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British Science Fiction Awards
British Science Fiction Award The BSFA Awards are presented annually by the British Science Fiction Association, based on a vote of BSFA members and -- in most recent years -- members of the British national SF convention (Eastercon). BSFA members can nominate as many works as they like in any category -- but an individual's nomination for a specific work will only be counted once.

Below you'll find an overview of the winners, with cover/title links to the SF Site reviews (where applicable) along with synopses of those titles yet to be reviewed (cover images are linked to larger images, when available).

British Science Fiction Award for Best Novel

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The Islanders The Islanders by Christopher Priest
reviewed by Christopher DeFilippis
Twins, doubles and doppelgangers often take center stage in the novels of Christopher Priest, and his narrators are often not entirely reliable. Fans who enjoy these aspects of his work are sure to love his new novel as the author foregoes a single unreliable narrator for an entirely unreliable narrative. The book is presented as a gazetteer, or guidebook, of the Dream Archipelago, a world-spanning chain of islands with fantastical properties.

The Dervish House The Dervish House The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
With the tight, cinematic precision of a Hitchcock thriller, this book introduces us to a near-future Istanbul and to the lives of the characters who work and live in one of the oldest buildings in the city. Over the course of five heat-wave infested days, the characters lives are drawn together in ways that none of them could have anticipated.

The Dervish House The Dervish House The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
A bird turns in the thermals rising from a sprawling, clangorous waterfront city, spread so far below that the details of its inhabitants cannot be seen. Ian McDonald may have read John Dos Passos's 1925 novel, Manhattan Transfer as both writers chose exactly the same image to open their novels, and to exactly the same effect. The remote, aerial viewpoint is distancing and depersonalizing: the individuals rushing about below are, in the grand scheme of things, irrelevant, just cogs in the vast, impersonal machine that is the city.

The City & The City The City & The City by China Miéville
reviewed by Rich Horton
Beszel and Ul Qoma are two cities that occupy the same geographical space. They are intricately interwoven, such that some areas are "total" -- all one city or the other -- but some are "crosshatched," so that one building might be in Beszel and its neighbor in Ul Qoma. The residents have been trained to "see" and "unsee" their surroundings. Tyador Borlú is an Inspector for Beszel's Extreme Crime Squad. His new case is the murder of a young woman who turns out to be an American graduate student in archaeology with an interest in the theory, generally regarded as crackpot, that there is a third, invisible, city occupying the same area as Beszel and Ul Qoma.

The Night Sessions The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
"A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it's a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It's been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history ...After the Middle East wars and the rising sea levels - after Armageddon and the Flood - came the Great Rejection. The first Enlightenment separated church from state. The Second Enlightenment has separated religion from politics. In this enlightened age there's no persecution, but the millions who still believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority. Now someone is killing them."

Brasyl Brasyl Brasyl by Ian McDonald
reviewed by Stuart Carter
Only one third of Brasyl, set in Sao Paulo in 2032, appears to be the straightforward extrapolative science fiction that River Of Gods was. There are two other narratives: one following Marcelina Hoffman, a producer of trash TV, living a thoroughly modern life in the Rio of 2006, and one following her seeming antithesis, Father Luis Quinn, an Irish Jesuit priest on a Heart Of Darkness-style voyage across an appalling Brazil of 1732.

End of the World Blues End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Kit Nouveau has more than his fair share of buried traumas: an abusive father, service in Iraq as a sniper during which he killed a child, the death of a friend just as Nouveau was stealing his girlfriend. The fact that the girlfriend was the daughter of Britain's most powerful and fearsome crime family just adds another complication to the mix. As the novel opens, he has somehow found his way to Japan where he runs a disreputable biker bar; is married to a famous potter; and is bedding, in a desultory manner, the wife of a Japanese crime lord. Then, on the same day that a street urchin saves him from an apparent assassination attempt, his bar is blown up and his wife killed.

End of the World Blues End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Each novel feature a connection between a character from our own time and a mysterious figure from the far future. In both stories, the mystery of just what that connection is is hidden within the intimate details of the characters lives, revealed only at last in casually oblique hints and twists of phrase. But even with their similarities in set-up and style, both are more than distinct enough to lay to rest any criticism of a writer repeating himself. The effect is instead akin to that of a master composer using a memorable melody to craft two separate symphonies, each worthy of standing on its own.

