Annal: 2013 John W. Campbell Award

Results of the John W. Campbell Award in the year 2013.

Book:Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer

Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer

Adam Roberts

Jack Glass is the murderer. We know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel tells the story of three murders committed by Glass the reader will be surprised to find out that it was Glass who was the killer and how he did it. And by the end of the book our sympathies for the killer are fully engaged.

Riffing on the tropes of crime fiction (the country house murder, the locked room mystery) and imbued with the feel of golden age SF, Jack Glass is another bravura performance from Roberts. Whatever games he plays with the genre, whatever questions he asks of the reader, Roberts never loses sight of the need to entertain and Jack Glass has some wonderfully gruesome moments, is built around three gripping HowDunnits and comes with liberal doses of sly humour.

Roberts invites us to have fun and tricks us into thinking about both crime and SF via a beautifully structured novel set in a society whose depiction challanges notions of crime, punishment, power and freedom. It is an extraordinary novel.

Book:Any Day Now (Terry Bisson)

Any Day Now: A Novel

Terry Bisson

Kentucky-born Clay meets Roads, a beatnik college drop-out with pretensions of being the next Kerouac. Suddenly Clay doesn’t want to stay in Owensboro, become a mechanic and marry a hick girl from town. He wants to be like Allen Ginsberg, Coltrane, Miles Davis. Clay finds himself in New York City trying to make it. But America is hit by a string of horrifying events—the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s assassination, the Vietnam War. Is there a place for a literary life in times of political unrest?

Any Day Now is an absorbing story of love, war and experimentation in ’60s America.

Book:Alif the Unseen

Alif the Unseen: A Novel

G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson’s bewitching new novel—perfect for fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas.

“I will tell you a story, but it comes with a warning; when you hear it, you will become someone else.”

He calls himself Alif—few people know his real name—a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern worlds. When Alif meets the aristocratic Intisar, he believes he has found love. But their relationship has no future—Intisar is promised to another man and her family’s honour must be satisfied. As a remembrance, Intisar sends the heartbroken Alif a mysterious book. Entitled The Thousand and One Days, Alif discovers that this parting gift is a door to another world—a world from a very different time, when old magic was in the ascendant and the djinn walked amongst us. With the book in…[more]

Book:Empty Space: A Haunting

Empty Space: A Haunting

M. John Harrison

One of science fiction’s premiere stylists, M. John Harrison has received abundant praise and awards for his wildly imaginative ideas and transcendent prose. Now he returns to the richly complex universe of Light and Nova Swing with a stunning new novel that braids three glittering strands into a tapestry that spans vast reaches of time and space.

In the near future, an elderly English widow is stirred from her mundane existence by surreal omens and visitations. Centuries later, the space freighter Nova Swing takes on an illegal alien artifact as cargo, with consequences beyond reckoning. While on a distant planet, a nameless policewoman tries to bring order to an event zone where ordinary physics do not apply, only to find herself caught up in something even stranger and more sublime….

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