Two women were shortlisted for awards in Victoria

Nine categories of awards with a long line-up of eligible works but only two women were shortlisted for awards in Victoria this year, one as co-editor and one as author for ‘Best long fiction’. Shaun Tan, artist extraordinaire who happens to not be white, was also shortlisted.

No other not-white not-straight not-males were shortlisted.
Four categories have only one work shortlisted.
Three categories didn’t receive sufficient nominations to be included in this year’s awards.

Is this the death-knell for diversity in science fiction and fantasy in Melbourne?

The Chronos Awards are held annually in Victoria, Australia. The Continuum website says

The Chronos Awards are held annually to honour excellence in Victorian SF, Fantasy and Horror in the year preceding the Continuum convention. Members of the Continuum convention are eligible to vote in the awards, or you can purchase a Voting Membership from the Continuum Foundation for $5.

2014 Nominees are as follows:

Professional Categories:

Best Long Fiction (including collected works)
Best Short Fiction
  • “Fairy Pie” by George Ivanoff in Stories for Girls (Random House Australia)
  • No Award
Best Artwork

Fan Categories:

Best Fan Writer
Best Fan Publication in any Medium

Special Award for works not eligible in existing categories:

Best Achievement

There were insufficient nominations for any of the finalists in the Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Written Work, and Best Fan Art Work categories. 

8 Comments

  1. I’m a little surprised by this post because it’s based on a field of short-listed people that’s only ten names long. There are two women and eight men in the list. Yes, that’s unbalanced. However, as an editor of an anthology I don’t think I’m the one up for the award – the award is for the anthology. And in that anthology there are six Victorian writers – four female and two male.

    I’m also a little surprised that there’s an assumption that all the men, except Shaun Tan, are straight white males. How do you actually know this?

    I think the biggest question we need to ask is why aren’t we getting a lot of nominations? Maybe the Awards need to be promoted further. Is it an awareness thing?

    If there is a major bias against women, non-white, non-male, non-straight authors, then that is a serious thing and we should be doing something about it.

    But I don’t think the short list for the Chronos Awards is the evidence to reveal this.

    1. I agree that the awards need more publicity.
      Have you noticed how generic the community is at Continuum Conventions? The community needs to work on diversifying. I’m currently working out a strategy for finding not-white published authors from Australia and New Zealand to review and invite as special guest on podcasts. These kinds of strategies are needed for the community and the conventions.
      A number of the hard-working volunteers behind the scenes don’t fit the straight white not-disabled male stereotype but I’m wondering why the imbalance in volunteers and the imbalance in recognition.
      Surely we should at least be recognising the volunteers who run the convention?

      1. I think an easy (or relatively easy) way to increase the diversity of nominations would be to actively campaign for non-white, non-male etc authors. The way the Chronos Awards work at the moment, as far as I know, is that people email nominations to the organizers. I assume the works with the most votes will be short listed. It’s a popular choice – voted by the people/readers rather than a critical award.

        Next year you could use interviews and guest spots with these under represented authors and then channel your readers to send in votes. I think it’s about awareness.

        I like the idea of bringing light to the volunteers behind these events too. I haven’t actually been to a science fiction writers convention so I don’t really know what it’s like there, but I have friends who have.

        This might be completely out of left field but I’d be interested in sponsoring a Diversity in Science Fiction Award. The reason I set up Kalamity Press (indie publisher) was to get more voices out into the market. If you’d be interested in something like that I’d really like to hear from you.

        1. My last published podcast was on Women Destroy Science Fiction, featuring Wendy N Wagner, Rachel Swirsky and Galen Dara.

          My next podcast, currently being edited and scheduled for publication on Monday 7 April, features Sean Williams, Marianne de Pierres, John Birmingham and Meg Mundell (note gender parity) discussing world-building in near-future science fiction.

          My next podcast scheduled to be recorded is discussing LGBT representation in literature, with all LGBT authors. I’m in the process of lining up a cast for an Australian version of the same podcast, which I hope will also cover cultural differences and the difference marriage equality makes.

          I have 6 people lined up to discuss Invisible, Jim C Hines’s anthology of personal essays on diversity in science fiction and fantasy. With 6 people so far I’m planning two podcasts discussing this anthology, what motivated it and why people gave up their time to contribute. If more contributors volunteer, I might extend to more podcasts on this anthology.

          I’m looking for Aboriginal and Maori authors at the moment to include in Australian and NZ fantasy panels.

          After those podcasts I’ll start planning other topics.

        2. Regarding organising a diversity in SFF award: that’s an excellent idea. I recommend talking to the organisers of the Chronos Awards and the Ditmar Awards. They have absorbed other awards over the years, they could possibly add a diversity award too.

  2. You wrote: “Four categories only received one nomination.”

    I know that is not true in the short story category. There were hundreds of eligible works, and from hearsay, I know many were nominated. I suspect what has happened is that the 2nd tier included so many works, that they could not be included on the ballot, rather than no nominations.
    Only the Award administrators can tell us for sure, and they are not obliged to. In this case however I think it would be in the public’s interest to disclose the numbers involved, even if confidentiality precludes disclosing the stories.

    1. Apparently it takes four nominations for a work in a professional category to be shortlisted and two nominations for a work in a fan category to be shortlisted (I recently received an email informing me of this).

      Is it possible the short stories that were nominated didn’t receive enough support?

      Do you know of people nominating in fan categories other than the people shortlisted?

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