2019 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize

Joan Aiken in 1984.

The winner of the 2019 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, named for the late sff author, was announced August 5:

  • The Map of Lost Lands by Lucy Steeds

Publisher A.M. Heath and Lizza Aiken, Aiken’s daughter, launched the competition in 2017 to find a standout new voice in middle grade children’s fiction. Serving as judges for the 2019 prize were Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A.M. Heath, and Lizza Aiken. This is the second time the award has been given.

Julia Churchill said, “Our shortlist gave us clever concepts, adventure, brave children and wonderful other worlds. Lucy’s The Map of Lost Lands is whimsical, funny, warm and surprising, about a girl finding her disappeared homeland. It’s got pace, originality and confidence. I love it.”

Lizza Aiken added, “Once you have immersed yourself in the world of a book it stays with you – as Joan Aiken said, ‘once a story is written it goes on happening.’ All of our shortlisted writers created their own powerful worlds, and having spent time in them, it was very difficult to choose just one. So thank you to all of you for sharing them, and to everyone else who took part – keep on writing!”

The goal of the award is to find “a standout junior novel. It could be contemporary or fantastical, it could have the makings of a series, or be one crystalline stand-alone. We know we’re setting the bar high. We hope to find a book that will be in print in fifty years, as Joan achieved with the Wolves series – and many more of her books.”

2019 Mythopoeic Awards

The 2019 Mythopoeic Awards winners were announced August 4 at Mythcon 50 in San Diego.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature:

  • Naomi Novik, Spinning Silver (Del Rey)  

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature:

  • Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, Bob (Feiwel and Friends) 

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies:

  • Verlyn Flieger, There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale: More Essays on Tolkien (Kent State University Press, 2017) 

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies:

  • Dimitra Fimi, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children’s Fantasy: Idealization, Identity, Ideology (Springer Nature, 2017) 

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume novel, or single-author story collection for adults published during the previous year that best exemplifies “the spirit of the Inklings”. Books are eligible for two years after publication if selected as a finalist during the first year of eligibility. Books from a series are eligible if they stand on their own; otherwise, the series becomes eligible the year its final volume appears.”

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for beginning readers to age thirteen, in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult literature award. The question of which award a borderline book is best suited for will be decided by consensus of the committees. Books for mature “Young Adults” may be moved to the Adult literature category.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. For this award, books first published during the last three years (2016–2018) are eligible, including finalists for previous years. 

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy. The period of eligibility is three years, as for the Inklings Studies award.

Alexei Kondratiev Award: Also given at Mythcon, the 2019 Alexei Kondratiev Award went to Sarah O’Dell for “An Unexpected Poet: The Creative Works of Dr. Robert E. Havard.” The award is given for the best paper presented at Mythcon by an undergraduate or graduate student. The winner receives a certificate, a one-year subscription to Mythlore, and half-off registration for the next Mythcon they attend.

2019 ENnie Winners and Spotlight Awards

The 2019 ENnies were presented during Gen Con on August 3.

Best Adventure

  • GOLD: Masks of Nyarlathotep (Chaosium Inc.)
  • SILVER: Mothership: Dead Planet (Tuesday Knight Games)

Best Aid/Accessory – Digital

  • GOLD: World Anvil Grandmaster Tier Worldbuilding & Campaign Management Platform
  • SILVER: DUNGEONFOG—Online Map Maker & Authoring Tool

Best Aid/Accessory – Non-Digital

  • GOLD: Masks of Nyarlathotep Gamer Prop Set (H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)
  • SILVER: Dwarven Forge’s Dungeon of Doom Modular Terrain (Dwarven Forge)

Best Art, Cover

  • GOLD: Call of Cthulhu – Terror Australis 2E (Chaosium Inc.)
  • SILVER: KULT: Divinity Lost, 4th Edition (Helmgast AB)

Best Art, Interior

  • GOLD: RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha Slipcase (Chaosium Inc.)
  • SILVER: Symbaroum Monster Codex (Free League Publishing)

Best Cartography

  • GOLD: Forbidden Lands (Free League Publishing)
  • SILVER: A New Map of Hot Springs Island (Swordfish Islands)

