Earlier this year, a group of dedicated locals created a new literature award for Australian science fiction writers. The results are now in and the first ever Australian Science Fiction Writers Foundation (ASFWF) competition winners have been announced.
Yvonne Langenberg, owner of Boobooks Bookstore is the creator of this prize, and she says that the 2023 event has been a “wonderful experience”.
“I was absolutely thrilled with how our first competition went,” she says, “we only had a relatively short run-up to the competition and still managed to get 64 entries in to be judged.”
The winners for 2023 are Seven Everson’s Jogee in the Adult Category, and Errasuriz by Spencer Yap for the Youth Category. The competition also ended up with several commended and highly commended entries.
Ms Langenberg tells us that the calibre of entries for the first year were brilliant.
“We were really blown away. The quality of entries was exceptional,” she says, “I think because there are no other specific science fiction writing competitions in Australia, authors were really drawn to the competition.”
“Science Fiction and science-based storytelling are very relevant right now,” says Ms Langenberg, “with climate change, and COVID and all the other crazy things going on in our world, the interest in the category as a whole as really grown.”
Of course, as with any new venture, the competition was a learning curve for all involved. The sheer number and quality of the entries, whilst very pleasing to organisers, also proved for a lot of hard work and late nights.
“The demand was so high that we will definitely be looking in to getting some extra judges next year,” says Ms Langenberg.
This year’s star judges, Dr Ian Irvine, Dr Sophie Masson and Dr James O’Hanlon were also all reportedly thrilled to be a part of the competition, however, are not yet confirmed to be judges again for 2024.
“I hope they will,” says Ms Langenberg, “but they are very busy people so we will see.”
Already pushing ahead with plans for next year, Ms Langenberg says she will have a longer entry timeframe for 2024 and hopes to have the entry portal open from January to allow more time for both entrants, and judges.
Another hope for next year is to be able to have more involvement from local school groups.
“I’d love to involve the primary schools next year. Just in the Armidale area while we’re still finding our feet with everything, but I think having perhaps a comic book category or similar that our kids can get involved in and excited about as a project would be fantastic,” Ms Langenberg says.
Ms Langenberg also wants to extend her heartfelt thanks to all those involved in making this year’s prize a possibility.
“I am so very humbled by the support of this circle of highly qualified, amazing people that have made all of this work,” she says.
“Not only is this just a wonderfully successful competition, but I also think it’s a beautiful example of, despite all the negativity that’s around at the moment, showing how people are willing to give 100% of their effort to get behind something good to make it work,” says Ms Langenberg.
Ms Langenberg is excited about the prospects of ASFWF and the competition and is motivated to make next year “bigger and better”. In the meantime, she encourages all writers, both locally and nationally to start getting ideas together for their 2024 entries.
She also extends a very warm welcome to anyone who’d like to discuss further ideas about the foundation, and the competition, to come and see her at Boobooks and have a chat.
For more information about ASFW, and to read the entries of this year’s winners, visit their website.
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