Congratulations to everyone! I look forward to TEARING INTO YOUR CREATIVE OFFSPRING AND RENDING IT LIMB FROM LIMB reading the finalists! You can vote here - voting closes August 19.
Some HOT TAKES:
My prediction post was waaaaay off. I guessed 2 out of 5 (Lawrence and Gwynne), and although I entertained the wild card possibility of Correia and Guymer, Cameron wasn't even on my radar. Doh. I generously gave myself a 'D-' for prediction, but, upon reflection... that's a flat-out 'F'.
In a sense, what's on the list isn't surprising:
- Lawrence and Gwynne are repeat finalists (and winners).
- Correia's not exactly a household name in the UK (are Baen even a UK publisher?!), but he's got a pretty energetic fanbase, and once unleashed (cough), they are perfect for a DGLA-style popular vote.
- Black Library books are huge and have always done well (when they've bothered to compete). Despite the (relatively paltry) 93 Goodreads reviews, it is hard to see a Black Library book not succeeding in a competition like this - and don't forget that Guymer's a repeat finalist as well. He's got game.
- The Cameron made me do a double-take, but the first book in the series was a Morningstar finalist, and it is well-reviewed on Goodreads (2k Goodreads reviews, same as Correia and Gwynne; nb. Lawrence is tops with 5.3k).
All of those are totally credible Legend finalists.
What's [shocking/fun/interesting/breath-taking/scandalous] (pick your own emotional response of choice!) is who isn't there:
- Sanderson (23k GR!) and Abercrombie (9k) are normally locks. Even a 'minor' Sanderson like this one should've breezed through. And, at this point, if someone set out a theory that the DGLA is a 10-year-long plan to troll Joe Abercrombie, I'd believe it.
- Lots of previous finalists have been unceremoniously dumped as well - including high-profile epicky-epic writers such as Staveley (9k), McClellan (8.9k), Hobb (10k) and Brett (14k).
- And the highly-lauded outsider picks like NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season (7k) and Naomi Novik's Uprooted (44k) have been given the boot. Those two are books that have been noticed by damn near every other prize, so their absence feels significant, especially when set against the DGLA's reputation as a playground for white dudes.
(And... a brief moment of morning for my own vote: Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver [1.2k]).
Last year's shortlist was bonkers in its predictability - the year's most popular books were on the shortlist. You could've pulled up the Goodreads numbers and then taken a nap until the post-ceremony nibbles. This year... that's just not the case. Instead, we seem to have the five books with the most active fanbases. (Or, more accurately, the five fanbases that cared the most about this.) That's neither better nor worse - just very different. And that's part of the fun.
Six books submitted, six on the shortlist. I think the DGLA (as admins) absolutely did the right thing here. I feel a little sorry for the authors - it is would be awkward win by default - but that's not on them. And this is lot better than being the odd one out. Anyway - six debut authors will hopefully get more attention, promotion and readership out of this, so, hey, no bad thing.
On the other hand, this is a bit ridiculous, with 4 of the 5 titles being COINCIDENTALLY the same as the Legend finalists. And the fifth wasn't entered, so the voters picked the other Black Library title instead. No offence to the artists, but I'm not wild about declaring this to be a definitive test of creative achievement. I'm afraid I hold the DGLA wholly responsible for this - the prize is... 7 years old?... and they still don't display the book covers alongside the voting options. Are voters going to Google 40 titles? Or even click 40 individual links? No. They're going to go for the path of least resistance.
Reviews! I must admit, after last year's copy/paste finalists, I was feeling a little burnt out. (For newcomers: I read and review the DGLA finalists every year - 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012...). But the randomness of the Legend list - plus the oversized Morningstar list - has me all rarin' to go. I've got an awesome new set of criteria as well!
I am not going to try to read and review everything by August 19, because that would break me both as a fantasy reader and a human being. And, let's be honest, it doesn't actually make a difference to the voting - nor should it. The winners are announced in late September, so I'll get everything done before then instead.