Part literary detective story, part gig economy fable, Domenic Amerena’s In Real Life is about labour and art making in the contemporary moment. The prize was awarded by judges by Astrid Edwards, Declan Fry, Rose Michael and Giramondo Publishing’s Nick Tapper.
Runner up was awarded to B.D. Lovell’s The Best of Both Worlds, a science fiction verse novel with an ecofeminist sensibility that lyrically narrates a journey to Mars and an elegy to Earth.
Also shortlisted were Alex Cothren’s Let’s Talk Trojan Bee: Stories, a collection of satirical nightmares, at once feverishly surreal and frighteningly plausible, and Romy Tara Wenzel’s Heartwood, a retelling of the fairy-tale 'The Yellow Dwarf' from the perspective of the villain, who seeks love and belonging for all the right reasons in all the wrong ways.
The Speculate Prize is a new national award for an unpublished speculative fiction manuscript, aimed at writers who explore the expansive possibilities of literature: those who imagine other worlds – other realities – that may even exist within our own. The prize was established by RMIT Culture and RMIT Writing & Publishing in partnership with Giramondo Publishing, and sponsored by Whispir, with a wish to uncover and support writers who embrace new literary modes and extend the possibilities of the novel and short story form.
RMIT Culture extends its deep thanks to the judges, and to RMIT Writing & Publishing's Bowen Street Press for its support with the prize.
About the writers
Dominic Amerena’s work has been published widely and won or been short-listed for several prizes, grants and awards. Most recently, he won Australia Council funding to develop In Real Life and the 2020 Alan Marshall Short Story Award. He’s undertaking a PhD in creative writing and lives between Melbourne and Athens, Greece, with his wife, the essayist Ellena Savage.
Alex Cothren holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Flinders University. He is a winner of the Carmel Bird, William van Dyke and Peter Carey Awards for short fiction, and he has writing published in Meanjin, Island, The Griffith Review, Ruminate and Australian Book Review. He is the co-editor of Westerly’s South Australia Special Issue. You can find him at alexcothren.com
Dr Bronwyn Lovell is a researcher exploring the roles of women in science fiction space narratives, as well as non-fictional gender discrimination in the space industry. Her essays have been published by Science Fiction Film and Television, The Journal of Feminist Scholarship, and the National Gallery of Victoria. Her poetry has appeared in Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Southerly, and Strange Horizons. She has won the Val Vallis Award and been shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award, Judith Wright Poetry Prize, Newcastle Poetry Prize, Bridport Prize, and Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her debut collection, In Bed with Animals, is forthcoming from Recent Work Press in 2022.
Romy Tara Wenzel is a writer and artist on Melukerdee country, Tasmania, exploring mythology and ecology from an animist perspective. Her preoccupation is with liminal states: the spaces between becoming and unbecoming, wildness and refuge, inter-species communication and ecstatic transformation. Recent publications include short stories in Dark Mountain, Hecate, Cunning Folk, Cicerone and Folklore for Resistance. Instagram @the_quiet_wilds