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History

Historically, the section was divided into two awards: Best Novel and Best Short Story. In 2016, convenors announced a splitting of the short-fiction award, making three individual awards: Best Short Story, Best Novella, and Best Novel.

Winners

2018 winner Novel y separately published work icon Tide of Stone Kaaron Warren , United States of America (USA) : Omnium Gatherum Media , 2018 14976277 2018 single work novel horror

'The Time-Ball Tower of Tempuston houses the worst criminals in history. Given the option of the death penalty or eternal life, they chose eternal life. They have a long time to regret that choice.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2018 winner Novella Crisis Apparition Kaaron Warren , 2018 single work short story horror
— Appears in: A Primer to Kaaron Warren 2018; (p. 99-125)
2018 winner Short Story Sub-Urban Alfie Simpson , 2017 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Breach , no. 7 2017;
2017 winner Novel y separately published work icon Soon Lois Murphy , Yarraville : Transit Lounge , 2017 11571834 2017 single work novel

'An almost deserted town in the middle of nowhere, Nebulah's days of mining and farming prosperity – if they ever truly existed – are long gone. These days even the name on the road sign into town has been removed. Yet for Pete, an ex-policeman, Milly, Li and a small band of others, it's the only place they have ever felt at home.

'One winter solstice, a strange residual and mysterious mist arrives, that makes even birds disappear. It is a real and potent force, yet also strangely emblematic of the complacency and unease that afflicts so many of our small towns, and the country that Murphy knows so well.

'Partly inspired by the true story of Wittenoom, the ill-fated West Australia asbestos town, Soon is the story of the death of a haunted town, and the plight of the people who either won’t, or simply can’t, abandon all they have ever had. With finely wrought characters and brilliant plotting, it is a taut and original novel, where the people we come to know, and those who are drawn to the town's intrigue, must ultimately fight for survival.' (Publication summary)

2017 winner Novella The Stairwell Chris Mason , 2017 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Below the Stairs : Tales from the Cellar 2017;
2017 winner Short Story Old Growth J Ashley Smith , 2017 single work short story fantasy horror
— Appears in: SQ Mag , June no. 31 2017;
2016 winner Novel y separately published work icon The Grief Hole Kaaron Warren , Victoria : IFWG Publishing Inc , 2016 9436819 2016 single work novel horror

'There are many grief holes.

'There's the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.

'There's another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.

'And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre.

'Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love.

'Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you'll die by the spirits haunting you. If you'll drown, she'll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women.

'She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn't let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2016 winner Short Story Burnt Sugar Kirstyn McDermott , 2016 single work short story
— Appears in: Dreaming in the Dark 2016; (p. 319-346)

'My brother stumbles through the back gate while I'm still in the hen-house, plucking smooth, warm eggs from dirty straw.' (Introduction)

2016 winner Short Story Flame Trees T.R. Napper , 2016 single work short story science fiction
— Appears in: Asimov's Science Fiction , April-May vol. 40 no. 4-5 2016; (p. 84-93)

In a future Australia, Chi suffers from PTSD. But when a doctor offers to remove the bad memories, he refuses.

2015 winner Novella The Miseducation of Mara Lys Deborah Kalin , 2015 single work short story
— Appears in: Cherry Crow Children : A Twelve Planets Collection 2015;

'The desert-locked outpost of Boundary boasts the famed manufacturers of flawless timepieces; those who would learn the trade must offer up their eyes as starting materials. Look to your pride: it will eat you alive.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2015 winner Short Story Bullets Joanne Anderton , 2015 single work short story horror
— Appears in: In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep 2015; (p. 114-129)
2014 winner Short Story y separately published work icon Home and Hearth Angela Slatter , United Kingdom (UK) : Spectral Press , 2014 8366558 2014 single work short story horror

'Caroline’s son returns to home and hearth at last. She’s a good parent or so she tells herself. She did everything a mother could to bring Simon back, even lied for him. The only problem is that Caroline’s not sure she actually wants him here anymore.

'Has Simon changed? Or is he still a danger? And does it matter now that the shadows are beginning to stir in the empty rooms of Caroline’s house?'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2014 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Razorhurst Justine Larbalestier , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2014 7542870 2014 single work novel historical fiction fantasy young adult

'The setting: 1932, Razorhurst. Two competing mob bosses - Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson - have reached a fragile peace.

'Kelpie knows the dangers of the Sydney streets. Ghosts have kept her alive, steering her to food and safety, but they are also her torment.

'Dymphna is Gloriana Nelson's 'best girl'. She knows the highs and lows of life, but she doesn't know what this day has in store for her.

