Locus awards roundup

The annual Locus Awards were first presented in 1971 and recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy literature.

The Locus Awards break up their nominee lists into Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, First Novel, YA, Novelette, Short Story Collections and more including Non-Fiction and Illustrated and Art Book.

There are so many fantastic books on the Locus nominations list its impossible for me to cover them all. So here's a taster of some I've been looking into. The good news is that readers have a good chance of securing copies because there are so many to choose from!

Here are some of my picks (with a little help from ChChlibgirl):

First Novel: There is a bulk of new talent here, it's anyone's guess who will win this section but of course they are all winners. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as they say.

The Water Dancer

The Water Dancer is definitely a story to read if you are following the Black Lives Matter movement, or want to be better informed about the origins and treatment of African American people. Ta-Nehisi Coates unflinchingly tells the tale of a young man in Virginia, fathered by the Land Owner, and recognised only as a slave to the Boss's legitimate son. His mother has already been sold 'down Natchez way' (the Natchez slave market). 

This is a story of the life of slaves, their only escape the Underground Railway; buying their freedom no longer an option as tobacco land begins to fail through overuse. However 'Hi', or Hiram, discovers he may have inherited his grandmother's ability to use water to transport himself somewhere else...

Waste Tide

Waste Tide is an action-packed activist tale. Practical science fiction at its best, driven by the author, Chen Qiufan's own experience living next to a waste dump. Waste Tide is hailed by David Mitchell as an 'eco-techno-thriller.' Forces for good and evil collide; Sug-Yi, an environmental activist, Mimi, a 'waste girl' scavenging on Silicon Isle, corporate investors and a Chinese-American interpreter, looking into his origins. Who holds all the cards for change? Do the inhabitants want change?

The Luminous Dead

The Luminous Dead is not for the claustrophobic. Mining dangerous planets for minerals is a lucrative business, best done by a skeleton crew, to avoid, well, them becoming skeletons. Hostile creatures and dangerous fates lurk below the surface. The Luminous Dead follows the fate of amateur caver Gyre, on her first professional assignment (her experience fudged) and her sole handler, Em, both driven by money. Em's motivations are questionable, leading to Gyre becoming lost and disoriented. Which leaves plenty of room for the ghosts in Gyre's head. Will Gyre make it rich? Will she make it back to the surface? Will she even make it to Camp Three?

Gideon the Ninth

This book looks good. No wait, it looks menacing. It's black on black, with black edging on the pages. Another book with non-binary content, Gideon features a strong female protagonist and comes highly recommended by some of the biggest names in the business. Neuromancers, servitude versus swordplay and ossifying nuns! Muir takes her art seriously, listing the factions involved in each ancestral house at the beginning. From New Zealand, Tamsin Muir has been nominated in many award rounds in the last year. Definitely one to watch.

A Song for A New Day

Last but not least, Sarah Pinsker rises to the top again after scooping a Nebula Award for A Song For A New Day (a title I reviewed earlier this year). The prescient Pinsker imagines a future of isolation, brought on by terrorist attacks and then a pandemic, flu-like sickness. People have been working online for a decade, gatherings of more than thirty people are illegal; driving live music underground, isolation booths on transport and in restaurants are the norm. Pinsker invents some really cool gadgets for this story, like hoodies with virtual reality rigs. Believe it or not, she wrote this in 2019!  

Fantasy Novel:

The Starless Sea

Also a looker, this beautiful cover features a bee symbol, with the symbols of the secret order on the page edges: A bee, a sword, and a key. Of particular appeal to bibliophiles, it's a story of stories, portal literature and a hidden library underground. It's full of beauty, that is, if you can get over the removal of the tongue of new initiates...!

Intrigued? Find out more in Moata's review of The starless sea.

Jade War

Jade War is the second book in the Green Bone Saga. Longstanding family feuds, Jade (we call it Greenstone here in NZ) which grants magical powers, lots of action and great characters. Each installment is a meaty book that will satisfy your need for story: even better, it's a series! Criminal elements and foreign powers force the internal feuders to reconsider to join the fight to protect their nation and its powerful resource.

Ninth House

This story is set in a university, full of magic and secret societies. Alex has been given a second chance at University; tasked with reporting on Yale's underground occult societies. What she finds is shocking. Forbidden practices, necromancy, and cannibalism... But what happened to Alex before, to cause her injury? Compelling, with maps and poetry to enhance the reader's experience.

A Brightness Long Ago

One of the standout nominees for this category is Guy Gavriel Kay's A Brightness Long Ago; an intriguing blend of fantasy and historical fiction which will drew me in from the start. Kay hits all the marks with a top-notch cast of characters and perspectives, a complex and layered plot, lyrical yet readable style and a sweeping braid of multiple interwoven storylines...but what really cinched it for me was the beautiful setting, intentionally evocative of Renaissance era Italy. The sense of time and place is delightfully strong, with colourful characters brought to life in a world so absorbing and transportive - for me this is a winner! (ChChlibgirl)

Science Fiction:

The Future of Another Timeline

The Future of Another Timeline begins a bit like A Song For a New Day. The main female character goes back in time to a concert from her youth, looking for whomever is messing with the past, meaning to change it, then to break the system permanently. Things get dangerous here, and not just because running into yourself in time-travel always causes anomalies; or worse, a terrible paradox in the Space-Time Continuum. Annalee Newitz is also the author of Autonomous.

