A couple of days back the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) released its voting form for this year’s BSFA Award.  In doing so, they also informed the world at large of this year’s shortlist.  As usual, my interest is in the novel category which featured four novels (last year it was five):

  • The Rift by Nina Allan –  (Titan Books)
  • Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock –  (47North)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid –  (Hamish Hamilton)
  • Provenance by Ann Leckie –  (Orbit)

I’m very excited to see both The Rift and Exit West on the shortlist (I’d be surprised if both of these novels aren’t nominated for the Clarke Award later in the year).  The Rift is an astonishing novel – a superlative I maybe over-use, but in this case, it’s spot on – that I marked as one of my favourites for 2017 on the Strange Horizon end of year wrap-up.  I was also very fond of Exit West, a book Kirstyn McDermott and I spoke at length about on episode 65 of The Writer and The Critic podcast.

As for the novels by Ann Leckie and Anne Charnock (or as I like to say, the differently spelt Ann(e)s), I apologise for not having read Dreams Before the Start of Time but not so much Provenance.  I’ve made a hash of not picking up more novels by Charnock having enjoyed A Calculated Life.  I understand that Dream Before is a sort of sequel to Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind so while I can’t promise anything I do hope to read that book – the first – sometime this year.  With Provenance I’m a little less inclined to read it, not because I think Leckie is a poor writer, the Ancillary Justice trilogy is excellent (well the first and third books… less so the second), but because I was hoping she’d move on from that Universe with her fourth novel.  I understand Provenance is very different, and I may get to it, but what I’m truly looking forward to is what Leckie does next.

As for what else could have been on the shortlist, well if I were a member of such an august body like the BSFA I would have nominated The Rift but also:

  • H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker –  (William Heinemann)
  • Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfa? –  (Sceptre)
  • Austral by Paul McAuley –  (Gollancz)

Of these, if I could only replace one book with those shortlisted above, I would knock out Provenance and substitute it with Spaceman of Bohemia, a marvellous novel that hasn’t received enough genre attention.

Still, this is not a shortlist to be cranky with.  Congratulations then to the authors and all the nominees in the other categories, including, but not limited to, Tade Thompson and Paul Kincaid.