2020 Aurealis Awards Finalists

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Alex Acks

Contributing Editor

Alex Acks is a writer, geologist, and sharp-dressed sir. They've written for Six to Start and been published in Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and more. Alex lives in Denver with their two furry little bastards, where they twirl their mustache, watch movies, and bike. Twitter: @katsudonburi Website:

This list of the 2020 Aurealis Awards finalists was originally published in our science fiction and fantasy newsletter, Swords & Spaceships. Sign up for it here to get SFF news, reviews, deals, and more!

The Aurealis Awards have been going since 1995, when they were founded by Chimera Publications, the publishers of Aurealis magazine. Their purpose is to recognize Australian SFF and horror. I wanted to put a spotlight on the finalists this year because, particularly in the U.S., we don’t get to hear a lot about the SFF scene in Australia. So here are the finalists for best science fiction and best fantasy novel! Congratulations to all!

(Since I’m reporting the award short list in its entirety, please note that the authors aren’t quite as diverse as we normally try to get.)

Aurora Burning

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

An ancient evil is about to be unleashed on a galaxy it would like to consume, and it’s up to a squad of misfits and losers to stop it…if they can take care of their interpersonal drama and the other hornets nests they’ve recently kicked over first.

Ghost Species book cover

Ghost Species by James Bradley

Two scientists are recruited by a tech billionaire to spearhead his foundation’s effort to half climate change — and re-engineer and revive species long since lost. This effort includes Neanderthals…and when the first child is born, she struggles to figure out if she is human or not.

The Animals in That Country book cover

The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay

A hard-drinking, no-nonsense grandma who likes animals better than people finds herself in the midst of a pandemic for which the chief symptom is the accelerating ability to understand animal languages before those sickened go mad.

Fauna book cover

Fauna by Donna Mazza

In her desperation to have another child, Stacey is recruited into an experimental program that will help her conceive and carry, as long as she allows the embryo to be blended with “edited” cells.

Repo Virtual book cover

Repo Virtual by Corey J. White

In a city made of nesting realities from concrete to the virtual, Julius is a repoman for the online and a thief for the real. But when he finds out his latest job caused him to steal the first sentient AI, his payday might become deadly.

The Mother Fault book cover

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall

When Mim’s husband goes missing and can’t be tracked, she must go on the run and find him or risk losing her children to the notorious BestLife.

Unfortunately, The Mother Fault may be difficult to find in the U.S. If you want to try another of Kate’s books, you can get Skylarking, though!

Hollow Empire book cover

Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke

With the ancient spirits awoken, the city-state of Silasta must remake itself in a world now filled with magic and beset by assassins and witches.

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

After a long search, Susan finds the father she’d never met, just in time to see him be turned to dust by a left-handed bookseller named Merlin. Merlin is part of a group of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary, and he’s got a quest of his own: to find the entity that had his mother killed.

Monstrous Heart book cover

Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna

Arden has been tasked with keeping the lighthouse at Vigil burning with her magic, showing the way over a sea teeming with monsters. Her mysterious leviathan-slayer neighbor, Jonah, is rumored to have murdered his wife — and Arden can’t get him out of her mind.

Conquist by Dirk Strasser

In 1542, Cristóbal de Varga led 400 conquistadors through a doorway in the mountains of Peru and into a far more mysterious world from which they never returned…

Sadly, this book is not currently available in the U.S., but if you want to check out another of Dirk’s books, try Zenith.

The Vanishing Deep book cover

The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Tempe lives in a world of endless water, but the ruins of the civilization destroyed by the Great Waves 500 years ago call to her from far below. The treasures she finds in them will buy a 24 hour return to life for her sister, who died bearing a terrible secret that Tempe needs to know.

The Ninth Sorceress book cover

The Ninth Sorceress by Bonnie Wynne

After 17 years of innocent safety as an herbalist’s apprentice, Gwyn finds herself pursued by wizards and hunted by an ancient goddess.