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Award Winners

While the Hugos and the Nebulas may be the most prominent speculative fiction awards, there are many others that deserve recognition.
Read an article on the various awards

American Gods American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Hugo, Locus)

All whimsy aside, American Gods should by rights attract attention across a vast spectrum of readers: during the past dozen or so years, Gaiman has enjoyed a career of stunning diversity, and this book feels almost self-consciously summational, a novelistic milestone set with pardonable pride and no little fanfare along the literary freeway of one of our most promising young fantasists.
Read a related article in Strange Horizons.

 
The Quantam Rose The Quantam Rose by Catherine Asaro (Nebula)

The Quantum Rose is the sixth novel in the acclaimed Saga of the Skolian Empire. The beautiful young noblewoman Kamoj Quanta Argali rules a declining province on a distant planet that has lost the high technology of its original colonists. To save her people, Kamoj has contracted to marry Jax Ironbridge, the moody, unpredictable ruler of a prosperous land. Then a mysterious stranger from another world proposes a marriage that neither honor nor law will allow Kamoj to refuse.

 
Ship of Fools Ship of Fools by Richard Paul Russo (Philip K. Dick)

The starship Argonos has wandered without purpose through space for hundreds of years when it receives a transmission from a strange planet. For the first time in memory, the crew must make decisions that could change their lives forever. The author of Carlucci's Edge explores the timelessness of space travel and its effects on the human consciousness while simultaneously telling a tale of high adventure and personal drama in the far future.

 
Kushiel's Dart Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Locus)

Trained from childhood to a life of servitude and espionage, Phèdre nó Delaunay serves her master, Anafiel, as a courtesan and spy, ferreting out the dangerous secrets of the noble houses of Terre d'Ange. When she uncovers a treasonous conspiracy, however, her life takes on a new and deadly purpose. Set in a world reminiscent of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe, Carey's first novel portrays a society based upon political and sexual intrigue. The author's sensual prose, suitable for adult readers, should appeal to fans of Tanith Lee and Storm Constantine. Recommended for adult fantasy collections.

 
Passage Passage by Connie Willis (Locus)

Willis explores NDEs (Near Death Experiences) and, correspondingly, the afterlife, the human spirit, and the promises and limitations of science and medicine. Joanna Lander, a psychologist studying the phenomenon at Mercy General, teams up with newcomer Richard Wright, a neurologist conducting research in support of his theory that NDEs may be a survival strategy and that understanding the brain functions of the dying may be the key to preventing premature death. Their nemesis is Maurice Mandrake who, having authored one best-selling book on NDEs and the afterlife, seeks patients' validations of his foregone conclusions for his planned sequel about the existence of life after death. Willis's strength has always been her vivid characters, and Passage contains quite a collection, from Vielle, ER supervisor and Joanna's confidant, to her brilliant former high school English teacher, now a victim of Alzheimer's disease.

 
The Kappa Child The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto (James Tiptree Jr)

From the award-winning author of Chorus of Mushrooms, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in the Carribean and Canadian Region and was the co-winner of the Canada Japan Book Award, The Kappa Child is the tale of four Japanese Canadian sisters struggling to escape the bonds of a family and landscape as inhospitable as the sweltering prairie heat.

 

The King's Peace by Jo Walton (John W. Campbell)
Sulian ap Gwien was seventeen when the Jarnish raiders came. Had she been armed when they found her, she could have taken them all. As it was, it took six of them to subdue her. She will never forgive them. Thus begins her story--a story that takes her back to her family, with its ancient ties to the Vincan empire that once ruled in Tir Tanagiri, and forward to Caer Tanaga, where the greatest man of his time, King Urdo, struggles to bind together the squabbling nobles and petty princes into a unified force that will drive out the barbarian invader and restore the King's Peace.

The Other Wind by Ursula K. LeGuin (World Fantasy Award)
The sixth book in LeGuin's Earthsea Cycle. The sorcerer Alder has the power of mending, but it may have become the power of destruction: every night he dreams of the wall between the land of the living and the land of the dead, and the wall is being dismantled. If the wall is breached, the dead will invade Earthsea. Ged, once Archmage of Earthsea, sends Alder to King Lebannen. Now Alder and the king must join with a burned woman, a wizard of forbidden lore, and a being who is woman and dragon both, in an impossible quest to save Earthsea.

Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (Sapphire)
A downed ship and an injured pilot create a surprising game of finders keepers that threatens Captain Trilby Elliot's heart . . . and her life.

Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury (Prometheus)
As a punishment for an unspecified crime, psychohistorian Eron Osa finds himself sentenced to the removal of his "fam", an electronic familiar that enhances mental abilities and allows him to pursue his career. Possessed of greatly reduced intelligence, Osa attempts to recover his memories and create a life for himself while uncovering the real reason for his penalty.

The Song of the Earth by Hugh Nissenson (Spectrum)
John Firth Baker (2037-2057) was one of three children genetically engineered and experientially guided to be artistic prodigies. Ten years after his murder, an art historian who conducted the only interview with Baker presents this biographical collage of relevant reportage and documents, entries from Baker's and his mother Jeannette's journals, and excerpts from the Baker interview and others with his closest associates. Illustrated with artwork by Baker and the other two, also short-lived, prodigies, the book tells a story of circumstances foiling science as well as art or, perhaps, of religion trumping science and art, as Baker's Gaian guru suggests. And it is the latter-twenty-first-century circumstances that Nissenson extrapolates from present predicaments that initially make this clever, darkly witty mock documentary so engrossing.

The Children's War by J.N. Stroyar (Sidewise)
Stroyar's debut, a "what-if" depiction of Europe after the Third Reich has won World War II, focuses primarily on Peter Halifax (as he is known in one of his many identities), a man arrested for having bad papers. He is subsequently imprisoned, tortured, and condemned to death, then reeducated and thrust into a life of abject slavery as part of a Nazi experiment. After years of degrading brutality at the hands of various masters, Peter escapes to the Underground, only to find himself under suspicion as a collaborator. Many heartrending moments follow in the battle against Nazi oppression. Though the pace of the last third occasionally slows and there may be comparisons to Robert Harris's Fatherland and Len Deighton's SS-GB, this is much more than a pat suspense novel or mystery; rather, it is an immensely assured and beautifully written work, remarkable for its nuanced characters, its insights into the subtleties of human relationships under stress, and its devastating portrayal of the horror of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming cruelty.

In the Company of Others by Julie E. Czerneda (Prix Aurora)
There is a hearty dose of cultural anthropology here told through a xeno-biological perspective, as well as a healthy dose of hard speculative science backing up every paragraph. What may be missing in "action" is certainly made up for in ideas. Ideas about the future in science, politics, ethics, and human relations.