2015 Locus Awards

The 2015 Locus Awards are in! Beginning in 1971, the science fiction magazine “Locus” has used reader polls to determine the nominees and winners. This year the nominees represented quite a diverse array of authors and styles.

Here are the winner and nominees for the top categories. Click on the titles to find the book in the DPL catalog, and you can find the complete list here.

jacket Science Fiction Novel
Winner: Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie – FleetCaptainBreqMianaai has acquired both a human body and command of a starship. Not the worst fate in the universe for a several-thousand-year-old AI component (or “ancillary”) separated from her former vessel’s hive mind. Sent to the planet Athoek as an envoy of the many-bodied Lord of the Radch, Breq must prevent a civil war that threatens the stability of the Radchaai Empire while engaging in a more personal quest for answers about the past.

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Fantasy Novel
Winner: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison – When his estranged father, Emperor Varenechibel oftheElflands, perishes in an airship crash, 18-year-old MaiaDrazhar is recalled from exile and proclaimed heir to the Elfin imperial throne of Ethuveraz. Maia, whose late mother was a goblin, is immediately transformed from pariah to messiah– attracting sycophants, schemers, and enemies in short order. If Maia is to survive life at court, let alone rule, he’ll need to distinguish false friends from true and use his wits to navigate a treacherous world of conspiracy and political intrigue.

jacket Young Adult Novel
Winner: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie – Heir to thethroneYarvi, prompted by the murder of his father, embarks on a kingdom-transforming journey to regain the throne, even though having only one good hand means he cannot wield a weapon.

jacketOUCPY8BP First Novel
Winner: The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert – Bay Singer has bigger secrets than most. Not that she knows about them. Her mother, Nan, is sure that the burden of those secrets would be too much, and that’s why she never told anyone the truth … not even Bay. There’s a lot that Nan has kept quiet over the years, especially those times with Mavis and Ruthie–times that were dark and full of guilt. When the three meet again in Nan’s garden, their reunion has spellbinding effects that none of them could have imagined, least of all Bay.

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Collection
Winner: Last Plane to Heaven, Jay Lake (Read my review here) – Lake (1964–2014) was a well-known author of science fiction and fantasy novels, but he was also a prolific short story writer. This final collection shows the range of styles that Lake was comfortable with and showcases his clever way with words.

New Science Fiction & Fantasy – June

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the book cover or the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page.

index The Vorrh by B. Caitling – Next to the colonial town of Essenwald sits the Vorrh, a vast—perhaps endless—forest. It is a place of demons and angels, of warriors and priests. Sentient and magical, the Vorrh bends time and wipes  memory. Legend has it that the Garden of Eden still exists at its heart. Now, a renegade English soldier aims to be the first human to traverse its expanse.Listen to Alan Moore read his own introduction to the book here:
index22 Vermilion by Molly Tanzer – Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.Read Andrew Liptak ‘s review on io9 here:

(caution, some spoilers.)

index The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – Carolyn and a dozen other children being raised by “Father,” a cruel man with mysterious powers, begin to think he might be God, so when he dies, they square off against each other to determine who will inherit his library, which they believe holds the power to all Creation.
index The Border by Robert McCammon – Two powerful, mysterious alien races are at war; Earth is caught in the middle, collateral damage. The planet is devastated, its people made nearly extinct. Those who have survived the catastrophic destruction caused by the alien war are succumbing to fallout from the battle, which is turning them into half-human creatures preying on those who are still human. Mankind seems doomed, but there is one small hope: a young boy who possesses powers that could save humanity.
indexQ91V0FBG The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher  – Relegated to a Fleetspace station after saving an Earth of the distant future, Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland navigates hostile workers and persistent malfunctions before receiving a mysterious warning from thousands of light-years away.
indexAIB87K3C Desert Rising by Grant Kelley – The Temple at Illian is the crown jewel of life in the Northern Territory. There, pledges are paired with feli, the giant sacred cats of the One god, and are instructed to serve the One’s four capricious deities. Yet Sulis, a young woman from the Southern Desert, has a different perspective—one that just might be considered heresy, but that is catching on rather quickly …
index Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Judd Trichter – Set in a near-future LA, a man falls in love with a beautiful android — but when she is kidnapped and sold piecemeal on the black market, he must track down her parts to put her back together.
index City of Savages by Lee Kelly – Living in Manhattan, which is now a prisoner-of-war camp, sisters Skyler and Phee set in motion a series of events that forces them to join a group of strangers on an escape mission through a city rife with cannibals and sadistic cults.

