Sir Julius Vogel Awards 2011: Congratulations To The Winners!

 
The 2011 Sir Julius Vogel Awards – New Zealand’s annual awards for science fiction, fantasy and horror – were awarded at Queen’s Birthday Weekend at ConText, New Zealand’s 2011 national Science Fiction Convention.

I didn’t attend the Con, and didn’t have anything on the ballot, but I am glad to see some friends and familiar names among the winners. Congratulations, one and all! Here’s the official press release announcing the results, with some links I’ve added.

Sir Julius Vogel Awards for New Zealand Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

2011 Results Announced

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Sir Julius Vogel Awards. Categories and winners in each category are listed.

Professional Awards Section

Best Novel – Adult

Joint Winners:

The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe (Orbit)

The Questing Road by Lyn McConchie (Tor Books)

Best Novel – Young Adult

Winner : Summer of Dreaming by Lyn McConchie (Cyberwizard Publications)

Best Short Story

Winner: High Tide At Hot Water Beach by Paul Haines
(A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction), Random Static

Best Novella/Novelette

Winner: A Tale Of The Interferers – Hunger For Forbidden Flesh by Paul Haines
(Sprawl Anthology)

Best Collected Work

Winner : A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction
Edited by Anna Caro and Juliet Buchanan, Random Static

Best Professional Artwork

Winner: Frank VictoriaTymon’s Flight cover
(HarperCollins Publishers Australia)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Joint Winners:

This Is Not My Life – Pilot Episode

Directors: Rob Sarkies & Pete Salmon
Executive Producers: Gavin Strawhan, Rachel Lang, Steven O’Meagher & Tim White
Producer: Tim Sanders
Associate Producer: Polly Fryer

Kaitangata Twitch – Pilot Episode

Production Shed TV
Producer: Chris Hampson
Director/Executive Producer: Yvonne Mackay
Executive Producer: Dorothee Pinfold, Jan Haynes
Associate Producer: Margaret Mahy
Writer: Gavin Strawhan, Michael Bennett and Briar Grace-Smith
Actors: Te Waimarie Kessell, George Henare

Best Professional Publication

Winner: White Cloud Worlds Anthology
Edited by Paul Tobin

Best New Talent

Winner: Karen Healey

Fan Awards Section

Best Fan Production

Winner: Doctor Who Podcast
Paul Mannering
Broken Sea Productions

Best Fan Writing

Winner: Jacqui Smith
Musings From Under The Mountain and Novazine Contributions

Best Publication

Winner: Novazine
Edited by Jacqui Smith

Special Awards

Services to Fandom

Winner: Ross Temple

Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

Winner: Simon Litten

Writing Speculative Fiction Is Hard Work

My novel manuscript is with those who’ve kindly agreed to be its first readers. A potential publisher is taking a look at my poetry collection manuscript. So, for the first time in a long while, I have gone back to my first, and perhaps best, love: writing short stories.

It won’t be news to anyone who has followed this blog that I like to have a couple of projects on the go at once, but I don’t usually work on a couple of short stories at the same time. At the moment, though, I’m alternating between writing two stories. One’s long(ish), one’s short(ish). One’s light-hearted, one’s more severe. One’s science fiction, one’s literary/mainstream fiction.

And I’m here to tell you that the science fiction story is a lot harder to write than the mainstream story. This doesn’t mean that the science fiction story is better, or worse, or more valid, that the mainstream story. Both might be good – or both might be dreadful. But it’s certainly harder work to write.

Why? It’s because so much more has to be packed into the SF story – which is, admittedly, the shorter one – to make it work. A story set in the world with which most of its readership is familiar doesn’t have to spend a lot of time in scene-setting, in finding ways to make the world in which it is set clear to the reader without overburdening that self-same reader with exposition.

There are only so many words to go around in a short story, and the more that are spent cuing the reader in to what distinguishes the world of the story from the world they are familiar with, the less there are to delineate character and advance the action.

This won’t be news to speculative fiction writers, of course, but it may be to writers and readers of literary fiction. One of the criticisms often advanced of SF is that it suffers from poor characterisation. To the extent to which that is true, it may simply be because only the very finest writers of SF – the Ursula Le Guins, the Gene Wolfes – can show the reader a new or changed world, keep the story moving, and create memorable characters at the same time.

