You know, I’m not sure how nominees are chosen for the World Fantasy Award. But here they are! I think I will probably go to the World Fantasy convention this year . . . it is in D.C. which is too far to drive, alas, because spending time in airports wondering if your flight will be on time is not my favorite thing. I haven’t actually decided to the point of getting my membership or buying plane tickets or whatever, but still, it’s been a couple of years and it would be fun to go.
Anyway! Here are all the nominees.
And here are the nominees for the novel category, which as always is the one I’m more interested in:
Richard Bowes, Dust Devil on a Quiet Street (Lethe Press)
Marie Brennan, A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent (Tor Books)
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane (William Morrow/Headline)
Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria (Small Beer Press)
Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni (Harper/Blue Door)
Gene Wolfe, The Land Across (Tor Books)
A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS is the sole nominee I’ve read, and to me it seemed too much of an series introduction to necessarily look like it should win here. I loved it, btw, that isn’t the issue. The issue is, we need an award for series-taken-as-a-whole, and then I would hope to see Brennen’s story appear on a short list for that award when it’s finished. Still, I greatly admired this book and I sure wouldn’t mind seeing it hit the top spot.
I’ve heard good things about several of the other nominees.
Neil Gaiman — sometimes his writing suits me and sometimes it isn’t so much to my taste.
I’m sorry to say that I hated The Book of The New Sun and only made it a little way into it before giving up forever — and THE LAND ACROSS sounds like creepy political horror, so really not my thing.
But THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI sounds interesting:
Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.
Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.
The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.
This title has been quite a phenomenon, with upwards of 4400 review on Goodreads, I see, and a plus-four rating. Wow.
A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA is a bit of a quieter entry, though I’ve certainly seen reviews of it here and there.
Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.
In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.
I’m not sure this sounds as much to my taste as the GOLEM AND JINNI title. But I’ve seen good reviews for it here and there.
And the remaining entry, very much the dark horse here, I believe, is DUST DEVIL ON A QUIET STREET.
Dust Devil on a Quiet Street chronicles the remarkable life of Boston-born, New York City-reared author Richard Bowes. Bowes’s childhood and adolescent brushes with dramatic spirits and hustlers, large and small, paved the way for his adult encounters with the remarkable, the numinous, the supernatural. Deftly orchestrated, this “memoir” is part impassioned homage to Manhattan—decades before and up to its recent wound on September 11th, which creates a hole in the city and allows the ghosts of the dead to return—and part tell-all of the uncanny secrets behind a group of Greenwich Village writers and life as a university librarian.
Hmm. I hadn’t heard of that one at all. It’s the sort of thing that makes me think I should get a sample for my Kindle, though — the remarkable, the numinous, the supernatural? That sounds pretty cool. But I’ve never been into cities in general or Manhattan in particular. I can see why this would particularly appeal to, oh, possibly New York writers.
Anyway, an interesting list, and congrats to all the writers who were chosen!