Air Air by Geoff Ryman
reviewed by David Soyka
One historical dividing line in science fiction is between those who think technology offers a lot of "cool" things that better the human condition (Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov) and those who think the opposite (Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells and their New Wave descendants sprung from the loins of atomic explosions and countercultural indulgences). The cyberpunks melded both with the sort of Zen-like attitude that technology is neither inherently good or bad, it merely is what it is.

River of Gods River of Gods by Ian McDonald
It is 15 August 15th, 2047 on the eve of India's 100th anniversary. We are in the company of ten people carrying on their daily affairs. They include someone working 'Town And Country,' on a soap opera watched by hundreds of millions, who happens to be a a 'nute', or non-gendered person, a stand-up comic whose father is the head of Ray Power, one of India's biggest companies, a street thug casting about for that one big score, a 'Krishna Cop' whose job it is to track down rogue AI, his unhappy and somewhat estranged wife, a government advisor to the prime minister, an AI genius researcher gone local within the backpacking Western tourists and an American scientist working frantically to understand an orbiting alien artefact.

Felaheen Felaheen by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
After the events of Effendi, Raf is at loose ends. Apart from his mostly ceremonial Third Circle directorate, he's jobless, beset by the frustrations of looking after his frighteningly intelligent niece and the stresses of living with a woman he loves but isn't sleeping with. Out of the blue, he's approached by Eugenie de la Croix, director of security for his putative father the Emir. There has been an assassination attempt; the Emir's eldest son, Kashif Pasha, has declared that a group of populist rebels is behind it, but Eugenie has her doubts, and wants Raf's help protecting the Emir. As payment, she promises money, and something of much more value to Raf: proof of what he's always doubted, that his mother really slept with the Emir.

Broken Angels The Separation by Christopher Priest
reviewed by David Soyka
While Tony Blair lines up behind the Bush administration in positing war with Iraq as a clear-cut case of good versus evil, some of his countrymen provide persuasive commentary that such a dichotomy is never the case. War is only black and white in movies from the 40s; in reality, it runs blood red, and its tributaries are not always so easily or clearly defined. Which isn't necessarily to say that war is never unjustified or unavoidable; only that the "make-believe" needs to be sifted from the actuality in hopes of making reliance on it less likely. Ironically, it is the purveyors of "make-believe" who articulate doubt upon this simplistic precept invoked by both sides in any conflict. Although British writers Christopher Priest, Richard Morgan, and China Miéville may all be shelved together in the SF and Fantasy aisle, each works in decidedly different sub-genres to provide compelling commentary on the considerable shades of gray between the seeming dark and light.

Chasm City Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
reviewed by Rich Horton
Set in the same future as his first novel, Revelation Space, the book follows Tanner Mirabel who comes to Yellowstone from Sky's Edge (a planet of 61 Cygni A in the Delta Pavonis star system). He is looking to kill Argent Reivich, who had killed the woman he loved. While tracking him down, we learn about Reivich's attempt on an arms dealer's life (in revenge for supplying the weapons that killed Reivich's family) and Tanner's infection with an "indoctrination virus," which implants memories of Sky Haussmann, the sometimes revered, sometimes hated, last Captain of the first ship to reach Sky's Edge.

Ash: A Secret History Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle
reviewed by Katharine Mills
Quite apart from the author's sly games with the stodginess of accepted scholarship, this is also a wicked good adventure story. The author understands both the movement of politics across nations, and the motivations of seemingly insignificant people, and she makes her reader feel both. Her battles are as simultaneously glorious and horribly sordid as real battles must have been; she spares no gruesomeness in her description, yet the breathless exhilaration of the fighter is there as well.

The Sky Road The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod
"Centuries after its catastrophic Deliverance, humanity is again reaching into space. One young scholar working in the space ship yard, Clovis colha Gree, could make the difference between success and failure. His mysterious lover, Merrial, has seduced him into the idea of extrapolating the ship's future from the archives of the past. Centuries before, Myra Godwin faced the end of a different space age -- her rockets redundant, her people rebellious, and her borders defenceless against the Sino-Soviet Union."

The Extremes The Extremes by Christopher Priest
reviewed by Rich Horton
The author seems fascinated with reality, and how our consciousness creates our reality. As such, he could hardly be expected to resist the temptation presented by a subject such as extremely realistic VR simulations.

The Sparrow The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
reviewed by Kristen Pederson
It contains some of the most engaging, interesting, and multi-dimensional characters that Kristen has encountered in years. Sandoz and his fellow travellers, some Jesuit, some not, are portrayed with unique and believable quirks, foibles, and strengths. Sandoz himself is a fascinating character who is easy to like, and whose eventual descent into his wounded state is unpredictable and heartbreaking.

