< News after 19-Jan-03 18:24
News before 02-Dec-02 11:32 >

Canberra Fires Exact Heavy Toll
Australia's 78 year old National Observatory at Mount Stromlo was all but completely destroyed as some of the country's worst bushfires claimed more than 400 homes and four lives in Australia's "bush capital" this weekend.

Many residents of Canberra's suburbs, including artist and illustrator Les Petersen and his family, were evacuated as fires threatened thousands of homes across the heavily-wooded capital city. In addition to the deaths, 68 people were admitted to local hospitals and four with serious burns were sent to Sydney as fires continue to burn on a number of fronts.

Initial reports indicate the material losses at Mount Stromlo (website formerly at are almost entire, with the three major telescopes, domes and workshops lost, and offices and auxiliary buildings extensively damaged. Not least amongst the irreplaceable artefacts lost was a NASA-style spacesuit designed and made by Sydney special effects artist Lewis Morley.


More Votes for the NatCon
Nomination forms for Swancon's WA-focussed convention award "The Tin Ducks" were made available online recently, and the 2003 Down Under Fan Fund (DUFF) race is now underway.

GenghisCon 2 Tickets On Sale
Tickets for the second instalment of Western Australia's newest genre-oriented convention GenghisCon (31-Jan to 02-Feb 2003) went on sale earlier this month.

The weekend convention, which positions itself specifically as both "cool, fun [...and] affordable", will take place as St. Catherine's College, UWA (across the highway from the main campus) and begins at 12:00pm (noon) on the Friday. The venue promises on-site cafe facilities, a swimming pool and Tennis Court, but although the venue is air conditioned the guest rooms are not. The program features Gaming, Panel, Video and "Insomniac" streams.

GenghisCon Ticket Prices:
  • $10 for one day
  • $25 for three days
  • $45 for one night accommodation (plus one breakfast)
  • $80 for two nights accommodation (plus two breakfasts)
Contact Michael Fineberg (Mb. 0411-689-776; ICQ #4382561) for tickets or see the website additional details.


Abhorsen's Tops
Abhorsen, the concluding chapter in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy, will debut at #3 on the New York Times children's bestseller list on 26-January, and will be #2 on the Booksense children's list from 20-January.

Ditmar Curse Strikes Again
Continuing a long if involuntary tradition of hiccups and drama accompanying Australia's Hugo-equivalent Australian SF ("Ditmar") Awards, the 2003 awards subcommittee this week published a PDF Nomination Form and an Online Nomination Form, each with its own little gremlins.

The original PDF form:

  1. Incorrectly printed the name of the Awards
  2. Incorrectly printed the Rules preamble regarding the name
  3. Failed to include the "Best Novella or Novelette" category
  4. Inaccurately printed the names of two Awards
The simple explanation is that the PDF was based on the nomination form for the 2002 awards, produced prior to changes made at the 2002 "NatCon Business Meeting". (Rules for the Awards can be read online.) By contrast, the online form was very nearly correct, although it split the "Novelette and Novella" category. Within 24 hours of publication, the PDF form had been updated to the state of the online form, and it seems likely that the remaining error will be corrected shortly.

Nominations are open to Australians and Australian residents "active in fandom" or members of Swancon 2003, and must reach the subcommittee by 14-February.

18-Jan-03: As predicted, the subcommittee (in the person of NatCon co-chair Brett Griggs) was able to correct the remaining problems with the online versions of the nomination form within hours.


Far-Flung Festivals
Early 2003 will see Writers' Festivals in both Perth and Tasmania, with strong genre showings at both.

Perth's Festival, Beyond the Page: A Celebration of Thought, is part of the annual International Arts Festival and will take place on two consecutive weekends February 08–09 and February 15–16. Interstate visitors including Sean Williams will join Western Australians including Tess Williams, Grant Stone and John Long at a variety of locations around the Perth Cultural Centre for four days of discussions, panels, workshops and readings.

