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World Fantasy Award
World Fantasy Award The nine awards are presented at the banquet of the World Fantasy Convention held each year in late October -- early November. Two of the nominees on the final ballot are determined by readers while the remainder come from the ballots put together by a panel of judges who change annually. The judges select the recipients in a second round of voting. The awards are based on work done during the previous calendar year.

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).

World Fantasy Award (Novel)

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Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

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.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford

YsabelYsabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
Reviewers are saying wonderful things about this book -- and they are right. His writing, as always, is luminous -- in fact, the prologue is a poem told in prose, a love letter to Provence and its light and the depth of its past, only lightly covered by its present and by what we like to think of as "civilization"; this is a part of the world that he clearly knows, and loves, and this comes through clearly in the book. His handling of young adult characters is deft, often funny, often poignant.

Soldier of Sidon Soldier of Sidon by Gene Wolfe
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
In this episode, we reconnect with the centurion Lucius (or Latro, as he was known in the first two books, Soldier of the Mist and Soldier of Arete), some years after he made it home from Greece after the Hellenes had fought off the last invasion by Persia. Lucius had served on the losing side, a mercenary in King Xerxes's army that was slaughtered by Spartan and Athenian hoplites at the Battle of Plataea. There he suffered a catastrophic head wound that left him with a great scar on his scalp and a brain that can only remember the last twelve hours.

Kafka on the Shore Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
"A teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister. An aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction, is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle -- yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered."

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
reviewed by Margo MacDonald
Mr Norrell emerges out of decades of seclusion in his isolated library to prove that English magic has not completely been lost and that he is the sole remaining practical (rather than theoretical) magician. He sets about, in his own pedantic way, to restore English magic and make himself useful to the government in the wars against the French, and so on. It soon becomes evident, however, that he is not the only magician in England. There is another: Jonathan Strange. Norrell takes on Strange as his pupil but refuses, in his paranoid way, to teach him even half of what he knows. Nevertheless, Strange is obviously more naturally talented than Norrell.

Tooth and Claw Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
The ritual of eating a dead dragon, Bon Agornin, is what launches the story. Bon's powerful and demanding son-in-law, the Illustrious Daverak, takes more than his share for his own family, despite the wishes of Bon and the claims of Bon's other children, the Blessed Penn, Avan, the brother who works in the city, and the two younger maiden sisters, Selendra and Haner. Avan decides the next day to institute a lawsuit against Daverak.

Ombria in Shadow Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
reviewed by Margo MacDonald
The plot leads you on a swift-moving journey through a maze of truth, loss, secrets, bravery, temptation, obsession, magic, and, ultimately, love. The king dies, his mistress is cast out, the prince is just a boy and at the mercy of an evil woman and sorceries of all kinds. Those who love him seek to save him, while those whose purposes are woven through with much greater ambition, care not who is destroyed as they move towards their goals.

The Facts of Life The Facts of Life by Graham Joyce
reviewed by Gabe Mesa
The story follows the lives of Martha Vine and her seven daughters in the British town of Coventry in the years during and immediately following the Second World War. Telling the seven daughters and their husbands apart is somewhat difficult at first, but the author quickly manages to delineate their individual characters and circumstances. The youngest sister, Cassie, is a free spirit whose casual liaisons result in her bringing a small boy, Frank, into the world. Because he has no father and only a partly competent mother, Martha Vine's matriarchal decree is that Frank (like a sister before him) be handed over to other townspeople for an informal adoption.

The Facts Of Life The Facts Of Life by Graham Joyce
reviewed by Martin Lewis
Martha Vine is the matriarch of the Vine family, mother of seven daughters. Cassie is the youngest of these, "the result of a night of careless and rough passion after the celebrations over the election of the first ever Labour government of 1924." The story opens with Cassie waiting to give away her infant son to a stranger. Just as she is on the point of doing so, she has a vision of golden light streaming from the three spires of Coventry.

The Other Wind The Other Wind by Ursula K. Le Guin
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
This novel takes Earthsea's story forward. As it begins, Alder, a sorcerer of modest ability, comes seeking Ged, who is living with Tenar in contented retirement on the island of Gont. Alder has been sent by the Masters of Roke, because he has been dreaming strangely of the land of the dead (known as the dry land). Though Ged no longer has any power, he knows more about the dry land than any man living, for he entered it long ago to defeat the wizard Cob, who breached the barrier between death and life in his search for immortality.

Declare Declare by Tim Powers
reviewed by Nick Gevers
All the qualities that made his earlier eldritch swashbucklers so impressive are here in full measure: an intense and intimate sense of period or realization of milieu; taut plotting, with human development and destiny as consequential as the ingenuities of concept for which the author is so famous; and, looming above all, an awareness of history itself as a merciless turning of supernatural wheels, as a play of shadows cast by huge, heinous otherworldly conspiracies. And this time the conspiracy is that of the rebel angels, and the shadow cast is the Cold War.

