FictionFan Awards 2016 – Genre Fiction

Drum roll please…

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2016.

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 2015 and October 2016 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 2016

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 read very little genre fiction this year – in fact, my reading in general is way down due to the depressing effect of world events combined with an excess of tennis watching. Fortunately the comparatively little I have read has had plenty of good stuff in it. This year I’ve also decided to include genre films in this category, since I’ve been reviewing films on the blog a little more, and genre films are often as good or better than the books (a thing I wouldn’t generally say about adaptations of literary or crime fiction). Most of the genre fiction I’ve read have been classics with just one or two new releases.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

fear is the riderFear is the Rider by Kenneth Cook

It’s 50 degrees centigrade outside as John Shaw is driving over one of the most dangerous roads in the Australian outback, and there isn’t a house within two hundred kilometres. A terrified girl has run out in front of his vehicle, running for her life. Now they’re racing along the track, but someone is behind them, and he’s catching up…

This thriller with a horror element is pure action from beginning to end. Cook doesn’t give us any explanations or much character development, either of which would just serve to slow the pace. Neither of the main characters is a superhero – just two ordinary people caught up in an insane terror. The pacing is great – it never lets up! It’s novella length and definitely one to be read in one sitting – no chapters, just a heart-pounding race with a new peril thrown in every few pages, leading up to a truly fab climax. A thriller that’s actually thrilling and isn’t trying to be anything else – great stuff!

Click to see the full review

Danger sign

* * * * * * * * *

the machine stopsThe Machine Stops by EM Forster

At some time in EM Forster’s distant future, but not seeming quite so distant now, man has created a Machine to fulfil all his wants, and has now handed over control of life to the Machine. People sit in their individual rooms, never physically meeting other humans. But one man is convinced that the Machine is no longer the servant of the people and has become instead their master. And he prophesies that one day the Machine may stop…

What a fantastic story! The joy of it is all in the telling. The writing is wonderful, not to mention the imagination that, in 1909, envisaged a world that takes its trajectory straight through today and on to an all too believable future. A warning from the past to us in the present of where we may easily end up if we continue on the road we’re travelling. Full of some disturbing images, a little bit of horror and a tiny bit of hope, this is a masterpiece of short story writing.

Click to see the full review

the machine stops art

* * * * * * * * *

the children's homeThe Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

Morgan was a beautiful young man but a terrible incident has left him so horribly disfigured he can no longer face the world. So he stays holed up in the house his grandfather built while his sister runs the family business that keeps them both wealthy. The only person Morgan lets see him is his housekeeper, Engel. But one day Engel finds a baby left outside the house. The two of them agree not to tell the authorities and so the child becomes part of the household. Shortly after, another child arrives, then another, until before long there are seven of them… and more keep coming. No-one knows where they’re coming from and the children never say, but Morgan is becoming convinced that these children have the power to appear and disappear at will. And soon it seems as if they’ve come for a purpose…

The quality of imagination in this book is matched by the quality of the writing. It reads like a corrupted fairytale, reminding me of Shirley Jackson, with elements of John Wyndham thrown in to the mix. But these references don’t take away from the book’s own originality. There is an unsettling tone of horror under the seemingly bright surface, and the story gets progressively darker as it proceeds. There are parts that are truly shocking and the writing is of such quality as to create some images that stay long after the last page has been turned. Is it sci-fi? Horror? Fantasy? Lit-fic? Yes, to all of the above. It’s the first book for a long time that has had me gasping aloud in shock…

Click to see the full review

* * * * * * * * *

FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2016

for

BEST GENRE FICTION

2001 both1

2001: A Space Odyssey – book and film

The first ever joint winner! The book and film were created jointly and intended to complement each other, and each adds hugely to the enjoyment and understanding of the other, so they can’t be separated.

