Aurealis Awards 2012 – a wrap up

In my ongoing quest to learn more about the speculative fiction world, I went along to the Aurealis Awards here in Sydney, at the lovely Independent Theatre in North Sydney. I’ve just got home, so I thought I might write up a few thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind.

I’ll say at the outset that I went along not knowing anyone. There are a few Sydney/NSW based authors who I’ve seen at some events around Sydney (Richard Harland, Kate Forsyth, Margo Lanagan, Alan Baxter) and may have even exchanged some words with (usually along the lines of “could I just squeeze past you to get to the bar” sure, but they are still words!).

So I very much appreciate the people who took some time to say hello – in particular Kathleen Jennings who was very generous with her time pre-show and I finally got to meet face to face with Ion “Nuke” Newcombe, who has edited and published my stories in Antipodean SF. It was great talking with both of you!

The ceremony itself was interesting, with some special effects introducing each of the categories and some masterful MCing by Kate Forsyth. It started on time and moved along at a fair clip. Upfront there was a slideshow of pictures (which got a few laughs – some in-jokes there that I, as a newcomer to the industry, didn’t really get).

I was surprised at the number of recipients who weren’t there to receive their awards, but I guess travel around Australia isn’t always easy. I was also surprised at the number of people who hadn’t prepared anything to say in the case that they won. It’s very self effacing, but I bet there will be a few people who wake up tomorrow terribly regretful that they forgot to thank someone important.

I won’t go through all the speeches etc, but I will highlight a couple of moments.

  • Favourite reaction of the night – Kim Westwood when she won best Science Fiction Novel (‘Fuck!’).
  • Most moving speech – a short note read out on behalf of Paul Haines’ family on his posthumous award for Best Horror Short Story.
  • Funnest recipient of the night – Lisa Hannett upon winning her second award of the night, and having nothing more to say!
  • Most obviously chuffed – Tom Taylor, who gave a very exuberant speech.
  • Best “thanks” – I liked that Lisa Hannett mentioned one of her first editors, who helped her get a 18,000 word short story that she’d written down to 5,000 words and taught her a lot about writing short stories in the process.

Tehani Wessely (judging convenor) made some comments on the field, which I found interesting. In particular, she spoke about the rise of self published work and what impact that might have on entry criteria for future awards given the workload it creates on the volunteer judging panels.

After the ceremony I spoke with Nuke for a bit, but found that most people had settled into pretty tight knit groups of people they already knew (and fair enough too – I imagine people living in different cities don’t often get a chance to catch up face to face).

There were a couple of people that I saw in the crowd that I wish I’d had a chance to say hello to. Kirstyn McDermott, one of the hosts of my favourite podcast at the moment The Writer and the Critic. Also, Jason Nahrung was there who is one of my favourite Australian authors. Finally, the three hosts of the Galactic Suburbia (who won the Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award) were also in the crowd. Still, I’m sure there will be other events!

So, all in all it was an interesting experience and great to be at one of these events that I usually only hear about second hand through podcasts etc.

For those that might not have seen them already, the results in the order they were announced:

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through words)

  • City of Lies by Lian Tanner (Allen & Unwin)

CHILDREN’S FICTION (told primarily through pictures)

  • Sounds Spooky by Christopher Cheng (author) and Sarah Davis (illustrator) (Random House Australia)


  • “Nation of the Night” by Sue Isle (Nightsiders, Twelfth Planet Press)


  • Only Ever Always by Penni Russon (Allen & Unwin)
A tie!
  • Hidden by Mirranda Burton (author and illustrator ) (Black Pepper)
  • The Deep: Here be Dragons by Tom Taylor (author) and James Brouwer (illustrator) (Gestalt Publishing)


  • Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa Hannett (Ticonderoga Publications)


  • Ghosts by Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (HarperVoyager)


Another tie!

  • “The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt” by Paul Haines (The Last Days of Kali Yuga, Brimstone Press)
  • “The Short Go: a Future in Eight Seconds” by Lisa L. Hannett (Bluegrass Symphony, Ticonderoga Publications)


  • No shortlisted or winning novel


  • “Fruit of the Pipal Tree” by Thoraiya Dyer (After the Rain, FableCroft Publishing)


  • Ember and Ash by Pamela Freeman (Hachette)


  • “Rains of la Strange” by Robert N Stephenson (Anywhere but Earth, Coeur de Lion)


  • The Courier’s New Bicycle by Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)

Peter McNamara Conveynors’ Award

  • Galactic Suburbia podcast (Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts)
Kris Hembury Encouragement Award for Emerging Artists
  • Emily Craven


Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

11 thoughts on “Aurealis Awards 2012 – a wrap up”

  1. Nice summary, Mark, and thanks for the mention; sorry we didn't get to chat. Next time! I can appreciate how awkward it can be to approach a gaggle of writers and say hello, but honestly, at events like this, it's mostly expected!

  2. A couple of things I forgot to mention last night. First was – hey, there were show bags. I received a copy of Winter Be My Shield by Jo Spurrier. Cool.

    Also, I suspect that there were other people at the ceremony it would have been cool to meet (e.g. another one of my favourite authors at the moment Deborah Biancotti). I just didn't see them in the crowd.


  3. Thank you so much for your post. Yours is the first report of the awards I have read. Last night I got a text from my daughter to say she had won an award. I hope the publisher's rep spoke well on her behalf.. Retired now, I was once, like you, a servant of the public. I am proud of my writer daughter and read all her books but science fiction, fantasy and all the new names for it are not my regular reading choice. Peter Temple and Kerry Greenwood (books rather than Phryne Fisher mysteries) are more my line.

    1. Hi Frances,

      Glad you liked the post – us servants of the public need to stick together.

      Yes, the publisher's representative did get up and thank the judges on behalf of Penni (very briefly). Congratulations on your daughter's success. I haven't read Only Ever Always yet (I suspect I'm not the target market!) but I've heard great things about it.

      My nearly-4 year old daughter bought Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood for my wife for Mother's Day, because "that's the lady from the TV that mummy likes!". Ah to be 4 again.


      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks for your response. I hadn't heard the term speculative fiction until I read your blog. Penni has written about the Aurealis on her blog Eglantine's Cake. You mmight enjoy reading that post. Blogs can be very time consuming. Like you, she has young children. There are 3 from 9 to 18 months and Sunday was mothers' day. I hope your wife enjoys her book. Good luck with your writing especially your novel. I hope one day you will be at the awards as an honoured recipient.


    1. I've not come across the storify concept before. Excellent way to pull together a cohesive story from so many ephemeral sources! Great work.


      1. Yeah its the first time I have used it and initially it was just going to be a few selected tweets. As the night evolved though and I was able to collate various pics and tweets it seemed to make more sense to present it as is.

        1. I found it surprisingly effective. It captures the feel of being there (at least from my perspective the "vibe" of the storify was very similar to the "vibe" at the event).


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