The Tasmanian Readers' and Writers' Festival, organised by the Tasmanian Writers' Centre, will take place between 23-March and 06-April, and involve events "in Bridport, Burnie, Hobart, Launceston, Meander Valley, St Helens, the westcoast, Wynyard, and more". Guests include the continent-spanning Sean Williams, Maxine McArthur, Kate Forsyth, Dirk Flinthart, Marianne de Pierres, Marele Day, Cory Daniells and Tansy Rayner Roberts.


Nix Up For A Virgin Newcomer Nibbie?
Garth Nix's Sabriel has been shortlisted in the 2003 British Book Industry Awards, aka "the Nibbies", in the Newcomer of the Year category (sponsored by Virgin) and shortlisted in the WHSmith People's Choice Awards.

KSP Centre Plans Master Class
The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre is planning "Crafting the Fabulous", a two day Master Class taught by veteran writer and editor Jack Dann, for July 2003.

The class will cover topics ranging from technical and thematic aspects of fantastic fiction to determining the best market for a particular novel or story. The approximate cost for the two-day class (26th and 27th July) will be $350. Jack will require prospective participants to submit story samples prior to the Master Class in order to determine who will be admitted. Admissions will be based on talent and level of writing craft.

The KSP Centre are currently seeking serious expressions of interest. If you're interested, contact the Centre to register:

Margot Lowe, Coordinator
Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre
11 Old York Road
Phone (08) 9294 1872


Manga Anthology Launches New Issue
Xuan Xuan, Perth's new manga-inspired comics anthology, is about to launch a new issue.

The new issue, the fledgling magazine's second, will launch at the January 11th meeting of JAFWA, Western Australia's long-running anime fan club. Stories included in the second issue are:

  • "Last Wish, chapter 2" by Cyber Hell
  • "Prelude To Hi-Nako, part 2" by Steven Choy and Benedict Chau
  • "Biohunters" by Baku
  • "Toy" by Melanie Tregonning
  • "Blue Sky" by Blue Sky
  • "Aberdeen, part 2" by Colin Sharpe and Kate Langford
  • "Destiny Foretold, chapter 1" by Habeeba
  • "History Of The Muffin" by MK13
The debut issue of Xuan Xuan was launched at Borderlands in November 2002 and sold out of its entire print run. It has since been reprinted and is available from retail outlets around Perth.


Stromatolights' Possession Cancelled
WA writers' group the Stromatolights have reluctantly cancelled their recently announced anthology project Possession due to a paucity of submissions.

MirrorDanse Online
Sydney-based MirrorDanse Books, founded by Bill Congreve in 1994, has a new website.

2002 Aurealis Shortlists Announced
The shortlists for the 2002 Aurealis Awards were announced on 17 December, and have raised less discussion over what they include than over what they don't.

The short fiction categories in two divisions—Fantasy and Young Adult—have been declared "No Award", and as such no shortlist exists in those categories.

In addition, according to the announcement, "the shortlist for the SF short story category caused a great deal of trouble", and its ultimate composition is not the result of a consensus decision but of a majority vote.

The complete shortlists are as follows:

Division A: Science Fiction

Best Novel
  • Blue Silence by Michelle Marquardt (Bantam)
  • Transcension by Damien Broderick (Tor)
  • Echoes of Earth Sean Williams and Shane Dix (HarperCollins)
Best Short Story
  • "Lucy Lucy" by Shane M Brown (Aurealis #29)
  • "Walk to the Full Moon" by Sean McMullen (Fantasy and Science Fiction Dec 02)
  • "Late Returns" by Shane M Brown (Redsine #9)
  • "The Imperfect Instantaneous People Mover" by Geoffrey Maloney (Agog! Fantastic Fiction)
  • "Within Twilight" by Chris McMahon (Redsine #8)
(Judges: Rowena Cory Lindquist (c), Justin Ackroyd, Russell Farr)

