Ditmar Awards

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The Ditmars are the Australian Science Fiction Achievement Awards.

The name arose via a joke. At a committee meeting to decide the name of the proposed award, lengthy discussions had gotten around to considering people the award might be named after. Someone suggested that a person thus honoured might be persuaded to fund the awards.

Dick (Martin James Ditmar) Jenssen seized an opportunity to relieve tedium by hazarding that he, himself, would be willing to pay for the awards if they were named "Ditmar" awards. What, he was asked, is a Ditmar? "Digital Integrating and Tabulating Mechanism for the Advancement of Research", he told them.

His offer was accepted, and he subsequently found himself paying for the awards for some years longer than he'd anticipated.

Nowadays, the awards process for the Ditmar Awards involves separate rounds for nominations and votes, but back in 1970 there was just a single round of voting. Also, a points system was used to determine winners that year.

In 1982, the Australian Natcon, Tschaicon, was billed as "the First Australasian SF Convention", and the Ditmar Awards presented that year were, at least in theory, Australasian awards.

In 2002, and again in 2010, Ditmar received a Ditmar. (Another instance of a fan receiving an award named after himself may have been when Forrest J Ackerman received a Big Heart Award. That award, previously known as the E. Everett Evans Big Heart Award, was renamed the Forrest J Ackerman Big Heart Award.)


William Atheling, Jr. Award[edit]

The William Atheling, Jr. Award for Criticism or Review is a Special Category under the Ditmar Awards. "The Athelings", as they are known for short, are awarded for excellence in SF and speculative criticism.

They are named for the pseudonym used by SF author James Blish for his critical writing.

The award was first presented as part of the Ditmar Award ceremony, at Bofcon, the 15th Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in August 1976.

Nowadays, the William Atheling, Jr. Award for Criticism or Review is considered a Ditmar Award. However, there was a time when the constitution governing the Australian Natcons referred to it as a separate award. It is still classified as a "special award."

The history of nominations for the award indicates that it has not always been restricted to Australians. In 1989, the last year in which there was a Ditmar Award for International Fiction, there were published eligibility criteria for the William Atheling, Jr. Award that required the work to have been published in Australia, but did not require the author to be Australian.

Ditmar Award for Best Fannish Cat[edit]

In 1991, a Ditmar Award for Best Fannish Cat was presented at SunCon (in Brisbane, Australia). The Business Meeting at that convention voted to demote the award from a Ditmar Award to a Special Award of the Convention. However, that decision was reversed at the Business Meeting of the following Australian Natcon.

According to Bruce Gillespie, “The person who was Chair of the convention in Brisbane stuffed up many aspects of the convention. She was also part of a non-Melbourne group who believed that every aspect of the Ditmars was a cruel plot by Melbourne fans to keep all the Ditmars for themselves. So she allowed members of the convention to vote for the categories as well as the items in the categories. Irresistible bait to Melbourne fans in general — who ganged up to include Best Fannish Cat in the categories.”

This still rankled as late as 2005, when a Swancon XXX progress report calling for nominations for the Tin Duck Award exhorted, “Please do not invent new categories. (e.g. No Best Fannish Cat. We’ve heard it before, and it wasn’t funny the first time).”

But Dudcon III, in 2010, revived Best Fannish Cat as a non-Ditmar Special Award of the Convention. Rules required nominees to be “natural members of the species Felis Catus” alive and resident in Australia at the time of the nomination.

In both cases, noted Gillespie, “the winners were very popular cats who had been met by many Melbourne fans. The general effect was to confirm the suspicion of Perth fans that Melbourne fans ‘did not take the Ditmars seriously.’”

1991 Nominees for Best Fannish Cat[edit]

2010 Nominees for Best Fannish Cat[edit]

Stuffed Cane Toads[edit]

Another 1991 scandal that pitted insurgents from Melbourne against sercon fen elsewhere in the country was the SunCon Ditmar trophies. Melburnian Mark Loney made awards of mounted taxidermied cane toads (a poisonous introduced pest endemic to Queensland, where the con was held). He intended them as a joke, to be presented at the ceremony, with the real Ditmars to be given at the closing ceremony.

