Leckie, Novik, Liu Win 2016 Locus Awards

The Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced the winners of the 2016 Locus Awards on Saturday, June 25, during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle. Nominated for Hugo and Nebula Awards, Ann Leckie’s conclusion to her “Imperial Radch” trilogy, Ancillary Mercy, was named Best Science Fiction Novel. Naomi Novik’s fairy-tale fantasy, Uprooted, which last month garnered a Nebula Award, won Best Fantasy Novel. And Ken Liu’s Nebula-nominated epic The Grace of Kings took home the First Novel prize. Below are LJ/School Library Journal  reviews of some of the winners. For a full list of the categories and nominees, go to Locus Online.

Best SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit: Hachette) 51NmhDOOkQL[1]
Fleet Captain Breq, once ancillary to the Justice of Toren and last seen in Ancillary Sword, is still on Atheok station. She’s trying to improve life for the residents of the Undergarden, but the brewing conflict between rival aspects of Anaander Mianaai finally arrives on her doorstep. Breq’s desire for revenge against Mianaai burns as bright as ever, but her plan to oppose the Lord of the Radch will change not only the political landscape but also all human and AI (artificial intelligence) relations. While not quite as compelling as the first two books in Leckie’s award-winning “Imperial Radch” series, this is still highly impressive sf. We not only get more time with the fascinating characters of Breq and her troubled lieutenant Seivarden, who started this journey together, but Leckie also introduces a representative from the Presger empire to knock everything a little off balance. Breq is the ultimate agent of change, upsetting a status quo that stood for millennia and advocating for a revolution in determining who is considered a person in a post–AI world. VERDICT This trilogy will stand as a classic of sf for the ages, although it’s difficult not to want more stories set in this captivating universe. [See Eric Norton’s sf/fantasy spotlight feature, “A Genre Takes Flight,” LJ 8/15.]—Megan McArdle, Lib. of Congress, National Lib. Services. for the Blind and Handicapped (LJ 9/15/15)

 

BEST FANTASY NOVEL

redstarUprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey: Ballantine)
novikuprootedAgnieszka has no plans to leave her village on the edge of the forest until she is unexpectedly chosen to serve the local wizard, a mysterious man known as the Dragon. Agnieszka’s exploration of her new life coincides with an attack from the deadly sentient forest, a kissing queen, and a prince on a quest. Novik’s newest is a departure from her previous military-influenced Napoleonic dragon fantasies (most recently seen in Blood of Tyrants), so much so that readers can’t be blamed for thinking it’s a completely different writer. Drawing on her Polish heritage and fairy-tale tropes, the author has penned an original and fully realized fantastical place guaranteed to enthrall her longtime fans and attract new readers. VERDICT This exceptional fantasy for adult and teen readers should appeal to those who love fairy tale–inspired stories such as Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End. [Five-city tour; library marketing.]—Jessica Moyer, Sch. of Information Studies, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee  (LJ 4/15/15)

BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK

redstarThe Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins)
510OUyLtk8L[1]Pratchett (The Long Utopia [HarperCollins, 2015]) leaves his fans with one last glorious tale of Discworld, this one starring his youngest heroine, the witch Tiffany Aching. When Death comes for Granny Weatherwax, she leaves behind her cabin and, by default, the job of unofficial leader of the witches to Tiffany. For the teen protagonist, being a witch has always been about doing what must be done, so she shoulders the burden yet goes about things in her own way. She has soon taken on the first-ever male witch apprentice, Geoffrey, a man who has a soothing way with people and animals. Work becomes the least of Tiffany’s problems once word of Granny Weatherwax’s death reaches the realm of the elves. A cruel usurper casts out their Queen who is viewed as weak because of her caution after her earlier defeat by Tiffany and her wariness of the human’s new iron horses. Tiffany shelters the diminished Queen while facing the threat of marauding elf hordes, backed by her trusty Nac Mac Feegles and other allies. Though this title was written during Pratchett’s final days (the author died in March 2015), there is nothing rushed here; indeed, this final book stands among the very best of his work. In one poignant scene, Death remarks on Granny Weatherwax’s passing, “And far away, in someplace unthinkable, a white horse was being unsaddled by a figure with a scythe with, it must be said, some sorrow.” And so, too, will readers mourn the loss of such an irreplaceable writing talent. VERDICT Readers young and old will savor this tale that emphasizes the values of hard work and standing firm in the face of evil. An exceptionally crafted finale from one of the greats.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids (SLJ 10/1/15)

BEST FIRST NOVEL

The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
81VDypjWtcL[1]Not many generations after one of the kings of Dara rose and united all the kingdoms under his own imperial flag, others plot to destroy the Imperium and restore the old realms. Two men who grew up under imperial rule are fun-loving, easygoing Kuni Garu and the noble scion and fierce warrior Mata Zyndu. Both find their purpose in the wars against the Imperium, but when that enemy is vanquished, their differing natures set them on an inevitable path to conflict. The plot builds slowly, but the author is clearly planning for the long haul. Rather than drawing on a medieval Europe influence for his world, Liu has pulled in Asian cultural touches, which make for a nice change. VERDICT A long-awaited debut novel from award-winning short story writer Liu, this is the first volume of what looks to be a chewy, epic fantasy series.—Megan McArdle, Lib. of Congress, National Lib. Services. for the Blind and Handicapped (LJ 3/15/15)

BEST ANTHOLOGY

Old Venus, ed. by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois. (Bantam) 51DCe9sSq6L[1]
The editors of this themed anthology of original stories asked contributors to set their tales on the Venus of sf’s Golden Age, when we didn’t know much about our neighboring planets and could imagine a landscape where humanity might one day come calling. The range of authors included here means that there will be something for every sf fan, although, only a few stories meet and exceed their thematic premise. The opener “Frogheads,” from Allen M. Steele, is a fun detective story of a PI looking for a rich man’s kid hiding somewhere on the oceans of Venus. Many of the entries are adventures that would have been at home in the pulp magazines of the past, including Garth Nix’s “By Frogsled and Lizardback to Outcast Venusian Lepers,” which tells of a politically fraught rescue mission to the outback of Venus. Elizabeth Bear’s “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” is another brilliant story grounded in a woman’s desire for the respect of her colleagues and her lover. VERDICT With a host of best-selling authors such as Joe Haldeman, David Brin, and Ian McDonald, this is a solid choice for large sf collections.—Megan McArdle, Lib. of Congress, National Lib. Services. for the Blind and Handicapped (LJ  1/15)

BEST COLLECTION

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
51qVE0MWq3L[1]In this compilation, Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) brings together poems and short stories, some original and some built inside of existing fictional universes (including Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, American Gods, and others). In his typical hauntingly beautiful and well-paced style, Gaiman bewitches listeners, crafting exquisitely detailed worlds and guiding us along the unfamiliar paths of familiar archetypes. Though every narrative is different, and at times some feel slightly out of place, each holds its own in captivating listeners and nudging the boundaries of natural and supernatural realities, leaving us with questions about the worlds into which we’ve glimpsed. Gaiman narrates his own work, which makes it feel particularly authentic, every pause and tonal shift deliberate and meaningful; unfortunately, some sections are very quiet, requiring occasional fiddling with the volume. VERDICT Both dedicated fans and those new to Gaiman’s work will delight in the unexpected twists and turns of this collection.—Jeremy Bright, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta (LJ Audio 7/15)

 

 

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Wilda Williams About Wilda Williams

Wilda "Willy" Williams (wwilliams@mediasourceinc.com) is LJ's Fiction Editor. She specializes in popular fiction and edits the Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian Fiction, and Word on Street Lit columns.

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