Tuesday 23 July 2019

British Fantasy Awards 2019: nominees

The nominees in my favourite awards were announced today!

A bit of boring stuff first: note that the announcement on the BFS website (not, I think, posted by the awards administrator, whose email to BFS members did not contain the same mistakes) is once again incorrect as regards the nomination procedure. What actually happens:

  1. Anyone, including authors, publishers, editors, fans and passers-by, can contribute to a list of suggestions. (It was only open quite briefly this year.)
  2. BFS, FantasyCon 2018 and FantasyCon 2019 members vote for their three preferred items in each category.
  3. The top four eligible items in each category (occasionally more if there’s an unbreakable tie) go through to the shortlist.
  4. The jurors are appointed and are able to add up to two further items as egregious omissions to the shortlist. This gives them the opportunity to fix the shortcomings of the list: a lack of any fantasy books, of any books by women, of (to be blunt!) any books that are actually good, etc, whatever the jury feels is missing. This has to be done unanimously, though the unanimous decision can be made by a vote.
  5. The administrator checks the eligibility of everything, and the shortlists are announced.

And here they are!

Best Anthology (jurors: Roz Clarke, Ian Hunter, Susan Oke, Steve J. Shaw and Joni Walker)

The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea, ed. Ellen Datlow (Night Shade Books)
Humanagerie, ed. Sarah Doyle & Allen Ashley (Eibonvale Press)
New Fears 2, ed. Mark Morris (Titan Books)
This Dreaming Isle, ed. Dan Coxon (Unsung Stories)
Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 5, ed. Robert Shearman & Michael Kelly (Undertow Publications)

Best Artist (jurors: Astra Crompton, Alexandra Gushurst-Moore, Kaia Lichtarska, Catherine Sullivan and Paul Yates)

Vince Haig
David Rix
Daniele Serra
Sophie E. Tallis

Best Audio (jurors: Alicia Fitton, Thomas Moules, Susie Pritchard-Casey, Abigail Shaw and Neil Williamson)

Bedtime Stories for the End of the World (endoftheworldpodcast.com)
Blood on Satan’s Claw, by Mark Morris (Bafflegab)
Breaking the Glass Slipper (www.breakingtheglassslipper.com)
PodCastle (podcastle.org)
PseudoPod (pseudopod.org)

Best Collection (jurors: Ben Appleby-Dean, Amy Chevis-Bruce, Marc Gascoigne, Laura Newsholme and Chloë Yates)

All the Fabulous Beasts, by Priya Sharma (Undertow Publications)
The Future is Blue, by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
How Long ’til Black Future Month?, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Lost Objects, by Marian Womack (Luna Press Publishing)
Octoberland, by Thana Niveau (PS Publishing)
Resonance & Revolt, by Rosanne Rabinowitz (Eibonvale Press)

Best Comic/Graphic Novel (jurors: Kate Barton, Emily Hayes, Steven Poore, Alasdair Stuart and Kiwi Tokoeka)

100 Demon Dialogues, by Lucy Bellwood (Toonhound Studios)
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, Vol. 1, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis, Tyler Crook & Dave Stewart (Dark Horse)
Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories, Vol. 1, by Mike Mignola and others (Dark Horse)
The Prisoner, by Robert S Malan & John Cockshaw (Luna Press Publishing)
Saga #49-54, by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Widdershins, Vol. 7, by Kate Ashwin

Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award) (jurors: Sarah Carter, Shona Kinsella, Devin Martin, Pauline Morgan and Andrew White)

The Bitter Twins, by Jen Williams (Headline)
Empire of Sand, by Tasha Suri (Orbit)
Foundryside, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher Books)
The Green Man’s Heir, by Juliet E McKenna (Wizard’s Tower Press)
The Loosening Skin, by Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)
Priest of Bones, by Peter McLean (Jo Fletcher Books)

Best Film/Television Production (jurors: Rebecca Davis, Pat Hawkes-Reed, Rachelle Hunt, Robert S. Malan and Sammy Smith)

Annihilation, Alex Garland
Avengers: Infinity War, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Black Panther, Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole
The Haunting of Hill House [season 1], Mike Flanagan
Inside No. 9, series 4, Steve Pemberton & Reece Shearsmith
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman

Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award) (jurors: Charlotte Bond, Emeline Morin, Gareth Spark, Mark West and Zoe Wible)

The Cabin at the End of the World, by Paul Tremblay (Titan Books)
Little Eve, by Catriona Ward (W&N)
The Way of the Worm, by Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
Wolf’s Hill, by Simon Bestwick (Snowbooks)

Best Independent Press (jurors: Helen Armfield, Andrew Freudenberg, Daniel Godfrey, Elaine Hillson and Georgina Kamsika)

Fox Spirit Books
Luna Press Publishing
NewCon Press
Unsung Stories

Best Magazine/Periodical (jurors: Jenny Barber, Peter Blanchard, Theresa Derwin, James T. Harding and Rym Kechacha)

Black Static
Gingernuts of Horror
Shoreline of Infinity
Uncanny Magazine

Best Newcomer (the Sydney J Bounds Award) (jurors: Colleen Anderson, Rosie Claverton, Lee Fletcher, D Franklin and Peter Sutton)