New Science Fiction & Fantasy

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the book cover or the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page.

seveneves-681x1024 Seveneves by Neal Stephenson – When a catastrophic event dooms the planet, nations around the world band together to devise an ambitious survival plan in outer space 5,000 years before their progeny organize an audacious return.
A1Yo1fulAfL__SL1500_-697x1024 Uprooted by Naomi Novak –  Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
TheWaterKnife-PaoloBacigalupi-687x1024  The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi  – Working as an enforcer for a corrupt developer, Angel Velasquez teams up with a hardened journalist and a street-smart Texan to investigate rumors of California’s imminent monopoly on limited water supplies.
91TULqzHl3L__SL1500_-678x1024  The Book of Phoenix – by Nnedi Okorafor – In a haunting prequel to Who Fears Death, Phoenix, an “accelerated woman” whose abilities far exceed those of a normal human, becomes desperate to escape her “home” in New York’s Tower 7 after the boy she loves, another biologically altered human, takes his own life.
the-gospel-of-loki-9781481449465_hr The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris – The trickster god Loki (sorry, not that Loki) describes the rise and fall of the gods of the Norse, detailing how he left Chaos to serve Odin until the fall of Asgard.
81XbEhMuL2L__SL1500_  The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu – The first book in this epic series, tells the story of two men who become friends through rebelling against tyranny and then turn against each other in defense of irreconcilable ideals. Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, the two find themselves the leaders of two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice
unnamed  Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson – Generations after leaving earth, a starship draws near to the planet that may serve as a new home world for those on board. But the journey has brought unexpected changes and their best laid plans may not be enough to survive.
Of-Noble-Family Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal – A conclusion to the series by the award-winning author of Shades of Milk and Honey finds Jane and Vincent reluctantly traveling to the West Indies, where Vincent’s family estate has fallen into shambles.

Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake

jacketShort story collections can be a hard sell. Unless you’re a reader who already enjoys them, lovers of a longer story often dismiss their briefer cousins and  I admit that I am one of those readers. Even with an intriguing title, I’ll stay on the fence until the end of the first few stories. Science fiction author Gene Wolfe, in his introduction to this collection, acknowledges such readers, and begs us to stay for at least the eponymous story “The Last Plane to Heaven,” if only because this collection truly is the last from Jay Lake, who passed away from cancer in 2014 and because, as the author says in the dedication, “In the end, words are all that survive us.”

This bittersweet acknowledgement of the author’s own mortality (and ours) sets the tone of the wide-ranging collected stories. From a wayward android lost on Earth, to a futile mission against the agents of a Lovecraftian horror,  these stories express both a love of discovering what is over the next horizon and the liberating act of giving one’s life for such adventure. These are not stories that necessarily have happy endings. As with many short stories, they leave you wanting to know what happens next. There is a yearning that suffuses this collection, an admission that we will never know what happens next, at least in this life.

But while we don’t leave with all the answers, Lakes’ stories tell fantastic tales of the past and future. Lewis and Clark’s famous westward expedition uncovers a place that the human race is not yet ready to know of in “Jefferson’s West.” In “The Women Who Ate Stone Squid,” set in the far future, evidence of an ancient, long-dead intelligent species is uncovered, but in this discovery, humankind might invite the same destruction. “Testaments” tells the stories of the Six Sleeping Kings, each who have ushered in seismic changes in human society at the direction of a higher power, and the Seventh, who has yet to wake. The firing of a boson gun in the 1960s sets off the unraveling of the universe centuries later – but who could have imagined?

