So, uh, I don’t know if you noticed that all three of the novels I selected to illustrate my post about the Locus Recommended Reading list got shortlisted this weekend. Aaand, two of them received double-noms.
I’m super stoked that the above novels got nom’d for the exciting BSFA award! And, super-duper stoked that Lagoon and The Race also made the Red Tentacle shortlist for The Kitschies!
Let’s review the big news, then I promise I’ll get back to talking about old books.
But book awards! It’s like reader crack! It’s cheap, it’s temporary, it’s addictive, it’s probably meaningless, but omfg sooo goood for the moment!
And it’s exciting because I actually read some of these books!
The BSFA (British Science Fiction Association)
Last year, I regretted not reading the BSFA shortlist and committed to doing so this year. Thanks to some direct and informed sleuthing, a lot of blog stalking, and a little bit of luck, I’ve read all but three of these contenders. In fact, the majority of my December Holiday “Oh Shit, I Better Read Some New Fic Before Award Lists Come Out” Reading List made this list. Frankly, this has been the most satisfying batch of recent speculative fiction that I’ve ever experienced in one go, which means my book sleuthing is getting better or the British are up to some interesting things. Probably both.
But it goes to show: the BSFA are the readers to praise and model. If you are tired of the same old SF faff, you will find something new and fresh on this list.
My top picks of this lot are Wolves and The Race, because they are both so unique and peculiar, I can’t recommend them enough. But I wouldn’t begrudge a win for Hutchinson, North, or Okorafor, all very cool reads. Because I’ve read so much of the list already, I think I will bother to read the rest of this huge list: Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song most intrigues me, Williamson’s The Moon King sounds kind of cool, and *sigh* I’ll even down another standard Leckie space opera, if I have to. (Ancillary Justice didn’t blow me away like it did everyone else, but people say Ancillary Sword is different.)
Best Short Fiction
Ruth E. J. Booth, “The Honey Trap,” published in La Femme, Newcon Press
Octavia Cade, The Mussel Eater, published by The Book Smugglers
Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Scale Bright
Recent short-fiction and me go together like honey and mussels. Eww. Will I bother? Sriduangkaew’s very controversial nomination doesn’t bother me none because I’m used to reading books written by assholes. I will be annoyed if the book is mediocre, though. In which case, I will let you know.
As for the non-fiction shortlist, I find myself too often enjoying, while alternately agreeing with and eyebrow-raising at, Jonathan McCalmont on his blog Ruthless Culture. I ignore his film criticism because movies are lame (right now, he has a post about Transformers... like who cares about Transformers?), but these specific nominated blog posts can probably best explain most of my honey-and-mussels issues with recent short fiction. His “Short Fiction and the Feels,” while deserving of its own criticism, best explains my recoil.
I am a proud owner of Paul Kincaid’s Call and Response, which has been an excellent resource to thumb through as I work through my TBR. And The State of British SF and Fantasy: A Symposium is not something I have looked at, (I have an inexplicable Strange Horizons blindness, well may be explicable if you read the above-mentioned Ruthless Culture post), but I will get on that right away, mates.
You can see the rest of the shortlists at the BSFA website. The winners will be announced at Eastercon aka Dysprosium at Heathrow on April 6.
“The prize for progressive, intelligent & entertaining” SF fiction
The Red Tentacle
Well, waddayaknow? We have some familiar faces. Hello to Okorafor and Allan again. I am pleasantly surprised that William Gibson is getting some recognition for the excellent The Peripheral; I kind of figured people would skip nominating him just because he’s TBTF. As for the two unfamiliars, Grasshopper Jungle is YA apocalypse, so that’s a no for me (I am a book snob. I am sorry. We should all be snobby about the books we like, and still be friendly with each other. And I spend my working hours with teens, so yes, I might be overcompensating with strict reading boundaries to reaffirm my adulthood, even though I tweet about balls sometimes). The Way Inn is horror that sounds just funny and twisted enough to intrigue me, but, you know, horror.
Lame Mexican-Spanish joke that I just can’t help: I’m calling it The Guey Inn in my head.
The Golden Tentacle (Debut)
a.k.a. The Newbie Award
I’ve read none of these. The only one I can even recall seeing is Memory of Water, just because the over-the-top whiteness on the cover weirds me out. The Long Way etc. is self-pubbed, so wow, that’s interesting. The rest sound really cool, dubiously so. I’m skeptical.
It doesn’t matter anyway, because there is no voting for The Kitschies. You can see the full Kitchies list here, including the Inky Tentacle (Cover Art) and The Invisible Tentacle (Digital Fiction).
They will announce the winners on March 4th. Mark your bio-chip.
Okay! Book nom slavering done for the moment! I return you to your normal FC2M vintage and pre-millennial book programming next week!
Next up: The Female Man (1975) by Joanna Russ