This year I had the honor of being one of the judges for the Philip K. Dick award, and it was quite an interesting experience. For one thing, it was eye-opening to have such a wide variety of books arrive on my doorstep, all in the category of US-published paperback science fiction. I was also curious to see how easy it would be to choose a shortlist and a winner. Would it be obvious? Would the judges all agree? The answer is no; there were definitely some different reactions, but nevertheless, we ended up with a finalist list we were all quite pleased with.
The books are as follows, and all are excellent reads:
- Yarn, Jon Armstrong (Night Shade Books)
- Chill, Elizabeth Bear (Ballantine Books/Spectra)
- The Reapers Are The Angels, Alden Bell (Henry Holt & Co.)
- Song Of Scarabaeus, Sara Creasy (Eos)
- The Strange Affair Of Spring Heeled Jack, Mark Hodder (Pyr)
- Harmony, Project Itoh, translated by Alexander O. Smith (Haikasoru)
- State Of Decay, James Knapp (Roc)
A number of people have noticed that there are two zombie books on the list, and wondered if perhaps a judge or two was a zombie fan. Not so. None of this year’s judges expected zombie books to be up their alley, and yet here we are with two on the list. This is simply because, regardless of their topic, they are well-written. (They are also quite different from each other.) So if you think zombies are “not your thing”, give them a try anyway. You might be surprised.
All of these books are worth the read. Author and Tor Books columnist Jo Walton (no relation) does a good job of summarizing them in her post on Tor.com. I’ll hold off from comparing and contrasting for now, lest I give anything away. The authors have to wait until April to find out which book is the winner.