2013 RT Awards Nominees Celebration: Best Fantasy Novel

Every year, the review staff at RT Book Reviews reads and rates more than three thousand books. And when each year draws to a close, we pick the best of the bunch for our readers to enjoy — the Reviewers’ Choice Awards. For the next few weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving, we’re going to be celebrating the nominations for many of these awards, across genres. We hope you’ll join us in congratulating all these wonderful authors, and, hey, if you find a great new book to read, all the better! Today, we'll be taking a look at the nominees for Best Fantasy Novel!





Paul Cornell, London Falling

How do you think the landscape of SFF fiction is changing? How do you hope to see it improve?

I think it's gradually becoming more diverse, which is wonderful to see.  I also think there's more of an engagement with the mainstream, that we're starting to see that the SFF ghetto these days is something we create and maintain from the inside. We won that culture war years ago. When the mainstream uses the tools of SFF we should celebrate, not seek to marginalise ourselves further.   

What was your favorite fantasy novel of 2013?

I think I'll go for one of my fellow nominees, Mary Robinette Kowal's Without A Summer. I enjoy the worldbuilding, the almost SF construction of those books a great deal, and relate to the character of Vincent.   

E.C. Blake, Masks

How do you think the landscape of SFF fiction is changing? How do you hope to see it improve?

I think we’re seeing an explosion of new ideas and new approaches to old ideas that I find very exciting. Part of that is due to the ongoing development of indie publishing and Kickstarter-style funding campaigns: there’s nothing so quirky or off-beat but what you can find some audience for it. The downside to that is the splintering of the genre audience into smaller and smaller niches: zombie-elf romances set in steampunk space stations, for example. (Hey, I may have to write that one!) What I hope we see going forward is a blurring of lines and a willingness for those who gravitate to very specific types of stories to read outside their comfort zones, the better to enjoy the ever-increasing diversity the field has to offer.

What was your favorite fantasy novel of 2013?

I continue to be blown away by Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series, and this year’s long-awaited third book, The Republic of Thieves, would have to rate as the favorite thing I read in the field in 2013. Lynch’s characters are unforgettable, his worldbuilding first rate, and he mixes humor, terror, triumph and tragedy in just the right proportions to enthrall me every time.

Kate Elliott, Cold Steel

What was your favorite fantasy novel of 2013?

I read too many novels that I admire and enjoy to truly have a single favorite. I was going to mention Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie as an unexpected pleasure that I recommend because of the fabulous way she subverts expectations of gender. But her wonderful debut novel is science fiction interwoven with a mystery/thriller plot, not a fantasy according to the unicorns vs ray guns dichotomy of fantasy vs science fiction. Then I realized I am so far behind on my reading that I’m not  even sure I’ve read any fantasy novels published in 2013 yet. I’m still working through fantasy novels published in previous years. 

Which brings me right around to the first question, which I’m answering second.

How do you think the landscape of SFF fiction is changing? How do you hope to see it improve?

Ten to fifteen years ago I would often have trouble finding SFF books I wanted to read. Now I can’t keep up. The landscape of SFF is becoming more diverse and more international. People have been writing in other languages and across the world, of course; for me personally the difference is that because of the Internet, e-books, small and micro presses, and self-publishing options, I can get hold of this writing now when it was very difficult before. Changes in publishing strategies and regional licensing also are beginning to make it possible for readers around the world to read novels they had trouble acquiring before. The ease of publishing short fiction in various formats means I have so much more to choose from. Short fiction in all its lengths is making a wonderful comeback. I think we are in a golden age with many veteran writers turning out great work and many new writers with a myriad perspectives making themselves heard.

Mary Robinette Kowal, Without A Summer

How do you think the landscape of SFF fiction is changing? How do you hope to see it improve?

There's a growing awareness of the diversity issues that have long been prevalent in SFF and efforts by the community to address that. It means that we're seeing more characters of color as leads, more visibility of writers of color — who have been here, but were often overlooked. There is still a lot of work to do, but I'm pleased that the conversation is happening. 

What was your favorite fantasy novel of 2013?

Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent is exactly calculated to please. It captures the tone of memoirs from the 1800s with delightful aptitude. I adore language and this novel hits all my sweet spots, as well as offering rollicking adventures with dragons.

Oh, and did I mention that it is illustrated? Mmm …

Many congratulations to these authors and their books on their 2013 Best Fantasy Novel nominations! For the full list of 2013 award nominees, click here.