From the press release:
Winners of the 2012 Aurealis Awards were announced in a glittering ceremony held in Sydney last night.
Chris Barnes, convenor of the awards, said that with over 750 entries across the thirteen categories, the judges had a very challenging task.
“Congratulations to all the finalists and winners. The winners represent the best of Australian fantasy, horror and science fiction writing in 2012 as judged by a panel of their peers. This year’s winners join the likes of Sara Douglass, Garth Nix, Isobelle
Carmody, Trudi Canavan, Shaun Tan and Sean Williams, all of whom are multiple Aurealis Award winners.”
“I’d like to extend my thanks to our sponsor, the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, and to Harper Voyager and Xoum Publishing for their support. I also thank all the judges for their efforts.”
“This is the third and final year for SpecFaction NSW to run the Aurealis Awards in Sydney. We are moving on to other things, but hand over with pleasure to Conflux Inc, who will host next year’s event in Canberra.”
Details of the awards are available at www.aurealisawards.com
19 March 2013
2012 Aurealis Award Winners
BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION (TOLD PRIMARILY THROUGH WORDS)
Brotherband: The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House Australia)
BEST CHILDREN’S FICTION (TOLD PRIMARILY THROUGH PICTURES)
Little Elephants by Graeme Base (Viking Penguin)
BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY
The Wisdom of the Ants by Thoraiya Dyer (Clarkesworld)Media Release – 2013 Aurealis Awards ceremony Page 2 of 2
BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney (Allen & Unwin)
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
BEST ILLUSTRATED BOOK / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Blue by Pat Grant (Top Shelf Comix)
That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K. J. Bishop (self-published)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Six
edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
BEST HORROR SHORT STORY
Sky by Kaaron Warren (Through Splintered Walls, Twelfth Planet Press)
BEST HORROR NOVEL
Perfections by Kirstyn McDermott (Xoum)
BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY
Bajazzle by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
BEST FANTASY NOVEL
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY
Significant Dust by Margo Lanagan (Cracklescape, Twelfth Planet Press)
BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (Harper Collins)
PETER MCNAMARA CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE
KRIS HEMBURY ENCOURAGEMENT AWARD
From the press release:
On Saturday June 8th at 2:00p.m. Dark Delicacies presents a special addition to its Victorville Massacre DVD signing.
Joining the signing will be French-born Actress Barbara Magnolfi. Her newest film role is in The Sister of Ursula but she is probably best known for her role in Dario Argento’s Suspiria. She will be signing copies of both films during her appearance at Dark Delicacies.
Dark Delicacies is located at 3512 West Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, Ca 91505 and can be reached at (818)556-6660 or email@example.com.
Creator: Alan Ball
Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård
By Brian M. Sammons
Time for some more hot, sexy, bloody, and funny vampire action with Sookie, Bill, Eric, and all the rest of the gang from the tiny little Louisiana town that just so happens to be the nexus point for all things supernatural happening in the world. Or at least, that’s how it always seems. Yes, this is now the fifth year of HBO’s fangtastic show, and the question is; is it still as good as it was, or has it succumbed to the eventual decline that almost all TV shows seem to fall into? Well I guess that depends upon who you are.
You see, True Blood has one hell of a rabid fan base and after five years you already know if you’re a fan of it or not. If you are, then rejoice because here’s some more southern gothic, supernatural romance for you to sink your teeth into. So in essence, this is one of the easiest reviews for me to do, as I’m largely preaching to the converted if you’re still reading this. But hell, I’ve got a job to do, so grab your silver chains and your favorite artificial blood beverage; we’re going way down south for some vampire goodness.
Last season was all about magic, and this one is all about faith. Faith in people when it looks like they have majorly lost their way, and faith in divine beings. Now that’s common for many shows, but what is not too common is when murderous blood-fiends find religion. Even if it’s a religion based on slaughter. To this end, the Vampire Authority, the ruling body of vampires, play a huge part in the story. Unfortunately, this shifts much of focus from a lot of the supporting characters who have been part of the show from the beginning. There are only so many minutes in an episode, after all. Season five also brings back a villain from the past, one that was just so fun, and yet here he is poorly utilized and almost neutered. Lastly, some of the main characters take some wild turns only for the sake of plot contrivance. Instead of adding anything of merit to the story, they just seem way out of place. It does end with a nice cliffhanger, so there’s hope season six will be a bit better than this one.
