George Turner Prize

For a brief period of time, there was an Australian SF Award named for one of Australia’s eminent sf authors, George Turner1. The competition for this award was originally advertised in the Australian SF bullsheet #85 in October 1997 (and presumably elsewhere) as:

Transworld Publishers have announced The George Turner Prize of $10,000 for an unpublished Australian Fantasy or Science Fiction novel. The work must be by Australian residents over the age of eighteen. It should be between 60,000 and 150,000 words. There is a $30 entry fee. the deadline for entries is January 30th 1998. All entries must be accompanied by the official entry form which can be obtained from Transworld Publishers Ground floor, 40 Yeo St, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089. The winning entry will be published by Transworld.

This was a judged prize, from a shortlist created by a ‘sifting panel’ (although mention of this is made, no details were found during the research done for this article). The judging panel for 1998 was Karen Miller, Peter Nicholls, and Louise Thurtell (here); for 1999 was Peter MacNamara, Leigh Blackmore, and Louise Thurtell (here), and for 2000 was Ron Seduik, Louise Thurtell, and Annabel Blay (here). Details of 1998 are not readily accessible2.

Running for only three years, the winners were:

1998 – Splashdance Silver – Tansy Rayner Roberts
1999 – Time Future – Maxine McArthur
2000 – Blue Silence –  Michelle Marquadt 

The 1998 shortlist (from Bullsheet #97):

The Final Arcanum – Tom Dullemond
Tales of Gwalthalion: Garden of Thorns – Elaine Edwards
Witching Ways – Narrelle Harris
Boyfriend Wanted (No Experience Necessary) – Edwina Harvey
Leeth – Luke Kendall
Betrayer – Kim Matheson
Supplejack – Leslie Joseph Petersen
Splashdance Silver – Tansy Rayner Roberts
Callisto – Joel Shepherd

Of these, Harris’ was published in US  2005 as Witch Honor by Five Star Speculative Fiction (see here for current details); Sheperd’s has been left unpublished (wikipedia knows all); and details were not found for any of the others.

The 1999 shortlist (from Eidolon news)

The City of Dreams – Wendy A. J. Adnams-Hodges 
Autopsy Turvy – Adam Browne and Sam Sejavka 
Millennium Troopers – Hal Colebatch 
Witch Faith – Narrelle Harris 
Subversive Activity – Dave Luckett 
The Centre Far – Maxine McArthur 
When the Angels Fall – Christopher McDonough 
Full Circle – Joel Shepherd 
Prey – Andrés Vaccari 

Of these, Browne and Sejavka’s was partially published on line at blogspot (advertised by Sejavka here) in 2008 (and also gets a mention on Sejavka’s 2005 CV); Harris’ was published in 2007 by Five Star Speculative Fiction (see above); Colebatch published the similarly titled Time Machine Troopers through Acashic books in 2011 (see here), although it is not clear if this is the same work; Luckett’s was published in 2009 by Vivid Publishing (see here); Shepherd’s was published as Crossover in 2001 (see above); Vaccari’s was shelved in 2000 (see here), and details were not found for the remainder.

The 2000 shortlist (from Eidolon news)

Spook Squad – Keri Arthur
Stormbringer – Kerry Greenwood
The Adventures of Hal Spacejock – Simon Haynes
Blue Sky and Silence – Michelle Marquardt
Hashakana – Liz Martin
Protection – Claire McKenna
dot space dot – Simon Moore
Fire in the Blood – Nicole Trewartha

Of these, Arthur published a trilogy of ‘Spook Squad’ novels between 2004 and 2005 through ImaJinn (US) and Piatkus (UK/Aust) publishers, although none with that title (here); Greenwood published a Stormbringer trilogy between 2005 and 2006 (wikipedia again); Hayne’s was first published in 2001 by Bowman Publishing, then reprinted 2005 by Fremantle Press; and details were not found for the rest.

It should be noted for all of these where details have not been found that the submission title may well not have been the publication title – certainly two of the winners were published with different titles, and of the authors whose works can be linked to the shortlisted manuscripts, few have the working title. Some authors were found in searches – Nicole Trewartha has a single ebook available – but many were not, at least, not as authors of novels. Several of these authors have publishing careers spanning over a decade, although I would note that Kerry Greenwood had been publishing for some time prior to participating in this process.

Another point of interest is that the George Turner Award is not mentioned (at time of research) on http://wiki.sf.org.au/Australian_awards, which does mention a wide range of Australian SF awards – the A Bertram Chandler Award , Norma K. Hemming Award, Ditmar Awards, Tin Duck Awards (Western Australia), Chronos Awards (Victoria), Aurealis Awards, and the Peter McNamara Achievement Award.

For more on this topic, you can see Eidolon news on the publication of Splashdance Silver  and the announcement of the 1999 prize and a snarky conversation (warning: it starts by panning both the 1998 and 1999 winners) that dates back to 1999 and has at least one familiar name weighing in about the value of the prize. An essay was published in Altair issue 5, however as I have not sought out my copy, I have no comment to make on the details contained therein (no electronic copy was found)

1 From wikipedia:

George Reginald Turner (16 October 1916 – 8 June 1997) was an Australian writer and critic, best known for the science fiction novels written in the later part of his career. He was notable for being a “late bloomer” in science fiction (by the field’s standards). His first SF story and novel appeared in 1978, when he was in his early sixties. By this point, however, he had already achieved considerable success as a mainstream novelist, including a Miles Franklin Award, and as a literary critic

2 for a value of “quick google search”.

summary of sources: author websites for Maxine McArthurNarelle Harris and Simon Haynes; and wikipedia for Joel Shepherd and Kerry Greenwood. Other sources as linked throughout the article.

compiled by Anna Hepworth.

About australian sf-history

ASFDAP was set up in 2011 after the rediscovery by the wider SF community of an impressive hoard of Australian SF community related ephemera, fanzines and other materials in the Murdoch University basement.
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3 Responses to George Turner Prize

  1. Thomas Bull says:

    I have added a link from the “Australian awards” wiki page to the “George Turner Prize” page of the Locus Index of SF Awards.

  2. Kim Chesson says:

    Hi, not sure if this still active, but thought I’d contribute some info. My name is Kim Chesson. In 1998 I was Kim Matheson, one of that year’s short-listed authors with the manuscript Betrayer. I was told I was runner-up to TR Roberts, but Transworld chose not to publish Betrayer because it was too long. I have sat on it for nearly 20 years, but recently decided to self-publish through Amazon. Betrayer went live on all Amazon sites yesterday, under my married name.

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