The nominees for the 2018 Philip K. Dick Award, given each year for distinguished science fiction originally published in paperback in the United States, have been announced. They are (links will take you to our previous coverage):
The Book of Etta by Meg Elison (47North)
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun (The Unnamed Press)
The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt (Angry Robot)
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds (Orbit)
Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Tor.com)
This is a terrific ballot, with something for every reader. Over at the Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, Joel Cunningham sums things up nicely.
The Philip K. Dick Award has long been my favorite genre honor that isn’t the Hugo or Nebula. If the “big two” are analogous to the People’s Choice Awards and the Oscars, respectively, think of the PKD as a sort of Independent Spirit Award — eligible works are original novels published first in paperback within the prior calendar year… The list of nominees for this year’s award is no less exciting, spanning the breadth of what sci-fi can do, from a locked room mystery set on a spaceship filled with clones to a contemporary answer to the dystopia of The Handmaid’s Tale. Below is the full list, and you’d do well to sample all of them before the winner is announced on March 30. With such a diverse array of ideas and subgenres on display, you may not love them all, but they all will challenge you to expand your horizons and consider new ideas.
Joel gives a great summary for each of the nominees. Here he is on All Systems Red by Black Gate author Martha Wells.
This novella marked a change for past Nebula Award nominee Martha Wells, who had a two-decade career writing inventive fantasy (the gaslit magic series Ile-Rien; the fantasticly odd Books of the Raksura, in which no human main characters appear) before trying her hand at sci-fi with this sardonic story of a slightly depressed robot who grudgingly protects the humans in its charge. “Murderbot” (as it dubs itself) it would despise the humans it protects if it didn’t find them so boring, and would prefer to stream mindless soap operas rather than do anything at all to help them, but when its humans are attacked by something outside of the experience provided by its data banks, , it must turn its prickly, near-omniscient mind toward not just the survival of its humans, but itself. This slim read is both surprisingly funny and pack with intriguing future worldbuilding, all the more reason to celebrate the sequels due later in the year.
And The Book of Etta, by Meg Elison.
Elison won the PDK in 2014 for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, a dystopian tale that imagines the terrible ordeals women would face in a world devastated by a plague that has left one female living for every ten males, presenting an even bleaker landscape than the one presented in The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s a book that has lost none of its potency or immediacy in the three years since, to say the least, and it’s no surprise, in a year in which women have started speaking out (or at least, being listened to when speaking out) against the harassment they face every day and an adaptation of a Margaret Atwood novel is winning every award out there, that Elison’s second book in the series would be a contender. Etta is a scavenger from one of the small communities to survive the plague, roaming the country searching for relics from the past. When people Etta cares about are abducted by roving bands of slave traders, Etta must venture into an area controlled by a despot known as Lion, who rules the apocalyptic landscape with cruelty. The book goes beyond its compelling dystopian atmosphere via the title character, called Eddy when on the road — a transgender man in a world that values female fertility above all else.
Read Joel’s complete comments here.
Last year’s nominees were announced on January 20th, the winner was The Mercy Journals, by Claudia Casper. Our previous coverage of the award includes:
2011 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced
The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack wins 2011 Philip K. Dick Award
The 2014 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees
2015 Philip K. Dick Award Winners Announced
The 2016 Philip K. Dick Nominees
Ramez Naam’s Apex Wins 2016 Philip K. Dick Award
The winner will be announced on March 30, 2018 at Norwescon 41 in SeaTac, Washington. See more details at their website.
Congratulations to all the nominees!