Tomi Adeyemi, for The Children of Blood and Bone (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Cameron Johnston, for The Traitor God (Angry Robot)
R.F. Kuang, for The Poppy War (HarperVoyager)
Tasha Suri, for Empire of Sand (Orbit)
Marian Womack, for Lost Objects (Luna Press Publishing)
Micah Yongo, for Lost Gods (Angry Robot)

Best Non-Fiction (jurors: Laura Carroll, Megan Graieg, Katherine Inskip, Kev McVeigh and Graeme K. Talboys)

The Evolution of African Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Francesca T Barbini (Luna Press Publishing)
The Full Lid, by Alasdair Stuart (alasdairstuart.com/the-full-lid)
Ginger Nuts of Horror (www.gingernutsofhorror.com)
Les Vampires, by Tim Major (PS Publishing)
Noises and Sparks, by Ruth E.J. Booth (Shoreline of Infinity)

Best Novella (jurors: Ruth E.J. Booth, Elloise Hopkins, Stewart Hotston, Steve Howarth and Laura Mauro)

Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
Breakwater, by Simon Bestwick (Tor Books)
The Land of Somewhere Safe, by Hal Duncan (NewCon Press)
The Last Temptation of Dr Valentine, by John Llewellyn Probert (Black Shuck Books)
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com)
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press)

Best Short Fiction (jurors: Donna Bond, Amy Brennan, Andrew Hook, Richard Webb and Mairi White)

"Down Where Sound Comes Blunt", by G.V. Anderson (F&SFMarch/April 2018)
"Her Blood the Apples, Her Bones the Trees", by Georgina Bruce (The Silent Garden: A Journal of Esoteric Fabulism)
"In the Gallery of Silent Screams", by Carole Johnstone & Chris Kelso (Black Static #65)
"A Son of the Sea", by Priya Sharma (All the Fabulous Beasts)
"Telling Stories", by Ruth E.J. Booth (The Dark #43)
"Thumbsucker", by Robert Shearman (New Fears 2)

Seems like a good list at a glance, but then I would think that: sixteen things I voted for made the shortlist, compared to only five last year! The m/f balance of the nominees is surprisingly good: about half of the nominees have male creators, slightly under half have female creators, and a few per cent have both male and female creators.

Looking at the jurors, there are a lot of names I don't recognise, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing if it keeps it fresh. It looks like about three-fifths of the jurors are female, and about two-fifths are male. The BFS chair is on the independent press jury, and I think that's inappropriate (have we forgotten 2011 already? the whole reason juries were introduced?), but at least there's only that one committee member on there this time, a big improvement on last year.

Though we aren't nominated ourselves, there is some interest for TQF readers, thanks to two contributors making the shortlist. Allen Ashley co-edited Humanagerie with Sarah Doyle, up for best anthology, and Tim Major's book Les Vampires is up for non-fiction. Best of luck to both of them! And as usual I wrote a tiny percentage of Interzone, up for best magazine.

Worth noting that all but nine of the nominees were on the suggestions list, so be sure to add the stuff you like (and your own stuff!) to that list next year. The nine not on the list were Bedtime Stories for the End of the World, The Future is Blue, 100 Demon Dialogues, Saga, Widdershins, The Children of Blood and Bone, Binti: The Night Masquerade, "Down Where Sound Comes Blunt" and "In the Gallery of Silent Screams". I'm guessing that quite a few of those were added as egregious omissions, but I could easily be wrong.

It’s a bit frustrating to see categories with only four nominees, meaning that those juries passed up the chance to add anything. But the decision has to be unanimous, and if one juror digs their feet in, there’s nothing that the rest of the jury can do about it. I remember one juror who thought it was in principle wrong to add egregious omissions, because it was overriding the will of the BFS membership, and I had to explain at no doubt boring length that it was the BFS membership who gave the juries that power, and explain why we did it: so that the juries could make up for our myopia.

To be fair, last year the juries were only given a couple of weeks to decide their egregious omissions. If that was the case this year, it meant that the jurors would have had a lot of work to do very quickly. Not adding anything is perhaps most understandable in the horror novel category, where only fifteen suggestions in total were put forward for the award this year.

Having made those excuses, the best artist category is a shocker. I admire David Rix of Eibonvale Press and the work he does very much, but he produces a handful of covers for his own books each year. In that context, a jury that couldn't come up with any full-time, professional artists who were egregiously omitted wasn't doing its job properly.

Anyway, the winners will be announced at FantasyCon 2019 on Sunday, October 20, in Glasgow. So that gives me ninety days to read, watch and listen to as many of the categories as I can, as my summer reading challenge, acting as a kind of one-man shadow jury. I’ll talk about the nominees, and what I’d be voting for and why if I were on the jury.

It won’t be in any order other than when I get my hands on the material. I won't be as brutal as the juries can be, given that the authors could read the blog. And it won't give you any indication at all of what might win, because jurors can have such wildly different tastes, and indeed the juries might choose entirely different ways to come to their decisions. But it should be fun for me to do. I've started reading the best novella nominees first.