Ditmar Award

The Ditmar Award (formally the Australian SF ("Ditmar") Award; formerly the "Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award") has been awarded annually since 1969 at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention (the "Natcon") to recognise achievement in Australian science fiction (including fantasy and horror) and science fiction fandom. The award is similar to the Hugo Award but on a national rather than international scale.

They are named for Martin James Ditmar "Dick" Jenssen, an Australian fan and artist, who financially supported the awards at their inception.[1][2]

The current rules for the award (which had for many years been specified only in the minimalist "Jack Herman constitution") were developed in 2000 and 2001 as a result of controversy resulting from the withdrawal of the works of several prominent writers from eligibility, and the rules are subject to revision by the "Business Meeting" of the Natcon.

Ditmar Award
Awarded forExcellence in science fiction, fantasy, and horror
Presented byAustralian National Science Fiction Convention
First awarded1969


Award-eligible works and persons are first nominated by "natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of the national convention of the year of the award". Nominations are compiled into a ballot (currently by a sub-committee composed primarily of standing committee members elected at the National SF Convention business meeting) which is distributed to members of the convention, and the previous year's convention, for voting, which may continue into the period of the convention ("at-Con voting") at the discretion of the committee.

In 2000 the awards were cancelled and re-run, resulting in two sets of nominations that year.

The second set of nominations for 2000 included Greg Egan's Teranesia as a finalist for the Ditmar Award for Best Novel despite Egan having attempted to decline nomination of his work. It was determined that an author could refuse an award, but not a nomination. Accordingly, Egan's novel remained on the ballot, and was permitted to win the award, which he then declined.[3] (Egan had earlier attempted to withdraw all his works "into the indefinite future" from consideration for the Ditmar Awards in order to give himself greater freedom to state his views on the awards process.[4])

Finalists are given an A4 certificate honouring their achievement and winners are presented with a standard trophy.[5]

In 1991 trophies were presented twice, the original trophies being in the form of stuffed cane toads.[6][7]


Categories were traditionally the prerogative of the convention committee (a situation which ultimately led to presentation of an Award for Best Fannish Cat) and regularly included "international" categories. This situation was changed by the formalisation of the categories as part of the rules.

Current awards

  • Best Novel
  • Best Novella or Novelette
  • Best Short Story
  • Best Collected Work
  • Best Artwork

The current rules permit merger of the Best Novella or Novelette and Best Short Story categories into a single category for Best Short Fiction.

History of Categories

When the Awards were first presented in 1969, there were four categories:

  • Best Australian Science Fiction of any length, or collection
  • Best International Science Fiction of any length, or collection
  • Best Contemporary Writer of Science Fiction
  • Best Australian Amateur Science Fiction Publication or Fanzine

There continued to be at least one "International" category and multiple "Australian" categories until 1986, except that in 1974 there were no Ditmar Awards, and that in 1982 "Australasian" replaced "Australian" in category names. (Those two complications are ignored in the following summary.)

International Categories A category for Best International Fiction survived until 1986, and there was also an award in that category in 1989. An award for Best Contemporary Author that did not require nominees to be Australian was presented in 1969. An award for Best International Publication was presented in 1970. The William Atheling Jr Award when it was introduced in 1976, did not require nominees to be Australian, whereas it now does. (Also, it has, rightly or wrongly, not always been regarded as a Ditmar Award.)

Australian Fiction Apart from there being an award for Best Professional Magazine in 1970, there was a single category for Best Australian Fiction until 1977, in which year there was also a special award for a specific short story. For most years from 1978 to 1998, there were two categories for Australian fiction, one for Best Australian Short Fiction and one either for Best Australian Long Fiction or, more specifically, for Best Australian Novel. (There was a single category for Best Australian Fiction in 1979, 1980 and 1983. In 1993, there was an additional award for Best Periodical; In 1996, there was one for best Publication/Fanzine/Periodical.) From 1999 to 2003, there were awards in three categories, that for Best Long Fiction having been split into one for Novels and one for Collected Works. (In 1999, the latter category was phrased as being for Best Australian Magazine or Anthology.) From 2004, the Best Short Fiction category has been split into one for Best Novella or Novelette and one for Best Short Story.

