ESFS Awards

If I am interpreting this entry in eurocon correctly (and after cross-referencing with this not quite complete list of nominations on Europa SF), this year's ESFS Award winners, announced at Eurocon in Kiev this weekend, are as follows:

European Grandmaster
Terry Pratchett (UK)
Iain Banks (UK)

Hall of Fame

Author: Andrei Valentinov (Ukraine)

Artist: Nikolai Redka (Ukraine)

Translator: Patrice and Viktoriya Lajoie (France)

Promoter: Istvan Burger (Hungary)

Publisher: Shiko (Ukraine)

Magazine: SFX (UK)

Spirit of Dedication

Performance: "Vash Vikhod"(?) (Your Move), "Raido" theatre (Ukraine)

Website: (Romania)

Illustrator: Katerina Bachilo (Russia)

Fanzine: Fandango (Ukraine)

Encouragement Awards

Stefan Cernohuby (Austria)
Ioana Visan (Romania)
Aleksandra Davydova (Russia)
Leonid Kaganov (Russia)
Livia Hlavackova (Slovakia)
Boris Georgiev (Georgia)
Julia Novakova (Czech Republic)
Oleg Silin (Ukraine)
Martin Vavpotic (Slovenia)
Anton Lik (Belarus)

Honorary Awards

Harry Harrison (in memoriam)
Boris Strugatsky (in memoriam)

BSFA Award results

Best Novel

Winner: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts (Gollancz)

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Corvus)

Empty Space: a Haunting by M. John Harrison (Gollancz)

Intrusion by Ken Macleod (Orbit)

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)

Best Short Story

Winner: “Adrift on the Sea of Rains” by Ian Sales (Whippleshield Books)

“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld #69)

“The Flight of the Ravens” by Chris Butler (Immersion Press)

“Song of the body Cartographer” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Phillipines Genre Stories)

“Limited Edition” by Tim Maughan (1.3, Arc Magazine)

“Three Moments of an Explosion” by China Mieville (Rejectamentalist Manifesto)

Best Artwork

Winner: Blacksheep for the cover of Adam Roberts’s Jack Glass (Gollancz)

Ben Baldwin for the cover of Dark Currents (Newcon Press)

Dominic Harman for the cover of Eric Brown’s Helix Wars (Rebellion)

Joey Hi-Fi for the cover of Simon Morden’s Thy Kingdom Come (Jurassic London)

Si Scott for the cover artwork for Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden (Corvus)

Best Non-Fiction

Winner: The World SF Blog, Chief Editor Lavie Tidhar

“The Complexity of the Humble Space Suit” by Karen Burnham (Rocket Science, Mutation Press)

“The Widening Gyre” by Paul Kincaid (Los Angeles Review of Books)

The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge University Press)

The Shortlist Project by Maureen Kincaid Speller

Watching Chicon 7 from a distance

As has been the case in most recent years, I've set up a temporary public friends group of LJers attending Chicon 7.

While most of the LJs listed are already on my friends list, I have added others who look likely to be posting from or about Chicon 7 - though probably dropping at least some of them again in a few weeks once it has receded into the distance. However, if you are one of the new additions, friending me back or having met me in real life or writing interestingly enough in your LJ that I have to keep reading it are good tactics for keeping you on my friends list.

If you spot any interesting LJs, LJ feeds - or indeed other web resources - about Chicon 7, please feel free to comment here to tell me about them.

British rowing's forgotten silver medallist

Sometime fifty years ago this summer (quite likely fifty years ago sometime last week), a young British woman of 19 or 20 with some rather odd luggage stood arguing with American border guards at Checkpoint Charlie. Yes, she knew what she was doing, she was expected in East Berlin, she had a formal invitation. After several hours of arguing, they let her (and her luggage) through. The people waiting for her on the other side of the border had given up on her coming and gone. She had to take a taxi to where she was going, and got there with only an hour to spare before her first race.

The young woman's name was Penny Chuter and, by all available accounts, she was the best British woman rower of her generation. On 19 August 1962, she won the silver medal in single sculls at the Women's European Rowing Championships, which were being held that year at Grünau, in the suburbs of East Berlin. The "odd luggage" was her sculls, though she borrowed an East German boat. Collapse )
And by now, very few seem aware that she was perhaps the most talented British rower in an admittedly weak period for British rowing.

Warning! Severe spatio-temporal anomalies in north London

Earlier today, I wondered whether a mysterious pattern of delays in the election count for London Mayor might indicate the existence of a black hole somewhere near Alexandra Palace. despotliz kindly pointed me, via the Guardian liveblog, to a rather more mundane explanation involvoing a power cut. However...

Two ballot boxes full of votes from Brent and Harrow constituency seem to have slipped into a wormhole yesterday evening and have only recently rematerialised in normal space-time, apparently somewhere in the region of Alexandra Palace. Moreover, this has apparently meant that, while the ballot papers were designed for scanning into an electronic counting system, they are now having to be counted by hand.

Actually, this brings back memories. Thirty years ago, plus or minus a couple of days, I went to my first "proper" (i.e. not student union) election count - I was standing as a Labour candidate for the local council. It wasn't exactly a good time to be a Labour candidate - for several months, the Social Democratic/Liberal Alliance had been attracting both Labour and Tory voters, except that the Falklands War was now at its height and the Tory voters had mostly moved back to Thatcher. In every local ward except one, the Tories took all the council seats, the Alliance candidates came next, leaving the Labour candidates trailing in last place. The one exception was that, in the one local ward where we already had a councillor (two over from where I was standing), we held onto that seat and gained another.