Galveston Galveston by Sean Stewart
reviewed by David Soyka
Thanks to the administrative abilities of Jane Gardner and the supernatural talents of Odessa Gibbons, the inhabitants of Galveston, Texas, have managed to co-exist with the magic that swept over them 20 years earlier -- and to which the rest of civilization succumbed. Occult forces have been confined in an eternal Mardi Gras carnival celebration segregated from the "real" city, which has contrived to maintain a sense of "normalcy" using jury-rigged technology and an oligarchic government. But now Jane Gardner is slowly dying...

Thraxas Thraxas by Martin Scott
"In Turai, the only people more corrupt than the politicians are the royal family, and murder and mayhem and ruthless criminal brotherhoods reign. With the civic guards incapable of keeping order, it's left to men like Thraxas to do what they can. The city needs men of steel, men of virtue and honesty and clean living. Unfortunately, Thraxas is none of the above. Running his business from lodgings above an inn in one of the seedier parts of town, Thraxas makes a living as a private investigator. When he is employed by the third in line to the throne, Thraxas believes that his luck is about to change. A few hours later, he's in a cell, accused of murder."

The Antelope Wife The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich
"Past and present combine in a contemporary tale of love and betrayal influenced by Chippewa tradition, myth and legend. Rozin and Richard, living in Minneapolis with their two young daughters, seem a long way from the traditions of their Native American ancestors. But when one of their acquaintances kidnaps a strange and silent young woman from a Native American camp and brings her back to live with him as his wife, the connections they all hold to the past rear up to confront them. Soon the patterns of their ancestors begin to repeat themselves with truly tragic consequences."

The Physiognomy The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
A World Fantasy Award nominee, this slim novel takes us to a world where insanity seems the most common condition and where faith is placed in the most tenuous of beliefs. It displays the evil that men do and the chances they have for redemption.

Godmother Night Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack
"Set in an alternate world, this modern fairy tale tells the story of two lovers, Laurie and Jaqe, who are separated by Mother Night, a small elderly lady, who is death. Along with her gang of riotous bikers, she cruises through their lives, leaving a trail of heartbreak and joy."

The Prestige The Prestige by Christopher Priest
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Lisa discovered that it isn't that every character in this novel is obsessed, only the ones we get to know by name. One hundred years separate them, but, it is the secrets of yesterday that join them.

Towing Jehovah Towing Jehovah by James Morrow
"When God Himself drops dead, leaving His two-mile-long corpse floating face up in the Atlantic, former sea captain Anthony Van Horne is recruited by the grieving archangel Raphael to haul the Corpus Dei to an icy tomb at the North Pole. Wanting to redeem himself for indirectly causing the century's worst oil spill, Van Horne resumes command of his newly repaired supertanker and speeds north with God in tow. Already faced with protecting the corpse against marauding predators from the air and the sea, Van Horne confronts a series of setbacks such as a plot by a rescued feminist castaway to bomb and sink the patriarchal corpse for the good of womankind."

Glimpses Glimpses by Lewis Shiner
"Ray Shackleford is a veteran of failed bands who dreams of the 1960s and the music that never was. But when he finds his dream-music recorded onto his tapedeck he is drawn into the past, revisiting Hendrix, Morrison and the Beatles -- and the music of Ray Shackleford."

Boy's Life Last Call by Tim Powers
Scott Crane quit playing poker professionally a decade ago, but now he's having nightmares about a strange game on Lake Mead in '69... the game where he won a fortune. The money he won was in exchange for his life, and perhaps his soul. And there's one hand left to be played...

Boy's Life Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon
"This tale of an 11-year-old's struggle between innocence and evil begins with the discovery of a gruesome murder and ends with the revelation that, even in Zephyr, Alabama, life is not safe and simple -- and most things and people are not what they seem to be."

Only Begotten Daughter Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow
reviewed by Martin Lewis
Every month Murray Katz supplements his income by donating to the local sperm bank. However, one month in 1974 something unusual happens. Murray's donation spontaneously becomes a cell cluster, a potential human. This can mean only one thing: immaculate conception. Murray's cell cluster is the daughter of God. He steals her and the ectogenesis machine that supports her and takes her back to his lighthouse on the Atlantic where he christens her Julie.

Thomas the Rhymer Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner
"A minstrel lives by his words, his tunes, and sometimes by his lies. But when the bold and gifted young Thomas the Rhymer awakens the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland, he finds that words are not enough to keep him from his fate. As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence -- and captivity -- he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen's parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie."

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Copyright © 2005 by Rodger Turner

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