Season Five of True Blood is not the show at its best, in fact it might be the worst season yet, but it’s far from being truly bad. The show continues to be a silly, sexy, if only ever slightly scary good time and I do enjoy this show despite my better judgment. I’m not a fan of the sexy, misunderstood vampire thing that is so popular these days, but even despite that, I do find myself returning to True Blood again and again. It’s cotton candy for the brain with plenty of pretty for the eye. I know some serious horror fans hate this series, but I think such folks need to lighten up and just enjoy this show as the ridiculous, over the top, naughty soap opera it is. That’s how I watch it, and it never fails to give me a giggle.
Merits of the continuing adventures of Sookie and Vampire Bill aside, this new Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy combo set from HBO is pretty top notch. There are five audio commentaries to be found here. Why only five? I don’t know, but they are pretty fun and informative and have a bunch of the cast and crew on them, including show-runner Alan Ball, stars Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Denis O’Hare and more. In addition to the commentaries, there are a bunch of interviews about each of the episodes with all the True Blood writers. There is a group discussion with members of the cast and crew on one of the episodes (episode six), how it was made and various behind the scenes bits. There is an interactive guide showing all the relationships, past and present, and with five seasons and a cast this large, that gets quite extensive. There are several “authority confessionals” where actors playing the vampire hierarchy speak to the camera while staying in character about their shadowy organization. Character bios, flashbacks, flash-forwards, and other interactive hints and goodies round out this impressive list of bloody good extras.
So if you are waiting for the sixth season of True Blood to start up on HBO, do yourself a favor and pick up this fifth season to remind you of all the sexy supernatural shenanigans from last years. Even five years in it is still a load of fun that looks absolutely great on Blu-ray and comes packed with a gaggle of great extras. If you have yet to catch this show and want to jump on the True Blood bandwagon, this is not the season to do it. There’s too much inside baseball here for newbies. However if you’re a diehard fangbanger, you’ll still get a kick out of this season, although you have probably already seen it by now.
How lucky can you be? I’ve been to New Zealand. It is an absolutely wonderful place. Beautiful mountains, stunning beaches, forests…just being allowed to live there should be enough to make anyone happy. Well now, if you’re a lucky Kiwi with a good idea, it seems that you can also get your movie made. Sounds pretty cool to me.
From the press release:
Producer Ant Timpson, Greg Newman (EVP MPI/Dark Sky Films), and New Zealand Film Commission CEO Graeme Mason announced today the return of MAKE MY MOVIE, the highly successful New Zealand feature film project.
The New Zealand Film Commission and MPI/Dark Sky Films are financing a low budget feature film scheme in which the entire budget will be given away to any individual/team who can come up with a synopsis and poster that wows the public and the in-house gurus. The first round resulted in the critically acclaimed Kiwi peeping-tom rom-com HOW TO MEET GIRLS FROM A DISTANCE. That film was conceived and delivered in less than six months; it was then sold to Madman Entertainment after a highly successful festival run in New Zealand.
This time around exec producer Timpson sought support from Newman and MPI and upped the stakes, calling it MAKE MY HORROR MOVIE with a focus entirely on the horror genre.
“Having MPI/Dark Sky on board from day one is a smart way to help us to find a project that can transcend the inherent limitations of a low budget and to select a project that can make a real dent internationally. We were all knocked out by the creativity from the first Make My Movie; we have a real chance to find the next Paranormal Activity through this process” said Timpson.
Greg Newman, EVP MPI/Dark Sky, said, “We are pleased to be involved in this unique collaboration with Ant Timpson and the New Zealand Film Commission. This furthers our commitment to developing new talent and to bringing the best in independent genre to the marketplace.”
“We were all really impressed by what the make My Movie team and How to Meet Girls from a Distance achieved last year. We’re proud to support this excellent low-budget initiative, and I can’t wait to see what Make My Horror Movie produces this time round,” added NZFC Chief Executive Graeme Mason.
The deal was structured by Tim Riley of Dominion Law with assistance from NZFC’s Naomi Wallwork. MPI will cover Worldwide Sales.
The MPI/Dark Sky Films brand includes the successful genre films The House of the Devil, Stake Land, The Innkeepers, Frankenstein’s Army, Hatchet III, Stitches, and the upcoming Late Phases.
Eric G. Swedin
Borgo Press, 2013
Trade paperback, $14.99
Reviewed by Michael R. Collings
It is the final days of World War II. The German military has expended nearly all of its resources: men, ammunition, ground weapons, aircraft. The Battle of Berlin, with its devastating losses on both sides, has begun. The end is in sight.
