Tim Clare on "Odd John: Conspiracies, Utopias and the Glamour of Fascism"
'Some Famous Ghosts of the National Capitol' (1898)

DGLA Season: Bring the Noise!

Don't drop the trophyAnd we're off and running with the David Gemmell Legend Awards, the prize that celebrates the year's epickest epic fantasy, and one of the highlights of my personal reading calendar.

Here's the schedule:

  • Voting on the longlist has begun now and closes at midnight on Friday 15th May
  • Voting on the shortlist opens on Monday 1st June
  • Voting on the shortlist closes at midnight on Friday 17th July
  • The presentation takes place at 8pm on Saturday 8th August

Everything is a big public vote, so get involved and vote away. Vote vote vote.

As is my personal tradition, I'll read and review all ten books on the Legend (Novel) and Morningstar (Debut) shortlists. I'm going to aim to do this between 1 June and 17 July, but, as evidenced by previous years, that doesn't always happen. (These books are long.)

Before 1 June, I'll put up the introduction and criteria post. This brand new website is full of words and I aim to parse the hell out of them, until I come up with some sort of judging framework. It'll be fun!

I am a tiny bit baffled by two procedural changes:

  1. The new definition of "debut" (for Morningstar) as "fantasy debut" - as evidenced by Kameron Hurley and John Hornor Jacobs on the Morningstar list. I do respect the concept behind this, but this kind of decision is really tricky to execute. I could easily argue God's War is as fantastic as it is science fictional, and Jacobs has a whole urban fantasy YA trilogy under his belt. Or, if this is the case, why aren't Simon Morden, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rebecca Levene and Tom Fletcher (and many others) counted as debuts as well?
    [Again, I like the idea, but I think this is a tricky line to enforce beyond "I know (fantasy) when I see it". I'm not sure if this is the result of fast-talking publishers (if so, well-played) or administrative decisions (which is a problem that comes with combining subjective criteria like 'genre' and objective criteria like 'debut'), but either way... weird.]
  2. The site references public nominations for the longlists. I genuinely had no idea we could do this. Did anyone? Is this something for the future? How did I miss this?! Because, damn, I like this idea a lot, and hope to see more around it next year.

Plus my perennial befuddlement about things like "why are there cover art books that aren't in other categories (and vice versa)", "why do people keep saying 'nominated' for 'submitted'" and, seriously, "is YA allowed or not?". But I think those questions are now part of the tradition.

Procedural quibbles aside (because those will always be there... for every award... forever), I completely, 100% utterly applaud this statement from the Awards' director, Stan Nicholls:

A lesson we’ve learned is that nothing is so constant as change, and that in order to remain relevant we need to view what we do as organic. 

Yes. Love it when awards are self-aware and future-facing (in that, they constantly fiddle and look to improve). As goofy as the DGLA has been (and will probably always be), Stan Nicholls has consistently said smart things, and been very open and passionate about the prize's role as a champion of the [fantasy] people.  

And, of course, the books! The glorious books! I'm actually struggling to pick my own personal shortlist of five - and in a good way. There are about 8 or 9 that I've read that I'd be very happy to see on the shortlist, and I think at least one of them might even make it on.

The two biggest absences that I can spot are The Slow Regard of Silent Things and The Goblin Emperor. I can't say I was looking forward to reading the latest Rothfuss, but I think as a... uh... decadent side-quest... that has been divisive amongst the series fans... it would've added an interesting dimension to the discussion. Presumably novellas are verboten, which makes sense. Similarly, The Goblin Emperor, which has appeared on other shortlists and prompted an endless spiral of grimdark debate, is also absent - presumably because there's no UK publisher? (Which, I think, is a requirement.) 

And, for the hell of it, my Legend predictions:

  • Half a King - Joe Abercrombie
  • The Fool's Assassin - Robin Hobb
  • Prince of Fools - Mark Lawrence
  • Words of Radiance - Brandon Sanderson
  • The Broken Eye - Brent Weeks

I'm totally edgy, right? I hasten to say that the only one of those I've actually read is Half a King, so this isn't a qualitative judgement - merely a list of the obvious front-runners. The dark horses, relatively speaking, are probably Marie Brennan's The Natural History of Dragons and Andrzej Sapkowski's Baptism of Fire

The debut category is always wacky, so I'm not even going to try to guess. But I would be surprised if Hurley and Jacobs didn't both make it, which is either an endorsement or an indictment of their presence on the ballot - spin that however way you like.

What are your shortlist predictions? Please share in the comments. And, don't forget to go get your vote on.