- Best Fancast
- The Skiffy and Fanty Show (Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, Rachael Acks, David Annandale, Jen Zink, and Trish Matson)
- Totally Pretentious (Shaun Duke and David Annandale)
long list, which you should check out to see all the great stuff I enjoyed. You might also check out the 2016 Hugo Awards Reading/Watching List, which includes works from my original list and works suggested by readers. As with every year of the awards, these selections are based entirely on my own tastes, which are imperfect, narrow, and weird. The winners are below the fold. Some of the categories include runners up; the categories that do not contained far fewer entries on the long list, and so including a short list would basically have included the long list anyway. Read More
- Best Fancast: The Skiffy and Fanty Show (Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, Rachael Acks, David Annandale, and Jen Zink); Totally Pretentious (Shaun Duke and David Annandale)
- Best Non-Fiction Work: Speculative Fiction 2014: The Year's Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary edited by Renee Williams and Shaun Duke (Book Smugglers Publishing)
But now the awards are back like a weird plague that never really goes away, but takes brief hiatuses to make you feel safe from its wicked grasp.
To make up for the absence of the awards last year, I'm going to double up this year, which makes this doubly hard, since I cannot fall to temptation by allowing myself to select best books or movies I enjoyed in 2014, even though I'm basically in love with so many things right now (new and old).
First, the rules:
- I must have consumed the item in 2013 or 2014.
- No more than 3 runners up per category.
- I can drop or add categories as necessary.
- I will use "genre" to mean "science fiction and fantasy" in order to distinguish categories without using 3 extra words.
2014 Selection: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway Books)
Runners Up: Breach Zone by Myke Cole (Ace Books), Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit Books), and The Violent Century by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder and Stoughton)
2013 Selection: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit Books)
Runners Up: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (Little, Brown, and Company), Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan (Orbit Books), and Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central Publishing)
Best Collection or Anthology
2014 Selection: N/AFor some monumentally stupid reason, I have not read enough collections or anthologies this year, which means I am a terrible person...
2013 Selection: Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee (Prime Books)
Runners Up: Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall (Rosarium Publishing) and The Love Machine and Other Contraptions by Nir Yaniv (infinity plus)
2014 Selection: Tor Books
Runners Up: Angry Robot Books, Orbit Books, and Hodder and Stoughton
2013 Selection: Orbit Books
Runners Up: Tor Books, Angry Robot Books, and Hodder and Stoughton
2014 Selection: Tor.com
Runners Up: Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons and Interzone
2013 Selection: Clarkesworld
Runners Up: Strange Horizons, Interzone, and Tor.com
2014 Selection: The Pilgrims by Will Elliot (art by Kekai Kotaki)
2013 Selection: Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond edited by Bill Campbell and Edward Austin Hall (art by John Jennings)
2014 Selection: Interstellar (2014; Christopher Nolan)one of the top 10 science fiction films since 2000. Having seen it three times, I am still in awe of the film's breadth. It is not just epic in scale, but in intellectual depth, too, exploring the dynamic structure of human selfhood through a tale of space exploration, salvation, and redemption. If there is one film that deserves recognition as a cinematic achievement this year, Nolan's magnum opus is it.
Runners Up: Jodorovsky's Dune (2013), Snowpiercer (2013), and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
2013 Selection: Pacific Rim (2013)
Runners Up: The World's End (2013), Her (2013), and Gravity (2013).
Best Genre Television Show
2014 Selection: Arrow (2012-Present)
Runners Up: How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014), Supernatural (Seasons One and Two), and
2013 Selection: Sleep Hollow (2013-present)
Runners Up: Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005), Game of Thrones (2011-present), and Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001)
Best Non-Genre Film
2014 Selection: A Most Wanted Man (2014)
Runners Up: Chef (2014)
2013 Selection: 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Runners Up: Captain Phillips (2013)
Best Non-Genre Television Show
2014 Selection: Vikings (2013-present)
Runners Up: The Following (2013-present), Hannibal (2013-present) and The League (2009-present).
2013 Selection: The Following (2013-present)
Runners Up: Hannibal (2013-present) and Vikings (2013-present)
Best Podcast (That Isn't The Skiffy and Fanty Show)
2014 Selection: Doorway to the Hidden WorldA sleeper classic if there ever was one. And Kevin Lux, the show's host, would probably blame it on the Habsburgs. Doorway to the Hidden World is everything you could want in a conspiracy-based satirical podcast. Bizarre theories about who controls the world. Advertisements for fringe cults. Answers to the world's most pressing mysteries. The Omega Man references in that one episode. If you're a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, then you will love Doorway to the Hidden World, because it's just darned good stuff.
