Australian SF Awards Part 2 – The Ditmar Awards

Both of the major SF awards in Australia are happening towards the start of the year, so I thought I might signal boost both sets of shortlists. In this second post, I’ll be focusing on the Ditmar Awards (you can see my thoughts on the Aurealis Awards in Part 1 of this series).

The Ditmar awards are Australia’s national popular vote awards for speculative fiction. Where the Aurealis awards (which are judged not voted on) focus on written work and divide the genre up into extensive sub-categories, the Ditmar awards keep the genres together and award only on length (best novel, novella, short story, collected work etc). There are also several awards for non-written contributions to the SF categories (e.g. best fan writer, artwork, fan publication in any medium etc).

The Ditmars are given out at the Australian national SF convention (which is this year Contact 2016 in Brisbane). The rules for the awards can be found on the Ditmar wiki. Details of the 2016 ceremony can be found on the Contact website. Voting is due to finish on 18 March 2016, with the voting form here.

To nominate a work, you have to be “known to fandom”, but to actually vote in the final ballot one needs to purchase a membership at the national convention (or have been a member of the previous year’s national convention).  I can see how this makes the voting process administratively easier (and is in line with the voting practices in overseas awards), but it does seem to work to restrict voting to those that can afford the financial outlay (a supporting membership of Contact 2016 costs $40).

Why does this matter? The Ditmars suffer from the same weaknesses that other voted awards do – namely the voting process is only robust if you get a large, representative sample of people to nominate and vote. There is always the chance that the Ditmar’s become less representative of the best work of the year, and more representative of famous/popular content creators. While not conclusive, I find it interesting that I recognise nearly all of the names on the Ditmar ballot, but there are a lot of names that are new to me on the Aurealis awards ballot. I do wonder if removing or reducing the financial barriers to participation in the voting process might improve the inclusiveness of the results. Having said that, the nomination process is broader, so perhaps not!

It is good to have awards for non-fiction contributions to the Australian speculative fiction scene. As well as the categories listed below, there are two other awards that are usually given out at the Ditmar award ceremony. From the Contact 2016 website:

Norma K. Hemming Award
The Norma K. Hemming Award marks excellence in the exploration of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability, and is awarded by the Australian Science Fiction Foundation (ASFF). Nominations close in the second week of December in the year preceding the respective NatCon.

A. Bertram Chandler Award
Australia’s top fan award, the Chandler is awarded by the ASFF for outstanding achievement in science fiction. Unlike the Ditmars, this award is decided upon by a jury appointed by the Foundation. Nominations for the Chandler Award are always open.

More information about the Norma K. Hemming Award and the A. Bertram Chandler Award can be found on the ASFF website.

All in all, the Ditmars represent a wonderful chance for the established Australian SF community to come together. I’ve attended a couple of ceremonies in the past, and they have always been uplifting affairs. In 2014, I was even fortunate enough to be on a podcasting team that won the Best Fan Publication in Any Medium award, which was a huge honour. Between the Ditmar and the Aurealis awards shortlists, you can get an excellent sense of where the action is in the Australian scene – and I commend it to you.

2016 Ditmar Ballot contents

The following section details the contents of the preliminary ballot. (Note that the final ballot will include a “No Award” option in each category.

Best Novel

  • The Dagger’s Path, Glenda Larke (Orbit)
  • Day Boy, Trent Jamieson (Text Publishing)
  • Graced, Amanda Pillar (Momentum)
  • Lament for the Afterlife, Lisa L. Hannett (ChiZine Publications)
  • Zeroes, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti (Simon and Schuster)

Best Novella or Novelette

  • “The Cherry Crow Children of Haverny Wood”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Fake Geek Girl”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Review of Australian Fiction, volume 14, issue 4 (Review of Australian Fiction)
  • “Hot Rods”, Cat Sparks, in Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy 58 (Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy)
  • “The Miseducation of Mara Lys”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • “Of Sorrow and Such”, Angela Slatter (
  • “The Wages of Honey”, Deborah Kalin, in Cherry Crow Children (Twelfth Planet Press)

Best Short Story

  • “2B”, Joanne Anderton, in Insert Title Here (FableCroft Publishing)
  • “The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner”, Alan Baxter, in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2015 (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
  • “A Hedge of Yellow Roses”, Kathleen Jennings, in Hear Me Roar (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • “Look how cold my hands are”, Deborah Biancotti, in Cranky Ladies of History (FableCroft Publishing)

Best Collected Work

  • Bloodlines, Amanda Pillar (Ticonderoga Publications))
  • Cherry Crow Children, Deborah Kalin, edited by Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Cranky Ladies of History, edited by Tansy Rayner Roberts and Tehani Wessely (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Letters to Tiptree, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • Peripheral Visions: The Collected Ghost Stories, Robert Hood (IFWG Publishing Australia)

Best Artwork

  • Cover art, Rovina Cai, for “Tom, Thom” (
  • Cover art, Kathleen Jennings, for Bloodlines (Ticonderoga Publications)
  • Cover and internal artwork, Kathleen Jennings, for Cranky Ladies of History (FableCroft Publishing)
  • Cover, Shauna O’Meara, for The Never Never Land
  • Illustrations, Shaun Tan, in The Singing Bone (Allen & Unwin)

Best Fan Publication in Any Medium

  • The Angriest, Grant Watson
  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • SF Commentary, Bruce Gillespie
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Best Fan Writer

  • Tsana Dolichva, for body of work
  • Foz Meadows, for body of work
  • Ian Mond, for body of work
  • Alexandra Pierce for body of work
  • Katharine Stubbs, for body of work
  • Grant Watson, for body of work

Best Fan Artist

  • Kathleen Jennings, for body of work, including Illustration Friday series
  • Belinda Morris, for body of work, including Belinda Illustrates

Best New Talent

  • Rivqa Rafael
  • T R Napper
  • DK Mok
  • Liz Barr

William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review

  • Letters to Tiptree, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • The Rereading the Empire Trilogy series, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Reviewing New Who series, David McDonald, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Tehani Wessely
  • “Sara Kingdom dies at the end”, Tansy Rayner Roberts, in Companion Piece (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • “SF Women of the 20th Century”, Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Squeeing over Supergirl series, David McDonald, and Tehani Wessely

Author: mark

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

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