Alex Jennings Wins 2023 Compton Crook Award

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) announced that The Ballad of Perilious Graves (Redhook Books/Orbit) by Alex Jennings has won the 2023 Compton Crook Award for best debut  SF/Fantasy/horror novel, a prize worth $1,000. Alex Jennings is the 41st winner of the award.

Since 1983, BSFS has given the Compton Crook Award for best first novel in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. The other finalists were: 

  • Bluebird by Ciel Pierlot (Angry Robot)
  • The Bone Orchard by Sara Mueller  (Tor)
  • Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan (Harper Voyager)
  • The Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang (Tor)
  • Obsidian by Sarah J.  Daley (Angry Robot)

Judging for the award has two parts. First, members of BSFS picked six finalists by reading and rating debut novels published between Nov 1, 2021 and October 31, 2022. Then, in the finalist round, club members picked a winner. 

The award includes a framed award document and, for the novel’s author, a check for $1,000 and an invitation to be the Compton Crook Guest of Honor at Balticon (the BSFS annual convention) for two years. Balticon is held in Baltimore over Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29th in 2023.

Other winners of the award have included Donald Kingsbury, Elizabeth Moon, Michael Flynn, Wen Spencer, Maria Snyder, Naomi Novik, Paolo Bacigalupi, Myke Cole, Charles Gannon, Fran Wilde, Ada Palmer, R.F. Kuang, and Arkady Martine.  Last year’s winner was P. Djèlí Clark for his novel A Master of Djinn.

The Award was named in memory of Towson State College Professor of Natural Sciences Compton Crook, who wrote under the name Stephen Tall and died in 1981. Professor Crook was active for many years in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and was a staunch champion of new works in the fields eligible for the award. For more details visit the award website. Reading and rating books for the 2024 award will begin this summer.  For more information contact [email protected].

BSFS is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable, literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms. The Baltimore Science Fiction Society was launched on January 5, 1963 and has been holding Balticon since 1967.

[Based on a press release.]


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