BSFA Awards 2015 Shortlist Announced

The biggest, the most exciting, the most SUPER event of the year! So THAT’S why they were out of party foods at the grocery store today…

The British Science Fiction Association announced the shortlist nominees for the 2015 BSFA Awards. The winners will be announced on March 26 at Mancunicon (Eastercon) in Manchester. This is one of my favorite SF book awards to follow, a great place to discover and celebrate excellent and sophisticated speculative fiction. The BSFA isn’t immune to cheesy sci-fi, but it’s not the pasteurized disappointment certain other big name SF book awards prove to be year after year.

The 2015 BSFA shortlists….

Best Novel

Dave Hutchinson: Europe at Midnight, Solaris
Chris Beckett: Mother of Eden, Corvus
Aliette de Bodard: The House of Shattered Wings, Gollancz
Ian McDonald: Luna: New Moon, Gollancz
Justina Robson: Glorious Angels, Gollancz


The inclusion of Dave Hutchinson’s Europe at Midnight on this list is the least surprising entry given the growing buzz, and I won’t be surprised at all if he wins. My review here.

… although Ian McDonald’s Luna might have a bigger shot, given the BSFA’s love of all things McDonald, and their recent tendency to nominate sophisticated works and then award the most bland. Review coming next week (in which the blandness is excused because intention, but not like anybody who votes for this book will see it as bland, and much less, intentionally bland).

de Bodard’s novel has been on my TBR, but I was holding off because I thought it might be interesting to read it alongside Mieville’s upcoming Paris novel.

Beckett has been getting good reviews for a while now, and that Robson novel looks mighty interesting.

Also, three books from Gollancz.

Best Short Story
Aliette de Bodard: “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight”, Clarkesworld 100
Paul Cornell: “The Witches of Lychford”,
Jeff Noon: “No Rez”, Interzone 260
Nnedi Okorafor, “Binti”,
Gareth L. Powell: “Ride the Blue Horse”, Matter


“Binti” is the only one I’ve read so far. Review coming this week.

I have that “No Rez” copy of Interzone around here somewhere. With Interzone, I use the Playboy mantra: I only read it for the articles. But I mean it.

Best Non-Fiction
Nina Allan: “Time Pieces: Doctor Change or Doctor Die”, Interzone 261
Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce: Letters to Tiptree, Twelfth Planet Press
Jonathan McCalmont: “What Price Your Critical Agency”, Ruthless Culture.
Adam Roberts: Rave and Let Die: The SF and Fantasy of 2014, Steel Quill Books
Jeff Vandermeer: “From Annihilation to Acceptance: a writer’s surreal journey”, The Atlantic, January 2015


I love Nina Allan, but I am so tuned out of Doctor Who, I didn’t even have the interest to read a critical article about it by one of my favorite authors.

Not read yet, but very, very interested in Twelve Planet Press’ Letters to Tiptree.

I’m pretty sure Jonathan McCalmont very assertively removed himself from consideration for any awards this year… which, apparently, for anyone taking notes, is the best way to jack up your cool factor and get nominated anyway. I wonder what that’ll do to his, ahem, critical agency; he’s already abandoned book reviewing. Like my reaction to most McCalmont pieces, I was alternately pleased and perplexed by this article.

Adam Roberts’ 2014 review collection, Sibilant Fricative, was deemed ineligible for nominations last year, so it’s nice to see Rave and Let Die appear on the list this year. As with most of Roberts’ nonfiction, I snatched it up immediately, and then read about 15% of it because of my don’t-read-reviews-until-I-review rule. I’ll break that rule for other reviewers, but, like Russ and Harrison and Clute, Roberts’ opinions and review style can be catching, so small doses are a must.

Also– and this deserves its own bullet– I do wish people would pay as much attention to Adam Roberts’ fiction as they do to his reviews. While his reviews are a delight to read, his 2014 novel, te, was a criminally ignored novel last year, a literary SF masterpiece, and a thousand times better than even those books he raves about.

Speaking of… Vandermeer, yeah, so.

Shame that Maureen K. Speller’s piece on Elysium didn’t make the shortlist. I really liked that one.


Best Artwork
Jim Burns, Cover of Pelquin’s Comet, Newcon Press
Vincent Sammy: “Songbird”, Interzone 257
Wayne Haag: “Bus Stop”, Interzone 253
Sarah Anne Langton: Cover of Jews Versus Zombies, Jurassic London


I like the Jews Versus Zombies cover. Pelquin’s Comet, no. Will have to go dig out the others.


So, will I commit to reading any of these shortlists before the BSFA award ceremony on March 26th? Yeah, maybe, I s’pose… let’s see what The Kitschies offer first.

16 thoughts on “BSFA Awards 2015 Shortlist Announced

  1. I’ve just read Luna: New Moon… I want to read Europe in Autum this month so maybe I’ll manage to read Europe at Midnight before the winner annoncement.
    I really want to read books by Roberts and I am really intrigued by Bête and The Thing Itself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I look forward to what you think about these books!