Runners Up: The Incomparable, Rocket Talk, and The Writer and the Critic
2013 Selection: The Coode Street PodcastJonathan and Gary were on top of their game in 2013. They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but their frank discussion of sf/f's history, politics, and important or forgotten works made them a go-to for me in 2013. Combining decades of knowledge, Jonathan and Gary gave podcasting something it sorely deserved: an older generation's view of the field. Now that they've switched over to Tor.com, I suspect they'll remain a staple in the field for years to come.
Runners Up: The Writer and the Critic, Galactic Suburbia, and the Outer Alliance Podcast
Best Non-Genre-Specific Podcast
2014 Selection: We Hate MoviesAt some point during 2014, I discovered a whole bunch of movie-related podcasts. We Hate Movies was one of them. Focused on mostly bad movies, the hosts of this largely comical show rip apart their subjects with jokes, impressions, and a whole lot of (probably unintentional) analysis. Given that one of my favorite things to do on The Skiffy and Fanty Show is to review bad movies, it's easy to see why I love this show. It's now one of my go-to-podcasts for movie discussion.
Runners Up: How Did This Get Made?, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and The Book was Better
2013 Selection: Stuff You Missed in History ClassThis is one of my staples. The show focuses on the lesser known details of various events in history, from the popular (Amelia Earhart) to the surprisingly unknown (the Egg Nog Riot). It's a treasure trove of well-research facts and weirdness spanning centuries. If there is a non-fiction show you should be listening to, then it should be this one.
Runners Up: This American Life, StarTalk Radio, and Read It and Weep!
The 2013 and 2014 Kudos Award
2014 Selection: Natalie Luhrs
Like many writers who have challenged sexism within sf/f (Hurley included), Luhrs has had to deal with an extraordinary amount of grief for her efforts. Her coverage of the SFWA Bulletin fiasco this year is well worth reading; her blog (now at a new site) continues to offer excellent commentary, typically on issues of gender in sf/f (see her stuff on WisCon, for example). There is no doubt that Luhrs is (or should be) a powerhouse in the field, and I expect more awesome work from her throughout 2015. Now if only we could get her on that Hugo Awards shortlist for Best Fan Writer...
2013 Selection: Kameron Hurley
Let's be honest. You don't really need to know why Kameron Hurley deserves a Kudos Award, right? You know she won a bunch of Hugo Awards for her non-fiction work, and you probably also know that she's one of the most visible feminists in the sf/f field. As a challenger of structural sexism within sf/f, Hurley's voice has been a necessary one for the "fight" in which so many of us have been engaged (many for a lot longer than myself). Her personalized approach to essays gives her work a unique voice, too. Whether she intended to or not, Hurley has had a profound impact on sf/f, and will continue to have that impact for the foreseeable future, whether as a non-fiction writer or an sf/f novelist.
The 2013 and 2014 Wappa Wag Award
(i.e. the Worst Person Who Happens to be in Genre Award)
(Yes, I changed the name.)
(Yes, I changed the name.)
2014 Selection: #GamerGate
I've written about GamerGate already. It's hard to describe the movement in any positive way. For every group of individuals who honestly care about journalistic ethics, there are a sea of loud-mouthed trolls who cry about Social Justice Warriors and just about everything but journalistic ethics. And as much as those same people try to claim that GamerGate isn't about violence against women, dozens of threats have been made in the group's name, most of them explicitly driven by an anti-feminism, anti-woman agenda that has always been embedded within the "movement." Just recently, members of GamerGate doxxed a transgender gamer, and it became clear from the 8Chan boards (and elsewhere) that this was fed by a bigoted transphobic campaign. Whatever good used to exist in GamerGate has been so utterly tainted by association that I still think people who honestly stand for journalistic ethics are beyond foolish to continue to use the name. Worse, GamerGate has done absolutely nothing to bridge the gap between those who stand for ethics and those who believe they are under attack by a culture of misogyny and/or bigotry (a point proven by so many GamerGaters); instead, we have an infinite divide. And division is hardly the best strategy for a group which has historically been shit on by the world.
2013 Selection: Theodore Beale (a.k.a. Vox Day)---------------------
If you don't know who Vox Day is by now, then you've been sleeping under a rock. Throughout 2013, he was the voice of blatant sexism and racism in the sf/f community. His attack on N.K. Jemisin eventually led to his expulsion from the SFWA (based on a rules violation, though so many members of the SFWA certainly wanted him gone long before he gave them an excuse to throw him out). And his longstanding "feud" with John Scalzi is almost legendary at this point, if only because his obsession with calling Scalzi an admitted rapist is so patently absurd as to be comical. But there's nothing comical about Vox Day. If you're brave, you can Google his name. I, however, am unlikely to talk about him again on this blog.
