The Shortlist Award Reading Challenge 2019—The End

            As some of you may or may not know, I decided to partake of this crazy reading challenge in which, I would read as many of the nominees of the largest book awards for speculative fiction I could by the time the winners were announced. Obviously, this was easier said than done, but I did read a lot of amazing books, and many of them did NOT win the awards. In addition, I learned of more awards that were given to these authors in different regions throughout the world—if anyone knows of an award given in Asia, then please let me know—and I learned more about authors I’ve read or haven’t read before. 

            I suggest that you go to the websites for these awards and take a look at all of the finalists because you might recognize the authors, their works and their other interested. Some of these authors only receive the recognition from these awards. And, I wouldn’t have known who Lauren C. Teffeau and Nick Clark Windo were without doing this project. 

            I did read a lot of the winners and the nominees, but only the winners of each award and category will be listed here. I haven’t written all of the reviews for some of the winners, yet; but, I hope to do so in the near future. Please read my reviews I’ve linked to the books, and let me know what you thought of the winners of these awards. And yes, I’m doing this again for 2020!

Philip K. Dick Award

Winner: 84K by Claire North

Compton Crook/Stephen Tall Award

Honors the Best 1st Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Novel of the Year

Winner: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Award

Winners:

            Novel: Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell

            Shorter Fiction: Time Was by Ian McDonald

            Non-Fiction: “On motherhood and erasure: people-shaped holes, hollow characters and the illusion of impossible adventures” by Aliette de Bodard

            Artwork: Likhain’s “In the Vanishers’ Palace: Dragon I and II”

Nebula Awards

Winners:

            Novel: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

            Novella: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

            Novelette: “The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Brooke Bolander

            Short Story: “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark

            Game Writing: “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch,” Charlie Brooker

            The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Screenplay by Phil Lord & Rodney Rothman

            The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

The Hugo Awards

Winners: 

            Novel: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

            Novella: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

            Novelette: “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” by Zen Cho

            Short Story: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow

            Series: Wayfarers by Becky Chambers

            Related Work: Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works

            Graphic Story: Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda

            Dramatic Presentation:

                                                Long Form: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

                                                Short Form: “The Good Place: Janet”

            Editor:

                        Short Form: Gardner Dozois

                        Long Form: Navah Wolfe

            Professional Artist: Charles Vess

            Semiprozine: “Uncanny Magazine”   

            Fanzine: “Lady Business”

            Fancast: “Our Opinions Are Correct”

            Fan Writer: Foz Meadows

            Fan Artist: Likhain (Mia Sereno)

            Art Book: The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. LeGuin   

            Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

            John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Jeannette Ng

Brave New Words Award

Given to an individual who produces break-out literature that is New and Bold.

Winner: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

The Arthur C. Clarke Award

Given for Science Fiction Literature

Winner: Rosewater by Tade Thompson

Locus Awards

Winners: 

            Science Fiction Novel: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

            Fantasy Novel: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

            Horror Novel: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

            Young Adult Book: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

            First Novel: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

            Novella: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

            Novelette: “The Only Harmless Thing” by Brooke Bolander

            Short Story: “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by Phenderson Djèlí Clark

            Anthology: The Book of Magic edited by Gardner Dozois

            Collection: How Long ‘til Black Future Month? By N.K. Jemisin

            Magazine: Tor.com

            Publisher: Tor

            Editor: Gardner Dozois

            Artist: Charles Vess

            Non-Fiction: Ursula K. LeGuin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. LeGuin & David Naimon

            Art Book: Charles Vess, The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, Ursula K. LeGuin

British Fantasy Awards

Winners:

            Fantasy Novel: The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams

            Horror Novel: Little Eve by Catriona Ward

            Newcomer: Tasha Suri for Empire of Sand

            Novella: The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

            Short Fiction: “Down Where Sound Comes Blunt” by GV Anderson

            Anthology: Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 5, edited by Robert Shearman & Michael Kelly

            Collection: All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma

            Non-Fiction: Noise and Sparks by Ruth EJ Booth

            Independent Press: Unsung Stories 

            Magazine/Periodical: “Uncanny Magazine

            Audio: Breaking the Glass Slipper (www.breakingtheglassslipper.com)

            Comic/Graphic Novel: Widdershins, Vol. 7 by Kate Ashwin

            Artist: Vince Haig

            Film/Television Production: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

2019 World Fantasy Awards

Lifetime Achievement Awards: Hayao Miyazaki, Jack Zipes

Winners:

            Novel: Witchmark by C.L. Polk

            Novella: “The Privilege of the Happy Ending” by Kij Johnson

            Short Fiction (tie): “Ten Deals with the Indigo Sky” by Mel Kassel

                                           “Like a River Loves the Sky” by Emma Törzs

            Collection: The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias S. Buckell

            Artist: Rovina Cal

            Special Award:

                        Professional: Huw Lewis-Jones for The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands

                        Non-Professional: Scott H. Andrews for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy

            Anthology: Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by Irene Gallo

Bram Stoker Awards (2018)

Superior Achievement in a Novel: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Superior Achievement in a First Novel: The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel: Victor LaValle’s Destroyer by Victor LaValle

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction: The Devil’s Throat (Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror)

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction: “Mutter” (Fantastic Tales of Terror) by Jess Landry

Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection: That Which Grows Wild by Eric J. Guignard

Superior Achievement in a Screenplay: The Haunting Hill House: The Bent-Neck Lady, Episode 01:05 by Meredith Averill

Superior Achievement in an Anthology: The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea by Ellen Datlow

Superior Achievement in Non-Fiction: It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life by Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson

Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection: The Devil’s Dreamland by Sara Tantlinger

Aurealis Award (2018)

Recognizes the achievements of Australian science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. 