Division B: Fantasy

Best Novel
  • The Novice by Trudi Canavan (HarperCollins)
  • The Gift by Alison Croggan (Penguin)
  • Hades' Daughter by Sara Dougless (HarperCollins)
  • The Crippled Angel by Sara Dougless (HarperCollins)
  • Blood by Tony Shillitoe (HarperCollins)
  • The Storm Weaver and the Sand by Sean Williams (HarperCollins)
Best Short Story
  • No Award
(Judges: Ben Payne (c), Rob Bleckly, Denise Lines, Marian Foster)

Division C: Horror

Best Novel
  • The White Body of Evening by A L McCann (HarperCollins)
  • Shadows Bite by Stephen Dedman (Tor)
  • The Gift by Alison Croggan (Penguin)
  • Daughter of the Dark by Louise Cusack (Simon & Schuster)
Best Short Story
  • "Within Twilight" by Chris McMahon (Redsine #8)
  • "What The Tide Brings" by Claire McKenna (Fables and Reflections #2)
  • "Oracle" by Kim Westwood (Redsine #9)
  • "Wastelands" by Stephen Dedman (Agog! Fantastic Fiction)
(Judges: Dianne de Bellis (c), Rob Stephenson, Kim Wilkins, Marianne de Pierres)

Division D: Young Adult

Best Novel
  • Fireworks and Darkness by Natalie Jane Prior (Angus & Roberston/ HarperCollins)
  • The Hand of Glory by Sophie Masson (Hodder Headline)
  • Mum, Me, the 19th C by David McRobbie (Angus & Roberston/ HarperCollins)
  • The Starthorn Tree by Kate Forsyth (Pan)
Best Short Story
  • No Award
(Judges: Keith Stevenson (c), Helen Patrice, Mike Slusher, John Cohen, Ursula Dubosarsky)

Division E: Children's

Best Novel
  • Eglantine by Catherine Jinks (Allen & Unwin)
  • Rhianna and the Dogs of Iron by Dave Luckett (Scholastic)
  • In the Garden of Empress Cassia by Gabrielle Wang (Puffin)
  • Lily Quench and the Treasure of Mote Ely by Natalie Jane Prior (Hodder)
  • Astrid Spark, Fixologist by Justin d'Ath (Allen & Unwin)
Best Short Story
  • "The Golden Udder" by Terry Denton (Allen & Unwin)
  • "Tashi and the Haunted House" by Anna Fienberg and Kim Gamble (Allen & Unwin)
  • "The Two Natalies" by Justin d'Ath (Reel Trouble)
  • "In the Blink of an Eye'" by Andrew Chapman (Spellbinders)
  • "Old Ridley" by Gary Crew and Marc McBride (Hodder)
(Judges: Sophie Masson (c), Wendy Shepherd, Linsay Knight)

Shortly after the shortlist was published, the convenors issued a statement withdrawing a story from the Horror shortlist because it was originally published outside the eligibility period. No Convener's Award shortlist was announced this year.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony in Melbourne on 28th March, 2003.


SF Comes to Canberra Radio
Canberra will gain a new speculative fiction radio programme in early February, including interviews, reviews, news and other related information.

Speculation, which will air on ArtSound FM 92.7, has been developed by the makers of OzWrite, a regular Australian writing programme that is broadcast on the same radio station. Speculation claims to include a more international focus than its parent programme. Plans are also in place to make Speculations available on CD to listeners outside of the Canberra area.

Periodical, magazine and journal producers are invited to submit their publications to Speculations for review and other coverage. They may be sent to the programme at:

PO Box 1200
Belconnen ACT 2616


Blackford and the Attack of the Cloners
Writer, academic and critic Russell Blackford has an op-ed piece about the ethics of cloning entitled "There's Madness in the Raelians' Method " on The Australian's website.

Elsewhere Opens
The third Canberra Science Fiction Guild anthology Elsewhere: An Anthology of Fantastic Places is now open for submissions.

