Category Archives: awards

BSFA Awards shortlists

Two shortlists in one day, as the BSFA Awards shortlists were also announced yesterday. Another interesting set of nominations. And for the second time, Paul Kincaid, Karen Burnham and I are all up against one another in the Best Non-Fiction category.

Best Artwork:

Richard Anderson for the cover of Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, published by Angry Robot Books.

Blacksheep for the cover of Bête by Adam Roberts, published by Gollancz

Tessa Farmer for her sculpture The Wasp Factory, after Iain Banks.

Jeffery Alan Love for the cover of Wolves by Simon Ings, published by Gollancz

Andy Potts for the cover of Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall, published by Egmont

Best Non-Fiction:

Paul Kincaid for Call and Response, published by Beccon Books

Jonathan McCalmont for ‘Deep Forests and Manicured Gardens: A Look at Two New Short Fiction Magazines’

Edward James, for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and the First World War

Strange Horizons: Nina Allan, Dan Hartland, Martin Lewis, Juliet McKenna, Kari Sperring, Maureen Kincaid Speller for The State of British SF and Fantasy: A Symposium

Karen Burnham for Greg Egan, published by University of Illinois Press

Best Short Fiction:

Ruth E J Booth for “The Honey Trap”, published in La Femme, Newcon Press

Octavia Cade for The Mussel Eater,  published by The Book Smugglers

Benjanun Sriduangkaew for  Scale Bright, published by Immersion Press

Best Novel:

Nina Allan, for The Race, published by Newcon Press

Frances Hardinge, for Cuckoo Song, published by Macmillan

Dave Hutchinson, for Europe in Autumn, published by Solaris

Simon Ings, for Wolves, published by Gollancz

Ann Leckie, for Ancilliary Sword, published by Orbit

Claire North, for The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, published by Orbit

Nnedi Okorafor,  for Lagoon, published by Hodder

Neil Williamson, for The Moon King, published by Newcon Press

 

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Kitschies Awards shortlists

It’s time for the Kitschies Awards shortlists  – always a highlight in my reading year. I’m very much looking forward to working my way through the lists.

2014 FINALISTS

The Red Tentacle (Novel)

  • Lagoon, by Nnedi Okorafor (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith (Egmont)
  • The Peripheral, by William Gibson (Viking)
  • The Way Inn, by Will Wiles (4th Estate)
  • The Race, by Nina Allen (NewCon Press)

The Golden Tentacle (Debut)

  • Viper Wine, by Hermione Eyre (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Girl in the Road, by Monica Byrne (Blackfriars)
  • Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta (HarperCollins)
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers (Self-Published)
  • The People in the Trees, by Hanya Yanagihara (Atlantic Books)

The Inky Tentacle (Cover Art)

  • The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, design by Steve Marking, lettering by Kimberly Glyder (Weidenfeld and Nicolson)
  • A Man Lies Dreaming, cover by Ben Summers (Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Through the Woods, cover by Emily Carroll and Sonja Chaghatzbanian (Faber and Faber)
  • The Book of Strange New Things, cover by Rafaela Romaya and Yehring Tong (Canongate)
  • Tigerman, cover by Glenn O’Neill (William Heinamann)

The Invisible Tentacle (Natively Digital Fiction)

  • echovirus12, created/curated by Jeff Noon @jeffnoon, Ed @3dgriffiths, James Knight @badbadpoet, violet sprite @gadgetgreen, Richard Biddle @littledeaths68, Mina Polen @polen, Uel Aramchek @ThePatanoiac, Graham Walsh @t_i_s_u, Vapour Vox @Wrong_Triangle
  • Kentucky Route Zero, Act III, by Cardboard Computer
  • 80 Days, by Inkle Studios
  • Sailor’s Dream, by Simogo

 

Reading off-piste – the Hugo shortlists 2014

Yes, I have another project; reading the shortlists for the Hugo Awards 2014.

Last week I read an article in the New Yorker by Christine Smallwood. It’s a review of The Shelf: From LEQ to LES, by Phyllis Rose. Smallwood describes it as a ‘stunt book’, in which Rose ‘reads through a more or less random shelf of library books’. That someone might undertake such an exercise, Smallwood suggests (and one has the impression that Smallwood isn’t actually that impressed by this feat – and I can’t say I am, either) is a reflection of the ‘embattled climate of bibliophilia’ in which ‘authors undertake reading stunts to prove that reading–anything– still matters’.

Apparently, the number of Americans who read has been declining for thirty years, and Smallwood suggests that those who do read ‘have become proud of, even a bit overidentified with, the enterprise’. This overidentification seems to find its expression in merchandising. ‘Alongside the tote bags you can find T-shirts, magnets and buttons emblazoned with covers of classic novels; the Web site Etsy sells tights printed with poems by Emily Dickinson’. Why??? Meanwhile we’ll draw a veil over the paint colours inspired by literature. Smallwood comments that the ‘merchandising of reading has a curiously undifferentiated flavour, as if what you read mattered less than that you read.’ Except that this seems to me to be less about reading than about advertising that you read.

