One of the many awards or shortlists announced this past weekend was the David Gemmell Legend Award, the relatively new, crowd-voted award for epic fantasy. We've been critical in the past, but new year, new leaf. We voted and everything.
The DGLA, as explained to us at EasterCon, is meant to be a celebration of a particular type of fantasy - one that is generally passed over by more critical awards. Thus the emphasis on the popular vote, an involved fan community and the lavish gala. And, when it comes down to it, the DGLA is meant to be a fun celebration of a fun subsection of fantasy. Cool stuff.
However, epic fantasy isn't unappreciated by other awards. Of the shortlists so far this year, George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons is on the Hugos, Douglas Hulick's Among Thieves was up for The Kitschies' Golden Tentacle and, after much discussion at EasterCon, some of the most critical members of the SF community agreed that Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes was the best fantasy of the year in the unofficial "Fantasy Clarkes". (Hell, Sheri S. Tepper's The Waters Rising is an epic fantasy that even made it onto the official Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist, but that's a different kettle of fish.)
Celebration is fine (and the involved community is genuinely brilliant) but the defensive position that epic fantasy is categorically spurned simply isn't true. When subjected to critical rigour, some books make it through - and many don't. That's the same as any other SF/F book, regardless of sub-genre. Although there's certainly a great deal of joy in appreciating current favorites and thinking nostalgically about the past, there's always room to be aspirational as well.
We've already reviewed a few of the books on both the Legend and Morningstar shortlists, but as part of our commitment to elevating the tone of the conversation (The Kitschies' mission), we'll be reviewing the others as well. Stick around - it'll be fun.
Legend (Best Novel):
The Heroes - Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz) [Reviewed January 2011]
The Wise Man's Fear - Patrick Rothfuss (Gollancz) [Reviewed June 2011]
Blood of Aenarion - William King (Black Library) [Reviewed May 2012]
The Alloy of Law - Brandon Sanderson (Gollancz) [Reviewed April 2012]
Blackveil - Kristen Britain (Gollancz) [Reviewed April 2012]
Morningstar Award (Best Debut):
Prince of Thorns - Mark Lawrence (Voyager) [Reviewed April 2012]
Among Thieves - Douglas Hulick (Tor) [Reviewed March 2011 and January 2012]
The Unremembered - Peter Orullian (Tor) [Reviewed May 2012]
The Heir of Night - Helen Lowe (Orbit) [Reviewed April 2012]
Songs of the Earth - Elspeth Cooper (Gollancz) [Reviewed March 2011]