Elsewhere, edited by Michael Barry, encourages submissions from new and emerging writers, including young writers. All submissions will, however, be assessed the same criteria: quality, innovation and reader engagement. The short fiction anthologies Nor Of Human, Machinations and Agog! Fantastic Fiction are a good guideline to the kind of stories they're looking for.

Short stories accepted will be up to 7,000 words and in the speculative fiction genres. Payment on publication will be $A25, plus a contributor's copy, for first Australian serial rights. Stories should be original, unpublished works, and not under submission to any other publication. Manuscripts must be in Rich Text Format(RTF), and submitted one story at a time to the editors via email before 15 April 2003—earlier submissions will be appreciated. (Further details on formatting manuscripts are similar to the ASIM submission guidelines).

As an afternote the editor informs potential contributors that sword-and-sorcery clones, gee-whiz gadgetry space opera and serial-killer gore-fests are unlikely to be accepted, unless your treatment is very clever and original. The editors also suggest checking out The Turkey City Lexicon, an amusing list of common blunders to avoid when writing.


Galaxy Quest
Australia's largest genre bookstore, Sydney's Galaxy Books, will move to larger premises this month.

After almost a decade at their current Clarence Street location, Galaxy are moving to 143 York Street. No specific date has been set for the move, but it will occur overnight some time in December. As a result, exactly where Sara Douglass will be conducting an in-store signing of her latest, Hades' Daughter, at 5.30pm on December 10th, is not entirely clear.)


Offshore Success
Australian authors including Jack Dann, Marianne de Pierres, Dave Luckett, Sean McMullen, Anthony O'Neill, Natalie Jane Prior, Sean Williams and Shane Dix have sold or resold novels to US and UK publishers in the last few months.

Jack Dann has sold an as-yet-untitled short story collection to Thorndike Press for its new Five Star imprint. The collection, which will feature an introduction by Barry Malzberg and about a dozen stories, is due for publication in 2003.

Natalie Jane Prior has sold US rights to four books in her "Lily Quench" series of children's fantasy novels featuring a young dragon-slayer to Shannon Dean at Puffin Books, via agent Catherine Drayton at Arthur Pine Associates. The first three volumes in the series, Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby (1999), Lily Quench and the Black Mountains (2001), and Lily Quench and the Treasure of Mote Ely (2002) were first published in Australia by Hodder Headline.

Dave Luckett has sold US rights to the first three books in his "Rhianna" children's fantasy series to Scholastic US, with the third book, Rhianna and the Castle of Avalon due from Omnibus Australia in December.

Sean Williams and Shane Dix have delivered the third Star Wars: The New Jedi Order book Force Heretic III: Reunion to Shelly Shapiro at Del Rey for a mid-2003 publication. The first book in the series, Force Heretic I: Remnant, is due in January 2003.

Sean McMullen has sold new fantasy novel The Glass Dragons, second in his "Moonworlds" series after Voyage of the Shadowmoon, to Jim Minz at Tor for a 2003 publication.

Anthony O'Neill, whose debut Scheherazade (HarperCollins, 2001) has been republished in the UK and is currently being translated for publication in five languages, has sold second novel The Lamplighter, a dark psychological fantasy set in Victorian Edinburgh, to both Scribner in the US and Hodder Headline in the UK.

Finally, new novelist Marianne de Pierres has sold science fiction novel Nylon Angel and two untitled sequels to Tim Holman at Orbit UK via agent Tara Wynne of the Curtis Brown Literary Agency.

(Thanks to The Coode Street News for much of the above information.)


Fables and Reflections Online
WA-based fanzine Fables and Reflections has a new website.

The website features cover-art and tables of contents for the first three issues of Fables, details about the zine, places where it's available for purchase, submission guidelines and a links page.

Submissions for Issue 4 close on 15-Feb-03; inquiries to the editor, Lily Chrywenstrom.


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News before 02-Dec-02 11:32 >

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