Ditmar Award recommendations – pro categories

The professional categories…

Best Novel

  • Fivefold, by Nathan Burrage (Random House) – a brilliant cross-genre mix of historical fiction, fantasy, mysticism, and a touch of darkness. For mine, the most overlooked Aussie spec fic novel of the year and certainly among the best.

Best Novella/Novelette

  • “The Claws of Native Ghosts” by Lee Battersby (The Beast Within) – winner of the Australian Shadows Award and one of the most authentic colonial horror stories you’ll ever likely read.
  • “Creeping in Reptile Flesh” by Robert Hood (Creeping in Reptile Flesh) – a bizarre combination of politics and horror but it works!
  • “Painlessness” by Kirstyn McDermott (GUD #2) – the Aurealis Award horror winner and another sophisticated effort from McDermott. ‘Nuff said.

Best Short Story

  • “Her Collection of Intimacy” by Paul Haines (Black magazine #2) – quite simply the creepiest and best horror story last year, and one of the most subtly disturbing stories I’ve ever read, ever!
  • “Heere Be Monsters” by John Birmingham (Dreaming Again) – the First Fleet time travels to a future Sydney overrun by zombies. A story made of awesome.
  • “A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” by Richard Harland (Dreaming Again) – a Lovecraftian romp through the Egyptian afterlife. Subtle but fantastic.
  • “Teeth” by Stephen Dedman (Clarkesworld Magazine) – a grisly piece that all comes together at the end. Classic Dedman.

Best Collected Work

  • Midnight Echo #1, edited by Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond (AHWA) – what’s not to love about Australia’s newest all-horror fiction zine? A very solid debut!
  • Black: Australian Dark Culture magazine, edited by Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Brimstone Press) – ok, my biases are showing, but come on! A mass market mag bringing horror to thousands of new readers across Australia. The 3 issues in 2008 had exclusives with Stephen King, Alice Cooper, George A. Romero, Supernatural’s Jared & Jensen… it wasn’t a magazine, it was a freakin’ cultural phenomenon!
  • Black Box, edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (Brimstone Press) – I can’t help but feel this one fell below the radar, but I can personally attest to the hundreds of hours lavished on the production of this. What’s inside the box? A hundred stories from the best, art galleries, an e-comic, and a dozen of Australia’s best indie musicians all in one box.
  • Dreaming Again, edited by Jack Dann (HarperVoyager) – this brick of a book is a natural choice. It’s jam packed with quality stories.
  • Voices, edited by Mark S. Deniz and Amanda Pillar (Morrigan Books) – another sleeper and a fine first release from Morrigan Books. Creepy hotel horror stories rock!

Best Artwork

  • David Schembri for Midnight Echo #1 – have you seen the art in ME #1? Excellent!
  • Andrew McKiernan for his gallery in Black Box – there are several artist galleries in Black Box, but Andrew’s was my pick. His work is atmospheric and very dark.

Next, fan categories…