Rose describes her own ‘adventure’ as ‘Off Road or Extreme Reading’, and draws comparisons between her reading and Ernest Shackleton’s explorations of the Antarctic (though presumably not the one where his men had to overwinter while he and a small crew sailed over 1000kms and then trekked across South Georgia to fetch help). The brief pause here … is me rearranging my face to avoid an expression of utter incredulity at Rose’s comparison. I didn’t do very well.

Because obviously, Rose carefully selecting a suitable random shelf (no, really – this is a whole new definition of random) in the New York Society Library is absolutely analagous to Shackleton and his crew heading for the Antarctic. Apparently, there is a whole subgenre of books in which readers conduct such armchair expeditions. I’d been dimly aware of such books existing but hadn’t felt moved to read any of them, perhaps because I’ve always got my own reading projects on the go and am associated with online communities where other people are similarly engaged. And I’d argue my reading projects are rather more directed than Rose’s. Of course I’d argue that.

And I suppose I’m feeling just a little bit unsettled about this as I have another reading project getting underway right now: a read through some of the Hugo Award shortlists for 2014. And there’s the rub. I have this whole project set up in my head, the reading loaded onto my tablet … and yet, isn’t this all just another performance? Am I really any better than Rose with her ridiculous analogies? I have form, after all – see The Shortlist Project.

And the answer is, of course, both yes and no. To read through a series of shortlists is a feat in itself, one made more complicated by the fact that one nomination is in fact eighteen volumes (needless to say, the one question on everyone’s lips has been, ‘Are you going to read the whole Wheel of Time, to which my response has been ‘yes, if I can’) but whereas Rose’s project is mainly notable for its sheer randomness (well, its highly structured, with an eye to publication, randomness), coupled with a strong sense of ‘no one else has ever done this before’, I would like to think mine contrbutes to the community endeavour of determining which nominations deserve to win. But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

In fact, as I’ve started preparing for this project, it’s begun to turn into a personal enquiry into the politics and practice of reading and criticism, or rather, my practice and my take on the politics of reading. I could try to explain that in detail now, but I think it will be better, more effective even, to discuss the issues as they arise and let the picture unfold gradually. And the first issue is whether this is mere grandstanding or a serious critical endeavour. Possibly that can only be judged at the end of the project

Oddly, Smallwood’s article picks up on similar issues. Moving on from Rose’s enterprise, Smallwood provides a thumbnail sketch of different approaches to reading over the last century – close reading, theory, the wrenching open of the canon to include ‘women and people of colour’, ‘surface reading’ (which apparently describes rather than decodes) which is also ‘just reading’, which apparently focuses simply on what is manifest in a text. I linger momentarily on that because, to me, it is impossible to ‘just read’ when ‘just reading’ brings so many other things into play. That may be my academic training intruding, but ‘just reading’ suggests the words fly past one’s eyes and somehow sidestep the brain, whereas I’d argue that there is always some sort of judgement, however rudimentary, involved.

Rose’s book, apparently, engages mostly in plot summary, which is fine so far as it goes, but in my view it doesn’t really go that far. Most people could read a book and provide some sort of summary of its content and I have very little patience with the sort of criticism that does nothing other than recapitulate the story. Rose is also what Smallwood calls ‘a social reader’; that is, she sees her reading as encounters with the authors. She ‘meets’ her authors, and in a couple of instances does actually meet them. To me, this is anathema. Not the meeting authors in the flesh (authors are, for the most part, people too, and some of them are excellent company) but the assumption that one can ‘meet’ authors by reading their books. I may no longer be a thorough-going Barthesian (it’s all far more complicated than the mere death of the author) but neither do I believe that what is on the page is, on the whole, the sum of the person who wrote it. Which is not to say either that the author’s personal presence never intrudes either, but I’ll come to that later. Having said that, I’m interested that Rose came across the work of Rhoda Lerman and indeed tracked her down, even if Lerman turned out not to be quite what Rose expected. But that’s kind of incidental to anything I’m attempting here.

So, I start on my own extreme, or more accurately endurance, reading project with an uncomfortable feeling that yes, I am ‘performing’, though I hasten to reassure everyone I’m not planning on comparing my endeavours to Shackleton’s expeditions because, well, because that’s silly. But yes, in a way I am performing. I’d like to feel the world is hanging on my words of wisdom as I offer my opinions, because I’m not so bad at being a critic, but I have a strong suspicion it will boil down to whether I can make it through the entire Wheel of Time. Game on.

deep linking – 5/3/2014

I gave up the battle to keep track of the ebb and flow (and it was mostly flow) of  discussions surrounding this year’s Hugo nominations very early on. However, Stefan Raets has performed a Herculean task in gathering together as many links as he possibly can so I shall send you to his blog to read through them. Link here.

Having said that, I will pull out a small group of links, beginning with Larry Correia explaining how and why sf shouldn’t be all about the politics, which was followed by an article in that bastion of ‘journalism’, USA Today, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, confirming that Larry Correia was just so correct about that (I was going to say ‘right’ but obviously I’d want to keep the politics out of it), and balanced by a contribution by Foz Meadows to the Huffington Post, arguing (correctly, in my view) that you really can’t separate politics and science fiction (or any other kind of fiction for that matter.

