Each year, we take a look at which novels have been identified as the best of the year according to the various voters and jurors for the different sf awards.
So, which of 2016’s novels stood out? Well, the first thing you notice is that no novel has won more than one award. The year’s winners have been:
Arthur C. Clarke Award: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
BSFA Award: Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson
Hugo Award: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
John W. Campbell Memorial Award: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
Locus Best SF Novel: Death’s End by Cixin Liu
Nebula Award: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Philip K. Dick Award: The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper
Of these, it is interesting to note that Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson and The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper weren’t even shortlisted for any other awards.
Since no book has stamped its impression on the year by winning all of the awards, we look at who has been shortlisted. As we did last year, we’ve given one point for every book on a shortlist, plus an extra point for winning. We’ve limited our consideration to the most general of the awards, the seven awards listed above plus, this year, the Dragon Award for Best SF Novel, though the winner of this award won’t be announced until the autumn. Again, there are interesting things to note. None of the books shortlisted for the paperback Philip K. Dick Award show up on any of the other shortlists; and there is very little overlap between the Dragon Award shortlist and any others. But that seems to be a feature of the year. One book only, A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, shows up on four different shortlists, and it didn’t win any of them (though, of course, it could still go on to win the Dragon Award).
The maximum points possible would be 15 (two points each for winning all of the seven awards above, plus an extra point for being shortlisted for the Dragon Award). The most any book received was four points. And of the 39 books on the list, 24 of them (not far short of two-thirds) received only one point. Which tends to suggest that this year there was no real consensus around what was the best science fiction novel of 2016.
The distribution of points was as follows:
The Medusa Chronicles by Stephen Baxter & Alastair Reynolds
The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper
Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey
Europe in Winter by Dave Hutchinson
After Atlas by Emma Newman
Everfair by Nisi Shawl
Azanian Bridges by Nick Wood
Consider by Kristy Acevedo
Hwarhath Stories by Eleanor Arnason (the Philip K. Dick Award includes short story collections)
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
Borderline by Mishell Baker
Take Back the Sky by Greg Bear
Well, that’s what the awards think. What do you think? Look out in the next few days for our own list of the top ten novels of the year, it will be rather different, I promise you.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.