Lake gives brief introductions to his stories – the hows and whys and wheres of story writing, as well as a rueful admission that the chemotherapy that granted him a few more years of life also destroyed his “writing brain” in a truly Faustian bargain . His voice is strongest in the “Angels” stories that begin and end each section. His final words (for us at least) are written  in “The Cancer Catechism” at the end.

This not just a collection of science fiction, fantasy, steampunk and spirituality, nor is it a joyless recounting of an author’s past glory. Each story piques the imagination, and stays with you long after the tale is over. And what more could an author ask for?

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

12860573I read a lot of  YA dystopia. A lot. I’m huge fan of the genre, but after so many trilogies of teens fighting the system, rising to fame, falling into a forbidden love and/or making terrible decisions, I’d become a bit bored of it. So when I came across 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad and skimmed the book flap – in 2019 three teenagers are selected from a worldwide lottery to go to the moon in the hopes of making space travel more popular and, for the teens, to gain fame for a punk band, to forget an ex or to escape strict parents – it seemed like the same old thing. But, faced with a long stretch of being TV and Internet-less, I finally gave it a chance.

And, man oh man, was I wrong.

Forget about fighting the power, forget the love triangle. This book is one of the best straight-up no-blood horror books I’ve read in quite a while (no surprise the author is Norwegian, where some of the best stark horror novels come from.) Its classification as young adult is unfortunate, as many horror fans might turn their noses up at the genre.

The novel does begin with the usual teenage angst: Mia, from Norway is worried that her punk band will fall apart before they can reach fame; Midori feels suffocated by her life in Japan and Antoine is suffering from an exceptionally bad breakup. The trio is sped through three months of training and are soon launched to the moon, accompanied by three experienced crew, to spend a week living and conducting experiments in the previously abandoned moon base DARLAH 2. As soon as they arrive, of course, things start to go very, very wrong. Damage to key systems that appears to be sabotage, vague references to the ill-fated first moon base DARLAH 1 and its crew, and impossible sightings of spacesuit-clad others walking about the surface all combine to heighten the paranoia and terror of the group. Back on Earth, a former astronaut struggles against dementia to spread a dire warning to the world – that we should never have gone back to the moon, and – if the current crew survives – what we may bring back. Throughout the book, Harstad offers little pieces of memorabilia – blueprints of the DARLAH stations, heavily redacted mission reports and the text of strange transmissions received from an unknown source, lending an eerie reality to the story.

This is a novel that, after a bit of  slow beginning, grips you tightly with icy hands. The background of the three teens isn’t as developed as it could have been, but that only increases the feeling of watching something horrible happen from a great distance. The ending, while not an entirely happy one, left me desperate for a sequel.

The Southern Reach Trilogy by James VanderMeer

Annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeer

Area X. Engulfing an ill-defined swath of land, sea and sky in the southern U.S., it appeared suddenly, cutting off all connections – human, animal and otherwise – from the rest of the world. The government sends team after team – scientific and military – into Area X. Some disappear without a trace, others return badly damaged and still others return seemingly unharmed, only to die weeks or months later. Most communication and recording instruments are rendered useless once the border is crossed, the footage that does survive only deepens the mystery – and the growing horror – of Area X. Still, the agency that oversees each of these doomed expeditions – The Southern Reach – prepares a twelfth  expedition.