Winners:

            Young Adult Short Story: “The Sea-Maker of Darmid Bay” by Shauna O’Meara

            Young Adult Novel: Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina

            Science Fiction Novel: Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff

            Fantasy Novel (tie): City of Lies by Sam Hawke

                                             The Witch Who Courted Death by Maria Lewis

            Horror Novel: Tides of Stone by Kaaron Warren

            Children’s Fiction: The Endsister by Penni Russon

            Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work: Tales from The Inner City by Shaun Tan

            Horror Novella: Crisis Apparition by Kaaron Warren

            Horror Short Story: “Sub-Urban” by Alfie Simpson

            Fantasy Novella: “The Staff in the Stone” by Garth Nix

            Fantasy Short Story: “The Further Shore” by J. Ashley Smith

            Science Fiction Novella: Icefall by Stephanie Gunn

            Science Fiction Short Story: “The Astronaut” by Jen White

            Collection: Tales from The Inner City, edited by Shaun Tan

            Anthology: The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year, edited by Jonathan Strahan

            The Sara Douglass Book Series Award: Blackthorn & Grim Trilogy by Juliet Mariller

            Convenors’ Award for Excellence (tie):

                        Cat Sparks, The 21st Century Catastrophe: Hyper-capitalism and Severe Climate Change in Science Fiction (PhD exegesis Curtin University)

                        Kim Wilkins, Lisa Fletcher and Beth Driscoll, Genre Worlds: Australian Popular Fiction in the 21st Century (http://www.genreworlds.com)

Nommo Award (2018)

Recognizes the works of speculative fiction by Africans, defined as “science fiction, fantasy, stories of magic and traditional belief, alternative histories, horror and strange stuff that might not fit anywhere else,” awarded by the African Speculative Fiction Society

Winners: 

            Novel (The Ilube Award): Freshwater by Akweake Emezi

            Novella: The Fire Bird by Nerine Dorman

            Short Story: “The Witching Hour” by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald

            Comic or Graphic Novel: Shuri by Nnedi Okorafor

SPFBO (Self-Publishing Fantasy Blog-Off) 2018 (4th

Started by Mark Lawrence, yes THAT one, with the purpose to “shines a light on self-published fantasy. It exists to find excellent books that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.” The contest starts with 300 books and it gradually narrows down to 10 finalists! The judges are readers who are bloggers and vloggers. Note: some of these authors gain a following and some even earn a publishing contract, so don’t ignore these books!

Winner: Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike

Finalists:

            The Gods of Men by Barbara Kloss

            The Purification Era Book One: Sowing by Angie Gricaliunas

            We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

            Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon

            The Anointed by Keith Ward

            Conspiracy of Magic Book One: Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe

            Sworn to the Night by Craig Schaefer

            Iconoclasts Book 1: Aching God by Mike Shel

            Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc

The Theories and the Hints Hidden within Ice and Fire (Part I)

(Note: Spoilers from A Song of Ice and Fire series are found within this essay.)

            George R.R. Martin is the latest author who has been bombarded constantly with questions and assumptions as to when his next novel—notice I did NOT say publication—will be released. Most have us have experienced the long waiting period when it comes to the next in a series; movies and television shows traditionally top that list. However, with the previous successes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, as well as other literature series, and movies series such as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, A Song of Ice and Fire is now one of the hottest items in the publishing and entertainment industries.

            What does this mean? Obviously, fans are driving the author crazy asking about possible release dates and/or sample chapters. And, while he has provided us with some of the latter, he is officially fed up with questions surrounding the former. It has gotten to the point where other authors—such as Neil Gaiman—have had to make public statements defending the extremely busy writer. Between working on a T.V. adaptation and writing novels for his other series, Martin has been able to work on Winds of Winter like we all want him to. Yes, I want it to be released within the next year, but I would prefer if the novel were good rather than rushed.

            Although George R.R. Martin has been working on his latest novel, he has not left his readers with nothing to satisfy their fascination with his fantasy world. He has published several novellas and short stories about Westeros. Most of us have read about Sir Duncan the Tall and recently, about ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ war. Some of us have even gone far as to listen to podcasts whom discuss everything related to these stories, just to receive a better understanding of them (A Podcast of Ice and Fire and Cast of Thrones are excellent ones!). At the same time, Martin is giving us more insight into the history of his world, and possibly giving out hints about some of the characters in the main series.