Major John Carter, aiding in the liberation of the Dachau death-camp, discovers among the unspeakable horrors that he and the other Allied forces find something so unusual, so startling, that he has no clear sense of how it fits into the realities of war: a barrack, unusually well-constructed, unusually well-heated, with beds and pillows and mattresses and blankets…and a cowering group of young, attractive, well-nourished, long-haired women.
His confusion does not last long. One of them, an Irish woman little more than a girl, tells Carter that she and the others, as well as scores more during the past four years, have all been kidnapped from their homes in lands with Nordic ancestries, for the sole purpose of becoming virgin sacrifices at the Temple of Odin.
At almost the same time, in a secluded chalet not far distant, SS Colonel Hans von Krohn puts the finishing touches on a plan to rescue the Third Reich from incipient disaster. He, his two faithful bodyguards, and one of the would-be sacrificial victims escape the ruins of German-occupied Bavaria and head north, first toward Norway, and finally toward the Arctic regions themselves, in search of the something that nearly everyone else believes exists only in myths and legends—Yggdrasil, the World-Tree, growing in the center of Valhalla, where Odin still rules. Thus begins what the book cover identifies as a “Retro Science Fiction Novel” but that might with equal precision be called a “Scientific Romance” à la Edgar Rice Burroughs. To point readers toward Burroughsian echoes is not to provide spoilers, however; Swedin clearly does not intend for readers to get very far in the action-adventure, science-fantasy that is Seeking Valhalla without noticing the links. The main character, John Carter, is named in the first sentence.
That by itself does not necessarily specify an allusion, but when, only a few pages later, the major’s sergeant is identified as one “Carson Napier”; a greenhorn soldier who dies during a firefight against the SS is known only as “Clayton” (one assumes that his first name might just be “John”); and a mysterious Colonel, who almost immediately commandeers Carter and Napier to follow him on an equally mysterious trek northward, calls himself “Edgar B. Rice”—well, to claim that the names are merely coincidental stretches credibility.
Once all of Swedin’s characters are in place—Nazi and Allied, including a cameo-like reference to an American anthropologist named “Jones”—we are ready for a roller-coaster ride of an adventure that stretches from Germany to the North Pole; that mingles Swedin’s background in military history with his knowledge of myth, legend, religion, and ancient literatures into a believable whole; and that recreates the atmosphere, the landscapes, and the texture of the Nordic sagas.
Seeking Valhalla is crisply and clearly written, chapters shifting point-of-view characters freely but without any confusion. Visual imagery plays a large part in the narrative, as does sideways references to books and films; Lost Horizon (novel, 1933; film, 1937) plays a significant role in preparing us—and the characters—for what is to come. And the conclusion is handled adroitly, managing to combine a dirigible cruising over the Arctic wastes, Adam and Eve and the Fruit of the Tree of Life, Odin and the World-Ash, and Valkyries sweeping from the skies.
In all, Seeking Valhalla is exciting, interesting and informative, fun, and a creditable homage to Burroughs and his generation of fantasists.
From the Press Release:
New York City’s First Official Sci-Fi Film Festival Now Accepting Submissions And Expands To France As It Ventures Into Global Awareness
Brooklyn, N.Y. May 20, 2013 – The Philip K. Dick European Science Fiction Film Festival is taking its mission internationally as it honors one of the literary world’s most acclaimed geniuses. A three-day event will mark the first of many worldwide gatherings in the beautiful and historic Lille, France from October 25-27, 2013 at the famous L’Hybride Cinema venue. This unprecedented move will welcome an international awareness to this remarkable festival and extend its celebration of Philip K. Dick to his countless fans who continue his legacy within the genre of science fiction.
The festival is now accepting submissions in science fiction and horror features and shorts. Writers and panelists will be invited to participate in this extraordinary event which will surely be one of many overseas. As further details become available the festival anticipates a successful event in its first global outing. The first New York City festival saw record crowds of over 1,000 participants for the exclusive screening of John Alan Simon’s Radio Free Albemuth which was based on Dick’s 1985 novel posthumously published three years after his death. The weekend-long festival also held numerous film screenings and panels with Simon, esteemed professors Ronald Mallet and Enrique Ricardo Miranda, distinguished writers Angela Posada-Swafford, Walter Mosley and Dennis Paoli and science fiction experts Richard Dolan and Peter Robbins. The team behind the annual festivities will also pioneer its second annual event in December 2013 for a record five-day gathering and a spring 2014 cyberpunk festival in Tokyo.