Authority_(Southern_Reach_Trilogy)_by_Jeff_VanderMeerVanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy opens with Annihilation (February 2014) as four women – an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist and a biologist – are sent into Area X. Neither the author nor the narrator (the biologist) use names, instead the characters are defined only by their professions, lending a clinical and dispassionate air to the narrative. Even though we observe the others and Area X through the biologists’ eyes, even she remains somewhat removed from us and from her team. But instead of alienating the reader from the narrator, it lends an odd kind of intimacy that continues throughout the trilogy. The second book, Authority (May 2014) is told from the point of view of a man called only Control, who has been put in charge of The Southern Reach soon after end of the twelfth expedition –  and the investigation into its fate – as Area X appears to infiltrate (or contaminate, depending on your perspective) the world outside its borders. The third book, Acceptance (September 2014) returns us to Area X and the similarly inscrutable organization attempting to oversee, explain and control it.

Acceptance_by_Jeff_VanderMeerThe language VanderMeer uses is  deeply atmospheric and complex, at times, maddeningly so*, although here in Area X it is entirely appropriate. Area X itself defies explanation and even description, as if our view of it through the eyes of our semi-anonymous characters was obscured, with unseen or unknowable dimensions hovering right at the edge of our perception. This dawning horror of the unknown creates and maintains a nearly intolerable level of suspense as layer after layer  is peeled back – at times reluctantly – exposing and obscuring Area X and the people drawn into its influence.

This series is one of those that you’ll want (or in my case, need) to read more than once and even then, it stays with you. It reminds me of Stephen King’s short story Crouch End, or anything by Lovecraft. Even the cover art on the paperback editions is worth studying – and then hiding safely away, lest Area X escapes.

~ Allison

* In the middle of reading Authority, I came across this word and had to share it.

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A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor

a highly unlikely scenerioIn the not-too-distant future, competing giant fast food factions rule the world. Leonard works for Neetsa Pizza, the Pythagorean pizza chain, in a lonely but highly surveilled home office, answering calls on his complaints hotline. It’s a boring job, but he likes it—there’s a set answer for every scenario, and he never has to leave the house. Except then he starts getting calls from Marco, who claims to be a thirteenth-century explorer just returned from Cathay. And what do you say to a caller like that? Plus, Neetsa Pizza doesn’t like it when you go off script.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s sister keeps disappearing on secret missions with her “book club,” leaving him to take care of his nephew, which means Leonard has to go outside. And outside is where the trouble starts.

A Highly Unlikely Scenario is a dazzling debut novel wherein medieval Kabbalists, rare book librarians, and Latter-Day Baconians skirmish for control over secret mystical knowledge, and one Neetsa Pizza employee discovers that you can’t save the world with pizza coupons. (description from publisher)

New DVDs in February

February 4th

dallas buyers clubDallas Buyer’s Club – Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner

Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof’s free-wheeling life was overturned in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Shunned and ostracized by many old friends and bereft of government-approved medicines, he decided to take matters in his own hands, tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. Bypassing the establishment, he joined forces with an unlikely band of renegades and outcasts and established a hugely successful ‘buyers’ club.’ Rated R

February 11th

riddickRiddick – Vin Diesel, Karl Urban, Katee Sackhoff

Riddick must fight for his life after his people betrayed him, leaving him stranded on a desolate planet to die. On this unbearably hot planet, Riddick is up against predators of an alien race. Using his emergency signals, he summons two ships: one transporting a mercenary, and the other led by an old acquaintance. Rated R

 

 

enders gameEnder’s Game – Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis

A hostile alien race attacked Earth, and if not for the legendary heroics of Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham, all would have been lost. In preparation for the next attack, Colonel Hyrum Graff is training only the best young children. Ender Wiggin, a shy, but brilliant boy, is soon ordained by Graff as the military’s next great hope. Once at Command School, he’s trained by Mazer Rackham to lead them into an epic battle that will determine the future of Earth and save the human race. Rated PG-13

all is lostAll is Lost – Robert Redford

An open-water thriller about one man’s battle for survival against the elements after his sailboat is destroyed at sea. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling, and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face. Rated PG-13

austenlandAustenland – Keri Russell, Jj Feild, Jennifer Coolidge, Bret McKenzie, Jane Seymour

