Hello, everyone, and welcome to another State of SFF. This time, I’ll look at what happened in August, new and old awards, a September readathon, TV adaptation news, and of course new releases for the month of September. I hope you’re all safe and healthy!
The inaugural IGNYTE Awards
FIYAHCon is hosting its inaugural IGNYTE Awards and I am so excited! Look at that ballot.
I am so happy that both Pet and War Girls made it onto the YA shortlist and I hope that The Deep by Rivers Solomon wins Best Novella. I am also glad that Fonda Lee’s amazing Jade War is getting some well-deserved recognition. Plus, you know, all the other amazing finalists.
You can still vote until September 11th, so go to the link above and follow the voting process. Give your favorites a vote and then let’s all be excited together for the announcement of the winners.
The Dragon Awards Shortlist
I, like many others, was very surprised to see this year’s Dragon Award finalists. I haven’t been following these awards very closely in the last few years because the finalists weren’t the type of books I enjoy. The morose baby canines had decided that the Dragons were their awards where their kind of fiction could shine and that’s totally okay. I’m following enough SFF awards as it is and I have no problem with certain awards going to works that don’t personally appeal to me.
Except this year’s ballot looks a lot like other SFF awards ballots. It has works that showed up on Best of the Year lists or were generally buzzed about a lot and that’s quite a departure from previous Dragon Awards.
Although The Ten Thousand Doors of January is wrongly classified as science fiction (it’s a portal fantasy… there’s really not much wiggle room there), this list looks pretty awesome! I’m especially happy to see Fonda Lee and Leigh Bardugo on this ballot as well as Tade Thompson, although I haven’t yet read the third entry in his Wormwood Trilogy.
It does make me wonder, however, what prompted this development. As we don’t know how many people nominate or vote in the Dragon Awards, we can only make assumptions and educated guesses. Technically, anyone with an e-mail address can participate in the voting process and the Puppies have praised the Dragons for being the One True Fan Award where the great masses give prizes to actually beloved works of fiction. I guess the masses have really good taste.
readathon – SOS: Space opera September
Thomas from SFF180 is hosting this month-long readathon that’s all about Space Operas. The definition is used very loosely and I think as long as your book is set (predominantly) in space or involves a space ship, you’re good to go. There’s also a Goodreads group for the readathon if you’re looking for recommendations or discussions.
There are a few challenges to fulfill which help you collect points towards your intergalactic career. You start out as a Space Cadet and can then go on to become a Space Admiral or, if you choose the rebel track, a Space Pirate. That sounds like so much fun and I’d love to participate, but for me, September will be all about 2020 releases. Maybe I’ll manage a couple of books for this readathon, though…
I also want to recommend Thomas’ Youtube channel in general. His reviews are always insightful and in-depth and even though we don’t agree on everything, I appreciate his opinion on SFF books.
Jade City by Fonda Lee is coming to TV! Yes, this month’s State of SFF is filled with great Fonda Lee news. If you haven’t yet read the brilliant Jade City and its follow-up Jade War, I can only envy you for still having that story ahead of you. If you like mafia movies and magic, complex characters and family dynamics, great fight scenes and political intrigue, then these books are for you.
I cannot wait to see how the Greenbone Saga will translate to TV but I am expecting epic battles and great character actors. I have no idea if I can even access Peacock, the streaming service that is producing the series, but I certainly hope that I can buy the first season once it’s out.
Author event got Zoom-bombed
In utterly depressing news, a virtual author event with Black writers Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles) and debut author Jordan Ifueko (Raybearer) was zoom-bombed by racist scum. The two writers were called the n-word repeatedly and Salsa music was played in the background, making it impossible for the authors to be heard.
All I can say to that is, please, if you’re hosting an online meeting or event of any kind, make sure the participants are safe from attacks! You don’t even have to be particularly tech-savvy to figure out how to protect your online event and especially your guests from harm.
In moments like these, I always think about what I personally can do to help these authors. It may not be much but I bought the audiobook version of Raybearer and am absolutely loving it! So consider Jordan Ifueko’s book a recommendation and maybe go out and buy your own copy. My review will be up soon-ish but I can already tell you there will be some gushing.
Exciting September Publications
SUSANNA CLARKE – PIRANESI
It is a rare book that can keep me not only interested but completely riveted for over 1000 pages. Susanna Clarke wrote such a book – Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Although this is not a sequel, it is her follow-up novel and probably my most anticipated release for the second half of 2020.
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
ANDREA STEWART – THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER
I’m looking at this book with mixed feelings. The early reviews were so overwhelmingly positive that they make me a little suspicious. The premise sounds brilliant and I’m sure if it’s executed well I will love the story. But pre-publication hype makes things just a bit more difficult for me. Expectations are unusually high, so if the book is only good, I am bound to be disappointed. Which won’t keep me from picking it up, of course.
In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy.
The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.
Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.
Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.
NAOMI NOVIK – A DEADLY EDUCATION
I think we can all agree that an updated, adult version of the Magic School trope is in order. That someone of Naomi Novik’s skill has taken it on just makes things more exciting. I cannot wait to discover this school where you either graduate or die. Give it to me, now!
