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Handicapping The Best Novel Shortlists

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At the beginning of the month, Niall Harrison had a great post which tried to predict the shortlists and winners of this year’s SF awards for best novel. The first two of these shortlists have now been announced: the BSFA Awards and the Kitschies. What will win though? Well, here are my guesses, starting with the BSFA Award for best novel:

  • Cyber Circus by Kim Lakin-Smith (Newcon Press)
  • Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan)
  • The Islanders by Christopher Priest (Gollancz)
  • By Light Alone by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)
  • Osama by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Frankly, this is a two horse race. At best. Miéville and Priest are multi-award winners who were always going to appear on the shortlist and it seems inevitable that one of them will walk off with the award. I would put money on that one being Priest. Harrison agrees. He also predicted the titles that would appear on the shortlist (although he allowed himself more than five guesses); I predicted four, thinking Tidhar’s spot would be taken by The Kings Of Eternity by Eric Brown. Part of my thinking has that Brown’s book would have been more widely read than Tidhar which might explain why PS Publishing are currently offering the Kindle edition for free.

Of course, there three other categories. All five stories shortlisted for the short fiction award are available online so I will be reviewing them, setting out my personal ballot and predicting the winner once I’ve read them. Non-fiction I don’t have much to say about, except to predict that the beta of the third edition of the Science Fiction Encyclopedia will win. I also think it is worth reading Harrison’s comments about the viability of the award. Last of all, both the BSFA Awards and the Kitschies also have a category for best artwork and again, I intend to cover that in a separate post.

Now the Kitschies. Pornokitsch are actually running a competition to predict the winners. The four judges – Lauren Beukes, Rebecca Levene, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin – haven’t yet made their final decision and I think it is harder to second guess a group of individuals than the membership of an organisation like the BSFA. But I’m going to try. Firstly, the Red Tentacle for best novel:

  • The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington (Orbit)
  • Embassytown by China Miéville (Tor)
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd (Walker Books)
  • The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (Sandstone)
  • Osama: A Novel by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Miéville appears again but I think he is much less of an obvious contender this time round. Tidhar also appears again and my instinct is that this comes down to a three way fight between those two and Ness. Harrison thinks Tidhar will win but, whilst I wouldn’t bet against Osama, I think Ness might just take it. Next the Golden Tentacle for best debut novel:

  • Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (Tor)
  • God’s War by Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker)
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk)
  • The Samaritan by Fred Venturini (Blank Slate Press)

2011 has been Morgenstern’s year so I think she’s got it in the bag. Venturini is a completely unknown quantity for me and I imagine Hulick will be discarded fairly early on so if there is any competition it will come from Hurley and Riggs. But I think Harrison will be disappointed if he hopes for God’s War to triumph.

Written by Martin

28 January 2012 at 16:19

Posted in awards, books, sf

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