: I base my selections on what I consumed during the year because I never have enough time to catch every awesome thing out there; I always end up having to go back to fill in gaps. Sometimes, I don't even know that I should see or read something until the year after it releases, which is a shame, but also a consequence of living on a planet with a ridiculous 24-hour day. Also: Netflix.
- I must have consumed the chosen item in 2012, with special preference given to works released during that year.
- I may not have more than three runners up for any category (which means a lot of folks get left out -- sorry).
- I have the right to drop categories if I don't believe I can honestly assess the products contained within it (example: I can decide to drop a TV category if I only watched one show in that category because it's really not fair for me to assess the best of the best if I haven't actually watched more than one show).
Runners Up: The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, And Blue Skies From Pain by Stina Leicht, and Arctic Rising by Tobias S. Buckell.
Best Collection or Anthologyreviewed it in 2012, which is good enough for me." Maureen McHugh's After the Apocalypse is more a concept collection (a la Christopher Barzak's Birds and Birthdays) than a traditional collection. Exploring the various ways humanity responds to catastrophe, this collection quickly became one to remember, so much so that Locus put it on its 2011 recommended reading list. That's about where I would have put it too -- except I decided to give it an award!
Runner Up: Near + Far by Cat Rambo
It comes down to a numbers game this year: I reviewed more books from Tor than any other publisher. On top of that, my #1 novel selection for the year came from Tor. Let's face it: they publish some damn good stuff, and this year happens to have been an exceptional one for them. Keep it up, Tor!
The award might have gone to a different magazine this year, except Interzone changed up its format so much that I ended up loving it even more than before. That new format involves a tighter print size, a sturdier binding, a complete overhaul of the cover and interior designs, and the same wonderful fiction I came to love when I got my first subscription so many years ago. While other magazines were downsizing their production schedules or changing up management, TTA Press were busy turning Interzone into a better, more attractive product. Call it Interzone 2.0, if you like.
Runners Up: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Cross Genres, and Shimmer.
Min Yum's dark illustration for And Blue Skies from Pain falls within that range of work that I honestly love looking at. If I could, I'd buy a poster of the art and put it on my wall. You'll forgive me for having no clue what to call the style; whatever it is, I like the way the dark colors blend together, almost like someone took pastels and used a finger to delicately sync everything together. Hopefully we'll see more of Yum's work in the future.
Runners Up: Jagannath by Karen Tidbeck (artist: Jeremy Zerfoss), Osiris by E. J. Swift (artist: Sparth), and Fate of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner (artist: Stephan Martiniere).
I know. You either loved this movie or you hated it. Can you guess where I stand? To be honest, I think Cloud Atlas is perhaps one of the greatest films of the last decade, and I was surprised that it did not receive any recognition by the Academy for its various achievements. After all, Cloud Atlas isn't a "safe" film. Everything could have gone terribly wrong right from the beginning. But it didn't. Instead, Cloud Atlas became a thought-provoking tour de force. Screw The Matrix. This is what the Wachowskis were meant to create. Genius.
Runners Up: John Carter, The Avengers, and Cabin in the Woods.
Best Television Show
This is such an easy choice for me. Game of Thrones pulled out all the stops this year. Unlike the first season, the newest season actually gave us one of the major battles: the siege of King's Landing. Throw in the continued stunning performances from Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, and Maisie Williams and there's just no contest: this is the best genre television show on air right now. Period.
Runners Up: The Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, and Doctor Who.
Best Non-Genre Film
I had a lot of apprehensions about this film, but went to see it with my grandmother anyway. And guess what? I enjoyed it so much that I issued an ultimatum to the Academy: give Daniel Day-Lewis a bloody Oscar or else! While Tony Kushner's script takes some liberties -- for example, it has never been proven that Thaddeus Stevens had a monogamous relationship with Lydia Hamilton Smith -- the adaptation of Lincoln's battle to end of slavery is, if anything, beautifully rendered and handled with expert precision by a solid cast. I expect this one to take a lot of awards this year. It damn well deserves it.
Runner Up: Skyfall
Best Non-Genre Television Show
Admittedly, I'm perpetually behind on non-genre TV shows. For example, I only now started watching shows like Law & Order: Criminal Intent or the first seasons of the original Law & Order (or even 24, which I just began this week). The Inbetweeners is one of those "I started it late" shows. But it was also an instant favorite. Featuring all the ridiculous high school comedy I could possibly need, it's like reliving some of my less-favorable years, only without actually have to live it. Simply put, it's one of my favorite comedies of all time. Now if only I could get my hands on the final season...
