Sci-fi scene in good health

Who’d be a literary judge? A thankless task if every there was one – everyone thinks you’ve been bought, are pandering to populism or just chose the book that had the prettiest pictures.

The Sir Julius Vogel awards, which honour New Zealand writers of fantasy, science fiction and horror, avoid that by having fans vote, with the winners announced at the National Science Fiction Convention.

It’s a cunning move, epsecially as this year the competition is fierce. The young adult section is typical – Helen Lowe (who’s Thornspell broke into the American market) battles it out with Margaret Mahy, Ella West, Fleur Beale and Glynne MacLean. Lowe and West are also up for the best new talent award.

Whoever wins, the fans are the ones who voted for it, and they can battle it out with hexes, light sabres and Vogon poetry if they want. Armageddon, anyone? Love it or loathe it, it seems this slice of New Zealand genre writing and its fan base are in good health.

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