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Historically, the section was divided into two awards: Best Novel and Best Short Story. In 2016, convenors announced a splitting of the short-fiction award, making three individual awards: Best Short Story, Best Novella, and Best Novel.


  • Note: no award was made in this category in 1996 or in 2011. (In 2011, two books received honourable mentions.)

Latest Winners / Recipients

Year: 2020

winner (Novella) The Saltbush Queen Chris Mason , 2020 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Outback Horrors Down Under : An Anthology of Antipodean Terrors 2020;
winner (Novel) y separately published work icon None Shall Sleep Ellie Marney , Boston : Little, Brown , 2020 18641366 2020 single work novel thriller young adult

'In 1982, two teenagers — serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell — are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case — a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers — things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson.

'Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2019

winner (Novel) y separately published work icon The Rich Man's House Andrew McGahan , Crows Nest : Allen and Unwin , 2019 16620123 2019 single work novel crime

'In the freezing Antarctic waters south of Tasmania, a mountain was discovered in 1642 by the seafaring explorer Gerrit Jansz. Not just any mountain but one that Jansz estimated was an unbelievable height of twenty-five thousand meters.

'In 2016, at the foot of the unearthly mountain, a controversial and ambitious 'dream home', the Observatory, is painstakingly constructed by an eccentric billionaire - the only man to have ever reached the summit.

'Rita Gausse, estranged daughter of the architect who designed the Observatory is surprised, upon her father's death, to be invited to the isolated mansion to meet the famously reclusive owner, Walter Richman. But from the beginning, something doesn't feel right. Why is Richman so insistent that she come? What does he expect of her?

'When cataclysmic circumstances intervene to trap Rita and a handful of other guests in the Observatory, cut off from the outside world, she slowly being to learn the unsettling - and ultimately horrifying - answers.'

Source: Back cover.

winner (Short Story) Vivienne and Agnes Chris Mason , 2019 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Beside the Seaside : Tales from the Daytripper 2019; (p. 113-132)
Two old women, who have weathered many storms, now have to weather a plague of zombies.
winner (Novella) y separately published work icon Into Bones Like Oil Kaaron Warren , Atlanta : Meerkat Press , 2019 17087981 2019 single work novella horror

'People come to The Angelsea , a rooming house near the beach, for many reasons. Some come to get some sleep, because here, you sleep like the dead. Dora arrives seeking solitude and escape from reality. Instead, she finds a place haunted by the drowned and desperate, who speak through the sleeping inhabitants. She fears sleep herself, terrified that the ghosts of her daughters will tell her "it's all your fault we're dead." At the same time, she'd give anything to hear them one more time.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2018

winner (Short Story) Sub-Urban Alfie Simpson , 2017 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Breach , no. 7 2017;
winner (Novella) Crisis Apparition Kaaron Warren , 2018 single work single work novella horror
— Appears in: A Primer to Kaaron Warren 2018; (p. 99-125)
winner (Novel) y separately published work icon Tide of Stone Kaaron Warren , United States of America (USA) : Omnium Gatherum , 2018 14976277 2018 single work novel horror

'The Time-Ball Tower of Tempuston houses the worst criminals in history. Given the option of the death penalty or eternal life, they chose eternal life. They have a long time to regret that choice.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Year: 2017

winner (Short Story) Old Growth J. Ashley Smith , 2017 single work short story fantasy horror
— Appears in: SQ Mag , June no. 31 2017;
winner (Novella) The Stairwell Chris Mason , 2017 single work short story horror
— Appears in: Below the Stairs : Tales from the Cellar 2017;
winner (Novel) y separately published work icon Soon Lois Murphy , Yarraville : Transit Lounge , 2017 11571834 2017 single work novel

'An almost deserted town in the middle of nowhere, Nebulah's days of mining and farming prosperity – if they ever truly existed – are long gone. These days even the name on the road sign into town has been removed. Yet for Pete, an ex-policeman, Milly, Li and a small band of others, it's the only place they have ever felt at home.

'One winter solstice, a strange residual and mysterious mist arrives, that makes even birds disappear. It is a real and potent force, yet also strangely emblematic of the complacency and unease that afflicts so many of our small towns, and the country that Murphy knows so well.

'Partly inspired by the true story of Wittenoom, the ill-fated West Australia asbestos town, Soon is the story of the death of a haunted town, and the plight of the people who either won’t, or simply can’t, abandon all they have ever had. With finely wrought characters and brilliant plotting, it is a taut and original novel, where the people we come to know, and those who are drawn to the town's intrigue, must ultimately fight for survival.' (Publication summary)

Year: 2016

winner (Short Story) Flame Trees T. R. Napper , 2016 single work short story science fiction
— Appears in: Asimov's Science Fiction , April-May vol. 40 no. 4-5 2016; (p. 84-93)

In a future Australia, Chi suffers from PTSD. But when a doctor offers to remove the bad memories, he refuses.

winner (Short Story) Burnt Sugar Kirstyn McDermott , 2016 single work short story
— Appears in: Dreaming in the Dark 2016; (p. 319-346)

'My brother stumbles through the back gate while I'm still in the hen-house, plucking smooth, warm eggs from dirty straw.' (Introduction)

winner (Novel) y separately published work icon The Grief Hole Kaaron Warren , Victoria : IFWG Publishing Inc , 2016 9436819 2016 single work novel horror

'There are many grief holes.

'There's the grief hole you fall into when a loved one dies.

'There's another grief hole in all of us; small or large, it determines how much we want to live.

'And there are the places, the physical grief holes, which attract suicides to their centre.

'Sol Evictus, a powerful, charismatic singer, sends a young artist into The Grief Hole to capture the faces of the teenagers dying there. When she inevitably dies herself, her cousin Theresa resolves to stop this man so many love.

'Theresa sees ghosts; she knows how you'll die by the spirits haunting you. If you'll drown, she'll see drowned people. Most often she sees battered women, because she works to find emergency housing for abused women.

'She sees no ghosts around Sol Evictus but she doesn't let that stop her. Her passion to help, to be a saint, drives her to find a way to destroy him.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.