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Best Australian Long Fiction
Subcategory of Ditmar Awards
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The category for Best Australian Long Fiction (sometimes presented as 'Australian Novel or Anthology') came into being in 1978, when the previous category (Best Australian Fiction) was split into Best Australian Long Fiction and Best Australian Short Fiction.

Although the terminology fluctuated somewhat from the mid-1980s, this particular award was awarded until 1999, after which it was succeeded by the two separate awards for 'Best Novel' and 'Best Collected Work'.


1999 winner y separately published work icon The Resurrected Man Sean Williams , Pymble : HarperCollins Australia , 1998 Z414391 1998 single work novel science fiction crime

The year is 2069. D-mat offers fast, cheap travel, plus the potential to turn humanity into a race of godlike starfarers. But new technology has a dark side - d-mat allows a killer to perpetrate a series of vicious attacks without leaving a victim. Detective Marylin Blaylock is on the case ... a case where the murdered women all resemble her. (Publisher's blurb, back cover).

1998 winner y separately published work icon The White Abacus Damien Broderick , New York (City) : Avon Books , 1997 Z516730 1997 single work novel science fiction

'Long before William Shakespeare, tales were told of the Dane Ameleth whose noble father was murdered by the uncle who swiftly weds new widow Gerutha. Must Ameleth repay this crime by killing his uncle? The White Abacus dares to reconfigure the best known version of the classic tale, Shakespeare's Hamlet, to create a futuristic revenge drama with an entirely different outcome. Telmah is an inventive genius. Ophelia is no sobbing suicide but rather the impressive Warrior Rose, who shockingly revises the fate of her lover.

'In this exotic future history, the galaxy is open to anyone who passes through a hex gate, whether hu (augmented human) or ai (artificial mind). Telmah's close friend is the ai Ratio, newly embodied to the Real. Like all members of his asteroid tribe, Telmah is forbidden to use the hex transport system, since that would doom his rebirth.

'Out of this agonizing dilemma comes a feverish pursuit of truth and duty, love and near-madness, in an endlessly startling future where nothing turns out the way you expect.

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1997 winner y separately published work icon The Scarlet Rider Lucy Sussex , New York (City) : Forge , 1996 Z126450 1996 single work novel mystery fantasy

Young historian Melvina Kirksley is hired by an all-female publishing company to discover who wrote The Scarlet Rider, Or, A Mystery of the Gold-Diggings. The novel had originally been serialized anonymously in an 1860s newspaper. As she gets closer to the heart of the mystery, she feels the past come alive and begins to question her own identity, both now... and then.

Colin Steel writes in 2001: 'Melvina becomes increasingly estranged from her medical student boyfriend (a not-quite-convincing relationship) and her best friends, but new relationships are formed with a publisher, genealogists and a descendant of one of the real-life Victorian characters. On a number of levels Sussex peels away the past to reveal its links to the present. As the darker forces of Melvina's "possession" become apparent, the innocent academic research becomes a matter of life and death' (SF Commentary No 77, p.55).

1996 winner y separately published work icon Mirrorsun Rising Sean McMullen , North Adelaide : Aphelion Publications , 1995 Z280542 1995 single work novel science fiction 'Set in a far-future Australia where electricity has been outlawed and society is overviewed by human-powered computers (largely driven by librarians), restricted quasi-medieval guilds struggle for supremacy and to discover the secret of the past. This gradual understanding of past technologies, such as exploring the role of the orbiting space platforms, accelerates in the second volume (Colin Steele, SF Commentary No 77, p.53).

1995 winner y separately published work icon Permutation City Greg Egan , St Leonards : Allen and Unwin , 1994 Z455855 1994 single work novel science fiction (taught in 2 units) 'In Permutation City Egan has said that his main goal was "to take the idea of conscious software - whether it's some kind of scanned human duplicate, or some AI created from scratch - and push it to its logical conclusion'." The story involves human identities being 'loaded into computer memory banks where they become virtual people' (Colin Steele, SF Commentary No 77, p.53).
1994 winner y separately published work icon The Destiny Makers George Turner , New York (City) : William Morrow , 1993 Z495344 1993 single work novel science fiction

'In the era of “the big squeeze” – when an environmentally ravaged Earth groans beneath the weight of twelve billion people – two men control the destiny of humankind. One was recently senile…the other is going insane.

'In the year 2069, with the Earth’s population dangerously out of control, procreation and the medical treatment of terminal illness are the two most heinous crimes against society. But behind the doors of the top secret Biophysical Institute, an old man has been illegally cured of the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and made artificially younger – to serve the unspecified purposes of Premier Jeremy Beltane, one of the world’s most powerful leaders.

'A member of the underprivileged “Wardie” class, Detective Sergeant Harry Ostrov has been assigned to serve as a guardian to the mysteriously rejuvenated nonagenarian – and entrusted with a devastating secret that could topple the unstable “Minder” government. But once within the confines of the Beltane family enclave, the dedicated police officer is dragged deeper and deeper into a lethal mire of scandal, corruption, political outrage, and moral dilemma – sworn to silence even as he observes his nation’s ruler, a man ultimately responsible for the future of civilization, descend steadily into depression, uncertainty . . . and madness.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Orion ed.).

