2013 Awards

A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING
Ruth Ozeki
Canongate

Ruth discovers a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore of her beach home. Within it lies a diary that expresses the hopes and dreams of a young girl. She suspects it might have arrived on a drift of debris from the 2011 tsunami. With every turn of the page, she is sucked deeper into an enchanting mystery.

In a small cafe in Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao Yasutani is navigating the challenges thrown up by modern life. In the face of cyberbullying, the mysteries of a 104-year-old Buddhist nun and great-grandmother, and the joy and heartbreak of family, Nao is trying to find her own place – and voice – through a diary she hopes will find a reader and friend who finally understands her.

Weaving across continents and decades, and exploring the relationship between reader and writer, fact and fiction, A Tale for the Time Being is an extraordinary novel about our shared humanity and the search for home. (About the Author | Purchase | Acceptance Speech)


FINALISTS

RED DOC>
Anne Carson
Jonathan Cape

In a stunningly original mix of poetry, drama, and narrative, Anne Carson brings the red-winged Geryon from Autobiography of Red, now called ‘G’, into manhood, and through the complex labyrinths of the modern age. We join him as he travels with his friend and lover ‘Sad’ (short for Sad But Great), a war veteran, and with Ida, an artist, across a geography that ranges from plains of glacial ice to idyllic green pastures; from a psychiatric clinic to the sombre house where G’s mother must face her death. (About the Author | Purchase)


MORE THAN THIS
Patrick Ness
Walker

A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he is here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighbourhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust and completely abandoned.

What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. (About the Author | Purchase)


BLEEDING EDGE
Thomas Pynchon
Jonathan Cape

It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dotcom boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but there’s no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of what’s left.

Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her licence got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethics – carry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into people’s bank accounts – without having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working mum – two boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighbourhood – till Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitler’s aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course. (About the Author | Purchase)


THE MACHINE
James Smythe
HarperCollins / Blue Door

Haunting memories defined him. The machine took them away. She vowed to rebuild him. From the author of The Testimony comes a Frankenstein for the twenty-first century. Beth lives alone on a desolate housing estate near the sea. She came here to rebuild her life following her husband’s return from the war. His memories haunted him but a machine promised salvation. It could record memories, preserving a life that existed before the nightmares.

Now the machines are gone. The government declared them too controversial, the side-effects too harmful. But within Beth’s flat is an ever-whirring black box. She knows that memories can be put back, that she can rebuild her husband piece by piece.

A Frankenstein tale for the 21st century, The Machine is a story of the indelibility of memory, the human cost of science and the horrors of love. (About the Author | Purchase)


2013 GOLDEN TENTACLE (DEBUT)

ANCILLARY JUSTICE
Ann Leckie
Orbit

On a remote, icy planet, the soldier known as Breq is drawing closer to completing her quest. Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was. Years ago, she was Justice of Toren – a colossal starship with an artificial intelligence linking thousands of corpse soldiers in the service of the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy.

An act of treachery has ripped it all away, leaving her with only one fragile human body. And only one purpose – to revenge herself on Anaander Mianaai, many-bodied, near-immortal Lord of the Radch. (About the Author| Purchase | Acceptance Speech)


FINALISTS

A CALCULATED LIFE
Anne Charnock
47 North

Late in the twenty-first century, big business is booming and state institutions are thriving thanks to advances in genetic engineering, which have produced a compliant population free of addictions. Violent crime is a rarity.

Hyper-intelligent Jayna is a star performer at top predictive agency Mayhew McCline, where she forecasts economic and social trends. A brilliant mathematical modeler, she far outshines her co-workers, often correcting their work on the quiet. Her latest coup: finding a link between northeasterly winds and violent crime.

When a string of events contradicts her forecasts, Jayna suspects she needs more data and better intuition. She needs direct interactions with the rest of society. Bravely – and naively – she sets out to disrupt her strict routine and stumbles unwittingly into a world where her IQ is increasingly irrelevant… a place where human relationships and the complexity of life are difficult for her to decode. And as she experiments with taking risks, she crosses the line into corporate intrigue and disloyalty.

