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January 22, 2020

#AWW2020 Aurealis 2018 Award Best SF Novella

by N@ncy



  1. Well, fly me to the moon..
  2. if you are like me I seldom read SF. It just does not entertain me.
  3. But I am trying to read deeply and widely,
  4. so I decided to ‘test the waters’ with a short 114 pg novella.
  5. Now, I did the research for you (see review)
  6. …so you can dive right into this book.
  7. Just think….at the next book club meeting when they ask t
  8. o suggest a ‘something completely different…
  9. you can suggest ICEFALL by Stephanie Gunn!
  10. The club will be determined NOT to read it
  11. ….you could probably crack rocks on their jaws!
  12. But…at least try to guide them into the world of SF!
  13. Millions of people read nothing else!
  14. Stephenie Gunn was a research scientist turned full time writer.
  15. I’m curious how she will combine her
  16. …scientific backround with her fiction
  17. Will Ms Gunn write what she knows
  18. ….or what she feels?



  1. I do not read very much SF
  2. …so looked at some terms I found in the text…and what they mean.
  3. This made the book MUCH easier to process.
  4. VIR POD – spaceship ‘Wanda R’ (named for Wanda Rutkiewicz,
  5. first woman to climb K2, second highest mountain on old Earth)
  6. VIR – virutal interfaced reality
  7. VIR implants – one can experience both worlds (virtual and real) at the same time
  8. AI hologram3D image formed by split laser beam.
  9. Ms Gunn describes a AI holographic character as
  10. genderless, expressionless, fingers bloodless
  11. …can dematerialize and form again in i.e. the navigator’s chair (ch 15)
  12. …can flow around me (Aisha) to envelope me completely in its field (ch1)
  13. AI (artifcial intelligence)
  14. I did not know if this was a human replication or just a voice!
  15. Replicant androids are indistinguishable from human beings
  16. …remember the film: Blade Runner… how was human and who was AI?
  17. In this book AI comes with a package of standard visages:
  18. male, female or null gender.
  19. AI uses the visage and name of Mallory
  20. …in reference to G. Mallory
  21. the first person to summit Mt Everest.



  1. Icefall is a similar planet to old Earth.
  2. MacGregor Corporation has established two colonies on Icefall.
  3. Icefall organizes a Icefall Climbing Competition once every 7 years.
  4. Essential in the plot is a ‘weeping mountain’.
  5. All of the pointed masses of ice  and snow in a glacier melt.
  6. Millions of mega litres of water wash over the
  7. continent destroying everything in its path.
  8. The waters lie still for one ICEFALL  day (25 hrs).
  9. The next day waters retreat…moving against gravity.
  10. The mountain draws everything back towards it
  11. …the glaciers, the icefall and continental ice all reform.
  12. This was the SPOOKIEST thing in the entire book!


  1. Planet Demeter home of narrator Aisha Ashkani
  2. Planet Icefall
  3. Greyspace – folded space beneath normal space that surrounds planet Icefall
  4. Many references to “old Earth”


Structure:  26 chapters,  114 pages

  1. Ch 1-5-11 present (arriving via VIR POD to planet Icefall
  2. Ch  2-3-4-6-7-8-9-10-13  backstory
  3. Ch 14-26  present (perilous journey in Icefall Climbing Competition)


Main Characters:

  1. Mallory (AI) – projects its holographic interface around narrator Aisha.
  2. Aisha:  former priestess of ONE Order of the New Earth
  3. Maggie (Margaret Malleore) mountain climber – Maggie and narrator are married
  4. Gorak – bot (robot) raven like bird that will be narrator’s ‘eyes’ on the Mountain.



  1. Aisha Ashkani (priestess) is from Sherpa heritage.
  2. Sherpa believe the mountain is
  3. …their goddess and one should not
  4. trespass on the sacred ground.
  5. Ironically…Aisha becomes fascinated
  6. with mountaint climbing and leaves the temple
  7. …to reach the snowy summit.



  1. This SF novella is about Mountain climbing in space…in the future.
  2. Humans have left old Earth and have colonised the universe.
  3. There is also  a very touching love story in this book
  4. …that brings the SF and the human elements in balance.
  5. You will have to read the book (reading time?  2 hrs)
  6. to discover the tender bond between Aisha Ashkani and Maggie.
  7. #GreatRead


Last thoughts:

  1. I’ve read some great books by Australian women writers.
  2. …who were included on long- and shortlist of
  3. …The Aurealis Award.
  4. Do have a look at these reviews and longlist….
  5. …perhaps you will find something you like!


