The Locus Awards Weekend took place on June 23-26, 2021, in its second virtual-only iteration. Connie Willis emceed the awards ceremony along with host Liza Trombi. There were over 150 registrations, and full members received a Locus t-shirt and awards program. There was also a sliding scale, attendance-only membership available.
This year’s online event added panels and doubled the number of readings. A pocket convention, the online events had seven two-author reading sessions, Wednesday-Friday evenings, with Sarah Pinsker & Sofia Samatar, Meg Elison & Naomi Kritzer, R.B. Lemberg & Tim Pratt, A.T. Greenblatt & Usman T. Malik, Catherynne M. Valente & John Wisell, Charlie Jane Anders & Aliette de Bodard, and Stephen Graham Jones & Connie Willis. A nighttime online hangout on Discord struggled with bandwidth problems, with some members unable get in successfully to the video chat rooms.
Saturday programming started at 10:00 a.m. with well-attended panels leading up to a salon, all held via Zoom: “Origin Stories: From First Draft to First Novel Publication” with Maggie Tokuda-Hall (m), Premee Mohamed, Andrea Stewart, and Natalie Zina Walschots; “Speculative Mood: Making Short Fiction Shine” with Neil Clarke, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, Zelda Knight, and dave ring; “Narratives in Action: Plot Traditions and the Best Way to Break Them” with C.L. Polk (m), Jeffrey Ford, Sarah Gailey, and Tochi Onyebuchi; “Future Tech: Working the Science into Your Fiction” with Cory Doctorow (m), Paul McAuley, Karen Osborne, and Wole Talabi; and the Donut Salon (BYOD) with Sarah Pinsker, MC Connie Willis, and Gary K. Wolfe “In Conversation”.
The awards started online at 3:00 p.m., with editor-in-chief Liza Groen Trombi opening the video ceremony and introducing Willis. Willis entertained the crowd with highlights of the last year: online events gone wrong; Zoom meetings with unwittingly underdressed colleagues; intruding animals and children; committee meetings that end up being more entertaining than intended and go viral (see the “Handforth Parish Council Meeting Descends into Chaos” online); techniques for surviving the pandemic; and conspiracy theories about the vaccine. Then the stage was handed off to Locus magazine senior editor Francesca Myman to present the first award.
The Locus Award for Best Illustrated and Art Book went to The Art of NASA: The Illustrations that Sold the Missions by Piers Bizony. Bizony thanked everyone for nominating the book, and spoke about the way that SF inspires science, saying, “I really appreciate the way your readers have understood the link between speculative fiction and how it can affect reality.”
The Best Non-Fiction Award, presented by Locus non-fiction reviewer and Roundtable editor Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, went to The Magic of Terry Pratchett by Marc Burrows. In an entertaining acceptance speech, Burrows dedicated the award to Pratchett and thanked wife Nicoletta, publishers Pen & Sword, cover artist Andrea C. White, contributors, and much more.
John Picacio won the award for Best Artist. Grateful, he said that this is his 25th year in the industry and that awards are about “the people who gave you chances and opportunities.” He thanked Rebecca Roanhorse and Saga’s Joe Monti for bringing him on to do the cover of Black Sun, as well as the art directors, and Irene Gallo of Tor.
Ellen Datlow won the award for Best Editor. She thanked her mother, saying her parents “always encouraged me to read whatever and whenever I wanted.” She thanked the writers she’s worked with, her publishers, Tordotcom, and the readers.
Best Publisher went to Tor and Best Magazine to Tor.com. Devi Pillai accepted for Tor, saying, “This is an auspicious start to my new job!” Pillai thanked the authors, the editors, and the various departments, saying, “This is a wonderful team, and one of the best in the business.”
The award for Best Magazine was accepted by Chris Lough for Tor.com, who thanked Tom Doherty, Fritz Foy, Devi Pillai, Irene Gallo, Bridget McGovern, and readers “for sticking with us through arguably one of the hardest years in modern history.”