'When Dymphna meets Kelpie over the corpse of Jimmy Palmer, Dymphna's latest boyfriend, she pronounces herself Kelpie's new protector. But Dymphna's life is in danger too and she needs an ally. And while Jimmy's ghost wants to help, the dead cannot protect the living.

'Gloriana Nelson's kingdom is crumbling and Mr Davidson is determined to have all of Razorhurst - including Dymphna. As loyalties shift and betrayal threatens at every turn, Dymphna and Kelpie are determined to survive what is becoming a day with a high body count.' (Publication summary)

2013 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Fairytales for Wilde Girls Allyse Near , Sydney : Random House , 2013 Z1935862 2013 single work novel young adult fantasy

'A girl with anime hair. A boy with a sketchbook. A forest possessed.

With a motley pack of possibly imaginary friends watching over her, Isola Wilde feels safe, loved. But even her protectors can't save her from the anguish of watching her mother's illness take over their house. Friends Grape and James help her to feel normal. New boy Edgar makes her forget for a while. But always Isola comes back to wondering: will I be next? The ghost at the window would steal Isola's last breath, and it will take all of Isola's strength to stop her.

As her magical world collides with the real one, Isola strikes a Faustian deal with a cute and fluffy gargoyle to protect herself from the fairytale evils of her world.'

(Publisher's blurb)

2013 winner Best Short Story The Year of Ancient Ghosts Kim Wilkins , 2013 single work novella
— Appears in: The Year of Ancient Ghosts 2013; (p. 21-72)
2012 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Perfections Kirstyn McDermott , Sydney : Xoum , 2012 Z1915505 2012 single work novel horror

'Two sisters. One wish. Unimaginable consequences. Not all fairytales are for children.

'Antoinette and Jacqueline have little in common beyond a mutual antipathy for their paranoid, domineering mother, a bond which has united them since childhood. In the aftermath of a savage betrayal, Antoinette lands on her sister’s doorstep bearing a suitcase and a broken heart. But Jacqueline, the ambitious would-be manager of a trendy Melbourne art gallery, has her own problems – chasing down a delinquent painter in the sweltering heat of a Brisbane summer. Abandoned, armed with a bottle of vodka and her own grief-spun desires, Antoinette weaves a dark and desperate magic that can never, ever be undone.

'Their lives swiftly unravelling, the two sisters find themselves drawn into a tangle of lies, manipulations and the most terrible of family secrets.'

(Publisher's blurb: Twelfth Planet Press)

2012 winner Best Short Story Sky Kaaron Warren , 2012 single work novella horror
— Appears in: Through Splintered Walls : A Twelve Planets Collection 2012; Focus 2012 : Highlights of Australian Short Fiction 2013;

'Zed has been haunted by the disappearance of a teacher who went missing not long after Zed brought the oddest item for 'show and tell' to school. Now 23, Zed decides to take matters into his own hands and goes out to search for answers. His search takes him to the small town of Sky, somewhere north-west of Sydney. It's known for its 'Cat Food Factory'. It is here that he meets a number of very strange individuals and undergoes experiences that will change him forever... and not for the better.'

2011 joint winner Best Short Story The Short Go : A Future in Eight Seconds Lisa L. Hannett , 2011 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Bluegrass Symphony 2011; (p. 149-159) Aurealis : Australian Fantasy & Science Fiction , October no. 55 2012;
Joint winner with 'The Past is a Bridge Left Burnt' by Paul Haines.
2011 joint winner Best Short Story The Past Is a Bridge Best Left Burnt Paul Haines , 2010 single work novella horror
— Appears in: The Last Days of Kali Yuga 2010; Aurealis : Australian Fantasy & Science Fiction , November no. 56 2012; The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2011 2012; (p. 455-483)
'Self-consciously autobiographical, and yet subtly playful in its interrogation of the nature of dream and reality, it is an extraordinary tour de force of a story. Consisting of many short, often apparently unrelated sections which seem to mirror the narrator's confusion, The Past is a Bridge Best Left Burnt takes us on a journey through past and present times, in New Zealand and Australia.'

Source: Review of The Last Days of Kali Yuga, in Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, [posted: 27/05/2011], http://aussiespecficinfocus.wordpress.com/
Sighted 17/05/2012
Joint winner with 'The Short Go : A Future in Eight Seconds' by Lisa L. Hannett.
2010 winner Best Short Story The Fear Richard Harland , 2010 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Macabre : A Journey Through Australia's Darkest Fears 2010; (p. 636-669)
2010 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Madigan Mine Kirstyn McDermott , Sydney : Picador , 2010 Z1705400 2010 single work novel horror

'Alex doesn't know what he wants to do, how to connect with people or what's good for him. He drifts his way through dead-end jobs and fumbled relationships, unable to find a way out of the rut his life has become. Then he runs into Madigan Sargood and everything changes.