Runners Up: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Runners Up: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by Howard Shore
The 2012 Kudos AwardJim C. Hines! 2012 was a damn good year for Jim, not least of all because he found a hilarious way to open the discussion about women on the covers of SF/F books: by switching the genders, with himself as the "model." It all started here, then it continued here and here for charity until finally John Scalzi and a bunch of other folks got involved at the start of 2013. What could be more wonderful than tearing down the foundations of cover art expectations than to put a bunch of grown men (and one woman) in a masquerade of cross-dressing SF/F hilarity? Nothing, I tell you! Nothing.
So Kudos to you, Mr. Hines. You rule.
The 2012 Wappa Wappa Wa Award
(i.e. the Worst Person Who Happens to be a Published Writer Award)
Marvin Kaye (Weird Tales). I'm not going to bother explaining why here. If you must know why I selected Kaye for the Wappa Wappa Wa Award this year, all you have to do is read these posts. Mind you, the problem, as I see it, isn't the novel that started it all, but Kaye's response to the situation. That, in my honest opinion, makes him suitable for a Wappa Wappa Wa Award....
So there you have it. My selections for 2012.
Now for the big question: What would you include in the above categories?
Best Novel The Skiffy and Fanty Show. Love it. Runner-ups: Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht (Night Shade Books)(a stunning debut that hits all the right emotional buttons), and Low Town by Daniel Polansky (Doubleday)(a noir romp with a fantasy twist that is well worth reading). Best Collection or Anthology my review. Simply put: the collection is gorgeous (read my review to find out why; there's also an interview here). Runner-ups: Kafkaesque edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelley (Tachyon Books)(a quirky collection of stories in celebration of one of the greats) and Gateways edited by Elizabeth Anne Hull (another celebratory collection, but with a markedly nostalgic feel -- Brin and Haldeman have some brilliant work in here). Best Publisher The Skiffy and Fanty Show, mind), Pyr has been pushing authors our way, which might explain why so many of our interviews were with Pyr writers! It also helps that the books we read were, overall, quite good. You can't go wrong with Pyr! Runner-ups: Small Beer Press (I need to read more of their books, but the one text I got to read, After the Apocalypse, was absolutely brilliant), Tor (2012 is their year, I think), Tachyon, and Angry Robot Books (a previous winner, and still one of the most innovative publishers out there). Best Magazine I have decided to temporarily leave this category blank. Adam Callaway and I are planning to do some kind of Awards Season Mega-Reading Fest. I will update this section then. Best Cover Kekai Kotaki definitely has the skill. A stunning work indeed! (For interested parties, I have an interview w/ Peter Orullian here.) Runner-ups: Of Blood and Honey by Stina Leicht (Claudia Nobles does a brilliant job with her oil-style rendition of a detention camp in Ireland) and Low Town by Daniel Polansky (Ben Wiseman's design for the U.S. cover is gritty and perfectly placed). Best Writer You might not recognize that red-haired monstrosity of a human being (with a clock on his head, mind you), but you'll recognize his name: Adam Callaway. He and I have been friends for a while, so it goes without saying that I'm a little biased. But I've never given this award to a friend before (at the time of the award); it's simply unavoidable this year. I've known Adam for a while now, have read a lot of what he's written (though not all, because I'm a terrible writing buddy who deserves to be stabbed with metaphorical pens filled with snake venom), and have watched him rise to the throne of greatness (getting ahead of myself, I know). The truth is this: Adam's writing is fantastic. If you haven't read anything by him, check out his bibliography page. Trust me, you will not be disappointed (and if you are, then you are reading the wrong blog). Best Film here. Runner-ups: Doctor Who (not as good as the year before, but clever) Best Non-Genre Film Jason Sanford. And you know why? Because he's an amazing supporter of aspiring writers, a delicious sport, and one of the nicest guys I've ever known. With his Million Writers Award, he's provided a fantastic venue for literature published online. With his blog, he's explored important topics in the SF/F field. With his voice, he's amused us on The Skiffy and Fanty Show. And he's a damned fine writer to boot. Whatever you're doing to be so awesome, Jason, keep it up! The 2011 Wappa Wappa Wa Award (i.e. the Worst Person Who Happens to be a Published Writer Award) Duke and Zink Do America. Besides, politics is impossible to ignore, as everything is political in some way. But maybe you'd like to hear my explanation before getting upset? --"Alright..." --The Great Salamander isn't on this list because he's a politician. If that were so, I could hunt down any living politician who has written science fiction or fantasy and shove them on this list (I could even swing it to include Barack Obama, who is, at the very least, a character in a super hero comic). There are two reasons Newt is on this list. --"Oh, this should be good..." --First, he is the most arrogant man to exist on the public stage since Kanye West (so arrogant, in fact, that he believes it's acceptable to talk about things he'd do in his second term before he's even been nominated for his party for his first). I can't stand that kind of arrogance. A little humility is necessary in life, after all. --"Alright, we get it. What about the second?" --The second: despite saying relatively moderate things about immigrants (he's not in favor of shipping off your Mexican grandma just because she's illegal, though he's perfectly happy to make Little Timmy a work slave), he's also said loads of total B.S. about Barack Obama. --"You stupid liberal..." --Now now. Just hear me out. I'm not saying this because I'm going to vote for Barack Obama (I am). I'm saying it for two reasons: creating mythical versions of opponents out of lies is unethical and plain bastardly, and I think there are so many legitimate reasons to criticize Barack Obama that it seems silly to have to make them up just to win votes. --"That's rather reasonable..." --Yes. Which is why Newt Gingrich gets the 2011 Wappa Wappa Wa award. --"But, wait, since when has he written science fiction?" --Here. --"That's alternate history." --Stop nitpicking. --"Sorry..."