The Philip K. Dick European Festival of Science Fiction, Science, The Fantastic, Horror and The Supernatural will delight its attendees with its entertaining and visually captivating themes which have made the event a favorable and continued success. The event will take place at L’Hybride Cinema at 18 Rue Gosselet 59000 in Lille, France. Contact the venue at http://www.lhybride.org. For film submissions, deadlines and contacts please visit www.philipkdickfilmfestival-europe.com and http://www.withoutabox.com/login/12654 and always be sure to stay informed of all ongoing announcements on the festival’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilipKDickFilmFestival and Twitter page at https://twitter.com/PhilipKDickFest.
About The Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Festival: The Second Philip K. Dick International Film Festival of Science, Science Fiction, Fantastic Film and the Supernatural and the first of its kind to grace the screens of New York City is organized by filmmakers who understand the difficulties and challenges of telling a unique story in a corporate environment. The year 2013 marks the second year of the festival which will expand it’s genres of films, panels and venues throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. Guest speakers and writers that best represent the goals of the festival will attend the opening ceremonies. We look for original voices and visions in works submitted. Lastly, this is a festival by filmmakers for filmmakers.
About Philip K. Dick: “Reality is whatever refuses to go away when I stop believing in it.” – Philip K. Dick Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was one of the 20th century’s most profound novelists and writers within the science fiction community. His exploration, analysis and beliefs led to the publishings of 44 novels and 121 short stories. Dick’s enormous library of works led to several film developments including Blade Runner (1982), Total Recall (1990), Minority Report (2002), Paycheck (2003) and most recently Radio Free Albemuth (2010), The Adjustment Bureau (2011) and the successful remake of Total Recall (2012). The film industry is also awaiting the release of King of the Elves in 2014, which will surely be yet another prosperous depiction of Dick’s literary contribution to science fiction. Dick’s enormously effective views comprised of fictional universes, virtual realities and human mutation foresaw an exaggerated version of the current state of government and contemporary life. Though he is gone in the physical form his philosophies live on in the techniques applied to modern stories and films and generate large displays of appreciation and understanding.
For more information please contact:
Daniel Abella, Festival Director Program Office: 917-362-9337
Social Media Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThePhilipKDickFilmFestival
Fractured Atlas Donation Page: https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/contribute/donate/6853
The Oblivion Room: Stories of Violation
Evil Jester Press, June 2013
Trade paperback, $14.95
Reviewed by Michael R. Collings
I discovered the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe quite early in my teens and read them voraciously. I’ve re-read most many times over the course of the intervening fifty years or so, but I still vividly remember my essentially visceral reaction to my first encounter with several of them: the fantastic gorgeousness of “The Masque of the Red Death,” which I recently cribbed from (only slightly) for a Lovecraftian novella; the calm, rational madness of “The Black Cat” and “The Cask of Amontillado”;and—perhaps most dramatically of all—the smothering darkness and ultimate meaninglessness, as it seemed to me, of “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Over the years I have not encountered a story that touched me, that horrified me, in quite the same way as that one did.
Until I was asked to review Christopher Conlon’s impressive collection, The Oblivion Room: Stories of Violation.
As is my wont with a new book, I took it with me to a nearby fast-food restaurant, where I could enjoy it in the relative silence (mostly silence from my internal noises). And, as is completely understandable, I began with the first story, the eponymous “The Oblivion Room.”
And suddenly, it seemed as if I were in the world of “The Pit and the Pendulum” again…for the first time. Even though the stories are, on the surface, different.
Conlon’s character—and indeed, one could almost say that there is only one character in the story—is a woman, a wife and a mother. She is an average person in all respects, except that she is imprisoned in an utterly lightless cell, circular, with no perceivable openings. She receives food, of a sort, but only when she is asleep. She is naked. She has no matrix by which to judge time. All she can do is remember…and structure her memories into a mental journal—the story—so that whatever happens, she will never forget who she is and what is happening to her.
Then, incredibly, she discovers a single flaw in her cell: a barely discernible crack, only inches long and scarcely deeper than her smallest fingernail.
Not much, but it gives her life and hope.
To tell more would be to lessen the shock and surprise that Conlon so adroitly builds over the twenty-plus pages of the story. He so orchestrates her memories and her struggles to maintain them that the simple act of recall becomes both heroic and manic…rather as it would be with one of Poe’s characters.
The second story, “On Tuesday the Stars All Fell From the Sky,” is in its own way entirely unlike the first…and identical to it.
Another bit of reminiscence.