'A ray of light shining from an almost-forgotten past, Madigan is beautiful and impulsive, enigmatic and passionate beyond measure. This is what it means to live, Alex realises, and to love. Never mind that she can be somewhat possessive. Never mind that his best friend thinks there's something wrong with her, something dangerous even. Never mind that the creepy band of misfits she attracts have all but taken over his home. Madigan fills Alex's life with significance; he will put up with anything to be with her.

'Until, without any warning, she kills herself.

'Now Alex can't seem to get her out of his head, and his world - along with his sanity - begins to disintegrate. Black outs and missing time, conversations he can't recall, people he can't remember. Is this the product of a diseased and lovesick mind, or can Madigan really be trying to communicate with him?

'When the past threatens to obliterate the future, Alex is forced to take action. To save himself and those he loves, he must discover the sinister reason why Madigan took her own life - and why she won't lie still in her grave.' (From the publisher's website.)

2009 joint winner Best Short Story Slice of Life : A Spot of Liver Paul Haines , 2009 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Slice of Life 2009; (p. 167-176) Midnight Echo : The Magazine of the Australian Horror Writers Association , May no. 7 2012;
Joint winner with 'Wives', also written by Paul Haines.
2009 joint winner Best Short Story Wives Paul Haines , 2009 single work novella horror
— Appears in: X6 : A Novellanthology 2009; (p. 173-303) Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy : Fifth Annual Volume 2010; (p. 137-147) The Last Days of Kali Yuga 2010; In Your Face 2016; (p. 351-468)

In a future Australia ruled by criminal cartels, women are vastly outnumbered by men, leading men to go to haunting lengths to procure (and subsequently utterly control) a wife. One of Paul Haines's most anthologised works, 'Wives' is also rather contentious for the brutality of the world that it shows.

Joint winner with 'Slice of Life - a Spot of Liver', also written by Paul Haines.
2009 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Red Queen Honey Brown , 2008 Camberwell : Viking , 2009 Z1487566 2008 single work novel horror thriller

'Shannon and Rohan Scott have retreated to their family's cabin in the Australian bush to escape a virus-ravaged world. After months of isolation, Shannon imagines there's nothing he doesn't know about his older brother, or himself - until a stranger slips under their late-night watch and past their loaded guns.

'Reluctantly the brothers take the young woman into their fold, and the dynamic within the cabin shifts. Possessiveness takes hold, loyalties are split, and trust is shattered. Before long, all three find themselves locked into a very different battle for survival.' (From the publisher's website.)

2008 winner Best Short Story Painlessness Kirstyn McDermott , 2008 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Greatest Uncommon Denominator , Spring no. 2 2008; Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy : Fifth Annual Volume 2010; (p. 15-44)
2008 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon The Seance John Harwood , Boston : Harcourt , 2008 Z1484341 2008 single work novel mystery
2007 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Blood of Dreams Susan Parisi , Camberwell : Viking , 2007 Z1465683 2007 single work novel horror
2007 winner Best Short Story The Jeweller of Second-Hand Roe Anna Tambour , 2007 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Subterranean , no. 7 2007; The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy : Fourth Annual Volume 2008; (p. 208-217) Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror : The Year's Best Short Stories Volume Three 2009; (p. 72-80)
2006 winner Best Short Story Dead of Winter Stephen Dedman , 2006 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Weird Tales , March-April vol. 61 no. 3 2006; (p. 48-57) Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror : Volume Two 2007; (p. 45-66)
2006 joint winner Novel y separately published work icon The Pilo Family Circus Will Elliott , Sydney : ABC Books , 2006 Z1254794 2006 single work novel horror fantasy (taught in 2 units)

Jamie is plunged into the horrific alternative universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between hell and earth from which humankind's greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place peopled by the gruesome, grotesque and monstrous, where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself - for when he applies the white paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead... (back cover)

Joint winner with Edwina Grey's Prismatic.
2006 joint winner Novel y separately published work icon Prismatic 'Edwina Grey' , South Melbourne : Dark Suspense , 2006 Z1277735 2006 single work novel horror thriller

'In the newly-formed penal colony of Sydney, plague and starvation are a constant threat. But this time isolation has a more sinister edge. In 1919, a reclusive Sydney doctor with a dark history and a fear of treating patients is drawn into a situation beyond even his control. Beneath the bustling noise of present-day Sydney, Jacqueline's accidental discovery while on an archeological dig unearths more than just a rotting corpse.'

