth,The Chain of Charms Series.

"A beautifully realised set of stories dealing witht he adventures of two gypsy children in Cromwell's England. We care deeply about the fate of the children and whether they can save their family from hanging. Loads of suspense and vivid detail, told with masterful style."*********

Winners, Short Story. Briony Stewart, Kumiko and the Dragon, and Marc McBride, World of Monsters.

"This story gives a child all they could want from an experience with dragons. Who wouldn't want to play with dragons in a cloud and know they are protecting you. A delightful introduction to Japanese culture."

"Marc McBride is an accomplished artist. The story has a delightful H.G. Wells feel to it. The interactive aspect of this adds an extra layer of enjoyment. Overall quite original."**********

And lastly, just for the final laugh, the horror panel's write up on my story, 'Black Betty':

"This tale of a pirate queen's revenge is raised from the ordinary by the multiple accounts used to propel the story forward. Black Betty's success is in depicting the main character by his absence through the perspectives of peripheral characters (an often-used device by the author that appears to be his forte). Black Betty has a Heart of Darkness feel to it."***********

All reports can be found here.


* It was also not difficult to read, since it was a cracking read with none of that 'literary' nonsense we so usually find distressing. It also was 'science fictional', and contributed to the genre, for both these categories are different from the other, and science fictional, obviously, while yet an unqualified literary definition, is one we (the judges) spent our time talking about a lot. We decided that space ships helped. And light sabers. If, y'know, there happened to be light sabers.

** World building good. Remind us of real world and things we hate.

*** We briefly considered allowing people to call in and vote, much like The Biggest Loser. Perhaps next year.

**** Also, anyone who points out that noted children's author Gillian Rubenstien is Lian Hearn, and that these books are arguably for a young adult audience, will be shot. Thank you. Would you like to buy some crack?

***** Author was last seen speaking about the flaws in democracy, and how capitalist democracies are designed to keep part of the world poor. Has reportedly begun guerrilla movement. We hope to be liberated soon.

****** Literay quality will only get you so far. Please remember that and include money next time.

******* Please ignore everything we said previously. Except about the money.

******** Anyhow who suggests that Deborah Biancotti is not a children's author will be shot after the people who bring up Gillian Rubenstein.

********* Why award just one book? Why not a series? Also, stop sending us your inappropriate picture books. I don't know why you think we'd ignore our criteria.

********** Why award one story when you can award two? Okay, that's not as good as a series, but what can you do? Also, please stop sending us your inappropriate books. Rules are very important to us.

*********** We have read two stories by Ben Peek. They both did this. Thus we assume he does it all the time.

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