See also Ditmar Award results
The Ditmar Award (formally the Australian SF ("Ditmar") Award; formerly the "Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award") has been awarded annually since 1969 at the Natcon to recognise achievement in Australian science fiction (including fantasy and horror) and science fiction fandom. They are named for Ditmar "Dick" Jenssen, an Australian fan and artist, who financially supported the awards at their inception.
The current rules for the award (which had for many years been specified only in the minimalist "Jack Herman constitution") were developed in 2000 and 2001 as a result of controversy resulting from the withdrawal of the works of several prominent writers from eligibility, and the rules are subject to revision by the Business Meeting of the Natcon.
Award-eligible works and persons are first nominated by "natural persons active in fandom, or from full or supporting members of the national convention of the year of the award". Nominations are compiled into a ballot (currently by a sub-committee composed primarily of standing committee members elected at the National SF Convention business meeting) which is distributed to members of the convention, and the previous year's convention, for voting, which may continue into the period of the convention ("at-Con voting") at the discretion of the committee.
Categories were traditionally the prerogative of the convention committee (a situation which led ultimately to the "Best Fannish Cat" controversy), and regularly included "international" categories. This situation was changed by the formalisation of the categories as part of the rules.
The current categories are:
- Best Novel
- Best Novella or Novelette
- Best Short Story
- Best Collected Work
- Best Artwork
- Best Fan Writer
- Best Fan Artist
- Best Fan Publication in Any Medium
- Best New Talent
William Atheling Jr.
The William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review is not described as a Ditmar Award, but is presented as part of the same process. "The Athelings" are awarded for excellence in science fiction criticism, and were named for the pseudonym used by James Blish for his critical writing.
Ditmar trophies have varied as widely as its categories (including ornamental stone, cut glass and stuffed cane toads), but most commonly follow the specification in the Rules. Trophies are usually accompanied by an A4 certificate.
The Ditmars have experienced a number of controversies since their inception. These include:
- The "Best Fannish Cat" category in 1991
- The "Cane Toad Awards" trophies in 1991 (re-awarded as "The Glass Suppositories")
- The permanent withdrawal from eligibility of works by Greg Egan. It was later determined that an author could refuse an award, but not a nomination. It was for this reason that Greg Egan was nominated for Best Novel in 2000, but upon winning that category he declined to accept the award.
- The cancellation and re-running of the awards in 2000 (resulting in two sets of nominations in that year)