2020: Dr Gillian Polack

Image of Gillian Polack
Image By Catriona Sparks from Wollongong, Australia – Gillian Polack, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31846405

Gillian first encountered fandom in 1979 at a Melbourne University Science Fiction Association meeting. As so many do, she immediately gravitated towards their library. She later became more active and attended her first convention in Canberra. Gillian has been a Canberra fan since 2002 and was on the Conflux committee for seven years, organizing historical banquets, being part of the small team running the Conflux online minicon for several years, as well as convening and judging the short story competition. She was a co-convenor of Flycon, the first international online Science Fiction convention and was the GUFF winner in 2014, attending the 72nd Worldcon in London. She published her trip report, Gillian’s Book of Lists.

Gillian instituted the popular historical banquets at Conflux where she researched and tested recipes with the help of fellow fans. At Aussiecon 4 she was awarded the Best Achievement Ditmar for the Conflux Southern Gothic banquet along with her team and produced a related recipe book Five Historical Feasts, (Conflux/Eneit Press, 2011). She has introduced people to historical and science fiction inspired food and many fans have had their first (and possibly last) interaction with the joys of dehydrated portable soup at one of her panels. At the 2017 Worldcon in Helsinki, she introduced many con goers to Australian bush tucker and her home-made Medlar liquor is a wondrous delight that has been known to make an appearance at room parties.

Many conventions and fanzines have turned to Gillian for assistance when needing material to complete their publication in a short timeframe such as Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Steam Engine Time, various Continuum con books and Worldcon con books or to sub-edit Australian Speculative Fiction when Donna Hanson was out of commission. Other publications include SFSignals, Wisconsin Chronicles, Strange Horizons and SF World along with reviews for Horrorscope, ASIF and SF Commentary. She has also published multiple short stories and novels for which she has been nominated for Ditmars and been listed in the Years best listings by Ellen Datlow and Gardner Dozois. She is the editor of the Baggage anthology (2010) and co-editor of Masques, (2009). She spent four years judging the Aurealis awards. Recently she won the 2020 Best Novel Ditmar award for her book, The Year of the Fruit Cake.

She was on the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild committee for several years and she coordinated a team to document CSFG standard operations and how to organise the anthologies. Since then she has run the elections at the AGM most years.

Along with her solo panels Gillian has been on many group panels, including moderating them and helped win a debate for her side with judicious use of sweets and tattoo bribery. She has been a co-auctioneer and runner for auctions as well as transporting items interstate and overseas for auctions. She has volunteered at many conventions including Conflux, Loncon and the 75th Worldcon in Helsinki. She was chosen as a Guest of Honour for Conflux 5 in 2008 and Liburnicon in Croatia.

Many writers have benefited from her editing and history advice over the years, both from her panels and workshops as well as individual, personal advice. She created the New Ceres world for a short story and donated the considerable world building to Alisa Krasnostein for a shared universe.

Dr Gillian Polack is a worthy winner of the A. Bertram Chandler award. She is a long-term fan, speculative fiction writer and organizer of wonderful fannish events. She has contributed so much to Australian fandom.

Danny Oz & Jocko