Converging on Consensus

We are now deep in the thick of the 2011 awards season, with the announcement of the Locus, Hugo, and Nebula shortlists as well as other finalists and short lists. I thought I’d check in and see if there is any consensus forming about the fiction from 2010. Awards often form an interim-step in canon formation, after all. I went through all the short lists I could find for 2010 fiction, and these are the books and stories that were nominated for more than one award. [Sources: Locus Online, SF Awards Watch, SFSignal]


  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin [Locus Hugo Tiptree Nebula Crawford]
  • The Dervish House, Ian McDonald (Pyr; Gollancz) [Locus Hugo BSFA Clarke]
  • Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis [Locus Hugo Nebula]
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor [Locus Tiptree Nebula]
  • Zoo City, Lauren Beukes [Clarke BSFA Crawford]
  • Cryoburn, Lois McMaster Bujold [Locus Hugo]
  • Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal [Locus Nebula]
  • Lightborn, Tricia Sullivan [Clarke BSFA]
  • Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi [Locus Norton]
  • Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins [Locus Norton]
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett [Locus Norton]
  • Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld [Locus Norton]
  • Feed, Mira Grant [Hugo, Shirley Jackson]
  • A Dark Matter, Peter Straub [Shirley Jackson, Stoker]



Short Story

  • The Things”, Peter Watts (Clarkesworld 1/10) [Locus Hugo BSFA, Shirley Jackson]
  • Ponies” by Kij Johnson [Hugo Nebula]
  • “Booth’s Ghost” Karen Joy Fowler [Locus, Shirley Jackson]

Starting with novels, it seems like an exciting year for new authors. N. K. Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Mira Grant are all relatively new on the scene, especially for novels. It looks like there is a strong consensus on YA novels, with the Locus YA list lining up pretty neatly with the other YA-specific category, the Andre Nortons associated with the Nebulas. It looks like Peter Straub’s A Dark Matter is a strong contender for the horror awards, with no other book getting both Stoker and Shirley Jackson nods. Lauren Beukes Zoo City seems to have made a stronger impression in the UK than either the US or Australia. But for sheer number of awards nominations, it seems Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House are the clear leaders of the year. It’s also nice to see Who Fears Death and Zoo City up there on the noms lists; it’s great to see stories that are moving away from the US/UK/Euro-centric defaults of much sf and fantasy.

At the shorter lengths it’s a bit harder to get multiple nominations. If we counted by nods for author instead of specific story Aliette de Bodard and Kij Johnson’s positions would be even stronger. As it stands it looks like Peter Watts “The Things” and James Patrick Kelly’s “Plus or Minus” are the clear stand-outs for 2010. For novellas, Ted Chiang’s Lifecycle of Software Objects and Rachel Swirsky’s “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” also seem to be leading the pack, which is a real feather in the cap of Bill Schaeffer at Subterranean. I for one am very grateful for what Subterranean is doing in keeping a venue open for the highest quality novellas, always a tricky length.

By the way, the three novelettes and two short stories (excluding “Booth’s Ghost”) on this consensus list make a fairly neat package for people wanting to catch up on short fiction online. Is there any interest in doing a Short Story Club of the sort that Torque Control used to run? The 2010 run already covered “The Things”, but I imagine that its staying power should add a bit to the discussions, and all the other stories would be new.

Edited to add Clarke and Crawford award and Shirley Jackson short fiction nominees

13 thoughts on “Converging on Consensus

  • May 13, 2011 at 4:42 am

    “The Things” is also a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award.

  • May 13, 2011 at 7:43 am

    There is some consensus here but it also really highlights the chasm between US and UK publishing.

  • May 13, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Seconding Martin’s observation. Also, The Dervish House was also nominated for the Clarke.

  • May 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    OK, updated with Shirley Jackson short fiction and Clarke award nominees. That adds “Booth’s Ghost” by Karen Joy Fowler and “Lightborn” by Tricia Sullivan to Short story and Novel respectively.

    That’s a good point about BSFA/Clarke awards vs. Hugo/Locus/Nebula awards (UK vs US), although it seems both sides are in agreement about Ian McDonald this year.

  • May 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    It is important to remember that different awards have different eligibility criteria. The Straub novel, for example, features on the two dark fiction award lists, but not on any of the others. The BSFA Novel and Clarke require UK publication, so may miss out on some works. Rather more interesting is the BSFA short fiction category, which is open to all works (I think in English) but is dominated by Interzone stories.

  • May 13, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Cheryl – Yes, there are also apples and oranges in that the awards range from popular vote to selection by small panel of judges. It’s still interesting to see what’s getting the most attention, though.

  • May 15, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Jemisin was also on the Crawford Award short list.

  • May 16, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Isn’t Beukes also an example of the field moving away from the “US/UK/Euro defaults”?

  • May 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Jo – Very true! I’ve updated the post to reflect that. (When I wrote it originally, I had left out the Crawford nomination, and Zoo City was further down the list. This has been a bit of a work in progress.)

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