FictionFan Awards 2015 – Genre Fiction

Drum roll please…

 

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2015.

For the benefit of new readers, and as a reminder for anyone who was around last year, here’s a quick résumé of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2014 and October 2015 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

The categories tend to change slightly each year to better reflect what I’ve been reading during the year.

There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories:

Genre Fiction

Factual

Crime Fiction/Thrillers

Literary Fiction

 

…and…

Book of the Year 2015

 

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the author’s next book even if I have to buy it myself!

(NB If an author is unlikely to publish another book due to being dead, I will read a book from his/her back catalogue…)

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

* * * * * * * * *

So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

GENRE FICTION

 

The FF definition of ‘genre fiction’ for the purpose of these awards is basically anything that doesn’t quite fit into one of the other categories. I’ve not read nearly as much genre fiction as I intended this year, and a lot of what I did manage to fit in were re-reads of some classic sci-fi. Despite that, I had some great reads during the year… a mix of old and new.

 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

dune messiahDune Messiah by Frank Herbert

 

It’s twelve years since we left Paul Muad’dib at the end of Dune – twelve years in which his war against the Harkonnen and the Emperor has grown into a jihad resulting in the deaths of tens of billions and the destruction of several planets. Paul’s beginning to wonder if perhaps things might have gone a little too far. His power of prescience has made him an unwilling Messiah to his people, but the ability to see so many possible futures, none of them good, has left him desperate to find a way out that will stop the killing…

Though this is the sequel to Dune, I think it’s a better book, but it really is necessary to read them in order. Unfortunately the books go badly downhill after this one, so I abandoned the series. But the first two books undoubtedly deserve their status as classics for the quality of the writing and the imagination that created the unforgettable desert world of Arrakis.

Click to see the full review

Art by Henrik Sahlstrom
Art by Henrik Sahlstrom

* * * * * * * * *

the haunting of hill houseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

 

Hill House has a reputation for ghostly goings-on – so much so that even the servants won’t stay around after dark. So it’s the ideal place for Dr John Montague to carry out an investigation into supernatural manifestations. He collects together a little group of strangers – selected because they have had previous experiences of strange happenings, and they all set off to spend the summer living in the house…

Finding Shirley Jackson is one of the many benefits I’ve had from blogging – she’s not nearly so well known on this side of the pond as in the US. This one shows all her skill in playing with expectations, her gothic references always just a little subverted, making the whole thing feeling slightly off-kilter. Though I thought the ending fell away a little, there were plenty of genuinely creepy moments along the way, along with some delicious humour. Another true classic.

Click to see the full review

eleanor

* * * * * * * * *

twenty trillion leagues under the seaTwenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea by Adam Roberts

 

It’s June 1958, and French experimental submarine the Plongeur has taken off on her maiden voyage to test her new nuclear engines and her ability to dive to depths never before reached. The first trial dive is a success, so the Captain gives the order to go deeper, down to the limits of the submarine’s capacity. But as they pass the one thousand five hundred metre mark, disaster strikes! Suddenly the crew lose control of the submarine, and it is locked in descent position. The dive goes on… past the point where the submarine should be crushed by the pressure… and on… and on…

Stylistically this reads like classic sci-fi from the early twentieth century and is filled with references to many of the greats. But the quality of the writing and imagination lifts it from being pastiche and makes it something unique. Again, I felt it fell away a bit towards the end, but for the most part I found this an exciting ride, cleverly executed and full of imagination, and with a great mix of tension, humour and horror.

Click to see the full review

twenty trillion leagues 1

* * * * * * * * *

dark matterDark Matter by Michelle Paver

 

It’s 1937 and war clouds are gathering over Europe. Jack Miller is poor and struggling in a job he hates, so he jumps at the chance to join an expedition to Gruhuken, an abandoned mining settlement in the Arctic. But the expedition begins to hit trouble even before they leave London, with a couple of the men having to drop out at the last moment. And the troubles don’t end there – once they are in Gruhuken a series of events mean that eventually Jack is left alone to keep the expedition alive…and the long dark Arctic winter is beginning…and Jack begins to feel he may not be as alone as he thinks…

This is a great ghost story – or maybe it isn’t. Is there something out there in the never-ending Arctic night or is it all in Jack’s mind? We only have his own narration to go on and, as with all the best horror, nothing is certain. It’s all done by a brilliantly executed build-up of psychological terror – from ‘don’t go there’ warnings from the captain of the ship to things barely glanced from the corner of the eye, sensations of a presence, and distorted perspectives. The writing is top quality – this book would sit just as well in the literary fiction category as in horror. I dare you to read it…

Click to see the full review

arctic night

* * * * * * * * *

FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2015

for

BEST GENRE FICTION

 

the martian chronicles

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

 

Written as short stories for magazines in the late 1940s and pulled together with a series of linking pieces for publication in book form in 1951, the book is set around the turn of the millennium, when man is beginning to colonise Mars.

Because of the way it developed, the book is very episodic in nature and Bradbury reinvents Martian society anew depending on the story he wants to tell. After reading the first few chapters, I was a little puzzled by the book’s status as an acknowledged sci-fi great  – the stories were good but relatively standard. However as the book progresses Bradbury allows his imagination to take full flight and some of the later stories are beautifully written fantasies with more than a little philosophical edge. Many of the later stories blew me away, leaving indelible images in my mind. As with the best sci-fi, the book is really an examination of what it means to be human and Bradbury approaches the question from many different angles, each as thought-provoking as the one before. And on top of all that, he produces some of the highest quality writing I have come across in sci-fi. I’d hate anyone to be put off this one by the genre label – it’s as stimulating and well written as most ‘literary’ novels and shows a great deal more imagination than they usually do.

