Midnight tomorrow is the deadline to submit nominations for this year’s BSFA Awards. I sent mine in yesterday, with a view to suggesting things that might otherwise be overlooked. I won’t go over the novels I nominated, because they’re mostly covered elsewhere. But coming up with short fiction ideas made me dig further into my reading from last year, and it might be a little more interesting.
I’m aware that most of these will be long shots (though you never know…); I’ll probably be the only person in the BSFA who’s read some of them. But I can highlight stuff all the same; so here, in no particular order, is what I nominated:
‘Countless Stones’ – Lucy Wood
I couldn’t neglect my favourite book of short fiction from 2012, so here’s a story from Diving Belles. ‘Countless Stones’ is probably the strongest fantasy story in the collection (some of the tales have a lighter fantastic touch than others), and it really illustrates Wood’s approach to combining the supernatural and mundane, as her protagonist treats turning to stone yet again as just another inconvenience, no worse than having to deal with an ex-partner.
‘Black Box’ – Jennifer Egan
This is the story from the New Yorker‘s science fiction issue that was also serialised on Twitter. We had a good discussion about it on the blog last summer. It’s a flawed story, but also an interesting one, and I thought it should have a chance to be considered.
‘The Lonely Hunter’ – John Grant
John Grant is a friend, but I nominated this novella (published as a stand-alone volume by PS) because of how much I enjoyed its blurring of reality and fiction.
‘How We Ran the Night’ – Keith Ridgway
A story/chapter from Hawthorn & Child. I couldn’t call the book as a whole speculative fiction, for all that it shares some of the same sensibilities. But this particular piece toys with the idea of a fantastical society of wolves living in London, and is worth attention in its own right.
‘Ghost in the Machine’ – Christopher Parvin
There are a number of sf stories in the latest Bristol Prize anthology, but I decided to limit my nominations to one story per book, and this is it. I found Parvin’s take on the idea of robots living alongside humans amusing – and its collage structure works well, too.
‘Switchgirls’ – Tania Hershman
This piece from Still is particularly short, but carries emotional heft and is nicely ambiguous.
‘The Kendal Iconoclasm’ – Paul Rooney
One of a handful of fantastic stories from Rooney’s collection Dust, this weaves horror out of characters’ awareness that they’re in a story and can’t escape.
Before I finish, a note on one of my non-fiction nominations. John Mullan’s dismissive attitude towards science fiction is well documented, but I nominated him for his Guardian Book Club series on Iain M. Banks’s Use of Weapons. This nomination wasn’t entirely frivolous: when he’s focused on analysing the book, Mullan’s critique is engaged and engaging. Yet there’s still the odd swipe at the genre; the shifts in tone are quite bizarre. But, for all that, I thought the articles were worth acknowledging.
The BSFA Award shortlists will be published next week – I look forward to seeing what’s on there.