Aurora Awards: Why Canadian SF&F Matters

Welcome back after my unplanned hiatus! I won’t bore with the details; instead I’ll sum it up with, “Funny old thing, life. Eh?” and then get on with the writing. Suffice to say I will be posting more regularly, at least until The Next Thing.
I received word a few weeks ago that I am on the ballot for the Aurora Awards, for my work starting and chairing The Pure Spec Festival (specifically the 2010 event). I couldn’t talk about it then because the official announcement wasn’t made until yesterday, and until then I was bound by the Geek Code of Conduct to keep it to myself. But the word was given yesterday, and so I am no longer bound in silence.
You may ask yourself, “What are the Aurora Awards?” For the long form answer, just follow the link above and it will take you to their page. Short answer, for those that can’t be bothered with all that linking, is that the Auroras are meant to honour the best in Canadian sci-fi and fantasy literature, media and fandom. You may wonder if Canada has enough going on in that regard that we actually need an award just for us. To partially answer that you can follow this link to the list of works eligible for nomination this year. To answer it further, Google (or Bing or whatever) “Canadian Sci-fi Convention” and you will get a sense of just how active the sci-fi and fantasy communities are in our Home and Native Land.
There is something equal parts special and hard to define regarding Canadian sci-fi. The component that I have most often noticed is a through-thread of hope. Canadian sci-fi and fantasy is hopeful. Hope for the future, hope in people, for the individual to do the right thing, to be their best. All Canadian sf&f has hope as an integral part of its structure. And while that isn’t necessarily lacking in sci-fi from other lands, it is sometimes in short supply.
That isn’t to say Canadian works can’t be dark, morbid, horrifying or bleak. Charles de Lint has written some wonderful books that are very dark in tone; yes, I’m looking at you Angel of Darkness. Guy Gavriel Kay’s work has had moments that made me weep with frustration and sadness; there is a point in the third Fionavar Tapestry book that I know will make me cry. But how could you have and appreciate hope if you didn’t have to fight through despair and darkness first?
So for me, what the Aurora Awards celebrate is hope. That Canadian sci-fi and fandom can make a mark, be seen/heard and make a difference. Personally, I think that is something worth celebrating and supporting. I hope you do, too. If so, please take a moment on the Aurora Awards site to vote before the October 15 deadline this year. And thank-you in advance, from all the nominees.
Usually I’d have a bunch of links for you, but today I’ll just include the list of 2011 Aurora Award Nominees. Do yourself a favour and check out their work; you won’t be sorry.
Professional Awards
Best English Novel
Black Bottle Man by Craig Russell, Great Plains Publications
Destiny’s Blood by Marie Bilodeau, Dragon Moon Press
Stealing Home by Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, Viking Canada
Watch, by Robert J. Sawyer, Penguin Canada
Best English Short Story
The Burden of Fire by Hayden Trenholm, Neo-Opsis #19
Destiny Lives in the Tattoo’s Needle by Suzanne Church, Tesseracts Fourteen, EDGE
The Envoy by Al Onia, Warrior Wisewoman 3, Norilana Books
Touch the Sky, They Say by Matt Moore, AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, November
Your Beating Heart by M. G. Gillett, Rigor Amortis, Absolute Xpress
Best English Poem / Song
The ABCs of the End of the World by Carolyn Clink, A Verdant Green, The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box
Let the Night In by Sandra Kasturi, Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, EDGE
Of the Corn: Kore’s Innocence by Colleen Anderson, Witches & Pagans #21
The Transformed Man by Robert J. Sawyer, Tesseracts Fourteen, EDGE
Waiting for the Harrowing by Helen Marshall, ChiZine 45
Best English Graphic Novel
Goblins, Tarol Hunt, goblinscomic.com
Looking For Group, Vol. 3 by Ryan Sohmer and Lar DeSouza
Stargazer, Volume 1 by Von Allan, Von Allan Studio
Tomboy Tara, Emily Ragozzino, tomboytara.com
Best English Related Work
Chimerascope, Douglas Smith (collection), ChiZine Publications
The Dragon and the Stars, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, DAW
Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick, EDGE
On Spec, edited by Diane Walton, Copper Pig Writers Society
Tesseracts Fourteen, edited by John Robert Colombo and Brett Alexander Savory, EDGE
Best Artist (Professional and Amateur)
(An example of each artist’s work is listed below but they are to be judged on the body of work they have produced in the award year)
Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, “Brekky” cover art, On Spec Fall
Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications
Christina Molendyk, Girls of Geekdom Calendar for Argent Dawn Photography
Dan O’Driscoll, cover art for Stealing Home
Aaron Paquette, “A New Season” cover art, On Spec Spring
Fan/ Amateur Awards
Best Fan Publications
No award will be given out in this category due insufficient eligible nominees
Best Fan Filk
Dave Clement and Tom Jeffers of Dandelion Wine for “Face on Mars” CD
Karen Linsley; concert as SFContario Guest of Honour
Phil Mills, for “Time Traveller” (song writing)
Best Fan Organizational
Andrew Gurudata, organizing the Constellation Awards
Brent M. Jans, chair of Pure Speculation (Edmonton)
Liana Kerzner, chair of Futurecon (Toronto)
Helen Marshall and Sandra Kasturi, chairs of Toronto SpecFic Colloquium (Toronto)
Alex Von Thorn, chair of SFContario (Toronto)
Best Fan Other
Tom Jeffers, Fundraising, FilKONtario
John and Linda Ross Mansfield, Conception of the Aurora Nominee pins
Lloyd Penney, Articles, columns and letters of comment – fanzines
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