Australian Fan Publications There has continued to be an award category in which fanzines are eligible, for many years termed Best Australian Fanzine. From 2002 to 2004 and 2006 to 2008, there were two categories for fan publications, one for fanzines and one not. In 1993, the category in which fanzines were eligible was one for Best Periodical; in 1996, it was a category for Best Publication/Fanzine/Periodical; in 2001, it was a category for Best Australian Fan Production. Nowadays, there is a category for Best Australian Fan Publication in any Medium.

William Atheling Jr Award The William Atheling Jr Award, for reviews or criticism, has been presented in most years since 1976.

Fan Writer There has been an award category for Best Australian Fan Writer in most years since 1979.

Artist There was an award category for Best Australian Science Fiction or Fantasy Artist from 1980 to 1987. In 1983 and 1984, there was also an award category for Best Australian Science Fiction or Fantasy Cartoonist. In 1998, there was an award for Best Artwork/Artist.

Artwork There was an award category for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1973, 1985 and 1998. There has been an award either for Best Artwork or Best Professional Artwork since 1993. (In 2005 and 2008, there was an award for Best Fan Art.)

Editor From 1983 to 1985, there was an award category for Best Australian Science Fiction or Fantasy Editor.

Outstanding Contribution In 1987 only, a Ditmar Award was presented for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Fandom.

Fan Artist There has been an award category for Best Fan Artist in most years since 1988. In 2005 and 2008, awards were announced for Best Fan Art instead of Best Fan Artist.

Fannish Cat In 1991 only there was a Ditmar Award for Best Fannish Cat. In 2010, there was an award for Best Fannish Cat, but it was not a Ditmar Award that year.[8][9][10]

New Talent There has been an award category for Best New Talent since 2001.

Achievements In most of the years from 2001 to 2008, there were awards for Best Professional Achievement and for Best Fan Achievement. These two categories were merged into a single category for Best Achievement in the years 2009 to 2011. These categories have been discontinued.

There were special awards in 1971, 1977, 1983, 1992, and 1995.


  1. ^ Collins, Paul; McMullen, Sean; Paulsen, Steven (1998). "Awards". In Collins, Paul. The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Carlton South, Victoria: Melbourne University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0 522 84771 4.
  2. ^ Jenssen, Dick. "My life in SF Fandom". Challenger 23. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Ditmars - aus.sf". Google Groups. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  4. ^ Egan, Greg (1996). "An Open Letter to Australian Literary Fandom". Thyme (108): 3.
  5. ^ "Ditmar rules". SForgAU. Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  6. ^ Gillespie, Bruce (1998). "Fandom". In Collins, Paul. The MUP Encyclopaedia of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Carlton South, Victoria: Melbourne University Press. p. 67. ISBN 0 522 84771 4.
  7. ^ "Australian Ditmar Awards: A Winning History - 1991 Brisbane". Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  8. ^ "Dudcon III Progress Report 2" (PDF). Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  9. ^ Editors (4 May 2010). "Best Fannish Cat". Science Fiction Awards Watch. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  10. ^ "Special Award of the Convention - Best Fannish Cat". Dudcon 3, 49th Australian National Science Fiction Convention, 2nd - 6th September 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2012.

External links

Brimstone Press

Brimstone Press was an Australian independent publisher of dark fiction (horror and dark fantasy). Brimstone Press was established in 2004 by Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings and was based in Western Australia.

The first publication from Brimstone Press was Shadowed Realms, an online flash fiction horror magazine that was active from 2004 to 2007. Authors published in Shadowed Realms include Terry Dowling, Richard Harland, Robert Hood, Poppy Z Brite, Stephen Dedman, Kurt Newton, Martin Livings, Lee Battersby, Paul Haines, Steven Cavanagh and Kaaron Warren. Shadowed Realms gained professional status from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 2005 and was nominated for the Best Collected Work Ditmar Award in 2006.Brimstone Press also published HorrorScope: The Australian Dark Fiction Web Log, a news and review webzine. In December 2006, Brimstone Press moved into book publication. Among their published anthologies are Shadow Box and the Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror series.

