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 Ragged Astronauts, the first part of Bob Shaw's final trilogy which was followed by The Wooden Spaceships (1988) and The Fugitive Worlds (1989) is an exuberant and inventive story of two worlds that orbit each other so closely that they share an atmosphere. When the situation on the inhabited planet becomes serious, a desperate band set out to escape to their neighbouring world, Overland, by hot air balloon. Shaw plays fast and loose with science (in this universe Pi is equal to exactly 3), but does so with a panache that makes this one of the jewels in a very glittering career."
"The concluding volume of the author's trilogy, Helliconia, finds the planet Helliconia moving away from its sun, its climate growing harsher, its government becoming more severe, and, as a deadly plague, greed, and betrayal ravages the land, one man strives to return his planet to the light."
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.
reviewed by Rich Horton
The book is purportedly written by the title character, a robot, as he awaits his trial and certain execution for murder. We are quickly told of the first of Tik-Tok's crimes, the first time he realizes his "asimov" circuits must be damaged: he murders a little blind girl while his owners are away, and then covers up the bloodstains with a mural. It is the mural which provokes interest though: it is evidence that robots can be creative. The ironic linkage between creativity and murderousness should probably not be missed.
"Helliconia, the chief planet of a binary system, is emerging from its centuries long winter. The tribes of the equatorial continent emerge from their hiding places and are again able to dispute possession of the planet with the ferocious phagors. In Oldorando, love, trade and coinage are being rediscovered."
reviewed by A.L. Sirois
Shadow and Claw combines The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator. This is hefty work with precious little padding. Anyone familiar with Gene Wolfe's work knows what to expect -- strange doings, complex and troubled characters, no guarantees of happy endings for anyone, images and events that stick in the mind long after the book is put down, and a command of the language beyond the ability of 90% of writers working today in or out of the SF field.
"In 1962, a young Californian scientist finds his experiments spoiled by mysterious interference. Gradually his suspicions lead him to a startling truth: scientists from the end of the century are using subatomic particles to send a message into the past, in the hope that history can be changed and a world-threatening catastrophe can be averted." The novel inspired Simon and Schuster to name their SF imprint Timescape Books.
"When a light aircraft crashes into the Thames at Shepperton, the young pilot who struggles to the surface seems to have come back from the dead. Within hours everything in the suburb is strangely transformed."
reviewed by Neil Walsh
This one was first published in 1977, after Dick had either had a severe breakdown or spent a lot of time in communication with superior beings -- take your pick. It follows the story of Officer Fred, an undercover narcotics agent who is so deeply undercover that even his superiors don't know his street identity, Bob Arctor. Consequently, Fred is given the task of monitoring Bob.
"A young Russian boy, accompanied by his devoted minder, turns up in Japan and presents a problem to the American security officials who take on his case. For the boy appears to be part of a sophisticated Soviet experiment and to have the mind of a dead astronaut imperfectly imprinted on his own. If the boy is to be believed, then the experiment has been extended to a whale. In Mexico, ground-breaking research by Nobel Prize winner Paul Hammond and his team has shown that what we perceive as the Universe is no more than the ghost of the real thing. Signals received by his radio telescope show that the Universe God created no longer exists. Then the whales start singing their death yantra throughout the oceans of the world. "
"The planet of Arcadia was on the verge of economic collapse -- its human colony decimated by the Relay Effect. More and more colonists leaving for other worlds. Then the Hetherington Organisation came up with an offer the Arcadians couldn't refuse -- a five-year plan to transform the planet into a new prosperity."
"When the young son of Elizabeth Lindstrom, the autocratic president of Starflight, falls to his death, Vance Garamond, a flickerwing commander, is the obvious target for Elizabeth's grief and anger. She is not a forgiving employer and Garamond has no choice but to flee. But fleeing Elizabeth's wrath means leaving the Solar System behind forever and hiding somewhere in deep space. While pursued remorselessly by Earth's space fleet, Garamond discovers an unimaginably vast, alien-built, spherical structure which could just change the destiny of the human race."
"A mobile city, travelling on tracks laid before it and torn up behind it, is battling its way slowly across a hideously deformed landscape. One young man is destined to find out the truth about this inverted world."
"At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers name Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms that Rama is no natural object. It is an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind's first encounter with alien intelligence. Now the moment of rendezvous awaits -- just behind a Raman airlock door."
reviewed by Gabe Chouinard
Here, you will find 14 stories by this Grand Master of Science Fiction. You'll read him when he is at his best, as in "Orgy of the Living and the Dying," or "The Circulation of the Blood" and "The Worm That Flies." This volume also includes "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long," the story which forms the basis for Steven Spielberg's new film, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
reviewed by Marc Goldstein
It opens sometime in the early 21st century, when the U.S. has become divided into racially separate city-states of blacks and whites. These enclaves clash with each other in a kind of cold civil war. Against this backdrop, Michael Flamen carries on as the last spoolpigeon, a muckraking gossip reporter with his own daily television newsmagazine. For months his show has been interrupted by mysterious static interference. Flamen believes that the network is conspiring to force him off the air (to fill his time slot with infomercials). His investigation into the source of the interference accidentally uncovers a conspiracy within the Gottschalk gun-dealing cartel.
reviewed by Charlene Brusso
From the misty depths of the late 60s, Brunner gives us the ultimate dysfunctional society, a world of decadence spilling into decay, of high tech advances and the loss of common sense. There's a good bit of cyberpunkish foreshadowing here. The drugs, the mean streets, the ragged suburbs, and Mr and Mrs Everywhere on your TV set, who can be programmed to look just like you; through them you can attend the most exclusive parties, visit the most scenic places on Earth, meet the rich and famous, all at the flick of a remote control.
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