Getting Science Fiction And Fantasy Published In New Zealand. Part 1: Short Fiction

This is a post for NZ Speculative Fiction Blogging Week.

At Au Contraire, I gave a talk about getting speculative fiction published in New Zealand. This and the following post are an attempt to capture what I said at the workshop, and later said I would write up for SpecFicNZ. Part 1 focuses on short fiction. Part 2 will look at novels.

I am sure to have missed various things, so please give details of additional publishers and markets in the comments.

I’m in no way suggesting that speculative fiction writers should confine their efforts to submitting stories in New Zealand – but there are lots of guides to submitting to overseas markets, so you check these out if that’s where you want to concentrate your efforts.

Finally, I’m concentrating here on fiction written for adults, rather that written for the YA/MG/children’s markets.

Magazines

There is one currently active magazine market for short speculative fiction (and poetry) that I know of in New Zealand: Semaphore Magazine. Semaphore Magazine is published quarterly, with an annual anthology. It pays for short fiction and poetry. Editor Marie Hodgkinson says “I want to further increase the proportion of work written by New Zealanders that is published in the magazine, with particular regard to the representation of non-Pakeha and LGBQT writers”.

Other paying sf magazine markets, like Prima Storia, appear to have come and gone. If you know of any others that are active, please let me know.

The good news is that it is possible to get speculative fiction published in several New Zealand literary magazines. JAAM, Sport, Bravado and Turbine have all published stories that can be considered speculative fiction, and Landfall’s recent themed issue on utopias and dystopias skirted similar territory.

Having said that, you probably wouldn’t get too far submitting that 9000-word interplanetary war story based on the latest developments on black hole physics to a New Zealand literary magazine, or for that matter your Xena-meets-Spartacus fanfic (though I’m there with bells on!). The softer, near-future end of SF; SF satires; urban fantasy; and stories which show an awareness of their own telling are more likely to appeal. If in doubt, add more irony – one writer told me that he sold two previously rejected stories to NZ literary magazines by retelling them in an ironic manner.

Competitions

SF and fantasy will be a tough sell to most of the big New Zealand short story competitions, which tend to favour heads-down, no-nonsense mimetic realism, but the fiction section of the annual Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing has to be worth a crack – though this year’s deadline has just passed. Bugger!

Your chances of doing well in a competition are strongly correlated with who’s doing the judging. Check out what the judge writes, and what types of fiction they say they like, and then decide whether it’s worth submitting. (Of course, in a large competition, your story may have to survive a filtering process before it reaches the named judge.)

Anthologies

By their nature, anthologies are intermittent – other than the annual Best New Zealand Fiction series – so you have to keep a weather eye out for submission guidelines. I’ve had a number of stories published in New Zealand anthologies over the years: my first two published stories were in an anthology of sf stories for NZ secondary schools (though most of the stories had originally been written for an adult audience), and a new-writers’ anthology.

There have been occasional anthologies of New Zealand speculative fiction, such as Rutherford’s Dreams, and this year there’s a brand-new entrant in the field: A Foreign Country: New Zealand Speculative Fiction, published by Random Static. Random Static say that another short story anthology isn’t on their immediate horizon, but they will be looking to publish novellas.

I’ll return to Random Static when I cover markets for novels.

Just as the identity of the judge is the most important thing to know in a competition, so the name and inclinations of the editor are the most important thing to know when considering a submission to a general fiction anthology. Have they written SF or fantasy or horror, or anything that isn’t set in our consensus reality? Have they said nice things about speculative fiction? Have they included speculative fiction stories in previous anthologies?

Do the research, and then go for it.

Collections

You’ll be doing very well to get an entire collection of speculative fiction published by a mainstream New Zealand publisher. My recent collection Transported is about 1/3 sf and fantasy, and I think that hurt it with some mainstream reviewers (though others liked the mix).

However, in the publishing industry, all is in flux. As with any other aspect of publishing, you need to keep your ear to the ground, your eyes peeled, your shoulder to the grindstone, and in general contort yourself in strange ways to get the best picture of what’s going on and where the opportunities are.

“Hah!”, you might be thinking, “I don’t even get out of bed for less than 80,000 words”. In that case, stick around for Part 2, where I’ll look at the options for getting speculative fiction at novel length published in New Zealand.

Sir Julius Vogel Award Nominations Open For 2009 Calendar Year

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards, New Zealand’s equivalent of the Hugo Awards, have recently opened for nominations. Nominations close on 31 March 2010.