---------------------------------------------------------------So there you have it. My selections for 2011. Now for the big question: What would you include in the above categories?
Note: Technically, all of the awards are open to things produced before 2010. The WISB Awards are for things I read/experienced in the last year. This year is rather 2010 heavy, though. I should also note that I have not seen or read everything, so there may be some gaps in what I've selected due to that. If you think I've left something off, don't hesitate to let me know. It's possible that I just didn't read/see it, and I'm not opposed to considering things I should have experienced anyway.
You can view previous years at the following links: 2009, 2008, and 2007.
And without further adieu, here are the winners for 2010 (after the fold):
Best Novel of 2010
I didn't read as many novels last year as I would have liked, with the exception of things I read for school. I did have the pleasure of reading a fair share of truly excellent novels, such as Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen and Blake Charton's Spellwright (my review is here).
But of the books I read, my favorite had to be The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell.
here. There's also a lovely podcast interview here.
Runners up: This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer (review) and City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer.
Best Non-fiction Genre-related Work of 2010 (new category)
I read an extraordinary amount of non-fiction these days (hell, most days, since I've been in school for what seems like forever). Being in graduate school does that to you. Only a few books really stood out to me last year, but only one can win. And that winner is:
Best Film of 2010 – (new category)
A lot of truly fantastic films came out last year. Some were even close to being revolutionary. Picking for this category, as a result, is really difficult. Do you go with the film that was a lot of fun or the film with a well-executed thematic? But then again, you probably already know what I'm going to pick, right?
here, and my various other posts here, here, and here.
Runners up: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (review), 2081 (review), Iron Man 2 (review), Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One)(review), How to Train Your Dragon (review), and Tron: Legacy (review is forthcoming, though my truncated version is here).
Best Television Show of 2010 -- (new category)
I haven't been watching as much genre television as I probably should, but that's largely because there were only a few shows interesting enough for me to watch last year (a handful of which I thought were good) and a lot of shows that lacked the flare of awesome I needed.
One show really stood out, though:
Runners up: V and Stargate: Universe.
Best Non-Genre Film of 2010 -- (new category)
I have been meaning to see more films outside of SF/F, though the more I do so, the more I end up discovering films that loosely fit into my preferred viewing spectrum. Last year was a comedy-heavy year for me. I saw Due Date and Get Him to the Greek and thought they were both hilarious. My favorite comedy, however, has to be the following:
Runners up: Get Him to the Greek, The Hurt Locker, and Due Date.
Best Non-Genre Television Show of 2010 -- (new category)
There was one standout non-genre show last year, and I didn't discover it until it was almost too late. I fell in love with it the second it hit my computer screen. It's well-written, well-cast, and absolutely beautiful. That show is:
Runners up: Castle, Law and Order: Los Angeles, and The Big Bang Theory.
Best Publisher of 2010
I have to pick Angry Robot Books for two reasons:
- They publish great fiction across multiple genres (in mass market, by the way, so all us poor people can afford to buy all of their books).
- They are great to the community (readers and critics). If you don't believe me, then poke your head into their Robot Army.
They are what all traditional publishers should strive to be. Right now, publishing is going through an insane transition period. E-books are changing the way the business works, and old models are crumbling. Angry Robot Books, I'd like to think, is the answer.
Best Magazine of 2010 -- (new category)
Anyone who follows me on Twitter probably already knows which magazine I cannot get enough of these days. It's the only magazine that consistently publishes amazing content, pays careful attention to the production quality of each issue (the thing is beautiful), and has great fiction and great non-fiction. Which magazine am I talking about?
