Follow me readers, to a bold and wonderous land of SFF awards that are not the Hugos. The 2015 Hugo Award nomination debacle has firmly cemented the award’s intrinsic drama in my mind. And really, did the Hugo nominees and winners really speak to my taste? Well, no. So I have resolved to follow the remaining SFF awards more closely in an attempt to find the award best suited to my readerly obsessions. May I one day soon find uncharted mines to plunder for new favorite authors.
Up for examination today are the winners most recently announced for The James Tiptree Jr Literary Award, The British Science Fiction Association Awards, and The Philip K. Dick Award. My money is on the Philip K. Dick award being my favorite, but then again, I am biased when it comes to things with his name on them.
And the 2015 winners are…
The Tiptree Award
First awarded in 1991, the Tiptree Award is for books that “expand or explore one’s understanding of gender.” Named for Alice B. Sheldon, who published science fiction under the name James Tiptree, Jr, conceived of by Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy, and selected by a jury, the 2015 award (that means the award for work published in 2014) was awarded to two books and authors. The honor list, long list, and list of winners past look like decent, reliable places from which to pluck your next book.
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
This book received a lot of internet hype over the last year, but of the kind that rather than making me run to a safe place from which I can eye the book warily, makes me curious and hopeful. It involves a journey on a floating road that spans the world and has been described as equal parts “Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Erin Morgenstern.” I have it on my shelf right now, and you can expect a review from me in the coming months.
My Real Children by Jo Walton
I fucking loved Jo Walton’s Among Others, though I admit to lukewarm reactions to the summary of My Real Children about the multiple worlds of a woman with dementia. While it does sound interesting, it isn’t ringing any of my “read this now” bells.
The BSFA (British Science Fiction Association) Awards
Like the Hugo, the BSFA Awards are fan awards (for members of the BSFA and, more recently Eastercon), and like the Hugo, they contain multiple categories: Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Non-Fiction, and Best Art. If you want to know who won in all cases this year, go here. As for the winner for best novel…
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Sigh. Last year the first book in Leckie’s trilogy, Ancillary Justice, won just about every SFF award there is. Which is cool, particularly as it apparently plays around with gender issues. I, however, am not particularly interested in the book and was hoping to move onto something else this year. Considering how many interesting things were on the BSFA nomination list for Best Novel this year, I am surprised that Ancillary Sword is what came out on top. Oh well. Looks like for now this award isn’t going to be the new award I rabidly follow.
The Philip K. Dick Award
A glance at the back-list of nominee’s tells me that this award does tend to include mind-bendy fictions in the spirit of P.K. Dick, though whether or not the winners will appeal to lovers of PK’s work remains to be tested (by me, by reading the whole backlist, maybe next year). The nominees and winners of the Philip K. Dick award tend to be wildly different from those on other lists, I can only assume because we are talking about “distinguished science fiction” blessed by lovers of P.K. Dick’s work, because we are limited to books “published in paperback original form,” and because we are limited to the United States. It is selected by a jury, and was created by Thomas Disch.
Though women are consistently nominated (though not on an equal basis to that of men), this year is the first time a woman has won since 2009. Seven women have won the award in 23 award years. In case you are curious about that kind of thing.
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
Get it: Amazon
Until this moment, I had heard absolutely nothing about this book. First impression via the title: meh. Second impression via the cover: meh. Third impression via a summary of the plot on Goodreads: HOLY SHIT IT IS POST-APOCAYLPTIC WITH DISCUSSIONS OF SEXISM ok, ok I was wrong, I was wrong! “The apocalypse will be asymmetrical,” says the first line of the summary. From the sounds of the issues in the novel’s focus, this could easily have won a Tiptree as well. *puts it on the “buy soon” list*
Special citation: Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
Elysium is a fascinating, experimental book that you won’t believe is Brissett’s debut once you read it. Apocalypse, identity, shifting realities, and an atmospheric computer program. This book absolutely deserves recognition from an award with the name of P.K. Dick on it.
Read my review of Elysium at the link.
Awards to watch
I will be keeping a closer eye on the Tiptree, particularly depending on what I think of The Girl in the Road when I read it later this month. I will be looking into the Philip K. Dick award as well, though not at the winners, but at the nominees. I see myself picking a nominee from each year’s list to try on for size in the next couple of years. As for the BSFA Awards? That one is give or take. Looks like popular awards aren’t often my cup of coffee.