Congratulations to those shortlisted for this year’s Aurealis speculative fiction awards. As a judge of the YA novels and short stories, I feel bereft for those whose fascinating works couldn’t be included. Hopefully some of these will appear on other shortlists.
Our best short story selections veer towards the upper end of the YA age group with
“In Hades”, Goldie Alexander (Celapene Press), a long-form poem
“Falling Leaves”, Liz Argall (Apex Magazine)
“The Fuller and the Bogle”, David Cornish (Tales from the Half-Continent, Omnibus Books), author of the Monster Blood Tattoo trilogy
“Vanilla”, Dirk Flinthart (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press)
“Signature”, Faith Mudge (Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press).
It is significant that short fiction was mainly submitted in e-book form.
The Astrologer’s Daughter, Rebecca Lim (Text Publishing)
Afterworld, Lynnette Lounsbury (Allen & Unwin)
The Cracks in the Kingdom, Jaclyn Moriarty (Pan Macmillan Australia)
Clariel, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin)
The Haunting of Lily Frost, Nova Weetman (UQP)
Afterworlds, Scott Westerfeld (Penguin Books Australia)
It’s intriguing (and hopefully not too confusing) that two of the titles differ by only one letter: Lynnette Lounsbury’s Afterworld and Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds. Westerfeld has written some standout stories over the years, with my favourites being So Yesterday and the Uglies series. Lounsbury is a debut novelist. She is one of a number of Australian writers who grew up in Papua New Guinea – a talented group I would like to explore further one day. Westerfeld’s Afterworlds is a dual narrative, with one story set in teen author Darcy Patel’s real New York. Like Lounsbury’s well-devised, atmospheric Afterworld, his other narrative is set in an imagined spirit world.
Rebecca Lim’s The Astrologer’s Daughter is a freshly-written mystery set in the real world, with forays into astrology.
These three titles are for the upper end of YA and Garth Nix’s Clariel is also best for mature readers. I adored Nix’s Old Kingdom epic fantasy series and Clariel is a prequel set six hundred years before the birth of iconic Sabriel.
Jaclyn Moriarty’s fantasy The Cracks in the Kingdom, Book Two in The Colours of Madeleine trilogy, is another dual narrative. Madeleine lives in the real world and Elliot lives in the richly imagined Kingdom of Cello.
And The Haunting of Lily Frost by Nova Weetman is a beautifully written ghost story set in an Australian country town.
The winners of the 2014 Aurealis Awards and the Convenors’ Award for Excellence will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony, on Saturday 11 April at the University House, Canberra. Tickets are available and Margo Lanagan will be hosting in inimitable style.