The Sir Julius Vogel Awards shortlist for 2015 has been published, and The Sovereign Hand has made it on to the final ballot for “Best Novel”, and also scored me a place on “Best New Talent” (cue a becoming blush).
Many thanks to those who showed support for my work and made this happen.
Now it’s up to the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand as they vote at the annual convention, held this year at Easter in Rotorua.
Happily, I’m already attending as part of a panel discussion on “The World of Worldbuilding” – the approaches, the whys and the where-in-the-hells of creating alternate realities. Right up my alley, so yeah, kinda jazzed for that.
It’s still possible to pick up memberships for the convention (which also gets you a vote). So if you’re in the area at Easter, sign up, and stop on by.
One thing I spoke about at the launch was my experience in discussing the book with someone for the first time.
One type of response was polite interest, knowing that I had a degree in boring old politics – then the listener perking up when they heard it was a fantasy.
The other was the reverse of this – effectively, if you want to write something important, why fantasy?
Well consider the alternative, if I set a story about personal and state power and the nature of authority, in our “real world. In New York. Moscow. Baghdad. Just from those words, the reader immediately summons an entire pre-constructed world of meaning full of assumptions. Literally, cultural baggage. If the author’s reality and the reader’s do not match, communication is affected. In fact, viewpoints may differ so greatly the only transmission of ideas might be the book flying, thrown by the reader across the room.
By writing and reading in fantasy, it’s like we make a pact, giving each other permission to imagine and question in ways that might conflict with everyday assumptions. This is not so important with what I call “Tree of Life” stories; but it is essential when you are deconstructing big ideas around the “Book of the World”. Our world resists deconstruction, so you have to take that task elsewhere. If I make that new world welcoming to the reader, don’t disrupt with too-intricate world-building, tap into the familiar, keep to what I know is true, I get a chance at a clean slate, and maybe the reader can discover something new.
And also have some epic quests and cool monsters along the way.