The OF Blog: Brief thoughts on the 2014 Locus Awards finalists

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Brief thoughts on the 2014 Locus Awards finalists

Locus Magazine has just announced the finalists in several categories for their annual Locus Awards.  The bolded titles are ones that I've read and the ones in italics are ones that I own but haven't yet finished reading.  Brief commentaries on the shortlists at the end of each category.

  • MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart; Bloomsbury; Talese)
  • Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • The Best of All Possible Worlds, Karen Lord (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher UK)
  • Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
I've only read the Lord, which I found to be mediocre, and my previous experiences with "Corey" and Stross have soured me on ever reading anything of theirs, so while I might read the Atwood and Robinson (both authors' previous works I've enjoyed in the past), this does not strike me as a shortlist that would interest me.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • NOS4A2, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz as NOS4R2)
  • River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc; Viking Canada; HarperCollins UK)
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch (Del Rey; Gollancz)
  I liked, but did not love, the Gaiman novel.  I eventually will get around to buying/reading the Lynch.  Doubtful for the Kay, as I did not like his previous quasi-China novel, and I'm uncertain if I'll get around to read the father and son stories.  Slightly better than the Science Fiction shortlist, but not by much.

  • Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
  • Homeland, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; Titan)
  • The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
  • The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends)
  The Johnson was longlist last year for the National Book Awards and while I had some problems with its setting and characterizations, it was a decent enough YA novel.  The Valente I'll buy in the near future.  The Doctorow I have no interest in reading.  Might get the Black sometime.  Doubtful for the Bacigalupi, as zombies are beyond clichéd for me now.  Mixed bag here.

  • The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, Emily Croy Barker (Dorman)
  • The Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney (Roc)
  • Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
  • A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
  • The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)
  The Wecker was one of my Top 25 2013 Releases selection, so I am very pleased to see it make this shortlist.  The Samatar was also quite good.  I seem to be in the minority in finding the Leckie to be a mediocre story dressed with nice baubles.  Uncertain if I'll read the other two finalists.  Probably the best of the three "adult" novel-length shortlists, though.

  • Wakulla Springs”, Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages ( 10/2/13)
  • “Black Helicopters”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • “The Princess and the Queen”, George R.R. Martin (Dangerous Women)
  • “Precious Mental”, Robert Reed (Asimov’s 6/13)
  • “Six-Gun Snow White”, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
  Haven't read any yet, so no opinion other than at least three of the finalists have produced similar-length stories that I enjoyed in the past.

  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean Fall ’13)
  • “The Waiting Stars”, Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
  • A Terror”, Jeffrey Ford ( 7/24/13)
  • “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, Neil Gaiman (Rags and Bones)
  • “The Prayer of Ninety Cats”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean Spring ’13)
  Again, haven't read any of these stories, but each of these authors has written stories that I loved in the past.

  • “Some Desperado”, Joe Abercrombie (Dangerous Women)
  • “The Science of Herself”, Karen Joy Fowler (The Science of Herself)
  • “The Road of Needles”, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
  • “A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel”, Ken Liu (F&SF 1-2/13)
  • “The Dead Sea-Bottom Scrolls”, Howard Waldrop (Old Mars)
  See what I said above, minus the Abercrombie, which is a taste I still haven't quite acquired.

  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Tor)
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin; Robinson as The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 26)
  • Unnatural Creatures, Neil Gaiman & Maria Dahvana Headley, eds. (Harper; Bloomsbury)
  • Old Mars, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam)
  • The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Seven, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
Seems like a retread shortlist, to be honest.  It'd be nice if more original fiction anthologies were nominated each year.
  • The Best of Joe Haldeman, Joe Haldeman (Subterranean)
  • The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Kabu Kabu, Nnedi Okorafor (Prime)
  • The Bread We Eat in Dreams, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)
  • The Best of Connie Willis, Connie Willis (Del Rey)
  The Kiernan, Okorafor, and Valente interest me the most out of this shortlist.

  • Asimov’s
  • Clarkesworld
  • F&SF
  • Subterranean
  I probably should read more and Clarkesworld stories.  Asimov's and F&SF do not interest me much.  Not familiar with Subterranean's output.

  • Angry Robot
  • Orbit
  • Small Beer
  • Subterranean
  • Tor Books
  If I bother to vote, it'd probably be for Small Beer, as I seem to read/enjoy a higher percentage of their recent releases.

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Gardner Dozois
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
  Some very good people on this list.

  • Bob Eggleton
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan
  • Charles Vess
  • Michael Whelan
  Same as above, although I am most familiar with Shaun Tan's work as an illustrated novelist.

  • Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings, Stefan Ekman (Wesleyan)
  • Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler, Rebecca J. Holden & Nisi Shawl, eds. (Aqueduct)
  • The Man From Mars: Ray Palmer’s Amazing Pulp Journey, Fred Nadis (Tarcher)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, Jeff VanderMeer (Abrams Image)
  • Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture, Ytasha L. Womack (Lawrence Hill)
  I'm still slowly reading Wonderbook, but it's very good.  Unlikely to read the others.

  • Hannes Bok, Hannes Bok: A Life in Illustration, Joseph Wrzos, ed. (Centipede)
  • Margaret Brundage, The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage, Stephen D. Korshak & J. David Spurlock, eds. (Vanguard)
  • Spectrum 20: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
  • Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work, Justin G. Schiller, Dennis M.V. David & Leonard S. Marcus, eds. (Abrams)
  • Shaun Tan, Rules of Summer (Hachette Australia; Hodder Children’s; Levine ’14)
I would most like to read Spectrum 20 and the Tan out of this shortlist.

As for the lists as a whole, they seem to be more middle-of-the-road, containing "safer" choices, but ones that will not as easily raise the ire of those for "political" reasons. 

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