Grant Stone has listed some possible contenders for the Vogels on his blog, and I naturally endorse his selection of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry From New Zealand as one of the candidates! You can find SFFANZ’s list of eligible novels on their site; I recently reviewed one of the listed novels, Lee Pletzers’ The Last Church.

Short stories and collections are also listed – look for the 2009 publication dates – and I was pleased to see Voyagers contributions and contributors included on the list.

I want to browse through the lists and catch up on some work that I’ve missed out on reading before deciding what I’d like to nominate – but if you are ready to go with your nominations, here is the official word on how to proceed.

Nomination Procedure

The Sir Julius Vogel sub-committee of SFFANZ is currently accepting nominations for science fiction and fantasy works first published or released in the 2009 calendar year.

Nominations open on 1 January 2010 and close on 31 March 2010 at 8pm.

For more information about SFFANZ and the SJV Awards, please go to the SFFANZ web-site http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/

To make a nomination please email sjv_awards (at) sffanz.sf.org.nz.. Anyone can make a nomination, and it is free of charge.

Please send one nomination per email and include as many contact details as possible for the nominee as well as yourself.

You can find full details about the nomination procedures and rules, including eligibility criteria at http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml

A detailed nomination FAQ can be found at http://sffanz.sf.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwardsNominationGuidelines.shtml

The voting will occur at Au Contraire, http://www.aucontraire.org.nz/ – the national science fiction convention being held in Wellington, New Zealand over the weekend of the 27 – 29 August 2010.

Speculative Fiction Update: Helen Lowe’s Writing Workshop and New Zealand Spec Fic Markets

It isn’t New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week any more, but that doesn’t mean that speculative fiction in New Zealand has crawled under a rock. Helen Lowe is holding a speculative fiction writing workshop in Christchurch next week as part of New Zealand Book Month, and the second issue of the SpecFicNZ newsletter has come out, showcasing the increasing range of publishing possibilities in New Zealand for speculative fiction.

Helen Lowe’s Writing Workshop


When Helen Lowe talks about speculative fiction, it’s worth paying attention. Helen’s debut novel, children’s/YA fantasy Thornspell, was published in the US and has done very well indeed among both readers and critics — and she has five more novels (a further stand-alone and a four-volume adult fantasy series) on the way for her US publishers. So this workshop is an excellent opportunity to learn from someone who really knows what she’s talking about.

(That’s me talking. Now, here’s the information Helen supplied:)

Date: Saturday 17 October
Time: 10am – 12pm
Venue: Christchurch Central Library
Fee: Free
Bookings: Essential – phone 941 7923

Award-winning author Helen Lowe runs a workshop on writing fantastic fiction, focusing on Fantasy and Sci-Fi. The session includes discussions and exercises on the essential elements of ‘fantastic world building’, structure and keeping it real. Bring pen and paper.


October SpecFicNZ Newsletter Has News On Markets And Events

A while back, Ripley Patton had a guest post in this blog announcing plans to form an organisation for New Zealand writers of speculative fiction. This organisation, SpecFicNZ, is likely to be formally launched in 2010. The core group is hard at work, and Ripley has already started putting out SpecFicNZ newsletters – you can ask to be put on the mailing list by emailing give_a_rip (at) yahoo.co.uk

The latest SpecFicNZ newsletter has lots of interesting news. I’m not going to reveal it all here, but as a little taster, here are two New Zealand speculative fiction magazines looking for submissions:

Semaphore Magazine, edited by Marie Hodgkinson, is a New Zealand-based, quality e-zine seeking short fiction (including Spec Fic). For submission guidelines go to http://semaphoremagazine.com/submissions.html

Subspacetv is a new kiwi-oriented cyberpunk and science fiction e-zine seeking submissions for its first upcoming issue. See http://www.subspacetv.com/

Like A Virgin, Published For The Very First Time

This is a post for New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week.

I think New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week is an excellent idea, but that hasn’t meant it has been easy to decide what to post for it. I started the week with a post advertising Fantastic Voyages, this Thursday evening’s speculative fiction event in Wellington, and I thought I might dip into nostalgia for my next post, and talk about the first time I had a speculative fiction story published.

