Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Fantastic Four: Spotlight on Sunburst

First, I felt weird writing that headline as "The Fantastic Five" because, really, who besides Donald Trump does that, calling himself "fantastic"? Rhetorical question - moving right along. And yet it feels slightly disingenuous to say it's only "five" since I'm nominated, too. Fact, is I'm planning to shine a light on the other four nominees only, and they're all fantastic, writing "literature of the fantastic," per se, and so, there ya go. I can do that - it's my blog, after all.

So who gets nominated for a Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic? Turns out, not just anybody. I'm on the list of 5 authors with books short-listed for the 2013 award in the adult category. Named after the first novel by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926–2009), one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian science fiction, the awards consist of a cash award of $1,000 and a beautifully crafted medallion which incorporates a specially designed "Sunburst" logo.

The award winner will be announced in Toronto in September. Meanwhile, I thought it would fun and useful to pay homage to the other four authors nominated, some of which might be unknown to many of my own readers, just as some of them are relatively new to me. This year's field includes the following:

Maleficium by Martine Desjardins (translated by Fred A. Reed and David Homel), which was also nominated for the Governor General's Award (French fiction) last year

- Over the Darkened Landscape by Derryl Murphy, a Best Novel finalist at the Prix Aurora Awards.

- The Blondes by Emily Schultz, who was has been long-listed for the Giller Prize and been a finalist for the Trillium Prize.

- Westlake Soul by Rio Youers, who has previously been nominated for the British Fantasy Prize.

I'm proud to be included among this talented group with my first novel Finton Moon, thanks to a stellar group of judges that includes accomplished authors Leon Rooke, Rebecca Bradley, Tony Burgess, Shari LapeƱa and Barbara Roden.

It would be easy to just bask in the glory of this nomination while, at the same time calculating my relatively slim chances of actually winning the award, considering the company I'm keeping. The reality, however, is that only one of these five authors will win the award, while the other four of us really can only feel honoured to have been chosen among the top 5 books of literature of the fantastic in the entire country - and, really, beyond, as winners don't always reside in Canada - out of a list of more than a couple of hundred books. The idea of awards, however, isn't just to honour one author (or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that) - but to say to each nominated individual, "Hey, nice job - you stood out this year. Keep it up. Hope this short-listing brings you some attention in a very crowded field."

So, I thought the best thing would be to highlight each author individually, give them their due and hopefully expose them to some new readers. I've asked each of the other four nominees in the adult category to consider submitting something for my blog that would tell my blog readers who they are, leaving it up to them what to write about - the other option being a short interview. We'll see how that goes. But over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a piece about a different nominee.

This week, starting on Wednesday, I'll be featuring Derryl Murphy. This weekly feature requires some setup, as you've seen, and I thought it would be unfair to Derryl to have him follow such an enormous information dump. So, over the next four Wednesdays, expect to see a short piece about and/or by each short-listed author for the 2013 Sunburst Award.

If there is time before the awards are announced, I'll also do a short piece one week encompassing the 5 finalists in the young adult category, which also features high quality writers: Corey Doctorow, Rachel Hartman, Susan Juby, Moira Young and Michel Bedard.

It's my sincere hope that, like me, you'll take this opportunity to discover some new writing from some very fine writers of Canadian literature that strays from the straight and narrow path and crosses into a variety of genres. I think you'll find it an entertaining venture.


P.S. There were a LOT of other books considered this year and a LOT of very fine writers and books. There could only be five short-listed books, but there are many more worth your consideration. Here's the full list of books considered for the 2013 Sunburst Awards:

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