Best Electronic Book

  • GOLD: Sly Flourish’s Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master (Last Word Audio)
  • SILVER: Fear’s Sharp Little Needles (Stygian Fox Publishing)

Best Family Game / Product

  • GOLD: Kids on Bikes (Renegade Game Studios/Hunters Entertainment)
  • SILVER: Dinosaur Princesses (Ardens Ludere)

Best Free Game / Product

  • GOLD: Ironsworn (Shawn Tomkin)
  • SILVER: The Ultraviolet Grasslands (Hydra Cooperative)

Best Game

  • GOLD: Mothership: Player’s Survival Guide (Tuesday Knight Games)
  • SILVER: Dialect: A Game about Language and How it Dies (Thorny Games)

Best Layout and Design

  • GOLD: Symbaroum Monster Codex (Free League Publishing)
  • SILVER: The Black Hack 2nd Edition (Squarehex)

Best Monster/Adversary

  • GOLD: Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for 5E (Petersen Games)
  • SILVER: Creature Codex for 5th Edition (Kobold Press)

Best Online Content

  • GOLD: Seth Skorkowsky
  • SILVER: The Alexandrian

Best Organized Play

  • GOLD: Cypher Play Numenera Season 18-2: Building Amber (Monte Cook Games)
  • SILVER: Minsc and Boo’s Guide to Stuff and Things (Greg Marks)

Best Podcast

  • GOLD: Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
  • SILVER: Red Moon Roleplaying

Best Production Values

  • GOLD: Forbidden Lands (Free League Publishing)
  • SILVER: Invisible Sun Black Box (Monte Cook Games)

Best RPG Related Product

  • GOLD: Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep (H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)
  • SILVER: Miskatonic University: Restricted Collection (Chaosium Inc.)

Best Rules

  • GOLD: Call of Cthulhu Starter Set (Chaosium Inc.)
  • SILVER: Forbidden Lands (Free League Publishing)

Best Setting

  • GOLD: The Fall of DELTA GREEN (Pelgrane Press)
  • SILVER: Call of Cthulhu – Terror Australis 2e (Chaosium Inc.)

Best Supplement

  • GOLD: The Glorantha Sourcebook (Chaosium Inc.)
  • SILVER: The 7th Ed. Guide to Cthulhu Invictus (Golden Goblin Press)

Best Writing

  • GOLD: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Rulebook (Cubicle Seven)
  • SILVER: KULT: Divinity Lost, 4th Edition (Helmgast AB)

Product of the Year

  • GOLD: Masks of Nyarlathotep Gamer Prop Set (H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)
  • SILVER: Forbidden Lands (Free League Publishing)

Fan’s Choice, Best Publisher

  • Chaosium Inc.

Judges’ Spotlight Award

  • The Stygian Library (Dying Stylishly Games)
  • Archives of the Sky (Aaron A. Reed)
  • Sigmata: This Signal Kills Fascists (Land of NOP LLC)
  • plot ARMOR (Mostly Harmless Games)
  • The Elephant & Macaw Banner: Player’s Guide (Porcupine Publishing)

Next year’s judges were introduced:

2020 Judges
Rachel Campbell
Chris Gath
Shawna Ratliff
Guy Sclanders
James Sura

Examples of award

2019 Macavity Awards Nominees

Mystery Readers International announced the finalists for the 2019 Macavity Awards on July 25.

The Macavity Award is named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in five categories.

Best Novel:

  • Lou Berney: November Road (William Morrow)
  • Alison Gaylin: If I Die Tonight (William Morrow)
  • Jane Harper: The Lost Man (Flat Iron Books)
  • Jennifer Hillier: Jar of Hearts (Minotaur Books)
  • Naomi Hirahara: Hiroshima Boy (Prospect Park Books)
  • Lisa Unger: Under My Skin (Harlequin – Park Row Books)

Best First Novel:

  • Oyinkan Braithwaite: My Sister, the Serial Killer (Doubleday)
  • John Copenhaver: Dodging and Burning (Pegasus Books)
  • Delia Owens: Where the Crawdads Sing (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
  • Catherine Steadman: Something in the Water (Ballantine)
  • C.J. Tudor: The Chalk Man (Crown)

