The Kitschies 2012 Finalists

The Kitschies 2012 Finalists were announced a week ago, on the same day as the BSFA 2012 shortlists. In exactly a month, on February 26th, the winners of the Kitschies will be announced – giving us only a month in which to ponder the strange and unexpected patterns thrown out by filtered groups of six novels. (In contrast, we have until late March to contemplate what the BSFA shortlists Mean, and the Clarke and Hugo shortlists are yet to come.)

This is the yearly game of literary award shortlist watchers: explain the nature of the voting membership/judges/panel from a list of four to six items. No bonus points for it reaffirming how the group/organisation conforms to whatever stereotypes it has.

The Kitschies have two different judging panels, one for the novels and another for the cover art. Rebecca Levene, Patrick Ness and Jared Shurin filtered out the following from the 211 submissions for 2012:

The Red Tentacle (Novel)

Jesse Bullington, The Folly of the World (Orbit)
Nick Harkaway, Angelmaker (William Heinemann)
Frances Hardinge, A Face Like Glass (Macmillan Children’s)
Adam Roberts, Jack Glass (Gollancz)
Julie Zeh (translated by Sally-Ann Spencer), The Method (Harvill Secker)

The Golden Tentacle (Debut):

Madeline Ashby, vN (Angry Robot)
Jenni Fagan, The Panopticon (William Heinemann)
Rachel Hartman, Seraphina (Doubleday)
Karen Lord, Redemption in Indigo (Jo Fletcher Books)
Tom Pollock, The City’s Son (Jo Fletcher Books)

Meanwhile, Lauren O’Farrell, Gary Northfield and Ed Warren had the task of shortlisting cover art.

The Inky Tentacle (Cover Art):

Tom Gauld, Costume Not Included by Matthew Hughes (Angry Robot)
Oliver Jeffers, The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne (Doubleday)
Dave Shelton, A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton (David Fickling Books)
Peter Mendelsund, The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus (Granta)
La Boca, The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman (Sceptre)

A question I have been somewhat idly pondering: does the cover art panel also need to read all the eligible submissions, in order to see how well the cover has synergies with the book’s contents? Or does the Inky Tentacle go to the cover whose progressiveness, intelligence, and entertainingness are self-sufficient unto it? They are rather different ways of judging the material.

Some of the discussions of the Kitschies shortlists so far, including in the post comments (with lots of bonus BSFA shortlist discussions!):
Niall Harrison at Strange Horizons.
David Hebblethwaithe at Follow the Thread.
Martin Petto at Everything is Nice on the art awards.

New Year’s Nominations

I’m a big believer in making new year’s resolutions with very clear end points. I want to know that I’ve achieved them. Move countries. Buy a scale. That kind of thing.

A good candidate for a resolution with a clear goal is award nominations. Submit at least one nomination for at least one science fiction award in 2013.

You have only ten more days to nominate works for the BSFA Awards; its deadline is January 11th. If you haven’t already, and can think of one or more worthy nominees (which you didn’t create yourself) in the categories of novel published in the UK, short story, artwork, or non-fiction, then go forth and nominate.  Don’t assume that just because someone else has

If you’re a member of 2014’s Loncon3 (and many of you are!), then you also have the right to nominate for this year’s Hugo awards. Voting on the winners is restricted to members of this year’s Worldcon, LonestarCon3, but until Sunday, March 10, 2013, 11:59 p.m. EDT, the nominations are open.

Whether or not you make a resolution to do so this year, consider nominating anyways. Relatively often, the exact makeup of the shortlists (especially for the BSFA Award, but also for some of the less-nominated-for categories of the Hugos) can be decided by a single nomination.

Happy 2013!

Tentacular Grapplings

This post is the first in a series here on Torque Control from Ian Whates.

***

The world of awards seems to be an ever-expanding one, with more and more accolades being presented in every field going. Genre fiction is no exception. In this country alone we have the BSFA Awards, the Clarke, the Gemmells, the British Fantasy Awards, the James White Award, and that’s not even considering global awards such as the Hugos, Nebulas, World Fantasy and Stoker awards, or those voted on by the readers of various magazines… So is there really room for another set of awards?

The Kitschies are the new kids on the block, and their organisers would argue that there certainly is. 2011’s winners were announced at a ceremony during the SFX weekender in February 2012, and, with an expanding set of categories and increasing prize money, the Kitschies are certainly hard to ignore. We asked the organisers, Anne Perry and Jared Shurin, to tell us a bit about the awards and to explain why they’re so different. In particular, they’ve focussed on the Golden Tentacle, awarded for best debut novel.

As a follow-up to this, we’ll be taking a look at each of the novels shortlisted for the Golden Tentacle over the next few months, to get an idea of what makes the Kitschies tick.

“The Kitschies’ shortlists are selected based on strict criteria: progressive, intelligent and entertaining books with elements of the speculative or fantastic. Within those terms, we try to err on the side of inclusivity, and allow each year’s judges the freedom to bring in their own perspective.

Although debut novels are judged by the same criteria (progressive, intelligent, entertaining), they’re a separate category for several reasons. The first is for the authors. There’s something warm and cuddly about discovery. We get to encourage new talent, authors who may not already have an existing audience or support structure. Bringing new books to readers’ attention: that’s the best thing that any award can do.

The second is for the books. This oversimplifies things terribly, but there are different expectations of a debut novel. These are new voices; writers who are challenging their categories in order to wedge their way onto crowded shelves. New authors have to work even harder to get readers’ attention – they need to be brasher, louder, more aggressive. The resulting books are often more raw: shoutier, less polished but, in many cases, also more daring.

