The hardest part about the judging process is acknowledging when a book cannot be judged fairly. As a young award (4 years!), we're still adapting and shaping the awards process. Transparency is important to us, as is the opportunity for all books to receive their fair shot. We rotate the judging panels every year to to ensure that all submissions may be considered as objectively as possible.
It is important to us that the conversation surrounding the Kitschies remain focused on the books themselves. It became immediately apparent to us that there were two among the many 2012 submissions which we were not in a position to judge objectively. To repeat our eloquent phrasing from last year, this sucks.
Mark Charan Newton has been one of our favourite authors since he first put pen to paper. His Legends of the Red Sun is a four-book saga of the New Weird, concluding with 2012's The Broken Isles. His books are always challenging, fiercely progressive and wildly imaginative, and The Broken Isles is exactly the epic finish that the series deserves. (There's an excellent review of it at Fantasy Faction.)
Unfortunately (for Mark), these authorial interests - coupled with his professional experience in social media and publishing - are why we invited him to sit on the Kitschies' board when we set up as a not for profit association in June. This conflict of interest prohibits us from judging The Broken Isles, and so it is with heavy hearts that we must excuse it from the competition.
China Miéville won the inaugural Red Tentacle for The City & The City (2009) and was a finalist in both 2010 and 2011. Railsea (2012) is his latest mind-bending, genre-spanning effort. It is a young adult retelling of Moby Dick that manages to fuse together high adventure, political philosophy, steampunk, daybats, natural history and post-apocalypticism in the way that only Mr. Miéville can. (Our favourite review is by Penny Schenk.) As one of the judges was a beta reader for Railsea, we must regretfully excuse it from this year's competition.
Both The Broken Isles and Railsea are excellent books and we recommend them heartily for consideration for other awards.
The Inky, Golden and Red Tentacle shortlists will be announced on Friday, 18 January.