A tribe of man-apes is visited by aliens who use a strange artefact to stimulate their minds, thus setting them on a course to become fully human and develop the intelligence that will eventually allow them to dominate their world. Millennia later, mankind has reached the moon, only to find hidden another similar artefact, one that this time will send them on a journey to the furthest reaches of the solar system and perhaps beyond…

Arthur C Clarke and  Stanley Kubrick developed the basic idea together based on some earlier stories of Clarke’s, although the film does diverge somewhat from the book, especially around the mystical ending. The book, while still leaving much open to interpretation, tells the story much more clearly, while the film concentrates on visuals and effects to create a kind of mystical experience that, in Kubrick’s words, “hits the viewer at an inner level of consciousness, just as music does, or painting.”

Apparently Clarke said “I always used to tell people, ‘Read the book, see the film, and repeat the dose as often as necessary’”. I heartily concur. Reading the book first turned watching the film into an fantastic experience, and next time I read the book, I’ll have the fabulous images and music from the film running in my head. Two parts that are differently great but which, together, become something uniquely wonderful.

Click to see the book review

Click to see the film review

2001 poster

* * * * * * * * *

Next week: Best Factual Award

56 thoughts on “FictionFan Awards 2016 – Genre Fiction

  1. WooHoo! It’s that time of year again and I LOVE these awards! A worthy winner for this category, FF – two for the price of one. I know you haven’t read the latest Sophie Hannah so I am very sad I won’t be seeing up for crime fiction award 😉 But you have had some cracking crime novels this year so I shall look forward to my favourite category nonetheless 😀

    • Hahaha! Yes, it’s tragic poor Sophie won’t be in the running this year! But the crime is always a fun category to do – so many to choose from (unlike this category which I nearly had to drop this year, due to not having read enough). Did you read the second Catchpool yet?

      • I have got the second one sat on the side, ready to go – but with the Anthony Horowitz and two Hugh Frasers (what an odd sentence to write!) I have fallen behind a bit with my own book, so will leave it until I have a break at Christmas. However, ‘Never A Cross Word’ is slowly but surely being written in between all the ‘proper’ writing – it’s actually going to be quite good, I think!!

  2. Happy days! I love your awards season! I remember reading your review of Fear is the Rider and thinking it sounded freaking amazing. I have to get my hands on The Children’s Home though, you’ve sold me on it.

  3. Ah, time for the FF Awards again!! I love it! And I think you’ve chosen a most deserving winner this time, FictionFan. That book and film are, in my opinion, classics for a reason. And you’ve reminded me that I want to read The Children’s Home. There goes the TBR….. *sigh*…

    • Doesn’t time fly? 😉 Yes, that book/film combo really blew me away this year, so there was no real question but that it had to be the joint winner. The Children’s Home is great – I do think you’d like it. It’s a real cross of genres, and very well written…

  4. I know “The Machine Stops” well, and it’s definitely worth the accolade. I must try Fear is the Rider and The Children’s Home in the not too distant future.

    • I hadn’t come across The Machine Stops before, but I thought it was great – leapt straight into ‘favourites’ status. Fear is the Rider is just a blast – great fun to read in one sitting and not take too seriously. The Children’s Home is really excellent though – creepy and disturbing, and very well written. Hope you enjoy it, if you do get a chance to read it sometime.

    • Yep, couldn’t divide these ones! I still can’t get over what a difference it made to the film reading the book first. Fear is the Rider is great fun – just a straightforward horror thriller. And The Machine Stops is a great story – still amazed at how well he foresaw the impact of technology… Hope you enjoy them, if you do get a chance to read them sometime! 🙂

    • For some reason, I never came across it before, but it really is a great story. Must try to read more ‘genre’ fiction next year, though – the choice was a bit limited this year…