Brimstone Press produced a newsstand-quality horror magazine, Black: Australia's Dark Culture magazine which ran for three issues in 2008. Many of Australia's best-known horror writers including Rob Hood, Leigh Blackmore and others appeared in its pages.

Several stories and projects published by Brimstone Press have won, or been nominated for, Australian and international literary awards.

Bruce Gillespie

Bruce Gillespie (born 1947) is a prominent Australian science fiction fan best known for his long-running sf fanzine SF Commentary. Along with Carey Handfield and Rob Gerrand, he was a founding editor of Norstrilia Press, which published Greg Egan's first novel.

He was fan guest of honour at Aussiecon 3, the 57th World Science Fiction Convention held in Melbourne, Australia in 1999.

He has won and been nominated for many Ditmar Awards since his first nomination in 1970, and in 2007 he was awarded the Chandler Award for his services to science fiction fandom.

Chimaera Publications

Chimaera Publications is a publisher based in Mount Waverley, Victoria, Australia. The company currently publishes the speculative fiction magazine Aurealis as well as running the Aurealis Awards.

Chris Lawson

Chris Lawson is an Australian writer of speculative fiction.

Eidolon Publications

Eidolon Publications was a small press publisher based in North Perth, Western Australia. The company previously published the speculative fiction magazine Eidolon which ran from 1990 to 2000 and published books under the name of Eidolon Books.

Felicity Dowker

Felicity Dowker is a speculative fiction writer from Victoria, Australia. She is predominantly recognised as a writer in the horror genre.In 2009, she won the Ditmar Award (Australian SF Award) for Best New Talent. Her story "Jesse's Gift" was nominated for the Aurealis Award for Horror Short Story.Dowker's stories have appeared in a number of Australian publications including Borderlands, Aurealis and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. One story in particular, "Bread and Circuses", was the recipient of positive reviews after appearing in the Scary Kisses anthology, and was described in Scoop magazine as one of the highlights of the collection.Her story, "Bread and Circuses" is a finalist for the 2010 Ditmar Award for Short Fiction as well as the 2010 Australian Shadows Award for Short Fiction.Dowker's first story collection, Bread and Circuses, was published in 2012.

HorrorScope (webzine)

HorrorScope: The Australian Dark Fiction Web Log is a news and review webzine dedicated to horror literature and movies. The zine was created by Australian independent publisher Brimstone Press in August 2005. HorrorScope and its editors have won two Ditmar Awards (Australian Science Fiction Achievement Awards) and attracted several award nominations.

Jonathan Strahan

Jonathan Strahan (born 1964 in Belfast, Northern Ireland) is an editor and publisher of science fiction. His family moved to Perth, Western Australia in 1968, and he graduated from the University of Western Australia with a Bachelor of Arts in 1986.

In 1990 he co-founded Eidolon: The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy, and worked on it as co-editor and co-publisher until 1999. He was also co-publisher of Eidolon Books which published Robin Pen's The Secret Life of Rubber-Suit Monsters, Howard Waldrop's Going Home Again, Storm Constantine's The Thorn Boy, and Terry Dowling's Blackwater Days.

In 1997 Jonathan worked in Oakland, California for Locus: The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field as an assistant editor and wrote a regular reviewer column for the magazine until March 1998 when he returned to Australia. In early 1999 Jonathan resumed reviewing and copyediting for Locus, and was then promoted to Reviews Editor (January 2002 – present). Other reviews have appeared in Eidolon, Eidolon: SF Online, and Foundation. Jonathan has won the Aurealis Award, the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review, the Australian National Science Fiction Convention's "Ditmar Award", and the Peter McNamara Achievement Award.A ten-time Hugo Award nominee, Strahan won the World Fantasy Award (Special – Professional) in 2010 for his work as an editor, and his anthologies have won the Locus Award for Best Anthology three times (2008, 2010, 2013) and the Aurealis Award four times.

As a freelance editor, Jonathan has edited or co-edited forty-one original and reprint anthologies, and seventeen single-author story collections which have been published in Australia and the United States.

In 1999 Jonathan founded The Coode Street Press, which published the one-shot review 'zine The Coode Street Review of Science Fiction and co-published Terry Dowling's Antique Futures. The Coode Street Press is currently inactive.

