Reviews of Ditmar Nominees

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Ditmar Nominees 2005

NOVEL

 
  • The Black Crusade, Richard Harland
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  • Less Than Human, Maxine McArthur
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  • The Crooked Letter, Sean Williams
  • NOVELLA OR NOVELETTE

    "Water Babies", Simon Brown (Agog! Smashing Stories)
    "The Whole of the Law", Stephen Dedman (Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #13)
    "The Last Days of Kali Yuga", Paul Haines (NFG Magazine, Volume 2 Issue 4, August 2004 )
    "Catabolic Magic", Richard Harland (Aurealis #32)
    "Home by the Sea", Cat Sparks (Orb #6, July)

    SHORT STORY

    "Number 3 Raw Place", Deborah Biancotti (Agog! Smashing Stories)
    "The Interminable Suffering of Mysterious Mr Wu", Rjurik Davidson (Aurealis #33)
    "Singing My Sister Down", Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)
    From 2006 Hugo reviews: Lanagan came out of left field (or more precisely, Australia) two years ago and created a huge buzz with a book of short stories that I don't think had been published previously. As I understand it, they mostly deal with aboriginal or African settings (I would've thought she was black herself, but she isn't), and this story, the first in the book, was thought by many to be the best. Spectacularly well-told, the story details the emotions of a family whose grown daughter is being put to death by standing in a tar pit until it swallows her up. The other members of her family are required to sit around her on mats and talk to her as she slowly sinks into the tar. Her crime, killing her new husband with an axe, is only mentioned obliquely, his family is there too, watching with many others from outside of the pit. Told from the perspective of the younger brother, Lanagan strikes an authentic note with the dialog and general patois and rhythm of the prose that makes it so convincingly "aboriginal". Technically this isn't really sf, while there's no direct reference to an established culture that practices this method of justice, it could really happen, I would think, it's a more plausible society than Jackson's "The Lottery", which could be considered a direct antecedent. This story puts forth a unique idea in a unique way and stays with you, all the hallmarks of a story worthy of an award, I think it's the one to beat.
    "R", Ben Peek (Agog! Smashing Stories)