British Fiction Focus

Announcing the 2014 BSFA Award Winners

Did someone say science fiction prize?

Someone did! But to be sure, it wouldn’t do, in the wake of this morning’s announcement of the shortlist for this year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award, to forget the British Science Fiction Association’s assortment of awards, the winners of which were unveiled at a ceremony held at Dysprosium, aka Eastercon, on Sunday.

Interestingly, the winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel wasn’t even mentioned in this morning’s other shortlist. That’s Ann Leckie for Ancillary Sword, the sequel to Ancillary Justice, which took home the last Clarke. Curious. And curiouser for the author. “I’m well aware that it’s not a common thing to win such an award two years in a row, let alone for a book and its sequel. I’m tremendously honoured,” Leckie e-bowed on her blog—under the amusing header: Wait, what??

“I think this was a particularly strong year for science fiction,” awards administrator Donna Scott said—an assertion supported by the eight-strong shortlist for Best Novel, which also included books by Nina Allan, Frances Hardinge, Dave Hutchinson, Simon Ings, Clare North, Nnedi Okorafor and Neil Williamson. Scott went on:

It’s rather wonderful that our winner in the best novel category, Ann Leckie, is now such a huge star in the realm of science fiction and hoovered up all the awards with her first book. Looks as though her sequel, Ancillary Sword, will firmly cement that stardom for her as it is proving just as popular with our voters.

Unlike the committee behind the Clarke, the BSFA also honour work across a couple of other categories. The prize for Best Short Fiction, for instance, went to Ruth E. J. Booth for ‘The Honey Trap,’ which you’ll find in Newcon Press’ La Femme. Booth beat back competition from Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Octavia Cade to take home the trophy.

Edward James won the BSFA Award for Best Non-Fiction for Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and the First World War, fending off Paul Kincaid’s Call and Response, Deep Forests and Manicured Gardens by Jonathan McCalmont, Karen Burnham’s study of Greg Egan and an assortment of authors for Strange Horizons’ star-studded Symposium on the State of British SF and Fantasy.

Last but not least, the prize for Best Artwork went to Tessa Farmer—rather than Richard Anderson, Blacksheep, Jeffrey Alan Love or Andy Potts for their four covers—for her “astonishing” sculpture of the titular torture device featured in the late Iain Banks’ dearly beloved debut.

Tessa Farmer's artwork for The Wasp Factory

Farmer, who just so happens to be the great grand-daughter of the horror writer Arthur Machen, says that The Wasp Factory is her favourite book. “It’s stayed with me forever and has influenced my work a lot,” she told The Guardian. “Some of it is taken from the book, but I’ve also interpreted [the wasp factory] in my own way as well… I would have loved to have known what [Banks] thought of it.”

I can’t help but think he’d have loved it. I know I do.

In any event, well done to the winners! Runners-up: keep your heads held high, because I dare say Donna Scott was spot-on in her assessment of 2014 as—and I’m paraphrasing here—an effing excellent year for science fiction.


Niall Alexander is an extra-curricular English teacher who reads and writes about all things weird and wonderful for The Speculative Scotsman, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com. He’s been known to tweet, twoo.

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