Lesson One of the Scholomance
Learning has never been this deadly
A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets. There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere. El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.
V. E. SCHWAB – THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE
Here’s my unpopular opinion: I think Schwab is completely overhyped. I like her ideas and some of her books well enough but I don’t believe she is the literary superstar that others see in her. But her newest novel sounds so good that I won’t be able to resist. And there’s always the chance that she has grown as an author and will sweep me off my feet with this book.
A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.
France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.
S. L. HUANG – BURNING ROSES
“As The Last I May Know” just won a deserved Hugo Award for Best Short Story and Huang also ripped my heart out once before with her fairy tale retelling of The Little Mermaid. So of course, I look forward to turning into a sobbing ball of emotions again.
A gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, for fans of Zen Cho and JY Yang.
When Rosa (aka Red Riding Hood) and Hou Yi the Archer join forces to stop the deadly sunbirds from ravaging the countryside, their quest will take the two women, now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, into a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.
Burning Roses, a gorgeous fairy tale of love and family, of demons and lost gods, arrives in 2020.
JESSICA TOWNSEND – HOLLOWPOX
For the Middle Grade readers among you, here’s a treat. The final instalment of the Nevermoor Trilogy is coming out and I for one can’t wait to see where Morrigan Crow’s story goes next. These books are lovely, heartwarming, quirky, and inventive, and they’re just what I need when I’m feeling a little down.
Strange things are happening in Nevermoor…
Morrigan Crow faces her most dangerous challenge yet in her latest Wundrous adventure. The highly anticipated third book in the award-winning Nevermoor series from one of Australia’s bestselling and most loved authors.
Morrigan Crow and her friends have survived their first year as proud scholars of the elite Wundrous Society, helped bring down the nefarious Ghastly Market, and proven themselves loyal to Unit 919. Now Morrigan faces a new, exciting challenge: to master the mysterious Wretched Arts of the Accomplished Wundersmith, and control the power that threatens to consume her.
But a strange and frightening illness has taken hold of Nevermoor, turning infected Wunimals into mindless, vicious unnimals on the hunt. As victims of the Hollowpox multiply, panic spreads. And with the city she loves in a state of fear, Morrigan quickly realises it’s up to her to find a cure for the Hollowpox, even if it will put her – and everyone in Nevermoor – in more danger than she ever imagined.
R. B. LEMBERG – THE FOUR PROFOUND WEAVES
I don’t know anything about this author but this sounds super intriguing. Comparisons to The Left Hand of Darkness are probably exaggerated but I’m willing to give it a try.
Wind: To match one’s body with one’s heart
Sand: To take the bearer where they wish
Song: In praise of the goddess Bird
Bone: To move unheard in the night
The Surun’ do not speak of the master weaver, Benesret, who creates the cloth of bone for assassins in the Great Burri Desert. But Uiziya now seeks her aunt Benesret in order to learn the final weave, although the price for knowledge may be far too dear to pay.
Among the Khana, women travel in caravans to trade, while men remain in the inner quarter as scholars. A nameless man struggles to embody Khana masculinity, after many years of performing the life of a woman, trader, wife, and grandmother.
As the past catches up to the nameless man, he must choose between the life he dreamed of and Uiziya, and Uiziya must discover how to challenge a tyrant, and weave from deaths that matter.
Set in R. B. Lemberg’s beloved Birdverse, The Four Profound Weaves hearkens to Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. In this breathtaking debut, Lemberg offers a timeless chronicle of claiming one’s identity in a hostile world.
TESSA GRATTON – NIGHT SHINE
A girl called Nothing and a Sorceress Who Eats Girls is really all I need to know to want this book. Tessa Gratton impressed me with The Queens of Innis Lear and while I really don’t like the cover for her new book, I will definitely check it out.
How can you live without your heart?
In the vast palace of the empress lives an orphan girl called Nothing. She slips within the shadows of the Court, unseen except by the Great Demon of the palace and her true friend, Prince Kirin, heir to the throne. When Kirin is kidnapped, only Nothing and the prince’s bodyguard suspect that Kirin may have been taken by the Sorceress Who Eats Girls, a powerful woman who has plagued the land for decades. The sorceress has never bothered with boys before, but Nothing has uncovered many secrets in her sixteen years in the palace, including a few about the prince.
As the empress’s army searches fruitlessly, Nothing
and the bodyguard set out on a rescue mission, through demon-filled rain forests and past crossroads guarded by spirits. Their journey takes them to the gates of the Fifth Mountain, where the sorceress wields her power. There, Nothing will discover that all magic is a bargain, and she may be more powerful than she ever imagined. But the price the Sorceress demands for Kirin may very well cost Nothing her heart
And that’s it for this month’s State of SFF. Make sure to vote in the IGNYTE Awards if you’ve read the nominated works and want to push your favorites. Add all the interesting sounding books to your wishlists and, most important of all, stay kind and stay safe.