The year was 1986 (and you can imagine for yourself a portentous voiceover in which I say things like “As the Voyager 2 space probe made its first contact with Uranus [I’m not making this up, folks], the Soviet liner Mikhail Lermontov sinks in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds”). By then, I was what might be called a “technical virgin” as an author of fiction: I had had several poems published, but no fiction, though I had written a few science fiction stories, and made a few unsuccessful submissions to overseas magazines.

Somehow – I no longer remember how – I discovered a call for submissions for an anthology of New Zealand science fiction and fantasy stories for high school students, edited by Bernard Gadd, to be called I Have Seen The Future. I had a story that fitted the word limit, called “Statesman”. I submitted it, it was accepted, and I became a published author of speculative fiction.

I was pleased to be published. I was pleased to be paid – from memory, $50. But my overall emotion, I recall, was relief. At last I could call myself a published author! It was a short but intense moment of excitement, over almost before it had started, but at least I no longer had that particular hurdle to overcome.

So the publication of “Statesman” went down as my first fiction credit, and, slowly at first, more credits accrued. “Statesman” didn’t fit the theme of my first short story collection, Extreme Weather Events, but, retitled “Going to the People”, it was included in my 2008 collection Transported.

Yet I hadn’t actually looked at I Have Seen The Future for years, and I had no memory of who else had stories in it until I opened the book when writing this post, and got some surprises.

The following authors have stories in I Have Seen the Future:

Michael Morrissey, Apirana Taylor, Owen Marshall, Bernard Gadd, Bill Manhire, Elizabeth Meares, J Edward Brown, Sally Whitlock, Dianne Armstrong, Tim Jones, Margaret Beames, Craig Harrison, James Norcliffe, Russell Haley, Albert Wendt.

At the time the book was published, the only names from this list that meant anything to me were Albert Wendt and Craig Harrison. But, looking back, I’m pleased to see that my first story was published alongside work by such a collection of New Zealand literary luminaries.

What’s striking is that many of these authors are best known as poets. Perhaps it was these writers that Bernard Gadd, a poet himself, knew best. But it does illustrate the point I make from time to time that there has never been such a hard and fast dividing line between speculative writers and literary writers in New Zealand as one might think. These days, science fiction stories are being published in The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories. It’s great to have speculative fiction work published outside New Zealand, or in New Zealand’s growing roster of speculative fiction outlets, but it’s not the only route to publication.

Anomalous Appetites, Speculative Blogs, and a Very Good Cause

Anomalous Appetites

Shortly after the release of Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand was announced, New Zealand poet and editor John Irvine got in touch to say that he had recently published an illustrated anthology of science fiction poetry, Anomalous Appetites. You can find out all about it on John’s website.

I’ve now read Anomalous Appetites, and I found it a mixed bag (like any anthology), with some parts very much to my taste and others less so. I’m impressed by the range of poets included, with contributors from the US, the UK and the Philippines as well as New Zealand. The most immediately impressive thing about the anthology is the design: this collection is lavishly illustrated, and I especially liked those sections, such as the haiku by Greg Schwartz, in which the poems are fully integrated with the illustrations.

In addition, I particularly enjoyed the poetry of Maureen Irvine, John Irvine, Ken Head’s “Imagining the Pandemia”, Kristine Ong Muslim, and Charles Christian. Although the brief of the anthology is speculative poetry, most of it is horror poetry: there’s plenty of vampirism and cannibalism doing the rounds. It was often the pieces that had at least a science fiction element, rather than being pure horror, that appealed to me most.

In any case, I think it’s a really good sign to see not one but two speculative poetry anthologies being produced in New Zealand, and I wish John and his collaborators all the best with future ventures.

New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week: 14-20 September

In an effort to raise the profile of speculative fiction writers in New Zealand, the week of 14-20 September has been declared New Zealand Speculative Fiction Blogging Week. By happy coincidence, Helen Lowe and I are holding our writing event in Wellington, Fantastic Voyages: Writing Speculative Fiction, during that week – see the poster below. So I expect I will blog about this – but that will leave room for one other NZ speculative fiction post during the week. Any suggestions of what you’d like me to cover?



Poets for Princess Ashika: Love, Loss and the Sea

This is a fundraiser for the victims and relatives of the Princess Ashika Ferry Disaster in Tonga. I won’t be able to attend, unfortunately, but if you’re in the area, I recommend both the lineup of poets and the cause.

Featuring Glenn Colquhoun, Karlo Mila, Apirana Taylor, David Geary and the Paekakariki School Kapa Haka group.