Best Nonfiction:

  • Laird R. Blackwell: The Metaphysical Mysteries of G.K. Chesterton: A Critical Study of the Father Brown Stories and Other Detective Fiction (McFarland)
  • Margalit Fox: Conan Doyle for the Defense: The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer (Random House)
  • Leslie S. Klinger: Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s (Pegasus Books)
  • Michelle McNamara: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (HarperCollins)
  • Laura Thompson: Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life (Pegasus Books)
  • Sarah Weinman: The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World (HarperCollins)

Best Short Story:

  • Craig Faustus Buck: “Race to Judgment” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
  • Leslie Budewitz: “All God’s Sparrows” (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, May/Jun 2018)
  • Barb Goffman: “Bug Appétit” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Nov/Dec 2018)
  • Barry Lancet: “Three-Star Sushi” (Down & Out: The Magazine, Vol.1, No. 3)
  • Gigi Pandian: “The Cambodian Curse” (The Cambodian Curse and Other Stories)
  • Art Taylor: “English 398: Fiction Workshop” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Jul/Aug 2018)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery:

  • Dianne Freeman: A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder (Kensington)
  • Elsa Hart: City of Ink (Minotaur)
  • Laurie R. King: Island of the Mad (Bantam)
  • Sujata Massey: The Widows of Malabar Hill (Soho Crime)
  • Ann Parker: A Dying Note (Poisoned Pen)
  • Charles Todd: A Forgotten Place (William Morrow)

More 2019 Mystery Awards

Some of the awards we’ve been tracking have reached the stage of picking the winners, while others are just now unfurling longlists and shortlists.

2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

The winner of the 2019 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, sponsored by the American Bar Association’s ABA Journal, has been announced:

  • The Boat People by Sharon Bala

The prize, established in 2011, is given annually to a book-length work of fiction that “best illuminates the role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change.”

2018 Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing

The winner of the 2018 Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing has been announced by North American Branch of the International Association of Crime Writers. The trophy goes to “the book of the year that best represents the conception of literary excellence in crime writing.”

  • WINNING NOVEL Lou Berney, November Road (William Morrow) 

The award will be presented November 1 at Bouchercon.

CWA Dagger Awards Shortlist

British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) announced the 2019 CWA Dagger Awards Shortlist. The winners will be announced in London, England, on October 24.

Congratulations to Lavie Tidhar’s whose “Bag Man”, in The Outcast Hours anthology, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin, has made the shortlist in the CWA Short Story Dagger Award category.

CWA Gold Dagger:

  • All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Puppet Show, by M.W. Craven: (Constable)
  • What We Did, by Christobel Kent (Sphere)
  • Unto Us a Son Is Given, by Donna Leon (Heinemann)
  • American by Day, by Derek B Miller (Doubleday)
  • A Station on the Path to Somewhere Better, by Benjamin Wood (Scribner)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood):

  • All the Hidden Truths, by Claire Askew (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Boy at the Door, by Alex Dahl (Head of Zeus)
  • Scrublands, by Chris Hammer (Wildfire)
  • Turn a Blind Eye, by Vicky Newham (HQ)
  • Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)
  • Overkill, by Vanda Symon (Orenda)

CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-fiction:

  • All That Remains: A Life in Death, by Sue Black (Doubleday)
  • An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere, by Mikita Brottman (Canongate)
  • Murder by the Book: A Sensational Chapter in Victorian Crime, by Claire Harman (Viking)
  • The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk Wallace Johnson (Hutchinson)
  • The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War, by Ben Macintyre (Viking)
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold (Doubleday)

CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:

  • Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott (Picador)
  • Safe Houses, by Dan Fesperman (Head of Zeus)
  • Killing Eve: No Tomorrow, by Luke Jennings (John Murray)
  • Lives Laid Away, by Stephen Mack Jones (Soho Crime)
  • To the Lions, by Holly Watt (Bloomsbury)
  • Memo from Turner, by Tim Willocks (Jonathan Cape)

CWA Sapere Books Historical Dagger:

