February 14th, 2016


My BSFA votes: Best Artwork

Two of the four pieces that I voted for were among the three shortlisted candidates in this category. The third was Sarah Anne Langton's cover of Jews Versus Zombies, and though I do like its geometry, it doesn't seem to me to be saying much about science fiction, or anything else, so I will rank it last on my ballot once the form is up and running.

It's a very tough decision between the other two, though. In the end, I'm putting Jim Burns' cover of Pelquin's Comet second. It's an arresting composition, but perhaps just a little less adventurous with colour and shade than my top choice, and also rather traditional in its subject matter - not that there is necessarily anything wrong with that, of course.

Which leaves Vincent Sammy's illustration for "Songbird" in Interzone as my top choice. I haven't read the story (and indeed haven't read Pelquin's Comet either, though I did read Jews vs Zombies), but this is the kind of illustration that challenges the reader to find out what the story is about, whereas the Burns piece seems pretty clear on that score. I find the composition pretty fascinating.

Presumably there are only three nominees due to a multiple tie in nomination votes for fourth place - this happened also in 2013 (when I ranked the eventual winner third out of three). I'm a bit surprised to see it repeated with the new two-stage process. Perhaps there was less voter input in this category than the others; if so, an opportunity to celebrate more good sf art has been missed.

Edited to add: Am locking out anonymous comments on this because it's been getting a weird amount of Japanese spam. You can log in using other OAuth identities if you want.

Short Trips: The Muses, ed. Jacqueline Rayner

The fourth of the Big Finish Short Trips anthologies, and the third edited by Jac Rayner, published in 2003. At that stage we had eight canonical Doctors, so it seems in retrospect a fairly obvious idea to compile a collection of nine stories, each featuring one of them, with one more featuring them all. And while there are many cultural uses of the number nine, the Muses make a pleasing link with ancient culture.

I liked most of these stories, three in particular: (Terpsichore) "Teach Yourself Ballroom Dancing", by Robert Shearman, an unusually good Sixth Doctor story; (Thalia) "The Brain of Socrates", by Gareth Roberts, with the Fourth Doctor and Leela; and (Clio) "The Glass Princess", by Justin Richards, pulling together all eight Doctors in a rather moving story of inexorable forward time travel. Also a shout out for (Calliope) "Katarina in the Underworld", by Steve Lyons, as far as I know the only published spinoff fiction featuring Katarina, and a rare grappling with matters of the afterlife.

Next in this sequence: Short Trips: Steel Skies, ed. John Binns.