Except that in fact we hadn't. The next morning, someone realised that the voting figures for that ward did not properly add up, a search was done of the room where the count had taken place, and there were two still sealed ballot boxes under a table. The count was hurriedly restarted - this time resulting in three Tory councillors and exactly the same order of candidates as in all the other wards, except that I think that the top Labour candidate got a few more votes than the bottom Alliance one.

And this all took place just a few miles west of Alexandra Palace, and just a few miles east of Brent and Harrow. Could it have been the same wormhole?

Is there a black hole near Alexandra Palace?

Having (as always) voted a straight Labour ticket yesterday in the London elections yesterday, I'm keeping more than half an eye on the counts for Mayor and Assembly - and I've noticed something.

For the Assembly election that takes place alongside the Mayoral one, London is divided into fourteen constituencies, and the counting of ballot papers for both Mayor and Assembly for each constituency is taking place at one of three different sites - Excel for five constituencies covering east and south-east London, Olympia for five constituencies covering west and south-west London, and Alexandra Palace for the remaining four, covering north London. The official LondonElects website is providing a more-or-less live feed of the count. However, four out of the fourteen constituencies seem to be counting distinctly more slowly than the rest (the figures for this are below the bar chart showing the current interim result) - and the four constituencies concerned are the ones being counted at Alexandra Palace.

Something near Alexandra Palace is clearly causing a temporal distortion - and, if one discounts sheer human inefficiency as a possible explanation, a nearby black hole looks like one of the more plausible alternatives. Memory tells me that this isn't the first time that election counts for London-wide elections at Alexandra Palace have been suspiciously slow compared with those elsewhere, so the black hole may have been there a while - though, if so, I can't explain why it doesn't seem to manifest between elections.

Though, to be honest, I'm not sure that I would discount human inefficiency - the organisation of at least one previous Alexandra Palace count, at which I was present, was undertaken by Barnet council staff (despite Alexandra Palace being in Haringey - I think it was because Barnet is the largest borough within the four constituencies), and over thirty years, I don't think I have ever known the level of organisation of a Barnet election count ever get above "satisfactory" (and it's often been below).

On the election itself, Boris Johnson is currently ahead of Ken Livingstone and looks almost certain to win (boo), but in my local constituency, Barnet and Camden, the Labour candidate looks like winning the seat from its long-standing incumbent and somewhat notorious Tory, Brian Coleman - even though within Barnet and Camden, Johnson is leading Livingstone by some distance. It looks as if I have been rather atypical in voting a straight party ticket.

Awards shortlisting season...

You know that it's the Awards shortlisting season when the shouting starts - most spectacularly this year with Christopher Priest's elegantly-written invective on the Clarke Awards shortlist.

To start on a tangent - I have nominated four novels for the Hugos this year. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (last year's Clarke winner, but eligible for the Hugos this year because of delayed American publication). The Islanders by a certain Christopher Priest. Embassytown by China Miéville. And Rule 34 by Charles Stross. That's right - leaving aside Zoo City, I've nominated Priest's latest novel, a novel he has labelled as an inferior one by a potentially great writer, and one whose inclusion on the Clarke shortlist he has called "indefensible". And nothing he has said has caused me to doubt my choices.
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So, the nominees may be able to look after themselves, but the judges? Under these conditions, any panel confronted with any attack - even one consisting of M. John Harrison, John Clute, Christopher Priest, Ursula K. LeGuin and David Langford, attacked by a teenager with a couple of showy but nonsensical arguments - could find difficulty in responding. The judges may be an easy target, but then - any target working under rules that don't allow it to respond to attack is easy.

The first volume of a new Paula Volsky trilogy now out???

Just under a year ago, I posted an entry here headed A new Paula Volsky trilogy out next year? It started "I think that I have firm evidence that the first volume of a new trilogy by Paula Volsky, probably set in a different world from that of her previous novels, will be published next autumn" and finished "But one thing puzzles me - why no formal announcement yet?" (in between, I said a bit about Volsky's previous novels and the evidence for a forthcoming trilogy).

Nearly a year later, still apparently no announcement - but two comments to that entry, one (a few months back) remarking on the continuing lack of an announcement. And the second one, yesterday, telling me that the first volume is out but under a pseudonym - The Traitor's Daughter by Paula Brandon (ISBN: 0553583808).

No more evidence so far than an LJ comment from someone I had never come across before, but I am rather inclined to believe it. The fact is, I'd already guessed but was unable to come up with any real evidence. Roughly the same publication date as I'd been expecting, the same publisher, a similar title to what previous rumours had been suggesting ("The Traitor's House", if I remember correctly), even the same author's first name - very coincidental but... And, while Volsky was never forthcoming about biographical details, the couple I have picked up about Brandon match Volsky's. What leads me to believe it, though, are details in the advance reviews - the character names feel similar (though not the same), ditto the vaguely Miévillesque non-humans, ditto mechanical intelligences, ditto a story starting in a situation ripe for revolution.

The oddity if so, though, is that the only direct evidence in favour I have had so far is the one LJ comment. I would have expected someone else to have made the connection and mentioned it. And, indeed, quite a few of the reviews obviously regard this as a first novel. But even so, there's enough to make me feel that the commenter was probably telling me the truth. So I had better get hold of a copy and see whether reading it makes me feel this even more strongly.