As a graduate student, I worked with Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time. Most of the stories I have (unfortunately) forgotten, but one remains, vivid in atmosphere, tone, and extraordinary control. The main character of “Big Two-Hearted River,” Nick Adams, embarks on a fishing trip. That is the entire plot. The story is composed of Adam’s meticulous attention to every detail around him, with several paragraphs devoted to the mundane act of making coffee over a campfire. Toward the end, he stands on a bridge of the Big Two-Heart River and watches several fish swimming against the current, making no progress but not getting swept backward either.
Shell-shocked, returning from the horrors of World War I, Adams is himself struggling to maintain. His ritualized descriptions and painstakingly controlled actions are the only recourse he has to a world that is insane…and deadly. Like the fish, he makes no headway, but neither does he dissolve into madness.
Conlon’s story gave me the same sense of overt restraint over underlying madness, but here, we know precisely how mad Terrence Stillwater actually is (ah! If I were still in graduate school, I would make much of the symbolism of his last name!). When he awakens one morning, he knows, without knowing how or why, that there is a thing to so.
He does it.
And goes through the day alternatively half-remembering it and half-denying, even in the face of incontrovertible evidence, that it happened.
As with Hemingway’s story, Conlon’s draws its strength—and its horror—from juxtaposing two sides of Stillwater’s personality and his attempts to create a “normal” life, even though he ultimately knows that any pretense at normality is merely that…a pretense.
The next three stories each deserve full discussion, but for the sake of conciseness, I can only suggest their power and effectiveness. In “Skating the Shattered Glass Sea,” a twin visits his sister for the first time in half a century…in her cramped, dark room in a mental institution; only there can the old man he has become truly comprehend the tragedy of what her instability and their separation has cost them both. “The Long Light of Sunday Afternoon” (a bit of a Hemingwayesque title) is a gentle ghost story, in which an old man—a recurring theme in several of the stories—is given a choice…or perhaps only a vision. “Grace” is an eerie tale of an empty house, about to be torn down in the wake of new construction, that contains a terrible secret for Abby Winter, as well as the possibility of restoration if she has the courage to open the closet door.
Each is memorable in its own right, told with clarity and directness that nonetheless combine to create a moment of horror.
The capstone and highlight of the collection, however, is the novella, “Welcome Jeanne Krupa, World’s Greatest Girl Drummer!” Set in the midst of World War II, it tells of a jazz ensemble, the Skye High Five, through the eyes of a young man fresh from the plains of Nebraska (and from a town perfectly named ‘Lonestone’). The first pages concentrate on background, particularly his, and depicting a world in which the only young men are “4-Fers” rejected by the military, and the old men—including three of the ensemble—are decades older. Into the closed world of the Five comes something new and fresh: Jeanette Crupiti, a phenomenal autodidact on the drums, lying about her age and secretive about her backgrounds but capable of playing at the level of the great Gene Krupa himself.
The story unwinds at what seems a leisurely pace as the band works, improves, and steadily moves toward greatness.
Then, enter the villain, Jeanette’s cousin, Boone Branson. There is no secret about his villainy; Conlon makes that clear on the first page. But there are other secrets that gradually, inexorably emerge, and in doing so threaten Jeanette, the narrator, and the band.
Underlying the story, however, are two consistent themes. The first is spoken by Jeanette when she asks “Who do you think people love each other?” Once asked, the question reverberates through what we know of her life, and what we learn of the narrator’s. The second comes from the narrator, Lester:
“I took a walk down to the ocean—we were playing a club on the beach, our hotel was attached to it—and I breathed the heady salt air for a while, trying to clear my head. Understand, no one used words like stalker or dysfunctional or codependent back them. I’d never heard of such things. ”
But it doesn’t require words for a thing to exist—look at the terrors faced by the nameless woman in “The Oblivion Room”, or the dreadful sense of things unnamable and unforgivable going out of control in “On Tuesday the Stars All Fell From the Sky”; or the soul-killing loss in “Skating the Shattered Glass Sea.” And even without the words, even intuiting what is to come, readers are invited into Lester’s world to understand the irrevocable mark one person can make…for good or for evil.
The Oblivion Room: Stories of Violation is a perfect title for the collection. Throughout there is violation: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. The stories provide little ground for hope; at best, perhaps, there is only endurance and remembrance. They might seem rather cold, impersonal, dispassionate, almost dissociated, as if the horror implicit in the story-telling were too much for the narrators. Readers eager for “slash-and-burn” horror might be disappointed in them—not for their lack of blood and violence, which occur, but for Conlon’s detachment and refusal to glory in them for their own sake. Suffering happens; and we must struggle to endure. But those seeking the deeper realms of fear and terror, found primarily in suggestion and indirection and obliqueness, The Oblivion Room is a must.