My 2011 BSFA Award Short Fiction Ballot
So, I’ve now read the five shortlisted stories for the BSFA Award and thanks to everyone else who read them and commented, it has been informative for me and hopefully enjoyable to you. If you are a BSFA member or are attending Eastercon, please do read the stories as it would be nice to have a high turnout for the vote. They are all available online but we also hope to make them available again as a printed booklet for members. Once you’ve done so, I’d welcome any more comments here as the deadline approaches.
I’ve set out my ballot below with links to each of the discussions. I’m sure plenty of people will disagree with my rankings but I wonder if anyone would disagree that, considered as a whole, it isn’t a particularly strong shortlist.
In terms of coverage of the field, it is broad in some directions and narrow in others. There are two science fiction stories: one set on another planet in the far future, one set on an alternative Earth in the near past. Then there are three fantasies that are all set in Britain and deal with a protagonist facing the intrusion of a single example of the fantastic: a magic clock, animated oil rigs and a satyr. Only one of the stories – and ironically, one of the fantasies – is set in the near future. There is a marked absence of the core tropes that people associate with science fiction and fantasy. Not a criticism, of course, but as someone who doesn’t read a lot of genre short fiction, I wonder how representative it is.
1) ‘Covehithe’ by China Miéville
The clear winner for me and the only shortlisted story that looks anything like an award-winner. It’s Miéville, innit?
2) ‘Afterbirth’ by Kameron Hurley
I liked this a lot but I primarily liked it as a companion piece to God’s War. However, it seems to have worked for Aishwarya Subramanian and Fernando Hugo, even though it was their first exposure to Hurley.
3) ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’ by Paul Cornell
A fun setting that I’d like to read more of but only in a broader context. Here it is a bead on a necklace and I want to see the whole thing, particularly if the ending really did attempt to conceal a huge paradigm shift.
I can’t actually remember if the awards have a No Award option but, if they do, this is where it would go.
4) ”The Silver Wind’ by Nina Allen
A huge disappointment from an author I admire. In the comments, Niall Harrison articulates the virtues I would usually associate with Allan but I can’t find them here.
5) ‘Of Dawn’ by Al Robertson
A familiar story badly executed at unneccessary length. British SF writers really need to get out of this rut but perhaps there is no incentive since this style of story obviously continues to prove popular.