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My votes for BSFA Best Novel 2016

Not disclosing my ranking: A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers

Second paragraph of third chapter:
It was too much. Too much, and yet, the restrictions that were in place made processing the Port all the harder. Things were happening behind the kit, she knew. She could hear them, smell them. The visual cone of perception that had rattled her upon installation was maddening now. She found herself jerking the kit sharply around at loud noises and bright colours, trying desperately to take it all in. That was her job. To look. To notice. She couldn’t do that here, not with fragmented views of crowds without edges. Not in a city that covered a continent.
A Hugo finalist, so no comment from me until after Worldcon.

4-5) Azanian Bridges, by Nick Wood

Second paragraph of third chapter:
She’s a short skinny woman, an Indian, a bright green headscarf hiding her hair, so I assume she’s a Muslim. My mother may not have approved of her then - but that matters little now, for she herself is long gone.
I liked all of these a lot, but one has to start pruning somewhere, and though I really loved the concept of a parallel track of history where apartheid and the Soviet union never fell (yet Obama got elected) I felt there were some glitches in the execution and characterisation. It's the shortest of the shortlisted books, though, and still well worth a read.

3-4) Occupy Me, by Tricia Sullivan

Second paragraph of third chapter:
‘His hands and feet are cold,’ Maja says. ‘Mucus is building up in his throat. But he’s responsive. I can call the family if you think it’s appropriate.’
A tight and yet occasionally spectacular narrative of transhumans getting into trouble. Good fun, didn't quite grab me as much as some of the others.

2-3) Europe in Winter, by Dave Hutchinson

Second paragraph of third chapter:
He was on his way into town, changing trains at Euston Underground station, riding the escalator up from the Victoria Line platforms, and as he neared the top everything was suddenly unfamiliar. It was as if he had not only never been in this place before, but in this situation. What was this moving staircase? What were these tunnels? What did all these signs mean? Which language were they in? He felt a sense of fear so profound that he stopped at the top of the escalator and several people coming up behind him bumped into him and almost knocked him over.
Ties the two previous volumes of the trilogy together, fractured future and fractured past; I wasn't quite sure where we got to in the end but I very much enjoyed the journey.

1-2) Daughter of Eden, by Chris Beckett

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Michael’s Place didn’t look so different, I guess, from where I used to live on Knee Tree Grounds, with its bark shelters arranged round a circle of open space where we lit our fires and sang our songs. I guess that’s how low people live all over Eden. But the ground it stood on was black dirt instead of pale sand, and the trees shining round it were Wide Forest trees – whitelanterns with their pure white shining globes, redlanterns with their long tubes of glowing pink, and spiketrees with their little bright blue flowers – and not the knee trees with their drooping branches and yellow-green flowers that grew out on the Grounds. And another another thing that was different was that, right there in middle of the circle of open space the shelters stood round, there was another circle, a little circle of small round stones gathered from poolside, which no one ever stepped inside. Every Davidfolk cluster had one of these, even if it was only tiny. It was a copy of the original Circle of Stones, over there across the Dark, in Circle Valley, which marked the place where people from Earth had first come down to Eden, and to which, so the Davidfolk believed, Earth people would one waking return. About thirty of us lived there round that little ring of stones, including grownups, newhairs, oldies and little kids, and it was my home now. It was the new family I’d found, after I’d lost the one I had before, and after a lonely time with no one to be with at all. I’d become one of them, one of the Davidfolk, who believe that nothing is more important than family, and nothing matters more than keeping family together.
I've been a big fan of the Eden books, but I think this caps the trilogy very nicely indeed - and I think it's also sufficiently distinct from the previous two (though with some reference to previous events) that someone new to the trilogy could enjoy it. Eden, if you don't know, is a world on the edge of the galaxy where the planet's inner heat supplies enough energy to give it a viable atmosphere; its human inhabitants are the descendants of two survivors of a lost spaceship centuries ago. Their mythology centres around Earth. But what happens when Earth comes to visit? Really good.


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