Saturday 5 September, 2pm
UPDATE: The venue has been moved to the larger capacity Paekakariki Memorial Hall, The Parade (next to Campbell Park on the seafront).

Afternoon tea

Koha entry, and raffle
Contact: Helen Keivom 04 905 7178 or helen.keivom (at) kapiticoast.govt.nz

Reclaiming Gravity: The Birth of a New Zealand Writers’ Association


This is a guest post by Regina Ripley Patton. Ripley Patton lives mostly in her head but occasionally comes out to enjoy the scenery of the remote hills of the South Island that rise around her home. She writes speculative fiction because truth has always fascinated her more than fact. Her work has appeared in AlienSkin, Quantum Muse, The Lorelei Signal, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, Reflection’s Edge, and the new Wily Writers website for Speculative Fiction Downloads. She currently has a science fiction story in the running for a Sir Julius Vogel Award for best short story. You can find a window into her mind and writing at http://rippatton.livejournal.com.

Reclaiming Gravity: The Birth of a New Zealand Writers’ Association

No one warned me I’d be weightless in New Zealand. It is one of those assumptions we make wherever we go. Gravity works. When I moved to the South Island in August of 2006, I expected particles of matter to attract one another just as they always had.

I am a writer particle, a speculative fiction particle, to be exact. Speculative fiction, for those unfamiliar, is the current umbrella term for the collective genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, paranormal, and all the blends of and in between. Basically it’s the writing of those who love to “wildly speculate”. That’s me.

In the Pacific Northwest of the US, where I come from, there were quite a few particles like me. These particles collected in masses through writers associations, workshops, frequent conventions, and other various joyful excuses to bump into one another. Because the particles were many, and close together, their pull on one another was fairly strong, producing a fine, heady gravity. I rarely felt as if I was going to just float off into space alone, never to be seen again.

And then I moved. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my new country with its sheep, and inspiring scenery, and sheep. I was thrilled to be here, and one of the first things I did was sail off searching for like particles to bump into. Whee!

First, I looked up speculative fiction writers organizations. I found The New Zealand Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers Association (NZSFW). Its website had not been touched since 2000 and a quick poke with a stick revealed it to be decidedly dead. I continued my search for weeks, shuffling through the lifeless and abandoned websites of New Zealand speculative writers who had died, moved to Australia, or simply floated off into the void, never to be heard from again. I began to grow lighter. I bought heavier shoes, weighted my pockets with stones, and avoided the open sky, but if was obvious to me that my weightlessness was growing worse by the day. Without other like particles to pull on me, it was only a matter of time before I became just another minuscule speck lost in the great blackness of space. Gravity had betrayed me.

One particularly light day, when my husband had tied my safety tether to the clothes line so I could hang the wash, I had a revelation. There had to be other particles like me out there somewhere, clinging desperately to their own small chunks of New Zealand. If I could just find them, shake them loose, encourage them that they weren’t alone, then collectively our gravity would increase. The more particles I could find, the more pull we’d have to attract even more particles. It didn’t matter if there were only a few to start. If we bumped against one another, and stuck it out, eventually gravity would be restored to us all.

And so began a search, a quest, if you will, to find speculative fiction writers in New Zealand who wanted to network, develop a writers organization, and not only gain some weight but possibly throw it around sometime in the future.

As of now, there is a core group of eleven such particles, including myself. We include a mix of genders, ages, genres and geographic locations. Among us is Lee Pletzers, the founder of Masters of Horror, myself, a Sir Julius Vogel Nominee, Grant Stone, an acceptee to the Australian Horror Writers Association 2009 mentorship program, Marie Hodgkinson, the editor of Semaphore e-zine, Anna Caro, a member of the 2010 Con committee, and the rest are just as talented and dedicated. This last weekend we decided on an official name (yet to be revealed) and will be moving forward in developing an organizational charter.

And if you’re interested, we’re still looking for core members. The more particles we get, the easier the load and the heavier the gravity. Our plans are to take our time, grow this thing well, and burst onto the scene in a Big Bang sometime in early 2010. Anyone keen to give up their weightlessness should contact Regina Ripley Patton at give(underscore)a(underscore)rip(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

Either way, if you are a writer of speculative fiction in New Zealand, we hope to support you through a quality writers association in the near future.

In the meantime, write with one hand, and hang on to something heavy with the other.