Posted by Niall Harrison
27 February 2013
The Kitschies awards, previously discussed here, have announced their winners: Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker took the Red Tentacle for best novel, Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo took the Golden Tentacle for Best Debut, Dave Shelton's cover for A Boy and a Bear in a Boat took the Black Tentacle for Best Cover, and the World SF blog curated by Lavie Tidhar took the Inky Tentacle special award.
That's a solid set of winners -- although I confess to being slightly perplexed about Shelton's win; maybe the cover is more striking when you see it in real life -- but of note, Harkaway and Tidhar have blogged some follow-up thoughts on what it means to win an award whose stated remit is for "intelligent, entertaining and progressive" work.
In Angelmaker, in particular, I started out trying to explore an idea my friend Tom Coates threw at me years ago: that superheroes are inherently conservative, seeking to maintain the status quo, while the villains always have an agenda for change [...] For me, then, progressive fiction is – or is the product of someone who is – trying to be better, trying to make fiction better, and trying to make the world better. It acknowledges that most things we’re told are stable states – peace, equality, justice, happiness – are really verbs and processes, and they must be maintained and supported or they fade.
I was looking out on a sea of white people. Of familiar, talented, friendly and wonderful people, yes, editors and publishers, agents and writers. Who were, predominantly, British (obviously) and some Americans. And outside, the receptionist – the one black woman at the event.
Of course, the debut novel award went to Karen Lord – a black woman from Barbados – but she couldn’t be there. And the shortlist included one translated novel, too. The Kitschies try very hard to be a more inclusive award, and it’s hard, with so few international authors published in the UK.
But it bothers me, because how can I accept an award for promoting, or trying to promote, diversity, when it is not present in the body of the judges? And it is not present in British genre publishing, and was so glaringly missing from the audience last night?