I find that certain awards contain a goldmine of good science fiction: the Hugo Award, The Nebula Award, The John Campbell Award, Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Locus Awards.
However, be wary of just any award as sometimes they are scams and not handed out by qualified people. The other problem with even the well known and prestigious awards is that they are dominated by traditionally published authors. Self published authors often don’t have the contacts or the knowhow to get nominated that the big publishing houses do.
I certainly don’t have any of the committee members on speed dial.
I foresee that eventually the self published author will take a more prominent position in the awards programs, but right now I don’t think the big houses want that to happen. Sometimes that means the reader misses out on some good science fiction. The current self published author is still trying to figure out this marketing thing and how to get in touch with his/her readers. Hello.
One of the top names on the nomination list for the Locus Award is Ian Banks. I read Matter and currently have Use of Weapons on my reading table. His winning a nomination has encouraged me to read that and look into his Culture Series. So stay tuned there.
I recently did a blog on detective science fiction and an associate from my book club e-mailed me to suggest The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds. Reynolds has won the British Science fiction Award and been nominated three times for the Arthur Clarke Award and once put on the short list for a Hugo. He writes a hard science space opera story.
The kind I like.
He also has a PHD in Astronomy and has a day job as an astrophysicist for the European Space Agency.
So there’s hard science involved.
The Prefect takes place in the Revelation Space universe, but is a stand alone novel. Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect whose beat is the Glitter Band, a teeming swirl of habitats that orbit the planet Yellowstone. This is a multiverse of space habitats that cater to all and any quirk of human nature.
Some of them very strange.
Dreyfus’s deputies are Sparver, a hyperpig and Thalia, a human, who is daughter of a cop supposedly gone bad. Law enforcement officers carry a whiphound as a weapon of choice and deal with everything from downloaded personalities to genetically altered humans. Be prepared to encounter an evil entity that is an uploaded consciousness trying to destroy humans, a computerized and murderous being called the clockmaker, a top level lawmaker who is a mole for evil who makes him believe he is doing good, and various odd habitats including one for sadists. Thalia, his deputy, gets trapped in a habitat that has a robot uprising and has to fight her way out using her creativity.
All good science fiction stuff.
I found the novel intriguing for its fast paced action and futuristic setting and technology.
Meanwhile, I’m having fun working in edit mode on my next scifi adventure–Touching Crystal. I plan this one to come out in November after it goes through the meat-grinder of my writers’ group.
I have already submitted it to an outstanding Beta tester and the Orycon Professional Workshop Critique. Using their comments, I am making it even better.
Whereas in Space Song Richard Steele uncovers a secret genetic human modification program, in Touching Crystal, he has to deal with the impact of the sentient crystal beings who augment certain humans, giving them extraordinary powers. Stay tuned.