Last night the BSFA awards were announced. They are:
Best Novel Award
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Best Short Fiction Award
Aliette de Bodard: “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight”, Clarkesworld 100
Best Artwork Award
Jim Burns, Cover of Pelquin’s Comet, Newcon Press
Best Non-Fiction Award
Adam Roberts: Rave and Let Die: The SF and Fantasy of 2014, Steel Quill Books
My congratulations to all these winners.
On a personal note, I am disappointed. The winning novel contains far too much magic for my personal tastes. To me it belongs firmly in the realms of fantasy. I know Aliette’s writing style is very beautiful and free-flowing and in these terms, yes, she is the deserved winner.
Equally I have sympathy with the award organisers. Where do you draw the line between science fiction and fantasy? This line has over the years become blurred and then indefinable.
However, the science-based science fiction books are bringing very little that is new to the readership these days. When was the last novel you read where you went ‘Wow, the tech in here is exciting’?
I had that feeling with Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space. He went on to publish more novels in that universe – Chasm City, Absolution Gap and The Prefect, as well as a whole palette of short stories. I had hopes for Hannu Rajaniemi’s Quantum Thief series, but that disappointed because it was a difficult read in terms of technology and lack of simple explanations.
So has science-based science fiction lost its way?
I would have to answer yes. I see from the news of science discoveries and technology journals that there is a tsunami of new technology going to hit us like it has never hit us before. Without science fiction pointing some of the consequences out, a lot of people are going to be perplexed, puzzled and floundering.
This is in turn means that people won’t buy the new gadgets, which in turn will slow down economic progress – hey – did I just come up with an argument as to why governments should be supporting science fiction writers?