Jane Hayes’s adoration of all things Jane Austen is complicating her love life. Determined to be the heroine of her own story, Jane spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric Austen-inspired resort, where she meets two very different gentlemen…but has a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life, and maybe even love, begins. Rated PG-13

 

February 25th

rushRush – Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde

Set against the golden age of Formula One racing in the 1970s, Rush is based on the true story of a spectacular sporting rivalry between English playboy James Hunt, and his structured, intelligent opponent, Austrian driver Niki Lauda. Directed by Ron Howard. Rated R

 

 

gravityGravity – Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky. On a seemingly routine spacewalk, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left, and the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space. Rated PG-13

nebraskaNebraska – Bruce Dern, Will Forte

After receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous father thinks he’s struck it rich, and wrangles his estranged son into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. Getting waylaid in the father’s hometown in Nebraska, the son tries to reconnect with his impenetrable father. Rated R

 

 

thorThor – the Dark World – Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Natalie Portman

Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos, but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all. Rated PG-13

 

 

The Electric Lady

electric ladyTo say that I was excited about the release of Janelle Monáe’s newest album, The Electric Lady, is an understatement.   Her 2010 album, The ArchAndroid (Suites II & III), is one of my favorite albums of all time.  That epic, sprawling R&B recording (that feels like a collaboration between David Bowie, Lauryn Hill, Beck, and Outcast) tells the story of Cindi Mayweather, an android sent back in time to save the people of Metropolis from a time-traveling secret society that prevents freedom and love.  Monáe’s first album, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase) began the story and The Electric Lady continues with suites four and five out of seven.

But don’t let that complicated back story turn you away.  The Electric Lady is as fun as it is smart.  Collaborating with Erykah Badu (on the spectacular track Q.U.E.E.N.), Esperanza Spalding, Miguel, Solonge, and Prince, Monáe has created an exciting follow-up album. While there are stand-out tracks (Primetime and Dance Apocolyptic are two of my favorites), The Electric Lady is best listened to in full.

Don’t Blink!

the tardisThe big day is nearly here – Saturday is the 50th anniversary of the beloved cult-favorite Doctor Who television series! Following the adventures of a time-traveling alien known as The Doctor who travels through space in a 1960s-era blue police box (the TARDIS), the British production has gained an avid following in America  thanks first  to PBS and now BBC America. By turns thoughtful and irreverent, the show has been a huge influence on several generations of British (and now American) children, who remain lifelong and enthusiastic fans. Whether you’re a newbie just discovering the series, or have been following since the black-and-white era, the library has plenty of videos and books to help you celebrate the phenomenon that is Doctor Who.

Videos. The library has the complete range of the series that are available on DVD (not all of the series is on DVD and, famously, several early episodes have been “lost”) If you’re just starting out my advice is to begin with one of the Doctors when he first appears after regenerating (The Doctor can regenerate; his 12th reincarnation begins next year. You’ll get what this all means when you watch the show!) The most popular place to begin is with a Doctor from when the series rebooted in 2005, especially Ten (played by David Tennant) in series 2-4  or Eleven (played by Matt Smith) in series 5-7.

Guides. Don’t know a Cyberman from a Dalek? Confused by who came first, Donna or Martha? Wondering what, exactly, is a Pandorica?  The library has a large selection of guides available that will help you with the important and the minutia of the Doctor Who universe. Believe me, you’ll want to know what to do if confronted by a Weeping Angel! And be sure to check out Doctor Who: the Vault. Treasures from the Past Fifty Years for a great visual reference to all of the creatures, gadgets and characters from the series.

Books. Extend your Doctor Who experience with one of the many novels that picks up favorite characters and puts them in new and exciting situations. You’ll find them in both the Graphic Novels and in the Science Fiction section of the library.

Now you should be ready now for all things Whovian! Enjoy!