These are the sci-fi books recently shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Awards for Best Novel of 2014. The winners will be announced April, 2015. Click for more information. Thanks to Megan from couchtomoon for reminding me about these awards!
The Race by Nina Allan
Set in a future Great Britain scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, The Race is the first full-length novel from Nina Allan, winner of the 2014 BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction (Spin, TTA Press), and the prestigious Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Best Translated Work (Complications/The Silver Wind, Editions Tristram). The Race opens in the coastal town of Sapphire, dominated by the illegal sport of smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. For Jenna, the latest Cup meet bears a significance far beyond the simple hunger for victory. Christy’s life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name. Together they must face their demons, wherever that may lead. Raised at the Croft, a secret government programme focussing on smartdogs, Maree has to undertake a journey through shipping lanes haunted by the enigmatic and dangerous Atlantic whale. What she discovers en route will change her world forever. The story of four damaged people whose lives are inextricably linked, The Race is a novel of tender nuances, brutality, insight and great ambition, a narrative that lays bare the fears and joys of being human, and, ultimately, offers hope to us all.
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
A breathtakingly dark and twisted tale from award-winning author Frances Hardinge. The first things to shift were the doll’s eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss’s face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak. ‘What are you doing here?’ It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. ‘Who do you think you are? This is my family.’ When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family – before it’s too late . . .
Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson
Europe in Autumn is a thriller of espionage and the future which reads like the love child of John le Carré and Franz Kafka. Rudi is a cook in a Kraków restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career – partspy, part people-smuggler – begins. Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. Recruited by the shadowy organisation Les Coureurs des Bois, Rudi is schooled in espionage, but when a training mission to The Line, a sovereign nation consisting of a trans-Europe railway line, goes wrong, he is arrested, beaten and Coureur Central must attempt a rescue. With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him. With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws, Rudi begins to realise that underneath his daily round of plot and counter plot, behind the conflicting territories, another entirely different reality might be pulling the strings…
Wolves by Simon Ings
A chilling literary dystopia for those who love Iain Banks and J.G. Ballard. The new novel from Simon Ings is a story that balances on the knife blade of a new technology. Augmented Reality uses computing power to overlay a digital imagined reality over the real world. Whether it be adverts or imagined buildings and imagined people, with Augmented Reality the world is no longer as it appears to you; it is as it is imagined by someone else. Two friends are working at the cutting edge of this technology, and when they are offered backing to take the idea and make it into the next global entertainment,they realize that wolves hunt in this imagined world. And the wolves might be them. A story about technology becomes a personal quest into a changed world and the pursuit of a secret from the past. A secret about a missing mother, a secret that could hide a murder. This is no dry analysis of how a technology might change us; it is a terrifying thriller, a picture of a dark tomorrow that is just around the corner. Ings takes the satire and mordant satirical view of J.G. Ballard and propels it into the 21st century.
Ancillary Sword by Anne Leckie
The sequel to Ancillary Justice, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. Breq is a soldier who used to be a warship. Once a weapon of conquest controlling thousands of minds, now she has only a single body and serves the emperor. With a new ship and a troublesome crew, Breq is ordered to go to the only place in the galaxy she would agree to go: to Athoek Station to protect the family of a lieutenant she once knew – a lieutenant she murdered in cold blood.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
SOME STORIES CANNOT BE TOLD IN JUST ONE LIFETIME. Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. “I nearly missed you, Doctor August,” she says. “I need to send a message.” This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
Three strangers, each isolated by his or her own problems: Adaora, the marine biologist. Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa. Agu, the troubled soldier. Wandering Bar Beach in Lagos, Nigeria’s legendary mega-city, they’re more alone than they’ve ever been before. But when something like a meteorite plunges into the ocean and a tidal wave overcomes them, these three people will find themselves bound together in ways they could never imagine. Together with Ayodele, a visitor from beyond the stars, they must race through Lagos and against time itself in order to save the city, the world… and themselves. ‘There was no time to flee. No time to turn. No time to shriek. And there was no pain. It was like being thrown into the stars.’
The Moon King by Neil Williamson
The stunning debut novel from one of genre fictions most exciting new voices. All is not well in Glassholm. Life under the moon has always been so predictable: day follows night, wax phases to wane and, after the despair of every Darkday, a person’s mood soars to euphoria at Full. So it has been for five hundred years, ever since the Lunane captured the moon and tethered it to the city. Now, all that has changed. Amidst rumours of unsettling dreams and strange whispering children, society is disintegrating into unrest and violence. The very sea has turned against Glassholm and the island’s luck monkeys have gone wild, distributing new fates to all and sundry. Turmoil is coming. Three people find themselves at the eye of the storm: a former policeman investigating a series of macabre murders, an outsider artist embroiled in the murky intrigues of revolution, and a renegade engineer tasked with fixing the ancient machine at the city’s heart. Each must fulfil their role or see Glassholm shaken apart, while all are subject to the machinations of their inscrutable and eternal monarch, The Moon King.
[Image Credit: http://www.bsfa.co.uk/bsfa-awards-2014-shortlist-announced/ ]