Sir Julius Vogel Award Finalists – 2021


Finalists for the 2021 Sir Julius Vogel awards are now available. The awards recognise excellence in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2020 calendar year.

How to vote will be available here by the end of April. Voting will take place until May 31st.

We are gathering materials for the SJV Voter Packet and will announce when that starts being available.

The long list of nominees is on our 2021 Long List.

Rules, criteria and categories for the Awards

Guidelines for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards

The awards ceremony will be announced by the end of May.

Professional Categories

Best Novel Gad’s Army Drew Bryenton (Sci Fi Cafe)
The Stone Wētā Octavia Cade (Paper Road Press)
Transference B.T. Keaton (Ingleside Avenue Press)
The Court of Mortals A.J. Lancaster (Camberion Press)
Blood of the Sun Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray (Raw Dog Screaming Press)
Best Youth Novel Earthcore Book 4: High Tide Grace Bridges (Splashdown Books)
These Violent Delights Chloe Gong (SImon and Schouster)
Golden City S.R. Manssen (Manssen Publishing House)
Follow Me In Terri Sinclair
Brasswitch and Bot Gareth Ward (Walker Books Australia)
Best Novella/Novelette Hexes and Vexes Nova Blake (Witchy Fiction NZ)
How to Get a Girlfriend (When you’re a Terrifying Monster) Marie Cardno
No Man’s Land A.J. Fitzwater (Paper Road Press)
Marbles Sean Monaghan (Asimov’s Science Fiction, July/August 2020)
Riverwitch Rem Wigmore
Best Short Story Salt Water, Rose Red E. Celeste (Dually Noted F(r)iction Log)
Synaesthete Melanie Harding-Shaw (Things in the Well)
For Want of Human Parts Casey Lucas (Diabolical Plots)
The Good Wife Lee Murray (Weird Tales, issue 364)
Short Story Arachne’s Web James Rowland (Aurealis issue #132)
Best Collected Work The Voyages of Cinrak the Dapper A.J. Fitzwater (Queen of Swords Press)
Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy Volume 2 edited Marie Hodgkinson (Paper Road Press)
Ghost Bus – Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side Anna Kirtlan
The Better Sister and Other Stories Piper Mejia (Breach)
Grotesque: Monster Stories Lee Murray (Things in the Well)
Best Professional Artwork Cover art for Scary Tales, NZ Secondary Students Anthology William Dresden (Young NZ Writers)
Cover art for “No Man’s Land” by A.J. Fitzwater Laya Rose (Paper Road Press)
Cover art for for “Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Volume 2” , edited by Marie Hodgkinson Laya Rose (Paper Road Press)
Cover art for “The Chaos Curse”, by Sayantani DasGupta Vivienne To (Scholastic)
Cover art for “The Stone Wētā” by Octavia Cade Emma Weakley (Paper Road Press)
Best Professional Production/Publication This is Not the End (chapters 1.5-2.10) Deanna Gunn
Masterpiece (Or Artful Dodgers) Michelle Kan
Fantastical Worlds and Futures at the World’s Edge: A History of New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy Simon Litten and Sean McMullen
How New Zealand’s Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Authors got Shafted on a Global Stage Casey Lucas (The Spinoff)
Wonderland Nights: White Rabbit’s Diary Sky Bear Games (Steam)
Aotearoa is Not Middle Earth Alexander Stronach (The Spinoff)

