Thursday, April 30, 2009

Locus Awards Finalists

Locus, the newspaper of the SFF field, released earlier this week the list of finalists for their annual popularly-voted awards. As in past years, the winners are already known in the hallowed hall of Locus, since voting is over. But the rest of us will have to guess what those winners are, until the big ceremony during the Science Fiction Awards Weekend in Seattle in late June.

  • Matter, Iain M. Banks (Orbit UK)
  • City at the End of Time, Greg Bear (Gollancz, Del Rey)
  • Marsbound, Joe Haldeman (Ace)
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson (Atlantic UK, Morrow)
  • Saturn's Children, Charles Stross (Orbit, Ace)
I've read Matter and Saturn's Children without loving either of them, and I've got Marsbound on the teetering to-be-read pile. I keep vaguely feeling like reading City at the End of Time, but then I look at how long it is and the feeling goes away. And I have no desire at all to look at Anathem, which means it will certainly win and be acclaimed the definitive SF novel of last year.

  • The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow)
  • Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt)
  • The Bell at Sealey Head, Patricia A. McKillip (Ace)
  • The Dragons of Babel, Michael Swanwick (Tor)
  • An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe (Tor)
I've read Evil Guest and Dragons of Babel, both of which are decent books with serious flaws (the Swanwick is a fix-up and shows it; the Wolfe is another entry in his list of odd supposed-to-be-women). I want to read Sealey Head and Shadow Year. I haven't seriously wanted to touch a Le Guin book since she started preaching and stopped storytelling about twenty years ago -- so, again, I expect she'll win.

  • Thunderer, Felix Gilman (Bantam Spectra)
  • Black Ships, Jo Graham (Orbit US)
  • Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory (Ballantine Del Rey)
  • The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway (William Heinemann, Knopf)
  • Singularity's Ring, Paul Melko (Tor)
The only one I've read is the Melko, which was a solid first novel. The Gregory and Harkaway are still around somewhere, in case I have the time and desire. The Gilman looks like fun, but I've never picked it up in person to glance at the prose. And the Graham is a book I know very little about.

  • Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (Tor)
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, Bloomsbury)
  • Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Knopf)
  • Nation, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK, HarperCollins)
  • Zoe's Tale, John Scalzi (Tor)
I've read everything but the Lanagan -- which, again, is around somewhere. The Scalzi is not technically a Young-Adult book, but that's splitting a very fine hair. Nation is very Pratchetty, in all the usual good and bad ways. (Ditto Little Brother wrt Doctorowianness.) I'd probably lean towards the Gaiman book myself, but, since the Lanagan is something that I'd have to force myself to read, I expect it will win. (I'm being extraordinarily pessimistic this year; it helps to simplify things.)

  • "The Erdmann Nexus", Nancy Kress (Asimov’s 10-11/08)
  • "Pretty Monsters", Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters)
  • "The Tear", Ian McDonald (Galactic Empires)
  • Once Upon a Time in the North, Philip Pullman (Knopf)
  • "True Names", Benjamin Rosenbaum & Cory Doctorow (Fast Forward 2)
Haven't read a one of them. I'll root for the McDonald story, for old times' sake.


  • "Pump Six", Paolo Bacigalupi (Pump Six and Other Stories)
  • "The Ice War", Stephen Baxter (Asimov’s 9/08)
  • "Shoggoths in Bloom", Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 3/08)
  • "The Things that Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away", Cory Doctorow ( 8/08)
  • "Pride and Prometheus", John Kessel (F&SF 1/08)
Ditto on not reading short fiction, and I have no useful opinion on this category.

  • "King Pelles the Sure", Peter S. Beagle (Strange Roads)
  • "Boojum", Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette (Fast Ships, Black Sails)
  • "Exhalation", Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • "The Kindness of Strangers", Nancy Kress (Fast Forward 2)
  • "After the Coup", John Scalzi ( 7/08)
And I plead ignorance for the third time.

  • Analog
  • Asimov's
  • F&SF
  • Realms of Fantasy
  • Subterranean
Wow! There are still magazines being published! I'm very out of touch with short fiction, so I can't say any more than that.

  • Ace
  • Baen
  • Night Shade Books
  • Subterranean Press
  • Tor
I have no idea how anyone determines their vote in this category -- publisher that had the most books I personally liked? publisher that did the fewest books I loathed? publisher who gave me the biggest advance? Tor wins this every year anyway.

  • The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: 21st Annual Collection, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin Grant, eds. (St. Martin's Griffin)
  • Galactic Empires, Gardner Dozois, ed. (SFBC)
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fifth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. St. Martin's)
  • Eclipse Two, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade Books)
  • The Starry Rift, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Viking)
I've read none of these, and am vaguely rooting for Starry Rift for Alma Mater reasons. I do think any category that mixes original and reprint anthologies is confusing and weird -- they're very different things -- but Locus never asked my opinion on the matter. I suspect Eclipse Two will win.

  • Pump Six and Other Stories, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books)
  • The Drowned Life, Jeffrey Ford (HarperPerennial)
  • Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link (Viking)
  • The Best of Lucius Shepard, Lucius Shepard (Subterranean Press)
  • The Best of Michael Swanwick, Michael Swanwick (Subterranean Press)
Haven't read any; have or want to read most of them. (Though I've read nearly all of the stories in the Swanwick and probably half of the Shepard.) I'd normally think Link would win, but Pretty Monsters is a mix-and-match collection of mostly stories from her two previous collections, aimed at a YA market. So I'm unsure.

  • Ellen Datlow
  • Gardner Dozois
  • David G. Hartwell
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Gordon Van Gelder
All very respectable names, whom I'm all at least moderately friendly with, so I'll maintain a dignified, self-preserving silence.

  • Bob Eggleton
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan
  • Charles Vess
  • Michael Whelan
I'm a bit out of the loop these days, so I might have missed a flood of new Whelan art in the genre...but I doubt it. Folks, he stopped working regularly on SFF art a good decade ago, and you really need to let go. (He does do a cover or two a year, but that's about it.) SF people are remarkably conservative for whiz-bang sensawunda folks.

  • Spectrum 15: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood Books)
  • What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction, Paul Kincaid (Beccon)
  • Rhetorics of Fantasy, Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Coraline: The Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell (HarperCollins)
  • Tales From Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan (Allen & Unwin; Scholastic '09)
I've read the three of these with the fewest words, which is sadly typical of me. I want to read the other two, but somehow doubt I ever will. I suspect the Mendelsohn will win; it sounds like a really interesting book that crystallized a lot of vague thinking about fantasy. (That is, it will win if the vast Gaiman-loving audience doesn't just vote in Coraline out of habit.)


Michael said...

"SF people are remarkably conservative for whiz-bang sensawunda folks."

Oh my yes.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Do you not like Neal Stephenson? I've read Anathem, and thought it was great, but I'm a big fan of his.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Matthew: I fell out of the habit of reading Stephenson with that bug-crushing historical trilogy, and haven't felt much desire to jump back in. I also dislike books that long on principle; they take too long to read and are ungainly to hold.

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