Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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The Sweet Smell of 'I Told You it Was Stupid A Long Time Ago'

It has been a while since i talked about Australian spec fic, but for old times, I thought I'd take a little moment to step back into the old flame war topics.

Of course, I'm talking about the Aurealis Awards, the award that is often said to be the premier award of Australian speculative fiction. Since it's up against the Ditmar (block voting/popularity contest) and the Shadows Award (for horror only and with a scantily naked chick statue for the winner), it doesn't have much contest, so any idea that the award has credibility should be taken into account of the fact that the other awards it competes against have a minus number in credibility. At any rate, for a while there I thought it would be interesting to begin a body of critical work on the local market by focusing on this award, which resulted in me having to read what was considered the best of the local work, and offering up opinions a lot of people disliked. In short, the work was lacking in originality, craft, and so on and so forth, and I said what I thought. If you're new to the blog, you've missed the days where I was called an asshole, a cancer, and said that I hate new writers, that I'm not considerate, and that my image as a big bad loner is nothing but a pose. I don't do anything to enrich the local scene was also tossed up. Good times, good times--yet, strangely, no Xmas cards except for Cat Sparks (catsparx). Oh well. I did a larger piece the next year that got me more of the same. From what I understood then, people generally believed I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about, that I had no background in literature, was perhaps illiterate, and needed to be drowned in a sack and could be put into the same category as Robert Stephenson, whose reputation has never been too high (but who has have a youtube channel preaching Christianity to people, which might be my future, hey?). At any rate, the short of it is that having opinion about the work caught me a lot of flak, but if you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll remember those days, and you'll sit back and have a nostalgic moment with me, and wonder why I ever drifted away from those days?


One of the things that I enjoyed making fun of was the Golden Aurealis, which was the award given to the best of division winners. A best of the best award, basically. I nicknamed it the Golden Shower, because it did, essentially, make all the divisions pointless, and was kind've like pissing on everyone's head. Why, I asked myself, was it necessary to have any divisional winners when you were going to turn around and giving one trophy to the best novel and short story in that year anyway? The answer was, of course, trophies, because if there's anything that people in the speculative industry around the world love, it's trophies. If they don't come with money, they love that even more. Not that they turn down the cash--the Aurealis Awards have gotten some backing in the last year (or two?) that give it a bit of cash, though I was under the impression it was just for the Golden Shower, so who knows if it's still there, given that this announcement has been made:

Golden Aurealis Awards no more. To accommodate the new divisions, the Golden Aurealis Awards will no longer be presented. Based on feedback from previous judges and the Australian speculative fiction community, we have withdrawn these "best of" awards in favour of new categories which respond to growth and change within speculative fiction publishing.

The two new divisions are of best collected work and best illustrated book graphic novel, which given last year's amusement of watching Shaun Tan's wordless graphic novel win the short story division, is hardly surprising, but the important thing to note here is that the Golden Aurealis has been removed.

Is that my laughter you hear?

Is that an 'I Told You So' coming from my mouth?

I do believe it is.


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