The City in the Middle of the Night

This is a beautifully imagined, extremely sensual and visual story, jam-packed with action. Anders creates a complex web of human relationships; including the difficult ones we have personally, culturally and scientifically, always at odds with each other and nature. Can humans stop warring with each other to fight the common foe of global meltdown and the resulting lack of resources essential for survival? Will they destroy or join forces with the Alien inhabitants in order to achieve this goal? The highlight of this book is undoubtably the amazing - and enormous - creatures. Read my review of The city in the middle of night, for more on this fantastic book.


The Wanderers - with its intensifying plot, twists and political undertones - is a gripping tale of apocalypse brought on by a terrifying and mysterious epidemic. Those struck by it find themselves in an unshakeable state of sleepwalking; a growing herd of them head across America, with their concerned loved ones in tow, to an unknown destination. As society collapses around them, gripped with fear of the mysterious outbreak, terror and violence emerge, threatening the destruction of all. Often compared with Stephen King's The Stand, this one is essential reading for Sci-fi/Horror fans. (ChChlibgirl)

The Testaments

This book needs no introduction and has scooped awards since its publication in - gosh - was it really only last year? The sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments is the slightly more sympathetic tale of Aunt Lydia, and two other women - one a 'Pearl Girl' sent to Canada to recruit Handmaids, the other a Canadian sent to spy on them. Will they bring the institution of Gilead to its knees? Or will they be its latest sacrifice? Currently being filmed for TV.

The testaments was my read of the year for 2019.


The Pursuit of William Abbey

The current tragedy of the murder of George Floyd by American police and the ensuing protests around the world have highlighted the horror of the things people do to each other in the name of race, religion and colonisation. In The Pursuit of William Abbey an English doctor bears witness to an horrific incident of 'justice' enacted on a young boy; with no judge, jury or defence. Although he knows that not to act is a sin, William Abbey feels he cannot stop the mob. As the last man standing when the boy's mother curses all involved, the 'shadow' falls on William. Suddenly he can hear the truth that others hide; in their thoughts, and dreams...

Anno Dracula

This one's a bit of vampire fun, Japanese style. A vampire princess is held hostage in a building that resembles an enormous mechanical dragon, along with the world leaders of technology, finance and culture. Only one hero can save them all - a sword-wielding schoolgirl. Can she make her way back into this fortress of a building - Daikaiju Plaza - which in defending itself keeps trying to kill her? Anno Dracula is a series of vampire books, linked by incidents throughout author Kim Newman's alternate version of history.

The Institute

Edgar Allan Poe used to capitalise on readers' fear of incarceration. The ubiquitous Mr King takes it one step further, adding ESP to the mix. Young people, capable of moving things with their minds, or reading others' are disappearing from their homes, their families wiped out so that the Institute can keep them forever. Why? The answer will chill you. For young Luke, the answer compels him to attempt escape. Who would believe him if he did, enough to help him? And who is funding the Institute, over decades of America's history? Reminiscent of Dr Sleep, with a dash of G. X. Todd's Voices series.

Sound like your thing? Read my review of The institute.


The Deep

A collaborative work between Rivers Solomon (author), Daveed Diggs (actor, writer, rapper), William Hutson (composer) and Jonathan Snipes (composer and sound designer), The Deep is inspired by a song from the latter three's rap group Clipping. A modern mermaid fable hearking back to a time when pregnant African slave women were thrown overboard by slavers; an atrocious act which is too tragic to be remembered. In myth, these women and their offspring survived in the deep; becoming the Wajinru. One woman, their historian, Yetu, remembers, and is compelled by the pain of knowing to flee to the surface - discovering her past, reclaiming her peoples' identity and secure their future. Beautiful.

Novelette / Collection:

Full Throttle

Joe Hill is a pretty well-known author in his own right (so we won't refer to him as the son of Stephen King...). His short story, 'Late Returns' is nominated in the Novella category, and the collection it comes from, Full Throttle, is nominated as a collection. Late Returns is a clever and poignant tale of ghosts and a Library Bookmobile that travels through time, to the last moments before someone dies. Can the Librarian turn his patrons on to books written after their time? Throttle is a 'Sons of Anarchy' style tale of a family of bikers pursued by a bike-eating monster truck; while In the Tall Grass (adapted as a Netflix film last year) is a chilling tale of a group of people lost in a field, their only point of reference a rock that has been used for sacrifice...

Find out more

The Locus Awards are on Saturday 27 June (American time).

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