Jonathan currently co-hosts the weekly Coode Street Podcast with Gary K. Wolfe, which has been nominated for the British Science Fiction Award, the Ditmar Award, and the Hugo Award.Jonathan married former Locus Managing Editor Marianne Jablon in 1999 and they live in Perth, Western Australia with their two daughters, Jessica and Sophie.

Kaaron Warren

Kaaron Warren is an Australian author of horror, science fiction, and fantasy short stories and novels.

She is the author of the short story collections Through Splintered Walls, The Grinding House, and Dead Sea Fruit. Her short stories have won Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Aurealis Awards.Her four novels, are Slights, Walking the Tree and Mistification (published by Angry Robot Books) and The Grief Hole (published by IFWG).

Kaaron was Special Guest at the 2013 Australian National Science Fiction Convention.

Kim Westwood

Kim Westwood is an Australian author born in Sydney and currently living in Canberra, the Australian Capital Territory.

She is an Aurealis Award winner and twice finalist for her short stories, a number of which have appeared in Years Best anthologies in Australia and the USA, as well as broadcast on radio and podcast.

She received a Varuna Writer’s House Fellowship for her first novel, The Daughters of Moab, published in 2008 and shortlisted for an Aurealis Award.

Her second novel, The Courier's New Bicycle (2011), was selected for the Honour List of the 2011 James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and won an Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel as well as a Ditmar Award for Best Novel (Ditmar Award results). It has been reviewed as "a disturbingly credible and darkly noir post-cyberpunk tale" with a "brilliantly evoked atmosphere of secrecy and threat" carried by a "strong, empathetic central character [and] fast paced narrative".Westwood developed her distinctive visual sensibility while working as a theatre performer and deviser. Darkly poetic, her stories are underscored by feminist and gender politics, and have a preoccupation with humanity’s capacity for destruction and equal instinct for survival. Most are set in a near-future Australia. Of this she says, “My imagination has a chemical reaction to living in Australia, and responds strongly to its particular properties.” By example, The Daughters of Moab has been reviewed as “a richly peopled canvas, of which perhaps the real star is the landscape, so intensely depicted as to be almost a presence.”

Kyla Ward

Kyla (Lee) Ward is an Australian writer of speculative fiction, poet and actor. Her work has been nominated multiple times for the Ditmar Award, the Aurealis Award and the Rhysling Award. She won the Aurealis Award in 2006 for her collaborative novel Prismatic (as by 'Edwina Grey').

Paul Haines (fiction writer)

Paul Haines (8 June 1970 – 5 March 2012) was a New Zealand-born horror and speculative fiction writer. He lived in Melbourne with his wife and daughter.

Raised in Auckland, New Zealand, Haines moved to Australia in the 1990s after completing a university degree in Otago, where he became an Information Technology consultant. He attended the inaugural Clarion South writers workshop in 2004 and was a member of the SuperNOVA writers group. Haines had more than thirty short stories published in Australia, North America, and Greece. In 2007, he volunteered as a mentor for the Australian Horror Writers Association.Haines won the Australian Ditmar Award three times (Best New Talent in 2005, and Best novella/novelette for "The Last Days of Kali Yuga" (2005) and "The Devil in Mr Pussy (Or How I Found God Inside My Wife)" (2007)). He won the 2004 Aurealis Award (horror short story) for "The Last Days of Kali Yuga" and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2003 and 2004. Several of his short stories received Honourable Mentions in the annual Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies, ed. Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant, and Kelly Link (St. Martins).

Haines' first short story collection Doorways for the Dispossessed was published by Prime Books in 2006. It won the New Zealand 2008 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collection and was nominated for the 2007 Australian Ditmar for Best Collection.

In 2007 Haines was diagnosed with cancer. The anthology Scary Food: A Compendium of Gastronomic Atrocity (ed. Cat Sparks, Agog! Press, 2008) was put together as part of a donation drive to raise funds to partially cover the cost of Haines' medical treatment. Authors represented include Kaaron Warren, Margo Lanagan, Robert Hood, Richard Harland, Paul Haines, Terry Dowling, Stephen Dedman, Deborah Biancotti, Lee Battersby, Lucy Sussex, Gillian Polack, Lourdes Ndaira and Anna Tambour. Haines died in March 2012.

