Over the past almost-year, a top secret group of bloggers and fans has been plotting the most nefarious of plots: to decide, subjectively upon the best genre works of 2020, and then throw rocks at them. By "throw" we mean "lovingly post", and the rocks all have a nice message painted on them, and it's... an award? We suppose?
Yep, it must be time for Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards (SCKA) again!
SCKA last made an appearance on Nerds of a Feather at the longlist stage, when our team of epic jurors (including Adri and Sean) nominated their favourites across the seven categories. Since then, we've read furiously, narrowed each category down to a shortlist of two or three nominees, and then picked our favourite from among them. I'm therefore excited to introduce both our winners and other shortlisted works in this post: all are worthy of your consideration, so go and check them out!
Without further ado, the winners:
Best Short Story
Our jury said: This is a story about an athlete competing in a Race which forces her to push her sick body to its limits to win a cure. There's a perfect blend of cameraderie between the main character and their training partners, and the desperate, unfair competition they are pushed into to survive; these are characters still fighting in the face of constant, overwhelming struggle and that's a powerful, challenging, necessary thing.
Also Shortlisted: Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
Adri says: Our SCKA shortlists don't often overlap directly with the Hugo awards, but this pair happen to be the two I am agonising about most on that ballot too. Empress of Salt and Fortune is a well deserved winner, but this really could have gone either way.
Best Debut Novel
Our jury said: With a young woman discovering magic at an elite school, Legendborn could have felt like we’d read it all before. Instead, the panel were impressed with how Deonn combined familiar tropes and well-known legends into something different, avoiding the obvious to deliver a tender exploration of grief and Black girl magic in a richly crafted world touching on slavery, privilege and secret societies.
Also Shortlisted: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Swoon Reads); Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Hot Key Books)
Adri says: We ended up with three excellent books shortlisted from a very YA-heavy new category: I love all of these books, but Legendborn's smart, sideways take on a classic genre story set it apart.
Best Blurred Boundaries Novel
Our jury said: This stylish thriller blends Gothic tropes with 50s noir and body horror. Expect modern themes of prejudice and complicity in an unapologetically creepy tale of controlling families and psychedelic fungus.