Paddy O'Reilly wins the 2015 Norma K Hemming Award!
2015 Norma K Hemming Award presented at Swancon 40
The 2015 Norma K Hemming Award for excellence in the exploration of themes of race, gender, sexuality, class and disability in Australian speculative fiction was won by Paddy O’Reilly for her speculative fiction novel The Wonders, published by Affirm Press in July 2014.
Commenting on the work the author said:
“I wanted my characters to exist on a continuum of difference that would celebrate the astounding variety of our world. Rather than classifying people into unhelpful, and often dangerous, binaries such as abled/disabled, human/animal, man/woman, mind/machine, The Wonders tries to encompass and honour difference, and kindredness. The body, the struggle for intimacy and love, the desire to belong to or make family, are common to us all.
“Difference can be a compelling yet fearful thing. There is a longing to look, even to stare, while the pressure to conform to ‘normal’ gnaws constantly at the natural state of ‘individual’. How are we to be together and to see and hear each other? Mine is a book of such questions.”
The Judges, writer and editor Russell Blackford, editor-publisher Rob Gerrand, author Tess Williams, and editor Sarah Endacott, commenting on the novel, had this to say:
“The Wonders is a lovely, layered parable of what it is to be part of the contemporary circus of modern life. Through three memorable central characters Paddy O’Reilly explores what it is to be part animal, part machine and part angel – in other words what it is to be human at this time in history. Through the story, The Wonders are changed from freaks to celebrities. They are led on their journey by the wise and elderly ‘ringmistress’ Rhona who shows them how to turn vulnerability to strength and how to protect themselves when well, sick, poor, rich, loved and rejected. In the end, the reader is treated intelligently and left to draw their own conclusions about the successes and tragedies of the lives of those who are different.”
For the 2015 competition, the Judges also saw fit to award an Honourable Mention to the runner up, a collection of stories by Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter titled The Female Factory, published by Twelfth Planet Press in November 2014.
The Judges, writer and editor, Russell Blackford; editor, Sarah Endacott; writer, editor and publisher, Rob Gerrand; and writer, Tess Williams, commenting on the runner up, said:
“Lisa Hannett and Angela Slatter's The Female Factory explores the different stages of human female life: from conception, to childhood, to old age. Reproduction is a fraught thing, with burgeoning wombs and bargaining for 'surrendered' babies. Motherhood is just as tortured, and the stories canvass desire, antipathy and resentment. With rich prose and tantalising scenes, the collection is a clever meeting of genres.”
Bill Wright - ASFF Awards Administrator (2015)