To My Most Trusted Enemy, Bill Wright.
It has been some time since I last wrote you. In that time, dynasties have fallen and empires have begun to crumble. Even in our own small country, so isolated in the world, we have not been immune to such a violent global mood. We have been on the brink of revolution more than once. We have seen our leaders come and go (and come again). But yet, through all of this, I have not forgotten you, and I have no forgotten our rivalry. It pleases me to see that you have been busy, as I have, as well. It pleases me, as the eve of our deadlock being resolved looms, that we have been both competing to see the deadlock broken and a winner finally declared after these long years of stalemate.
Yes, the 2015 Ditmar nominations are out.
I am on it, but despite your fine work, you are not. Such a canny move on your part. Yet, I acknowledge the challenge placed before me and I accept it. If I can stand another round and emerge without an unfortunate award then the crown will be one that I will place on my head.
That the deadlock cannot continue is something that I agree with entirely. Over the last few years, we have tried many tactics. That news crew that followed you around because they thought you owned and operated a drug empire was, I admit, because of me. But how I was meant to react after I found my bathtub full of kidneys and no people? It was dirty work, sir. The smell lingered. I had to take showers for months. Yet, I suppose it was but our own idle hands that took us to that state. We could have addressed our impasse like adults, abusing a science fiction ballot system in the way that men and women have done for generations, but we went with common threats of violence and defamation like children. But it could not last. We would find ourselves here. We could not do otherwise. It is only here that it can be settled.
A crown is being made for one of us. I do not think I have told you this, but it is true. Tansy Rayner Roberts, who bowed out years ago in our battle, has taken it upon herself to make one. After April, one of us will wear it.
However, in our most genial of wars, I feel I should alert you to the upstarts that threaten us. I know, I know, you must think it is quite rich of me to call others upstarts, especially after you have spent thirty years carefully carving out your position and seeing out a generation of enemies and I have spent a little over a decade marking mine. But it is true: a new wave of upstarts are upon us. Perhaps the most dangerous of them are the Twins – Angela Slatter and Lisa Hannett – a pair of women who are related only through a family marriage according to my spies, but who nevertheless work together and have begun to amass as a small amount of nominations without, as far as I can tell, any wins. Yet, while the speed of their nominations is a threat to us, I believe that they will ultimately prove no real threat. Toppling one will, in all likelihood, topple the other. Duos are always at risk like that. In addition, they appear to enjoy some popularity. As you and I both know, personal popularity is always the Achilles heel of many of our competitors. And there is Mr. Kung Fu. Alan Baxter is not the first Mr. Kung Fu, but he is perhaps the strongest of all those who have come before him, and his chosen place of residence, in the wilds of Wollongong, near the Haunted Man and the Devourer of Souls (Rob Hood and Cat Sparks) has allowed him to use them as a shield, letting them soak up awards for years while he makes an entrance to our battle. A fiendishly clever plan, I think you will agree. Until recently, I had thought that he had fallen out of contention years ago, but such is the strength of his award magnet shields, it appears I was mistake, and it is not true. Still, I believe he may actually want to win one of the awards. There are sometimes very real reasons to fall upon your sword, I am sad to say, but it leaves him but a tourist in our one and true war, and thus, we can probably wait for him to do himself in.
The true threat, I must report, is an elusive one. By the way that she lurks in our corners, the way she performs without raising our ire, I have dubbed her the Silent One. (I know, I persist with this names as if we are in a gaudy American comic, but it is a weakness of mine.) Her real name is Glenda Larke. Ah, but I hear you now, pointing out her three nominations, and I agree, it is not much. We still have the Dead Comedian (Chuck McKenzie) and the Marine Artist (Rosaleen Love) who are much more pertinent threats – but as as measure of her danger, see the seven Aurealis Award nominations that she accumulated! Such success! Such stamina! And now she comes to our field! To threaten us! Oh make no doubt she wishes to play for what we have! What we have for so long fought for! Oh, it is easy to secure your safety with judges, she knows that, but to work the great unwashed masses, to have them do your bidding as is what we do – that is where the true game lies and her arrival after such a strong showing in the minor leagues of judged awards is but a threat to us, my old, faithful enemy.
Work will have to be done, I know. I do not expect you to allow me an easy passage to the crown, but I expect you to acknowledge those who are a danger to us as well. We cannot rest easy. We cannot ignore their threats. In this round of nominations I know that you, like I, will be working towards more than one end.
As always, I wish you the best.
Yours Unto Death,