World Fantasy Award nominees

From Locus Online.

Best Novel

Lisey’s Story, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton)
The Privilege of the Sword, Ellen Kushner (Bantam Spectra; Small Beer Press)
The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch (Gollancz; Bantam Spectra)
The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
Soldier of Sidon, Gene Wolfe (Tor)

One more reason to get around to reading The Orphan’s Tales. The rest of the list seems solid but not spectacular.

Best Novella

“Botch Town”, Jeffrey Ford (The Empire of Ice Cream, Golden Gryphon)
“The Man Who Got Off the Ghost Train”, Kim Newman (The Man from the Diogenes Club, MonkeyBrain)
Dark Harvest, Norman Partridge (Cemetery Dance)
“Map of Dreams”, M. Rickert (Map of Dreams, Golden Gryphon)
“The Lineaments of Gratified Desire”, Ysabeau S. Wilce (F&SF Jul 2006)

I’ve read the Ford, the Rickert, and the Wlice, of which my clear favourite is the Wilce although all three are good; I don’t know anything about the other two. Interesting that only one was originally published in a magazine.

Best Short Fiction

“The Way He Does It”, Jeffrey Ford (Electric Velocipede #10, Spr 2006)
“Journey Into the Kingdom”, M. Rickert (F&SF May 2006)
“A Siege of Cranes”, Benjamin Rosenbaum (Twenty Epics, All-Star Stories)
“Another Word for Map is Faith”, Christopher Rowe (F&SF Aug 2006)
“Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)”, Geoff Ryman (F&SF Oct/Nov 2006)

F&SF dominates here, in contrast to Asimov’s‘ domination of the Hugo nominees; make of that what you will. It’s an interesting category — I’ve read all but the Ford, and while I think they’re all nomination-worthy, none of them completely clicked for me.

Best Anthology
Cross Plains Universe: Texans Celebrate Robert E. Howard, Scott A. Cupp & Joe R. Lansdale, eds. (MonkeyBrain and the Fandom Association of Central Texas)
Salon Fantastique, Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling, eds. (Thunder’s Mouth)
Retro Pulp Tales, Joe R. Lansdale, ed. (Subterranean)
Twenty Epics, David Moles & Susan Marie Groppi, eds. (All-Star Stories)
Firebirds Rising, Sharyn November, ed. (Firebird)

I’m for Twenty Epics all the way on this one — while I’m a little surprised “A Siege of Cranes” is the story that got picked out for solo shortlisting, that’s only because the overall standard of the book is so high.

Best Collection

The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
The Empire of Ice Cream, Jeffrey Ford (Golden Gryphon)
American Morons, Glen Hirshberg (Earthling)
Red Spikes, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin Australia; Knopf)
Map of Dreams, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)

Surely the standout category. I haven’t read the Hirshberg or the Lanagan, but have heard only good things about both; and the other three range from good (the Clarke) to excellent (the Ford and the Rickert, with the latter ahead in my ranking by a nose).

Best Artist

Jon Foster
Edward Miller
John Picacio
Shaun Tan
Jill Thompson

I can’t claim to follow the artist category, but I like what I’ve seen of Shaun Tan and Edward Miller’s work a lot.

Special Award, Professional

Ellen Asher (For work at SFBC)
Mark Finn (for Blood & Thunder: The Life of Robert E. Howard, MonkeyBrain)
Deanna Hoak for copyediting
Greg Ketter for Dreamhaven
Leonard S. Marcus, ed. (for The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy, Candlewick)

Not as interesting to me as …

Special Award, Non-Professional

Leslie Howle (for her work at Clarion West)
Leo Grin (for The Cimmerian)
Susan Marie Groppi (for Strange Horizons)
John Klima (for Electric Velocipede)
Gary K. Wolfe (for reviews and criticism in Locus and elsewhere)

Shameless partisan time: go Susan! (Subliminal message: Strange Horizons’ fund drive ends on Wednesday.) Although, and not for the first time, I’m left wondering what the WFA definitions of “professional” and “non-professional” are. (If Gary Wolfe doesn’t count as a professional, for instance, I’m not sure any reviewer ever could.)

34 thoughts on “World Fantasy Award nominees

  1. The striking thing about the novel list is what it omits: VanderMeer’s Shriek, Powers’s Three Days to Never, Moorcock’s The Vengeance of Rome, Morrow’s The Last Witchfinder. I appreciate that each of those raises some questions about definitions of fantasy in ways that none of the shortlisted titles do, I think. (And each is the sort of book which can provoke strong reactions.) But the WFA has traditionally cast its net pretty wide, and I’m surprised it hasn’t done so this year. (Also, I’ve heard nothing but good things about Klages’s The Green Glass Sea, though haven’t read it yet – can anyone else comment on it?)

  2. Gary Wolfe doesn’t review for a living. That’s how professional vs non-professional for the WFA usually is defined. For example, when I was a judge years ago, we gave Doug Winter the non-pro award for his criticism but Pat Lobrutto the pro award for his editing.