Click to see the full review

the martian chronicles 4 les edwards 2009
© Les Edwards 2009.

* * * * * * * * *

Next week: Best Factual Award

37 thoughts on “FictionFan Awards 2015 – Genre Fiction

  1. Ah, I do love your annual awards, FictionFan! It’s great to see you’re doing it again this year. And I can’t argue with you about The Martian Chronicles (although I reserve the right to have personal contempt for the author!). But the man could write…. At any rate, the book is a classic in my opinion – well-written and intriguing. You’ve got some other great choices among your finalists, too.

    • Thanks, Margot – I enjoy doing it! 🙂 Yes, The Martian Chronicles was a clear winner this year, even though the rest of these books are great too. Some of the stories from it will stay as all-time favourites and it’s a great excuse to read some of his other stuff too. And I never get as annoyed at dead authors’ attitudes as I do at living ones… 😉

    • Oh, I hope you enjoy it! Just wait for a dark night when the snow is blowing against the windows… haha! Actually it spooked me quite enough in summer! And really well written…

    • Haha! Well, I hit a problem with my system last year by picking a dead author so felt a slight adjustment to the rules was required… 😉 Yes, I haven’t read much of his stuff but have loved what I have read – looking forward to reading more!

  2. Well I’m sorry Shirley or Michelle didn’t win, but their inclusion was thoroughly deserved. There ought to be a genre for books about chocolate, and you ought to have read everything in it. Or perhaps eaten everything in it

    • Yes, I’m starting a campaign for books to be printed on chocolate so that we can eat them once we’ve read them – think how much extra shelf space we would all have! Both those ones were great, but The Martian Chronicles is even greater!!

  3. Good choice – it must be our generation gap that stopped you reading Bradbury as a child – I gulped them down in the late sixties/early seventies.

  4. You know, I’m not sure I ever read The Martian Chronicles. Something tells me I should’ve read that one when I was in school. Guess I’ll have to remedy that! This is a great concept, FF, and I’m looking forward to the rest of your awards!

    • Thanks, Debbie – it’s become a kind of annual tradition now – a good way for me to remind myself of authors I’d like to read more of. I suspect The Martian Chronicles probably works better for adults than kids, on the whole – some of the things he looks at might not be as interesting for young’uns…

  5. Great selection, fiction fan! I do like your taste in genre fiction. I’ve been told a couple of people I should get into Herbert….and I think you’ve just sealed the deal.

    • Thanks, Lucy! 😀 And good to see you back around the blogosphere! Yes, the first couple of Dune books are great – well worth reading. After that it all got a bit too weird for me, but lots of people like the later books too…

    • It is indeed! There is nothing in life that can’t be improved by chocolate and wine!

      Thanks, Susan – it’s good to look back and remember that most of the books in the year were good ones…

  6. Putting that Bradbury on my to-read list! I’ve only read a few things by him but enjoy his style quite a lot. (Also, every time I think of him I think of the Gaiman story “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury,” which moved me to tears, and it makes me like him even more by association.)

    • I haven’t read much of his stuff but have enjoyed what I have read – and this one is brilliant! Hope you enjoy it! Ooh, I haven’t come across that Gaiman story – but it appears there’s a youtube vid of Gaiman reading it. Shall listen later – thanks for the rec! 🙂

  7. So very pleased to see this back for another year – I haven’t read any of these although I did try Dune many moons ago – although having said that some of your reviews have been tempting, particularly the Shirley Jackson!

    • Hard to believe it’s a year since the last time! Yes, I think you’d probably enjoy the Jackson and Dark Matter, too, more than the other ones, though I’m still working on turning you into a sci-fi fan… 😉

  8. Ray B won? This is bogus, man! *laughs* Just kidding. But still, it’s quite amazing that he did, you must admit.

    Dune! I’d almost forgotten about those books.They still give me the creeps, I must admit. Then again, there was some great adventure and action going on in the first two. Third one…not so much.

    Twenty Trillion! I’d forgotten about that one, too. Must finish it. Whoops. *embarrassed*

    • He did! It’s an amazing book! (But it’s OK – I won’t try to make you read it. *laughs*)

      Yes, 1 and 2 were good, but 3 must have been the weirdest book I read this year. Oh well! It was still fun.

      *laughs* Poor Prof! Chuck it in the bin!

        • You should always believe me! *snickers*

          Yes, he did! Which was good of him – saved us having to do it! We should send him all the books first to test for us. I winder if the John Carter series goes downhill too…

          *catches it gracefully and eats it*

      • Most of the time, that is. There’s some things that you’re a bit silly about, don’t you know.

        Oh no. John Carter will stay awesome for it all, I think. It started off awesome, see.

        I don’t even get half?

        • *laughs* So glad you didn’t list them all! But you’re just being mean because we don’t agree on the important things in life – like Darby being more manly than Brock Lesnar, for example…

          But so did Dune!

          Nope! *licks juice from fingers and grins*

  9. What a good idea! A lot of work in this, though – I go for an end of year (done on 1 Jan just in case the last book of the year is a winner) top 10, or top 20 if I’ve read enough (10 fiction, 10 non-fiction). I shudder at Dune, though – was once stuck on a boating holiday with no books left and had to read all four!

    • My theory of doing it early is so everybody can rush out and buy my recommendations as Christmas pressies… 😉 But also I usually take a blog break over Christmas and the New Year so it gets it out of the way. Haha! The thought of reading all four Dune books brings on my nervous rash…

Please leave a comment - I'd love to know who's visiting and what you think...of the post, of the book, of the blog, of life, of chocolate...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s