            There are several theories about the characters within the plot of the series—besides Jon Snow’s mother and the Tyrell Conspiracy—and many of them have yet to be mentioned thoroughly. One popular theory is that Mad King Aerys did bed Joanna Lannister at some point and he might be the father of Tyrion (a few fans believed he might have fathered the twins as opposed to Tyrion) because the Mad King was always infatuated with Tywin’s wife. This is one of many reasons Tywin never liked Tyrion. Is there a chance that Tyrion is a ‘secret Targaryen’? He might not be the only one. There is a theory about the Blackfyres—the bastard line of the Targaryens—who ended up starting the “Golden Company” in Essos (across the Narrow Sea), and which one of the ‘Great Bastards’ might be (is) the “Three-Eyed Raven” who is mentoring Brandon Stark in the ‘Land of Always Winter.’

            Let’s look into the stories of Dunk and Egg (The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, The Mystery Knight). Sir Duncan the Tall (Dunk) meets a young Aegon Targaryen (Egg) and the two of them travel Westeros together as knight and squire. Since Aegon Targaryen looks like a traditional Targaryen—white blond hair and violet eyes—he shaves his head so no one will recognize him. One of his older brothers (Daeron?) does not have this problem because he looks more like the Martells—dark hair and dark eyes—so he can travel throughout the kingdom unrecognized. This leads me to a theory about Varys. His motives for supporting the Targaryens are unknown, he keeps his head shaved, and he tells everyone that he supports ‘the realm’ and not any particular House (I doubt the last one). Is it possible that Varys is descended from the Targaryens, the Blackfyres, or maybe even another House of Valyria (i.e. Velaryon)? It would explain his appearance. We don’t even know the color of his eyes, and I don’t think he has eyebrows (read up on the Mona Lisa for an explanation). Who exactly is Varys?

           This leads into the popular theory surrounding Sir Duncan the Tall. According to the history of Westeros and of the Targaryens, Aegon V and Sir Duncan the Tall died in a fire at Summerhall. However, it is believed that the two decided to leave the ‘royal life’ and return to their simple life of traveling up-and-down the continent like they used to. This would explain Brienne of Tarth and her origins. For instance, a shield matching the description of the one used by Duncan the Tall is located in the armory of House Tarth and Martin has said that there is one living descendant of the famous Kingsguard who would be featured in A Feast for Crows. Just like how dwarfism is found within the Targaryens, high height (not giant like the Cleganes) is found within the descendants of Dunk.

            I have a few theories of my own surrounding Martin’s fantasy series (some of which A Podcast of Ice and Fire mentioned in one of their episodes—thank you!). One, after reading the events of “The Dance of Dragons” from The Princess and the Queen, I am convinced that there are more dragon eggs hidden across Westeros and Essos. This is proven when one of the dragons and its rider leave Westeros for ‘unknown lands,’ and that there may or may not be a dragon’s egg in the House of Black and White, which would explain how Jaqen H’ghar ended up meeting Arya Stark, and who may or may not have killed Balon Greyjoy on orders. In addition, the story was written to give fans an idea as to how the future war will be fought once the dragons (and their dragonriders) make their way to Westeros.

            Two, the Citadel and the Faith were responsible for the death of the dragons during “The Dance of Dragons.” Remember the scene with the mob? There is an unidentified man who preached to and convinced the crowd to kill the dragons while they were in the pit. Plus, a maester tells Samwell Tarly (in A Feast for Crows) that the maesters were responsible for the death of the dragons over one hundred years ago. So, you have the return of dragons in one continent and a group of people who do not want them to return in another continent. Why else would the author mention the extinction of the dragons in one novella and then hint at what might have caused that extinction in one of the novels?

            My third theory is that if this series does reflect the ‘War of the Roses’—as mentioned by George R.R. Martin and defended by yours truly—then, whom is Daenerys Targaryen going to marry in the end? Daenerys is the only known surviving member of the Targaryen dynasty, but she also must marry in order to continue that dynasty. It makes sense for her to marry another Targaryen, but which one? As of right now there are three possible candidates: Jon Snow (if he is proven not to be the son of Ned Stark), Tyrion Lannister (if he is the son of the Mad King), and Stannis Baratheon (he is descended from the Targaryens). Yes, Aegon Targaryen could be the ‘lost son’ of Rhaegar, but then there are theories that he might be a Blackfyre. So, yes there might actually be four candidates for ‘husband/king.’ These four men may or may not have the ‘blood of the dragon’ but we have two more novels (and four more television seasons) before we get the answer to that question. Unless, there are more Valyrian Houses, this is what I am standing by.

            These are both the obvious and the not so obvious theories surrounding what could happen in the later novels and what have been taken from all of the tales released by George R.R. Martin. There are some theories that other readers have all agreed upon, and there are others that might be more of a thought than a theory. Harry Potter fans correctly guessed some of the theories and hints found within the series, so it has been done before. However, please note that the author already confirmed some of these theories as truth. There is more than enough proof within the stories that some theories are more than just a theory. There are still many unanswered questions that await answers, and only George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss know them. I welcome any comments and any rebuttals to what I have mentioned.