    I’d say the John Clute might be the only full time reviewer/critique in the field so he would be in the professional category. But it’s up to the judges to make that decision.

  3. Well, Wolfe will have been paid for writing for Locus just as Finn will have been paid for writing Blood And Thunder. I can’t imagine either sum counts as a living though. I doubt many of the writers on the short story shortlist made their living that way either.

  4. I’m delighted to see Deanna Hoak on the list.

    And yes, of course you should read The Orphan’s Tales. What are you waiting for?

  5. Martin,
    The Finn book was published by a commercial publisher not a fan publisher. Perhaps if it had been published by fanpublishingareus, the Finn book would have been considered for the “non-pro” award. It doesn’t matter how much the author got paid for the book itself. Just as it doesn’t matter how much Gary does or does not get paid for his reviews. Does he review full time? No. He’s an academic.

    <<<<Well, Wolfe will have been paid for writing for Locus just as Finn will have been paid for writing Blood And Thunder. I can’t imagine either sum counts as a living though. I doubt many of the writers on the short story shortlist made their living that way either.<<<<

  6. Sorry, Ellen, you were the one who described doing it “for a living” as the criterion so I was going on that basis. I’m not sure why you’ve brought the commercial/fan distinction into this either. Finn and Wolfe are both writing for professional publishers (Monkeybrain and Locus). Neither Finn or Wolfe are full time SF critics (one works in the theatre, one in academia). What is the difference?

  7. I liked all the books in the Best Collection category. I’ll probably vote for Rickert or Ford. But how can Peter Beagle’s Line Between be left off the ballot entirely? Beagle, who is overdue for lifetime achievement award, has never won a World Fantasy Award.

    I know all awards are suspect, but I wish I couldn’t drive trucks through the flaws.

  8. Criterion for nonfiction not fiction, Martin. Fiction in this particular discussion is irrelevant as there are no separate categories in the WFA delineating where the fiction is published or how much the writer is paid.

    If you choose to you can certainly argue that there should be no difference of categories for the two Special Awards. But that isn’t how it currently works so one judges as one can.

    How would YOU define the Special award categories?

  9. Uh Miggy, you don’t get a vote. It’s a juried award. The way it works is that anyone who was a member of the convention the last year (or two–I don’t recall) or the current year can nominate. Two nominations from each category come from the con memberships, the rest are from the jury. The jury then decides.
    Sometimes the jury and the membership nominations are the same (the only reason I know is that that happened in at last one category the year I judged).

  10. Guess it doesn’t matter since my choice didn’t even get nominated.

    I think its interesting, though, that jury picks three nominees and then makes a decision. It means that the jury basically makes a decision and can defer to the membership if they’d like (or if their choice has already been nominated). Seems like it would be more honest just to have a juried award and not go through all the machinations.

    I still think Beagle’s book is a major oversight.

  11. Yes, it’s a shame that Peter’s book didn’t make it.

    What I’d be interested in finding out is over the years, which nominations were jury picked and which membership picked so that we could see how many (if any) of the membership choices won.

  12. Ellen–

    I think that would be very interesting. Mathematically the membership picks should win 40% of the time. That number should be higher if the judges accurately reflect the reading tastes of the WFC membership. (The membership gets two shots to pick the best work). If the number were markedly lower then either the process is flawed or the membership isn’t reading the best books before casting their ballots.

    The process is quite different than the Nebula Award. The Neb jury picks one outstanding work to add to each category and that pick hardly ever wins. Does anybody remember the last Neb Jury pick that did win? Is that kind of information even available?

  13. Even though I’ve followed the WFAs for years, I don’t know why the system as is, was put into place. It’s always been a juried award. Maybe the secret masters who created and run the awards feel that giving the membership input will widen the “possibilities.” Although often the jury ranges very broadly in their reading so I’m not sure it’s necessary.

    “Goddesses” by Linda Nagata won the Nebula after being put on the ballot by the judges. I believe there was at least one more in the past few years.

    I know for a fact that a nonfiction title put on the Stoker ballot by the oversight committee won the award that year.

  14. I believe that the below was also a Nebula Jury addition:
    Novelette: “Louise’s Ghost” by Kelly Link (Stranger Things Happen Small Beer Press Jul01)

  15. Um, but we weren’t talking about fiction just now. I guess I still don’t understand the distinction since it doesn’t answer by example above.

    How would YOU define the Special award categories?

    I’d just have a Special Award category.

    Opening up a further can of worms, I know Rose was pleased to see Deanna Hoak on there and she is a nice person who a lot of people like but it is pretty ridiculous having a copy editor on there. What is the jury voting on?

  16. Martin, re Deanna Hoak, I take the Special Award categories as covering anyone (or magazine, or institution, or whatever) which has made an exceptional contribution to fantasy and is not otherwise eligible for an award. I have no idea how good she is as a copy-editor, but I certainly think a good enough copy-editor would be a legitimate candidate for such an award: their work is by and large thankless, unrecognised, and enormously valuable.