He was influenced by Iain Banks, Clive Barker, James Herbert, Stephen King, George RR Martin, Robert Silverberg, Peter Straub, and Irvine Welsh.

Sean Williams (author)

Sean Llewellyn Williams (born in Whyalla, South Australia on 23 May 1967) is a New York Times best selling science fiction author who lives in Adelaide, South Australia. He is the author of over eighty published short stories and thirty-nine novels, including Twinmaker and (with Garth Nix) the Troubletwisters series. He has co-written three books in the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series and is a multiple recipient of both the Ditmar and Aurealis Awards. His novelisation of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was the first novelisation of a computer game to debut at #1 on the "New York Times" bestseller list.

He studied sciences and music at Pulteney Grammar School and matriculated third in his year (1984), topping the state for Musical composition. That same year, he won the Young Composer's Award for a theme and three variations for string quartet with flute, oboe and trumpet soloists called "Release of Anger". He then went to Adelaide University and studied a Bachelor of Economics and wrote for the student newspaper On Dit. He completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Adelaide University in 2005 and was in 2010 a PhD candidate at the same institution.Sean Williams was Chair of the SA Writers' Centre from 2001-2003, and is one of only three lifetime members of that institution. His publishers include HarperCollins Australia, HarperTeen, Allen & Unwin, Egmont UK, Del Rey, Ace, Pyr, Swift and Ticonderoga Publications. Williams has also tutored for the Clarion South Workshop, was a previous winner of the Writers of the Future contest, and is now a Judge for the same.

Shane Jiraiya Cummings

Shane Jiraiya Cummings (born 24 April 1974) is an award-winning Australian horror and fantasy author and editor. He lives in Sydney with his partner Angela Challis. Cummings is best known as a short story writer. He has had more than 100 short stories published in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, and Asia. As of 2015, he has written 12 books and edited 10 genre fiction magazines and anthologies, including the bestselling Rage Against the Night.

Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan (born 1974) is an Australian artist, writer and film maker. He won an Academy Award for The Lost Thing, a 2011 animated film adaptation of a 2000 picture book he wrote and illustrated. Other books he has written and illustrated include The Red Tree and The Arrival.

Tan was born in Fremantle, Western Australia, and grew up in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. In 2006, his wordless graphic novel The Arrival won the Book of the Year prize as part of the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards. The same book won the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year award in 2007. and the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards Premier's Prize in 2006.Tan's work has been described as an "Australian vernacular" that is "at once banal and uncanny, familiar and strange, local and universal, reassuring and scary, intimate and remote, guttersnipe and sprezzatura. No rhetoric, no straining for effect. Never other than itself."For his career contribution to "children's and young adult literature in the broadest sense" Tan won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council, the biggest prize in children's literature.

Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts (born 22 May 1978) is an Australian fantasy writer. Her short stories have been published in a variety of genre magazines, including Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and Aurealis. She also writes crime fiction as Livia Day.

Tender Morsels

Tender Morsels (2008) is a novel by Australian author Margo Lanagan. It won the Ditmar Award in 2009 for Best Novel and was joint winner of the 2009 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Ticonderoga Publications

Ticonderoga Publications is an Australian independent publishing house founded by Russell B. Farr in 1996 and now run by Farr and Liz Grzyb. The publisher specialises in collections of science fiction short stories.

Victor Kelleher

Victor Kelleher (born 1939) is an Australian author. Kelleher was born in London and moved to Africa with his parents, at the age of fifteen. He spent the next twenty years travelling and studying in Africa, before moving to New Zealand. Kelleher received a Masters from St Andrew's University and a PhD in English Literature from The University of South Africa has taught in Africa, New Zealand and Australia. While in New Zealand, he began writing part-time, prompted by homesickness for Africa. He moved to Australia in 1976, with his South African wife, Alison, and was Associate Professor at the University of New England, in Armidale, New South Wales, before moving to Sydney to write full-time. Many of the books he has written have been based on his childhood and his travellings in Africa.

Kelleher has won many awards for his books, such as the Australian Children's Book Award

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