May 12

And the John W. Campbell Award finalists have been announced…

… I had no plans of reading the shortlist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award until Jonathan Strahan pointed it out to me this morning.

Here are the finalists:

  • The Race by Nina Allan
  • A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
  • The Peripheral by William Gibson
  • Afterparty by Daryl Gregory
  • Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
  • Wolves by Simon Ings
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Defenders by Will McIntosh
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
  • The Bees by Laline Paull
  • Bête by Adam Roberts
  • Lock In by John Scalzi
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Echopraxia by Peter Watts

First off, yes this is the biggest single shortlist published by a genre award (that isn’t a longlist that’s going to be whittled down later).  And while it does look a tad intimidating, at least for award lovers like me, of the 16 books nominated I’ve:

  • reviewed five;
  • read eight (and a third if you include Annihilation); and
  • have another 5 and two-thirds lined up to read.

This means there’s only three books on this list that I wasn’t already planning to read and review.  And given they include a Gregory and a Roberts how could I say no to this list.  Frankly, if you want a summary of high quality Science Fiction published in 2014, sans Sad Puppy mishigas, this is the recommended reading list for you.  (Except for maybe The Martian which I really didn’t like at all).


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  1. Lindsay

    Two on the list that you haven’t read that I have:

    A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias is an alien culture/first contact novel with two interstellar races (humans and a bonobo-like alien species) monitoring a third pre-spaceflight alien species whose habitat is deep-sea thermal vents. When the monitoring inadvertently becomes first contact, hijinks ensue. It’s a lot of fun and something that wouldn’t be out of place on the screen directed by James Cameron. It’s not in the least bit “literary” though and I doubt you’d like it, particularly given the comparison a list like this forces to brilliant novels like The Race and Area X. It’s more on the Martian end of the spectrum.

    Echopraxia by Peter Watts is excellent, but fairly typical of his work. His books are always science-heavy, concentrating on (wallowing in?) some of the most disturbing and depressing implications of his futurism. I know a lot of people who couldn’t handle the “vampires in space” thing from the previous book and those people aren’t going to be any happier with this one.

  2. Mondyboy

    I think Watts is an interesting writer based on the small amount of his work I’ve read. So I’m looking forward to Echopraxia. And I don’t mind fun at all. I zipped through The Martian, I just found the main character to be an obnoxious, sexist dick. So, if the Cambias is fun and doesn’t feature an obnoxious dick for a main character I might like it.

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