Can Jayna confront the question of what it means to live a “normal” life? Or has the possibility of a “normal” life already been eclipsed for everyone? (About the Author | Purchase)


STRAY
Monica Hesse
Hot Key Books

Lona Sixteen Always is not herself – quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 – troubled children who have been ‘rescued’ by the government and put ‘on-Path’. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself.

And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen – Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn’t. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path? (About the Author | Purchase)


NEXUS
Ramez Naam
Angry Robot Books

When the fog comes down and the drums start to beat, the inhabitants of the island tremble: for the punishment satellites – which keep the tyrannical Wastelords at bay – are blind in the darkness, and the islanders become prey.

The inhabitants are the old, the sick, the poor: the detritus of Society, dumped on the island with the rest of Society’s waste. There is no point trying to escape, for the satellites – the invisible eyes of the law – mete out instant judgement from the sky. (About the Author | Purchase)


MR PENUMBRA’S 24-HOUR BOOKSTORE
Robin Sloan
Atlantic

Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a San Francisco Web-design drone – and serendipity, coupled with sheer curiosity, has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after just a few days, Clay begins to realize that this store is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few customers, but they come in repeatedly and never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes from strange corners of the store, all according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he’s embarked on a complex analysis of the customers’ behaviour and roped his friends into helping to figure out just what’s going on. But once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore… (About the Author | Purchase)


2013 INKY TENTACLE (COVER ART)

THE AGE ATOMIC
Adam Christopher / Art by Will Staehle
Angry Robot Books

The Empire State is dying. The Fissure connecting the pocket universe to New York has vanished, plunging the city into a deep freeze and the populace are demanding a return to Prohibition and rationing as energy supplies dwindle.

Meanwhile, in 1954 New York, the political dynamic has changed and Nimrod finds his department subsumed by a new group, Atoms For Peace, led by the mysterious Evelyn McHale. (About the Artist | Purchase)


FINALISTS

DREAMS AND SHADOWS
C. Robert Cargill / Design and illustration by Sinem Erkas
Gollancz

This brilliantly crafted narrative – part Neil Gaiman, part Guillermo Del Torro, part William Burroughs – follows Ewan and Colby from their star-crossed adolescences to their haunted adulthoods.

Cargill’s tour-de-force takes us inside the Limestone Kingdom, a parallel universe where whisky-swilling genies and foul-mouthed wizards argue over the state of the metaphysical realm. (About the Artist | Purchase)


HOMELAND & PIRATE CINEMA
Cory Doctorow / Cover Design by Amazing15
Titan Books

Homeland – it is two years after the events of Little Brother and Marcus has new problems to deal with: California’s economy has collapsed, taking his parents’ jobs and his university tuition with it.

Pirate Cinema – Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household’s access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal. (About the Artists | Purchase)


STRAY
Monica Hesse / Art by Gianmarco Magnani, Design by Jet Purdie
Hot Key Books

Lona Sixteen Always is not herself – quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 – troubled children… But one day Lona finds she can think for herself.

And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen – Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn’t. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. (About the Artist | Purchase)


APOCALYPSE NOW NOW
Charlie Human / Art by Joey Hi-Fi
Century

Plunged into the increasingly bizarre landscape of Cape Town’s supernatural underworld, Baxter Zevcenko, 16-year-old crime kingpin, and Jackson “Jackie” Ronin, supernatural bounty hunter, team up to save Baxter’s girlfriend, Esme.

On a journey that takes them through the realms of impossibility, they must face every conceivable nightmare to get her back, including the odd brush with the Apocalypse. (About the Artist | Purchase)


2013 BLACK TENTACLE (JUDGES’ DISCRETION)

The 2013 winner was Malorie Blackman, OBE, for, amongst many other reasons, using her position as Children’s Laureate to raise the tone of the discussion, and promote progressive, intelligent, and entertaining storytelling in all forms, from comic books to science fiction to Jane Eyre.