BSFA Awards: Shortlists

Announced last night:

Best Novel:
Alice in Sunderland – Bryan Talbot (Jonathan Cape)
Black Man – Richard Morgan (Gollancz)
Brasyl – Ian McDonald (Gollancz)
The Execution Channel – Ken MacLeod (Orbit)
The Prefect – Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz)
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – Michael Chabon (Fourth Estate)

Not much I can say about this category, for obvious reasons, except that I called five out of the six nominees ahead of time, and I only didn’t call the sixth (the Talbot) because the shortlist usually has five items on it (ie there must have been a tie this time). Clearly, BSFA members, you are too predictable.

As has been noted elsewhere, in a friendslocked livejournal post I can’t link to, this and all the other lists are all-male. That this list is all-male doesn’t surprise me in the slightest: taking a broad view of “science fiction”, there were a grand total of eight science fiction novels by women published in the UK last year, and only five of those were published as genre science fiction, compared to about sixty science fiction novels by men, of which about fifty were published as genre science fiction. Fantasy novels, of course, are also eligible for the award, but we all know that BSFA members don’t read fantasy.

Best Short Fiction:
Lighting Out‘ – Ken MacLeod (disLocations; NewCon Press)
Terminal‘ – Chaz Brenchley (disLocations; NewCon Press)
The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate‘ – Ted Chiang (F&SF, September)
The Gift of Joy‘ – Ian Whates (TQR)
‘The Sledge-Maker’s Daughter’ – Alastair Reynolds (Interzone #209)

Not, it has to be said, the strongest list in the world. Chiang should obviously win.

Best Artwork
Cracked World‘ – Andy Bigwood (cover of disLocations anthology, published by NewCon Press)
H P Lovecraft in Britain‘ – Les Edwards (cover of chapbook by Stephen Jones, published by the British Fantasy Society)
Lunar Flare‘ – Richard Marchand (cover of Interzone #211)
‘Metal Dragon Year’ – Kenn Brown (cover of Interzone #212)

An ok list; suspect I’ll be voting for the Marchand.

BSFA Fiftieth Anniversary Award: Best Novel of 1958:
A Case of Conscience – James Blish (first published by Ballantine)
Have Spacesuit, Will Travel – Robert A Heinlein (first published in F&SF, August – October 1958)
Non-Stop – Brian Aldiss (first published by Faber & Faber)
The Big Time – Fritz Leiber (first published in Galaxy, March/April 1958)
The Triumph of Time – James Blish (first published by Avon; subsequent UK title A Clash of Cymbals)
Who? – Algis Budrys (first published by Pyramid)

Quick! To Amazon marketplace! I’m really looking forward to reading these, and will try to post my thoughts before Eastercon.

You may have noticed that the non-fiction category is missing. The reason for that is:

Nominations were also invited for the best non-fiction of 2007, but although a number of works were nominated there was no consensus and so no shortlist could be formed. A non-fiction award will therefore not be presented this year.

So it goes. Paul Raven isn’t thrilled, but says:

I suppose there are a lot of ways to look at that – I’m going to take the charitable view and assume they knew that the limited number of us who care about such things would rather thrash it out for ourselves than submit to a consensus we couldn’t agree with.

In which case, ladies and gentlemen – start your engines!

I do find it a little disappointing that BSFA members can come up with a shortlist for novels published fifty years ago, but not non-fiction published last year. So: I already mentioned some of the non-fiction I liked; if I get a chance this weekend, i’ll mention some of the individual articles, essays and reviews I rated, as well. If the limited number of the rest of you who care about this category would like to chime in with the things you nominated, and why, that’d be neat.

11 thoughts on “BSFA Awards: Shortlists

  1. taking a broad view of “science fiction”, there were a grand total of eight science fiction novels by women published in the UK last year

    That’s interesting, because the full longlist of nominations is now up at and there are by my count 9 novels by women that were nominated but didn’t make it to the shortlist. (My count could well be wrong – it was only a very quick check over what was in the list.)

  2. are by my count 9 novels by women that were nominated but didn’t make it to the shortlist.

    Yeah, several of them are fantasy. (And by the same token, some of the sf novels — such as The Stone Gods — didn’t get nominated.)

  3. Yeah, several of them are fantasy.

    Aha, that explains it. Well, I did say it was a very quick count.

  4. I’m not saying my count is perfect, either; for one thing it’s based on what was submitted to the Clarke award, which this year means no media tie-ins and very nearly no YA sf. For the record, I was thinking of Dark Space by Marianne de Pierres, Selling Out by Justina Robson, Bloodmind by Liz Williams, the latest Acorna’s Children book by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Anne Scarborough, Sound Mind by Tricia Sullivan, The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall, The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson, and The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas. Stretching a point, I guess you could include Lionel Shriver’s The Post-Birthday World as well.

  5. Is it just me, or is the inclusion of Alice in Sunderland by Bryan Talbot in a list of SF novels something that’s really, really odd? It’s not the ‘graphic novel’ aspect, it’s the fact that I can’t understand how in the name of hell it qualifies as science fiction. It’s a very effective stream-of-consciousness history of interconnections surrounding Alice in Wonderland, and it’s beautifully done- but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s doing on the list.

  6. Happy enough to oblige Andrew, I suppose. Though I can’t say too much against the novel list — it seems pretty strong throughout. But the short fiction list is, well, eccentric. One outstanding story — the Chiang, obviously. And a good Ken MacLeod story that is the third best short story of the year — by MacLeod! I haven’t read the Whates. I thought the Reynolds OK but not great — I know others have liked it more than I did. And the Brenchley story was again just OK.

    Really, this is as weak a shortlist as I expect to see in the Nebula Short Fiction categories. As ever, the main problem is not exactly the stories that made it, but the many outstanding stories that didn’t. (Which I won’t list because I already have, elsewhere — a look at my Best of the Year contents will represent a strong hint though. (The Chiang story is a special case vis-a-vis that, by the way — be assured I consider it plenty good enough to be listed with the stories I’m reprinting.)

    So the BSFA is doing Retro-Hugos now, eh? I didn’t know that. Is this a one time thing? Not a bad shortlist (though I remain astonished at the 1953 lineup, featured on the last Retro-Hugo shortlist). Other candidates: The Languages of Pao, Red Alert, Next of Kin, VOR, We Have Fed Our Sea, War of the Wing Men. But I won’t argue seriously that any of those need replace anything on the shortlist.

    Rich Horton

  7. Happy enough to oblige Andrew, I suppose.

    Very good of you, though I think he was looking for someone to do it at SF Awards Watch, not here. ;-)

    As ever, the main problem is not exactly the stories that made it, but the many outstanding stories that didn’t.

    Yes. Even allowing for the fact that most of a UK-based readership aren’t going to have seen many anthologies, and probably are less likely to read Asimov’s and F&SF (although Chiang’s nomination somewhat contradicts that), I still think this isn’t the best selection. I’m also quite surprised that nothing from Foundation 100 made it.

    Is this a one time thing?

    Yes — to mark the 50th anniversary of the BSFA, this year. And it’s not a retro Hugo, obviously, it’s a retro BSFA Award! Although, in practice, it seems to have generated a shortlist remarkably similar to that for the 1958 Hugo.

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