  1. The Grief Hole – K. Warren    
  2. Aletheia – J.S. Breukelaar
  3. Closing Down – Sally Abbott
  4. Psynode – M.J. Ward
  5. Girl Reporter – T. Roberts
  6. From the Wreck – J. Rawson
  7. Catching Teller Crow – A. and E. Kwaymullina
  8. The Endsister – P. Russon
  9. The Tide of Stone – Kaaron Warren
  10. Who’s Afraid – M. Lewis


21 February 2019

The finalists are:

Best science fiction novel

  1. Scales of Empire (Kylie Chan)
  2. Obsidio (Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff)
  3. Lifel1k3 (Jay Kristoff)
  4. Dyschronia (Jennifer Mills)
  5. A Superior Spectre (Angela Meyer)
  6. The Second Cure (Margaret Morgan)

Best fantasy novel

  1. Devouring Dark (Alan Baxter)
  2. Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit (Alison Goodman)
  3. City of Lies (Sam Hawke)
  4. Lightning Tracks (Alethea Kinsela)
  5. The Witch Who Courted Death (Maria Lewis)
  6. We Ride the Storm (Devin Madson)

Best horror novel

  1. The Bus on Thursday (Shirley Barrett)
  2. Years of the Wolf (Craig Cormick)
  3. Tide of Stone (Kaaron Warren)

Best graphic novel/illustrated work

  1. Deathship Jenny (Rob O’Connor)
  2. Cicada (Shaun Tan)
  3. Tales from The Inner City (Shaun Tan)

Best children’s fiction

  1. The Relic of the Blue Dragon (Rebecca Lim)
  2. The Slightly Alarming Tales of the Whispering Wars (Jaclyn Moriarty)
  3. The Endsister (Penni Russon)
  4. Secret Guardians (Lian Tanner)
  5. Ting Ting the Ghosthunter (Gabrielle Wang)
  6. Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt (Rhiannon Williams)

Best young adult novel

  1. Small Spaces (Sarah Epstein)
  2. Lifel1k3 (Jay Kristoff)
  3. Catching Teller Crow (Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina)
  4. His Name was Walter (Emily Rodda)
  5. A Curse of Ash and Embers (Jo Spurrier)
  6. Impostors (Scott Westerfeld)


Best collection

  1. Not Quite the End of the World Just Yet (Peter M Ball,)
  2. Phantom Limbs (Margo Lanagan)
  3. Tales from The Inner City (Shaun Tan)
  4. Exploring Dark Short Fiction #2: A Primer to Kaaron Warren (Kaaron Warren)

Best anthology

  1. Sword and Sonnet (Aiden Doyle, Rachael K Jones & E Catherine Tobler)
  2. Aurum (Russell B Farr)
  3. Mother of Invention (Rivqa Rafael & Tansy Rayner Roberts)
  4. Infinity’s End (Jonathan Strahan)
  5. The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year (Jonathan Strahan)

Best science fiction novella

  1. I Almost Went To The Library Last Night’ (Joanne Anderton)
  2. The Starling Requiem (Jodi Cleghorn)
  3. Icefall (Stephanie Gunn)
  4. ‘Pinion’ (Stephanie Gunn)
  5. ‘Singles’ Day’ (Samantha Murray)
  6. Static Ruin (Corey J White)

Best science fiction short story

  1. ‘The Sixes, The Wisdom and the Wasp’ (E J Delaney)
  2. ‘The Fallen’ (Pamela Jeffs)
  3. ‘On the Consequences of Clinically-Inhibited Maturation in the Common Sydney Octopus’ (S. Petrie & E. Harvey)
  4. ‘A Fair Wind off Baracoa’ (Robert Porteous)
  5. ‘The Astronaut’ (Jen White)

Best fantasy novella

  1. ‘This Side of the Wall’ (Michael Gardner)
  2. ‘Beautiful’ (Juliet Marillier)
  3. ‘The Staff in the Stone’ (Garth Nix)
  4. Merry Happy Valkyrie (Tansy Rayner Roberts)
  5. ‘The Dressmaker and the Colonel’s Coat’ (David Versace)
  6. The Dragon’s Child (Janeen Webb)

Best fantasy short story

  1. ‘Crying Demon’ (Alan Baxter)
  2. ‘Army Men’ (Juliet Marillier)
  3. ‘The Further Shore’ (J Ashley Smith)
  4. ‘Child of the Emptyness’ (Amanda J Spedding)
  5. ‘A Moment’s Peace’ (Dave Versace)
  6. ‘Heartwood, Sapwood, Spring’ (Suzanne J Willis)

Best horror novella

  1. Andromeda Ascends’ (Matthew R Davis)
  2. ‘Kopura Rising’ (David Kuraria)
  3. ‘The Black Sea’ (Chris Mason)
  4. Triquetra (Kirstyn McDermott)
  5. ‘With This Needle I Thee Thread’ (Angela Rega)
  6. Crisis Apparition (Kaaron Warren)

Best horror short story

  1. ‘The Offering’ (Michael Gardner)
  2. ‘Slither’ (Jason Nahrung)
  3. ‘By Kindle Light’ (Jessica Nelson-Tyers)
  4. ‘Hit and Rot’ (Jessica Nelson-Tyers)
  5. ‘Sub-Urban’ (Alfie Simpson)
  6. ‘The Further Shore’ (J Ashley Smith)

Best young adult short story

  1. A Robot Like Me’ (Lee Cope, Mother of Invention)
  2. ‘The Moon Collector’ (D K Mok)
  3. ‘The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay’ (Shauna O’Meara)
  4. ‘Eight-Step Koan’ (Anya Ow)
  5. ‘For Weirdless Days and Weary Nights’ (Deborah Sheldon)




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