      I’ve been saving The Thing Itself for a long weekend when I know I won’t be interrupted. I’m nervous about it, afraid it will either go over my head with all the Kant stuff, or afraid it will get too spiritual for me, which is probably also why I’ve been putting it off for so long. I was also nervous about Bete, and that turned out to be such one of my best reading experiences from last year, so I should know now that postponing Adam Roberts’ fiction is always a mistake I will regret.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. S. C. Flynn says:

    Jonathan McCalmont tries hard to not be consideres

    Liked by 1 person

  3. S. C. Flynn says:

    …but, as you say, he keeps getting nominated

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m shocked that I’ve actually read three of the nominated novels. I did love Luna, so I’m pleased to see it on the list, though I admittedly was underwhelmed by The House of Shattered Wings as well as Mother of Eden, but only because the first book, Dark Eden, was orders of magnitude better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I kind of wondered if The House of Shattered Wings would be underwhelming. It seems like the buzz grew and died real fast. And I don’t have a lot of patience with fantasy (traditional or urban) novels.

      I do plan to read Dark Eden first, so your description of it makes it seem less like a catching up chore. Looking forward to it now!


  5. Interesting selections. Europe at Midnight has my vote, but that may be because the only other nom I’ve heard of is the Beckett novel, and unfamiliarity breeds disinterest. May rectify that and look into the nominations. The Glorious Angels sounds like it has potential after skimming Goodreads. A “novel of ideas” that’s often described as “demanding” actually sounds pretty appealing.

    Have to agree with you about the covers, too. Pelquin’s Comet looks too photoshop-y for me, especially the meh font choice… NewCon Press has three better covers featured on their site. I don’t think I’d read Jews vs Zombies but I’ve stopped to look at it because of that cover, very eye-catching, sharp but simple.

    Looking forward to your “Binti” review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glorious Angels sounds even better with those descriptions you mentioned. Now I’m excited to read the rest of this list.

      Yeah, the BSFA artwork list is kind of an oddball list. I’m sure 2015 gave us better art than that… even from just the UK.

      Binti review just went up!


  6. Tomcat says:

    I’ve not read Mother of Eden, but I did read, and enjoy, Dark Eden after it won the Clarke award a coupla years ago. To be honest, I’m not so much surprised by MoE getting nominated as much as I am by the fact that it exists. Dark Eden felt very complete in and of itself to me, and had one of those endings which just… i dunno… it doesn’t feel like it needs a sequel or expanding upon in anyway.

    But, then, I have a personal preference for vague, open-ended, non-sequel-ness in my SF.


    (p.s. c.f. Alastair Reynolds, the master of SF endings.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” I have a personal preference for vague, open-ended, non-sequel-ness in my SF.”
      Amen, brother. And that mention of Reynolds reminds me that I was half expecting Slow Bullets to show up on the shortlist. I’ve never read Reynolds, but your rec makes me think I had a misleading impression of him.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. […] the spirit of the newly announced BSFA shortlist, let’s go topsy-turvy and start the week with a 2015 review. This book happens to appear on […]


  8. graycope14 says:

    Great! Your excitement is contagious. Reading this post makes me want to read them all. I’ll be starting Dave Hutchinson’s first ‘Europe’ book very soon and am looking forward to it. I’m indebted to you for bringing it to my attention in the first place. (Also Simon Ings’s ‘Wolves’).

    I enjoyed Chris Beckett’s ‘Dark Eden’ so am curious about his new one. I’ve also heard great things about ‘Luna’ in the blogoverse, so it looks like my TBR pile will just keep on growing. (Any chance of a photo of yours Megan? I have visions of it filling a room!)

    I’d be interested to read your thoughts on the Jeff Noon short story. I was a fan many years ago but have since lost track of his output. Will have to have a look on the net.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Argh, I meant to leave a comment on your blog about my invisible TBR pile! I’ll go do that right now!

      I know you’ve been reading your way through the BSFAs, so you already know what kind of special novels can come from that group. I think you’ll love Hutchinson and Ings. For great McDonald stuff, look elsewhere… he’s basically just Heinleining with Luna, which makes it worth reading for the jabs at The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but definitely not McDonald signature stuff. It got him a TV deal, though, so good on him.

      As for Beckett, he’s been on the never-to-be TBR for the past couple of years, but this list is as good excuse as any to give the Eden books an actual read.

      I’ll probably do a conglomeration post about the short fiction some time in March, so I’ll include a quick review of the Jeff Noon story.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. […] cover because it’s always a weird list that I never know what to make of it, and the BSFA Award shortlist, which I talk about all the time, the Nebulas and the Kitschies have now […]


  10. […] chatter, I tossed in my uninformed book award opinions of the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List, the 2015 BSFA award shortlist, and the 2015 Nebula and Kitschies award shortlists. I have committed to reading the BSFA list, and […]


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