Just a brief post today, as I have some family business to deal with over the next couple of days that’s going to take what little energy I have left that the cold I’m dealing with isn’t sapping. The next proper post is going to be on Saturday, and will be the next in the series of posts on The Just City.
But for now, a brief Award Eligibility Post. I wasn’t going to do one of these, but I saw many, many authors all saying the same thing on Twitter today — “let people know which of your books are eligible for awards, because no-one else will!”
So, using the Hugo categories as a guide, I would be eligible this year for Best Fan Writer, for the blog posts I’ve done on SF and comics here, on MIndless Ones, and on my Patreon, but not much else. I’ve not published any short fiction in 2017 — annoyingly my short story “The Book of the Enemy” is out next week, just after awards consideration cut-offs.
I have, though, published two novels, both of them rather outside my comfort zone. In 2017, the thing I was trying to do with fiction was, primarily, to teach myself some craft techniques I didn’t feel like I was very good at. What I’m interested in as a reader and writer is completely orthogonal to the things that most writing craft exercises teach you, and I find the structures and preoccupations of most genre fiction a little alien — fundamentally what I’m interested in most as a writer or reader is not the same aspects that most commercial fiction is good at.
(It’s not even really what the novel per se is good at — one of the big revelations for me a few years ago was discovering what a Menippean satire was, and how many of the books I like, which I’d been thinking of as novels, weren’t novels at all by many definitions but fell into that category instead).
But another thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because something is not my thing doesn’t mean it has no value, and so in the two novels I published in 2017 I tried very consciously and deliberately to use all the various genre-writer tricks (the things you learn from sources like the Writing Excuses podcast or “How to Write” books) and to write books that found a balance between the idea-driven writing I like and the character-relationships-and setting-driven writing that is currently fashionable in commercial fiction.
(This sounds like I’m being contemptuous of that stuff. I’m really, really, not. I wouldn’t have spent the best part of a year trying to teach myself how to do this if I didn’t believe it had value).
The first novel I published in 2017, Destroyer, would definitely be eligible for any SFF awards. It’s firmly in a horror/adventure/alternate-history genre, with magic and elder gods and secret histories. It’s also, I think, the book which of the two falls more on the side of being about the adventure rather than the ideas — it’s a book my dad likes, and he likes books that dads like.
The second novel, The Basilisk Murders, is only dubiously SF, although it would probably be eligible for any murder mystery awards. It’s set in the far distant future of… er, 2018… and while it deals with the same themes that much of my SF writing does, it’s doing so without much in the way of actual SFness, so probably wouldn’t be considered for those awards (though it’s the same kind of not-SF as something like Cryptonomicon, if you see what I mean). That one falls far more on the “ideas” side of the scale than Destroyer does, and I think it’s the better book of the two, but I also think that it’s less good at the craft-level stuff I’ve been teaching myself.
(The sequel to The Basilisk Murders, out soon, falls way over onto the Destroyer side of things again, being far more of a conventional whodunnit and far less of an excuse to talk about transhumanist ideas.)
Also last year I released the third volume of my book on the Beach Boys. That was a really hard book to write, but I don’t know of anything it would be eligible for.
So anyway, that’s what I’ve done that’s eligible for awards. That’s not to say I think any of the books deserve awards, but I’m not an unbiased observer. If you do feel like nominating me for something, those are your options.
Now I’m going to go and feel guilty for being such a self-promoting egomaniac.
The beach boys book concluded a marvellous journey of musical wonder and awfulness. You deserve some kind of award for all of them.
(The music, not the books, could be awful. The books were never less than wonderful)