  • The Quaker, by Liam McIlvanney (Harper Fiction)
  • Destroying Angel, by S.G. MacLean: (Quercus)
  • Smoke and Ashes, by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)
  • The House on Half Moon Street, by Alex Reeve (Raven)
  • Tombland, by C.J. Sansom: (Mantle)
  • Blood & Sugar, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)

CWA International Dagger:

  • A Long Night in Paris, by Dov Alfon; translated by Daniella Zamir (Maclehose Press)
  • Weeping Waters, by Karin Brynard; translated by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon (World Noir)
  • The Cold Summer, by Gianrico Carofiglio; translated by Howard Curtis (Bitter Lemon Press)
  • Newcomer, by Keigo Higashino; translated by Giles Murray (Little, Brown)
  • The Root of Evil, by Håkan Nesser; translated by Sarah Death (Mantle)
  • The Forger, by Cay Rademacher; translated by Peter Millar (Arcadia)

CWA Short Story Dagger:

  • “Strangers in a Pub,” by Martin Edwards (from Ten Year Stretch, edited by Martin Edwards and Adrian Muller; No Exit Press)
  • “Death Becomes Her,” by Syd Moore (from The Strange Casebook, by Syd Moore; Point Blank Books)
  • “The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing,” by Danuta Reah (from The Dummies’ Guide to Serial Killing and Other Fantastic Female Fables, by Danuta Reah [aka Danuta Kot]; Fantastic)
  • “I Detest Mozart,” by Teresa Solana (from The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories, by Teresa Solana; Bitter Lemon Press)
  • “Bag Man,” by Lavie Tidhar (from The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin; Solaris)

Dagger in the Library:

  • M.C. Beaton
  • Mark Billingham
  • John Connolly
  • Kate Ellis
  • C.J. Sansom
  • Cath Staincliffe

Debut Dagger
(for the opening of a crime novel by an uncontracted writer):

  • Wake, by Shelley Burr
  • The Mourning Light, by Jerry Krause
  • Hardways, by Catherine Hendricks
  • The Firefly, by David Smith
  • A Thin Sharp Blade, by Fran Smith

Diamond Dagger Recipient

  • Robert Goddard

2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award

Sisters in Crime (SinC) announced the winner of the 2019 Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award

  • Jessica Martinez of Orcutt, CA,

The award, which honors the memory of pioneering African-American crime fiction author Eleanor Taylor Bland with a $2,000 grant to an emerging writer of color, was created in 2014 to support SinC’s vision statement that the organization should serve as the voice for excellence and diversity in crime writing.

2019 Ned Kelly Award Longlists

The Australian Crime Writers Association announced the longlists for the 2019 Ned Kelly Awards. The complete lists are at the link.

2019 Ngaio Marsh Award Nominees

The 2019 Ngaio Marsh Award Nominees in all three categories are listed at the link (we previously posted the Best Novel longlist here.)

2019 Diana Jones Award

The winner of the 2019 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming was announced tonight in Indianapolis —

  • Star Crossed, a role-playing game by Alex Roberts, published by Bully Pulpit Games

The Diana Jones Award is given to the person, product, company, event or any other thing that has, in the opinion of the Diana Jones committee, best demonstrated the quality of ‘excellence’ in the world of hobby-gaming in the previous year.

Star Crossed: The Two-Player Game of Forbidden Love

2019 Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize Shortlist

Joan Aiken

The 2019 finalists for the Joan Aiken Future Classics Prize, named for the late sff author, were revealed July 29. Publisher A.M. Heath and Lizza Aiken, Aiken’s daughter, launched the competition in 2017 to find a standout new voice in middle grade children’s fiction. This is the second time the award will be given.


  • Fiona Longmuir – The Museum of Emily
  • Pippa Lewis – The Glass Butterfly
  • Andrea Fautley – Frost Spell
  • Lucy Steeds – The Map of Lost Lands
  • Louisa Cowell – The Second Snowfall

The judges for the prize are Julia Churchill, children’s book agent at A.M. Heath, and Lizza Aiken, daughter of Joan Aiken and curator of her Estate. They considered over 400 submissions.