'The story is told mainly from the vantage point of Melbourne policeman Harry Ostrov, who becomes embroiled, via protecting the illegally rejuvenated father of the Victorian Premier, in a massive conspiracy of a "final solution" that not only involves Australia but also the rest of the world' (Colin Steele, SF Commentary No 77, p.52).

1993 winner y separately published work icon Quarantine Greg Egan , Artarmon : Legend , 1992 Z544390 1992 single work novel science fiction

'It's late in the 21st century and bioengineering is now so common that people are able to modify their minds in any way they wish. It is an era which has been shaped by information systems so vast that security, in any form, is easily breached. Now, you can be whatever you want to be, and do whatever you want to do. On Earth anyway. One night, thirty three years ago, the stars went out. 'The Bubble' - a perfect sphere centred on the sun - appeared in the sky, isolating the solar system from the rest of the universe. For thirty-three years, humanity has lived with the religious cults and terrorism which spawned in the wake of the darkness. We are now alone. Humanity has been cut off: quarantined.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1992 winner y separately published work icon Wormwood Terry Dowling , North Adelaide : Aphelion Publications , 1991 Z98305 1991 selected work short story science fiction
1991 winner y separately published work icon Rynosseros Terry Dowling , North Adelaide : Aphelion Publications , 1990 Z343407 1990 selected work short story science fiction
1990 winner y separately published work icon Lake of the Sun Wynne Whiteford , New York (City) : Ace Books , 1989 Z995829 1989 single work novel science fiction

'When the explosions began, shaking the very roof of his world, only Rah had the courage to climb to the surface to investigate. There he found a strange machine, tended by two-eyed creatures with silvery skin. Aliens! A deep chill touched Rah’s very soul. The unbelievable had finally happened. Mars had been invaded!'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Described as a novel of first contact between Martians and aliens.

1989 winner y separately published work icon Striped Holes Damien Broderick , New York (City) : Avon Books , 1988 Z455127 1988 single work novel science fiction

'Sopwith Hammil might be the nation's top chat-show host but his peace of mind is shattered when a time traveling bureaucrat lands on his couch. To save his life and the human race (They're turning the Sun off!), Sopwith must find a wife inside three hours. Turns out it's not that easy, Soppy.

'Meanwhile, popular astrologer and certified lifesaver O'Flaherty Gribble, a favorite guest on Sopwith's show, has discovered the Callisto Effect and how to build striped holes. And in a future that makes Nineteen Eighty-Four look like Brave New World or vice versa, beautiful Hsia Shan-Yun is about to have her brain scrubbed for knitting one of those striped holes, with frightful consequences. But luckily, O'Flaherty finds himself seated on a plane next to God. Tighten your belt, it's that kind of novel.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Gateway edition).

1988 winner For as Long as You Burn Terry Dowling , 1987 single work short story science fiction
— Appears in: Aphelion Science Fiction Magazine , Summer no. 5 1987; (p. 58-76) Wormwood 1991; (p. 197-251)
1987 winner y separately published work icon Bard III : The Wild Sea Keith Taylor , New York (City) : Berkley Publishing Corporation , 1986 Z1439017 1986 single work novel science fiction

'I am called Felimid mac Fal. I am a bard of the old blood, a lesser degree of Druid. Where I come from, bards have been knows to sing armies to defeat or victory and kings off their throne or on to them. Descended from the faery folk, the Tuatha de Dannann, my line's been poets and harpers in Erin since the world was new, and magic's in our heart-marrow.

'She is called Gudrun well as names a good deal less polite. She is the most dangerous pirate on the open seas, master of the enchanted ship Ormungandr, and the woman of my heart. If you wish to know more than that, ask the ballad singers and gossip mongers at any tavern. Half of what you hear will be fact, half will be lies, and even I can no longer separate the two. Yet this story, perhaps the strangest of them all, of shapeshiters and sorceresses and the sea-dwelling Children of Lir, is naught but the gods' own truth...on my honor as a bard.'

Source: Blurb.

1986 winner y separately published work icon Illywhacker Peter Carey , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1985 Z359598 1985 single work novel (taught in 2 units) In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, may be the king of them all. Vagabond and charlatan, aviator and car salesman, seducer and patriarch, Badgery is a walking embodiment of the Australian national character. (Source: Trove)
1985 winner y separately published work icon The Beast of Heaven Victor Kelleher , St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1984 Z151994 1984 single work novel science fiction young adult

'The disturbing and awesome Beast of Heaven wanders a ruined earth, destroyed long before by an atomic holocaust. He shares the land with the Gatherers, a gentle nomadic tribe, sensitive to the spirits of those long dead.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

1984 winner y separately published work icon Yesterday's Men George Turner , London : Faber , 1983 Z111260 1983 single work novel science fiction

'On a futuristic Earth where the repressive leaders of the Ethical Culture attempt to control the aggressive instincts of the human race, part-Cyborg Peter Corrigan becomes a part of a secret government experiment.'

Source: Publisher's blurb (Avon reprint).

1982 winner y separately published work icon The Man Who Loved Morlocks : A Sequel to The Time Machine as Narrated by the Time Traveller David J. Lake , Melbourne : Hyland House , 1981 Z473760 1981 single work novel science fiction