The Locus Award for Best Collection, presented by Locus reviewer Gary K. Wolfe, went to Ken Liu’s The Hidden Girl and Other Stories. Liu said, “There’s an incredible joy that comes from sharing something, that you thought only you could understand, with others, and finding that they respond, and see, and understand the beauty you wanted to share.” Liu thanked Locus, publisher Saga, and editor Joe Monti.
Best Anthology went to The Book of Dragons, edited by Jonathan Strahan. “2020 was an extraordinary year, we all know that. Wonderful books were lost to the pandemic, some didn’t find the readers they deserved, some have made an incredible mark.” He thanked the Locus Awards voters and the other nominees, Dave Pomerico and the Harper Voyager teams, artist Rovina Cai, the contributors, agent Howard Morhaim, and his wife and family.
The 2021 Locus Special Award, presented by Locus senior editor Arley Sorg, went to Bill Campbell & Rosarium Publishing, for Amplifying Diverse Voices. Campbell thanked Locus, saying, “This award, Rosarium itself, isn’t really about me, and never really has been, so I want to thank the people who made this whole thing possible.” He thanked his wife and children, friends and family, readers, “and of course, there are the Rosarians, who have stuck by me through thick and thin… who have given me the honor and the privilege to put their work out in the world.”
“Little Free Library” by Naomi Kritzer won Best Short Story, presented by Locus reviewer Karen Burnham along with author and SF Crossing the Gulf podcast co-host Karen Lord. Kritzer shared the inspiration behind the story, wherein a Russian woman borrowed a copy of Crime and Punishment from a Little Free Library in order to practice English. “The real magic of a Little Free Library… is the magic of books finding their way to people who need them.”
Best Novelette went to “The Pill” by Meg Elison. Elison thanked her writing groups, publisher PM Press: Ramsey Kanaan and Stephanie Pasvankias, series editor Terry Bisson, booksellers, readers, and reviewers. “To the fat people that did not come to tell me that they wish my nightmare was for sale, this was always for you.”
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark won the Best Novella category. “Who says all the fantasies with sword wielding heroes and heroines have to be in Middle-earth?” Clark talked about wanting to ground the story in Houston, where he was raised, and the elements that went into the book. “I’m just really thankful that so many people found that heady mix spoke to them.” He thanked Locus and all the readers.
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger took Best First Novel. Little Badger thanked editor Nick Thomas and the team at Levine Querido, agent Michael Curry, the SFFH community, as well as readers and fans. In a heartfelt acceptance, she thanked her family, in particular her father. She talked about writing a book at around age seven, which her father read and edited, teaching her what each edit meant. He also took her through the submission process, and framed her rejection letter, saying that some day when she publishes her first book she’ll look back and be proud. “I am so grateful for every person who helped me persevere during this very difficult debut year.”
Best YA Book went to A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher, AKA Ursula Vernon, who thanked her husband, her agent, publisher Argyll, and editor K.B. Spangler.
Locus reviewer Gabino Iglesias presented the Best Horror Novel Award to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic. Moreno-Garcia thanked agent Eddie Schneider, editor Tricia Narwani, the Penguin Random House team behind the book, and “my mother, for letting me watch horror movies and letting me read horror books since I was a little kid.” Moreno-Garcia thanked the readers, saying, “If the book was a success it’s because of you.”
MC Willis came back on to present the final awards: Best Fantasy Novel went to The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin. Jemisin thanked voters and readers, her editor and agent, friends and family, saying she is deeply honored.
Martha Wells’s Network Effect won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Wells thanked husband Troyce Wilson, the Locus readers and voters, agents Jennifer Jackson and Michael Curry, editor Lee Harris, publisher Irene Gallo and everyone at Tordotcom, cover artist Jaime Jones and designer Christine Foltzer, and narrator Keven R. Free as well as the team at Recorded Books.
Our thanks to voters and members, to Doug & Pat Booze for their constant support, to Courtney Willis for technical assistance, to all of our presenters and production team Ian Deak and Loser.Ace, and our continued and endless gratitude to Connie Willis for the abundance of time, energy, and humor she puts in every year. The one-hour-and-thirteen-minute ceremony can be viewed at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91L2EwMf37k>.
-Liza Groen Trombi & Arley Sorg
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