I’ve a vague notion to review the contents of the Hugo voter’s packet when it finally crashes into my inbox (I’m envisaging a world pixel shortage, given it includes the entire Wheel of Time sequence). If I do, I’ll be coming back to what is discussed above.

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian Magazine has published a piece by Eileen Gunn, How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors are Shaping Your Future. I should note (with no disrespect to Eileen, who was obviosly following a brief) that non-US science fiction authors are also doing this.

In The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky used Eileen’s article as a springboard for pondering Why Sci-Fi Keeps Imagining the Subjugation of White People. A good question …

BSFA Awards 2014

That is, the BSFA Awards for works published in 2013.

The awards were announced on April 20th, 2014 at the 65th Eastercon in  Glasgow.

The ceremony was hosted by Alice Lawson and Steve Lawson with guest presenters Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Jim Burns, Andrew J. Wilson and Stephanie Saulter.

Best Non-Fiction: Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer.

Best Art: cover of Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London by Joey Hi-Fi.

Best Short Fiction: Spin by Nina Allan

Best Novel: ties between Gareth L. Powell for Ack Ack Macaque and Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice.

Or, if arranging it alphabetically by author’s first name or surname, Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice and Gareth L. Powell for Ack Ack Macaque.

I can’t ever recall a tie for this category.

Congratulations to all the winners.

Weekend round-up – some links

First, the Hugo shortlists have been announced. amid some controversy; in particular the presence of Vox Day, Larry Correia and one or two others, not to mention the complete Wheel of Time saga, in their various categories. There’s plenty of commentary about all of this across the web right now, and I’m not adding to it for now.  I’m happy, though, to see the fan categories looking a lot livelier than they’ve done in some years.

Link to the complete list of nominees is here, to save me typing it out again.

The 1939 Retro Hugos shortlist was also announced: the list of nominees is here.


And while I’m about it, more posts about genre, lit fic, the usual.

Chris Beckett, winner of last year’s Clarke Award, in The Atlantic

Juliet McKenna in The Guardian

Kitschies 2013 – shortlists announced

The Kitschies, the annual prize for books containing elements of the “speculative and fantastic” are proud to announce their shortlists for the most “progressive, intelligent and entertaining” fiction of 2013.

This year’s shortlists are selected from a record 234 submissions, coming from over fifty different publishers and imprints.

The Red Tentacle (Novel), selected by Kate Griffin, Nick Harkaway, Will Hill, Anab Jain and Annabel Wright:

• Red Doc> by Anne Carson (Jonathan Cape)
• A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (Canongate)
• Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (Jonathan Cape)
• More Than This by Patrick Ness (Walker)
• The Machine by James Smythe (HarperCollins / Blue Door)

The Golden Tentacle (Debut), also selected by the above panel:

• Stray by Monica Hesse (Hot Key)
• A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock (47 North)
• Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
• Nexus by Ramez Naam (Angry Robot)
• Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Atlantic)

The Inky Tentacle (Cover Art), selected by Craig Kennedy, Sarah Anne Langton, Hazel Thompson and Emma Vieceli.

• Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (Gollancz) / Design and illustration by Sinem Erkas
• The Age Atomic by Adam Christopher (Angry Robot) / Art by Will Staehle
• Homeland and Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow (Titan) / Design by Amazing15
• Stray by Monica Hesse (Hot Key) / Art by Gianmarco Magnani
• Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human (Century) / Art by Joey Hi-Fi

The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the Seven Dials Club on 12 February. The winners will receive a total of £2,000 in prize money, as well as one of the prize’s iconic Tentacle trophies and bottles of The Kraken Rum.

The Kitschies, sponsored by The Kraken Rum, are now in their fifth year, with previous winners including Patrick Ness, Lauren Beukes, China Miéville and Nick Harkaway.

– END –

Further information for editors:

“This was an awe-inspiring year. For the Red Tentacle, we could have built a shortlist composed purely of iconic names, and we had to reject at least one book which may be a work of genius because it did not entirely mesh with the Kitschies’ cardinal virtues: ‘intelligent, entertaining, and progressive’. The debuts are pretty breathtaking, too: broad in scope, deft and compelling. It’s been an education as well as a privilege to judge the prize, and a vast relief not to be in competition with these writers.” – Nick Harkaway

“What an honour to be confronted with so many beautiful books, it can make any creator feel…quite inadequate. Their overall quality made judging a tricky business, and many post-it notes were lost to the greater good, but our entire judging panel was professional, balanced and placated with The Kraken Rum. We didn’t even draw blood.” – Emma Vieceli

For more information about the prize, its criteria or the judges, please see: http://www.thekitschies.com

A breakdown of this year’s submissions is available:
http://kitschi.es/1aDKq03

More about The Kraken Rum:
http://www.krakenrum.com

The finalists’ covers can be downloaded here:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/520auwuq1gqw4te/H0Px3if09q