The World Fantasy Awards winners have ben announced. The awards were presented during the World Fantasy Convention, November 5-8, 2015 in Saratoga Springs NY. In the Best Novel category the winner is:
- The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
- The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
- Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
- My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)
Our congrats to David Mitchell and all the finalists. You can see the complete list of winners in all categories over at Locus.
Leemet is a young man of the forest people. When he was a child, too young to remember the experience, his parents had made the move to the village. His father learned to work the fields and even developed a taste for bread, but Leemet’s mother became bored and could not adjust to village life. This made her easy pickings for a bear, those lotharios notorious for stealing away human wives. When Leemet’s father caught his wife and her lover in flagrante delicto, the startled animal bit his head off. Leemet’s mother, subsequently abandoned by the bear, returned to the forest with her infant son.
For Leemet this has been a good thing. His life in the forest is fun and adventurous. His uncle is one of the last fluent speakers of Snakish, the language that allows humans to communicate with snakes, those wisest of forest inhabitants, and exercise control over other animals. Without Snakish, it is difficult to maintain an adequate herd of wolves, and wolves are needed for both transportation and their milk. Leemet masters the ancient language, and he spends his days with human friends his own age, his older male relatives, and the invaluable snakes who offer both advice and the warmth of their burrows in the winter. He is also friendly with the primates, an older hominid species who has not left the trees and spend most of the time breeding wood lice the size of sheep.
Andrus Kivirahk is the most popular contemporary author in Estonia, known as a satirical journalist and a bestselling novelist. This novel, which appears to take place in a fantastic version of his homeland during the early middle ages, is his first to be translated into English. It is an engaging tale of old ways giving way to modernity, filled with episodes of comic invention, family drama, young love, and the sadness of old traditions giving way to a modernity that offers much but exacts a stiff toll.
Leemet is the perfect hero for such a tale, a tenth-century, Estonian Huckleberry Finn. Despite his snakish wisdom, he can be very naïve. He perceives the armored knights that come from across the sea on their armored horses as single, metallic creatures. He is surprised to discover how relatively easy they are to kill. The obese, berobed monks who accompany them he assumes are their ever-pregnant wives.
Leemet may be naïve, but he is not stupid like those who have abandoned the forest for the village. Village dwellers, vehement about their newly acquired civilized skills and Christianity, believe all sorts of superstitious nonsense about the forest and its supposedly demonic denizens. And they rejoice in their subservience to their German-speaking masters. The village leader was taken as a young man across the sea for training in civilization and the new religion. When he speaks with pride of his time spent as the bedmate to an archbishop, Leemet cannot help but feel that there is something off about this arrangement.
But Kivirahk’s novel will be the story of sad, funny, and inevitable change. As I read it, I wondered what added resonance it had for its Estonian audience, who have taken it so to heart that a popular board game has been created around it. For English readers it is a thoroughly enjoyable historical fantasy and an introduction to a major European writer.
(I received an advanced ebook of this title from Net Galley.)
I had this as an advanced reader’s copy through Net Galley, and I went into it knowing nothing of the author or the plot. I don’t know, however, that much prior information would have helped me with the first couple of chapters. Meloy dumps us into a netherworld where the planet Mars takes the place of the moon, and characters I sensed were the good guys kept to their side of the street while a pub across the way served as a passageway for very bad things to enter their world. The next chapter involved a farm house bothered by a zombiefied relative who ate hot stew with his bare hands, had to be led away on the tines of a pitchfork, and set on fire in a field.
It took me several pages into the next sequence to realize that Meloy was settling down to his plot. A housing estate somewhere in the UK, with its boarded up shops, council flats, graffiti-covered walls, and threats of violence suggested a dystopian, post-apocalyptic setting, but no, this is just a miserable place to live. Meloy can really pack in the information. With the background of a mass shooting at a day care center, he introduces us to a feckless estate patrolman, an alcoholic hanging onto some sense of dignity, and a social worker whose cases have begun to either kill themselves or others. And there are monsters, hideous creatures that can possess the weak and pursue those who might be a threat to them.
Meloy has worked as a psychiatric nurse, and this section grounded in the world of the housing estate, with his hero Phil Travena dealing with suicidal and homicidal clients, a weaselly new boss brought in to “tighten the ship,” drunks and a growing sense that these monsters may not be hallucinations sets the action in both a very real and very creepy world. Once we are part of the pitched battle between good and evil, things take on the more predictable cast that such battles usually entail. But Meloy continues to create inventive situations, engaging characters, and grand set pieces. His monsters are spectacular creations that wear their debt to Lovecraft lightly. The talking animals are a problem, but that could be my inherent resistance to talking animals.
Much of the plot involves the impending birth of Chloe, a child whose existence is crucial to victory over the dark forces. In one of Meloy’s most successful narrative devices, we get to know Chloe as an adult character, stranded in a dangerous world as she waits to be born. There are also a man and his son who start as characters in a children’s book who become major players in the battle.
At times I felt that Meloy’s story needed a larger canvas than he provides, but when I weighed that against his ability to wrap things up as quickly as he did, I decided he made the right choice. He ties things up well. That illogical zombie scene from the first pages even makes sense by the time the story is over. And although he doesn’t end with cliffhangers, Meloy could easily return to this world for further novels.
August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel:
- No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill (Macmillan)
- The Last Plague by Rich Hawkins (Crowded Quarantine)
- The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood (Jo Fletcher)
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf)
- The End by Gary McMahon (NewCon)
- The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (Orbit)
Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel:
- Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan Children’s)
- City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (Jo Fletcher)
- The Relic Guild by Edward Cox (Gollancz)
- Breed by K.T. Davies (Fox Spirit)
- A Man Lies Dreaming by Lavie Tidhar (Hodder & Stoughton)
- The Moon King by Neil Williamson (NewCon)
Join Vin Diesel as he sits down with Geek and Sundry and Nerdist for a game of Dungeons and Dragons!
This made me like Vin Diesel even more! He seems a little unsure to start but by the end he’s into it. I wonder if he’s played much before? The DM is amazing and reminds me of my old DM from years gone by and the rest of the party are great too. Makes me want to play again!
We’d be remiss if we didn’t post this trailer. I can’t say I’m too excited to see this newest installment. One thing Lucas taught me well with the last 3 movies is fear. Fear is the mind killer… wait, that’s Dune. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Anger, hate, and suffering… pretty much sums up my experience with the prequels. But Lucas is out of the picture so maybe…. It does look pretty cool.
What is it with writers in general and Horror writers in particular and their obsessiveness concerning small towns? They make them seem like places where every other house is full of mystery, monsters, the deranged, or weirdness run amok. Whether it’s King in Maine, Lynch in the Northwest, or Ono in Japan, on either side of the Pacific, writers love to make stuff happen in small towns. Shiki (Shi Ki), which can be translated as “Corpse Demon”, is no exception.
Shiki can be described like this:
The story takes place during a particularly hot summer in the nineties, in a small quiet village called Sotoba. A series of mysterious deaths begin to spread in the village. At the same time, a strange family has moved into the long abandoned Kanemasa mansion. Dr. Toshio Ozaki, head of the only rural hospital in Sotoba, initially suspects an epidemic. But as the investigations continue with the help of his old friend Muroi Seishin, who is the village priest, the deaths begin to pile up; they becomes convinced that the undead are plaguing the village. A young man named Natsuno Yuuki, who hates living in the village and only wants to leave, begins to suspect he is still being pursued by a girl who has already died.