The cane toads were presented, but the actual Ditmars trophies weren’t ready by the end of con. The real ones would be distributed later at a Nova Mob club meeting, but this did not placate the outraged.

Special Awards[edit]

Convention reports from 1971 indicate that the two Special Awards presented in 1970 were considered to be Ditmar Awards.

Some Other Awards[edit]

The Ditmar Awards should not be confused with the Melbourne Science Fiction Club Achievement Award nor the Peter McNamara Achievement Award nor the Pat Terry Award for Humour in SF.

Award Results[edit]

Complete Ditmar Award Results

1969: Eighth Australian Science Fiction Convention, Melbourne[edit]

1969 Best Australian Science Fiction of any length, or collection[edit]

1969 Best International Science Fiction of any length, or collection[edit]

1969 Best Contemporary Writer of Science Fiction[edit]

1969 Best Australian Amateur Science Fiction Publication or Fanzine[edit]

1970: Ninth Australian Science Fiction Convention, Melbourne[edit]

1970 Best Australian Science Fiction[edit]

1970 Best International Publication[edit]

1970 Best International Fiction[edit]

1970 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1971: Tenth Australian Science Fiction Convention, Melbourne[edit]

1971 Best Australian SF[edit]

1971 Best International Fiction[edit]

1971 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1971 Special Awards[edit]

1972: Syncon 2, Sydney[edit]

1972 Best Australian Fiction[edit]

1972 Best International Fiction[edit]

1972 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1973: Advention 2, Adelaide[edit]

1973 Best Australian Fiction[edit]

1973 Best International Fiction[edit]

1973 Best Dramatic Presentation[edit]

  • Aussiefan (winner)
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Slaughterhouse Five
  • Tales From The Crypt

1973 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1974: Ozcon, Melbourne[edit]

(The programme book for the 1990 Natcon, Danse Macabre, records that no Ditmar Awards were presented in 1974.)

1975: Syncon '75, Sydney[edit]

1975 Best Australian SF[edit]

1975 Best International Fiction[edit]

1975 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1976: Bofcon, Melbourne[edit]

1976 Best Australian Fiction[edit]

1976 Best International Fiction[edit]

1976 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

William Atheling, Jr. Award[edit]

1977: A-Con 7, Adelaide[edit]

1977 Best Australian Science Fiction[edit]

1977 Best International Fiction[edit]

1977 Best Australian Fanzine[edit]

1977 William Atheling, Jr . Award[edit]

1977 Special Committee Award[edit]

1978: Unicon IV, Melbourne[edit]

1978 Australian Science Fiction, Best Novel[edit]

1978 Australian Science Fiction, Best Short Fiction[edit]

1978 Best International Fiction[edit]

1978 Best Amateur Australian Publication (Fanzine)[edit]

1978 William Atheling, Jr. Award[edit]

2020: Swancon 2020, Perth[edit]

The convention was cancelled due to Covid-19. There were insufficient nominations for the Best Artwork and Best Fan Artist categories. The awards ceremony was held online with short notice on 19 September 2020. The date conflicted with Rosh Hashana, which meant that neither the Best Novel nor the Best Short Fiction winners could participate.

2020 Best Novel[edit]

2020 Best Short Fiction[edit]

2020 Best Collected Work[edit]

2020 Best Fan Publication in Any Medium[edit]

2020 Best Fan Writer[edit]

2020 Best New Talent[edit]

2020 William Atheling, Jr. Award for Criticism or Review[edit]

Award Website(IA) Search: Fanac, Fan, Pro, SFE, Wikipedia, Reasonator 1969

Also involved: - Advention '85 - Alan Stewart - Athelings - Best Fannish Cat - Brett McBean - Christopher Priest - Contact2016 - Ditmar Award - Ditmar-award - Ditmar-awards - Ditmars - Kathleen Jennings - Margo Lanagan - Nick Stathopoulos - Pip Maddern - Sam Hawke - Stuffed Cane Toads - Stuffed cane toads - Swancon Thirty Six - Tansy Rayner Roberts - William Atheling Award - William Atheling Jr. Award - William Atheling Jr. Award for Criticism or Review - William Atheling, Jr. Award - William-atheling-award - William-atheling-jr-award - William-atheling-jr-award-for-criticism-or-review

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