Fan Categories

Best Fan Artwork Ministry for Public Art fan art Shaun Garea (Estrata Productions)
Oriental Bay Piranhas Shaun Garea (Estrata Productions)
Destiny & dead people tea Michelle Kan
Faerie Ring (critical role) Michelle Kan
Blue and Red (This is How You Lose the Time War) Laya Rose
Gyre from The Luminous Dead Laya Rose
Best Fan Production/Publication Codex Stephen Brough (Lost Arcana)
FIYAHCON Guest of Honour Speech Cassie Hart
Mollymauk Tealeaf – Court of Jesters (showcase) Michelle Kan
Phoenixine Edited by John and Jo Toon
Dramatic Chairing of the 2020 WSFS Business meeting Darusha Wehm
CoNZealand Souvenir book – created Darusha Wehm and Amber Carter
Best Fan Writing Alone Together at the Edge of the World Andi C. Buchanan (CoNZealand Souvenir Book)
Queer Speculative Aotearoa New Zealand A.J. Fitzwater (LGBTQ Reads)
Review of Hello Strange Dylan Howell (My Opinion on Books)
SITREP Alex Lindsay (Phoenixine)
What If Kyra Saywell (Poetry Box)
An exploration of menstruation in horror and dark fiction Tabatha Wood (

Special Awards

New Talent Chloe Gong
Chloe Gong is nominated for this award as she has had a startlingly incredible debut internationally. She debuted her first novel, These Violent Delights, as number 3 on the New York Times Bestsellers List at the age of 21. She is a talent not only for her quality writing and charming retelling of the Shakespearean classic, but also her ingenuity in her marketing and demographic appeal, as well as her skill in writing and publishing her first novel while also balancing a full load at University. Her success is a clear result of her hard work and talent, and should be recognised for this.Chloe’s writing is so beautiful and her character’s are a personal source of comfort for me! For a debut novel, These Violent Delights was a splendid work of art that rightfully deserves all the love it receives. I think there is a lot more from her that we need to keep an eye out for because TVD could not have impressed me more!
Deanna Gunn
I voted This is not the end by Deanna Gunn/Serapheir as the best new talent as she has brought a new twist on a concept into comic form and has been a dedicated artist to this idea of hers for years. She has evolved her story and art style over the years she has been developing this comic, taking critiques in all forms and adapting them to her work. I believe Deanna is fit for this award for her immense talent, she has formed her own unique style, loveable characters, intriguing lore and captivating story in this comic and it has only just begun.
Kate Haley
Kate Haley is a fresh new voice writing witty and entertaining fantasy that tackles big themes with wry humour. Her debut series, The War of the North Saga, follows eight university students trying to save the world, and learning some important lessons along the way.The seven-book series took almost 10 years to write, and was published between May and November in 2020, despite all the challenges of Covid-19. The novels address issues like love and loss; family and forgiveness; learning to love yourself and be happy for others; and the trauma and tragedy of war. Of particular note is the deft way in which Kate deals with LGBTQ elements within her story. All these themes are treated with respect and authenticity.Kate’s writing is strongly character-driven, with a good balance of fast-paced action, and more nuanced character development. One of the highlights of the series is just how far the characters have come by the end. It’s a story that only gets stronger with re-reading, and for all their flaws the characters quickly become friends.
B.T. Keaton
I know Brandon personally, and I know that he made a concentrated (he would call it failed) effort to bring women back to the forefront of sci-fi writing, and I think he achieved it because he was drawing from life experience. More than one main character in “Transference” is female, and his entire story (no spoilers!) hinges on how a mother’s love could save us all and potentially the world. His writing is intentionally meant to be inclusive, not exclusive, and I think it’s there that one of Brandon’s many storytelling strengths lie.
A.J. Lancaster
AJ Lancaster has been killing it with three of her four book series out. Amazing sales records. An audiobook contract. Stunning covers, even more stunning and complex beautiful plots. She’s been quietly working away and achieving amazing things. She also volunteers for the community, including in the publications team for CoNZealand last year producing the ConBook.
Deborah Makarios
Deborah Makarios has written an entertaining blog for over 7 years, and when she began to publish her books, the quality of the writing was simply superb.  She not only knows the genre that she’s chosen well, but her use of language, humour, tension, and above all, fully rounded character-development, is a step above most other modern authors.  She has spoilt me for reading other books!  This is an author that I shall be following, and eagerly awaiting future publicaions.  Her books published to date are “Restoration Day” (2018) and recently published “The Wound of Words” (2020).Deborah Makarios’s first novel, Restoration Day, was a finalist for the 2019 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel.  Her second novel, The Wound of Words, was published in 2020.  It was a semi-finalist in the popular Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) that year, receiving a very good review from fantasy book critic Adam Weller, who described Makarios as “a hidden gem”.  Part of the reason that novel didn’t progress to the final stage of SPFBO was that “some readers may find … the overall tone too light”, but given that Makarios’s stated goal is “to write books, plays and blog posts like cups of tea: warm, heartening and restorative”, such criticism actually reflects well on her talent as a writer.
Services to Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Lee Murray
Since her previous award in 2017, Lee Murray has undertaken a raft of new and innovative projects to increase awareness, develop talent, and provide support for our science fiction and fantasy community. Representing more than two thousand hours of volunteer time, this exceptional service deserves recognition once more.Arguably speculative fiction’s most active mentor, Lee works with writers through organisations such as AHWA, HWA, SpecFicNZ, NZSA, Tauranga Writers, Young NZ Writers, and the Whitireia and IML graduate programmes, and in 2020 was awarded HWA international Mentor of the Year, evidence of her commitment to developing speculative fiction creatives.A co-founder and facilitator of Young New Zealand Writers, Lee has spent over a decade developing youth writers and readers of speculative fiction through competitions, anthologies, and annual workshops. In 2018, she instigated and implemented the Young New Zealand Writers Youth Laureate Award programme, a national competition to develop our youngest novelists, which resulted in the 2019 release of novels by New Zealand secondary students, Xiaole Zhan and Emma Uren, both of whom Lee mentored throughout the editing and publication process. Other initiatives co-created under the Young New Zealand Writer umbrella (with Piper Mejia and Jean Gilbert) include a virtual convention for youth, offered during 2020 COVID-19 restrictions.