It's simply the best magazine, print or otherwise, right now. If you're not subscribed, then you need to get on top of that right away.
Best Cover of 2010
A lot of wonderful covers came out last year, but I have to go with the work (and artist) that I simply cannot get enough of: Stephan Martiniere for the cover for Pirate Sun by Karl Schroeder.
The 2010 Kudos Award
There were a number of people last year who really did great things for the genre, from bloggers to authors to everyday readers. The great thing about the Internet is that it is making it easier every year to participate in the community and add something to it. It used to be that most people were fans, and only a few fans did something to make the community better (other than read the genre or attend conventions). Now people are improving the community on a daily basis. We're having more conversations, thinking about serious issues for the genre, and so on.
For 2010, the award goes to this beautiful fellow:
|I'm Lavie Tidhar, and I'm awesome.|
Runners up: Jonathan Dotse for AfroCyberpunk, Mark Charan Newton, and Jason Sanford.
Best Writer of 2010
Jason Sanford. Hands down. In the last year, I've read a half dozen or so of his stories and have never been disappointed (including his older works, like "Sublimation Angels" and "The Ships Like Clouds, Risen By Their Rain"). Notable stories from 2010 include "Into the Depths of Illuminated Seas" and "Plague Birds."
Plus, he's got this spiffy mug-shot from when he was suspected of smuggling tribbles by the Galactic Bureau of Investigation (a.k.a. GBI, or Gibby as we like to call it).
It seems like every year that I can pick the winner of this award without really thinking about it. A year hasn't gone by that someone hasn't shoved their foot so far down their throats that they can still walk on it. The Internet does crazy things to writers, don't you agree?
That's why Elizabeth Moon deserves the award so clearly. It's not that she said something controversial about Muslims and citizenry; it's that she did it, found out she was wrong about a lot of things, and then never backtracked like anyone with integrity would do. You can get the gist of the shitstorm here (and in the link within that post), along with a few related bits that cropped up here and here.
(Note: Because there seems to be some confusion for this award, I'd like to clarify that the Worst Writer Award is given to writers who negatively contribute to the community. That has always been the case. For me, the argument about keeping an author's politics separate from their writing ends when that writer begins using their popularity to funnel disturbing ideologies into the SF/F community.)
(Note #2: I've changed the name of the award, since Adam has kindly pointed out that there is some understandable confusion here because I also give out a Best Writer Award which does focus on the writing--the Worst Writer Award did/does not. So, from now on, this award will be known as the Wappa Wappa Wa Award, which will focus on people who are writers of some form or another who have done something negative in the SF/F community. Hopefully that will clear up the confusion.)
And there you go. The WISB Awards for 2010 are done! What would you have added or changed and why? Let me know in the comments.
You can see previous winners at the following links: 2008; 2007.
Some things are changing this year, though. First, I am no longer going to make the awards about what was published in 2009. While I would like to be able to do this every year, I also am wholly inadequate to the task of keeping up with what's being published year in and year out and find myself consistently jumping around between 2007, 2008, and 2009 in my reading. So, from now on the WISB Awards are going to focus primarily on what I have read in a particular year rather than one what was published in that year.
For a quick refresher, here are the award categories with brief explanations of what they represent:
Kudos Award (given to a writer who has done something to further the genre or make the genre community a better place)
Best Novel (self explanatory)
Best Publisher (self explanatory)
Best Cover (self explanatory)
Best Writer (self explanatory)
Worst Writer (given to a writer who does something detrimental to their career or the genre)
(There will not be a category for movies this year, primarily because I have not seen enough 2009 films to feel comfortable making that choice.)
So, without further delay, here are the award winners:
The 2009 Kudos Award -- John Scalzi
Why Scalzi? Well, let's run down the list, shall we? He saved Strange Horizons, one of the few pro-paying markets for SF/F left for us writerly folk; he helped out Peter Watts after the Canadian SF author was arrested and charged with a bunch of bogus crap; and he has been writing and supporting SF/F on his blog for years now. If anyone deserves a Kudos Award this year, it's Scalzi.
Keep up the good work!
Best Novel of 2009 -- The House of the Stag by Kage Baker
I'm apparently not well known as a fantasy reader around these parts, mostly because I don't talk about fantasy all that much on this blog (although I happen to read a lot more fantasy than I do science fiction for reasons that I can't quite explain). This year, however, completely shattered my expectations of the genre by providing me the opportunity to read The House of the Stag by Kage Baker. I started reading The House of the Stag thinking it would be another adventurous, epic fantasy, but it turned out to be so much more. I won't ruin my review of the novel, though. All I have to say is that if any novel deserves it this year, it is The House of the Stag.
