Which is a particular shame because 2014 seems to have been a very good year for genre novels, with a large number of interesting-looking books that I'd very much like to see on this year's ballots, and whose public reception makes a nomination not at all unlikely. Books like Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (in theory, the entire Southern Reach trilogy could be nominated as a single work, but I'm fundamentally opposed to such an approach; if a book was published as a single volume, it should be judged as a single volume when it comes time to nominate it for awards), Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Peripheral by William Gibson, Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, and Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. I wouldn't be very surprised to see a best novel ballot made up of some configuration of these titles, and judging by their public reception, if not yet my own judgment, I think that the resulting shortlist would be quite strong.
Some lesser-known but well-received titles that I would be very happy to see on this year's shortlist include The Stone Boatmen by Sarah Tolmie (which I'm reading right now), The Race by Nina Allan, The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne, Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson, Elysium by Jenfifer Marie Brissett, and A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias. If only because being on a shortlist would light a fire under me to finally get to some of these intriguing-sounding titles. In the meantime, however, I'll leave this category to the better-informed, and proceed to the final part of this ballot.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer:
- Octavia Cade - In the absence of best novel nominees, it might not come as a surprise that I'm using my best novella selections as a guide for this category. Cade's Trading Rosemary is a beautiful, assured piece of writing that is all the more surprising given that she's so new to the publishing scene. Second year of eligibility.
- Carmen Maria Machado - I'm with Sofia Samatar--Carmen Maria Machado has had a remarkable year, with some half a dozen stories in multiple venues, all of them cementing her as an exciting new voice in the tradition of Kelly Link. Second year of eligibility.
- Sarah Tolmie - I'm in the middle of Tolmie's debut novel The Stone Boatmen right now and enjoying it very much, but her novella NoFood would have been enough to put her on this ballot, a delicious exploration of future technology from a unique and thought-provoking perspective. First year of eligibility.
- Joseph Tomaras - Tomaras is a new-new writer, and I've only read one story by him ("Bonfires in Anacostia" in Clarkesworld). But that was an impressive work with a sharp, timely perspective, and precisely the sort of writing that I think the Campbell should be recognizing. First year of eligibility.
- JY Yang - Yang had a very good 2014, with several stories that made it to the lower rungs of my best of year--"Storytelling for the Night Clerk" in Strange Horizons and "Patterns of Murmurations, In Billions of Data Points" in Clarkesworld. She's a writer to watch. First year of eligibility.