Since 2017, as well as four anthologies by New Zealand youth, Lee donated her time and expertise to edit and promote anthologies and magazines which offer publication opportunities for New Zealand and other genre writers, including charity anthology Tricksters Treats #3, and professional publications Breach 11 & 12, Te Korero Ahi Ka, and Midnight Echo #15.


Despite saying ‘never again’ she was programme director of yet another national convention, GeyserCon, in 2019, and she is a current committee member of upcoming OZHorrorCoNZ.

Lee has promoted New Zealand speculative writers and their works as a speaker-presenter at national (12) and international (10) conferences, via dozens of podcasts and interviews, and regularly recommends her colleagues for festivals and other opportunities. She advocated for New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, and horror creatives, serving on the working groups for the Coalition for New Zealand Books, an industry-wide coalition created in 2019 to promote New Zealand books and authors. She has served on literary juries for five international and national awards, and for the past two years, Lee has facilitated Tauranga Writers’ professional development programme of monthly presentations for readers and writers, another way in which she develops our creative community.

In 2018, Lee contacted the HWA StokerCon convention committee offering a panel discussion on writing from anxiety and depression. This panel, convened and moderated by Lee, opened a wider conversation, both nationally and internationally, about creativity, well-being, and genre, promoted through essays, articles, online initiatives, and panel presentations.

In 2019, recognising the lack of national support for New Zealand science fiction and fantasy writers, Lee joined with the Wright Family Foundation to offer the Wright-Murray Residency for Speculative Fiction Writers to allow a writer freedom to write. The residency, which opened in 2019-2020 and is now in its second year, is administered by SpecFicNZ and includes mentorship support for the winning writer. The first residency offered solely for speculative writers, this initiative has been embraced by the New Zealand science fiction and fantasy community.

Finally, as one of the country’s most recognised writers (a three-time Bram Stoker Award®-nominee and two-time Australian Shadows Award-winner), Lee’s recent work has raised the visibility of New Zealand speculative writers and their writing abroad. An Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Society of Authors and the Grimshaw Sargeson Fellow for 2021, her fiction has appeared alongside work by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Ramsey Campbell, Clive Barker, and Seanan McGuire, among others, and she is the first New Zealander to appear in the iconic magazine, Weird Tales, making her a wonderful representative for her country and our genre.

