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A short post on the BSFA Award short lists

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Yesterday, Torque Control posted the short lists for the BSFA Awards – novel, short fiction, non-fiction, and artwork. Since I’m a member of the British Science Fiction Association, and usually attend the annual Eastercon, they’re the only awards in which I have any input. Congrats to all those short-listed.

The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit)
I bought a copy of this last week in Waterstone’s 3 for 2, so I fully expect to have read it by Easter.

Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Angry Robot)
I’ve heard this is good; must pick up a copy.

The Restoration Game, Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
My review here.

The Dervish House, Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
Not read this. I was waiting for the paperback, and then I was almost certainly going to buy it.

Lightborn, Tricia Sullivan (Orbit)
Not read this, either.

Best Short Fiction
‘Flying in the Face of God’, Nina Allen (Interzone 227, TTA Press)
I remember reading this one and… I didn’t like it. It was about an astronaut, and the details didn’t convince in the slightest. That threw me straight out of the story, and as a result I didn’t care about the characters or the relationship between them.

‘The Shipmaker’, Aliette de Bodard (Interzone 231, TTA Press)
Have yet to read this. Will rectify that this week.

‘The Things’, Peter Watts (Clarkesworld 40)
This was one of last year’s stories in Torque Control’s Short Story Club. Most seemed to think it good, but I wasn’t so impressed. The conceit just didn’t seem strong for a story, and its unremitting grimness struck me as a poor reason to bother trying to write one.

‘Arrhythmia’, Neil Williamson (Music for Another World, Mutation Press)
The best story in a good anthology. And to my mind the only story which really belongs on this short list.

Best Non-Fiction
Blogging the Hugos: Decline, Paul Kincaid (Big Other)
This series of four articles I read as they were posted, and enjoyed. I also agree with Kincaid’s conclusions. And yet… In 2009 Kincaid was short-listed, but did not win, for What it is We Do When We Read Science Fiction, a much more substantial work – in fact, the posts above would likely have been no more than a single essay in that book.

Review: With Both Feet in the Clouds, Abigail Nussbaum (Asking the Wrong Questions Blogspot)
I have not read the book of which this is a review, nor was I especially interested in doing so. I’ll read the review now, but only because it has been short-listed. Which sort of misses the point a little…

Review: Wheel of Time, Adam Roberts (Punkadiddle)
Roberts’ reviews of eleven books of Jordan’s Wheel of Time may well have changed the way many people think about the series. I remember reading the books myself. They were pretty bad – derivative, flabby, badly-written, full of dumb writing tics – but the story pulled you through Jordan’s eye-burning prose. I’ve never really understood the series’ great popularity and while Roberts’ reviews didn’t explain that, they were certainly more entertaining than the books themselves.

Red Plenty, Francis Spufford (Faber and Faber)
I must pick up a copy of this, it does sound as if it would appeal to me.

The Notes from Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K Wolfe
An odd choice – not the podcasts themselves, but a list of the contents of the podcasts. Is that not a bit like nominating the contents page of an anthology?
EDIT: apparently the nomination is for the podcasts themselves, and just wrongly titled to refer to the notes giving their contents. That makes more sense.

Best Art
Cover for Conflicts, Andy Bigwood (Newcon Press)
Cover for Fun With Rainbows by Gareth Owens, Charlie Harbour (Immersion Press)
Cover for The Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Dominic Harman (Gollancz)
Cover for Zoo City, by Lauren Beukes, Joey Hi-Fi (Angry Robot)
‘A Deafened Plea for Peace’, cover for Crossed Genres 21, Ben Greene
Cover for Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, Adam Tredowski (Corvus)

And now a few thoughts: the novels show a good spread across the genre. Enough said. The short fiction… two from Interzone, one from an original (small press) anthology, and one from an online magazine. I’d have expected more from online sources. Perhaps BSFA members still prefer printed fiction. Except four of the five non-fiction short list are from the Web. Were there so few works of relevant non-fiction published in 2010 that only online reviews/articles were nominated? I would have expected something more… substantial to have made the cut.

I also think it may be time to limit BSFA nominations to UK-only published works. And perhaps even limit the number of nominations per member. But that’s a post for another day…

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