Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Locus Award 2012 Nominees/Predicted Winners

The Locus Awards (named after the Locus SF Foundation) are becoming a bigger and bigger deal in SF/F. Though still not quite as prestigious as the Hugos or Nebulas, they nevertheless do some interesting things that set them apart. Like, for example, giving separate awards for best science fiction and best fantasy novel, and giving the n00bs an opportunity for some recognition in the "best first novel" category. It's nice to see some variety in how the major awards do things.

Oh, and if you like that kind of thing, the award ceremony is in the wonderful (and super nerd-friendly) city of Seattle, June 15-17. It's going to be hosted by award magnet/author Connie Willis too, so I imagine tickets will go quickly.

On to the nominees and my predicted winners...

Science Fiction Novel  

Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
11/22/63, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton as 11.22.63)
Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Rule 34, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
The Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge (Tor)

[Prediction: Embassytown has got to be the front-runner, but since it's the front-runner for everything, that increases the chances of an upset at a smaller award trying to separate itself from the Hugos and Nebulas. I don't think it will be Leviathan Wakes or Rule 34, though they're both super fun and may each be on a fast train to Hollywood as we speak. I'll go out on a limb and guess The Children of the Sky, Vinge's first novel since Locus winner Rainbows End, wins. Okay, fine...that wasn't much of a limb.]

Fantasy Novel 

A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin (Bantam; Harper Voyager UK)
Snuff, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
The Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss (DAW; Gollancz)
Deathless, Catherynne M. Valente (Tor)
Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)

[Prediction: While there will be some pressure to give the award to George R.R. Martin, I don't think the 4th best book out of 5 does the trick. Nor Rothfuss' second chapter, though it's bound to get a lot of votes. I think it's got to be Deathless, a critical hit explores the darkest chapter in Russia's history through the lens of Slavic folklore. At least, it should be.]

First Novel 

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline (Crown; Century)
God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade)
Soft Apocalypse, Will McIntosh (Night Shade)
The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday)
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime)

[Prediction: This is a hard one, as I haven't read any of the nominated books. Fantasy Book Critic has a review of God's War that makes it seem plausible, but since I love virtually any zombie-free post-apocalyptia, I'm going for Soft Apocalypse, which sounds really really good. Might order that tonight, actually.]

Short Story

“The Way It Works Out and All”, Peter S. Beagle (F&SF 7-8/11)
“The Case of Death and Honey”, Neil Gaiman (A Study in Sherlock)
“The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
“The Bread We Eat in Dreams”, Catherynne M. Valente (Apex 11/11)
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld 4/11)

[Prediction: Neil Gaiman offers an exquisite Sherlock Holmes story that explores the character's (and the author's) love of beekeeping. It's a great story and a great treatment of an iconic character by a wildly popular author, a match made in award heaven. He's got some stiff competition from Ken Liu, a very talented writer whose story "The Paper Menagerie" was one of the best I read in 2011; and E. Lily Yu, who blew my mind (and those of most award nomination committees) with “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.” All 3 are plausible winners, but I'm going with Gaiman based on the fact that Liu and Yu are my front-runners for the Hugo and Nebula, and a sense I have that Locus will march to the beat of a somewhat different drummer this year. But again, all great stories, all plausible winners here.]


Welcome to Bordertown, Holly Black & Ellen Kushner, eds. (Random House)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-eighth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Steampunk!, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, eds. (Candlewick; Walker UK)
Eclipse Four, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
Engineering Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris; Solaris UK)

[Prediction: The Year's Best is a safe choice, and it's a great collection, but it feels like an uninspired choice too. Eclipse Four is full of great, emotional and thought-provoking stories, and has a more interesting theme than just "the best of the year," so that's my choice.]


Sleight of Hand, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)
The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, Volume 1, Carol Emshwiller (Nonstop)
Two Worlds and In Between, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
After the Apocalypse, Maureen F. McHugh (Small Beer)
The Bible Repairman and Other Stories, Tim Powers (Tachyon)

[Prediction:It's got to be After the Apocalypse, and not just because I like that kind of stuff. It's a great collection of stories, and has a lot of buzz about it. Surefire winner, IMO.]

In just over a month, we'll see how inaccurate these predictions are!

UPDATE: Worlds Without End, one of my favorite SF/F sites (and good friend of this blog), has a handy, searchable list of past Locus Award winners. Check it out!