Julia Churchill said, “The response was brilliant. As ever, it was such a fun process, there’s so much talent out there. This year’s shortlist is packed with great concepts and heart, voice and freshness. Lizza and I will spend the next week or so working out our winner. It will not be easy.”

Lizza Aiken commented “It is fascinating to see how new writers have been influenced by Joan Aiken’s books – either in their use of locations, or imaginary worlds, or in descriptions of the special relationships formed by friends in difficult situations. Our shortlist shows some real talent – it’s just tantalising not to have seen how all the stories end!”

Apart from Aiken’s general comment, whether any of these are genre books is unknown, as no description of the stories was included in the announcement.

The goal of the award is to find “a standout junior novel. It could be contemporary or fantastical, it could have the makings of a series, or be one crystalline stand-alone. We know we’re setting the bar high. We hope to find a book that will be in print in fifty years, as Joan achieved with the Wolves series – and many more of her books.”

2019 Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Finalists

Finalists have been announced for the 2019 Silver Falchion award given by the Killer Nashville Writers Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. The Silver Falchion award categories cover the spectrum of popular literature. The conference’s Reader’s Choice nominees also have been posted.

The conference is being held this year August 22-25. The Silver Falchion and the convention’s Readers’ Choice Awards will be presented on August 24.

Here are the finalists in Silver Falchion categories that include works of genre interest.

Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Horror

  • Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Book of the Just
  • Elizabeth Isaacs, The Scythian Trials
  • Julianne Lynch, Beneath the Lighthouse
  • Morgan Smith, The Shades of Winter
  • Maggie Toussaint, Confound It

Short Story Collections/Anthologies

  • Carmen Amato, The Artist
  • Marianne Donley, Untethered: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of the Paranormal
  • Rhonda Gilliland, Cooked to Death III: Hell for the Holidays
  • Leslie Klinger, For the Sake of the Game
  • Jane Suen, Alterations Trilogy
  • R.L. Stine, Scream & Scream Again


  • Liana Gardner, The Journal of Angela Ashby
  • Julianne Lynch, Beneath the Lighthouse
  • Ted Neill, Jamhuri, Njambi & Fighting Zombies
  • Lynn Slaughter, It Should Have Been You
  • Alexandrea Weis, Death by the River

ESFS Nominations 2019

The European Science Fiction Society has released the 2019 nominees for its Achievement, Hall of Fame and Chrysalis awards.

The winners of these awards will be selected at the next general meeting of the ESFS, which will take place at the 41st Eurocon /Titancon in Belfast from August 22-25.

The nominees in the various categories are contained in the following Dropbox documents.

(I would run the lists here, unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t support all of the characters, nor can I work around that by substituting code.)

2019 Sunburst Award Shortlists

Sunburst medallion.

The 2019 shortlists for the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic were posted July 29.

The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is an annual award celebrating the best in Canadian fantastika published during the previous calendar year. Winners receive a medallion that incorporates the Sunburst logo. Winners of both the Adult and Young Adult Sunburst Award also receive a cash prize of $1,000, while winners of the Short Story Sunburst Award receive a cash prize of $500.

Sunburst Award winners will be announced in Fall 2019.

Adult Fiction

  • Eden Robinson, Trickster Drift [Penguin Random House Canada]

The down-to-earth prose of Trickster Drift, by Eden Robinson, plunges readers into the fully realized story of a young boy mired in a milieu of addictions, magic, and family, battling to make something of himself. Humorous and filled with memorable characters with entangled relationships to each other and to their world, this novel considers to what extent a person can remake himself, and how much he is influenced by his universe and the people in it.

  • Andromeda Romano-Lax, Plum Rains [Penguin Random House Canada]

In a future dystopian Japan populated by the aging, Angelica, a Filipina nurse, cares for Sayoko, a moody, one-hundred-year-old Japanese woman. But the arrival of a robot “friend” for Sayoko triggers a complex exploration of the historical and cultural underpinnings of this challenging future. Gorgeous and unusual, Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax deals in an interconnected way with technology, biology, memory, environmentalism, law, and criminality, ultimately examining the question of where to draw the line between being AI and being human.