Excession Excession by Iain M. Banks
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Iain M. Banks has led the way in restoring galaxy-spanning stories -- space opera if you will -- to sf. He is one who combines the sense of wonder of classic sf with modern literary techniques and well-developed characters. What sf reader could ask for more?

The Time Ships The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter
reviewed by David Maddox
It all began over one hundred years ago with a simple inventor and his fantastic creation, a machine constructed of brass rods and tubing, chronometric dials and a riding saddle. But this strange contraption had the ability to take its passenger backwards and forwards through the fourth dimension, time itself! Such was the premise of H.G. Wells' science-fiction classic The Time Machine originally published in 1895. But what happened to the Time Traveler at the end of the tale?

Feersum Endjinn Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks
"Count Sessine is about to die for the very last time. Chief Scientist Gadfium is about to receive the mysterious message she has been waiting for from the Plain of Sliding Stones. Bascule the Teller, in search of an ant, is about to enter the chaos of the crypt. Everything is about to change. This is the time of the encroachment and, although the dimming sun still shines on the vast, towering walls of Serehfa Fastness, the end is close at hand. The King knows it, his closest advisers know it, yet sill they continue the war against the clan Engineers with increasing savagery."

Aztec Century Aztec Century by Christopher Evans
"The Aztec Empire has been growing ever since Cortez changed sides in the 16th century. They already control great areas of the world and now it is 20th century Britain's turn to submit to Aztec rule. Told by a daughter of the British monarch, we're involved in a story of war, politics, intrigue and romance."

Red Mars Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Winner of the 1993 Nebula Award, Red Mars begins the chronology of the Mars trilogy with the first man setting foot on the surface of Mars: John Boone, American hero in 2019. In 2027, the First Hundred -- Earth's finest engineers and scientists -- made the first mass-landing. Their mission is to terraform the planet, turning it from a wasteland into an Eden populated by people, plants, and animals. They strive to bring about the genesis of a new, living planet. But in order to do so, they must overcome their own limitations: personalities, prejudice, politics, and greed. How can John Boone hold the dream together? Already there are factions within the Hundred, different ideologies and views of what Mars is, and should be. And in his own life, he and his co-leader, Frank Chalmers, are in deadly competition, over Mars and over the beautiful Maya.

The Fall of Hyperion The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
On Hyperion, the Time Tombs are opening and seven pilgrims risk their lives to petition the Shrike -- a creature that may control the fate of all mankind. Something is drawing the Hegemony, the AIs, and the Ousters towards the Shrike and the Time Tombs. The novel begins with the arrival of the pilgrims. Planning to seek out the Shrike and trying to discover its purpose and their own, the pilgrims are drawn into events over which they have too little control.

Take Back Plenty Take Back Plenty by Colin Greenland
reviewed by Martin Lewis
The Plenty of the title is a gigantic space station built by an alien race called the Frasque. The Frasque have long since been forcibly evicted by another race, the Capellans, and their bureaucrats-cum-enforcers, the Eladeldi. The Capellans, with their superior technology, have set themselves up as benevolent hands off dictators of the Solar system. Tabitha Jute is a blue-collar pilot who has had the good fortune to acquire her own ship, the Alice Liddell. She is also in dire need of cash to pay off fines and get some urgent repairs.

Pyramids Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
reviewed by Charlene Brusso
If you've never encountered his witty blend of fantastical satire and story, you'll find this collection of 3 novels (Pyramids, Small Gods, and Hogfather) an excellent entry point. The theme, of course, is gods and their worshippers, and if you can't laugh at religion, this collection may just teach you a few things about human and godly nature.

Lavondyss Lavondyss by Robert Holdstock
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Steven gives us his take on each of the four books that make up this cycle; Mythago Wood, Lavondyss, The Hollowing and Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn. If you are looking for plot- or even character-driven fantasy, the Ryhope Wood cycle will not serve your purposes. If you are interested in an examination of mythology and its hold on the human subconscious, sometimes in esoteric terms, the author consistently manages to hit a bullseye.

Gráinne Gráinne by Keith Roberts
"The novel follows the career of Alistair Bevan, writer and adman, from his beginnings in a post-war Midlands town. It is soon apparent that any parallels to our world have ceased. Through Bevan's vivid memories we meet Gráinne;, blue stocking seductress and darling of the media. Painfully human yet as mysterious as her great namesake, the girl-goddess who plunged all Ireland into war and shadow is doomed by her own proud nature."

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Copyright © 2005 by Rodger Turner

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