(You can see my review of The House of the Stag here. I also interviewed Kage Baker here.)
Best Publisher of 2009 -- Angry Robot Books
One of the most unique publishing ventures to come into existence in the last decade, Angry Robot Books not only publishes some fantastic, edgy novels (all science fiction or fantasy), but it also has a unique approach to working with reviewers like myself and writers. I think some of the big boys could learn a few things from this brilliant startup.
(You can read my reviews of some Angry Robot publications at the following links: Angel of Death by J. Robert King; Kell's Legend by Andy Remic.)
Best Cover of 2009 -- Terra Insegura by Edward Willett (illustration by Stephan Martiniere)
I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that Martiniere has won for best cover art this year. The artwork for Terra Insegura is stunning, as are all of Martiniere's paintings. A big plus is the cover actually matches what is in the book. What more can I say? Just look at it!
(You can read my review of Terra Insegura here. Stephan Martiniere can be found on his website. I also interviewed Mr. Willett here and here.)
Best Writer of 2009 -- Kage Baker
I've read two of her novels this year and have to admit that Baker is one of the best writers currently writing in the genre right now. She has a remarkably poetic prose style and a pension for crafting lovable and complex characters. I've enjoyed her work so much that I actually wrote a paper (partly) on one of her novels. Add to that her wonderful use of fairytale stylings and her winning personality (she was a joy to talk to over email for this interview) and it should be no surprise why she is my choice for the best writer of 2009.
(You can see my reviews of her novels at the following links: The House of the Stag; The Empress of Mars.)
Worst Writer (Personally) of 2009 -- John C. Wright
There are so many to pick from this year. I could go with a recent example, like Candace Sams, or I could pick someone who hits a little closer to home. I'm going to do the latter.
John C. Wright rightly deserves the award for worst writer of 2009 for one-upping Orson Scott Card this year by writing this "brilliant" attack against homosexuals (and anyone who supports equal rights in this country). You'll notice that the link doesn't actually go to Wright's blog. Why? Because Wright pulled it down after he was flamed to death for being a homophobic douchebag (though I suspect he'll claim his motivations were otherwise). Still, he's been ousted as super douche of the year by most people and with the wonders of the Internet we have the luxury of seeing everything he's said pasted permanently on the WWW.
Good job, Mr. Wright. Nothing like being a horrible human being to boost those sales (not that he actually saw a reduction in sales, but I sure as hell refuse to give him a single cent now that he's joined the league of extraordinary jackasses).
And that's it! Did I miss anything?
But, it's the thought that counts, right? If you don't know much about the WISB Awards, particularly what any of the categories mean, you should check out the 2007 awards for kicks. Maybe you'll find something interesting there. Or maybe not.
In any case, here go the awards:
The 2008 Kudos Award
Paul Genesse snatches this one up hands down. Not only is Paul a fantastic person (he's nice, open, talkative, and, well, downright awesome--he gave me a free, signed, hardcover copy of his first book when I met him in San Francisco not too long ago, and that's pretty damn cool in my book; I got a hug too, in case anyone is wondering), but he's also a great up-and-coming writer with a lot of talent and a person dedicated to his craft. Oh, and he's a registered nurse, so he has two jobs, if you can believe it. He went on tour last year and I swear he never stopped. He was doing readings at schools, bookstores, fairs, etc. The result? Selling a lot of books. But I imagine his winning personality and the fact that he's a good guy helped quite a bit.
Worst Writer (Personally) of 2008
William Sanders. I won't reiterate what needs to be said. I'll just point to posts that you should read: here, here, here, here, and here.
Best Novel of 2008
I have thought long and hard on this one. There were a lot of fantastic books I read this year, many of which do actually deserve this award: Innocent/Awakened Mage by Karen Miller, The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer, The 13th Reality by James Dashner, Ten Sigmas by Paul Melko, and The Golden Cord by Paul Genesse. But they all can't win (mentioning them helps, I'm sure) and I have to choose a winner. And the winner isn't one of the books named:
Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell.
Perhaps one of the most exciting science fiction novels I have read in a long time (exciting in the sense of being a real page-turner, lots of action, fascinating characters, and thrilling adventure).
Best Publisher of 2008
Publisher of Talebones magazine, novels, and short story collections, this small press has been churning out some fantastic books (Ten Sigmas by Paul Melko is a personal favorite). I hope they continue on through 2009 and eagerly anticipate anything they have cooking in the oven.
Best Cover of 2008
It should be obvious what this is, but if not, it's the cover art for The Golden Cord by Paul Genesse. The beautiful artwork above was created by Ciruelo Cabral.