  • Kate Heartfield, Armed in Her Fashion [Chizine Publications]

In Armed in Her Fashion, Kate Heartfield paints a darkly fantastic, humourously grotesque portrait of the European Middle Ages. Heartfield’s deep knowledge of art and literature from and about the medieval period allows her to approach her setting in a way that is simultaneously affectionate and subversive. Her engaging characters wander through a landscape in which horror and absurdity combine, seemingly rigid truths are deconstructed, and it very much matters who is telling the story.

  • Amber Dawn, Sodom Road Exit [Arsenal Pulp Press]

When Starla drops out of university and returns home to Crystal Beach, she knows what traumas will haunt her: her mom, her childhood, being queer in a small town. But the ghost she frees from a haunted carnival stunt will peel back the skin of the town’s hidden histories of queer desire, seducing and consuming her in the process. Simultaneously poetic and page-turning, this visceral ghost story of 1990s Ontario plumbs the deep links between trauma and desire, history and liberation, self-destruction and healing.

  • Rich Larson, Annex [Orbit/Hachette Book Group]

In Rich Larson’s Annex, an alien scouting operation has targeted Earth as their new home—but young humans are key to making that happen. Though their parents have been lobotomised and mined for psychic access, the children resist being warehoused, and a group of escapees are doing all they can to sabotage the aliens’ plans. If Under the Dome met Lord of the Flies and interbred with Arrival, this heart-stopping thriller might be the lovechild. Told through different points of view, this book explores identity, family, loyalty, courage, and sacrifice.

Young Adult Fiction

  • Rebecca Schaeffer, Not Even Bones [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]

What is a monster? Not Even Bones, a fast-paced horror by Rebecca Schaeffer, explores the divisions between “us” and “them” through biology, behavior, law, and social expectation. Rather than make excuses for the extreme violence it depicts, this novel shows that good does not negate evil, even as evil does not negate good. Complex characters draw the reader in to a fully believable world of shifting morality.

  • Patrick Weekes, Feeder [Simon & Schuster Canada]

Feeder is several things at once: an environmentalist critique, a futuristic fantasy, and a fresh take on the superhero origin story, all wrapped up in a tale of family and friendship. Diverse, complex characters, brought to life via writing that is at once humorous and emotional, find their way together to face a threat whose implications are world changing but still deeply personal.

  • Rachel Hartman, Tess of the Road [Penguin Random House Canada]

Rachel Hartman’s superb fantasy, Tess of the Road, takes the comfortable old idea of the protagonist on a journey of self-discovery and gives it a twist to the left. Rather than undertaking a journey to find her place in the world, Hartman’s Tess undertakes a journey to convince herself she deserves such a place. The trajectory of the story echoes the complexity of its heroine: prickly, surprising, and not quite fitting into any one category.

  • Regan McDonell, Black Chuck [Orca Book Publishers]

When his best friend dies, Réal knows that the Windigo isn’t “just” a story, that his dreams aren’t “just” dreams, and that something happened that night—something he can’t remember. Evie knows her dead boyfriend was both more and less than he seemed, but Réal remains a mystery to her. In taut, vivid prose, Black Chuck pulls no punches in its genre-bending portrayal of the friendship, secrets, lust, and love that bind together the teens at its living, beating heart.

  • Sebastien de Castell, Spellslinger [Orbit, Hachette Book Group]

In Sebastien de Castell’s riveting fantasy, Spellslinger, the young protagonist Kellen is desperate to pass his mage trials. Kellen’s magic fails, dooming him to a life beyond a spellcaster’s privilege in a society whose hierarchy is based on magical ability—and a secret history of genocide. Kellen must find a place for himself where he can be enough, just as he is. This novel challenges notions of privilege, politics, and transactional relationships in a brilliantly told story.

Short Story Fiction

The Jury:

The Jurors for the 2019 Sunburst awards are:

  • Novel Jury: Greg Bechtel, Susan Forest, Kari Maaren, and Susan Reynolds.
  • Short Story Jury: S.M. Beiko, David Demchuk, and Gemma Files.

The Sunburst Award takes its name from the debut novel of the late Phyllis Gotlieb, one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian speculative fiction.

[Thanks to Mark Hepworth for the story. Also via Locus Online.]