We are well into the 11 months of SF Book Award Season. Adding to the PKD Award shortlist, which I didn’t 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 arrived.
The Nebula Rundown
Announced this weekend, SFWA revealed their very predictable Nebula award shortlist, predictable thanks especially to Chaos Horizon’s bang on analysis. I have read none of the Best Novel list, and have zero to very slight interest in bothering with it. (Though I have the Liu and will probably give it a go, and I have greatly enjoyed Novik in the past.) I’m not sure why, but ever since I started paying attention to SF discourse– just a few years ago– I’ve been leery of anything that comes from the SFWA lot. I just don’t get the sense that I have anything in common with them as a reader. And I never regret not reading the Nebulas. (The ’60s and ’70s Nebulas are a different story entirely.)
But biases aside, were these really the Best SF Novels of 2015?
Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)
The Kitschies Rundown:
For me, things are always greener on the other side of the Atlantic fence, and the Kitschies prove that by releasing their very interesting 2015 shortlists today. With a revolving door selection jury, the Kitschies lists always strike me as fresh and surprising, though a little too jigsawed in what seems like an attempt to select from every kind of subgenre. What I like most about the Kitschies is they have a kind of slow burn: novels I’ve never noticed before suddenly get this second life and start pinging my radar all year long. For that reason, I always regret not reading the Kitschies.
But who has the time? It’s impossible to play along and read both novel shortlists before the ceremony date, which, if other potential readers think like me, probably affects potential sales for these lucky nominees. This is especially true this year because the winner will be announced on March 7th. Two weeks away!
The Red Tentacle (Novel):
- The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury)
- Europe at Midnight, by Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
- The Reflection, by Hugo Wilcken (Melville House)
- The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit)
- The Thing Itself, by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
- The Shore, by Sara Taylor (William Heinemann)
- Blackass, by A. Igoni Barrett (Chatto and Windus)
- The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan (Harvill Secker)
- The Night Clock, by Paul Meloy (Solaris)
- Making Wolf, by Tade Thompson (Rosarium)
The Hutchinson (my review) and Roberts noms are no surprise (I’m rewarding myself with The Thing Itself every time I reach a milestone in zzzzzzFeastforCrowszzzz), the Atwood nom is a mainstream surprise, and Jemison’s appearance on both lists is no surprise given her skyrocketing popularity (perhaps her writing has evolved since her wheel-spinning Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?). The other novels have been in my blindspot (which is why the Kitschies are so important). See the rest of the list here.
I don’t know if we’ll see the Hugos or the Tiptrees or the Clarkes next, but they all showed up in early April last year. I’ll nominate for the Hugos– which is just another example of my extraordinary tolerance for futility– but I’m more interested in what unique novels the Clarke and Tiptree juries will select this year. I had a great time sampling from the Tiptree list last year.
Given the humdrum Nebula list and the too-rapidly approaching Kitschies ceremony date, I’ll probably commit to reading only the BSFA list for now, but I’ll probably sample from these other lists throughout the year as buzz picks up. Any recommendations?