  5. Gosh. What’s wrong…a lot we agree on here or my interest had been piqued enough to add to the TBR – the Forster, based on his lit fic writing which I love. I’m one who loved the 2001 movie (old hippies never die, and are always nodding sagely and ready to burst into a cry of cool! far out, man’ – Excuse me whilst I crack open the patchouli……) Anyway, I digress. It happens a lot, I blame the patchouli, I might even try the book at some point. I LOVED the Lambert, and it might even have been you who alerted me to it, though I can’t really remember (I blame the patchouli)

    I’m ALMOST thinking that with ticking the boxes with you for the other mentions, that perhaps I should let the one clicky finger hover decisively over your unashamed action one, but i think I should have a little sniff of patchouli and resist, with my own TBR thunkingly on a growth spurt……several tempting Vines, Galleys, persuasions by bloggers – how COULD they – and then, to add insult to injury, my own tendency to read one book by and author and buy others. Sigh.

    • I think you’d love the Forster but I’m not so sure about Fear is the Rider – you never know though! It’s one of these nice ones that isn’t pretending to be anything other than what it is, which is always a bonus. I can’t remember now either whether I recommended The Children’s Home to you or you to me, but yes, one of those rare ones we both loved, which makes it special! Ah, patchouli! Suddenly I’m reminded of the smell of Afghan coats in a chilly lecture hall on a rainy day… bleurgh! I didn’t ‘get’ the film at all really, till I read the book – probably forgot to wear cheesecloth while watching. But when I did them both together – wow! What an experience! Far out, man! Psychedelic!

      I’m doing excellently with the old TBR suddenly – my willpower seems to be working overtime. I might run out of books soon…

      • Run out on the TBR? Good heavens! And sadly, you will probably be safe from me as MY books of the year are inevitably going to be featuring a LOT of re-reads. And many of them will be Virginia Woolf, who has been SUCH a pleasure to come to again. Well, I feel cheerier if you think the action one really might not be for me. One less for the wobbly virtual pile then

        • Haha! Well, I may have exaggerated just slightly but at least it’s heading in the right direction at the moment! Yes, I’ve had lots of re-reads, or at least older novels, in all of my categories this year – I seem to be getting further and further out of sync with what’s currently being produced. So I’m looking forward to getting into the Classics Club stuff properly next year (hence my clearing the decks of review copies). You will be unsurprised to learn that Ms Woolf is unlikely to appear on any of my awards lists though… 😉

  6. Yay, it’s that time of the year again and you’re working your way up to a rollicking, rip-roaring finale! As a bit of 2001 Space Odyssey fan myself (book and film), I heartily approve of your choice.
    And I do like the sound of The Children’s Home… no, my willpower is not on a par with yours, but I will try to desist or find it at the library.

    • I am! Though it’s been a funny year this year – as many older books as current ones, I think. 2001 was a major wow moment for me this year, so it really had to win this category. I do think you’d enjoy The Children’s Home if you ever get time to read it – it’s a real crossover book, hard to put into any genre really, but very well written…

  7. Woo-Hoo, awards time again!! Looks like you’ve chosen well, FF. I’m looking forward to your other winners, too. That story about the machine looks like something I’ve got to get my hands on — strangely prophetic for that many years ago.

    • This was quite a hard one since I haven’t read much ‘genre’ fiction this year, but the other categories were a bit easier! The Machine Stops is well worth a read – if memory serves me right, it’s available online, though personally I found it a bit long to read on a laptop. But there are probably downloadable versions out there since it’s long out of copyright…

  8. Well, this is fun! I must not have discovered your blog yet at this time last year, or else I would remember these awards. I’ll have to go back and check out previous years’ winners!
    Fear is the Rider is probably the book I’d pick off this list. I remember your review, and it sounded terrifying. 🙂

    • Haha! Yes, “genre” is a useful place to dump all those books that don’t fit in properly anywhere else! Thank you – films will never take over from books, but with this book/film combo, they really do both enhance each other so much…

    • Thank you! Haha! It started with me just picking a Book of the Year, but seems to have grown… 😉 The EM Forster is great – still can’t believe how well he predicted the way life would be going a hundred years later…

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