2010 Sidewise Awards

Fans at Reconstruction, the 2010 NASFiC, are enjoying a bumper crop of awards announcements.

The winners of the Sidewise Awards were reported by Petrea Mitchell on SF Awards Watch:

Short Form: Alastair Reynolds, “The Fixation”, from The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 3, George Mann (ed.) (Solaris)

Long Form: Robert Conroy, 1942 (Ballantine)

And if you click on through you can also see Petrea’s report of the 2010 Chesley Award winners.

Top 50 Novels of All Time Poll

Telegraph.co.uk has reported the results of Play.com’s poll to select The Greatest Novel of All Time. These things are always good for a laugh and a cry — many thanks to SF Awards Watch for posting the link.

With Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird at the top, Tolkien’s triology second and the first book in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series third, Play.com’s list appeals to my tastes far more strongly than most. But I was surprised to see some other bestselling authors make the list with novels that weren’t what I believed to be their most highly-respected works.

J.K. Rowling got on the board with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban — not the Hugo-winning Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Stephen King is represented by It – not what I’d have guessed is his most popular book, and not my favorite (which is either The Stand or Salem’s Lot).

Popular lists tend to be dominated by the favorites of a determined minority of voters. For example, you can still visit Scifi.com’s poll of the 2003 Hugo nominees and see where Plokta outpolled Emerald City in the Best Fanzine category, 10,186 to 643. (Never mind that the eventual 2003 winner was Mimosa.)

There are lists of Greatest Novels all over the internet, but the pair posted by Random House’s Modern Library readily illustrate that every list seems to be the product of an agenda, especially in the internet age.

The Modern Library’s first list, composed by a board, follows canonical lines. James Joyce’s Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are numbers one and three. The rest of the list is dominated by the books English professors were assigning me as required reading when I was in college.

The Readers’ List,” on the other hand, is the result of a 1998 poll of the general public in which 217,520 votes were cast. Two novels by Ayn Rand head the list, two more of the top 10 are by L. Ron Hubbard, and elsewhere appear probably every novel written by Charles de Lint (certainly not a “Who?” but come on now…)

Popularly selected lists of “the greatest” are always a trainwreck. I’ve never forgotten the summer of 1975 when “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas was chosen the Greatest Song in the History of Rock’n’Roll by the listeners of CKLW – relegating to second place the more plausible candidate, “Hey, Jude” by The Beatles.

Sunburst Award

Sunburst Award medallionJohn Mansfield copied me on the Canadian Booksellers Association News for June 3 containing the shortlist for the Sunburst Award which “recognizes outstanding efforts in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic.”

SF Awards Watch had the news itself a few days ago, however, I was interested in the former Winnipeg Worldcon chair’s comparison of the Sunburst Awards to the Auroras. Said Mansfield: “While the Sunburst has great promotions, the Aurora Awards committee seem only interested in making sure that the right people get their due award.” The Aurora winners were not publicized in the CBA News. (But they, too, did not escape the notice of SF Awards Watch.)

Finalists for the 2008 Sunburst Award are:

Adult: Double-blind – Michelle Butler Hallett; Darkness of the God – Amber Hayward; The New Moon’s Arms – Nalo Hopkinson; Wonderfull – William Neil Scott; Axis – Robert Charles Wilson.

Young Adult: Choices – Deborah Lynn Jacobs; Retribution – Carrie Mac; Darkwing – Kenneth Oppel; Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet – Joanne Proulx; The Night Wanderer – Drew Hayden Taylor.

The finalists were selected by jurors Timothy J. Anderson, Kelley Armstrong, Barbara Haworth-Attard, Dena Bain Taylor, and Robert J. Wiersema.