Source: Back cover.

Joint winner with Will Elliott's The Pilo Family Circus.
2005 winner Short Story Pater Familias Lee Battersby , 2005 single work short story science fiction
— Appears in: Shadowed Realms , Jan./Feb. no. 3 2005; Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror : Volume One 2006; (p. 84-87) Through Soft Air 2006; (p. 277-280)

'Lee Battersby’s "Pater Familias" is an example of the flash fiction medium at its best. In it, a retired surgeon meets with a young visitor and describes an archaic form of late-term abortion called "craniotomy" .... The story moves with a crackling economy of language and, when its inevitable surprise ending appears, it’s not as a punchline-style twist, but as a slowly dawning sense of horror that will leave you gutted' (Tim Kroenert, Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus).

2004 winner Short Story The Last Days of Kali Yuga Paul Haines , 2004 single work short story horror
— Appears in: NFG : Writing with Attitude , no. 14 2004; Doorways for the Dispossessed 2006; (p. 15-41) The Last Days of Kali Yuga 2010;
2004 winner Novel y separately published work icon The Black Crusade Richard Harland , Mount Waverley : Chimaera Publications , 2004 Z1123227 2004 single work novel horror fantasy

This darkly comic story takes place in 1894, 'and tells of a Hungarian bank clerk, Basil Smorta, who falls hopelessly in lust with Volusia, aka 'the Australian Songbird'. He follows her across Europe in company with a group of Fundamental Darwinists led by Lord Malicide Sain. They pursue their 'Black Crusade' at first by cart and carriage, then in Ingel Brankel's Mobilator. One bizarre and gruesome adventure follows another. The Ordeal of the Five Senses in the monks' lavabo, the excruciating apotheosis of Brother Dragorian, the doting love of the Love-Vampires, the bomb-throwing police force of Orblast, the sleep-tranced villagers in Morbol Villica and the sarcophagus of the Great One, the legendary marquis himself.'

Source: Author website http://www.richardharland.net/ (Sighted 07/01/2010)

2003 winner Short Story Love Is a Stone Simon Brown , 2003 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Gathering the Bones : Thirty-Four Original Stories From the World's Masters of Horror 2003; (p. 190-199)
2003 winner Novel y separately published work icon Born of the Sea Victor Kelleher , Camberwell : Viking , 2003 Z1035062 2003 single work novel horror historical fiction

'A great Gothic tale revisited. In Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the monster's unfinished "bride" is destroyed by Dr Frankenstein and cast into the sea. But what if she had survived? What if she had gone on to seek out her maker, her origins, her would-be husband? 

Madeleine Sauvage is a creature with a beautiful face attached to a grotesquely assembled body. She has a loving heart but a murderous hand, and a heart-wrenching longing to belong. Born of the sea, Madeleine begins a journey that takes her from Scotland, through revolutionary France, to Frankenstein's door and beyond. Her search ends in a sense where it began: with Mary Shelley, the true author of her soul. And it is at Mary's deathbed that she confesses all, about her life, her love, and her need for revenge... '

Source: Publisher's blurb.

