Sunday, 20 October 2019

British Fantasy Awards 2019: the Winners!

The British Fantasy Awards have just been announced, at FantasyCon 2019 in Glasgow. I had a go at reading this year's nominees and failed abysmally, only finishing three categories. All the other half-finished blog posts will be repurposed into reviews for a future issue!

The British Fantasy Awards are decided by juries, who before reading the nominees have the option of adding up to two additional items to those placed on the shortlist by the votes of British Fantasy Society members (including me) and FantasyCon attendees (not me this time).

Note that the jurors given below are those that were originally announced to BFS members. I haven't seen any announcements that anyone dropped out or was replaced, but it does happen sometimes, when people realise that there's a conflict of interest.

Here are the winners:

Anthology: Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 5, ed. Robert Shearman & Michael Kelly (Undertow Publications)

The jurors were Roz Clarke, Ian Hunter, Susan Oke, Steve J. Shaw and Joni Walker. Always a bit disappointing when year's best volumes win this award, after cherry picking the best of work that was already eligible the previous year, but despite much debate they are still eligible and so you can't blame the jurors, who have to pick the best of what's on the shortlist.

Artist: Vince Haig

The jurors were Astra Crompton, Alexandra Gushurst-Moore, Kaia Lichtarska, Catherine Sullivan and Paul Yates.

Audio: Breaking the Glass Slipper (www.breakingtheglassslipper.com)

The jurors were Alicia Fitton, Thomas Moules, Susie Pritchard-Casey, Abigail Shaw and Neil Williamson. I only got around to listening to one of the nominees in this category, Blood on Satan's Claw, based on the film. It had terrific sound design.

Collection: All the Fabulous Beasts, by Priya Sharma (Undertow Publications)

The jurors were Ben Appleby-Dean, Amy Chevis-Bruce, Marc Gascoigne, Laura Newsholme and ChloĆ« Yates. The only book I managed to read in this category was Lost Objects by Marian Womack, which was excellent. Looking forward to reading the winner and other nominees.

Comic/Graphic Novel: Widdershins, Vol. 7, by Kate Ashwin

The jurors were Kate Barton, Emily Hayes, Steven Poore, Alasdair Stuart and Kiwi Tokoeka. I read everything in this category and this is an utterly baffling decision. How could anyone possibly conclude that this nice enough book was better than Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories, Vol. 1? Suppose it could have been worse: one of the other nominees in this category was a prose novella.

Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award): The Bitter Twins, by Jen Williams (Headline)

The jurors were Sarah Carter, Shona Kinsella, Devin Martin, Pauline Morgan and Andrew White. I only read Empire of Sand in this category.

Film/Television Production: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman

The jurors were Rebecca Davis, Pat Hawkes-Reed, Rachelle Hunt, Robert S. Malan and Sammy Smith. My pick for this one, having watched them all, would have been Annihilation, but my guess was that Into the Spider-Verse would win. And for once I was right!

Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award): Little Eve, by Catriona Ward (W&N)

The jurors were Charlotte Bond, Emeline Morin, Gareth Spark, Mark West and Zoe Wible. Little Eve would have been my pick of the three I read in this category. I listened to the audiobook and Carolyn Bonnyman's reading of the audiobook added immensely to the atmosphere. The Way of the Worm is the one I haven't finished yet, but I'm enjoying it very much so far.

Independent Press: Unsung Stories

The jurors were Helen Armfield (chair of the BFS), Andrew Freudenberg, Daniel Godfrey, Elaine Hillson and Georgina Kamsika. I'm currently reading a new book from this publisher, Always North, by Vicki Jarrett.

Magazine/Periodical: Uncanny Magazine

The jurors were Jenny Barber, Peter Blanchard, Theresa Derwin, James T. Harding and Rym Kechacha.

Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award): Tasha Suri, for Empire of Sand (Orbit)

The jurors were Colleen Anderson, Rosie Claverton, Lee Fletcher, D Franklin and Peter Sutton. I'm stunned by this result: it's one of the most tedious, bloviated books I've ever read. My pick of the four books I read in this category would have been Marian Womack for Lost Objects, but my guess was that Tomi Adeyemi would win for Children of Blood and Bone, which was a lot of fun and packed solid with adventure. The books I hadn't read yet were Lost Gods and The Traitor Gods.

Non-fiction: Noise and Sparks, by Ruth E.J. Booth (Shoreline of Infinity)

The jurors were Laura Carroll, Megan Graieg, Katherine Inskip, Kev McVeigh and Graeme K. Talboys.

Novella: The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press)

The jurors were Ruth E.J. Booth, Elloise Hopkins, Stewart Hotston, Steve Howarth and Laura Mauro. Unusual to have something I voted for actually win the award! And I guessed correctly that it would win, although my pick, after reading the other nominees too, would have been The Land of Somewhere Safe, by Hal Duncan. I'm glad the award didn't go to either of the ineligible nominees; that would have been awkward.

Short Fiction: "Down Where Sound Comes Blunt", by G.V. Anderson (F&SFMarch/April 2018)

The jurors were Donna Bond, Amy Brennan, Andrew Hook, Richard Webb and Mairi White.

The Special Award (the Karl Edward Wagner Award): Ian Whates

The jury for this award is the BFS committee (currently: Katherine Fowler, James Barclay, Andy Marsden, Lee Harris, Shona Kinsella, Tim Major, Helen Armfield, Karen Fishwick, Allen Ashley, Sean Wilcock and Christopher Teague; though not everyone necessarily participates and the decision could have been taken at any point in the course of the year). For the third year running, the BFS membership wasn't invited to make suggestions, contrary to the rules of this award, putting a question mark over its validity, but Ian Whates would be a deserving winner.

There was no mention on Twitter of a Legends of FantasyCon being awarded: I'm told the announcement was delayed as the recipient did not attend the convention.

The physical award has changed this year: rather than the handmade bookends used from 2014 to 2018, the new award, also handmade, looks like this. They were created by Morag Hickman, who describes them as "a bolted sandwich of laser-cut acrylic, containing the archway and rocks in birch plywood and layers of hand-cut green vellum ivy leaves".

Congratulations to all the winners, and all the nominees, and as a BFS member, thank you to the jurors who devoted so much of their summers to helping out with our society's awards, and also to Katherine Fowler, the British Fantasy Awards Administrator, for doing a fine job again.

I don't think I will try to read all the nominees again next year. It was interesting to do once, but it was quite expensive and took a lot of time. Next time I think I will just pick out a few nominees that look good and review those as normal.

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