The third is for the judges. This is the fun category. Everything is new; the expectations are different. With a debut novel, there are no middle volumes in long series; less predisposition, hype and (hopefully) scandal. In our oversaturated marketing environment, reading a debut is as close as we can get to judging in a vacuum. There’s just the text itself, and whatever surprises it may hold.

The 2011 finalists were an exceptionally diverse group containing (if you’ll pardon the labels): space opera, paranormal romance, epic fantasy, YA and splatterpunk horror. Of course, none of them fit neatly within the boundaries, and if there’s one thing that unites all five titles, it is the fact that they aggressively challenge readers’ assumptions. Several of these titles have gone on to be nominated for – and win – other awards, while others have crept along more quietly.

The Kitschies’ mission is not to dictate taste, but to encourage discussion. For that very reason (and others), we’re grateful to the BSFA for setting up this series. Whether or not you agree with our panel’s selections (and we expect that not everyone will), we hope you enjoy the conversation.” – Anne and Jared.

Guess-the-Arthur-C-Clarke-Award-Shortlist Contest Winner

At long, long last, SCI-FI London begins today, the winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award will be announced on Wednesday, and we have a winner for the Guess-the-Clarke Shortlist contest!

Thanks to the generosity of the Clarke Award, the winner will receive a copy of every book on the shortlist.

Three entries, submitted by Nicholas Whyte, Duncan Lawie, and Kenny Lucius, tied for first place, with four correct guesses each. For comparative purposes, I note that all three correctly guessed Embassytown and Rule 34.

Contest judge Tom Hunter has drawn the winning name from the hat… and the winner is Duncan Lawie!

Arthur C Clarke Award Shortlist 2012

The Waiting, Part I, is over, and this year’s Clarke Award shortlist is out. (Since it was released all of twelve hours ago, many or most of you reading this are already well-aware that it’s out.)

There are five members of the jury, which this year is comprised of Juliet E McKenna (BSFA), Martin Lewis (BSFA), Phil Nanson (SFF), Nikkianne Moody, SFF, and Rob Grant (SCI-FI-LONDON film festival), with Andrew M. Butler representing the Arthur C. Clarke Award as the Chair of Judges. The jury read the sixty books submitted to the award, ruled out the ones they considered to not be science fiction, and from the rest, chose what they collectively agreed (through however much argument and compromise) to be the best six works of science fiction published in Britain in 2011.

  • Greg Bear, Hull Zero Three (Gollancz)
  • Drew Magary, The End Specialist (Harper Voyager)
  • China Miéville, Embassytown (Macmillan)
  • Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb (Sandstone Press)
  • Charles Stross, Rule 34 (Orbit)
  • Sheri S.Tepper, The Waters Rising (Gollancz)

There’s plenty of commentary elsewhere about the items actually on the shortlist. I’ll be number-crunching all of the entries in the Guess the Shortlist contest in another day or so, although some of that analysis has already been done elsewhere.

There’ll be even more speculation available at the SFF’s Not-the-Clarke Award panel at Eastercon on Saturday, 7 April, at 17:30 (but only if you’re an Eastercon member this year; join now if you haven’t already and plan to attend, as they’re on course to sell out this week, before the convention.).

But meanwhile, speaking of the Clarke Award, have a look at its tasteful, newly-redesigned website!

Reading Books of 2012

With those extra days’ reprieve for online nomination for the BSFA Awards, I went back to see what I’d read that had been published in 2011. I knew it hadn’t been much. Six novels. Two short story collections.

I vowed I would do better this year.

The problem is, award season is such a distraction because it highlights all those interesting 2011 books I didn’t get around to reading in the calendar year itself, but which I bought, or noted, or for which I put in library requests. I want to finish reading the BSFA award shortlists. I’d like to read A Monster Calls, newly winner of the Red Tentacle at yesterday’s Kitschies. I know I’ll be tempted by the Clarke Award shortlist, the Hugo shortlists…. and it’s not as if one desire precludes the other goal.

Last year’s books are the shiny things I’m reading about right now, not the new ones, the potential winners of next years’ awards, the books which are only just beginning to be read. Last year’s are the ones I have handy already, the ones I know I’ll read at some point anyways, and I could just pick one up now since I already have it in the house….

I know it’ll be easier later in the year, when the awards peter out and novels published earlier in 2012 have had the time to accrue a critical mass of other peoples’ recommendations or reminders, in a way that the award-neglected books of Decembers’ publishings rarely do in time for the next round of award nominations.

There are still the better part of eleven months to go before other peoples’ “best of 2012″ lists start appearing. But it sure feels like a betrayal of new resolution to begin 2012 by reading lots of last year’s books.

Awards to come

This weekend’s awards were the Hugos. (See the survey of initial reactions at Strange Horizons.) The UK and the UK SF community did fairly well out of them, even if this country-as-setting was, by many accounts, the weak point in the best novel winner of Blackout/All Clear. Still, between Claire Brialey, James Bacon, Dr Who episodes, and relatedly Chicks Dig Time Lords, Britain would not have done half badly, if this were a country contest. Which it is not.

But the BSFA awards are to some degree, and, although BSFA members can nominate year-round for them, we are coming up to that time of year when nominations are officially open for the awards: the beginning of September.

In the meantime, the rules and guidelines for the 2012 BSFA awards have just gone live over on the BSFA website.

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