Author and Scriptwriter

'Among the most important writers of contemporary British horror.' -Ramsey Campbell

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Some Recs for the British Fantasy Awards

Voting for the British Fantasy Awards closes at the end of the month.

There's a suggestions list available here of titles that have been put forward. It's not a shortlist or longlist: that only happens once it's voted on.

You're eligible to vote if you're
a) a BFS member
b) attended Fantasycon 2015
c) are attending Fantasycon 2016.

After that, it's over to the juries; if they decide there's been an egregious omission they'll add it to the list, then deliberate.

If you're eligible, please vote if you can. NOT for me. Well, not unless you genuinely think something of mine counts as 'best of the year'. Just vote. Take part. The more people do, the fairer the selection process will be, and the more meaningful the award.

I've already listed the stuff of mine that's eligible, so I won't repeat myself here. I want instead to list a few pieces that I think are worthy of your consideration. (Although with less than a week to go, there'll be precious little time to read them, I know. But anyway.)

I often hesitate to vote, purely because I always realise how much great stuff I haven't read every year. But very few of us will have read everything on the suggestions list; any recommendations therefore are a good idea, as they might actually lead to some of us widening our reading! So along with stuff I've read and rated, I've also listed titles I haven't read but think will be worth a look should you have the opportunity.

Novels (Horror)
The Silence, by Tim Lebbon. A brilliantly-imagined, ingeniously-told and superbly-characterised novel in which the 'vesps' - voracious, sightless flying killers - swarm across Europe. They hunt by sound, homing in on the smallest noise. The apocalypse trends on Twitter and is shared via Facebook and YouTube. I loved it.

The Death House, by Sarah Pinborough. In a dystopian future, a group of children with an incurable
genetic condition are housed in a boarding-school-like facility to await the inevitable end. Toby, the protagonist, falls in love with a new arrival called Clara. Best summed up by the epigraph: 'everybody dies. It's how you choose to live that counts.' First class.

Lost Girl, by Adam Nevill. Climate change, global pandemics, refugee crises... as human civilisation approaches its final collapse, the nameless Red Father pursues a single-minded quest to find his daughter, kidnapped two years before. Maybe not quite as relentlessly terrifying as No One Gets Out Alive, but it's close. And there's a lot less fantasy in here than any of us would like.

Not read, but recommended:

A Head Full Of Ghosts, Paul Tremblay. Heard great things about this.
The Night Clock, Paul Meloy. Meloy's particular brand of SF, Fantasy, horror and great prose has marked him out as one of the best British writers of the just plain weird for years now. The Night Clock is his long-overdue first novel.
Day Four, Sarah Lotz. The follow-up to The Three, which won Lotz last year's BFA for Best Newcomer. Should be well worth the read.
Point Hollow, Rio Youers. Youers' Westlake Soul was an amazing achievement. A superb writer.
Rawblood, Catriona Ward. Heard great things about this one, too.

Novels (Fantasy)

I haven't read the novels below, but I'd recommend them on the strength of the authors' previous work.
Ecko Endgame, Danie Ware. Ware's debut, Ecko Rising, fused dystopian SF/Thriller with high fantasy to great effect. I still haven't read Ecko Burning, the second book in the series, but I will. And then it'll be on to the Endgame.
Planetfall, Emma Newman. Newman's 'Split Worlds' novels are brilliant urban fantasy; Planetfall takes her into harder SF territory. I've only heard the first chapter or so of this when Emma read it out at last year's Fantasycon, but that was enough to make me want to read it.
Vermilion, Molly Tanzer. Tanzer's first book, A Pretty Mouth, was a series of linked stories centring around the aristocratic Calipash family. Shenanigans both sexual and Lovecraftian, comical and creepy, abounded. She's an inventive, talented and original voice; I've no doubt that this very weird Western will be worth tracking down.

The Second Spectral Book of Horror Stories. Notwithstanding the issues with Spectral Press, or the conversation about the representation of women in horror that it and some other anthos spawned, it's still a very strong book - and I'm not just saying that because I've got a story in it. Mark Morris has put together a host of fine stories from excellent writers, and I'm glad to report that he'll be reviving the anthology for Titan Books.
I also can't resist giving the nod to another anthology I was in, Jonathan Green's Game Over.

Not read, but recommended:
Best British Horror 2015, ed. Johnny Mains. Johnny's last Best British Horror anthology, sadly. He's done some good ones.
African Monsters, Margret Helgadottir and Jo Thomas (eds.) (Fox Spirit Books) Some amazing speculative fiction has been coming from African authors lately. This is an antho I need to lay hands on.
The Monstrous, ed. Ellen Datlow. It's an Ellen Datlow anthology. 'Nuff said.
The Doll Collection, ed. Ellen Datlow. As above.

Probably Monsters, Ray Cluley.
Skein and Bone, V.H. Leslie.

I read some damn good ones last year. Unfortunately, they were all published by Spectral Press, and
fell victim to the clusterfuck that arose. They'll be seeing the light again, but for the time being, if you don't already have a copy, you may not be able to find one.
Albion Fay by Mark Morris. After a family tragedy, middle-aged Frank is drawn back - first emotionally, the literally, to Albion Fay - the holiday cottage his family visited when he was in his teens. Something happened there, and things were never the same again. Intricate, sad and haunting.
Leytonstone by Stephen Volk. A companion piece to Whitstable, Volk's novella about Peter Cushing; this one centres on Alfred Hitchcock's childhood. Beautifully evoked and unsettling.
The Bureau of Them by Cate Gardner. (Yes, the one I'm marrying. It's still a brilliant novella in my view.) One of Cate's darkest and most relentless stories, balanced by her gift for finding the strange, surreal and comic in the everyday.

Not read, but recommended:

Binti, Nnedi Okorafor. Okorafor's debut novel, Who Fears Death, was a masterpiece. She's a major new voice.

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Djinn, Usman Tanveer Malik. I've loved Malik's work since reading his beautiful and poignant short story 'Ishq' in Black Static. This one has been very highly praised.

Fabulous Beasts, Priya Sharma. Priya's a wonderful writer, and this tale is an utter beauty.
When The Moon Man Knocks, Cate Gardner. Yes, it's the missus again. But once again, it's because I absolutely love this story of hers, published in Black Static #48. It's one of the best things she's written: beautiful, strange, and utterly heartrending in its portrayal of bereavement and loss.

And that's all! Happy voting, folks.

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