Best Writer of 2008
This, unlike the worst writer category, deals exclusively with issues of talent, which is a problem, because just like choosing the best novel of the year, I have read far too many talented writers in the last year. So, I have to take into account several different criteria, including writing ability, style, storytelling ability, and others. Some of the authors I have read were new in 2008, and while they were fantastic writers, I think they deserve some time to grow and develop before I crown them. Other authors technically aren't eligible for the WISB Awards because they published in 2007 rather than 2008, which is, I suppose, easier on me because that makes the list much smaller to choose from.
So who am I going to choose?
Tobias S. Buckell. While I have had a lot of respect for him over the last year or so, I think he really hit the nail on the head with Sly Mongoose. He has matured in a lot of ways, not least of which in his ability to tell a damn good story. That's what this is all about, isn't it? Telling a good story? Okay, so you might disagree and think that writing is about art and yadda-yadda literary-mumbo-jumbo-academia-nonsense, but the cavemen didn't write for art, they wrote to portray a story, and that's what this is all about! Tobias Buckell is up at the top amongst the top science fiction storytellers for me, taking up a mantle of classic space opera and "new age" socio-political thought and melting it together into an action-packed thrill ride. Read the first chapter of Sly Mongoose and you'll know what I mean.
Best Movie of 2008
This should be really obvious, right? There were quite a few decent flicks this past year, including some decent science fiction and fantasy ones (Tale of Despereaux, Dark Knight, WALL-E, Iron Man, Babylon A.D., Hellboy II, etc.). But there is only one movie that I watch over and over again for the purpose of seeing a beautiful visual masterpiece (I've seen Iron Man several times, but not for this reason; Iron Man is just badass). That movie was The Dark Knight. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's by far one of the most disturbing comic book films ever made and Heath Ledger is absolutely terrifying. Hopefully it will snatch up some major film awards (Oscar and Academy, preferably).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all. Congrats to the winners and here's to another fantastic year!
The 2007 Kudos Award
Robert J. Sawyer
This has absolutely nothing to do with his writing, because I have yet to read his work (yes, I know I should, and trust me he is on my reading list). The Kudos Award isn't for writing, but for personal integrity, professionalism, and value to the Specfic community as a public figure. Sawyer has proven to be this figure over and over again in his amazing interviews and discussions. He's a perfect figurehead for the value of specfic, which is the type of person who deserves the Kudos Award.
Worst Writer (Personally) of 2007
Basically, this is the award for the writer who is the worst person for a year. I base this upon the actions of a particular person throughout the year. And the winner for this award is:
J. K. Rowling. Yes, she's won it hands down. The only thing she could have done worse is announce she is a Nazi and eats small children. Between her copyright bullying, which makes the SFWA's mistakes seem like little burps in the publishing world, and her various announcements that serve as symbols of her inability to treat her fans, the people that made her who she is today, with the respect they deserve, she deserves this award more than anyone else. Andrew Burt had no chance of taking this from her because he showed some personal integrity.
Best Novel of 2007
The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction Volume One (Edited by Dave A. Law and Darin Park); Paperback, Kindle.
First, something has to be said here about why this book was chosen over some other books I've read this year. Only books printed in 2007 are eligible, therefore The Steam Magnate by Dana Copithorne couldn't be chosen. If that book were eligible, it would have won hands down, simply because it is an actual fiction book as opposed to a nonfiction book. Ragamuffin was very close to winning this one over, but it was just a little shy simply because The Complete Guide was the most useful nonfiction book I have read in a long time and deserves recognition for being tremendously valuable for the year of 2007.
Best Publisher of 2007
Aio Publishing. Of the publishers I've had contact with, this one has been the most eager to let me read their titles (thanks Tiffany), and after reading The Steam Magnate and seeing not only the quality of the writing, which was chosen by the publisher obviously, and the quality of the books themselves, I think this publisher deserves some serious recognition. Their books aren't made on flimsy paper like a standard paperback. It's quality paper, with a rigid cover that doesn't bend easily. Plus, Tiffany has been wonderful to me and a joy to talk to.
Best Cover of 2007
Bright of the Sky (paperback; hardback) cover by Stephan Martiniere.This cover got me to pick up the book and eventually read it. Plus, it's gorgeous.
Best Writer of 2007
This simply means best writer as far as style, structure, plotting, etc. goes.
I'm giving this to Tobias S. Buckell simply because after reading Crystal Rain and then Ragamuffin, and really hoping to read Sly Mongoose soon, he has proven to be a very good writer. He manages to weave multiple POVs very well, develops an interesting, gripping world, and has characters you both love simply because they are awesome and because you can sympathize with them.
And that's it! Congrats to all those who won, even though these awards mean nothing.