The Kitschies

The Kitschies reward the year’s most progressive, intelligent and entertaining fiction that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic.We are proudly sponsored by Blackwell’s.


The Kitschies 2018 Shortlists Revealed!

This year’s shortlisted books are narrowed down from 178 submissions, coming from 59 publishers. The shortlists come from the largest literary and genre names in publishing to the smallest of independents.

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony taking place on Monday 15th April.


The Red Tentacle (Novel)

judged by Adam Roberts, Sharan Dhaliwal, Daniel Carpenter, Lucy Smee, and Matt Webb:


– Circe by Madeline Miller (Bloomsbury)

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.






– Record Of A Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton)

Centuries after the last humans left Earth, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, a place many are from but few outsiders have seen. Humanity has finally been accepted into the galactic community, but while this has opened doors for many, those who have not yet left for alien cities fear that their carefully cultivated way of life is under threat.






– Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Orbit)

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless – people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumoured healing powers.






– The Smoke by Simon Ings (Gollancz)

Humanity has been split into three different species. Mutual incomprehension has fractured the globe. As humans race to be the first of their kind to reach the stars, another Great War looms.






– Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon Publications)

Tirosh has returned to his homeland in East Africa. But Palestina―a Jewish state founded in the early 20th century―has grown dangerous. Unrest in Ararat City is growing; the government is building a vast border wall to keep out African refugees. Tirosh has become state security officer Bloom’s prime murder suspect, while rogue agent Nur stalks them through transdimensional rifts―possible futures to prevented only by avoiding the mistakes of the past.





The Golden Tentacle (Debut)

also judged Adam Roberts, Sharan Dhaliwal, Daniel Carpenter, Lucy Smee, and Matt Webb:


– Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Pan MacMillan)

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us. 
Now we rise.





– Frankenstein In Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial.






– Semiosis by Sue Burke (Harper Voyager)

Escaping conflict on Earth, an idealistic group of settlers arrive on a distant planet Pax with plans for a perfect society.








– Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley (Sandstone Press)

When a wealthy client visits Mathilde’s dressmaking shop, she finds herself drawn into the only surviving circle of luxury left in a barren London. Attending parties offers a welcome escape from life governed by ration cards and a strictly enforced child policy.





– The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)

When Rin aced the Keju – the test to find the most talented students in the Empire – it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who had hoped to get rich by marrying her off; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free from a life of servitude. That she got into Sinegard – the most elite military school in Nikan – was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good





The Inky Tentacle (Cover Art)

judged by Dapo Adeola, Lily Ash Sakula and Maeve Rutten:

– The Book Of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch, design by Rafaela Romaya. (Canongate)









– Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, design by Suzanne Dean. (Harville Secker)








– The Smoke by Simon Ings, design by James Nunn. (Gollancz)








– Square Eyes by Anna Mill and Luke Jones, design by Anna Mill and Luke Jones. (Jonathan Cape)








– Slender Man by Anonymous, design by Mike Topping. (Harper Voyager)








Our judges said:

“The Gold Tentacle shortlist is exciting for several reasons, not the least of which is the sense we judges got, reading through the many submissions, of how global science fiction and fantasy is nowadays, how much energy and invention is pouring through the genres from a multitude of brilliant and diverse new directions. These first novels are, by turns, magical, terrifying, satirical, lyrical, thought-provoking, beautiful, haunting, powerful and always superbly readable.

We arrived at the Red Tentacle shortlist after a prolonged period of debate and discussion: there were so many great progressive SF novels published last year, and so many near-misses for this list. But we’re happy with the final five, not least because of sheer diversity of kinds of novels that made the final cut—a powerful reimagining of Greek myth, a brilliant space opera, a capacious and page-turning Afropunk thriller, a dream-haunting alt-history that’s unlike anything any of us had ever read before, and a genre-crossing adventure story set in a Jewish homeland that never was. It all adds up to thrilling testimony that speculative fiction is the widest-ranging and most exciting mode for engaging the concerns of the twenty-first century.”
– Adam Roberts (Red/Gold judge)

“These are brave, unique, and strange novels which push the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy forwards, and ask difficult questions of us about our identities, and our place in this world. Above all, they are the most entertaining, intelligent, and progressive novels of 2018.”
– Daniel Carpenter (Red/Gold judge)

“Both resulting shortlists are incredible; the books within are variously thrilling, moving, funny, and contain pure poetry. No matter which books win, the two shortlists are completely excellent recommended reading lists for new speculative fiction.”
– Lucy Smee (Red/Gold judge)

“There were so many beautiful covers submitted this year but what we loved about this shortlist was the tangible atmosphere they evoke. Some beautifully elaborate, others stunningly simple and how they stood out from the rest.”
– Lily Ash Sakula (Inky judge)

“The shortlists this year are truly wonderful and represent everything that is good about fiction.
We received so many wonderful books and are grateful to everyone who submitted. The conversations each and every book provoked has been a joy to behold.
We hope you enjoy our shortlisted titles as much as we did.”
– Award Directors Glen Mehn and Leila Abu El Hawa


Blackwell’s Blogging

Blackwell’s will be featuring tables in the SFF section of its shops and in addition Blackwell’s booksellers will be blogging about the entire shortlist at The Kitschies.

The winners will be announced in a ceremony at The Star of Kings on 15th April, and receive a total of £2,000 in prize money, as well as one of the prize’s iconic Tentacle trophies.

The prize, sponsored by Blackwell’s, is now in its ninth year, with previous winners including Margaret Atwood, Nina Allen, Alex Wells, Tade Thompson, Hermione Eyre, Nick Harkaway, Lauren Beukes, China Miéville, and Patrick Ness.


About Blackwell’s

Trading since 1879, Blackwell’s is the largest academic and specialist bookseller in the UK. In addition to flagship shops in Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh and London, it has a permanent presence at or close to around 30 universities around the UK, from Aberdeen and Belfast to Exeter and Portsmouth, as well as a complete online offering and a special free-to-download eLearning platform developed specifically with students in mind.

About The Kitschies

The Kitschies is a not-for-profit association dedicated to promote the discussion of genre literature in all its many forms. To that end it hosts a range of events and runs an eponymous award each year to a range of books, celebrating progressive, intelligent, and entertaining literature with an element of the speculative or fantastic. Previous winners include Margaret Atwood, Nina Allen, Alex Wells, Karen Lord, Patrick Ness, Becky Chambers, Lauren Beukes, Ruth Ozeki and China Miéville.

Who were our 2018 Judges