  17. As long as you can make them understand that when you write, “Hi Jack!” you don’t mean, “Hi, Jack!”

  18. Well, quite. From Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s essay on the subject in Making Book: “…a botched copyedit is singularly memorable. Writers wax eloquent on the subject, which is no surprise once you’ve heard a few of the stories…my favorite concerns one of many odd queries that came in on a manuscript at another house. It objected to a character’s having brown hair and blue eyes. People with brown hair, it stiffly informed the author, simply never have blue eyes. And then there was the copyeditor who inserted the nonexistent pronoun ‘shim’ throughout a collection of Andy Rooney’s essays…and the one who queried the use of the word ‘democracy’ in a historical novel set in ancient Greece: ‘Seems awfully modern,’ she said; ‘did they have that concept back then?'”

  19. I’ve remarked before that I find it a bit odd that SF awards are often a collision of professional, industry and fan awards. However I would certainly agree that copy editors perform a valuable service. So too do the printers and typesetters. Like them copy editing is essentially an invisible service and so it becomes a personality award. (Not that most SF awards aren’t.)

  20. oops. I see my brackets just deleted what I quoted.

    Let’s try it this way instead:

    You brought fiction into the discussion by saying:
    “I doubt many of the writers on the short story shortlist made their living that way either.”

  21. What Deanna Hoak does is far from invisible to those who have worked with her. Go to and see the list of endorsements from authors. I met Deanna when China Mieville raved to me about how talented she is and how he felt she actually improved upon his prose. I’ve since found that every author who works with her raves about her – and believe me, this is NOT the usual reaction to a copyeditor that their job engenders. Deanna is an absolute treasure. I’m thrilled beyond words to see her on the short list.

  22. I can appreciate that copyeditors are important and often overlooked, but there seems to be no way for the jury to really assess the work of a copyeditor except for the metric of how many people they worked for say nice things about them. I guess for me it reinforces that the WFAs seem to be very much a pro award given to pros by a jury of their peers, so fair enough if that’s what they are after, but they are pretty much irrelevant to me.

  23. I’m with Liz here. Without access to a ‘before’ and ‘after’ text how can anyone actually judge a copy-editors work? How do I know who has copy-edited any of the books on my shelf? I barely know who the overall editor is in many cases.

  24. A similar argument can be made about the recently added “Best Editor- Long Form” Hugo category, which is voted on by people in even less of a position to know what a nominee has actually done. Considering how many novelists are hard pressed to say anything positive about their editors, I think Deanna Hoak’s nomination has better justification than a lot of others.

  25. Ted, I suppose the argument for the Best Long Form Editor Hugo runs something like this: you can measure the performance of editors by the works they choose to publish – and, over a longer period, by the writers they develop. They will have had to go into bat for a given work internally and externally, advocated for why people should buy it etc etc. Their success or otherwise, and their taste in what they choose and fight for, is, I think, something that an outsider can measure – just as one can for the contents of a magazine.

  26. Graham: you may be able to measure the performance of editors over the long term by the works they choose, but there are still two significant problems with the Best Long Form Editor. 1) it’s an award for achievement over the previous year, not for lifetime achievement. How do you measure that? And 2) I suspect as many as 90% of the voters wouldn’t know who edited any particular books. Only Tor name their editors (and not always), other than that even I would be hard pressed to name the editors for any particular publishing house, let alone narrow it down to who achieved what in any particular year.

    As for the question about copy editors: since I live with one I know how valuable their work is. But without a before and after manuscript, how can anyone else know? And most copy editors – even the very good ones – do not receive any public recognition. I think Maureen has been mentioned in only one of the books she has copy edited. So how can the voters have any notion of who or what they are voting for?

  27. Paul

    Re who does what, this wiki is an obvious starting place. Can’t vouch for its comprehensiveness, but it’s a start. Re the year’s achievement vs life achievement point: you’re probably right, but the same is true of many other awards in general and some Hugo categories in particular.

  28. Graham, the wiki may be useful, but not that useful. I went to the first name with an entry, Lou Anders, and in 2007 he edited some superb books: River of Gods, Mappa Mundi, etc, etc. Spot the problem. If I’m a voter for the award (which I’m not) what on earth do I base my vote on?

  29. A quick count shows that there are 33 editors listed on the wiki, but only 10 of them actually have a page with the books they edited on, and although it is a wiki anyone can update I’m not sure there are many epople who actually have the knowledge needed to update them, besides the editors themselves.

    Juliet Ulman’s page page does make it clear which reprints she has done some editing on.

  30. I’m sure this has been mentioned before, but the ostensible editor of a novel may or may not be the person who acquired the novel, or the author.

    It perhaps goes without saying that all award categories have their flaws. I suppose one question that arises is, does the existence of a profoundly flawed category serve as justification for creating a new, similarly flawed category?

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