Cassie Hart
Cassie worked tirelessly to support inclusion of local and international SFFH writers at CoNZealand, including programming and fearlessly advocating for opportunities for Māori authors and being instrumental to driving the inclusion scholarship initiatives. She personally mentored several local writers at the convention and co-developed the internationally award-nominated CoNZealand Fringe event that opened with a showcase panel she chaired titled “What is Modern Aotearoa New Zealand Speculative Fiction”. Every time she spoke, she used the opportunity to lift up NZ genre writers, and in particular Māori genre writers. This culminated in her invitation to speak as Guest of Honour at the prestigious international FIYAHCon convention. For many in the international SFFH community, Cassie was the face and voice of the NZ SFFH genre writers in 2020 and she used that opportunity with grace and strength to lift up local and indigenous SFFH writers. Her work in 2020 built off the foundation of years of such generosity and dedication.
_________________________________________In 2020 Cassie Hart worked tirelessly to champion inclusion. The most notable examples of this were in CoNZealand and extending into the CoNZealandFringe event, in which she took part in the CoNZealand Fringe initiative providing extra content to the convention, in recognition of how traditional Worldcon times (and locations) make participation from less-represented parts of the world impossible. This is helpful to fans all over the world, including Aotearoa specifically. It may even set a positive precedent for future Worldcons. Cassie is a strong voice for Māori speculative fiction writers and creatives, a staunch cheerleader for diversity of all kinds, and a credit to the community.
_________________________________________Cassie has put huge energy to promote New Zealand – and particularly Māori – SFF and its creators on a global stage. This includes her work on the ConZealand programme to ensure diverse representation, on the related diversity initiative to broaden attendance, on the ConZealand Fringe (both in organisation and in chairing a panel of NZ SFF writers which has received ~800 views to date), and as a GoH at the inaugural – and hugely popular FIYAHcon. Both publicly and behind the scenes Cassie has supported local writers in building connections that will likely serve all parties for years to come, and increased the visibility of local SFF around the world.

Cassie’s work behind the scenes at CoNZealand and in front of the scenes at FIYAH con has been a tremendous leap forward for tangata whenua on the international stage as well as at home. Cassie worked hard to ensure there was outreach to Māori authors and inclusion of ta ao Māori in the programming at both cons and her Guest of Honour speech at FIYAH con is the first time I can ever remember seeing an indigenous author give a keynote speech at an event like that which wasn’t purely for indigenous speakers. Beyond simply her work to ensure Māori are included in the speculative scene in NZ, she is also a source of mentorship and encouragement to all new authors working in the speculative field in this country. She is approachable, free with advice, and boundless with her goodwill. I am honoured to have worked alongside her at events and have benefited immensely from the know-how she gives to others. She is a gem in the crown of our spec fic scene.

Services to Fandom Nigel Rowe et al
With this nomination, I want to recognise Nigel Rowe’s tremendous contribution to the presence of NZ fandom at CoNZealand through his virtual displays on past NZ natcons and fanzines, his ‘Guiding Stars’ In Memoriam gallery and his tribute to the late Mervyn Barrett; and the contributions of Jan Bass, Jenny Hammond, Monique Lubberink, Louise McCully, Alan Parker and Maree Pavletich who also provided virtual displays on Sir Julius Vogel, SF&F in NZ libraries, NZ SF&F stamps, fannish memorabilia and yarnbombing. These fans worked hard to present a rich and vibrant history of NZ fandom to our online visitors from around the world.
CoNZealand Crew
Putting on an event virtually is exhausting. There is so much infrastructure in place here in post-pandemic 2021 that the CoNZealand crew did not have. They were the first to host a virtual WorldCon, the first to host any kind of WorldCon in NZ, and they worked tirelessly to ensure that things went off with as minimal technological disruption as possible. From the volunteers that assisted with programming, closed-captioning, live streaming, and people-wrangling to the con committee who made the difficult decisions, everyone involved put blood, sweat, tears, time, and effort into this event and the fact that they were able to accomplish so much with so little and with the world in such a state is quite an accomplishment.


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