Saturday, January 14, 2012

[January 14th] The Kitschies: Creative Tenticles of Doom

Being a part of the genre community means that you will face one award after another. It’s an inevitable event in any book nerd with ties to SFF. I’m not much of an award person, because I’m constantly dwelling in the past. The books I read have all been talked about to death and I don’t have the reading capacity to catch up with all the new ones to hit the shelves and pop up on a shortlist. My ability to hold a proper conversation on any award’s shortlist and comment on the likely winner is therefore impaired. I’m indifferent towards awards, because I rely on a number of recommendations from people, whose opinions I trust.

For this latter reason, paradoxically, I can’t not comment on Anne Perry’s and Jared Shurin’s award The Kitschies, which I’ve been following for two years, counting 2012. I have been a reader of Pornokitsch long enough to know that our tastes in literature overlap and I can trust their decisions. When someone, whose opinion I hold of importance, speaks, I pay attention, which is why I will follow how this year’s Kitschies develop and even comment on the Inky Tentacle category for Best Cover Art.   

Did I mention that the awards are handmade tentacles? I pronounce Professor Steampunk Octopus as the award's unofficial mascot! Art by Meg Lyman
 The Kitschies’ mission is to “honour the year's most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works of genre literature”, which means that the judges will search for envelope pushers and innovators of our time. It’s an interesting angle and perhaps even makes the selection easier as you have specific criteria to work with other than the ‘best’, which is the case with quite a few other awards.   

The award’s a fresh, young, promising one; qualities that only add to the appeal of it. It’s a lot easier to come to follow a tradition as it makes its first steps and has room to grow and branch out. As a new award, The Kitschies have the potential to pleasantly surprise the genre community [although the possibility of the exact opposite is also true]. The first sign that The Kitschies will be one of the awards to keep a close eye on is the announcement before the revealing theshortlist on Friday, which shed light on the withdrawal of two books from therace due to close relations between the judging panel and the authors.

Even though I’ve made minimal observations about the industry, there is no denying that it’s a bit incestuous. Though nothing wrong in on itself, this crosspollination of activities makes it hard to organize awards without some sort of controversy attached in one way or another. It’s of great importance to eliminate any close relations in connection to awards, whose winners are decided through a judging panel.  

So, if you are an award buff, take your time to check The Kitschies. Here is their shortlist for you to see:

Red Tentacle:
The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington (Orbit)
Embassytown by China Miéville (Tor)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd (Walker Books)
The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (Sandstone)
Osama: A Novel by Lavie Tidhar (PS Publishing)

Golden Tentacle:
Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick (Tor)
God's War by Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Harvill Secker)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Quirk)
The Samaritan by Fred Venturini (Blank Slate Press)

Inky Tentacle:
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch; illustration by Stephen Walter, design by Patrick Knowles (TAG Fine Arts) (Gollancz)
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan; design by Peter Mendelsund (Canongate)
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco; design by Suzanne Dean, illustration by John Spencer (Harvill Secker)
Equations of Life by Simon Morden; design by Lauren Panepinto (Orbit)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd; illustration by Jim Kay (Walker Books)