This is a special year for New Zealand’s speculative fiction awards, the Sir Julius Vogel (SJV) awards.
Never heard of the SJVs or Sir Julius Vogel? Fear not, I’m here to meet all your long-winded explanation needs!
I only became aware of the SJVs when I started getting into New Zealand’s publishing / writing scene, despite being a big fantasy reader for many years before that. Judging from the number of blank looks I get when I mention the awards to other New Zealanders who are readers but not writers, I don’t think this is at all an atypical experience.
OK, so what is an SJV award?
It’s a metallic, pointy trophy that looks like this:
The awards recognise achievements in NZ science fiction, fantasy, or horror. There are lots of categories, from short stories to best novel to services to fandom.
Why are they called Sir Julius Vogel Awards?
The awards are named after Sir Julius Vogel, an early prime minister of New Zealand. He is credited with writing New Zealand’s first speculative fiction novel Anno Domini 2000, or, Woman’s Destiny in 1889.
I haven’t read it for myself, but reviews suggest it’s unfortunately not a very good book. On the brighter side, the same reviews do think it predicted aspects of the future accurately, so that’s sort of cool?
What’s eligible for an award?
The main eligibility criteria is that the work is by a NZ citizen or resident. Oh, and that it’s published in the year before the award is given – so works published in 2019 are eligible for the 2020 awards.
(psst, THE PRINCE OF SECRETS was published in 2019).
The awards process is:
- Anyone, anywhere in the world, can nominate works using this form.
- The eligible works that receive the most nominations make it onto the shortlist of up to 5 finalists for each category.
- Members of SFFANZ (Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand) and/or the national science fiction convention for that year vote to decide the winner for each category.
Now, before I get to why this year is special, I have to talk about NZ’s national science fiction conventions.
NZ’s national science fiction conventions (natcons)
So, first off, we have national science fiction conventions. Every year. This may or may not be news to you, but it was something else I learnt only a few years ago. This is probably because NZ’s national conventions are pretty small (~150 people) and fan-run (i.e. don’t have a huge advertising budget).
Once you find them they are, however, very fun. The first one I went to was in 2013, which was…seven years ago. Huh. Time flies, eh?
To make the national conventions trickier to keep track of, their name changes every year depending on which city is hosting. For example, 2019’s national convention was Geysercon, held in Rotorua, known for, you guessed it, thermal mud.
But this year, 2020, New Zealand isn’t just having a normal national convention. We’re having an international one!
The World Science Fiction Convention 2020: CoNZealand
For the very first time, New Zealand is hosting the World Science Fiction Convention. This is an international, entirely volunteer-run convention that moves countries each year, and is where the Hugos are awarded.
Worldcon is going to double as New Zealand’s national science fiction convention this year.
Which means that all the Worldcon attendees will also get to vote for the SJVs this year.
Which basically means an order of magnitude more people than usual will looking at the finalists and voting.
Which means that making the shortlist this year would be really, really awesome. And it all depends on getting enough nominations.
This is where you come in. Please consider nominating my or any other NZ SFF works. The nomination web form is HERE.
My eligible works
The awards I am eligible for this year are:
The Prince of Secrets by AJ Lancaster
Publisher: Camberion Press (that’s just the name for my own indie imprint)
Contact details – firstname.lastname@example.org
Best New Talent
I’m technically eligible for this, since I’m still within my first four years as a professional.
The amazingly organised Melanie Harding-Shaw has also put together an unofficial spreadsheet of eligible works, and I recommend checking it out if you’re interested in what New Zealanders speculative fiction creatives have been putting out in the last year.