2002 winner Best Short Story The Oracle Kim Westwood , 2002 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Redsine , no. 9 2002; (p. 15-25)
2002 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon The White Body of Evening Andrew McCann , Pymble : Flamingo , 2002 Z973397 2002 single work novel horror 'Behind the respectable facade of turn-of-the-century Melbourne lies another, darker city—one of obsession, derangement, dissipation and crime. This is the world that has driven Albert Walters to the brink of madness, that haunts his abused wife Anna and infects the lives of their children, Paul and Ondine. Led astray by a mysterious charlatan, Paul's artistic ambition conflicts not only with society but with a sister who finds her reflection distorted in the decadence that surrounds her. Spurred on by a shocking murder and fuelled by the absurdities of war and nationhood, Paul is drawn into the darkness that inspires him, while Ondine takes dubious refuge in the light'. Source: bookseller's website.
2001 winner Best Short Story Sleight of Hand Simon Haynes , 2001 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Potato Monkey : Australian Fantasy and Science Fiction , Autumn no. 1 2001;
2001 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Angel of Ruin Kim Wilkins , Pymble : HarperCollins , 2001 Z931520 2001 single work novel horror historical fiction fantasy Sophie needs to pay the rent and a story on the occult would sell near hallowe'en. The Lodge of the Seven Stars is good for research but Sophie's a sceptic and doesn't believe in any of the rituals. Until she meets the Wanderer who has a story to tell her. A story of three sisters in seventeenth century London, their love for each other torn apart by an angel. Neither Plague, nor Paradise Lost, nor the Great Fire of London prevents the youngest from trying to save her sisters as they sink deeper and deeper into the angel's seductions. And Sophie passes the point of no return. (Publisher's blurb, back cover).
2000 winner Best Short Story The First and Final Game Deborah Biancotti , 2000 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Altair , no. 6-7 2000; (p. 22-27) A Book of Endings 2009; (p. 207-214)
2000 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon The Resurrectionists Kim Wilkins , Pymble : HarperCollins , 2000 Z668480 2000 single work novel horror fantasy Young Australian cellist Maisie Fielding leaves for England in search of her roots and to find out more about her grandmother, a 'white witch'. Soon she discovers that the bleak village she has come to, possesses an unnatural presence which preys on the lives of its people, past and present. (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1999 winner Best Horror Short Story Atrax Sean Williams , Simon Brown , 1999 single work short story horror science fiction
— Appears in: New Adventures in Sci-Fi 1999; (p. 159-177) Magic Dirt : The Best of Sean Williams 2008; (p. 100-119)
1999 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon Foreign Devil Christine Harris , Milsons Point : Random House , 1999 Z552145 1999 single work novel young adult horror 'Foreign Devil is a young-adult horror novel. It follows the story of Tyler Norton who is abducted by pirates from the past and faces a desperate bid for freedom as well as an irresistible obsession. Long fingers from the past reach out to Tyler Norton, crossing boundaries of logic and time. In China he finds reality and illusion difficult to separate.' (Source: Back cover)
1998 winner A Positive Kaaron Warren , 1998 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Bloodsongs , no. 10 1998; The Grinding House 2005; (p. 61-69) The Glass Woman 2007; (p. 79-87) Dead Sea Fruit 2010; (p. 357-363) Macabre : A Journey Through Australia's Darkest Fears 2010; (p. 295-305)
1997 winner Best Horror Short Story Jenny Come to Play Terry Dowling , 1997 single work short story science fiction horror
— Appears in: Eidolon : The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy , Spring no. 25-26 1997; (p. 188-214) The Year's Best : Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy : Volume 2 1998; (p. 69-115) Antique Futures : The Best of Terry Dowling 1999; (p. 209-242) Blackwater Days 2000; (p. 121-156) Basic Black : Tales of Appropriate Fear 2006; (p. 245-273)
1997 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon The Infernal Wicked Deeds Kim Wilkins , Milsons Point : Arrow Books , 1997 Z69568 1997 single work novel horror Australian musician Lisa Sheehan has got life sussed, but then, one-by-one, her fans start to turn up dead, their bodies hideously mutilated, and Lisa is haunted by memories that are not her own. Can these 20th-century murders be linked to events in Elizabethan England? (Source: LibrariesAustralia)
1996 winner Best Horror Short Story Passing the Bone Sean Williams , 1996 single work short story science fiction
— Appears in: Eidolon : The Journal of Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy , Summer no. 20 1996; (p. 6-21)

— Appears in: The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy : Volume 1 1997; (p. 261-282) New Adventures in Sci-Fi 1999; (p. 205-222) Magic Dirt : The Best of Sean Williams 2008; (p. 253-270) Macabre : A Journey Through Australia's Darkest Fears 2010; (p. 239-260) Australis Imaginarium 2010;
1995 winner Best Short Story y separately published work icon Olympia Francis Payne , Melbourne : Bambada Press , 1995 Z165348 1995 single work novella science fiction
1995 winner Best Novel y separately published work icon An Intimate Knowledge of the Night Terry Dowling , North Adelaide : Aphelion Publications , 1995 Z350550 1995 selected work horror

'When an author sits down to write the linking pieces for the stories in his new book, planning to do it by the hours of the night observed by medieval scholars, he is interrupted by phonecalls from his eccentric yet harmless friend, Raymond, a former mental patient with whom he shares some curious notions about the perceived world. At first casual and interested, even helpful, these calls soon become increasingly tense and strange, until the author realizes that what started out as an innocent fun idea - a shared all-night vigil on the autumn Equinox - is actually serving some other vital purpose, becoming by stages part therapy, party incantatory process, part vindication of those very theories which will change forever the way he sees the world.' (Source: bookseller's website.)

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