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2006 Judge's Comments: Mark Smith

Wow! Australian Shadows is closed for another year and we've managed to slice and dice our way through a swag of entries to give you our short list, plus a few extras for the year. We offer our congratulations to those who made it. Your work represents the cream of the Australian horror and dark fantasy scene for 2006 and encapsulates what the Australian Shadows award is about.

We also congratulate those who entered, but didn't make the shortlist. 2006 was an exceptionally strong year for Australian horror and we thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every tale.

Take a look at this year's shortlist and Honourable Mentions list (those that just missed the final cut) and you'll agree that we are in an exciting time for Australian Horror. The list includes stalwarts of the genre alongside many new and up-coming names; talents that will only continue to improve and enrich our already impressive pool of authors.

Our final decisions were based on a number of criteria, devised to best enable us to determine our Shadow's shortlist. Entries were judged on things such as pace, character, narrative logic, originality, relevance to the genre and a lasting resonance or lingering dread.

We feel that our final selections excelled in each of these areas and encourage you to track them down and read them with a quiet ale or wine, if you haven't already.   

As with any award there are often a number of excellent stories that miss out on the final selection, but are more than worthy of your attention. Some personal favourites that didn't make it through the gruelling final selection process as a group but deserve recognition if you will.

These include Paul Haines' Doorways for the Dispossessed collection and his disturbingly dark Father, Father (published in cOck). Martin Living's always entertaining Carnies and Brimstone Press' launch titles Book of Shadows and Australian Horror and Dark Fantasy 2006.

Other short stories to impress included Shane Jirarya Cummings' Spin the Witch Bottle (Shadowed Realms), Bryce Stevens' Payday (Read by Dawn), James Cain's The Thing in the Park (Book of Dark Wisdom) and Simon Brown's Tarans (ASIM).

We thank all the authors, publishers and editors who submitted work for judging this year - we understand it's never nice to be pitted against each other in a bloody battle to the death. All we can say is that if 2006 is a benchmark for what's to come; the future of horror and dark fiction in this country looks very healthy indeed. And for those that missed out in 06, 2007 is another year - can you rise to the challenge?

Back to 2006 Shortlist